You’re in the market for a gun safe. But have you really considered everything before buying?  Ask yourself these nine questions before spending your hard-earned money on this investment.

1. What protection are you looking for?

Gun owners buy safes for several different reasons. What’s yours?

Are you trying to protect your firearms from your toddler that just learned to walk? Or maybe you have a gun collection that’s been sitting in an attic and you’re ready to move it to a place where it won’t get damaged by the elements.

Whatever the case may be, it’s always a good time to lock up your guns. Even if you just want the protection from the rare case that a burglar breaks in or a fire occurs.

If you haven’t thought much about this yet, I want you to keep in mind that fire damage is the most common cause of loss.

Identifying what type of protection you’re looking for will narrow down the huge pool of gun safes to the specific ones that will serve you best.

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2. What guns will you be storing?

When it comes to protecting your weapons, size matters.

Are you looking to store a few small pistols? Or are you planning on stashing your entire collection of rifles, shotguns and handguns away?

If you haven’t decided yet, focus on guns that are near irreplaceable, ones that hold a lot of personal meaning or even your favorite ones.

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3. Do you need easy access to it?

This goes hand in hand with understanding why you are purchasing the gun safe.

Gun safes are created for different reasons. Some are meant to be a secure storage unit for long time use, where you may not be planning to go into it very often.

Others are designed for fast, easy access. These are perfect for someone who is looking for personal protection in the home when sleeping or sitting in the office.

Or perhaps maybe you have your main collection stored away, but you take a few favorite guns to the range every week. It’s nice to have a quickly accessible gun safe for the weekly user.

If you carry a pistol on you daily, yet you’re looking to store it when you come home, you’ll want something that’s easy to get in and out of quickly.

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4. Will your gun collection grow?

We say we’re done buying guns, but then our buddy tells us about a good deal on the firearm we’ve had our eye on, or we go to that gun show and see all the shiny new toys.

When shopping for a gun safe, always buy one larger than what would fit your current collection. There are a few other reasons for this besides expanding your collection. Many gun safes overestimate the number of guns you can fit inside.

Remember, your collection isn’t just limited to guns. You may want to store scopes, extra magazines, ammo and other expensive equipment inside the safe. It’s nice to have everything in one place.  Most gun safes don’t offer many accessories like pistol hangers, door organizers, lighting systems and dehumidifiers. So you’ll need to get these separately.

Many people store more than just guns in their safes. Since some gun safes are large, you can store other valuables like passports, birth records, hard drives and other irreplaceable items. If you have small children, you may want to even store any dangerous substances or medication so that they can’t have easy access to things they shouldn’t be getting into.

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5. Did you name your price?

Money is always a concern when purchasing a large, expensive product. You want to set a budget for yourself before going online and buying a gun safe.

The ticket price isn’t the only thing you’ll want to consider when looking at cost. Some manufacturers offer additional warranties on their gun safes, so think about whether you will want an extra few years of protection.

Larger gun safes can weigh hundreds of pounds. Even if you get a great deal on shipping, moving the safe into your home is another story. Some companies will offer additional moving packages while some people will just pay the delivery guy $20 to help them move it to the location they want.

Also, there are accessories that will help you in getting the perfect gun safe setup. With larger safes, lighting and dehumidifiers are needed. With small and large gun safes, some interior shelves or pistol holders come in handy when trying to keep your safe organized.

Consider all these additional costs before your purchase.

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6. Where do you want to keep the gun safe?

Let’s try something. Think right now about where you have your guns. They’re most likely in a place where you feel safest. Whether that’s under your bed, in a nightstand or a closet.

I’ve identified two factors for determining where you should put your safe. First, it depends on how often you want to use your safe. If you are looking to secure a firearm that you use often, you’ll want to keep it in a place that’s easily accessible. The attic or basement may not be the best option for you.

Second, it depends on what you’re storing in your safe. If you’re planning on it holding all of your gun collection, the bedroom closet is most likely not the best option for you. You also want to consider where a thief may have easy access to the safe. In extreme cases, if you have a large gun safe on an exterior wall, a few expert burglars could drill through the wall and take the safe. So think about what protection is most important to you.

If it’s your everyday carry, you’ll likely need a gun safe in your car.  Consider some solid options and whether you’d want them to be portable or not.

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7. What is the best lock?

