June 30, 2022 10 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.
First thing, don’t stress out too much if you’re still unsure about storing guns safely without a specially designed safe. Gun ownership is a serious responsibility, but it does not have to be complicated.
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 mounts are a good way 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a great choice 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. To secure your guns, you need to consider the risk of someone walking out of your home with the whole case.
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.
General-purpose security cases, fireproof safes 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. They won't fit long guns, but should have enough room for small handguns like a semi-automatic pistol or revolver.
Like a gun case, you may need to take additional preventive measures to avoid 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.
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.
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.
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.
Generally, yes. There are no federal safe storage laws in the United States requiring secure gun storage. However, licensed gun carriers legally must transfer firearms with safe storage.
Also, safe gun storage laws, aka Child 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.
Here are some final points to help you decide where to store your gun:
It’s your responsibility to know and abide by any safe storage laws where you live.
Even if you don’t have any of your own, there’s a chance kids could visit when family or friends come over.
If you have any firearms for home defense, they should be secure yet easy to access. Quick access is key in an emergency.
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.
To prevent accidental discharge, never store a loaded gun. And always secure your ammunition separately.
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.
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.
Gun safety is the #1 priority in any home with children. Store your guns unloaded, separately from ammunition, with both in a robust locking container inaccessible to children or young family members. Add a trigger or cable lock for good measure. That way, there’s no chance of unintentionally shooting the gun.
Yes. Keep ammo away separately in a locked container to prevent unintentional discharges and access by unauthorized users.
Yes. Tactical furniture may be the best option for home defense weapon storage for quick access.
No, not even if it’s unloaded.
Absolutely not. To prevent potentially fatal unintentional discharges, never store a gun loaded or in the same location as ammunition, especially around children.
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.
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.