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Updated Jun 2, 2022 7:47 PM

Finding the right gun safe can be a big chore because there’s so much variation in size, construction, locking mechanisms, and price. It can be hard to know what’s worth paying for, what’s unnecessary, and what’s just crap.

No matter what segment you’re shopping in, having an extra layer of protection for your firearms is a good idea. Parents need to be extremely careful about how they store guns in the house. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a good idea to keep your guns out of the hands of house guests — invited or uninvited. Maybe that means stashing them in a hidden gun safe that you can access quickly. It could mean investing in a heavy-duty safe that can withstand crowbars and fire.
We’ve been rounding up the best gun safes for every size, style, and budget and have landed on a few favorites. This gear guide cuts to the chase with our favorites. If you want to dive deeper into a specific category, check out some of our other gun safe gear guides.

Our methodology

A quick search for gun safes will bring up results including handgun safes, bedside gun safes, car gun safes, hidden gun safes, and the massive vaults people use to house entire collections. I considered all of these to make this gear guide something of a greatest hits list. I leaned on the collective expertise of other Task & Purpose writers by consulting our previous roundups and picking the best from each category, along with a few newcomers I found through my own research. My priority was security first and foremost — either in the form of a locking mechanism or a safe hiding place. Second to that was value. I’m protective of my readers’ hard-earned money and strive to recommend products that are worthy of your investment.

If you want the best protection available for your firearms, a full-size vault is the way to go. Unfortunately, this style tends to be prohibitively expensive and the vast majority of gun owners can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a safe the size of a refrigerator. This Liberty Safe offers a more affordable alternative that bridges the gap between collector-grade gun vaults and more lightweight lockboxes.

The Centurion is advertised as having an 18-gun capacity. There are padded spacers around the edge for a few long guns, but you’ll want some kind of organization strategy to max out that capacity, even if it’s just gun socks to prevent scratching. Shelves are available for handguns, accessories, ammunition, and other valuables. The 14-gauge steel exterior isn’t the thickest, but it offers adequate protection in most cases and benefits from oversized lock bars and a hardened-steel door plate to protect against prying. Of all the safes on this list, this is your best bet in terms of fire protection. The Centurion 18 is rated to withstand temperatures up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Comparing this to premium gun vaults will expose cost-cutting measures, but sometimes that’s acceptable. It’s better to have a middleweight gun vault than lusting after a gun safe you can’t afford, after all. Just remember that this isn’t the best option for rapid response. The rotary-style combination lock is secure but it’s not something you’d want to fiddle with under stress. Consider keeping your collection in the Centurion 18 and having one of our smaller picks by your bedside.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: 18 long guns and handguns
  • Security: Rotary combination lock
  • Fire protection: 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes
PROS

Highest capacity of any safe on this list

Reasonable degree of fire protection

Tamper-resistant 14-gauge steel and heavy-duty lock bars

Affordable entry into full-size gun vaults

CONS

Combination lock is slow to open

Requires several people to install

Best Value

Sometimes less is more, and that’s the case with the Hornady Lockbox. Think of this lightweight gun safe as an enhanced trigger safety; it’s not the most secure option out there, but it’s simple to use, portable, and secure enough to keep your pistol safe.

At $50, this is one of the cheapest ways to secure your handgun. At $40 on sale (at press time), it’s a no-brainer. This old-school gun safe is stone simple and small enough to take with you when you’re traveling or in the car. It’s also one of the more discreet options out there, which is great for times when you don’t want to advertise the fact that you’re armed. With no lighting or digital lock, this safe doesn’t need batteries — all you need is the provided key.

This safe’s biggest strengths also create drawbacks. It’s great to have a portable gun safe, but remember to tether it to prevent someone from walking off with it so they can cut it open later. Even the cable tether can be cut with the right tools. This gun safe also doesn’t offer any level of fire protection. That being said, don’t be dissuaded if all you need is a lockbox for one pistol or a few small valuables. Store this safe out of sight and you should be in good shape.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: One full-size handgun
  • Security: Physical key
  • Fire protection: none
PROS

Portable enough to use at home or in the car

Fits a full-size pistol and spare magazine

Analog locking mechanism

Not overtly firearm-related in appearance

CONS

Requires a physical key

Susceptible to theft, even with the cable tether

This Vaultek pistol safe has to be one of the easiest gun safes to use, and the price is quite competitive. If you want firearm security that’s backed by modern technology and has redundant backup measures, this is the one for you.

This gun safe’s claim to fame is four methods of access. You can use the illuminated keypad on the safe or install a smart button in a discreet location for one-touch opening. The Bluetooth app will let you open the safe remotely, which can be useful if someone else needs access when you aren’t immediately available. If all else fails or your rechargeable battery dies (it lasts up to three months), this safe has a physical key that you can rely on. Once the safe is opened, a programmable LED lights up the interior with just enough illumination.

