Someone once said that with great power comes great responsibility. And as a proponent of the 2nd amendment, there are few responsibilities more significant than keeping your weapon out of the wrong hands.
Striking a balance between security and availability can be a challenge, and navigating the array of features of American firearm safes can make anyone’s head spin. Luckily we’ll cover everything from the basics to biometrics to help you understand your options a little better.
We gun owners have to material types of guns to house – long guns and handguns. As such we’ve reviewed both categories – starting with handgun safes.
After researching the majority of firearms safes from the major manufacturers and inspecting more than a dozen, including testing the fit of various rifles and handguns with the help of two experts, we recommend the Vaultek VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe as the best safe you can get for your firearms.
Its mix of multiple entry mechanisms, lighter weight, and variety of advanced features make it a great handgun safe.
In This Article:
Gun Safe Comparison
Below is my list of the best gun safes for 2022. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of gun safes.
|Vaultek VT20i||Best Handgun Safe|
|RPNB Handgun Safe||Budget Handgun Safe|
|Fort Knox Safe||Best Manual Lock|
|SecureIt Ultralite||Best Rifle Safe|
|Stack-On 10-Gun Cabinet||Best Budget Rifle Cabinet|
|Stack-On 22-Gun Cabinet||Best Gun Cabinet|
Pistol Safe Recommendations
- EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS: 11.5″ wide X 9.0″ deep X 2.75″ tall
- INTERIOR DIMENSIONS: 11.0″ wide X 5.75″ deep X 2.0″ tall.
Billed as a smart safe, the Vaultek VT20i is small enough to work well on a desk or larger nightstand. At just over 3” & 11” wide, it’s got room for a gun and two mags.
It’s outfitted with anti-pry bars and has interior mounted hinges, making it appear a bit like a steel brick when closed and latched. We also really liked its four separate opening mechanisms – fingerprint, key, electronic keypad, and Bluetooth app.
What’s more, the fingerprint scanner can store up to 20 user IDs, so if you want to provide multiple people access to your safe (say a spouse or your sibling), that’s a fantastic feature.
Lightweight & well-lit
There’s also an interior LED light so you can avoid bumbling around in the dark. These additional options make the VT20i easy to get into quickly and make it work as a standalone safe if you have a home defence piece you need to store. It only weighs 7 pounds, so it would work as a travel safe as well.
2. Best Budget Handgun Safe: RPNB Quick Access
- Gun Safe : If you have young children who don’t understand the potential danger of firearms,...
- 3 Points Entry : With the upgraded smart biometric scanner with immediate access mode, rapid fire...
- Tough & Rugged : Expertly crafted using sturdy steel construction, the RPNB handgun safe will...
The RPNB Gun Security Safe is a good option if you can’t spend more than $100 on a gun safe but still want some of the bells and whistles of more expensive models. It has three opening mechanisms – a biometric scanner, an electronic keypad, and a manual key—no app with this guy.
A plus is the RPNB safe is a little larger than the Vaultek – it’s is rated for two pistols – so you get some additional capacity. That capacity comes with a cost, though, as this safe is much heavier than the Vaultek at 13 pounds. This bad boy won’t travel. But all things considered, it’s a solid option with some of the major features we were looking for at a little over $100. There’s also an RFID version without the biometric reader if that’s your bag.
- Exterior 11.81″ x 9.84″ x 2.55″
- Interior: 11.69″ x 7.48″ x 2.36″
- Weight: 13.1 pounds
- Exterior: 10.2 x 12.5 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 21.4 pounds
This is the lean and mean option – no fancy biomechanical touch sensor – no backlit keyboard or LED lighting – just a Simplex mechanical lock and 20 lbs of 10 gauge steel.
A brick that pops open in a snap
It’s a stripped-down, impenetrable brick of a gun safe with room for 2-3 handguns. It has a gas strut to pop open the (heavy) door and keep it open (presumably so you can get at the interior without smashing your fingers with the door).
It’s on the more expensive side, but if you’re someone who would rather not be concerned with batteries or electronics, this safe comes highly recommended by our experts.
