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Yesterday, we asked you about safe storage laws. Today, I want to zoom in on bedside guns; the ultimate question of access vs. operational readiness. Plenty of manufacturers offer so-called “quick access” handgun safes, with a wide variety of locking systems (combination, biometric, key fob, etc.) At the risk, make that certainty of destroying operational security, I don’t use one.

desantis-blue-logo-no-back-4-smallI home carry, then place my gun on the nightstand when I turn in. I’m not worried about someone tiptoeing into my room and grabbing my gun; the house is alarmed, I’m a light sleeper and my daughter understands gun safety. My long guns — which I don’t home carry — are locked in a closet safe that unlocks with a standard key hidden nearby. Do you lock-up your gun(s) at night? If so, how? And where?

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  1. In my 5.11 tactical pajamas vest.

    It’s not the most comfortable garment, but guns are supposed to be comforting not comfortable. According to Clint.

    I actually keep them by my bed near my flashlight.

  2. I have a Glock and they have a more or less flat top surface of the receiver, so at night I place it upside down on the floor next to the bed with the grip standing up for an easy grab. No rugrats to worry about. During the day it’s out of sight but accessible

  3. it is extremely arrogant to think that your daughter is going to be the only one with access to that gun. anyone of her friends could go pick it up when no one is looking. as usual, it’s not the things that you CAN think of that you should prepare for. It’s the things you CAN’T think of, that you have to plan the most for. Like one of her idiot friends picking it up and playing with it. it happens everyday. any kind of safe, would help stop that.

    • You misunderstand Robert’s statement. He doesn’t leave it there all the time (remember that he home carries). He only has it there when he is sleeping.

      I do something similar with my EDC S&W 642. I just slip it under the bed (on the floor but out of sight) when I get into bed. It is within easy reach at all times. I also have a pistol safe in the bedroom with a Glock 22 and night sights. If I have enough time, I’ll grab the Glock instead of the revolver. But, if I only have a moment, then I’ll grab the revolver. No kids at our house, and the revolver is in my pocket when I’m out of bed.

      • This, I think, is a good solution for most. Find a EDC handgun you like (Sp101 for me) and home carry as well. It leaves the house with me, goes back home, around the house from room to room, kitchen, garage, computer desk, bathroom (on the counter top when showering) and then under the pillow as I sleep. Done that for so long I can’t sleep well without that familiar lump under my head. Everything else gets locked in the safe until actually needed.

        • S&W 442 in my pocket til bed time. Then it goes into the sock drawer in the dresser next to the bed. In the gap between the bed and the dresser is a 12 ga. pump. On my wife’s side is a 20 ga.

          I have 3 safes. But my bedroom door has a lock on it and my wife and I are the only people in our house with keys.

    • Do you often have little girls wandering through your bedroom as you sleep? You need to stop that. You’ll end up like Michael Jackson.

  4. As someone who has two toddler aged kids, this has been a real issue for me. I haven’t found a bed-side safe that is the right combination of easy to access and not ridiculously expensive yet, so I keep the mag out and next to the gun. My kids aren’t strong enough or knowledgeable enough to insert a mag and rack the slide, so it keeps them safe. And it seems to be no slower than a quick access safe.

        • I’m in the same boat, toddler aged kids. So I use a high shelf that they can neither reach nor climb too, nor push something tall enough to climb on to reach said shelf. This will work for another year, but then I’ll probably have to come up with something else, probably a taller shelf, which will get me a few more years, then they’ll be old enough to understand and follow gun safety (already understands how to safely handle knives).

          Long guns in a safe.

      • I have this in my car and my wife’s truck. Better than their other offerings. The electronic ones can be defeated with a bent paperclip.

    • No single solution is best for everyone, but as a general rule, if they can rack the slide, then they can be taught about gun safety.

      (I leave mine on the nightstand at the end of the day. On body the rest of the time.)

      If I had small kiddos, (1-3 yr old) I would spend the $100-$200 on a decent quick access safe. There are a couple good quick access mechanical safes in that price range.

      If I couldn’t afford that, a loaded mag next to an unloaded gun is not a terrible option while saving up for a safe.

      Everything is a compromise. Each of us need to make educated decisions based on our personal circumstances.

      • I have one too. Satisfied with it. One caution, however. The lock is, ostensibly, a no-brainer. In practice, however, it’s a bit finicky. If trying to open it in a panic it’s apt to take multiple tries. My suggestion is to practice a habitual sequence. First, grab the knob and rotate it counter-clockwise to reset the lock to expect a new attempt to open it. Second, enter your combination. Repeat as rapidly as possible to create an artificial sense of anxiety. Repeat often enough to get this protocol to “set” in your “muscle memory”.
        I don’t need to lock my ENC (Every-Night-Carry) gun because no kids in the house; so, I lock my safe only when I leave the house. I find it takes a couple of tries to open the safe when I’m not in a rush. I’d hate to have to open the safe in a rush without having trained myself as I’ve suggested.