Gun safes typically offer three different types of locks on their safes: Mechanical, Electronic, and Biometric. There are benefits and downsides to each of them, so you’ll need to evaluate what lock works best for your situation before actually purchasing the safe. Keep in mind too, that each of these may come at different costs.

Mechanical Locks: These locks don’t require batteries. They are just like those locks on your gym locker. You’ll have a combination that you enter by rotating the dial left and right to open the safe. The benefit to these is that they don’t run on batteries, so you’ll never need to worry about your safe losing power. It will always be accessible. The downside to mechanical locks is that you can’t change the combination. It is what it is. You should also get them checked every 5 years or so because they can wear out.

Electronic Locks: These locks are similar to entering your PIN number at the ATM. It’s a programmable combination that you can enter and will normally give you feedback as you press your combination. The benefit to these is that they are quicker to access than the mechanical locks. The downside is that they do require batteries to run. If you aren’t planning on accessing your safe very often, the batteries could die on you which is a small inconvenience when trying to get to your guns.

Biometric: This is a relatively new technology and works by scanning your fingerprint. The great benefit to this lock is that you don’t need to remember a password. You simply put your finger on the scanner and it will open. They are typically much faster than mechanical locks as well. The downside to this lock is that because of how new they are, they don’t work well for everyone and there aren’t industry standards and ratings just yet. In the coming years, this technology should improve, though.

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8. Can it be bolted down?

Although larger gun safes can weigh hundreds of pounds, you will want to bolt your safe down whether it’s tiny or large. 25% of burglars don’t do the job alone. So if two people can pick up your safe, then two thieves can do it.

There are several benefits to bolting down the gun safe. Not only will it make it harder for a thief to steal it, but many popular safe companies actually require it to be bolted down for the warranty to be valid.

Many companies have predrilled their gun safes with holes that will make it easy for you to install the safe wherever you are planning to put it. Whether a wall, piece of furniture or the floor, keep in mind that bolting down the safe will keep it anchored and add that extra layer of protection you will want.

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9. What kind of rating does the gun safe have?

Even if the safe has raving reviews, those reviews won’t save you if there is a fire or break-in. Knowing and understanding the industry rating system is important before purchasing your gun safe. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) offers great ratings and standards by which you can understand how your gun safe stacks up against fire and burglaries.

Here is a brief summary of a few of the important ratings:

Fire Protection: This is a rating that notes the temperature at which the gun safe can withstand a fire, and also the length of exposure. If you’re looking for fire resistance, think about how far you live from the nearest fire station. The average fire team arrives at a house within 4 minutes after a call, but how long could that call take?

Construction Rating: This determines how hard it is to break into the safe and how well it’s constructed. This is a very helpful scale that will show you how well your safe was designed and how long a burglar would need to work on the safe to break into it. They will test this with actual tools and devices so you know it’s an accurate test.

I hope that you think carefully about each of these questions. Good luck shopping! If you have already bought a gun safe, what was your most important factor?


Read about the top Stack On gun safes here.
Read about the best Nightstand gun safes here.

Leave a Comment:

Roy Seifert says November 16, 2016

I would add transportability to your list. When my gun collection grew enough to warrant a gun safe I knew I would be moving, so I purchased a large gun safe that comes apart and is easy to transport. When I moved to my current home the moving company was going to charge me a premium to move the safe, but when I told them it came apart there was no additional fee. It bolts to the floor, is assembled inside with very thick, sturdy pins, and is very solid. The heaviest part is the door at about 100 pounds, but fits easily on a dolly. This is definitely something to think about if someone moves frequently.

    Lauren says November 17, 2016

    Thanks for your helpful comment, Roy! I will modify the article when I have some extra time and make sure to add a point about portability. It’s definitely a good point to consider when investing in a good safe.

Pat says December 28, 2016

Great Article. You mentioned every query which is faced by most gun owners. You answered every question in detail.

tom baker says January 22, 2017

you are not mentioning the fireproof safe. i think fireproof perk in a gun safe is really important nowaday. you dont want to risk a cheap gun safe to protect your guns. although there are still a few cheap gun safes with fireproof feature

Finn Stewart says January 25, 2017

You have a great point that although larger gun safes weight hundreds of pounds, you will want to bolt your gun safe down. I want to get a gun safe to hold my growing collection of guns. Having a gun safe is not only essential to keep my guns safe, but to keep my family safe as well so my kids can’t get a hold of the guns.