Long Gun Safe Recommendations
After researching the majority of firearms safes from the major manufacturers and inspecting more than a dozen, including testing the fit of various rifles and shotguns with the help of two experts, we recommend the SecureIt Ultralight as the best safe you can get for your long guns.
Its mix of high-end features and novel approach to build quality without creating a 300lb monster makes the SecureIt a great place to house your rifles.
1. Best Overall Long Gun Safe: Secure It Ultralight
- ULTRALIGHT GUN SAFE – Don't let a traditional gun safe slow you down. The Agile 40 is strong and...
- KEY OVERRIDE - A keypad control panel with the addition of a hidden key override as back up, keeps...
- EASILY ADJUSTABLE - Comes standard with SecureIt’s CradleGrid Technology for organized and...
- External Dimensions: 52″ x 20 1/4″ x 15 1/4″
- Internal Dimensions: 51 3/4″ x 19 3/4″ x 13″
- Weight: 105 pounds
- Capacity: 6 guns
The SecureIt Ultralight is lower capacity than either of our Stack-On recommendations, but it’s leagues above in terms of quality and engineering.
The power’s in the grid
Their CradleGrid Technology is a super flexible organizing feature that gives you a lot of adaptability in a small package.
The CradeGrid backing allows you to use the room around your rifles to attach bins, pistol pegs, mag holders, and a massive array of mounts for anything you’d want to store.
It’s super customizable and feels like a natural organizing system, more than just a safe and shelf.
A higher tier of quality and price
It’s in another pricing tier from the other two recommendations at $599. Still, that additional cost gets you a truly customizable safe that’s just over 100lbs – so it’s much more approachable than a 300lb+ monster.
It also ships flat – which makes it cheaper to ship than other safes – and can be assembled & broken down if you have to move it.
2. Budget Long Gun Cabinet: Stack-On 10-Gun
- Holds 10 rifles or shotguns up to 52 tall
- Steel top shelf provides additional storage or is removable
- Shelf is positioned in the back of the cabinet so longer guns can be stored in the front of the...
- Dimensions: 13.5 x 17 x 53 inches
- Weight: 61 pounds
- Capacity: 10 guns
Calling this a safe is an overstatement – this is more of a locker – but it will work to store your rifles away from children – which is a good objective.
Light on features, but we like that about it
The Stack-On GCB-910 is the smaller version of the above 22 gun safe and is identical except for lower storage capacity – both in terms of firearms and overhead shelf space.
It also only has a keyed lock, and as a budget option, it‘s going to save you ~$50 off the 22-gun safe. If you’re working on a budget this Stack-on gives you the peace of mind that your rifles are out of sight and safely locked up, storage for ammo, accessories (and possibly a handgun), along with the quoted ten long guns (of course your mileage may vary.)
At just over 60 pounds, it’s not massively heavy, so this safe would benefit from bolting down. Not RSC-rated either.
- Dimensions: 18 x 21 x 55 inches
- Weight: 86 pounds
- Capacity: 22 gun
The Stack-On GCB-1522 is a larger version of their ten gun safe and has a similar set of features, but obviously, the 22 gun safe has a lot more storage capacity.
Much more capacity
While it only has a keyed lock, we felt you got a lot more room for not much more investment (~$50 more) which provides additional storage for ammo, accessories, and handguns the ten gun version lacks (it’s more of a locker in our humble opinion.)
Heavy & imposing
This 22 gun version is also more than 80 pounds, so it’s a huge hassle to move and looks imposing – both are pluses for discouraging thieves. It can also be bolted to the floor and comes with the necessary hardware.
Worth noting: it’s not RSC rated, and it’s the thinnest steel we’d consider for a long gun safe, but it’s the cheapest way to get a long gun safe with decent capacity
Why should you listen to us?
Knock on wood – I’ve never had to access my handgun in an emergency – but in researching this category, we worked through several quick access situations to simulate emergency scenarios accurately and learn how these safes would perform in hurried conditions.
My father and grandfather were both gun enthusiasts – and my grandfather, in particular, had a few situations over the years where he needed to access his piece in the dark. Naturally, I discussed those situations with them as well as retailers and gun safe brand representatives.
