Why do you need an Auto Gun Safe?
There are all sorts of dynamics at play when you have firearms, specifically pistols, in your car or truck and that’s where Auto Gun Safes factor in. The choice of where and how you keep a pistol in your auto may depend on what you’re doing at the time and what laws in your state apply to that situation. At any given time, you may be either carrying, transporting or storing a firearm.
The laws governing these situations vary wildly from state to state so it would always benefit you to be intimately familiar with the specific laws in your state of residence. Let’s assume for the moment you’re not actually carrying, that is your pistol is not on your person. It’s not in a holster, in a pocket or tucked under your leg or in some other um… retention situation. You’ve got to get out of the vehicle and unfortunately your piece can’t come with you.
In some states that’s a rare situation where you need to leave it behind, in others more common. Or maybe you’re of the mind that concealed means concealed and that “gat” is going everywhere you go. That’s your call for sure. But for most folks there will be situations where the pistol will be in the car and you ain’t.
For those times there are a number of solutions to secure your firearms until you are reunited and drive off into the sunset together. Ok, you’ve got the built in options like the trunk and the glovebox unless like me you drive a pickup so you lose the trunk. In some states that satisfies the letter of the law as far as storage goes and truth be told, as long as the vehicle is locked that’s better than nothing. In the trunk or in the glovebox at least the pistol is out of sight. At a very minimum there’s a locked door or trunk between the big bad world and your gun. The problem with locked doors is they have nice big windows in them. Have you ever seen how easy it is to break a car window? Check out this video:
Once in the car, it’s five seconds to open the glovebox or the trunk and Sayonara Sig Sauer. The car remains a point of vulnerability for securing your gun. But we can do better. Luckily there are some very good lock boxes and auto gun safes available for reasonable prices that do a great job of protecting your gun (or other valuables) when you have to leave it in the car.
What to look for.
There are a few things to look for when you are selecting an auto gun safe or lockbox and they are similar to selecting a home safe but have differences as well. Like home safes, an auto gun safe doesn’t have to resist compromise forever. They just need to last longer than a thief has to spend on them before being discovered.
First, it must be secured to your car or truck. Think about it – we’re talking in most cases about a gun safe or lockbox that in most cases is smaller than the proverbial breadbox. If it’s not securely attached to the vehicle a thief can just tuck it under their arm and break into it at their leisure as they sit at home sipping a cold beer and watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Don’t make it that easy. Don’t even consider an auto gun safe that isn’t able to be secured to the car.
Second, just like home safes, look for solid heavy gauge materials in the construction. Although someone attacking the gun safe in your car may be less likely to be carrying all manner of heavy tools with them the shell of your safe should be able to resist attacks with common hand tools. If it can be pried open with a screwdriver, it’s not much better than throwing your gun in the glovebox.
Third, quality locks. Unlike those big home safes that look sturdy but are actually fairly thin steel, there are many cheaper automobile gun safes and lockboxes where the lock is the weakest link. Some can be defeated just by banging it around or shaking at an angle other than perfectly upright. So look for quality locking mechanisms. Simplex locks avoid the issue of battery life. Quality electronic locks should have equally able backup key lock. I’m ambivalent about biometric locks in car gun safes. I can see the utility of biometrics in a home safe to enable quick access to a firearm if you are not carrying one on your person but I see less of that utility for an auto safe.
This is intended as a short term storage solution when you can’t carry. When you get back to the car, stick that gun in the holster where it belongs and is accessible. If you think you may be running to your car to get your pistol quickly, maybe you should be thinking about running away from the threat instead. But that’s a discussion for another day. Get a good lock.
Last, there’s capacity. Certainly this is much less of a consideration in an auto safe than for a home safe, but don’t dismiss it out of hand. Although we’re talking about automobile gun safes, you may want to secure something other than your pistol in there at some point. Wallet, cell phone, spare magazine… think about it.
So that brings us to our picks.
V-Line BRUTE-Tactical Heavy Duty Large Capacity Handgun Safe
Here’s what I like about the V-line. The all steel case is super heavy duty. In fact, at 10 gauge steel, it’s thicker steel than you’ll find in most home safes. The simplex lock is mechanical rather than electronic so there’s no batteries to die on you. It has mounting holes predrilled for permanent attachment. There’s enough room in it for several items or two pistols. If used as an auto gun safe this is best bolted in the trunk as it is a top opening design. One minor concern is this type of lock affords 1082 possible combinations but given the application that should suffice. It’s a solid pistol safe.
The Console Vault
I love this safe! There are a surprising number of cars, trucks and SUVs that Console Vault makes models for. If your vehicle is on the list there are few better auto gun safe options out there. Once installed it’s an integral part of your vehicle and looks like it was made for it (which it was). It features 12 gauge cold rolled plate steel which of course is hidden by your vehicles console. Access is about as convenient as it gets, as the balanced steel lid is spring assisted. There are three and four combination lock options as well as a high security barrel type lock available.
ShotLock Handgun 200M Solo-Vault
The Shotlock is intended to be a portable gun safe (they put a handle on it, right!) so the size and design make a it a great auto safe. This is a good candidate to locate under the seat of most any car but securing it with an optional cable is a must. It uses a simplex lock design so no batteries to worry about and this one uses an 8 button combination lock which gives you over 1500 four digit combinations. It also has a key override in case you ummm… forget your numbers.
Vaultek Essential Series Quick Access Handgun Safe
Vaultek has really taken small gun safe technology to another level. It starts with a solid 14 gauge carbon steel shell with dual anti-impact latches. It adds LED lighting for the combination keys and the interior so you can see what you’re doing in low light. The keypad provided over 19,000,000 combinations and it comes with an anchoring cable and bolt down holes to secure it. It features quickly rechargeable Lithium Ion power but you do have to charge it every four months or so. There’s room for two full sized pistols plus extra mags (or anything else you need secured).