Gun Safe door open

Best Gun Safes for Pistols and Rifles under $500

As a responsible gun owner, a gun safe (or safes) is not an option, it is a necessity. A gun safe provides protection for your valuable firearms and helps to prevent theft and unauthorized access to your guns. But how do you choose the right gun safe when you are on a budget? We have looked at gun safes currently on the market and have laid out our choices for the best gun safes for pistols and rifles and the factors we compared when making our choice.

Factors We Considered When Conducting Our Reviews

There are several features and functions to compare when considering a gun safe. These are:

  • Storage Capacity
  • Lock Type
  • Fire Rating
  • Dimensions including weight
  • Type of Firearms to store

Unfortunately, as you will see below, not all of the information was available for all of the models in our review. We have included what information was available at the time of publication. Pricing information is often subject to change.

Storage Capacity

In many cases, the storage capacity of a gun safe is an estimate. If you only store standard firearms without customizations such as sights or custom grips, you are probably fine with the manufacturer’s description for capacity. But items such as scopes for both pistols and rifles, and custom grips or stocks can cut the advertised capacity by as much as 50 percent.

Gun Safe Capacity
Storage Space is always a concern

Lock Type

Gun safes have a number of different kinds of locks. These include:

Biometric locks — these locks use fingerprints to open the lock.

QCVL (Quick Combo Vault Locks) — these locks use a PIN number to open the lock.

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) locks — these locks use chip-implanted key cards or fobs to open the lock. A dot is included with some of these locks which can be attached to your phone. That will open the safe when swiped over the RFID reader.

Key locking mechanisms — this is simply an old-school lock.

Dial combination locks — these locks are like the combination locks similar to your locker in high school. One advantage of these locks is that they do not require any power to open.

Fire Ratings for Gun Safes

There are several things that determine how well your gun safe will stand up in case of a fire.

Safe surviving a fire
Everthing survived

Conventional gun safes with a rating of UL 72 Class 350 provide basic protection for the contents of the safe in the event of a fire. This means that the safe will maintain an interior temperature of less than 350F. Safes are rated by one of three time periods. 30 minutes in a fire burning at 1475F, one hour in a fire burning at 1700F, or two hours at 1850F. The safe will then be marked as to which rating it was able to attain. To be able to attain a certain time rating the contents must not exceed 350F, this is the temperature where paper can become unreadable.

UL 72 Class 350 Rating

To achieve a UL 72 Class 350 rating, the safe must pass three tests – an endurance test, an explosive hazard test, and a fire/impact test. A fire endurance test is conducted by placing paper items and heat sensors inside the safe. After locking the safe, it is exposed to a fire in a specially designed furnace for one hour heated to a temperature of 1700F. The test can also be conducted by heating to a temperature of 1850F for two hours. After heating, the safe is then allowed to cool for two hours prior to opening. The interior temperature is measured throughout the test(s), and the interior of the safe should never rise above 350F.

Fire information card

Once cooled, the safe is opened and its contents examined. The locking and fastening mechanisms are tested for security, and the inside is checked for evidence of unwanted heat transmission and content damage.

Explosion Test

Explosion hazard testing is comprised of the safe being locked and placed in a specially-designed furnace that is heated to 2000F. If no explosion happens at this temperature after 30 minutes, cooling of the safe begins prior to opening. Once cooled, they inspect the safe for damage.

The safe’s manufacturer may also opt to perform a fire impact test after the explosion hazard test. The safe is taken out of the furnace and is allowed to fall on a layer of bricks set on concrete within two minutes. The safe is then inspected for damage, deformation, damage to the insulation, or any indications that the structural integrity of the safe has been compromised. After inspection, the safe is turned upside down and heated to 1550F for 30 minutes (for the one hour test) or 1638F for 45 minutes (for the two-hour test). It is again allowed to cool, and then opened and inspected for damage.

A Word About Dimensions

There are three measurements when it comes to dimensions — the interior dimensions, the exterior dimensions, and the weight of the safe. These dimensions are often inaccurate online, even when they come from the manufacturer. If you are purchasing online and it looks as if it might be a tight squeeze, you have a couple of options. Either go look at the safe in a gun store and measure it yourself before making your online purchase or when looking for a specific size, add an inch or two all the way around to make sure that the safe you get is big enough.

When it comes to weight, the heavier a safe is, the harder it will be move. This is a good thing, as it keeps thieves from just picking up the safe and running away with it, guns, and all. Make sure any large, heavy safes are positioned on the bottommost floor in your home, such as the basement, where the floor reinforcements are the strongest.

