Our fathers may have displayed their firearms in glass gun cases or on open gun racks, but nowadays such an overly accessible method of storage seems not only antiquated, but in homes with young children, downright reckless. Today, gun vaults and locks are available for every need and in every price range. There are so many on the market, in fact, that we decided to put together a buyer’s guide.
Before purchasing a gun vault, there are a number of things you should consider. For example, vaults come in various sizes and weights. Some can be moved by two people; others might be too heavy for your living room floor. Some come with a mechanical lock, while others might have an electronic or key lock. Some vaults can withstand intense fires and wily safecrackers; others are less heat- and theft-proof. To help you find the right vault or locking mechanism for you, we’ve broken this review into three categories: bargain vaults ($900 or less), mid-priced vaults ($1,000 to $2,000) and high-end vaults ($2,000 and up). It should be noted that just because a vault is in one category, it doesn’t mean that all of the respective manufacturer’s products fall into the same category.
In our value category we have vaults designed to fit in a closet or back room. These products are best if you have small doorways, limited floor space or just a few firearms to store.
American Security’s Teton (5924) fits into a closet or other confined space. The Teton holds 16 long guns, weighs 375 pounds (fire-resistant version), and has five locking bolts, four deadbolts and a drill-resistant hard plate to protect the lock mechanism. We found the Teton’s door and lock smooth and easy to use. ($750 base, $1,050 for a fire-resistant model; 800-421-6142; www.amsecusa.com)
Remington’s Express Safe has many features you would expect to find on higher-priced vaults, such as a lockable interior storage box, storage bins and an electronic, six-digit lock that controls the vault’s four locking bolts. We found this welded cabinet’s lock easy to use. The vault stores up to 16 long guns. ($500; 800-243-9700; www.remington.com)
Holding from 14 to 16 firearms, Sentry’s Model R3910 has a hardened-steel plate to protect its lock, an adjustable storage shelf, a three-number combination lock and concealed hinges. We found its door to be smooth and easy to open. Other sizes are also available. ($699.99; 585-381-4900; www.sentrysafe.com)
Stack-On Products Co., best known for its stackable handgun cabinets, has begun manufacturing long-gun vaults. Its GS-212 vault has five locking bolts, a 3mm steel door, concealed hinges, a dial combination lock, a 12-firearm capacity and a removable shelf. One of the vault’s biggest pluses is that it can be moved in a mini-van or SUV with a little help from one of your shooting buddies. We found its combination locking system to be smooth and solid. If you have a fair-sized firearm collection, this may be the vault for you. ($349.99; 800-323-9601; www. stackon.com)
If you need more features and increased fire resistance for your firearm collection, a mid-priced vault might fit the bill. However, you’ll need to have a pickup or large SUV to move these beasts, which weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds.
Fort Knox, a name that brings to mind security and all that gold, has several mid-priced models in its Protector Series. These vaults have interior options to allow storage of 16 to 52 firearms-if you need to store more than that, go see a therapist; you could be obsessed. This line of vaults has seven locking bolts, can withstand 50 minutes in a 14,500-degree fire without any harm being done to the firearms inside and has ball-bearing hinges, a carpeted interior and a limited lifetime warranty. As with a mid-priced family sedan, there are numerous options available, including a wildlife scene for the door, a dehumidifier and door holsters for your handguns. ($1,175 to $2,119; 800-821-5216; www. ftknox.com)
Heritage Safe Company’s Centennial Series offers six vaults in the mid-priced category. Capacity ranges from 14 to 52 long guns. These safes are all fire-resistant and have active lock bolts on the hinge and door, plus top and bottom bolts that secure the door in case someone attempts to cut the hinges off. Its three-point handle turns smoothly. Once unlocked, the door opens with an audible swoosh of air-sign of an airtight seal. ($969 to $2,089; 800-515-7233; www. heritagesafe.com)
For buyers with the space and means, the vaults in this last category are the real heavyweights.
Browning’s Medallion Series vaults have an elevated floor for ease of removal and added protection in the event of a fire. There are 14 locking bolts and the vault’s heavy 10-gauge- steel body can withstand 30 minutes at 1,200 degrees. The safe holds as many as 45 long guns. The Browning safe is so precise it won’t open unless the directions are followed exactly, so your guns are really secure. ($2,499; 800-333-3288; www. browning.com)
The Crown Series from Champion includes the 1,575-pound behemoth Model C-50, with 1.5-inch locking bolts, a one- to two-inch-thick body and a fire rating of 1 hour and 45 minutes at 1,500 degrees. Vaults in this series relock if someone tries a forced entry. The C-50 holds up to 52 long guns. Its double-step door is nearly airtight and there is a noticeable swoosh of air at opening or closing. As with other heavyweights, the door swings smoothly thanks to its ball-bearing hinges. ($3,699; 702-871-5397; www. championsafe.com)
**Fort Knox **
Fort Knox’s Yeager Series (named for Chuck Yeager) is fire-rated for up to 90 minutes at 1,680 degrees and has up to 28 locking bolts, a 11/8-inch reinforced fire door and a spy-proof key- lock S&G; Group II dial. The Yeager Series can hold as many as 52 firearms. These vaults seal tightly and require some muscle to open; thanks to the ball-bearing hinges the door swings smoothly. A thief will not cart this one away: The 7241 is six feet tall and weighs 1,820 pounds. (From $4,149; 800-821-5216; www.ftknox.com)
Heritage Safes’ Ultimate Series can store up to 52 long guns. These safes have as many as 24 locking bolts and a 21/2-inch-thick firewall that runs throughout the walls and door. They can handle 90 minutes in 1,950-degree heat. The doors move easily due to drill-proof ball-bearing hinges. ($2,999 to $3,899; 800-515-7233; www.heritage safe.com)