The powder-coated 14-gauge steel body resists tampering, but remember that any safe of this size is somewhat susceptible to theft unless you’re able to anchor it. You’ll need to be careful about who has access to the app and smart button, but we love that Vaultek provides multiple ways to open this safe in a hurry.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: Two full-size handguns
  • Security: Digital keypad, remote smart key, Bluetooth app, physical key
  • Fire protection: none
PROS

Can be opened in four different ways

Heavy-duty, tamper-resistant metal components

Illuminated keypad for quick access after dark

Room for multiple full-size pistols

CONS

Doesn’t hold firearms firmly in place

Light enough to be taken

Best Biometric

Biometric gun safes are increasing in popularity because they’re programmed to specific fingerprints and allow almost instant access. This SentrySafe is one of our favorite biometric pistol safes for those reasons and because of a few more premium features.

This version of SentrySafe’s pistol safe accommodates two full-size handguns with room for magazines and accessories like a separate light. Its lid opens on its own thanks to gas shocks, and an interior LED makes it easy to see what you’re looking for in the dark. The biometric scanner can be programmed to accept up to 10 fingerprints (two primary, eight secondary). The safe can also be opened with a security code or physical key.

For extra security, consider using the provided bolt-down kit. This is a relatively light safe, so mounting it somewhere might be a good idea. Other than that, it offers solid protection against tampering and theft. Biometric scanners are incredibly fast and make a great primary means of access, and it’s wise to have a secondary unlocking mechanism like this illuminated digital keypad readily available.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: Two full-size handguns
  • Security: Biometric fingerprint scanner, digital keypad, physical key
  • Fire protection: none
PROS

One-touch access with the biometric fingerprint scanner

Illuminated keypad backup for sweaty or dirty hands

Interior light to speed up access

Room for two handguns, spare magazines, and other small items

CONS

Biometric scanner struggle with moisture, dirt, and cold

Requires four AA batteries; name-brand are recommended

If you haven’t considered using a hidden gun safe, maybe you should. It’s easy to dismiss them as gimmicky or something that belongs in spy movies, but that’s not really a fair assessment. The Tactical Traps End Table locks your firearm up in a place that only you can find (and access quickly).

Many handgun owners keep their firearm by their bed, where they can reach it quickly in the event of a nighttime home invasion. Maybe you don’t like the idea of relying on a biometric scanner or small combination lock in the heat of the moment, or maybe you don’t like having an overt gun safe where everyone expects it to be. This end table works like any other nightstand but with a hidden compartment for one full-size handgun. Just place the RFID key card over the hidden reader to deploy the trap door and activate the lights.

The simple design of this end table helps it blend in with your other bedroom or office furniture. It’s well-built and secure. Sure, wood isn’t as strong as steel, but as long as you don’t run your mouth about your cool, new safe, nobody will have any reason to give it a second glance.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: One full-size handgun
  • Security: RFID key
  • Fire protection: none
PROS

Functional end table or nightstand

Easy installation with no tools or programming

Quick, easy, RFID access

Secures one handgun in plain sight

CONS

Storage space is limited

Can be unlocked by anyone with the RFID card

Best for Vehicles

Carrying in a vehicle can be tricky. More guns are stolen from cars than homes, and advertising what’s up for grabs with stickers from your favorite gun manufacturer might as well be a “come and get me” sign. If you do keep a gun in the car, using a safe is a good idea and a Console Vault is even better.

Unlike other gun safes that get mounted under your seat or throw in your glove compartment, Console Vaults mount inside your center console so they’re hidden in plain sight. They’re designed not to interfere with USB ports or 12-volt outlets, so you don’t have to give up amenities to add a gun safe to your car. These safes use the same kind of steel found in other safes, with a design that resists prying if the safe is found. You can choose from locks that use a physical key, three-digit keypad, or four-digit keypad.

It would be nice to have a biometric option, but three- and four-digit keypads allow you to pick the right balance of speed and security. Console Vault makes vehicle safes for a wide selection of modern makes and models. If you drive a car that’s more than 20 years old, you can contact Console Vault about finding something compatible.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: Varies by vehicle make and model
  • Security: Combination lock or physical key
  • Fire protection: None
PROS

Blends in with your vehicle’s interior

Tailor-made for specific vehicles

Choose between keyed and combination locks

Rugged, tamper-resistant design

CONS

Capacity varies from vehicle to vehicle

May not be available for your vehicle’s make and model

Best Bedside

The appropriately named V-Line Brute is one of the most sturdy gun safes to have under your bed. Its heavy-duty construction and stone-simple locking mechanism make it a reliable safe that doesn’t rely on batteries, scanners, or RFID.

