Gear Review: MonsterVault Under-Bed Safe

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Back in the day I purchased a quick-action safe [not shown] for my primary home defense gun: a 10″-barreled 300 BLK SBR, complete with silencer. As Sheryl Crow crowed, the brochure looked nice. In real life, not so much . . .

I practiced getting out of the bed, opening the safe and retrieving the gun, as I would in an emergency. Placed on the floor, the safe door opens downward toward the floor. The user needs to reach in and blindly to grab the firearm. It didn’t take many attempts to realize that kneeling down on the floor, reaching into the safe blindly and attempting to lift the gun over the safe door edge was awkward at best. I kept slamming the optic into the door’s edge on the way out.

I found what I hoped would be a better solution at the last SHOT Show, the MonsterVault. The company and its products are aptly named; their flagship under-the-bed safe measures a monstrous 28”x48”x7”. Unlike most of its competition, it can stow multiple long guns along with handguns, magazines, lights, etc.

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The major difference between my old safe and the MonsterVault: the MonsterVault has a drawer that pulls out, nicely presenting the user with his/her chosen weapons, all within easy reach. Cue the singing angels: ahhhhhhhh.

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The MonsterVault can be used mounted under a vehicle seat, in the back of a SUV (mounting kits are available for vehicles for $99) or  under a bed. You can even stack several can units for use in a closet. You can screw the bottom of a unit into the floor for extra security.

closet copy_2

The MonsterVault is available in three sizes. A 28 x 48 x 7 unit the company calls the Underbed/Full Size Vehicle Safe, a 12 x 53 x 7 called the Pickup Vault and their tallest, a 16 x 41 x 11 safe called the “Tactical Size.” All three vaults are priced identically; $699 including shipping. I requested the 28 x 48 x 7 for this review.

SUV

“The vault is constructed with a double wall design,” MonsterVault’s website proclaims.  “16-gauge cold rolled steel is the minimum thickness used with an additional 12-gauge plate welded to the 16-gauge drawer front to create total thickness of .16 inch (well over 1/8th inch). The effective thickness for the top and bottom is 11-gauge (.12″ or 1/8”) and the effective thickness of the sides is 7-gauge (.18” well over 1/8 inch).”

What’s more, “The finish is black powder coating inside and out and the drawer has a capacity of 100lbs. A felt pad for the drawer bottom is included to protect contents. Being steel, it is fire resistant, but there is not added fire protection. The company backs their products with a 7-year warranty.”

When a behemoth, 143 lb. package arrived by way of Big Brown, I knew the MonsterVault had landed. There was some damage to the box because, well, UPS. I ripped the tear open to inspect the damage to the safe before I would let the driver go and found that it was double boxed and the inner box was not damaged. Score: MosterVault 1. UPS 0.

The box was delivered to my basement garage. Mulling over the massive weight and large size, I took into account the two flights of twisting stairs I needed to negotiate to get the safe to my bedroom.

That’s when I decided to unbox the safe and see if I could take the drawer out to lighten the load. A push of a clip on either side of the drawer glides and the drawer came right out. The lighter weight made the trek up the steps fairly easy — with the help of my son.

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The MonsterVault’s front facade has two drawer handles on either side and a control panel in the middle. The control panel has a keypad, indicator lights for “Ready,” “Low Battery” and “Proceed.” There’s a key lock for override access, and an entry knob that activates two, ½” steel bolts that lock the draw into the vault’s side panels.

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The electronic lock is fed by four AA batteries located on the back of the control panel, accessible from inside the drawer. The keypad is numbered 0 through 9 and with “A” and “B” keys. They keys are 3-dimensional so you can feel them in the dark. Combinations require three to eight digits plus either an “A” or “B.”

To program the combination, press the reset button located on the back of the control panel. A yellow light turns on to indicate that you need to enter you choice of numbers and a last digit of “A” or “B.” When done, the safe will then beep and the yellow light will turn off. To unlock the drawer, press the combination, turn the entry knob to the right and pull out the drawer. Turning the knob to the left will lock it.

Each key press will activate a beep. If you prefer a more stealthy approach, the sound can be shut off by entering a code and, if desired, turned on again using the same code.

If an unauthorized person tries to access the safe and enters an incorrect code three times, the keypad will begin a five minute lock-out period. The safe can then be opened by use of the override key or, after five minutes, with the correct code.

I added some glow-in-the-dark tape to the entry knob to help me see it in the dark. A nightlight would make a suitable alternative. I also added an arrow made from the glow-in-the-dark tape to remind me which way to rotate the entry knob, should brain fog and stress create a nightmare senior moment.

