Buying an expensive gun safe packed with all the latest innovations and strongest features may not be affordable for every gun owner out there. But for many, it may not even be that necessary: some may want a secure place to store their weapons away from children who could cause harm if they got their hands on them; others may wish for protection against burglars and thieves, but not the paranoid kind offered by the ultra-high end products around today.
Whatever the reasons, it can safely be said that a cheap gun safe can suit a number of gun owner / collector demographics: with that in mind, I’ve created this guide to help you in the selection of a reliable yet highly affordable gun storage safe. You’ll find out whether a sub-$500 product is the right choice for you or not, and the factors to consider when buying one. The end goal is to help you choose the best gun safe under 500 for yourself.
Dimensions (h x w x d)
Stack-On GCB-910 10-Gun Compact Steel Security Cabinet
53’’ x 17’’ x 13.5’’
1 Year Limited
BARSKA Quick Access Biometric Rifle Safe
52.17’’ x 9.7 x 8.6
1 Year Limited
Homegear 5 Rifle Electronic Gun Safe
57.1’’ x 13.8’’ x 11.8’’
1 Year Limited
SnapSafe Trunk Safe
10’’ x 48’’ x 16’’
Stack-On SS-22-MB-E 22 Gun Fully Convertible Security Safe with Electronic Lock, Matte Black
55’’ x 26.8125’’ x 17.625’’
3 Year Limited
Gun theft is a concern that crosses the mind of even the most casual of gun owners, partly because the gun is an investment on protection, and partly because it is the duty of every responsible gun owner to prevent the theft of their weapons which could eventually end up on the black market and/or be used to commit a crime.
However, not every place has the same kind of crime rate as Detroit: it would be overkill on your wallet, if you bought a super expensive product to secure your weapon collection while living in a decidedly safe neighborhood. An inexpensive safe would provide sufficient fundamental protection in this scenario, without breaking your wallet.
Perhaps you just own half a dozen inexpensive hunting rifles, say an assortment of low-cost Varminters, for some casual hunting. Investing in a safe that probably costs way more than the weapons’ combined worth wouldn’t be very sensible (unless, of course, they carry a lot of sentimental value). You’d be better off storing them in a cheap safe that provides adequate safety against natural disasters and the odd attempt at unauthorized access.
If you’re not concerned about theft attempts but are afraid one of your weapons may fall into the hands of a curious child (or perhaps even an unwitting adult) who could do serious harm to themselves and/or to others with it, a cheap gun safe is definitely worth considering.
It is highly unlikely that your child will be a safe cracking expert who could bypass a low-cost safe’s admittedly less secure locking mechanisms, and the use of hand/power tools is out of the question as well. What you’d get is basic protection that is more than enough to block children’s access.
Sometimes, you may have to stay away from your home (and your primary safe) for more than a couple of months. If you have to take your gun collection with you, you may require a place to store them securely. Naturally, you couldn’t shell out a couple of thousand bucks just for a temporary storage solution.
A low cost gun safe on the other hand, would fit the bill nicely: you could get reasonable theft protection from it without having to spend a great deal. In fact, if you had to leave in a hurry without being able to arrange for it to be transported back / sold, you could dump it and suffer from a comparatively much smaller loss.
You may also require a cheap safe for temporary storage in another sense: while you’re saving for the more expensive and more secure safe you really want.
When I say core protection, I’m referring to protection from burglary attempts utilizing hand tools such as crowbars and hammers. Even at a price point as low as $500, the safe should be thick enough to at least be able to hold true to its name. Obviously, power tools are a whole different story: they can give even the most advanced weapon safes around a run for their money, so cheap ones wouldn’t stand a chance with their thin steel designs.
This kind of weapon safe will incorporate an ordinary mechanical / electronic lock (the higher priced ones may come with a drill resistant hard plate). Furthermore, there will be a limited number of locking points and these too, will utilize shorter locking bolts (1’’ is the industry average). If at all possible, go for a product whose lock bears a California DoJ certification i.e. the bare minimum indicator of a lock’s reliability.
