guide to shotgun safes

Beginner’s Guide To Shotgun Safes

In this article, we’re going to go over the various types of shotgun safes and how they can be used depending on what goal you have in mind.

There may not be a “perfect” shotgun safe for every situation, but there are purpose-built safes with specific uses in mind.

At the end of the day, every genre of shotgun safe serves its purpose while attempting to strike a balance which inevitably leads to compromises.

The good news is, after reading this guide, you will be well on your way to determining which shotgun safe is right for your needs and budget.

It’s also important to keep in mind how much work and planning might be required to implement a shotgun safe into your existing space and plan around any unforeseen costs.

Of course, the planning required depends, for the most part, upon the type of shotgun safe you decide to buy.

Shotgun Safe Buyer’s Guide

Our philosophy on shotgun safes can be applied to gun safes in general. The first question you’ve got to ask yourself is what are you trying to accomplish with this safe?

Are you just looking for something affordable and fairly lightweight that you can hide under a bed, or in a closet, with a bare minimum level of security?

Or, are you wanting a quick-access single shotgun safe for a home-defense situation? Perhaps you own multiple shotguns and firearms that will require a much larger safe?

Are you mostly just worried about keeping your guns safe from children? Maybe you’re more concerned about theft and fire protection?

Chances are, you may share some, or even all, of these concerns. Where gun safes are concerned, there are bound to be some concessions to meet a price point.

While it’s rare for a safe to address most of these concerns (without spending a small fortune), some mid-level options manage to strike a delicate balance between security, features, and quality.

There are many paths you can take when shopping for a shotgun safe storage solution. The first question you’ll have to ask yourself is; “what do I need this safe for?”

Read on to find the path you need to go:

Home Defense

If you’re primarily concerned with defending your family, then you should just go with a single shotgun safe.

home defense shotgun safe

These can be hidden under the bed or in a bedroom closet that can be opened quickly using biometrics, a simple push code, and a backup key just in case those fail.

Basic Storage

If this is your main concern, there are products like gun lockers, gun cabinets, or wall racks that accomplish the goal of keeping your shotguns, rifles, magazines, and ammo safe when kids or company is over but will lack any fireproofing or theft resistance.

basic shotgun storage

Gun lockers have the advantage of being more concealable or hidden than the latter two options and consequently add a level of theft protection by being harder to find.

Security Against Theft, Fire, and Moisture

If you’re mainly worried about fires and burglary resistance, then we’d point you toward the larger gun safes that are very heavy and require some planning to install.

fireproof shotgun safe

Depending on the amount they can store, the prices will vary widely as well as the quality of the brand name.

These gun safes will have thicker doors, robust locking mechanisms, and fire insulation built into the walls as well as the lining.

Many of these types of safes will have claims of being “pry-resistant” or “tamper-proof” but a lot of this will depend on where you put the safe and if it was bolted down.

We’ll tackle some of the claims made by the big box store gun safes later.

Display Your Shotgun Inside A Cabinet

If you want to show off your collection of shotguns, you may be looking for the safest way to display those shotguns while maintaining easy access to them when needed.

shotgun cabinet

This can be done with a shotgun cabinet or a wall rack that you can securely lock to keep them out of the wrong hands.

These methods of securing your shotguns are the least ideal in terms of theft or fire concerns but do allow you to see your collection daily.

These options tend to be more popular in rural areas where theft may not be as grave a concern as in the big cities.

Shotgun Safe Sizes

We’ll be briefly discussing the different sizes of shotgun safes. Smaller shotgun safes typically can store 5-10 shotguns while the largest safes can contain 30 shotguns or more!

Of course, there are many shotgun safes in between the size extremes that make up the rest of the gun safes available on the market.

Depending on which type you need, this may be an easy 1-hour setup or many hours of work that you can hire a service to fulfill or enlist the help of family and friends.

Pro Tip: The fewer people who know about your gun safe the better!

Small Shotgun Safes

This size category of shotgun safes can typically store 3-5 shotguns comfortably.

small shotgun safes

Most small shotgun safes incorporate commonly available locks and access technologies, such as fingerprint readers, electronic keypads, RFID chips, smart app controls, Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity, or basic mechanical and keyed locks.

These small shotgun safes run the price gamut from low-cost budget models to high-end expensive models with lots of features and smart technologies.

Most small shotgun safes, however, are nothing more than glorified gun lockers that lack any true safe-like qualities, such as burglary ratings, nor any independently-tested locking mechanisms, fireproofing, or water resistance.

Some may offer some in-house fire-resistant ratings that may or may not be adequate for your needs.

