A good gun safe is an important investment, but the cost can seem prohibitive to many people. Of course for $500 it’s hard to find a quality safe with all the latest features, but that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on security. By sticking with the basics, you can get a safe that’s perfectly secure and still allows reliable access. A lot of the cost of a premium safe is in the lock, and by going for mechanical over electronic you can reduce the cost significantly.
If you’re not looking for a large safe you have more options. Some very useful budget minded safes are available, including quick access ones ideal for home defense weapons. Here are two of the best gun safes for under $500.
TOP PICK: Stack-On SS-22-MG-C
One way to build a reliable safe at this price point is to concentrate efforts on the safe’s body and save money on the lock by using older but more reliable technology. The Stack-On SS-22-MG-C follows this approach, combining a high quality steel body with a proven mechanical combination lock. This is a large safe, capable of holding a respectable gun collection, and it gives an appropriate level of security for such a valuable asset.
The safe body is constructed to meet California DOJ standards for intrusion resistance, with a pry-resistant door and a hardened anti-drill plate protecting the lock. The door hinges are concealed for protection, and when the safe is locked, the door is held in position by three hardened steel 1” live locking bolts plus two deadbolts on the hinge side. For this price that’s a lot of locking points, and it would take a very determined attack with heavy tools to get through it. At an overall weight of 247 pounds it obviously doesn’t contain as much metal as some safes, and it would be possible for a group of thieves to carry it away to work on later, but that’s easy to counter; the 22-MG-C is predrilled with mounting holes and comes with all the hardware you need to secure it to the floor of your home. As far as finish goes, the safe has an attractive green epoxy coating, accented with gold on the door; this gives it an attractive traditional look.
The lock is a three-number combination type. It’s not the smoothest to operate but it functions perfectly and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the security it provides. The anti-drill plate keeps it safe from power tools. Mechanical locks like this take a bit longer to open than electronic ones, so they’re not ideal for safes you want to access in a hurry, but that doesn’t really apply to a large model like this. There are also advantages to a mechanical lock. You’re never going to be shut out of your safe because the batteries failed or a contact in the keypad gave up.
As far as storage goes, the SS-22-MG-C does an outstanding job. It comes with customizable shelves and racks allowing several different layouts. You can set it up to hold 22 guns, 11 guns plus storage or all storage. With an internal height of 55 inches it will easily hold any gun except some traditional muzzle loaders. By choosing a layout with storage shelves you’ll get plenty of space for ammunition, accessories and handguns. One minor gripe is that the height of the gun racks can’t be adjusted and the muzzles of shorter weapons may not reach the rack – for example an AR15 with an 18 inch barrel only just reached it. It would be easy enough to fit your own racks though. The interior is also carpeted throughout.
Overall this is a good, solid and reliable safe. It gives you a lot of protection for the money and is big enough to hold a substantial collection.
RUNNER UP: BARSKA Biometric Rifle Safe
If you are on a budget, don’t need the space the Stack-On SS-22-MG-C offers but quick access is important to you, the BARSKA Biometric Rifle Safe is a very attractive option. It’s positioned as a home defense center and set up to allow you rapid access to up to 4 rifles and one pistol. For comfortably access, I would not recommend to store more than 2 rifles in this safe.
The vertical opening door makes it easy to grab the weapons in a hurry, and the pistol shelf has an ingenious stand to keep the weapon in an at-the-ready position. This safe is slim shape with 10 mounting points (6 in the back and 4 on the bottom). For safety and stability of the safe, it’s highly recommended that you mount it. Closet is a good place to place this gun safe.
Because the priority is on quick access, this popular BARSAKA safe uses a biometric lock, which is set up to allow silent entry. This is important for you to access the gun without making beeping sounds. If you want easily opened storage for a pair of home defense guns, the BARSKA Biometric Rifle Safe is really a great unit, plus the price is very affordable which is about half of the Stack-On.