    • That is precisely what I do. Mag out, clear chamber, kids too weak to rack the slide. During the day it is on me, so no worries. Long guns all stay in the safe.

    • Someone on here suggested this a while back, and I’ve adopted it for my nightstand use:

      Build or buy a shelf with a base that will hold your pistol, then add a lip 2-3″ high on all sides. Mount it to the wall above your bed high enough that a 6yr old standing on your bed still can’t reach it. The lip will conceal your firearm.

      Whenever you are removing or placing the firearm on that shelf, do so without children in the room. Don’t let them see what’s up there, don’t speak of it. To a toddler, it blends into the scenery.

      As they get (significantly) older and can understand firearm safety, let them know what’s up there and give them strict instruction to never touch it.

      I used some 1/2″ cedar planks to build a shelf, sanded/beveled the edges, mounted it, and it holds my G19/weaponlight and a spare mag quite well. My daughter is only 1, so she’s barely learning to walk. As she grows and learns to notice that shelf, she won’t be able to reach it from the bed til she’s at least in 4th-5th grade. By then we will have daughter to shoot, firearm safety, etc.

      During the day it’s in a bolted safe in the closet.

  5. Seeing how I live alone, I just toss them in the underwear drawer under my bed (thanks, built in drawers!). I used to keep one on the nightstand, but after I got a cat and he shoved it off the nightstand, I got paranoid about an accidental discharge and kept it in the drawer.

  6. When awake it’s on me, in the house or out. When I’m going to bed it sits on top of my night stand, I don’t have kids and rarely have visitors so it’s fine being there.

  7. One time I awoke at around 3:00 a.m. to see a shadowy figure entering our bedroom through a sliding door. In a half-asleep daze, but instantly full of adrenaline in the defense of my wife and family, I initiated a barehanded attack. I leapt out of bed, let out a murderous war cry, and literally went for the jugular. Just as I wrapped my hands around the intruder’s neck, I realized it was my wife, who had just gotten up to shut the sliding door. I never heard her get out of bed. Funny thing, even after I realized that it was her, it took a couple of seconds to let go of her- my brain knew to stop, but it took a while for my body to believe it. Fortunately no one was hurt, although it took me around an hour to calm down and go back to sleep.

    Needless to say, there is no gun at the bedside. I decided that my lightning fast reflexes and innate violence of action were all I wanted to keep handy. Everything else is across the room, locked up, where it will take a little time to get to it. By design.

    • In the words of my legal carry class instructor, people do really goofy things when suddenly awakened out of a sound sleep. He said to keep the gun several steps away from the bed. Those several steps give your brain a chance to think better, and might prevent a disaster.

      And now someone will hypothecate a situation where you have no chance to take several steps. in three…two…one….

    • You had a death grip on an intruder that took you seconds to back down from and your wife wasn’t injured? A healthy 16yo would have kicked your ass.

    • A few nights of Uncle Sugar’s minions throwing grenade simulators will cure that flightiness. I suppose that in the city the neighbors will not approve.

  8. Loaded and in easy reach of my bed. My four-legged alarm let’s me know when anyone comes close to my house. No kids and the dog has great trigger discipline so the bedside gun is locked up only when I’m not home.

  9. Rifle next to the bedroom door, pistol on the nightstand.
    Nobody comes into my house.
    If you don’t like easy access then do me a favor and keep you and your kids out of my house. One more time, stay the f@#$ out of my house.
    Oh, and get off my lawn.

  10. Glock 19 holstered lying on night stand with night sights facing me.
    AR 15 leaning against wall and headboard muzzle down, butt up (like my wife) and e-muffs hanging from mag.
    12 gauge 10 round semi auto behind the door.

    • Interesting you are one of the few who mentioned a holster. Recently, my alarm had a sensor fault and at 4am my dream of me and a “Cherry 2000” Melanie Griffith was interrupted abruptly. As I retrieved my pistol and headed downstairs to turn off the alarm/shoot the bad guy, I realized how much a nice holster on a belt would be. Nothing like a false alarm to get you thinking about your deployment plan.

      Now I have the pistol in one of these in the drawer of my nightstand, and also in the drawer I have a belt with a holster and a mag carrier on it already with one mag in it. The safe is non-biometric, no batteries, and is tactile. I have 3 kids so it is necessary. The belt I can slap on over my Batman Boxers (Velcro, no buckle). Pistol has a CMR-205 on it which has a flashlight & laser built in, and I have a separate flashlight on the nightstand as well. Now I can pie the house like Mat Best and when all is clear, I can go hands free to make a sandwich.