The product’s called MonsterVault. The company calls it a steel security safe. I would classify it more as a security cabinet. If someone really wants to break in, has some tools, brawn, time and doesn’t mind making a lot of noise, they will get in. My requirement: keep my son, his friends and wandering guests away from my firearms. For that, the MonsterVault fits the bill nicely.

In the same vein, there’s a sticker on the door that states: “WARNING: This gun safe does not meet the safety standards for gun safes specified in California Penal Code Section 12088.2”… blah, blah, blah and a few yadda yaddas. Since the sticker only mentions Commiforna, I assume it’s good to go in the rest of the country. But if your state has safe storage laws with specific standards, make sure this qualifies before purchasing.

I’m quite pleased with the MonsterVault. The keypad and lock are quick to operate, the drawer makes for easy access and it seems well built. The only nit to pick would be that I’d like to see a dimly lit keypanel, just enough to make out the keys in the dark.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Build Quality * * * * *
A very sturdy, solidly built unit.

Security * *
I wouldn’t classify the MonsterVault as a safe, rather as a security cabinet. It will keep innocents out, but won’t take an expert to break in, hence the two stars. The security level works for my situation, but its value depends on your specific needs.

Ergonomics * * * *
I really like the sliding drawer design…it’s easy to retrieve your weapon quickly. It’s a little awkward being down on the floor, but all under-the-bed safes are.

Overall * * * *
The only downside: it’s not as secure as an actual safe. That said, I don’t see a better product out there for its use. Fills the under-the-bed, bump-in-the-night niche quite nicely.

comments

  1. avatar stevor says:

    we have one and like it

  2. avatar Jake says:

    How does this compare to a Amsec DV652 (besides for storage capacity)?
    Is the keypad backlit?

  3. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Nice review. However (you knew that was coming), the override emergency unlock mechanism is noted all over the internet as one of the easiest override locks to defeat. Likely the vaults are good for keeping kids (non-teenagers) out of the drawers, but the easy-to-defeat override lock is problematic.

    Here is the most popular vault test video that demonstrates how easy it is to defeat the override lock:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yr6ATdaDQ8

    There has to be something out there that is strong enough to discourage thieves from even trying in the house, or at their favorite chop shop.

    1. avatar gs650g says:

      Deviant is the man when it comes to safe testing.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Sam I Am,

      A determined criminal will be able to open most gun safes without too much effort if the criminal has sturdy crowbars, steel wedges, sledge hammers, and/or grinders.

      The primary point of a gun safe is to stop family, friends, and “smash and grab” thieves from accessing your firearms. Some firearm safes also offer a fair amount of fire protection. If you want something beyond that, you will have to pay several thousand dollars on a safe AND several thousand dollars more on your home to accommodate that safe.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        Indeed.

        But one popular model (pistol sized) turned out to be accessible by merely dropping it the right way. That’s just pathetic.

        Cabled into your car it might stop a total moron. I’d rather have a key lock for that application (which admittedly is NOT the application talked about here), which is to be able to secure your gun in your vehicle.

        1. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

          Ruger? Rapid safe? Don’t hold back Steve…

      2. avatar Anon in CT says:

        What about determined teenagers with time and access to the internet?

        1. avatar Sunshine_Shooter says:

          Very few things can stand before the might of a bored teenager who is practiced in the ways of Google-fu. I should know, I used to be one. See above about “thousands of dollars”.

      3. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Yes, given time and tools, anything can be opened. My observation is that the “master key” for the type of override lock on the pictured safes is a common tool, requiring no real effort, and it is a pretty quiet tool. I believe there have been articles written about changing those circular locks for something better. If I has something worth locking up in a big safe like RF has, I would absolutely want to change the lock, or find a completely manual safe, with the same prybar resistance level of the safe RF reviewed.

      4. avatar 16V says:

        Determined thieves? I got a c-note says I can open it in under 10 seconds – which is the province of “smash and grab” folks…

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    Okay, let’s have a show of hands here: Who has room under their bed for one of these safes?

    Under mine, I have one partially disassembled mountain bike, one 48 bottle emergency water supply, one plastic container holding tax documents, one folding beach chair, and (at this moment) one cat. And the cat ain’t moving.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “And the cat ain’t moving.”

      Keep the food bowl empty for a day or so, the cat will personally express their displeasure with you allowing it to get in that condition. That will entail the cat moving. And pawing at you. And likely yowling. 🙂

      (Don’t ask me how I know…)

    2. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Yeah, I hear you.

      I have no under-bed space. The waterbed is on an enclosed frame/box. No storage room there.

  5. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I don’t understand the application of such cabinets and safes. Why not just make a hidden compartment somewhere and store your primary self-defense firearm there?

