12 Best Ways to Store Guns Without a Safe

June 30, 2022 9 min read

Gun owners have the solemn responsibility to secure their firearms, and depending on where you live, that responsibility could also be a legal obligation. Using a gun safe is ideal if you have room in your home and budget, but a gun safe may be too expensive or bulky for your home. Or maybe you have a gun safe, but your collection has outgrown it.

The above predicaments are understandable, but leaving firearms lying around insufficiently hidden or secured is never okay. And in some places, it’s illegal to do so.

It leaves your guns vulnerable to theft, and that could mean your gun falling into the wrong hands in the event of a break-in. Worse, unsecured guns put everyone in your home at risk, especially children.

Since this is a pressing dilemma for responsible gun owners, we’ve compiled this comprehensive resource about storing guns without a gun safe. Here’s everything you need to know to thoroughly weigh and compare the best gun storage options for you and your unique situation.

 

Ideas for Storing Guns Without a Gun Safe

Don’t stress out too much if you’re still unsure about storing guns safely without a specially designed safe. 

Many alternatives could prove just as practical and secure for the right person and household. When deciding on the best options for you, think about spaces children could get into, your guns’ value and purpose (i.e. home defense), your home’s layout, and any local laws that apply. 

Never store a loaded gun, and remember to store ammunition separately and securely.

Gun Racks and Gun Mounts

Spartan Mounts Gun Wall

Gun racks and mounts allow you to mount firearms on the wall or inside a safe, cabinet, or hiding spot. The safest way to store guns using racks and mounts is inside a heavily secured gun room. 

You can also use racks and mounts to hide home defense firearms inside good hiding spots, for example, headboards with secret compartments.

If you’re wall mounting your firearms for display in your home, make sure to install them too high for children to reach. You should even take this measure if you don’t have kids because you likely have friends and family visit occasionally.

It’s also a good idea to combine racks and mounts with trigger locks since this storage method may leave your guns more accessible.

Pros

  • Display
  • Organize a safe
  • Can be installed in a secure gun room or hiding spot out of reach of children
  • Works alongside trigger locks and cable locks

Cons

  • Mounting firearms in the open outside of a secure gun room may not be ideal in case of break-ins.

Trigger-Lock or Cable Locks

Cable Lock on Rifle

 

Trigger locks such as trigger shoes and steel cables are the simplest security method for firearms. They’re also affordable, as you can find these for under $30. This type of lock obstructs the action of the gun, making it impossible to use.

Trigger shoes are a cylinder that locks in place behind the trigger, so the gun can’t fire. Cable locks work like a padlock, with a cable going through the ejection port, loading port, barrel, chamber, or mag well, preventing the gun from going into battery or firing.

This is a versatile way to enhance the safety of any other storage, especially if you choose a rack or mount that includes a hole for the cable lock.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Works well for travel in conjunction with compact cases
  • Allows storage in small, discreet spots
  • Adds an extra level of safety alongside any other storage solution
  • Works for any firearm

Cons

  • The wrong person could overcome this with the right power tools.

Gun Storage Bag

Rifle Range Storage Bag

No matter where you’re keeping your firearms, they should also be in a moisture-resistant bag if they go unused for months or years. Rust and corrosion aren’t just an eye sore. Over time they can ruin your valuable property. 

Storage bags are also an excellent, portable choice to cushion guns during transportation.

Pros

  • Padding protects from damage
  • Keeps out moisture to prevent rust
  • Portable and lightweight

Cons

  • Easy to steal

Concealed Gun Storage Book

Secret Book SAfe

There are small, sneaky safes that look just like books or other household objects like clocks. It’s a clever way to hide and lock up a handgun (or other valuables, for that matter). 

This is a good solution if you are concealing a gun you intend to have on hand for home security. You know where the firearm is, but unauthorized persons will not.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Hard for an intruder to spot
  • Quick home defense access

Cons

  • Some are more obvious than others
  • Some are just made of real books without any security mechanism

Magnets

DIY Gun Magnet

Gun magnets offer a versatile way to mount guns for display or concealed storage in hidden spaces by your bed or bedside table, for instance.

