When I was putting together our guide to quick access pistol safes a few months ago, there were dozens of options to choose from and it was a challenge to decide which ones to evaluate for the review. The same was not true for this review.
Secure storage devices for keeping a single home-defense carbine or shotgun close at hand are tough to come by, especially if you want something both small and affordable. I decided to set a limit of $400 for this batch of gun safes. If you’re willing to spend more than that for a small quick-access storage solution, you might consider looking into the “incognito” storage options like shelves, cabinets, and other furniture with hidden compartments. Whatever your budget happens to be, before you go safe shopping, be sure to read our article about avoiding gun theft.
Okay, on to the review… watch the video below, or scroll down to read the full transcript.
If you keep a rifle or a shotgun at home for personal protection, ideally, it should to be secured against theft and small kids, but you still want to be able to get to it quickly in an emergency. This is where a small quick-access safe is really handy to have. They don’t take up as much room as one of the big refrigerator-sized gun safes, and unlike these cheap storage cabinets, they have keyless locks that are easy to open under stress.
A couple of months ago, I reviewed some quick-access pistol safes and this is the promised follow-up to that — today I’m looking at six different quick-access safes for long guns. But first, I want to throw in another quick plug for the article Detective Spencer Blue wrote for our blog. It’s all about avoiding gun theft and there’s a lot of important information in there everyone should know before they go shopping for a gun safe. Follow the link above the video or type “gun theft” in the search bar.
The safes I picked out for this review range in price from $150-400 and they’re all pretty different from each other. I know there are a lot of other options available, but I think this is a good representative sample of the different types of affordable storage devices on the market for keeping a rifle or shotgun readily accessible.
Barska Quick Access Biometric Rifle Safe
Exterior: 52.1”H x 9.8”L x 8.6”W
Interior: 51.5”H x 9.3”L x 7.6”W
Weight: 66 lbs
Lock type: Biometric fingerprint reader, backup bypass key.
Power source: 4AA batteries, external backup battery pack.
Mounting Options: Holes on back and bottom panels. Hardware included.
First up is the Barska Quick Access Biometric Rifle Safe. I really like the size of this unit. It’s not too big to fit in a closet, but there’s room enough in here for at least two long guns plus a small shelf at the top. It’s got holes in the back and on the bottom so you can bolt it down.
These locking bolts and the door are not as sturdy as they look. It’s kind of a cheap imitation of a real safe door but the more serious weakness of this thing is the biometric lock. If you saw my handgun safe review, you know for home defense guns, I’m not a big fan of electronic locks in general.
This is a $250 safe, and at that price, there is just no way the cheap electronics in here are dependable enough to store life-saving emergency equipment. If you decide to use an electronic safe anyway, my advice would be to preemptively replace the batteries on a regular schedule well before they start going bad, and then plan on replacing the whole device in 3 to 5 years even if it’s still working.
There’s no keypad on this safe — just a biometric reader. In my experience, it opens on the first try about 60% of the time. If it fails completely, you can remove this plate and behind here there’s a hole for a bypass key.
Personally, I’d be interested in a safe this size with higher quality construction and a UL-certified electronic keypad, but something like that would have to cost more than most people want to pay for a unit that’s only protecting one or two firearms.
V-Line Rifle Case
Exterior: 42”H x 12”L x 3.5”W
Interior: 40.5”H x 11”L x 3”W
Weight: 38 lbs
Lock type: Simplex mechanical pushbutton lock.
Power source: N/A
Mounting Options: Holes on back panel. Hardware not included.
If I had to pick a favorite, out of these six safes, it would probably be the V-Line Rifle Case. The major selling point for me is the Simplex mechanical lock. This is a proven, reliable design that’s been around since the 1960s. There are no batteries or anything, just enter the code and turn the knob. Inside here, there’s enough space for a single rifle or shotgun with a velcro strap to prevent the gun from falling out. It’s a simple, straightforward gun locker that’s easy to use and there’s not much to go wrong in a high-stress situation.
But there are some problems with it. The first is that it’s a bit on the small side. The interior is 11 inches wide, and you can see there’s just barely enough room for an AR with a 30-round mag and a red dot sight. It’s also not quite deep enough to fit my Beretta shotgun with a sidesaddle and a flashlight attached because of the bolt handle. So before you buy one of these, measure your home defense gun and make sure it’s going to fit.
The lock is the other issue here. Opening it is not a problem, but the only thing keeping this whole door closed is a little bolt right here. To supplement this lock, V-Line has installed two additional latches at the top and bottom of the door, but they each have to be opened individually with a key. Obviously, if you use these, it is no longer a quick-access safe. Without the extra locks, the bottom of the door is really easy to pry open, even with my bare hands. So this would be good for keeping the gun away from small kids, and it might have a camouflage advantage because it doesn’t look like a typical gun safe. But if someone really wanted to force this thing open, I don’t think it would be difficult.
V-Line has addressed all these shortcomings with a unit called the Closet Vault II. It’s like a larger version of the V-Line Rifle Case except it goes inside the wall, and the latches at the top and bottom are actually connected to the Simplex lock. So you get three locking points without any keys. The downsides are the hassle of installing it and the $600 price tag, which is almost twice what the V-line Rifle Case goes for.