They helped me define the criteria that would be critical for enabling unhindered quick access in dimly lit conditions. I also reviewed the UL certification standards to understand what the certifying body is looking for when testing safes.
Who should consider these recommendations?
Anyone interested in storing their firearm safely.
Firearm safes provide a barrier between your weapons and unwanted users and protect from water and theft. These are a must for any gun owner who wishes to protect their family, guests, and guns safe in an office or at home.
They work for both important firearms and your run-of-the-mill pieces – but it’s often best to ensure heirloom guns as firearm safes can offer fire protection but are generally not fireproof.
Anyone who owns a firearm can find a good use for a safe, whether they want to house their guns away in a safe place or provide themselves quick access to a handgun but ensure it’s inaccessible to anyone but those who should be handling it.
To be clear, no safe is burglarproof – and won’t serve as an impenetrable time capsule.
If you have high-value items (things like jewelry, precious metals, or critical personal documents) which you don’t need frequent access to – a better direction would be a fireproof safe for personal items or even a safe deposit box.
Gun safes are not designed to house valuables or documents and should not be used as such.
Why a Gun Safe?
Job #1 is to keep firearms safely locked away
The first, and most important reason that you should consider getting a gun safe is that it’s your moral responsibility to make sure that your firearms do not end up being used by someone without your permission.
No, you’re not responsible personally or legally for what other people do. But, with that said, if you can, beforehand, take some small and reasonable steps to make yourself, your loved ones, and your community safer, shouldn’t you do it?
We certainly think so, and that’s why we recommend that people at the very least consider locking up their firearms when they’re not in use.
Protecting your investment
Second, there are financial reasons to consider a gun safe. If someone does break into your home, it would be great if they couldn’t walk out with the expensive, portable tools they’d need to commit all sorts of mayhem.
Additionally, some renters and homeowners’ insurance policies are willing to offer you a break if you install a safe to store some of the contents of the home.
This is especially true if you have a special firearms insurance policy and can provide evidence that the safe you picked is fire resistant to a certain temperature.
Types of Gun Safes
The most sensible way to think about the types of gun safse is more or less by size, which goes hand in hand with the general purpose of each type.
Portable Handgun Safes
On the smallest end, you’ll have portable lockboxes that are just about big enough for one handgun and a few magazines.
These are great for people who need to store guns in their vehicles, or only have one handgun that they want to keep locked up, but readily accessible. Some of these also meet the requirements set by the TSA to allow you to fly with a firearm, but, of course, always check all relevant state laws and airline regulations to avoid a long, long day at the airport.
Second, there are boxes that are perhaps a little bit too large to easily carry around for a single handgun but are still portable, even when full, with one person carrying them. These can be a good option for people with relatively small collections of firearms, or simply don’t have a lot of space.
A small lockbox hidden in a closet would be awesome, for example, for someone in a relatively secure apartment who didn’t want to drill into the floors.
A little bit larger are gun cabinets, which come in a variety of sizes, usually meant for rifles.
These differ from full-on safes in that, most of the time, cabinets simply have metal walls without any hardened filling or a major lock on the door. While these are a lot lighter than safes, they’re still certainly a deterrent to thieves or curious people in your personal space.
A quick note: if you can, secure these to a wall to keep them from tipping over, as a full cabinet can get seriously heavy.
Full Size Gun Safes
Finally, you have full-on, usually floor-mounted, safes. These often have two layers of metal for the walls, and the heavier ones have concrete filling in between them.
This makes safes secure, heavy, and a major pain to transport. While these are the safest option in terms of security, they are tough to move in and out and will likely require you to hire someone who specializes in moving things like pianos and safes.
Thus, these are best for people who plan on staying in their current homes for life or are okay with letting the safe stay with the property when you move.
Essential Gun Safe Features
We didn’t consider expensive professional installations for this guide but rather the kinds of safes you can purchase at retailers or gun shops.
We’re assuming if you’re going to be building a safe room with keyless entry, you’re probably going to be discussing those requirements with a dedicated contractor or gun vault expert.