      • My EDC is a Glock also. Unless I’m shooting it or cleaning it, the thing is always holstered, be it on me, in a safe, or on a shelf.

  11. Two (or more) Rugers with lasers in nightstand drawer–3 flashlights, 4 knives & cell phone on top–only my wife & I–no problem to reach & feel if she is in the bed if I hear/see something–any firearm that is not being utilized and/or carried is locked in an actual large gun safe–absolutely useless unless they are right there, things happen too quickly

  12. I keep a small safe under the bed and have practiced rolling over, out and down and punching in the code in the dark. The 9 mm has a round in the chamber with safety on and a flashlight alongside. Extra magazines on the lower shelf. I also have a flashlight on top of the safe.

    I have a similar setup in the living room as I don’t home carry but definitely want something close by.

    • Good answer. I was going to say that after reading Justice Breyer’s commentary yesterday that I decided he was right and I don’t keep one by the bed anymore, but I like your answer better.

  13. Simple. No kids . I lay it at the head of my bed, loaded and ready to go. I don’t want to have to unlock a safe to get to it and there is no need for me.

  14. I sleep on my back with my fully loaded M4 slung in a two point sling at the low ready… It’s kind of uncomfortable but if I recite the Riflemen’s Creed a couple of times I tend to nod off okay… 🙂

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself… Actually I have teenagers so my guns are locked up in safes unless they’re on me (home carry people). I keep a quick action pistol safe a few steps from my bed and a big Mag light next to me in case I need to fight my way to my heater… We have barky dogs though so with any luck they’d get me ahead of the curve…

  15. Our EDC guns are in, literally, the exact same place and position every night on our respective nightstands. I’m on the right side, the bedroom door side, of the bed, so there’s no cross body movement to present it. Our respective shotguns lean against the wall on either side o

    We close and lock all interior doors as part of our pre-bed routine. That, and other unmentioned measures, means it would be difficult for someone to gain entry and navigate the house undetected. Jason Bourne could do it; some random meth head, not so much.

    • Damn! That must be some neighborhood! I have 4 mantles in the house, several have a loaded gun on them, with a spare mag. You need to be around 6′ tall to see what is on the mantles, and the guns in public areas have empty chambers and are in decorative bowls, requiring knowledge or serious exploration to find them. But I can’t even imagine feeling a need to lock all interior doors in the house. Next, are you going to install deadbolts on them?

      • You have an arsenal and a cache of ammo strewn about the house….and I’m the outlier because I lock some doors at night so my family is safe in their sleep? Dude. That’s just not logical. Get over your hard on for me. You sound unhinged.

        Nobody’s talking about three foot thick steel bank vault doors here. Just your basic step or two above builder grade interior doors on bedrooms, hallways, and on both entries to the utility room. A malnourished ten year old girl could kick any one of them open.

        It isn’t about Fort Knox level resistance. It’s just about confusing an intruder, forcing him to make noise, and denying him the element of surprise if he somehow gained entry undetected.

        What’s the big deal?

        • Jonathan,

          You have a very similar setup to me. I also have exterior and interior cameras. Along with a pretty advanced security system. But as you said, if someone gains entrance to the house, there are lots of opportunities for a vagrant to make (at least) noise, along with navigating my house.

          I’m a fellow Houstonian in the Memorial area living in PPV. I’ve been creeping your posts for a while now, and am going to comment now. I really enjoy what you have to say. Cheers.

  16. I have a day carry and a nightstand gun. I keep my nightstand gun w/ supressor in the main safe. When my day carry goes in the safe at night, my nightstand (& suppressor) comes out to my nightstand. Reverse it in the morning.

    No reason to have one gun, when two will do.

  17. On my dresser, loaded and chambered. IT is right at hand when I swing my legs out of the bed. No kids, four dogs, I am good to go. Though trying to awaken in the middle of a REM cycle is a real bitch.

  18. Carry gun? In the holster in condition 1 on the dresser when I take it off. The emergency home defense pistol? Condition 3 in the drawer of the night stand.

    • Me too lol. Three dogs in my bedroom, the flashlight and the Glock on my bedside table. Fan’s gotta be on high though, those guys make some serious heat.

  19. If I’m awake and dressed the pistol is on my hip. When I go to bed she gets gussied up with a can and a TLR2 and sits on my nightstand with a spare mag next to her. The wife does the same.

    If all that .45 doesn’t get the job done there are pump shotguns locked to the wall in our bedroom. A 500 tactical with a side saddle and an M590A1.

