Small gun safes are ideal for protecting handguns against children and casual thefts, but if you have a substantial firearms collection you will need something more. What’s required is a safe with the strength to resist a more sustained attack, possibly including heavy tools. You also need to consider the risk of fire. A large safe can weigh over 500 pounds including contents, so in the event of a fire you won’t be able to carry it out. A fire resistant safe will increase the chance of your guns surviving long enough for the fire to be controlled.
The good news is that a hight quality large safe can be bought for under one thousand dollars and will provide you with all the protection your guns need. The best gun safes under $1000 will hold a good-sized collection behind a solid barrier. Here are our top picks:
TOP PICK: Mesa MBF5922E (electronic lock)
A large gun collection is an expensive investment and an attractive target for thieves, so it’s vital to protect it against any threat. The Mesa MBF5922E gun safe has been carefully designed to keep your precious firearms safe from both criminals and fire, while remaining easy to use and affordable. This is a full size safe, standing 59 inches high and built solidly enough to resist practically any attack.
Externally, the safe is a substantial box with an attractive black powder-coat finish. The whole body is constructed from hardened steel, so it’s highly resistant even to power tools or drilling, and the door is recessed to prevent it being pried open. The two large hinges are externally mounted, which can cause concerns in a more lightly constructed safe, but these ones are massive enough that they can’t be knocked or pried off and they’re also hardened to resist cutting. The door is secured by three live locking bolts and three deadbolts, making for great security when it’s locked. Pre-drilled mounting holes let you bolt the safe securely to the structure of your home, and mounting hardware is supplied. The exterior is completed with nice brass and chrome hardware. As well as the oval keypad there’s a traditional-style three-spoked opening lever. This safe has a classic appearance that looks good in any setting.
As well as being intrusion-resistant to California DOJ standards this safe is also ETL certified to protect its contents against a fire of up to 1750F degrees for 60 minutes. This is a feature that’s often overlooked, but don’t forget your guns are actually more likely to be lost in a home fire than stolen by thieves.
The lock itself is an electronic combination model using a full 12-button keypad (with numbers 0-9) and each safe comes with a unique 5-digit passcode. Of course it also lets you select your own code but be aware that the factory code can’t be deleted, so keep it safe and secret. The lock runs on four AA batteries (which aren’t supplied) and you also get two backup keys to open the safe if the batteries die or you forget your code. If three failed attempts are made to enter the code, the safe will lock down for two minutes, and entering a valid code will unlock the safe for four seconds. If it hasn’t been opened by then it automatically locks again, so you can’t get distracted and leave the safe unlocked. This really is a very secure lock.
Internally, the safe is extremely flexible. The inside is carpeted to protect your guns, and the supplied racks will hold up to 14 long guns. Unlike some safes this REALLY means long guns, too – with an internal height of 57.8 inches you’ll have no trouble storing .308 battle rifles, long-barreled shotguns or classic bolt-action guns. We even managed to fit in a Brown Bess musket – that was a tight squeeze, admittedly, but we did it. Easily configured shelves also let you store handguns, ammunition and accessories.
Overall this isn’t just an extremely secure safe; it’s also versatile, good looking and has a genuinely huge capacity. If you have a substantial gun collection this is the one you need. Priced at under $1,000, this safe is comparable to some others costing 3-4 times more.
RUNNER UP: Stack-On 24 Gun Fire Safe
The Stack-On 24 Gun Fire Safe also has the same California DOJ and ETL ratings. It holds up to 24 long guns and comes with four adjustable shelves for small items. One nice touch is Stack-On’s barrel rest standoffs, which let you store scope-equipped rifles with the optics clear of the safe walls. The Stack-On 24 is available in a choice of colors including black, brown and hunter green, so if you’re really concerned about it matching your décor, this could be the one.
The lock has pretty much the same features as the SentrySafe’s, including a lockdown after three incorrect code inputs. A very traditional brass wheel withdraws the three live bolts once the door is unlocked. This is a very handsome safe and it’s tough, too. It might be the runner up in this category but it’s a very close contest.