Storing Different Types of Firearms

In general, there are two types of gun safes — those designed to store handguns, and those designed to store long-barrel guns such as rifles and shotguns. If you have both types of firearms, you should probably have multiple safes, as each type is designed to accommodate only one type of firearm.

Other Considerations Before You Buy

Will you need quick access to your gun safe? This is crucial if you need your gun as part of your home security plans. If you only use your guns for hunting or shooting at the range, quick access features may not be important to you.

Bedside gun storage

Make sure that the safe opens in a manner consistent with its location in your home. You do not want to have the door obstructed by a wall. Also, if you have children in the home, locating the safe in an area that they do not have easy access to (such as your bedroom) is important.

Safe Doors

The door opening mechanism is also critical. Manual doors need you to physically open them, while others operate with hydraulic arms, which leaves both of your hands-free to grab your firearm.

Larger safes should also be bolted down to the floor. If you choose one of these models, understand that you must bolt it down to concrete, stone, or brick. Removable surfaces such as tile, laminate, wood, etc., will merely rip up if the safe is moved.

safe being bolted to floor

Often, safes can become cluttered with other non-firearm valuables such as watches, jewelry, credit cards, passports, etc. Do not compromise your home defense by scrambling to grab your handgun from within the midst of clutter in a small safe. It would be a much better idea to buy a separate safe for those valuables than to clutter your pistol safe with unnecessary accouterments.

Best Gun Safes for Pistols

The following five safes are the best gun safes we found for under $500 for pistols:

Brand/Model: Awesafe Gun Safe

Storage capacity: One Handgun

Lock type: Biometric/Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: Interior — 2.2″ H x 9.7″ W x 6.7″ D; Exterior — 3.2″ H, 12.1″ W x 9.9″ D; Weight — Not specified

Awesafe on pistol safe

Description: A quick access gun safe, with fingerprint recognition. It has a digital keypad so that you may set your own combination. For backup access, there is a key lock as well. The fingerprint recognition offers you one-handed access to your firearm. This safe has interior lighting for improved visibility.

Brand/Model: RPNB Gun Security Safe

Storage capacity: One handgun

Lock type: RFID/Digital Keypad/Keys

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: Not specified

Rpnd pistol safe

Description: This quick access safe includes one RFID KEY FOB, ONE RFID card, two manual keys, and two anchor bolts for mounting. This safe is pry-resistant with a motorized locking mechanism, automatic opening for one-handed access, and also includes pre-drilled holes and hardware for floor mounting. This unit requires four AAA batteries. Batteries are not included. This model also includes a digital keypad with a customizable PIN for quick access.

RPNB Gun Safe, Quick-Access Fingerprint Lock or RFID Lock
$99.99
Buy Now Learn More
Prices correct at the time of publishing
04/17/2021 12:33 am GMT

Brand/Model: RPNB Gun Safe (Model: RP1136)

Storage capacity: One handgun

Lock type: RFID/Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight:

gun safe

Description: This quick-access safe provides storage for a handgun, ammunition, passports, credit cards, watches, jewelry, and other small valuables. Requires four AAA batteries not included in the packaging). Comes with a security cable, TWO RFID key fobs, two manual keys, and a button tool. The manual keys provide reliable backup in case the RFID or digital keypad fails.

Brand/Model: Stealth Handgun Safe

Storage capacity: Up to five handguns (three at the ready, and two flat)

Lock type: Digital keypad

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: 9″ H x 9″ W x 12″ D / Weighs: 20 lb

Stealth Safe

Description: This is the best gun safe for the money for pistols in our roundup. It features an illuminated electronic keypad that employs a six-digit combination. This lock has audible feedback and an optional silent mode. A blue light illuminates the keypad and a red light illuminates the interior. The door mechanism has a spring for quick access. Inputting the combination will cause the spring load door to open. This door mechanism is pry-resistant, straw, and pick proof. A novel feature of this safe is a power port — keep it plugged in or use a 9V battery. There is also a version of this safe available with a biometric lock.

Best Choice for Handgun Safe

Brand/Model: Vaultek VT20i Biometric Handgun Bluetooth Smart Safe Pistol Safe

Storage capacity: One handgun

Lock type: Biometric with Bluetooth/Key

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: Exterior: 11.5″ wide X 9.0″ deep X 2.75″ tall; Interior: 11.0″ wide X 5.75″ deep X 2.0″ tall. (Weight not specified)

Vaultek Safe

Description: This quick access safe offers a sophisticated Bluetooth app for on-the-go security. This safe is slim enough to slide under a car seat. Meets TSA airline firearm standards. Anchoring the safe requires using the supplied mounting hardware or a 4″ heavy-duty security cable. It features anti-pry bars and anti-impact latches. This high tech safe features a biometric fingerprint scanner which will store up to 20 different user IDs. You can remotely access the safe from your smartphone to check power levels, view access history, detect tampering, and customize your preferences. It also has adjustable LED lighting in the interior and a backlit keypad.