The Brute is built from 10-gauge steel that’s powder-coated to protect against the elements. The lid wraps around the sides when closed, making it extremely difficult to apply any kind of prying leverage. The five-button Simplex lock offers mechanical reliability and quick access under stress. Inside, the deep, padded compartment has room for two full-size handguns and spare magazines or accessories.

When something goes bump in the night, you need to act fast and decisively. If you aren’t comfortable with fingerprint scanners, apps, and RFID keys, this safe offers the proven reliability of push-button mechanical combination locks. It isn’t fancy, but it’s well-built and reliable.

Product Specs
  • Capacity: Two full-size handguns
  • Security: Push-button combination lock
  • Fire protection: None
PROS

Strong, 10-gauge steel construction

Mechanical Simplex lock is easy to operate by feel

Well-protected against tampering

Lid handle makes opening under stress easy

CONS

Gas strut is convenient, but slows down opening

Changing the code requires tools

Our verdict on gun safes

A good safe is one of the cheapest forms of insurance gun owners can get. If all you want is a little extra security for your carry pistol when it’s not on your body, the Hornady Lockbox is a great option that works in your home or car and can be a discrete layer of security on the road. To protect all your guns without breaking the bank, the Liberty Safe Centurion 18 is a great entry into the gun vault market. Did we miss your favorite gun safe? Let us know what you prefer in the comments section.  

What to consider when buying a gun safe

Your first consideration when buying a gun safe should be the threat you need protection against. Is it theft? Unwanted access by family members or roommates? Fire protection? Once you know what your primary concern is, you can take proactive countermeasures. There are a few key features that will determine which gun safe is right for you.  

Gun safe key features

Locking or security mechanism

The whole point of a gun safe is protecting your firearms from unwanted access. Typically, that’s achieved with a locking mechanism. Large vaults often use massive dial-style combination locks that are secure, but slow to operate. Simplex-style locks use a few mechanical buttons that must be pressed in the correct combination and sequence. More modern digital alternatives include electronic keypads, biometric fingerprint scanners, and RFID sensors. With speed comes complexity, and digital locks require power from a wall outlet or battery. 

Even the most secure lock doesn’t do much good if your safe can be stolen and cracked later. This isn’t an issue for vaults that weigh hundreds of pounds, but it is a concern for small handgun safes. Many small safes come with a cable tether that can be locked around a piece of furniture or a structural element in your home or vehicle. If someone is able to steal your safe, they’re only an angle grinder away from accessing your firearm at their leisure.

Construction 

Not all gun safes are built to the same standard. With the exception of hidden safes that work by hiding your firearms, traditional gun safes are built from steel. Sheet metal is categorized by its thickness. Steel is measured in fractions of an inch or gauges; the larger the gauge, the thinner the steel. Common thicknesses for gun safes are 10- to 14-gauge. Protective layers like powder coating protect steel against rust and corrosion.

Hinges are also an important consideration. Externally mounted hinges present a potential vulnerability, so most gun safes feature internal hinges or an internal locking mechanism that secures the door even if the hinges fail. Lids should fit tightly so it’s difficult to jam a pry bar in the gap.

Some gun safes also offer protection against fire. This requires insulation that keeps internal temperatures low. This isn’t an all-or-nothing qualification; fireproof gun safes will be rated for a certain amount of time at a certain temperature. 

Capacity

Finally, make sure that whichever safe you’re considering fits the firearms, accessories, and valuables you want to store. Think about whether or not you really want to break down your AR every time you put it away. Consider whether a safe was built for long guns, AR-style pistols, pistol-caliber carbines, full-size handguns, or compact handguns. Keeping a spare magazine handy is a good idea, so consider looking for a safe that has room for that, too.

Decide where you plan on keeping your gun safe and measure the space to make sure whatever you buy will fit. Check things like the vertical space underneath your bed, load capacity of your shelves, and dimensions of your center console, if relevant.  

Gun safe pricing 

Small, simple safes like the Hornady Lockbox can be purchased for as little as $50 (less if you can find one on sale). Features like biometric locks and fire protection will increase costs, and many of the best gun safes are priced between $300 and $400. The sky’s the limit for vault-style safes that can store collections of long guns, so be prepared for prices well into the thousands of dollars.

FAQs about gun safes

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Do I need a gun safe?

A: You may want to use a gun safe for your own reasons, but there may be laws and regulations in place where you live. Check your local laws and base regulations to make sure you’re within your lateral limits.

Q: Are gun safes fireproof or EMP-proof?

A: Some gun safes protect against one of these threats, some protect against both, and some protect against neither. Look for safes that have been fire-tested if that’s a concern. Mechanical safes are your best bet in the case of an EMP attack.

Q: Do gun safes keep moisture out?

A: No, but you have a few options. The easiest is to keep your guns well-oiled, which you should be doing anyway if you live in a humid environment. Moisture-absorbing silica can also be a cheap solution. If you’re really concerned, get a gun safe dehumidifier. 

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