However, because this idea enables such easy access, it’s not the safest storage for firearms. So you should use a trigger or cable lock as well. Simply securing a gun into a hiding spot with a magnet is not safe enough if you have kids in the house.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Versatile concealment
  • Quick home defense access

Cons

  • By itself, it’s not safe enough for households with children. 


Gun Cabinet

Gun Cabinet

Not to be confused with a gun safe, a gun cabinet is usually made of thin sheet metal. Since these are relatively hard to get into without the key or combination, gun cabinets are probably the second safest storage for firearms compared to an actual gun safe.

These are generally large enough to fit multiple larger firearms like rifles and shotguns.

Alternatively, there are attractive but less safe wood and glass gun cabinets for display purposes.

Pros

  • As safe as possible without having a gun safe
  • More compact and affordable than a gun safe
  • Aesthetically pleasing display options
  • Usually large enough for multiple long guns
  • Can be combined with other mounts and racks

Cons

  • Display cabinets are not secure.

Gun Cases

Gun Case

Several trustworthy brands make strong, locking polymer cases. Some gun cases can fit more than one gun. They’re tested, durable, typically padded inside, and are the best way to transport firearms.

However, since gun cases are smaller than a safe or cabinet, you should still put them in a good hiding spot or tether them to a heavy or immobile object using a steel cable.

Pros

  • Ideal for transportation
  • More compact than a safe or cabinet
  • Durable and secure
  • Some models fit multiple firearms

Cons

  • Possibly vulnerable to theft without additional measures

False Wall or Ventilation

Fake Vent Gun Safe

You could use HVAC vents, ducts, and intakes as hiding places. If you take this route, you’ll want a gun bag to limit damaging moisture exposure. You can also install decoy ventilation components. They even make safes that look just like HVAC ducts. 

Alternatively, you can build a false wall in the perfect location in your home or hire contractors to do it. You must make sure it blends in perfectly so unauthorized persons (including curious kids) suspect nothing.

This is a good balance of space and secrecy. False walls and ventilation are perfect for inconspicuously keeping multiple firearms, even long guns. 

Pros

  • Kids and intruders are unlikely to get access
  • Inconspicuous yet spacious

Cons

  • False walls can be hard to DIY
  • It might be hard to access a home defense weapon you’re storing in a false wall or ventilation system
  • Constructing false walls or ventilation is expensive

Security Case or Lock Box

Lock Box

General-purpose security cases and lock boxes can work reasonably well, too. Some are moisture-resistant, especially with the addition of some silica gel packets. These locked containers are secure enough to keep kids out yet compact enough to store away easily in your home. 

Like a gun case, you may need to take additional measures to prevent theft if someone breaks into your house.

You also can’t install mounts as you would with a traditional gun safe or cabinet. But you could do some simple DIY to make a lockbox or security case mountable.

Most containers of this variety are only large enough for handguns, but it is possible to find ones large enough for long guns such as rifles and shotguns.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Compact
  • Secure

Cons

  • Most are only big enough for handguns
  • Portable enough to steal
  • Not mountable without customization

Hidden Gun Storage Furniture

Hidden Bookshelf

You’d be amazed at how many ingenious tricks manufacturers have figured out to perfectly hide and secure firearms in plain sight. 

Tactical furniture refers to innocuous-looking household objects with cunning secret compartments for firearms and ammunition. These storage products masquerade as lamps, coffee tables, bed frames, picture frames, dressers, shelves, bookcases, clocks, china cabinets, and more.

With surprising amounts of space, these inventive solutions are both discreet and easy to get to in emergencies, making them the ultimate storage for home defense weapons.

Pros

  • Accessible yet secretive

Cons

  • Don’t always include locking mechanisms

Hollow Spaces

Hidden Storage

Every home is different. You can also find out-of-the-way spaces like crawlspaces, attics, or behind baseboards. Many under-counter kitchen and bathroom cabinets have convenient hollow spaces underneath, between the floor and the bottom surface of the cabinet. 

This should not be a go-to for homes with children. Never underestimate how inquisitive kids get when they’re bored or how smart they are when trying to get into things they’re not supposed to.

