The best handgun safe
A good handgun safe serves three important purposes: it protects your firearm from thieves, it prevents accidents through unauthorized use, and it lets you get to it quickly if there's a threat, where in an ordinary safe it might be hidden among other valuables.
To learn how different models provide these features, read our useful buying guide. We've also made a few recommendations at the end, including our favorite, Stealth's Handgun Hanger Safe. It offers the perfect combination of secure storage and fast access for as many as five guns.
Considerations when choosing handgun safes
Physical security and size
Any handgun safe can be defeated eventually, so its main job is to deter the opportunist criminal. Look for steel with a minimum thickness of 18 gauge, concealed door hinges, and a tight door fit with minimal frame gaps, making it very difficult to get a screwdriver or pry bar in there.
By its nature, a handgun safe is not a large item, and few are very heavy. Some are designed to be hidden in a drawer, though if found, it would be easy to walk off with it. As such, a means of mounting it to the floor, wall, or a piece of furniture is much preferred.
Handgun safes vary in size from single-gun models to those that hold five or six. Most are designed for modern automatics, which can be quite compact. If you own large weapons or revolvers, you need to check if they fit. For example, a Desert Eagle (at almost 11 inches long) can be a problem.
It's also worth thinking about ammunition storage. There's usually room for a spare magazine, and some have an internal shelf.
A straightforward lock and key can be quite effective, but it limits the number of users, and there's always the danger of the key getting lost.
Keypads are common on a handgun safe, and a four-, six-, or eight-digit number is assigned. Some lock out for a period if a wrong number is entered three times consecutively, preventing someone trying random codes until they hit the right one (though with 10,000 combinations at minimum, it's unlikely).
The most advanced and quickest access is using biometrics -- a fingerprint scanner. Fingerprints are unique, so there's no risk of a key or code being acquired by the wrong person.
The best handgun safes have padding to protect your firearm. Racking is usually comprised of steel rods that the barrel slides over. Ideally, these should be shrouded in plastic.
Digital locks, biometrics, and internal lights are powered by a battery. A manual key is provided in case they run flat -- it's a good idea to keep a spare handy. A few gun safes have the option of plugging them into the mains.
Some advanced handgun safes have smartphone apps. Functions vary, but you get things like user history, biometric or keypad management, remote unlocking to allow someone else access, and battery level indicator.
A strong lockbox could be used as an inexpensive handgun safe, and you can find them under $30. Those specifically designed for handguns and ammunition start around $35. There's lots of choice between $70 and $170, including those that present the gun in a ready position. A few exceed $200 -- usually those with biometrics and/or a smartphone app.
Q. Does the law say I must have a handgun safe?
A. It depends where you live. As of now, only Massachusetts requires you to lock away all firearms in the home. However, 14 states could prosecute you if a crime is committed with an unsecured firearm. Things may change, so check your local statutes.
Q. Do I need a handgun safe when flying?
A. The TSA (Transport Security Administration), who sets the rules in the U.S., says it must be in a hard-sided container that completely secures it from access. Ammunition must be in the same container, so a portable handgun safe is ideal. Other rules apply, so check the TSA website.
Handgun safes we recommend
Best of the best: Stealth's Handgun Hanger Safe
Our take: High-capacity model offers excellent value for those who own several guns.
What we like: Holds three guns upright, plus two flat. Rapid access, spring-loaded door is 3/8-inch solid steel. Foam interior won't scratch guns. Can be mounted or secured with cable provided.
What we dislike: A few keypad problems (manual unlocking still works).
Best bang for your buck: Stack-On's PDS-1500 Safe
Our take: Sturdy, low-cost box designed to fit into a desk drawer.
What we like: Easy-to-use electronic lock activates twin steel bolts. Hidden hinges prevent tampering. Delay after three incorrect code attempts. Hardware for permanent installation included.
What we dislike: Variable quality control. Faulty keypads and locks.
Choice 3: GunVault's SV500 Handgun Safe
Our take: Smart, slimline unit presents your handgun in a ready position.
What we like: Perfect for desk or nightstand. Fast action drop-down drawer. Foam-lined, 18-gauge steel casing. Multiple fixing options (hardware included). Interior light.
What we dislike: Occasional keypad lockouts. Owners criticize customer service.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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