Gear Review: AMSEC Defense Vault

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Several weeks ago, my best friend and his wife had their first child. She’s an adorable little girl, but she presents a bit of a problem. As someone without children of my own, I don’t really know at what age they become sentient. Therefore, I assume that all children will be looking for guns under beds, in cabinets, and wedged between books from the day they’re born. The moment we found out they she was pregnant happened to coincide closely with an email from AMSEC asking if we’d like to test out any of their products. Before long, a truck was in my driveway dropping off some of their steel targets and a Defense Vault . . .

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The Defense Vault is six inches tall, fourteen inches deep, and fifty two inches long. This slim form factor allows it to slide under most beds where it can remain out of sight until it is needed. The Defense Vault has an advertised weight of ninety pounds, which I believe, as it took a friend to get it upstairs. It is a solidly built piece of machinery, that feels like, well, a vault.

From the factory, AMSEC includes a rubber pad for the bottom of the tray, four large lag screws, and a battery. From the time it came off the truck until it was under my bed securing my firearms was less than thirty minutes, and that was mostly because I’m slow at taking photographs. This is truly a plug n play affair, something that I appreciate quite a bit.

Further setup and customization can be accomplished by drilling holes in your floor and using the included lag screws to ensure that any burglars will leave sweaty and tired. They may or may not get your guns depending on how much time they have, and the number of tools they brought. I elected not to drill into our second story floor as I’ve enjoyed being married, and home modifications in the pursuit of a gear review seem to be contrary to that objective.

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***Update*** – Mounting Options

My contact at AMSEC pointed out that if you don’t want to drill into your floor, or your SICK rug, you can always use the topside bolt holes to mount your safe underneath the bed. Again, this is not going to stop a determined intruder, but it will at least tie your guns and their safe to a heavier, less easy to move object. It might even slow down a determined thief for a few minutes.

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The Defense Vault will not give much protection against fire, so assume that anything you put in here will melt down in case of a structure fire. This is strictly to keep people of all shapes and sizes out until you need to get in.

Further setup and customization includes adding stickers, and changing the factory six digit passcode to something of your own choosing. Out of the box, the Defense vault uses 1-2-3-4-5-6 as the code. Your code will also need to be six digits. To disengage the lock, you must first hit the “C” button to wake the pad and clear all other attempts, then enter the six digit code, and press the “#” key. The unit then cycles the lock open for a three second duration, at which time you slide a lever above the keypad a few inches to the right, and the door falls forward. Slide out the tray and you have your guns at hand.

The Defense Vault can be configured to run in Stealth Mode which silences the beeping noises that happen every time you hit the keypad. This feature is only helpful if you need to sneak out in the middle of the night with your HD gun to pew, and don’t want to wake the significant other. I can confirm that this feature works as advertised.

The unlocking process takes a few seconds, and even though the buttons on the keypad are big and backlit, I elected to just unlock the mechanism and open the door each night before bed. I’m very clumsy (and grumpy) in the thirty seconds after I wake up, especially if I’m awakened by the dog barking or someone coming into my home. I’m certain I could get the lock to disengage, but why bother with it when I can just leave it open all night. This will certainly change once the Kees have sprogs of our own, but for now, I’ve given the cats and the dog a stern talking to, and they know not to open the gun safe while I’m sleeping.

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I received the Defense Vault on July 29 of this year and it has been under my bed every night since with regular locking and unlockings of the mechanism. I have yet to have a failure of the mechanism or any indication that the battery is running low, though I’ll probably replace it this month out of an abundance of caution. In case you’re wondering, the old battery will will be sacrificed at the altar of my shot timer which seems to eat batteries like a fat kid eats bacon cheeseburgers.

The only issue I’ve run up against is that my AR with attached TLR-1 Game Spotter is too tall when laid on its side. I can’t close the drawer so my light sits next to my gun while it sits in the safe. I believe that HD guns need lights, so I’ll have to get a smaller TLR-1 before too long to resolve this issue. That’s not an AMSEC problem, so much as its a silly gun owner problem. 
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Specifications: AMSEC Defense Vault

  • Model: DV 652
  • Outside Dimensions: 6″ x 52″ x 14″
  • Tray Dimensions: 3-3/8″ x 43-1/4″ x 13″
  • Weight: 90 pounds
  • Locking Mechanism: Electronic keypad activated
  • Includes Items: 9 V battery, rubber mat, four lag screws
  • Price: $350 at Costco (shipping included!)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
Anything with the word vault in the name needs to be substantial and AMSEC’s product didn’t disappoint. All of the welds and bends look clean and correct, the finish was applied evenly, and it weighs every bit of 90 pounds. The locking/unlocking mechanism is stout and makes solid “clunk” noises when engaged and disengaged. I never doubted the ability of the Defense Vault to keep children and baddies out.