    The beauty of a hidden compartment is three-fold:
    (a) There is no combination lock to impede your access in an emergency.
    (b) You don’t have to worry about a thief stealing your firearm.
    (c) A hidden compartment most likely costs less than a $700 cabinet/safe.

    And, depending on the exact nature of your hidden compartment and its location, you don’t have to worry about your children accessing your primary self-defense firearm either.

    1. avatar Jake says:

      That’s what I want. But I also want a lock too, to have some sort of assurance kids won’t have access. I’d also like to see some technology to alert me, via phone, if there is tampering.

    2. avatar SteveInCO says:

      You have to be very confident that your hidden compartment is someplace thieves won’t think to look. Having not been a thief before, I really *don’t* know where they will look, and I’d want someplace 99.9% of them won’t think to look.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        If you figure out where the thieves would not look, don’t tell us. Then the location would be all over the internet, and not useful anymore.

    3. avatar TTACer says:

      I take it your parents are not pressuring you to have kids. On the one hand, my parents once successfully hid Christmas presents in garbage bags by simply not making me take out the trash, on the other hand we got into pretty much everything else.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        TTACer,

        I have children. I keep my primary self-defense firearm on my hip while I am awake. I keep it on a shelf near the ceiling when I am sleeping or in the shower. (Furthermore, my handgun is not visible on the shelf and my children have NEVER seen me put my handgun on that shelf so they really have no reason to access that shelf.)

        By the time my children were old enough to physically reach the shelf — which required moving, stacking, and manipulating 20+ pound pieces of furniture — they were old enough to know to leave my handgun alone.

        And how did my children really KNOW to leave my handgun alone, even at a young age? I took them out shooting which included having the children:
        (a) put their hands around mine to feel the recoil
        (b) watch the explosion that is a hollow-point bullet hitting a gallon jug of water
        (c) experience the blast of a gunshot from a distance where the blast is extremely uncomfortable to hear but not so close as to cause hearing loss

        When you combine all three of those experiences, children know in absolute terms that they do NOT want to “play” with firearms.

        Thus my primary self-defense firearm has never been a danger to my children at any time. And no thief is going to walk away with my primary self-defense handgun … unless my incapacitated body is lying in a pool of empty brass shell casings.

        1. avatar Jake says:

          Those are all the reasons why my kids LOVE guns! So that’s not going to stop them.
          I remember when I was young…I was either the sneaky one thinking I was getting away with stuff, or I had the bad influence of a friend that encouraged me.

          Either way, this is not something I want to risk the life.

    4. avatar Ralph says:

      The odds are nil that a kid won’t find your hidden compartment and open it unless it has a sturdy lock.

      Kids have been finding their parent’s porn stashes, guns, pot and other stuff since the invention of kids.

  6. avatar Publius says:

    I don’t get how these companies survive when they charge so much for a simple metal box.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Yeah. That’s a bit pricey!

      1. avatar 16V says:

        It’s about $100 in materials, as long as you have a welder. Mig or stick, whatever…

  7. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I don’t have a tubular pick, but I bought a pick set to play with and most any standard padlock or these locks he shows are simple to get through.

  8. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

    All security devices are there just to slow theives down not stop them. Theives are in a battle against time. Even security containors certified for TS/SCI are only good for 30 minutes. The objective is to give them less time than they feel comfortable with to break in, get the stuff and leave. If you have an alarm system that has a 10 minute response time then all you need is a security container that takes 11 minutes to break into. It is also a good idea to place a black powder warning sticker on your safe if not actually putting black power in it. That will definitely slow down the bad guys because they have procede cautiously for fear of causing a spark followed by a boom.

  9. avatar Bob says:

    I wonder how bad it would be to just make one. I mean, it’s a welded box with drawer slides. You can buy s&g mchanical safe lock sets (that electronic lock stuff, while convenient, can’t be trusted imho).

    I might have to look into a lock set even Amazon has them) and see about starting a CATIA model once I know what the locks needs are

  10. avatar James in Houston says:

    I would rather have my valuables hidden than out there in a big safe. Once a thief knows there is guns in the house they are going to jump through hoops to get at it. As it is, I am not in favor of electronic locks or anything that can’t be bolted down. Depending on your neighborhood, thieves may have a large window of time to operate in without interference from neighbors or police. Where I used to live thieves would break in during the daytime because most people were at work. I suggest concealable video cameras around your house that can be turned on when you leave. And not those ones that are disguised as various objects. A lot of thieves are messy and will tear your house apart potentially revealing the cameras in those objects and causing them to do a sweep of your house for surveillance gear.

    Just a few thoughts from someone who has had a few break ins and had to deal with the aftermath.

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