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Scott Michaels of Get Gun Safe writes:

Statistics indicate that you’re most likely to need a self-defense gun at night. So where’s the best place to store your home defense firearm? Home carry, of course! When you’re asleep, unwilling or unable to carry around the house, putting your heater in a gun safe is best practice.

That said, a traditional gun safe — one that requires a combination — may not be the best option. Ever tried to enter your smart phone password under stress? By the same token, turning the lights to see what you’re doing takes time and could alert the culprit or culprits to your situational awareness and whereabouts.

RFID chip-activated gun safes are becoming increasingly popular. The safes open when an RFID chip-implanted object (e.g., a ring, watch, key fob or key card) comes within predetermined proximity to the lock. Most of these safes have a combination, key or biometric-activated back-up. Speaking of which, biometric gun safes have also taken the market by storm.

Biometric gun safes recognize authorized users by a biological marker. While biometric safes may one day depend on a user’s iris or voice pattern, today’s models rely on fingerprint recognition. Once a fingerprint is entered into the safe’s memory (via a built-in scanner), the safe reads and recognizes the authorized users’ fingerprints and opens automatically. You can program a biometric safe to recognize multiple fingerprints: family, friends, whoever you designate.

Biometric safes eliminate the threat of someone figuring out/stealing a combination safe’s passcode and saves users the trouble of remembering their entry code. Depending on the model, biometric safes are powered by an AC cord and/or a battery. While biometric safes come with a set of keys as a backup, they probably won’t do you much good in an emergency. It’s best to operate the safe at least once a month and swap out the batteries at least every six months.

Biometric safes aren’t perfect. The scanner may not recognize authorized fingerprints if the user’s hands are sweaty. Or bloody. Or dirty. While the technology is constantly improving, even the fastest recognition time can seem like an eternity in an emergency. Not to mention the fact that many small biometric are easily breached by clever hackers or brute force.

Like most things gun, biometric safes are a trade-off. Specifically, ease-of-use vs. the possibility of failure (of one sort or another). As they say, you pays your money, you takes your chances.

43 Responses to Biometric Gun Safes: Guns for Beginners

  1. I don’t trust any safe for immediate access to a home-defense firearm. They are fine for storage, but if I need a gun right now, that safe will get me killed.

    There are a few advantages to living alone, and they include not having to worry about reckless, untrained kids or crazy women trying to filch my guns.

  2. Just keep the unloaded pistol or the magazine in your pocket at night and everything else in a heavy duty safe if kids are a problem.

    • Pocket? Did your plastic surgeon graft a pocket on your thigh? Sounds painful. Do you remove the gun before you and your wife…you know? Seems it could cause some bruising.

    • When my kids were little, I did keep the magazine out; they did not have the strength to chamber a round. When they’re old enough to rack the slide, they’re old enough to know not to touch unless mom or dad takes ’em shooting.

  3. These safes are great if you have kids. The kids can’t get to the gun but you can access it when you need it. Even Costco carries them. Wish more parents were responsible and kept their guns in safes.

  4. Yeah right. My phone, which probably represents the height of consumer electronics at the moment, recognizes my thumbprint maybe half the time… and that’s being generous.

  5. We have teenagers so they’re locked up if not on me (Home Carry People!!!). I don’t do Bio anything but the GunVault GV2000S works well (train to hit the keys correctly from muscle memory)… Seconds could make the difference but we also have strong doors and dogs that should get me ahead of the curve…

    • “We have teenagers so they’re locked up if not on me”

      That seems a bit harsh, although most of the teenagers that I’ve known should be locked up whether they’re on me or not. 🙂

  6. Look at http://www.fas1safe.com/ products.
    Their safes are sturdy and feature a unique mechanical lock. You set a combination such as: button 1 then buttons 2 & 3 together then button 4. Not a lot to go wrong.

    Their solution is not perfect. Before you start to enter your button presses the lock must be in an initialized state. I recommend that an owner practice:
    – first, turning the reset knob counter-clockwise;
    – then, enter the button-pushes

    If one develops this pattern as a firmly-implanted habit the safe will unlock reliably in a few seconds.

    We are a long way away from an electronic solution that will operate reliably in the heat-of-the-moment.