There’s little to expect in terms of shielding from fire and water damage from cheap safes; quite simply, it is extremely difficult for a manufacturer to keep the costs down while incorporating fireboards, expanding heat seals and thorough water-proofing in the product.
Since they are made out of a thinner steel gauge, most of these safes will not weigh more than a hundred pounds. If you’ll be leaving the safe unattended for hours on end, you may need to bolt it down to the floor to prevent a couple of burly burglars from simply carrying it off. In such a scenario, always look for a product that comes with pre-drilled holes for mounting to the wall or floor.
Expect basic shelves and compartments, and perhaps some gun rests on the better varieties. The pricing constraint leaves little room for customization options such as adjustable shelving and internal power strips.
On account of their low-cost construction, most manufacturers only offer a marginal warranty for these safes. Even so, expect a warranty period of 1-year at the very least. Anything lower than that is indicative of a product that isn’t worth spending even the least amount of money on.
Available at a very low price, and being spacious enough to hold 10 full sized rifles to boot, the GCB-910 from Stack-On is a good gun safe under 500 for those who require only basic security.
The safe has 3 locking points, and utilizes a double-bitted, key coded lock for deterring theft attempts. It comes with its own hardware to affix it to a permanent surface to enhance security. This is a good thing, given its meager 68.4 pound weight.
As for the interior, it comes with a single removable shelf, which can be used to store ammo and other smaller accessories. The shelf goes into the back of the safe, and leaves some room towards the front so that longer guns can be stored easily. The bottom is padded, and barrel rests have been put in place to reduce scratching of your weapons.
In spite of its low cost, the safe comes with a 1 year limited warranty for defects in workmanship and material. Since there have been complaints about the safe arriving a bit worn, you may want to give it a thorough inspection and avail this warranty if required.
Sporting a 2mm thick body and a biometric lock, this safe makes up for its meagre 3 gun storage space by providing superior essential protection and easy accessibility at a remarkably affordable cost.
The fingerprint scan activated lock ensures that you’ll be able to access your weapons at a moment’s notice when needed. At all other times, the manual three point dead locking system keeps all unauthorized individuals out. Incidentally, you’re able to store as many as 120 different users who can access this safe by means of the scanner, which means you can authorize as many individuals as needed.
Since the safe weighs a mere 66 pounds, I’ll advise you to utilize its pre-drilled mounting points and secure it to a wall or the floor so no thief is able to simply run off with it.
The interior of this safe is quite small, only allowing you to store a total of 3 long guns, and that too if they are un-scoped. The small size is probably a consequence of the thicker steel layer out of which its body is made: the manufacturer has to cut some corners to keep the cost low.
This product also suffers from QC problems that plague almost all cheap safes: in its case, dead biometric locks and broken hinges on arrival are the most frequent complaints. In any case, it does come with a 1 year limited warranty that should fully cover the costs for fixing these issues.
I’ll recommend that you check for issues in the first couple of weeks and have the product shipped to the manufacturer as soon as you find a flaw; BARSKA customer support has racked up some complaints about their unhelpfulness to customers with products that have been in use for more than a couple of months.
Safes with electronic locking mechanisms have an inherent element of unreliability involved: if the electronics fizzle out, you’ll be stuck with a dead safe until you take out your manual override keys, which you probably wouldn’t have on your person. It was a pleasant surprise to find the Homegear 5 Rifle Electronic Gun Safe, which manages to provide quick and reliable access to the user through its electronic keypad in spite of its cheap cost.
You’ll find it obvious that the safe is Chinese made: the body will likely have some scratches / bumps on it; the instructions will be in English that seems to have been copied straight from an online translator; the buttons will get stuck when pushed overenthusiastically; and the included batteries and mounting hardware will be unsatisfactory to say the least.