Function * * * * *
It doesn’t actually “do” much. But what it does do, it does well. Every time I asked it to unlock, it gave up the goods. And every time someone who shouldn’t have access tried (I’m looking at you, cats), the Defense Vault refused them. I had kind of hoped the battery would die or something, but its just been sitting here working perfectly for nearly five months.

Overall Rating * * * * *
At $350 to $450, it is a pricey little item, and one that shouldn’t take the place of a proper gun safe. But if you make the decision to keep a gun in the house for home defense, you really should ensure that it is either attached to you or locked up securely. In my case, I’ve elected to use an AR as my primary home defense weapon, which means that it doesn’t go in a holster at the beginning of my day. Our friends are staring to build their families, which means curious little babies are soon to be running around my house. I needed a simple and effective solution to make sure that the only hands that touch the HD guns are the ones my wife and I have approved of. This is a great solution to that problem that works as advertised.

comments

  1. avatar Peter says:

    Good review. Could a weapon with a side charging handle fit, or do you think that’s too wide for the same reason as the issue you had with your AR mounted weapon light?

    Also, it should be noted that a firearm safe in a home really really should be bolted down. Thieves can guess what’s inside, and you can bet they’ll carry it away to pry it open later.

    Finally, are we doing WOW today? Any chance of seeing some variety other than one more black AR with Magpul furniture?

    1. avatar Jeremy in AL says:

      The lock your HD guns from your children idea is the wrong approach.

      Store semi autos with an empty chamber. By the time your kids are old enough to rack an action, they are old enough to understand that they shouldn’t. Special needs children and other circumstances aside, if your kid can load an AR and you don’t trust them, you are failing as a parent already.

      Spoken as a father of four kids under 7.

      1. avatar Paul says:

        my 3 year old can lift a 30 lb kettlebell (for about 5 seconds). I’m not at all sure he couldn’t somehow manage to pull a charging handle. I don’t think he could do it predictably but I wouldn’t rule it out

      2. avatar pod says:

        We have a kid in the house every other week (GF’s kid from a prior marriage), and he’s been taught not to mess with the guns if he sees one out in the open. Leave the area, tell an adult. That being said, we don’t take chances, and for our HD pistols, they are in a quick-access bedside safe. Long guns elsewhere in another safe. We’re in an urban area so pistols in the house seem to be the preferred method for home defense.

        If a rifle is needed, well, there’s two of us and one can be readying a rifle while the other addresses the immediate threat with a pistol.

        That being said, I always love seeing safe and security device reviews. Gun reviews are amazing, always, but we need to really push the safety aspect through all of our channels, to counter the “raving gun nut” stereotype.

      3. avatar MAC][ says:

        “The lock your HD guns from your children idea is the wrong approach.”

        I respectfully disagree. Although I don’t think locking them is the only answer, and if locked it should never be the exclusive answer, choosing to secure a firearm is not wrong. Teaching your children will always be the #1 strategy of keeping them safe.

        Keep in mind that the practice of securing HD firearms is not aimed solely at preventing access by the homeowners kids – but for visitors as well. I’m not planning to stay awake and guard a horde of unlocked firearms every time my kids have a sleepover. I guarantee that some of their friends or cousins will not have been taught well by their parents and I’m not willing to risk their lives or my families lives on how well other parents taught their inquisitive-sugared-up-hyper-trouble-magnets.

        My biometric quick-access safe takes 2 seconds for me to access a contained firearm. I access it everyday. It has not failed once.

        1. avatar max says:

          Taking a few seconds to open the safe is also to forces you to wake up enough to think clearly so you don’t accidentally shoot the wrong person.

          And to make sure you aren’t using it while being too drunk to use it properly.

      4. avatar JasonM says:

        Store semi autos with an empty chamber.

        Because no child has ever surprised a parent by doing something the parent thought was too advanced.
        And no adult has ever forgotten to check the chamber.

      5. avatar lionsfan54 says:

        I’m not worried about my kid. I’m worried about his friend that is upstairs with him and convinces him to do something “cool”.

        1. avatar wasntme says:

          You got that right. A good part of the time when your kids do something you wouldn’t expect them to a “friend” was involved.

      6. avatar int19h says:

        >> By the time your kids are old enough to rack an action

        With their bare hands, perhaps. But kids can use tools, and they can be pretty smart about it. Especially if they gang up.

    2. avatar BillC says:

      “Any chance of seeing some variety other than one more black AR with Magpul furniture?”
      I’m sorry you tire of things that are affordable, reliable, and ascetically pleasing.