The kinds of gun safes we reviewed fit under a desk, next to a bed, on a nightstand, or in a closet. These are heavy enough to be secure but not a permanent installation in your home.
These safes can be lifted and moved if necessary (e.g., if you sell your home.) We also look for manufacturers who are included in California’s Safety Device Compatibility chart. Knowing that California has some (if not the most) strict gun laws in the country, we considered their stamp of approval a good sign.
A quality gun safe needs to be heavy enough to provide a secure place for your firearms and use a locking mechanism that keeps opportunistic intruders out.
The three major brands you’ll tend to see when looking for a new gun safe are Liberty, Stack-On, and SecureIt. Here’s what we looked for when deciding which models to assess for this guide:
1. Fire rating & warranty:
To be clear – no gun safe can ever be considered “fireproof,” but many brands offer a time & temperature-based fire rating.
These ratings give you a sense of how long the manufacturer claims a safe will withstand fire and at what temperature.
Gun safes are not, in general, rated and verified by the UL (Underwriters Lab), and each manufacturer can make their own time & temperature rating claim. The good news is most back it up with their version of a warranty.
We reviewed manufacturer fire ratings with their warranty to ensure that – given the vague nature of “fire ratings” – the consumer would be protected to some degree in the event of a catastrophic fire. Some manufacturers also specify and fall or drop rating, which lets you know how far a safe can descend and remain intact.
I’m not sure how often you’d mount a gun safe on the 2nd floor of your home, but it’s at least another measure of how these products can keep your firearms safe.
2. RSC Rating:
Several safes are rated as RSC (“Residential Security Container”) by UL (technically UL 1037), which is a standard that defines performance requirements for security and fire-resistant products.
Gun safes are designed to keep unwanted people out of your collection – people tend to use things like drills, hammers, chisels, pry bars, and screwdrivers to crack your safe – but they don’t use fire (unless they’re maniacs).
The RSC standard takes these kinds of physical attacks into account. It has incremental layers of performance to define additional degrees of performance protection (e.g., higher ratings mean more punishment for a longer time). We wanted to see RSC ratings on the products we recommend.
- UL geekery ahead: It’s essential to know these two categories under UL 1037 – security products and fire-resistant products – each has different standards. You won’t see safes rated for fire resistance by UL because security devices and fire-resistant devices have additional performance requirements. Gun safes are security devices – not fire-resistant containers (at least in the eyes of UL.)
3. Size & Capacity:
When it comes to size & capacity, two things should guide your decision-making:
- The size of your collection – If you have ten guns to store, you’re probably not in the market for a five-gun safe. The one important thing to note about the manufacturer’s claims on capacity is they are rated without scopes. To ensure you can get all your tricked-out pieces in the safe of your choosing, you should double the capacity you think you’ll need.
- The space available for your safe. If all you have available is a 3×3 closet, you’ll struggle to get that 8×8 double-door safe in there without a contractor or knocking out a few walls. Plus – once you get a 400lb safe through your front door, the last thing you’ll want to do is find another place for it. As my shop teacher always drummed into me, “measure twice & cut once.”
4. Water resistance:
No organization tests or certifies how waterproof gun safes are, so we leaned on the companies’ claims about their safes’ water resistance.
We also tried to verify these claims by soaking handgun safes in a kiddie pool.
Another consideration if you live in an area with high humidity is a safe dehumidifier. These aren’t terribly expensive – but guns are – so if you store your guns for the majority of the year or don’t access them regularly, a dehumidifier makes a good investment regardless of the manufacturer’s claim about water or humidity resistance.
5. Security Mechanism:
We don’t expect any gun safe to be burglarproof, but a suitable locking mechanism is a top feature.
We tested these for consistency to make sure that the keys or keypads opened the safe consistently. Of course, the goal of a gun safe isn’t just to prevent access but to also provide it relatively quickly in an emergency.
We took into account the variety of locking mechanisms available for our recommendations. Generally, these mechanisms come in a few forms – mechanical or electronic:
- Keys or even combination locks. These are the classic “bank vault” kinds of safes. Key locks aren’t advisable if you want quick access to your firearm but tend to be great for longer-term storage.