    Of course for any of that to affect you you have to be pretty persistant. The house is alarmed and contains three large dogs that don’t like intruders.

  20. Daughter already taught proper safety around guns. For added safety I chamber check religiously before I set the gun down before going to sleep.

  21. Hmm, I just got back from shopping for a nightstand with drawers. Still deciding. Using a table, now.

    The kids are in college, one living at home. He has his own gun. The dogs don’t bark at them, which made it hard to enforce curfew. I have no idea if they’d bark at a stranger.

    Every door in this house squeaks, and I refuse to use WD-40 on them, except for my bathroom door. Every window would have to be broken. Only thing that worries me is that the last person home didn’t close the garage door.

    • Some alarm systems allow you to check the garage door from your phone and even close it. They might notify you if the door is ajar and you try to alarm the house.

  22. This is all confusing. So many places to put a gun, but finding one secure from both children and thieves, with electronic lock that will not fail or be cracked, quick to get into seems mission impossible.

  23. I sleep in a coffin so that any unwanted company will think I’m Dracula. Only downside is that I have to lock up my mallet and sharpened stakes.

  24. Don’t underestimate how deeply you sleep. People are robbed of jewelry from their bedroom…while they are sleeping…all the time. Do you really want your loaded, charged weapon sitting on top of the nightstand while the robber is going through the drawers?

    • Regardless of how sound I sleep, if someone starts going through my “drawers” I’m waking up, and if you ain’t one of the Victoria Secrets spokes babes, I’m gonna be in a pissy mood and really not happy you’re in my drawers and they ain’t.

  25. Home carry, close enough at night but not in plain view.
    Others also tucked away in places of my close proximity at any given time.
    No kids or others except 2 pretty useless but cute guard cats.

  26. That deep sleep thing, among others, is precisely why I happen to sleep with my bedroom door locked. No kids, no dogs, and I can’t hear for shit. So I have to make it hard enough to break in without making a ruckus (which WILL wake me up).

    As to guns, it has changed over the years of course but I have slept virtually my entire adult life with a loaded gun, revolver or pistol, underneath my pillow. At present that’s my EDC gun or a Glock 20. The EDC gun is a Smith&Wesson M&P40 Compact, still in its Ken Null OWB holster (which lies quite flat on the bottom and keeps the trigger well covered). There are long guns elsewhere, but to get to them one would have to get over me, quite literally.

    And finally, to even get to the house one has to climb a 350′ hill. So any intruders can only die….tired.


  27. On a small file cabinet that I keep next to the bed. My bedroom door is always locked when I’m inside it, and the house is extremely loudly alarmed. More than enough time to flip on the lamp and grab both my phone and my gun.

  28. In the drawer of the nightstand next to my side of the bed. The bedrooms are on the second floor, the dog sleeps on the first floor at the base of the stairs, and we have a loud electronic alarm. We only have one adult child who is currently at home until he can get his first real job after college, so I don’t worry about him. If we have guests coming over, I put it in the gun safe.

    When my son was little, I put it in the safe every morning and got it out just before bedtime.

  29. Live alone. Small safe bolted to the dresser top. Pistol w/ can attached in drawer next to bed. They now have safes that are RFID opened. Put on a rubber-type bracelet and wave it over the safe (groggy, dark, or hungover) and the door will swing open. No need to remember a code, which finger or what. Thats my next one

  30. “I have my books and my poetry to protect me”. “I Am a Rock”, Simon and Garfunkel, Columbia Records, 1966. I have the .45 rpm.

  31. I’m a big fan of push button mechanical lock-type safes, and have a few around. For the nightstand gun I use this:
    No key to fumble with, portable, and with practice it can be removed in a couple seconds….while moving. With small children in the house I’ve found this works well for me.

  32. No kids. Out on the nightstand at night, In my pocket otherwise, in or out of home. Always. The best defensive gun is the one on you.

  33. I have loaded and accessible guns in various and strategic locations all around the house, since I do not keep one on my person while inside. As only makes sense and as prudence dictates, one is readily available in direct reach while in bed, also.

    No need to ‘secure’ it, which would only make it more difficult to access in a stress situation.

  34. Shoulder holster with 2 mags hanging on the footboard of the bed. Grab-n-go. The Mrs. has hers in her nightstand. No kids at home anymore.

  35. I have no kids in the house. Friends that do use quick access handgun Hornady safes for the bedside gun. For me without kids I lock the gun up in the safe when I’m not home. When home I have a hide in plain site device on the nightstand. It isn’t locked and is pretty quick to access and a 100lb dog to alert me and slow down any intruder I do prefer a carbine in 5.56 over handgun for home defense.


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