FIREARM STORAGE INTRO:
Safely storing your firearm is one of the most important aspects of owning a gun. Every gun forum and class I've ever been apart of, the debate always comes up as to what's "secure enough" AND how do you balance between secure from others yet still easy enough for you to access if you need it quickly. Defining "secure enough" and "ready for use" is something you need to decide on for yourself by weighing your situation against local and federal laws.
Before we get started, I also want to note that there is no perfect system. There are pluses and minuses to everything we're going to talk about. For example, some of the more expensive units protect against fire (up to a certain temp and time of course) while some of the more economical units will not. You have you find the balance for your particular situation on your own. No one can do that for you.
Depending on your state and local laws you may be held responsible (legally, civilly, or sometimes both) for your firearm falling into the wrong hands. Some states have very specific laws on storage and carry while others leave it up to counties and cities to determine. You need to be familiar with your local laws as far as storage and liability is concerned. Some states only say that firearms need to be "secured" in the home or vehicle - figure out what "secured" looks like to your local law enforcement.
This is the NRA's site that shows state level guns laws-
and this is the ATF's list of state gun laws-
REASONS FOR SAFE STORAGE:
1) To protect people from harm.
Keeping your firearms from falling into the wrong hands is why most people invest in good firearm storage devices. In my opinion, and for the sake of keeping things simple, there is only one type of person you're trying to keep your firearms locked up from: Anyone you don't want to have access to your guns.
Pretty simple, eh? That person could be a thief or someone who would harm your family with your guns. That person could be your curious inexperienced nephew who's spending the night at your house. Malicious intent or not, you and those you trust (like a spouse or maybe a parent) need to be the only ones with direct access to your firearms.
2) To protect your firearms from harm.
For a lot of us, guns are our hobby and it's an expensive one at that. You've got to protect your investment and since it's illegal to store firearms in a bank's safety deposit box, you gotta come up with something else. Whether it's a burgler, a house fire, or whatever - protect the investment.
Along these same lines, you might want to call your insurance agent to find out how your firearms are covered...and if they're covered at all.
While it's not some kind of housing for your guns, I still think they're important to talk about. For some people this is enough. Others will use a combination of trigger/cable locks and a safe.
Trigger Locks (found here http://www.triggerlock.com/
Cable Locks (found here http://www.triggerlock.com/
Pros: They're dirt cheap and if you go to your police department, you can get cable locks for free. Considering the $0 price tag, there's no reason you shouldn't have one for all your guns.
Cons: They do nothing to prevent theft unless you loop the cable lock around something bolted down.
2.) Small Key Safes.
These are good for handguns and other paperwork and can be found at a wide range of stores.
Small Key Safe (found here http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product. ... _id=882239
Pros: Cheap and provide some fire resistance.
Cons: Not really that easy to fumble around with if you're in a hurry. Obviously you don't want to keep the key stuck in it so finding some place safe to store the key where a child couldn't find it may mean that it takes you that much longer to get the case open. Also, unless you bolt it down, it doesn't do much to prevent theft.
3.) Small Digital Safes - keypad.
Basically the same as the key safe but you use a small keypad to type in a code.
Digital Safe (found here http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product. ... id=5127163
Pros: Cheap and provide some fire resistance.
Cons: Will you remember your code in a high stress situation? Like the others, unless you bolt it down it could easily be snatched from your home in a robbery.
4.) Small Digital Safes - finger combo.
Same as the above digital safes, but instead of using a keypad, you slide your hand into grooves and press your fingers down in a certain sequence that you program in.
Finger Combination Safe (found here http://www.cabelas.com
Pros: One of the most popular handgun storage systems on the market. Fairly affordable and effective.
Cons: Like the other safes, in a high stress situation will you remember the finger combo? After 5 wrong attempts, the unit will lock down and you have to use a key to open it up. And once again, if this isn't bolted down, someone can slip away with it.
5.) Small Digital Safes - Biometric.
These seem to be really hot right now. Very cool design where you simply put your finger on a finger print reader and the safe pops open.
Biometric Safe (found here http://www.gunsafestore.com/biometricgunsafe.htm
Pros: Very secure, but I'm honestly not sure about fire protection. Probably one of the easiest for the owner to get into in a hurry.
Cons: I have no experience with them, but I've heard the argument that if your finger is dirty or sweaty, it can mess with the print reading.
6.) Metal Gun Cabinets.
Very popular and very affordable option for storing multiple guns - handguns, rifles, and shotguns alike. Construction seems very similar to tool boxes as far as the thickness of the metal, etc. You can get them with key locks, digital keypads, or even biometric.
Metal Gun Cabinet (found here http://www.dickssportinggoods.com
Pros: Affordable and effective. You can get them in may different configurations and sizes. Also gonna be tough for a robber to get it out of your house.
Cons: As far as home defense goes, they're probably not something you're going to have sitting next to your bed...unless your single or have the coolest spouse on earth. Most of them don't offer a lot in the way of fire protection.
7.) Wood/Glass Gun Cabinets.
Popular amoung those who want to have their firearms on display. They sure look a lot nicer than the metal boxes, espeically if you're trying to talk your wife into letting you have it in the living room.
Wood Gun Cabinet (found here www.walmart.com
Pros: Nice looking and a cool way to safely display your guns.
Cons: The front is made of glass...pretty obvious.
8.) Heavy Duty Gun Vaults/Safes.
These really are the safest thing for firearm storage on the market as far as keeping people from getting to them. They also provide some of the best fire protection on the market. They can be extremely expensive, but for those who have tens of thousands of dollars, it's well worth the investment. These usually come with a turn dial, keypad, or biometric system.
Gun Vault (found here www.cabelas.com
Pros: IMO, they're the most secure option on the market for storing multiple firearms - usually the best fire protection and harder than hell for someone to break into.
Cons: The biggest draw back is the cost and size. Not everyone can afford or have space for them.
Take your time and weigh all your options. Keep in mind that this is by no mean an exhaustive list of things out there. Do some research and ask questions.
Here's a link to a cool thread about what other ZSers use for storage
Have fun and stay safe!
Big thanks to Doctor Ocks for putting this together. You rock, man!