It’s a nice sunny day and you are out running errands. You hit the food store, hardware store, and maybe pop in to visit a friend for a little while. On the way home, you suddenly remember you need stamps. No worry, the post office is on the way home. Only now, you have a problem.
As a believer in the right to bear arms, you carry a concealed handgun regularly. Usually, there’s never an issue, but if you set foot on post office property with your firearm, there very well may be a big issue. That post office is a federal building, meaning your state-issued concealed carry license ends at the property line.
So what’s a stamp-needing concealed carrier to do? A car gun safe, of course!
Car Gun Safes
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “why can’t I just throw my gun in the glove box?” Obviously, you could but realistically, you shouldn’t.
First off, glove boxes are not secure storage. The door, locking mechanism and trim pieces surrounding the box are all made of cheap plastic or light metal. Even a glove box with a lock can be forced open with just hands and determination. A thief equipped with tools won’t even be slowed down by a locked glove compartment.
Second, thieves target vehicles left unattended in parking lots. The FBI even puts out bulletins notifying people of the Felony Lane Gang, whose MO is to smash-and-grab from cars parked at gyms, daycares, stores, etc. These brazen thieves break into cars, grab whatever they can, and flee. Your unattended firearm will certainly be an object of high value to these thieves.
Finally, if your firearm is stolen because it’s unsecured, you may face criminal penalties if your state has laws concerning the safe storage of firearms.
So, it should be clear that an unattended gun in a car needs to be securely stored in a container designed for storing firearms.
Now, safes, in general, are secure based on their ability to resist being relocated to a place where the thief can take their time in defeating the locks. Putting a firearm in a small safe that a thief can walk away with really won’t protect your firearm. The thief still makes off with your gun; it’s just inside a box. Since they have the safe in their possession, it’s just a matter of time and tools before the box is opened.
To prevent such an occurrence, car gun safes will come in two varieties of mounting: ones that secure to the vehicle by way of a cable, and ones that are bolted directly to the vehicle.
Cable Gun Safes vs. Mounted Gun Safes
Cable Gun Safes
Cable gun safes are constructed in the same manner as most small gun safes with the exception of a security cable that is mounted to the box in a large loop with a free end. In most applications, the safe is opened, which releases the free end of the cable. The user threads the free end around a very secure part of their interior (such as a seat mounting bracket), places their gun inside the box along with the free end of the cable, and locks the safe, securing the cable.
Since both ends of the cable are securely locked inside the safe, the box is effectively ‘tethered’ to the vehicle.
Cable gun safes have a major advantage in that they can be moved from car to car with ease. A gun owner can regularly use multiple vehicles without having to purchase multiple car gun safes. As long as the owner takes the cable gun safe with them, it can be tethered to any car without tools or vehicle modifications.
The disadvantage is that the cable needs to be threaded around a very secure part of the vehicle’s interior. Seat mounting brackets are the preferred locking point because these brackets are designed to keep the seats in place during high-speed collisions. To accomplish this, the brackets are usually built from high-grade steel and mounted with high-grade bolts.
Mounted Gun Safes
Addressing some of the disadvantages of the cable gun safe, mounted gun safes are generally designed to either replace a storage compartment in a specific vehicle, or the safe provides the necessary hardware to bolt it directly to the vehicle.
The advantage to mounted safes is an increase in security over cable safes. Provided the installer uses high-grade bolts and installs the safe in a location with appropriate steel backing, the safe will be very difficult to remove without destroying the vehicle. Since most vehicles are stored outside, thieves are more apprehensive about making lots of noise destroying the interior of a car.
Mounted safes that are designed to replace storage compartments of a vehicle, such as a glove box or center console, also provide the added advantage of aesthetics. These safes are designed to fit each vehicle the manufacturer chooses, so the fit and finish can make the safe appear to be a factory option. Some vehicle owners prefer this option as it makes the car look less ‘modified’.
The disadvantage of mounted safes is that the compartment is now a gun safe. All the items that were previously stored in that space need to be relocated to other spots inside the vehicle. While some vehicles provide ample interior storage options, others may be light on storage compartments.
Mounted gun safes are also very difficult to remove from the vehicle once installed. Unlike the cable safe, mounted safes will not be moving from vehicle to vehicle based on their owner’s desire. These safes stay with the vehicle they are mounted to. So if a gun owner has multiple cars, they will need multiple safes.
Best Car Gun Safes – Cable
GunVault NanoVault 200 – $35.00
Constructed of 18-gauge steel and featuring a key lock, the NanoVault 200 is an inexpensive option for storing a firearm in a vehicle. The included braided steel cable is rated for 1,500lbs of force and locks inside the NanoVault, meaning the cable will not break from pulling, yanking or jerking on it.
The interior of the NanoVault is lined with 1.25” memory foam which will protect the finish on your firearm if it remains inside the vault while the vehicle is in motion. The NanoVault is also TSA-approved so it can be used to secure your firearm for air travel and then used in your rental car.
SentrySafe PP1K Portable Pistol Safe – $74.39
The SentrySafe PP1K is constructed much the same as the NanoVault, including the security cable and plush memory foam interior. The PP1K is secured with a key lock and the free end of the cable locks inside the safe, securing the safe to the vehicle.
A neat feature of the PP1K is that has a carry handle mounted to the outside of the safe. Once removed from the vehicle, the safe resembles a small briefcase, lending itself to less noticeable transport from the vehicle to another location, such as a hotel room.
Hornady Rapid Vehicle Safe – $132.00
Typically known as an ammunition manufacturer, Hornady Manufacturing also presents a number of security items for firearms, including car safes. In this case, the Rapid vehicle safe features an all-steel construction designed to resist forcible entry, and a unique inflatable air bladder to keep the safe securely positioned inside the vehicle. To prevent theft, the included steel security cable rounds out the package.
What truly makes the Rapid vehicle safe unique is the use of RFID technology to open the safe. Unlike traditional keypads or biometric locks, the Rapid safe can be opened with an appropriately programmed RFID chip. These chips can be in key tags, wristbands or key fobs.
Best Mounted Car Gun Safe
Console Vault – Price Varies
If you want a car gun safe that is mounted to the vehicle, look no further than Console Vault.
Console Vault designs their safes to fit into the most common vehicle models in a way where the installation looks completely factory. Additionally, since their safes are designed to replace certain compartments in a vehicle, each safe provides ample room for multiple firearms or valuables.
Each safe is constructed of 12-gauge steel and features either a keyed or combination lock. To aid in installation, Console Vault designs their safe to be a drop-in replacement for a particular storage compartment. The only installation requirements are for the bolts, no cutting, welding or drilling needed.
The Best Car Gun Safe is the One You Use
As with all gun safes, the best gun safe is the one that you use. Firearms are expensive and dangerous to those who do not know how to use them, like children. It is every gun owners responsibility to properly secure their firearms in all situations, including when you need to go inside a location where you can’t take your gun.