Gary Fretwell says May 18, 2017

You touched all the important variables when it comes to safes. Accessibility’s most important for me when it comes to my handgun. The GunVault SpeedVault is my favorite for home defense. I like it because its light weight allows you to bolt it to your nightstand or bedframe for easy access in a hostile situation.

Taylor Bishop says August 18, 2017

Thanks for going over some things to consider when going to buy a gun safe. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned to ask what type of lock would be best, and even mentioned biometric locks are available. I actually had no idea that this could be a viable option. Very interested to see it improve over the years, and also to see what new advances this type of technology will make.

alena says September 27, 2017

My husband needs to get a new gun safe. His small safe is not big enough for his collection. I’ll be sure to get one that can be bolted down. Thanks.

Callum Palmer says October 11, 2017

I do like the question about whether or not the safe can be bolted down. After all, there’s not much point in the safe keeping your gun secure if it can be just picked up and stolen. Instead, you want to make sure that you can keep the safe itself secure by bolting it to the floor or wall.

Derek Dewitt says December 14, 2017

I have been wanting to get a safe for my gun collection, but I’m not sure where to start. I like that you suggest understanding the industry rating system before buying a safe. I will have to do some research so I know which safes are the best and will keep out burglars. Thanks for sharing.

Edward Blocker says December 15, 2017

This post is eye-opening. Literally exposes a lot of gun safe myths, many of which have been repeated in this thread. Gun safes aren’t as safe as you think. And any “rating” entirely depends on who’s assigning the rating.

laracraft says March 1, 2018

A lot of accidents are occurring nowadays with firearms. What is even sadder is that children are using weapons from their parent’s selections to act out angriness toward schoolmates. A better solution is to put the weapons out of reach of anyone except the owner and the chosen secondary users.

Nigel William says March 28, 2018

Your article is so good it actually helps clear up the air for first-time gun buyers. Are you planning a comparison between guns?

    Lauren says March 31, 2018

    At this time we want to focus on gun accessories, but thanks for the idea!

Wesley says April 26, 2018

It’s also good to note that some insurance companies offer discounts for people with safes. It can save you some money on your homeowners insurance and end up paying for the safe and saving you money.

Chris Marshall says June 3, 2018

Hey, you have written article with lot of experience i think, because these are the exact problems that are faced by most of the gun owners so often. Thanks a lot.

Pablo Jarvis says August 3, 2018

This is an informative post and very timely. I have been contemplating in getting a license for the safety of my family. I have looked into consideration the things you have mentioned. I am aiming for a biometric safe that has pre-drilled holes so I can mount it in a permanent position.

Derek Dewitt says September 17, 2018

I recently got a gun for my birthday, so I am looking for a safe to store it in. I like your point about how electronic locks work by entering a pin number. This sounds like an easy-access safe that only I can get in to, so I’ll definitely consider this.

Jerry Higgins says December 29, 2018

I have been researching gun safes and have 13 and 19 year old sons that have both been through gun education classes. This article really helped to clarify a few areas I wasn’t clear on. May have to rearrange a room or two but I’m ready to make a move now! Thank you so much for taking the time to post all of this valuable information.

Happy New Year!

lakeland coachtours says March 25, 2019


emdfl says October 20, 2019

One quick comment – all good spin-dial combo-locks are resettable. By good I mean any of the S&G spin-dials. Having played with both mechanical and electronic locks when I was a tech with D.S.S., I would most strongly recommend going with a good mechanical lock. ALL of the electronic locks I had to deal with(and these were NOT the kind that come on typical consumer safes – high $$$$ ) had definite life-spans. The more they were used the quicker they stopped working. Typical if opened a couple of time a days they were good for a couple of years; then we would get a call and have to go break into the container, heh, heh.

Wyatt says April 22, 2020

Great tips! It’s sad to know that there are many out there who don’t take their gun storage seriously!

Steven Miller says April 26, 2020

What a considerable checklist for a gun safe! , . I have a query about safety locks. Which type of lock is the best pick in your opinion? Mechanical or electronic?

    Lauren says May 14, 2020

    Both groups have their strong opinions, but I prefer mechanical. A safe is something you rarely need to access, so an electronic lock may die in the meantime and be an inconvenience once you need to get in.

Lauren says April 18, 2021

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