      1. avatar Peter says:

        Hey man, I enjoy an AR as much as the next guy. But let’s be honest, the make of the lower doesn’t really change the visuals a whole lot.

        A Ford fusion is a reliable and affordable car, but I don’t need to see a dozen different Ford Fusions in different colors and wheel designs before it gets a little bland. Wouldn’t you rather see a few super cars? Variety is the spice of life.

        1. avatar notalima says:

          Heh. I meant to take a group picture of some AK patterns last night, but completely forgot once I go home.

        2. avatar Stinkeye says:

          I’m with you. The WoW thing got boring remarkably quickly.

        3. avatar Ralph says:

          Guys, please. The AR is the most popular centerfire rifle in the US of A. When there’s a run on guns, the stores don’t sell out of Remington 700s, they sell out of ARs. So of course you’re going to see a lot of them here.

          Yeah, variety is great, but when TTAG runs articles on other rifles, I prepare myself for a chorus of “$2000 for that POS? I can buy seventy-twelve ARs for the same price and still have enough left over for a pallet of 5.56!”

          One thing I know for sure — whatever TTAG does, people will complain as if they paid for it.

        4. avatar Timmy! says:

          “One thing I know for sure — whatever TTAG does, people will complain as if they paid for it.”

          Ralph, my father used to chastise me with, “Boy, you’d complain if they hung you with a new rope.” whenever I got “that way” about something. I find myself saying it to the computer almost daily when reading the replies.

    3. avatar int19h says:

      >> Finally, are we doing WOW today? Any chance of seeing some variety other than one more black AR with Magpul furniture?

      I’m just about to submit something that will, hopefully, address that issue 😉

      1. avatar -Peter says:

        Thanks!

  2. This would be nice if they used a heavier gauge of steel… 14 gauge just means they’re gonna move my bed and smash through this thing. Then again, your average bedside safe isn’t much more of a deterrent.

  3. avatar CRF says:

    We kept all of ours in a gun cabinet, and my dad left his piece either at his bedside or between the mattresses. I didn’t bother them until I was told I was allowed to and knew I was supposed to. End of story. Of course, this is entirely anecdotal, so YMMV.

  4. avatar Paul says:

    I have a similar set up for the AR under the bed, love it. I’ve got a 3 year old and a 1 year old and while people will say “oh just train them it’ll be OK”….1 and 3 year olds are amazingly good at getting where they don’t need to be. This under the bed and a quick access pistol safe in the one bedroom closet and I feel all right.

    Then an actual safe in my workshop.

  5. avatar Art Out West says:

    Not to be a nitpicker, but “they” were never pregnant. The wife was pregnant. I hate it when couples say “we are pregnant”. Men impregnate women. Women get pregnant and bear children. People can say “we are expecting”, since both parties expect a child to soon appear. Women bear children, and it is part of their glory. Men don’t.

    1. avatar Tyler Kee says:

      nit fixed

      1. avatar Art Out West says:

        Thanks Tyler. Sorry for the rant.
        🙂

  6. avatar Stinkeye says:

    “…but for now, I’ve given the cats and the dog a stern talking to, and they know not to open the gun safe while I’m sleeping.”

    Trusting a cat is a good way to end up dead.

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    I’d rather put the kid in the safe and leave the rifle against the wall. It’s a safer setup all around.

  8. avatar Jake says:

    Like to see some reviews for night stands or other bedroom furniture.

  9. avatar Howdy says:

    Thank you for the new product review. By chance, could you point me to a rifle size safe for a SUV?

  10. avatar Another Bob says:

    I wonder how this would work for a vehicle mount ? What do ya’ll think ?

    1. avatar Andrew says:

      Was wondering the same thing…

    2. avatar Joel says:

      My guess is if you have a space that the dimensions of this safe will fit in in your particular make/model of vehicle, this safe will work just fine as a ‘vehicle mount’ safe.

      For example, this safe would fit under the back seat of my truck.

  11. avatar xwing says:

    I love mine! I modified an Ikea Expedit to house it and drilled mounting holes in the back to drill into the studs. I rent and a hole in the wall is easy to deal with. I also come from a locksmith family… got mine at wholesale cost. 🙂 The worst part of it is the battery. It sometimes when getting weak won’t activate the solenoid to open. you’ll hear the clunk like normal but it won’t unlatch.

  12. avatar Bob says:

    What’s the height front the bottom base of the safe to the top of the drawer?

    I have 6″ height under the bed but the rails are lower (4-3/4″) so I could get it under the bed but I don’t know if I could open the drawer.

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