    Personally, I would leave my gun outside the safe at night but more than a reach-away. If I had kids at home I’d lock it in a safe and open/close it each day.

  7. Anybody know why so many of these quick access safes come with tubular lock backups? All one might need is a Bic pen…

  8. I like the ones with the finger groves. Easy to feel in the dark. And you can come up with some creative combinations. One of my favorites:

    One finger? Yep.
    How about two?
    Maybe three?

    Then…

    Shocker Shocker Shocker Shocker!

  9. The problem with every small safe like this, biometric or not, is that they’re easy to open without authorization and very, very easy to steal.

    There was a show on Discovery in the early to mid 2000’s called “It Takes a Thief”. Dude stole gun safes like it was his job. If it wasn’t 500+ lbs empty he was leaving with it and he would find it. IIRC he never missed a safe throughout the entire multiple season run of the show. He couldn’t get the big ones usually but when he brought one of his buddies who specialized in breaking into safes they broke into the safe ~40% of the time and it took mere minutes. When they didn’t pop the safe it was due to time constraints.

  10. Just like firearms, all safes should be mechanical.
    Further, as pointed out above, almost all of these nightstand safes have the same–and easily defeated–backup lock. There are better locks that are very hard to defeat, but no one seems to use them, though I cannot imagine why not.
    Finally, if you want to keep your gun locked in one of these when you are not home, fine, but at least have the sense to open the safe before you go to sleep. Unless you REALLY don’t trust your kids.

  11. I have years of experience with the bio junk. Narcotics in hospitals, often all drugs, are in ATM like machines. Presumedly because of my large hands, no bio scanners have worked for me, multiple manufacturers, and I’m issued alpha numeric pass words. If the high end devices don’t work for me, I’m not ready to trust these.

  12. I’m waiting for a safe that works with my older brother’s favorite computer command, “DWIT” — “Do What I’m Thinking”.

    Yep, telepathy is the way to go.

  13. Okay, more seriously….

    Does anyone make a safe that is like an old oriental puzzle box, where you have to press one spot, slide another, then lift, or some such?

  14. I have two biometric lock boxes around the home. With small kids around it’s the compromise I’m willing to make. While recognition is not 100% first pass, I’ve never been “locked out” of them, and I’m pretty happy with the performance overall. I have no misconceptions that they’ll keep a thief out, but for now, they’re a layer of protection for my children.

    I will say, after hearing a story of a gun store owner who couldn’t remember the number for 9-11 because they couldn’t find the 11 key on their phone after a DGU, I’m not sure remembering a code for your safe in the middle of the night is the best way to go.

    • Mad Cow,

      Install a small shelf near the ceiling as far up as you can reach in your bedroom. Make sure it is sturdy such that no one can knock it down with a broom handle. And install a lip around the edge. Then store your self-defense firearm up there at night. And, most importantly, NEVER let your children see you store your firearm up there.

      This is incredibly secure. First of all, your children will never even know that you store your self-defense firearm up there at night. So, they would have no reason to try and access the shelf. Second, the shelf is up near the ceiling FAR out of their reach. They literally cannot access it even if they somehow knew it was there and wanted it.

      The only possible way that young children could access your firearm on that shelf is if they start trying to construct a makeshift staircase out of tables, boxes, chairs, etc. All that ruckus should wake up any parent well before their children completed their makeshift staircase. During the day, WEAR your firearm on your body — the most secure location available.

      Final note: the shelf storage method that I described even works during the day with young children. By the time children are old enough and coordinated enough to access that shelf, they are old enough to know to leave it alone.

      • point well taken. My dad was a LEO and by age 10 I’d retrieved his gun box from his top closet shelf. Of course, the gun was only there while he was (off duty) at home, so I never was able to check it out when he was home.

        While out of the house, he always took that gun with him, so that case was always empty when he was away.

  15. And those things always work when you need them, right? Biometric no thanks. What if I had a buzzy night and I have plenty lube and human fluids on my fingers, is it going to work?

  16. All those are really easy to break into (defeat) if u know how.
    Proper Home Carry is always the best choice.
    By Proper, I mean, smart.

  17. My Tavor sits next to me at night. It goes back in the safe in the morning. I don’t have kids so I don’t worry about kids getting to my rifle.

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