In spite of these issues, the safe shines in the core protection department: its door is 4mm thick steel, with the walls being 2mm thick. When combined with its two horizontal and vertical locking bolts, the safe is enough to give any burglar a hard time. But, as mentioned above, the included mounting bolts are disappointingly weak, so it is better to use your own bolts to secure this safe to a wall.
The electronic lock has a 5 minute penalty lockout feature which is activated after 3 wrong entries. In addition to the electronic lock (which runs on 4 AA batteries), you can also access the safe’s contents using the provided manual keys if needed. The safe comes with an industry standard 1 year warranty.
If you're looking for affordable yet extremely secure storage for a couple of AR rifles and a pistol, the SnapSafe Trunk Safe is definitely worth a look.
Made using 14 gauge steel, and with an extra strong pry-resistant 7 gauge steel door, this quality gun safe is fully able to deter theft attacks done by hand or using mechanical tools. In fact, it would even hold out against a power tool for quite some time. The safe can also be bolted to the ground or secured using the 4 feet long / 10mm thick security cable that is supplied with it.
This product utilizes internal hinges for added security, with gas shocks to facilitate opening and holding the door. A standard digital keypad running on AA batteries is used for actuating the lock, but you also get a couple of backup mechanical keys in case the electronics fails.
As implied by the name, this product is intended to be placed in a vehicle’s trunk but it won’t look out of place under a bed, in a garage or in the corner of a hunting cabin. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of safe you’d put in your living room.
The safe comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
With a solid steel construction, a spacious interior and a CA DoJ safety device rating, this safe is a sound option for those looking for a conventional gun safe at a low cost.
The lock has been augmented by a drill resistant hard plate, and can be opened using the electronic keypad, but it also comes with a couple of backup keys that can be used in case the digital mechanism fails. Incidentally, there have been quite a few complaints about this happening, which is to be expected from a low-end product.
The contents are secured by a total of 6 locking points (3 of which are 1’’ steel live action locking bolts and the rest are dead bolts on the hinge side), and the concealed hinges guard the safe from a cutting tool attack, but without obstructing your access to the interior.
The safe can hold up to 22 long guns in its fully carpeted interior with durable molded barrel rests for accommodating shotguns or rifles. It has 4 adjustable shelves to allow for customization from the default storage configuration.
Even though it may be the most expensive under-$500 safe that I’ve reviewed, it yields the best protection against all kinds of unauthorized access in the lot, while also allowing you store a sizeable collection of firearms. In case you have any problems with the electronic keypad, you should utilize the three year limited warranty the safe ships with.
Having gone through this guide, it will be evident to you that finding the best gun safe under 500 always involves some sort of compromise. If you want ultra-strong anti-theft protection, you’ll have to go for a product with a small interior. If you want more storage space, you’ll have to be OK with a thinner bodied safe. On top of this, you can’t expect premium features such as fire proofing and water protection. Ultimately, it’s a matter of what you prioritize.
That being said, if you’re looking for a conventional secure gun safe, I’d recommend the Stack-On SS-22-MB-E 22 Gun Fully Convertible Security Safe with Electronic Lock, Matte Black. It has a sturdy construction, plenty of customizable room for storage, strong anti-theft features and an extended warranty period to boot, and you can’t get anything better than that in a sub $500 package. Sure, it’s got problems with its electronic lock, but at this low a cost, that is something to be anticipated.
Guns and Security provides reviews, guides, news and entertainment for gun and survival enthusiasts.
Celebrities Who Love Guns: #12 Is The Best
What’s the Best Spot in your Home to Put your Gun Safe?
Gun safe or Gun Cabinet – Which is the Right Choice for You?
Electronic or Mechanical Lock – Which is the Right One for You?
What issues may be present in a Winchester gun safe?
The Truth About Gun Safe Fire Ratings
A Take on the Best Small Gun Safes in the Market
A Look At The Top Rated Biometric Gun Safes On The Market