Powered by long-lasting rechargeable batteries, the lock only requires 2.5 hours to recharge. It includes two manual keys, a micro-USB charging cable, an AC power adapter, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a steel security cable, and mounting hardware.

Best Gun Safe for Rifles

The following safe is one of the best gun safes under $500 for rifles. It is also our pick for the best gun safe for the money for rifles:

Brand/Model: Moutec Large Electronic Rifle Safe

Storage capacity: Five guns with/without scopes

Lock type: Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: Exterior Dimensions: 13.8” x 13.8” x 57.” Interior Dimensions: 56.5″ x 13.4″ x 12.4″ Weight: 880 lbs.

Moutec Rifle Safe

Description: Solidly built, but not fireproof. It has a tamper-resistant inner edge and includes a separate security box for a handgun. It has an optional silent mode and a wrong access alarm for added security. This safe plays a warning tone when the battery runs low. The separate lockbox within the safe is 13″x 6.7″x8″ and uses a key to lock.

Best Choice for Rifle Safe Under $500

The remaining gun safes for long guns come with much heftier price tags, but they also will store a lot more firearms.

Brand/Model: Steelwater Gun Safe AMLD593024-EMP

Storage capacity: Up to 22 long rifles (11/11)

Lock type: Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: 1 Hour of fire protection at 1875°F

Dimensions, including weight: Door opening: Height: 49” Width: 20 1/16”

AMLD593024 Gun Safe
Check out current pricing on Amazon

Description: This safe has a backlit LED keypad and automatic interior LED lighting to provide lowlight access to your firearms. The door has 20 steel locking bolts that are 25% longer than previous models. Utilizes a gear-driven lock and bolt system that is pry- punch and drill resistant and has a spring-loaded relocking bolt.

It has four pre-drilled half-inch diameter anchor holes. Stylish upholstered gray interior with a three-section gun rack and includes four adjustable/removable shelves for additional storage options. It has one full-length shelf (width: 27 1/8” x depth: 15”); and three small shelves (width: 12 3/4” x depth 14 3/4”).

Other features include a high-grade UL Listed power supply with three AC outlets and two USB charging ports and a dry pack 450-gram silica gel rechargeable dehumidifying box.

Brand/Model: Steelwater Gun Safe AMHD593924-EMP

Storage capacity: 39 long guns (13/13/13)

Lock type: Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: 2 Hours of fire protection at 1875°F

Dimensions, including weight: Door opening: Height: Height: 49” Width: 29”

AMHD 39 gun safe

Description: This safe has a backlit LED keypad and automatic interior LED lighting to provide lowlight access to your firearms. The door has 20 steel locking bolts that are 25% longer than previous models. Utilizes a gear-driven lock and bolt system that is pry- punch and drill resistant and has a spring-loaded relocking bolt.

It has four pre-drilled half-inch diameter anchor holes. Stylish upholstered gray interior with a three-section gun rack and includes four adjustable/removable shelves for additional storage options. It has one full-length shelf (width: 34 1/2” x depth: 14 3/4”); and three small shelves (width: 12 3/4” x depth 14 3/4”).

Other features include a high-grade UL Listed power supply with three AC outlets and two USB charging ports and a dry pack 450-gram silica gel rechargeable dehumidifying box.

Brand/Model: Steelwater Gun Safe AMLD724228-blk

Storage capacity: 45 long guns (15/15/15)

Lock type: Digital Keypad/Key

Fire rating: Not specified

Dimensions, including weight: Door opening: Height: 62” Width: 32”

45 Gun Rifle Safe
Check Current pricing on Amazon

Description: This safe has a backlit LED keypad and automatic interior LED lighting to provide lowlight access to your firearms. The door has 20 steel locking bolts that are 25% longer than previous models. Utilizes a gear-driven lock and bolt system that is pry- punch and drill resistant and has a spring-loaded relocking bolt.

It has four pre-drilled half-inch diameter anchor holes. Stylish upholstered gray interior with a three-section gun rack and includes eight adjustable/removable shelves for additional storage options. It has two full-length shelf (width: 39” x depth: 19 1/4”); and six small shelves (width: 12 1/2” x depth: 19 1/4”).

Other features include a high-grade UL Listed power supply with three AC outlets and two USB charging ports and a dry pack 450-gram silica gel rechargeable dehumidifying box.

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