Note: The quality of the locking mechanisms, deadbolt quantity, and biometric scanners tend to go hand-in-hand with the brand reputation and price point.

Mid-Sized Shotgun Safes

This is perhaps the “sweet spot” of the shotgun safe capacity range. Like small and large safe options, mid-sized shotgun safes run the gamut of price, features, security, build quality, and brand availability.

mid-sized shotgun safes

These tend to house anywhere from 5 to 15 shotguns, as well as other long guns, and are ideal for those who don’t want something too intrusive (think wife factor), have lower budgets, or just don’t want the hassle of moving a large gun safe around.

They come in a wide range of security capabilities with some offering minimal amounts of fire resistance (at an additional cost).

There are also, of course, very budget-friendly entry-level models out there, as well as middle-of-the-pack options (in terms of pricing and quality).

Large Shotgun Safes

Many of the same issues addressed above will also apply to the larger shotgun safes, except, the degree of separation between the cheaper options versus the higher-end safes is much greater.

large shotgun safes

On the higher end of the scale, the sky is the limit regarding price, features, security, build quality, and weight. Some brands that come to mind are Fort Knox, Rhino, Champion, Liberty Safe, and many others.

On the lower end, you’ve got what is essentially just large shotgun lockers that lack a lot in terms of security, build quality (some of these you must assemble), reliability, and are significantly lighter in weight.

Examples of brands that produce cheap safes often come from Chinese makers with hard-to-pronounce names.

Of course, these weaknesses make them very affordable and they may serve a valuable purpose to those who just need something secure enough to keep children out while keeping honest people honest.

Then there are the shotgun safes that lie somewhere in the middle. This is perhaps where you’ll find the best value that strikes a balance without too many compromises.

These safes lower the bar of entry, allowing gun owners to own a relatively secure storage solution that often includes advanced biometric technologies. Some brands that come to mind are Vaultek, Barska, Stack-On, Verifi, and others.

For some reason, biometrics tend to be lacking on higher-end shotgun safes. They usually stick with digital keypads or mechanical combination locks.

Pros:

  • Most Secure Type of Gun Safe
  • Added Fire Protection
  • Theft Deterrent
  • Heavy-Duty
  • Better Locking Mechanisms
  • Large Variety Of Sizes
  • Is An Investment
  • Better Brands Can Be Customized To Your Needs
  • Can Be Bolted Down To Prevent Tipping & Pry Attacks

Cons:

  • Extremely Heavy
  • Hard To Move
  • Requires Planning
  • Most Expensive Option
  • Less Space Due To Thicker Fire Walls
  • Lots of False Advertising
  • Cheaply-Made Big Box Store Brands Obscure The Better Options, Over-Promise, & Under-Deliver

Shotgun Safe Types

This section dives into the various types, or kinds, of shotgun safes that a currently available on the marketplace. These safe types cover the entire gamut of use cases to fit specific needs.

Tactical Shotgun Lockers

These are perhaps the smallest and most strategic shotgun safes that are often referred to as “lockers”.

tactical shotgun lockers

They are purpose-built solutions that are designed to house one or two shotguns whose low profile makes them perfect for mounting under a bed, vehicle, or closet.

They most often incorporate quick-access entry methods such as biometric scanners, RFID chips, and electronic keypads.

Many have a combination of these access points as well as backup key entry, in case of battery failure.

There are analog push-button Simplex lock options available as well. Some brand examples that come to mind are Hornady, V-Line, SecureIt, and others.

Quick Access Shotgun Safes

The quick access shotgun safe, or easy access shotgun safe, is typically a single shotgun safe that has just enough space to fit one shotgun of any standard length and some spare shells or magazines.

quick access shotgun lockers

These safes are typically made of thin gauge steel and/or a mixture of steel and composite material.

Most allow for quick retrieval of your shotgun for home defense scenarios and are stored under a bed or in a closet near where you sleep.

They can usually be opened with a fingerprint, aka “biometric”, or a short digital code on an electronic keypad or use analog push buttons.

Some utilize a backup key just in case the electronics fail and the cheaper ones are opened by key.

Under The Bed Shotgun Safes

Under-the-bed and bedside shotgun safes are a relative newcomer in the home defense gun safe arena.

under the bed shotgun safes

They fill a gap left in the market that failed to address the need for a compact shotgun safe that allows you to mount something under or near your bed while you’re asleep.

Several manufacturers (Hornady, V-Line, SecureIt) have taken on the challenge to provide gun owners with an affordable option that provides adequate security while allowing lightning-fast access whenever the need arises.

Shotgun Wall Safes

Shotgun wall safes come in two varieties. First, you’ve got the type that mounts on a wall and then you’ve got the kind that are flush-mounted in the wall.

on wall shotgun safes
The ShotLock is a battery-free on-wall solution designed with home defense in mind.

