Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good Ways to Store Firearms Securely

If you are a firearm owner, you have a responsibility to make a serious effort to keep that gun out of the hands of people who shouldn't have it.  This group could include children, criminals and your drunken cousin Vinnie.  Some states even have safe storage laws that require this.  How you choose to safely store your firearm is up to you, you have to find the right balance between security and convenience.

Most new guns come with a lock
If you wanted the utmost in safety, you could disassemble your firearm and put the parts in two different safes, then the ammo in a third.  You could also attach a trigger lock and run a padlock through the action.  It would be very unlikely that any prohibited person could turn those precautions into a loaded firearm.  That's not really a practical solution for most situations though.  Perhaps your firearm is intended for use as a defensive weapon in your home?  You certainly wouldn't want it taken apart and locked in separate containers.  You'd desire something that offers more accessibility at a cost of less security.

You have to find the compromise between ease of use, security and accessibility you are comfortable with.  Fortunately today there are lots of products and you should be able to find one that strikes the right balance for you.  I'm going to discuss some popular options I am aware of here.

We'll start with something simple, a locking box.  These are typically made of steel and can be found with a variety of locks.  Some also offer a bit of protection against fire, and they could be used to safeguard other valuable items.   They range widely in price depending on their construction and locking mechanism.  If you want these to be really secure you need to affix them to a wall or other significant structure.

The cheapest is going to be a little box with a key lock suitable for a handgun.
You can find these for $50 and sometimes less.  These actually aren't a bad solution if you don't have kids around.  You can lock up your gun when you leave the house and unlock it when you are home.  If nothing else you'll always know where your keys are!
They make models that are designed to be recessed into a wall for a more hidden look.  You could even hang a picture in front of it or something.

These key boxes aren't the best choice if you have a handgun and children, as you'd have to keep the box locked and the key handy all the time should the need arise to retrieve your handgun.  If that is your situation you may prefer something with a keypad or even one that uses a fingerprint scanner to unlock.  These will cost more than the models with the basic key lock, the fingerprint scanner locks (called "biometric" by the manufacturers) often cost upward of $200.

I don't have any brand loyalty in this matter, you may have noticed I've offered up three different brands in the above examples.  I can't say I'm aware of an advantage one brand has over another in this market.

A new product on the market is simply called the Rac.  It's designed to be bolted to the wall in an inconspicuous place, like inside a closet.  The neat thing about the Rac is it can be used for rifles, shotguns or handguns.  It also has a built in trigger lock so it secures the firearm and blocks the trigger.  The downside is it's key operated so you have to keep the key on you all the time.  But it's one of the more affordable solutions to secure a rifle or shotgun.

Other options for rifles and shotguns aren't as affordable.  Locking boxes big enough to hold a rifle cost $150 and up and take up a bit of room.  Since the affordable ones are pretty light they need to be secured to a wall or a floor to be really secure.  You can spend a lot more on an actual safe, many are even fire rated.  Having a large safe that offers fire protection can be useful for other valuables as well.  You can find ones with punch code locks that can be faster to open than tumbler locks or key locks.

Other options for rifles and shotguns are similar to the Rac mentioned above.  The secure the gun by locking it to a wall or other sturdy object.  Unlike the Rac they sometimes don't also block the trigger.  Santa Cruz, TuflocShotlock and  Ridgeback are companies that offer products like this.  Some are generic and some are designed for a specific type of gun, you'll have to check out their offerings to see if their is something that works well for your firearm.

There are some good options available for specific firearms.  This product from Gunvault locks into the magazine of an AR-15 rifle preventing it from operating.  It doesn't secure it from theft however.  Lifejacket also offers a variety of products designed for specific gun models as well.  Franzen makes trigger locks that mount to the wall.  It's a less secure product than one of the Rac's above however for not a lot less money.

There are a number of options as you can see, each with their own strengths and limitations.  Look for one that you are comfortable with, something that offers the right mix of security and access for your application.

If I've missed a product line or if you have a favorite product you use please let me know.

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