- Electronic keypads. These come in digital keypad and rubber button formats and reliably registered taps in our tests. They’re not as fast as a biometric lock but are much faster than a key lock – plus, you don’t have to locate the keys in a hurried moment.
- Biometric (fingerprint) locks. Bio locks will open with the touch of a finger, which is fantastic for quick access but can be fickle and inconsistent to open. They also will require batteries, which have a limited shelf life.
- RFID or Bluetooth locks. These are designed to work with smartphone apps and are relatively reliable, but the downside is you need to use your phone to open them. Generally, these are supplementary to bio locks and rarely serve as the primary locking/opening mechanic.
- Failsafe Locks: Just like your phone locks when you try the wrong code combination too many times, some gun safes will lock a user out with one too many incorrect code entries. Yes, this can frustrate you if you fat-finger your code – but it’ll also add some peace of mind.
6. Build quality:
A well-built safe is likely to keep your guns safer. Based on the previous testing, we’ve seen hammers knock chunks of metal off with relative ease or a hand hacksaw blitz through a corner of a safe.
There were a few things we considered when it came to build quality:
- The gauge of the steel. Gauge measures how thick steel is – the smaller the number, the thicker the steel (like shotgun gauges). Our experts recommended staying in the 16 to 12 gauge range, providing the best mix of cost, strength, weight, and affordability. The thicker the exterior steel gauge, the more time it will take for thieves to get through it, so in addition to the lower likelihood of theft -so there’s also additional peace of mind. Of course, thicker steel also means more weight and cost, which might not meet your particular needs.
- Door Weight & Depth. Your access door is the obvious point of entry for a would-be thief, so door depth impacts how available the inside of your safe (both the locking bolts the stuff you want to protect) is once a thief breaks into it. A thicker door will slow assailants down but adds weight.
- Locking Bolts: The doors of your gun safe engage with the frame via locking bolts (think bank vault doors with what look like pistons jutting out.) These prevent the safe from opening when engaged by extending from the door into the safe body & frame. Thicker bolts add durability – and the more of them, the more work it will be to cleave the door open.
- Price and availability: Like many things in life, the correct answer to “what should I spend” is — it depends. All of our experts said a good general rule is what you spend should be informed by the amount already you’ve invested in your collection. How much would it cost you to replace it? Someone with $25,000 in guns has different needs than someone who only needs to store their SKS with an aftermarket stock. Let your gut (and reason) be your guide. A safe isn’t an insurance policy, but it can be one of the next best things.
Gun Safe Pricing
Gun safes and lockboxes vary so much in size, construction, and features, they also vary a lot in price.
- $50-$100. For about $50, you can get a good quality lockbox, and some of the cheaper cabinets. The features and locks will not be the latest and greatest tech at this pricepoint but is very possible to get a secure and reasonable lockbox at this price.
- $100-$200. Around the $200 mark, you’ll have your pick of reasonably good gun cabinets that have nice locks, and basic safes that come with well-done and thoughtful interiors. Not quite the top of the market, but a lot of good cabinet options live in this range.
- $500 and Above. Over $500, and with the sky being the limit, you’ll be looking at safes of all shapes and sizes, including the option to have something custom built into your home. These will be large capacity, heavy, and difficult to move. But, if we had the space and the resources, this is the route we would go to secure our firearms collection.
When it comes to making a buying decision, we recommend taking an honest look at what you need and what you plan on storing and going from there.
If you need a safe place to house your handgun for quick access with multiple entry mechanisms, the Vaultek VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe is our top pick. With the right mix of technology, light weight, and entry mechanisms, this handgun safe will keep your piece away from unwanted users ut available when you need it.
Our long gun safe pick is the SecureIt Ultralight Gun Cabinet. We think their approach to coupling a lighter weight safe with a modular storage system makes the SecureIt Ultralight a great safe for rifles, shotguns, and all the accessories you’ll need to store.
- Chip Lohman, How to Choose A Gun Safe, January 16, 2018
- State of California DOJ, Safety Device Compatability Chart
- ATF, What qualifies as a secure gun storage or safety device?, September 10, 2015
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