Pros

  • Minimal costs
  • Hidden

Cons

  • Not the best in homes with children
  • May not be easily accessible in emergencies

Closet Door Lock

Keypad Doorknob

Installing a lock on the closet door can be as simple or high-tech as you want. After a cheap trip to the hardware store, you could get the job done in a few minutes. 

But if it’s becoming a pain to unlock and re-lock the closet door every time you use it, maybe you’d prefer a more high-tech option that opens with your fingerprint or something and locks automatically.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Accessible
  • Secure and hidden
  • Childproof

Cons

  • Inconvenient without biometric entry
  • Manually locking up could be easy to forget after using your closet daily

Is it Legal to Store a Gun Without a Safe?

Generally, yes. There are no federal safe storage laws in the United States requiring secure gun storage. However, licensed gun carriers legally musttransfer firearms with safe storage. 

Also, safe gun storage laws, akaChild Access Prevention (CAP) laws, exist in many states. CAP laws make it illegal for gun owners to store guns insufficiently so that it’s possible for a child to access or unintentionally shoot them. California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Maryland have the strictest CAP laws, and Massachusetts legally requires gun owners to store firearms with a locking device.

In 11 states, recklessly storing firearms is grounds for criminal liability. Since state and local laws and private property rules vary, gun owners must be informed and compliant.

 

Tips for Choosing Where to Store Your Gun

Here are some final points to help you decide where to store your gun:

Know the laws.

It’s your responsibility to know and abide by any safe storage laws where you live.

Keep kids in mind. 

Even if you don’t have any of your own, there’s a chance kids could visit when family or friends come over.

Have a plan.

If you have any firearms for home defense, they should be secure yet easy to access. Quick access is key in an emergency.

Prevent theft.

Firearm theft is a dangerous problem. If you choose a portable and lightweight storage solution, you should find a way to prevent it from getting stolen.

Separate ammo.

To prevent accidental discharge, never store a loaded gun. And always secure your ammunition separately.

Know the risks of displaying.

If you prefer to display your firearms in the open, the safest way is to do so in a locking gun room. Otherwise, at least mount the firearms high enough on a wall that even adults would have to spend some time and effort getting to them.

Prevent damage.

If you’re transporting a firearm or storing it long-term, prioritize components like padding, moisture-resistant materials and seals, durability, and possibly even fire resistance.

 

FAQs About Gun Storage

How should I store my guns and ammunition with children in the house?

Store your guns unloaded, separately from ammunition, with both in a robust locking container inaccessible to children. Add a trigger or cable lock for good measure. That way, there’s no chance of unintentionally shooting the gun.

Does ammunition need to be locked away?

Yes. Keep ammo away separately in a locked container to prevent unintentional discharges.

Are there ways to store guns but have easy access for home defense situations?

Yes. Tactical furniture may be the best home defense weapon storage for quick access.

Should I sleep with my gun under my pillow?

No, not even if it’s unloaded.

Is storing a loaded gun without a bullet in the chamber and with the safety on sufficient to protect a toddler from accidental discharge?

Absolutely not. To prevent potentially fatal unintentional discharges, never store a gun loaded or in the same location as ammunition, especially around children.

How are people required to store guns at home while drinking alcohol?

There is no federal law in the United States requiring safe gun storage with or without alcohol in the mix. But you should store firearms securely enough to deter the unlikely split-second stupid idea under the influence. 

If you feel you can’t trust yourself around firearms while under the influence, you should reconsider keeping firearms in your home.

Did we cover anything you’d never thought of before?

Handling, carrying, owning, and storing firearms is a heavy responsibility. Responsible and informed gun owners know that adhering to all applicable laws and properly securing guns is something they must take seriously.

While gun safes are the best way to go, they’re not practical for every gun owner. Luckily, there are many storage ideas, many of which you can combine for the perfect balance of security, accessibility, and affordability.

Gun and magazine mounts are a versatile mode of storage that can help you safely organize your arsenal for aesthetics or in a secure gun room, closet, safe, or cabinet. Spartan Mounts is the best place to shop firearm wall mounts online and find custom-designed solutions.