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Handgun Safe Information

Dec 30, 2007
A handgun safe is a must for those who keep a loaded revolver or pistol at hand for home defense. A quality pistol safe will keep your gun from curious children, as well as snatch-and-grab thieves.

Cable locks and trigger locks are almost useless for home defense. Cable locks require time to remove, meaning that your access time will be measured in minutes, not seconds. Trigger locks are cumbersome and equally slow. What's more, trigger locks that install within the trigger guard can be dangerous to use with loaded handguns, as the locking mechanism can sometimes press the trigger.

There are numerous handgun safes on the market with varying levels of speed of access, features, and price. Before selecting a handgun safe for your home, consider the following information.


It is important to recognize that no handgun safe is 100% theft-proof. Given enough time, even the dumbest thief will be able to either open your safe right in your home, or take it with him to open later. The purpose of a safe is to make access to your safe too time-consuming, so that the thief moves on to other items in your home.

Therefore, construction of the safe is paramount. The thickness of the metal is an important factor, as thin metal can be defeated with hand tools. Look for safes made from 14 or 16 gauge steel.

Some handgun safes have recessed doors, which make the doors more pry-resistant. Other types have exposed seams; if this is the case, there should be sufficient metal on the inside of the seamed walls protecting the seams, so that the safe can't simply be pried open with a screwdriver.

Hinges are another consideration. Hinges that are recessed or on the interior are generally considered to be the best, as they're nearly impossible for a thief to get at. If you're looking at a safe with exposed hinges, make sure that the hinge is designed so that the pin(s) running through it can't simply be punched out.

Safes should have pre-drilled holes allowing you to bolt the unit to your floor, wall, trunk of your car, or wherever else you plan to install the safe. To slow the thief down, you'll want to use large bolts driven into wooden floor joists, i-beams, or other thick foundations. Therefore, the pre-drilled holes should be able to accommodate bolts at least 1/4" in diameter.


There are several types of locking devices available for handgun safes. The simplest and least expensive is a key lock. While not as quickly accessible as other types of locks, well-constructed key locks offer the same level of security. The disadvantage to key locks is obvious: if you don't have the key with you, you can't open the safe. This disadvantage can be overcome by keeping the key on a chain around your neck, or by keeping the safe unlocked when you're in the room (when you're in bed, for example).

Push-button combination locks are popular for pistol safes. Most models allow you to set the combination yourself. There are models with mechanical push buttons as well as models with electronic keypad buttons.

Mechanical push button locks, if well-constructed, are durable and reliable. While mechanical locks don't offer some of the additional features that electronic locks do, they afford security at an affordable price.

Electronic keypad locks are the most popular for pistol safes. Some safe models allow you to select from tens of thousands of different combinations. Some also allow multiple combinations to be used, so that friends or family can each have his or her own code. One disadvantage with electronic keypad locks is that many types can be defeated with the use of a nine-volt battery. The technique is simple, and criminals often learn the technique while in prison.

A disadvantage for both mechanical and electronic combination locks is that they require you to remember the combination, which can be difficult to do under stress.

Biometric pads have become increasingly popular as prices have come down. These pads read your fingerprints and unlock instantly. Pricier models of handgun safes reprogram the lock each time you open the safe, taking into account slight changes in your fingerprint caused by callouses, bruises, cuts and so on. A prime disadvantage with biometric pads is that an abrupt change to your fingerprint can lock you out. Even a bandaid could prevent you from gaining access.

Whether you're looking at electronic keypad combination locks or biometric locks, make sure that the safe has a mechanical key override. As any computer user knows, electronic circuitry is not 100% reliable.


As you move up the price ladder, pistol safes offer additional features that you may find useful. For example, interior lights make it much faster to access your gun in the dark.

Many models feature motion sensor alarms. Some have audible or visual alarms to let you know if someone has tried to access your safe. Some also will block access after a certain number of invalid entries.

Some models of handgun safes have an outlet for an exterior power supply, which saves on batteries. Low battery indicators are another popular feature.

Keeping a firearm for home defense is an intensely personal decision. If you choose to do so, securing your handgun in a safe will give you the peace of mind knowing that a criminal will probably never use your gun, and that your children will be safe.
About the Author
Richard A. Baker is the publisher of Gunshopfinder.com. More information about pistol safes can be found at Pistol Safes. Copyright 2007, Gunshopfinder.com. Republishing this article without the above author's credit and website link is prohibited.
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