The type that mounts on the wall is typically designed to hold just one shotgun and only lock over a small portion of the shotgun (such as the fire controls or barrel). Some examples include brands from ShotLock and Hornady.

The in-wall safe types tend to have space enough for one or two shotguns, depending on the internal dimensions.

in wall shotgun safes
V-Line’s tactical vault is a great modular in-wall shotgun safe solution.

Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that one should consider based on their needs, use-case, and budget.

In-wall shotgun safes are indeed more expensive in terms of cost to purchase and cost to install, while the on-wall single shotgun safes are much cheaper and way easier to install.

There are also more potential mounting areas for on-wall safes, making it better for placing them in more ideal, strategic locations.

In-wall safes trump on-wall options when it comes to concealment and discretion, though. SnapSafe makes an excellent in-wall long gun shotgun safe, as well as a few other name brands.

Closet Shotgun Safes

Closet shotgun safes tend to be smaller in size and can usually house from 3 to 5 shotguns depending on the model you buy.

closet shotgun safes
This Hornady Rapid RFID Wifi rifle safe makes a great closet shotgun safe option.

Pretty much any small, vertical-standing safe can be made to serve closet duty in your home. They are usually mounted in a bedroom closet for proximity as a tactical solution.

Many also feature quick-access technologies that make rapid access to your shotgun possible, even in low-light conditions.

Single Shotgun Safes

Single shotgun safes hold only one defensive shotgun and come in several varieties such as in-wall, on-wall, under-the-bed, or vehicle-mounted options.

single shotgun safes

The type you purchase will depend on many factors such as budget, use-case, and defensive strategy.

Most incorporate quick-access entry methods but some are mechanical or keyed to make them more robust and less prone to theft (especially those designed for use in a vehicle).

Biometric Shotgun Safes

A biometric, aka “fingerprint”, shotgun safe is a state-of-the-art security device designed specifically for the secure storage of shotguns and other firearms.

biometric shotgun safes

Utilizing advanced biometric technology, this safe ensures that only authorized individuals can access its contents.

These tend to be marketed as home defense shotgun storage solutions since they offer quicker access than mechanical or keypad safes.

They are by far the most effective safes for dispensing your shotgun at a moment’s notice while keeping your firearms out of the wrong hands.

Shotgun Safe Brands

As you can see from this long list of brands, there’s no shortage of manufacturers but the ones mentioned below are the more reputable brands.

shotgun safe brands

Many of these brands will vary greatly in price and features and you generally will get what you paid for so keep that in mind when making your final decision!

These are listed in alphabetical order. The higher-end brands are more expensive (with many customizable, made-to-order models) and are usually only found in boutique shops that deal in high-end safes.

If money is no object then by all means, buy the best you can afford!

Just remember, when it comes to protecting your assets from theft, floods, or fire, there’s no substitute for a good insurance policy, documentation, and receipts… as well as appraisals for antique firearms and family heirlooms.

  1. Amsec
  2. Barska
  3. Bighorn
  4. Browning Pro-Steel
  5. Cannon Safe
  6. Champion Gun Safes
  7. Eastern Security Co.
  8. Fort Knox
  9. Hollon
  10. Hornady
  11. Ironman Safes
  12. Liberty Safes
  13. Locker’ Down
  14. Mammoth Safes
  15. Outlaw Safe Co.
  16. Reed
  17. Rhino Metals
  18. SecureIt Tactical
  19. ShotLock
  20. SnapSafe
  21. Spika
  22. Stack-On
  23. Steelhead Outdoors
  24. Steel Mountain
  25. Stealth Tactical
  26. Stopbox
  27. Sun Welding Safes
  28. Tracker Safe
  29. Union
  30. Vaultek
  31. Viking Safe
  32. Vault Pro
  33. Winchester
  34. Zanotti Armor

Final Thoughts

As we have shown in this article, shotgun safes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, with different levels of security.

The most secure type of gun safe is one that has fire protection and built-in anti-theft deterrents, strong locks, and mechanisms.

These safes are typically heavier-duty in their construction, with stronger locking mechanisms, and use thicker gauges of steel in key locations to prevent drilling, cutting, and pry attacks.

They also come in a large variety of sizes, so you can find one that is the right fit for your needs and budget.

Just remember, gun safes are an investment, and it is important to choose a reputable brand that can be customized to meet your specific needs.

It is also important to bolt safes down to prevent tipping or pry attacks and install them in a basement, closet, or walled-in to prevent cutting tool access to the thinner steel on the sides.

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