My children are very young but are getting to the age where they are curious about hidden things. My every day carry weapon is a Ruger LCP. I usually keep this in my top drawer which is about five feet high. As my kids get older and more curious this will no longer be an option. I will be purchasing a handgun safe and this post will show my thoughts and research on the best handgun safe.
Here are my requirements:
- Keep my kids out
- Allow quick access to my firearm under stress and in the dark
- High Quality
- Price range of $100 to $300
I am not interested in fire protection and I don’t really care how hard it is for a burglar to break into. My carry gun is a Ruger LCP which is only a $300 gun and can be easily replaced. Any of the pistol safes on the market today can be easily carried off by a burglar unless they are bolted to something secure and I have not found any that offer real fire protection.
What is the most important feature of a handgun safe?
Because my main priority is to keep my kids out, the most important feature is the lock. There are several lock styles on the market today including electronic, key, simplex, biometric, and mechanical dial locks.
An electronic lock is used on the Sentrysafe Quick Access QAP1E. These types of locks can have hundreds of thousands of possible combinations. This makes it very hard and time consuming for a child to guess the combination. It is also quick to access in emergency situations. Some safes even have finger indentations like the Gunvault models that make it easier to type in a code in the dark. Unfortunately many of the electronic locks used on gun safes in my price range are poorly built. Watch a toddler access several popular safes in this video.
Biometric locks on handgun safes are opened by scanning your fingerprint. This meets my need of quick access to the safe but it falls short in another area that is more important: keeping my kids out! The technology for biometric locks is still relatively new and developing. Some manufacturers make their tolerances for recognizing a fingerprint very loose to cut down on returned safes. Unfortunately this means a creative child will have an easier time breaking into the safe. Some biometric locks can be defeated with just a photocopy of a fingerprint. I will not be purchasing a biometric safe at this time.
Key Locks and Mechanical Dial Locks
I’m sure you already know what these locks are. I am totally discounting these types right now because they do not meet my need of quickly accessing a firearm. It would be very difficult to find the right key and insert it properly after being suddenly awakened by a bump in the night. The same thing goes for a mechanical dial lock. It would take too long to properly enter the combination when it really matters most.
This type of lock has been around since the 1960’s and has proven to be very reliable. It is fully mechanical and therefore does not require a battery. In contrast to an electronic lock that can have hundreds of thousand of combinations, a typical simplex lock with five buttons can only have 1,081 combinations. This makes it much easier for an enterprising youngster with a lot of time on his hands to break into the safe. It seems like the best handgun safes on the market all come with a simplex lock. Check out the Fort Knox PB1, the V-Line Brute or the Amsec PS1210HD.
Popular Handgun Safes
|Handgun Safe||Approximate Price||Body Steel||Lock Type||Weight (lbs)|
|V-LINE TOP DRAW||$150||16GA||Simplex||9|
|FORT KNOX PB1||$200||10GA||Simplex||24|
|AMSEC HD PS1210HD||$200||10GA||Simplex||24|
|GUNVAULT GV1000S MINIVAULT||$100||16GA||Electronic||9|
|SENTRYSAFE QAP1E||$100||12GA||Electronic & Key||12|
|STACK-ON QAS 1200||$90||Unknown||Electronic & Key||17|
|GUNVAULT SV500||$150||18GA||Electronic & Key||7|
Best Handgun Safe
So here is the moment of truth. I am choosing a model with a simplex lock because I like that it does not rely on a battery. Yes, I know that only 1,081 combinations are available but that is a tradeoff I am making to increase the reliability of the safe. Many of the simplex models shown in the above table are made out of thicker steel and better components. My top three choices were the Fort Knox PB1, the V-Line Brute and the Amsec PS1210HD.
Here’s My Decision:
The best handgun safe for my family is the Amsec PS1210HD.