Hornady RAPiD Safe AR Wall Lock
Exterior: 14.5”H x 11”L x 4.7”W
Weight: 14 lbs
Lock type: Digital keypad, RFID tags, and backup bypass key.
Power source: 4AA batteries or AC wall adapter.
Mounting Options: Holes on back panel. Hardware included.
Next, we’ve got the Hornady RAPiD Safe AR Wall Lock. It’s more like a lockable gun rack than an actual safe. It’s designed specifically to fit standard AR-15 or larger AR-10 style rifles, and they’ve got a version for shotguns, too. The grip rests on this block here and this other block goes in the ejection port. This opening here is to make room for optics. When the door is shut, the muzzle ring prevents someone from using the barrel as a pry bar to rip the whole thing off the wall.
Just like the pistol version of the Hornady Rapidsafe I reviewed, it can be opened with a numeric code, or you can use one of the included RFID tags or if all that fails, there’s a bypass key. From a usability standpoint, this is really not a bad unit at all. The keypad is definitely preferable to a biometric reader, but I still just don’t trust the long-term reliability of cheap consumer electronics.
ShotLock Shotgun 200M SoloVault
Exterior: 7.5″H x 6.5″L x 2.4″W
Interior: 7″H x 4″L x 2″W
Weight: 4.5 lbs
Lock type: Mechanical pushbutton lock with backup bypass key.
Power source: N/A
Mounting Options: Holes on back panel. Hardware included.
The ShotLock Shotgun 200M SoloVault is another gun rack style device. It’s supposedly compatible with both pump action and semi-auto shotguns. Shotlock also has a version designed for AR-15s. The lock is a mechanical push-button design similar to a Simplex, but it has a bypass key, which is not ideal from a security standpoint.
The bigger problem with the SoloVault is that it’s not big enough for a shotgun that’s got anything attached to the receiver. So if you have a sidesaddle or an optic or a rear sight on the receiver, there’s a good chance it’s not going to work. I’d also like to see some kind of attachment point for the muzzle like the Hornady safe has.
Another thing you might want to take into account with any of these bracket type safes is the temptation factor. Human beings are a lot more likely to want something if we can actually see it. So for both criminals and for kids, having the gun out where it’s visible is just asking for somebody to come mess with it. If the gun is hidden away in a box, nobody really knows whether there’s something inside that’s worth the effort of breaking it open. So before you get one of these, just be aware you’re not getting the security advantage that comes with simply hiding the gun from view.
SnapSafe Under Bed Safe
Exterior: 40″W x 6″H x 22″L
Interior: 37″W x 5″H x 16″L
Weight: 105 lbs
Lock type: Digital keypad with backup bypass key.
Power source: 4AA batteries
Mounting Options: 5-foot steel cable attaches to right side. Four mounting holes on the bottom, mounting hardware not included.
The SnapSafe Under Bed Safe is basically a big lockable drawer. It’s got enough room for two or three long guns along with some pistols if you arrange them all strategically. It’s a really nice storage solution if you own a handful of guns but you don’t want a full size gun safe. When you put your code in and turn the knob, these big bolts retract on either side of the drawer. It’s got holes in the bottom for mounting it to the floor, or you can secure it with the included 5-foot steel cable. It seems pretty secure except for the bypass key, but I bet you can guess what I’m going to say about the electronic keypad — it’s a dealbreaker for me for guns that I might need to access in a home invasion.
I have been using this as a vehicle safe and it works great in that role. I’ve been really impressed with how much I can cram into this thing and now I don’t worry so much about somebody taking my stuff when I stop for Chick-Fil-A on the way to the range.
This version of the Under Bed Safe just barely fits a shotgun with an 18-inch barrel at a slight angle. The XL model is slightly larger if you want to store guns with longer barrels.
Fort Knox Shotgun Security Box
Exterior: 45″L x 5″H x 9″W
Interior: 43.5″L x 4″H x 8.25″W
Weight: 62 lbs
Lock type: Simplex mechanical pushbutton lock
Power source: N/A
Mounting Options: None
Finally, we have another under-the-bed style safe: the Fort Knox Shotgun Security Box. The Fort Knox Pistol Box was my top choice in the handgun safe review and the Shotgun Box has very similar construction. It’s just a big 10-gauge steel box with a spring-assisted door and a Simplex lock. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more limited than the pistol box because of the dimensions. It’s 45 inches long and the opening is 9×5. That’s plenty of room for most shotguns, but it might be a tight fit if you’ve got a pistol grip. An AR will kind of fit, but only if there’s no magazine or optic attached.
Even if your gun does fit it’s not going to come out of this small door as quickly as it would from a drawer or a large door like one of these other safes. And there are no holes for cables or for mounting it to the floor.
So as much as I like the Simplex lock, I cannot give the Shotgun Box the same kind of enthusiastic recommendation that I have given the Fort Knox pistol box.
Bottom line: if you want a really great quick-access storage solution for a rifle or shotgun, you’re probably going to have to spend more than $400. If you want something that’s pretty good, one of these devices might work if you’re willing to make some compromises.