The Car Gun Safe: The Why and How of Mobile Firearm Security

If you own a firearm, even if you carry one on your person every day, there will come a time when it has to come off and be left unattended. That is where safe storage solutions come in to prevent your firearm from falling into unauthorized hands. While there are many storage solutions geared toward the home, like lockboxes and safes, the same considerations are not necessarily at play when securing a firearm in your vehicle. Here are some criteria to consider when choosing a car gun safe.

Car Gun Safes: Why Keep a Gun in Your Car?

Everyone has watched police shows. Having a gun in your car has a connotation with criminal behavior. But when we look past the dramatization, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to have a firearm in your vehicle. If you live in a more rural area, it is not uncommon at all to keep a rifle behind the seat to put down varmint animals if you catch one on the go. I carried a Mossberg .22 rifle for a time just for that reason, as well as for the freak occurrence of putting down wounded roadkill humanely.

Depending on your occupation, it might be easier to have a handgun strategically placed for personal protection than to have it strapped to your body. Even if you do on-body carry, there are times when you might be called upon to disarm, such as when you might need to stop by a no-carry zone like schools or churches. You could also leave firearms in your car simply by being on your way to or from a hunting or range trip. But what do you need to disarm and leave your vehicle? That is where a car gun safe comes in.

Size Requirements

The inside dimensions of your vehicle will have an impact on the kind of safe you choose and the kind of firearm you secure. Although there are some storage solutions for long guns, car gun safes are typically little more than conventional lockboxes designed for a single handgun. But even relatively small safes have their challenges.

Vaultek lifepod portable safe
This Vaultek Lifepod is not a big lockbox, but this is as far as it will hide under the seat of my daily driver.

If your daily driver is a full-sized pickup or an SUV, chances are the spaces under your seats are cavernous, and you can fit a decent-sized lockbox. You can secure it with a cable and slide it under. Depending on how your seats are bolted into the chassis, you might be able to get away with bolting the bottom of a small pistol safe to the chassis. However, some compact cars will have seats that sit very low and have few obvious attachment points. The trunk or hatch will have to suffice.

Durability Considerations

In general terms, the bigger and heavier a safe is, the harder it is to crack open or simply snatch and run. Many inexpensive lockboxes have polymer or thin gauge sheet steel bodies paired with a length of chain or cable to secure it to an immovable object. These lock boxes are the easiest to hide, resist prying and snatching, and keep curious people out. But with enough time and the right tools, a thief can and will get in. But that rule holds true of hardened boxes that are bolted down. It is an even better deterrent to a thief, but with enough time and tools, he is getting in. But in many ways, deterrence is the point.

car gun safes
I use a large key-entry handgun lockbox bolted to the floor of my car in order to secure handguns going to and from the range.

Features: Reliability vs. Ease of Access

Car gun safes need to be easy for you to unlock but also reliable to unlock. Most pistol boxes come with a set of keys to get in. It is simple to get in and reliable to get in, but if you are in a hurry, fumbling with keys is not the best possible option. Electronic locks that rely on RFID chips, fingerprints, or a keycode are the fastest way to gain entry, but they are also the least reliable. Under controlled conditions inside a house, these are hit-and-miss in the best of times. However, I never gained confidence using them in ever-changing vehicle temperatures. Extreme freezing and extreme heat can affect battery health and fry the electronics. A mechanical lock requires some memory on your part, but there are no electronics to fail and no keys to fumble.

Car Gun Safes: An Ounce of Prevention

Carrying a firearm in your car might be an everyday occurrence, or it could be something that happens once in a blue moon. No matter your situation, having a car gun safe or lockbox under your seat or in your trunk is smart medicine to keep curious children and would-be thieves from hurting themselves or others. While no safe is impenetrable, any safe makes their task more difficult. While you should consider the features and size of your safe to fit your lifestyle and your car, just about any safe storage solution is better than not having that option at all.

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