Part of responsible gun ownership is figuring out the balance between access to your guns and ammunition in an emergency and security of them where unauthorized people are concerned. Who are “unauthorized people?” Anyone who has no business with their hands on your guns or ammo. That includes young children who should never handle guns without a responsible adult’s supervision, home intruders, anyone under the influence of a substance, and anyone else you wouldn’t trust to handle your guns.
A gun safe is the logical option to gain maximum security over your guns. There are many types of safes on the market, some of which are specifically made for gun storage. This article discusses the type that represents an appropriate choice for the new handgun owner: small safes that have rapid access to hold a personal defense handgun.
For quick and easy storage solution of a single handgun at home, an electronic safe with biometric controls is ideal. Such a safe can be mounted on a bed, desk, other furniture frame, or to a wall stud, putting the gun within arm’s reach but providing a measure of theft prevention at the same time by virtue of it being attached to a solid, heavy object.
Biometric safes can be programmed to read the fingerprints of any household member with authorization to access the gun. Secondary access can be via a PIN code or traditional key. Many people have hard-to-detect fingerprints, so PIN access may be their best option.
Of the current biometric safes on the market, the Reach 2 by Varasafety is a standout. It truly offers instant access when programmed, providing a firing grip even when the gun is still locked. The downside of this system is that the grip of the firearm remains visible unless draped with a garment or other covering.
An alternative to biometric access is RFID access. The best example is Hornady’s RapidSafe system. It allows the safe to open if the user is wearing the company’s compatible RFID bracelet. If you keep a shotgun for home defense, their shotgun wall storage device is especially nice, and works in the same way as their handgun safe. Keep in mind that while the gun is secure with such a system, the user MUST keep the transmitter secure when not wearing it.
A third type of electronic access, via Bluetooth signal, is offered by some companies via a smartphone app. Obviously, this option requires the ability to keep your phone secure. The Vaultek Slider is a good example of a Bluetooth-enabled safe. It has a “key,” shaped like a one-inch diameter hockey puck, that will open the safe so long as the key is within 10 feet of the safe.
There are other brands on the market, of course. Research online before buying. At least one brand has a biometric/PIN model that, on the upside, retails for less than $200 in most outlets. On the downside, it’s also been shown that it’s easy to defeat the mechanical lock on this safe with a paper clip, and the break-in is entirely undetectable!
Like a gun holster, a safe is to be considered an investment in your home and personal security system. It is worthwhile to save up for the one that’s ideal. In the meantime, a variety of other, less readily accessible methods of securing the gun may suffice. A two-piece trigger lock is an inexpensive item easily found at many gun stores and online sources. Or use the cable padlock that most likely was included with your gun upon purchase, or may be available free on request from a local gun store or law enforcement agency.
If it’s not already obvious, having a new gun is just a start on the journey of self-defense readiness. Besides a safe, functional gun ownership requires a cleaning kit, at least one gun holster, ammo, targets, target holders, a place to practice, and maybe a place to store some of those goods if the community doesn’t offer a facility where supplies can be rented. And then there’s the investment in ongoing training and maybe licensure, which is a whole other consideration.
When selecting a safe, be honest with yourself about your habits in keeping batteries fresh, and your ability to keep track of keys and your phone if those forms of access are under consideration. Gun security is important, but lack of rapid access may also cost your life or the life of a household member. Choose carefully.
Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and concealed carry instructor living in the American Southwest. Today she works full time as an instructor and writer in the gun industry. Flanigan loves helping new and old shooters alike to develop the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.