I own two handguns, and am planning to buy one more handgun and a shotgun. Previously I had been using trigger locks on my handguns, but my girlfriend and her daughter recently moved into my house, and I decided I was no longer comfortable with trigger locks as my sole method of securing my guns. I wanted a safe that would fit my handguns and my shotgun. Here's the criteria I put together for choosing a safe:
- I was not concerned with fire protection. My weapons are for self defense and for target shooting; I'm not a collector and don't have valuable or rare weapons.
- It has to keep out curious teenagers and children, and non-determined burglars. (A determined, skilled burglar with enough time can get inside any safe.)
- This is for home defense -- so I need to be able to get access to these weapons quickly. That rules out keys (fumbling for a key at 3 AM when there's an intruder in the house doesn't seem fun) and biometrics (I've seen too many biometric devices fail, either by not letting in the approved user, or by letting in unapproved users.) Higher-cost biometric systems are probably more reliable, but I'm on a budget here. This left me with mechanical or electronic combination locks. I did not want a dial combination lock, as I've had trouble opening those under pressure in the past.
I settled on the SentrySafe G1459E 14-Gun Electronic Lock Safe. It holds far more than I need, is relatively reasonably priced, and fits my requirements. I'm not entirely comfortable with the fact that it's battery-powered. (If the batteries die you slide the lock pad out of the way and remove the battery to expose a key hole.) The only low-battery warning is that it will stop functioning when the battery is too low. Since I open the safe several times a week, and will very rarely (or never) open it in a crisis situation, I'm comfortable with the odds on this, but I'd prefer something that didn't have this weakness.
I bought a couple of accessories for the safe that I can also recommend:
- The Cannon Safe 9000-PISTOL 2009 Door Panel Organizer hangs on the door of the safe, providing additional storage for knives, flashlights, and handguns. I also keep some small loose objects in the mesh pouches. The pockets are velcro and can be attached anywhere on the organizer. The velcro appears to be strong enough to hold even a heavy handgun properly. I had to bend the mounting clips to get them to fit the SentrySafe.
- I purchased the Cannon Safe SSL-03-Electronic Lock Security Safe Light, a magnetically-attached red light that goes over the keypad. It can also be easily detached to allow you to view inside the safe. It's not particularly bright, but it does the job.
- Moisture is the enemy of guns. I purchased a Eva-dry E-500 Renewable Wireless Mini Dehumidifer and am quite pleased with it. "Wireless" is a bit of a misnomer. This is a plastic container with desiccant inside -- moisture-absorbing balls that turn pink when saturated with water. This dehumidifier is different than others because when it's saturated, you take it out of the safe, plug it into a wall outlet, and a heating element inside heats up the desiccant, drying it out. This is the "wireless" part -- no extension cord, just plug it into the wall. Meaningless, I know -- but despite the strange name, it works great, and has kept the inside of my safe dry and rust-free.