How to Properly Store a Gun for Home Defense

man with gun preparing to face an intruder
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How to Properly Store a Gun for Home Defense

One subject that often gets overlooked in the discussion of home defense is the issue of storage. When thinking about home defense, the majority of focus is on which weapons and ammo to buy and what our strategy is if someone were to attack. But how exactly should you store your home defense gun? It isn't the same as storing the guns you only use at the range; this is a gun you plan to use to defend yourself should the need arise. Read on for tips on how to safely store your home defense gun in a place that is secure, but accessible when you need it.

Seemingly Common-Sense Storage Suggestions That Aren't Actually Great Ideas

gun stored in dresser drawer

Inevitably, some people will suggest that you keep your home defense weapon on you or with you at all times. For most people, this simple isn't possible, let alone practical.

Also, that argument is usually predicated on your home defense gun being a handgun, but what if it's a shotgun? Are you supposed to just lug shotgun around with you everywhere? Even if this were somehow manageable, at some point you have to go to bed. You're eventually confronted with the issue of what to do with the gun when you sleep.

Here, too, some might suggest what they consider a common-sense solution. There are those who would suggest that you keep your gun on the nightstand. Or, if it's a shotgun, keep it propped up beside the bed.

While this may work in some cases, these solutions arent advisable for a few reasons. First, if you have young children (or even pets) in the house, it's probably not a good idea to leave loaded guns laying around while you sleep. Second, depending on what your state and local laws are, it might actually be illegal if you have children to leave your gun unattended.

Having a gun on the nightstand could be a problem for a host of other reasons. If the phone rings and you're half asleep fumbling for it, you could grab the gun and pull the trigger while you're groping around. Similarly, you could also knock the gun off the nightstand, inadvertently damaging it or causing an accidental discharge if it's not a drop safe gun.

This is even more true with shotguns. Even if it's propped up beside the bed, you could easily knock it over. There are many shotguns that aren't drop safe.

Lastly, and this is admittedly unlikely but a potential problem nonetheless: What if you don't wake up when someone enters your home? On the off chance that they didn't wake you coming in, you don't want to leave a gun out for them.

3 Better Options for Storing a Home Defense Gun

1. Storing in a Safe

Storing Revolver in a Safe

Since leaving a loaded gun laying around is a bad option, the most obvious choice for many people is to store the gun in a safe. However, if you're using the gun for home defense, you need a different type of safe than one you would use for long-term storage.

You can find many types of safes designed specifically for defense guns. They allow you to keep your gun under or near your bed safely. You can find safes that have finger sensors, electronic codes, or even key locks. All of these can offer quick access to the firearm. Some of them are even designed with a quick open in mind and have features to assist you in that regard.

One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to a safe, though, is where to keep it. Remember that if a need for the firearm arises, it's likely to be sudden and not guaranteed to happen when you sleep. Consider the possibility that your bedroom may not be the ideal storage location.

If your house has multiple levels, you might want to consider having a safe on each level. If your bedroom is on the top floor and you're doing laundry in the basement, fell asleep on the couch, or are in the bathroom, your gun could be too far away when you require it.

There's nothing wrong with storing the safe in the bedroom, but be aware of what locations you may routinely be in that are farthest away from it. Develop the quickest routes to get back to the bedroom and the gun. We're trying to keep the gun and you both safe here, not have the gun secure and you in danger. That defeats the point.

You might also consider locating your gun safe in a central place that's easily reached from anywhere in the house. Or, perhaps make a plan with your family that you all try to get to one location within the house if there's any trouble and locate the safe there.

2. Storing the Gun Out of Sight

Another option that works for some gun owners is storing the weapon in the open, but out of sight. There are numerous options for this, and some of them are extremely clever.

There are an increasing number of companies designing items specifically for storing a gun in a hidden, but easily accessible placeFor example, there are shelves designed to hold guns and extra magazines hidden inside them. You can place them anywhere you would want a shelf and get the added benefit of extra storage space for everyday items.

There are false walls for similar purposes and even bed headboards designed to conceal a firearm accessible by a trapdoor. These items and others are becoming increasingly popular methods for safely and securely storing firearms for home defense.

The same rules apply with these as they do with safes. Whether you mount a hidden holster or buy dedicated concealment furniture, ensure you have a plan for getting to them if things go sour.

3. Storing the Gun Out of Reach

For some people, the option exists to simply place the home defense weapon somewhere that's in the open, but unseen, like a high cupboard or closet shelf. This method is obviously less secure than the previous two options (and is not advised if you have children or ever have them in your home), but may be a consideration depending on your situation.

If you don't want to deal with having to open a safe or don't want to purchase one (or can't afford one), this could be a potential compromise. It allows for the firearm to be "hidden" but accessible. Just be sure the laws of your area allow for this.

The biggest things to keep in mind when storing a home defense weapon are your lifestyle and situation. Whatever method you choose needs to help you better defend yourself while keeping your firearm secure and your entire family safe.

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Robert Williams
I have allot of issues with the article. You make a allot of suggestion and then counter those suggestions. Home security has levels and a weapon should be one of the first and last thing. What makes this article not very particle. "You reach for your phone you might pull the trigger". When you write was that even a real thought. I see so many other bad suggestion in this article. I apologize if I seem over opinionated. But for a gun and ammo outlet I was truly disappointed.
David L Frisby
An empty gun could cost you your life, or the lives of loved ones. Keep them locked and loaded. David Lee Frisby U.S. Army Retired.
Kevin Maas
I have a stationary holster that mounts on the side of the bed ... between the mattress and box spring ... my Ruger SP101 is easily accessible if the need ever arises
I'm single and live alone so my firearm is within reach when I go to bed, 2 when I'm awake and doing chores around the house or yard my firearm is on my hip. I'm not a heavy sleeper so I don't worry about someone sneaking in! My state allows open carry and constitutional concealed carry.
M. Pelenytschka
I was woken up in the middle of the night and found the cat and dog playing cops and robbers with my guns
I have external:inernal w/motion cameras around house, entry sensors all windows doors, motion detectors every room. Keep all firearms loaded not chambered in locked storage except bedroom where I keep firearm on nightstand at night and ar15 pistol on bench in bedroom. Almost impossible to enter house without detection and house has panic button in bedroom and siren in house Security system is monitored externally U come in uninvited u don’t get out, period
Great ideas ! Law abiding citizens need all the advantges they can ger against criminals
Jack Hayden
I like the use of magnets strategically located at various locations. If you have only one weapon, move it to one of your locations or have multiple weapons.
Multiple weapons, multiple locations and a twice shooter on the body.
Bemused Berserker
Homak Quick Access for my CC Weapon right by the bedside.
J H Jackson
Do people still have bedside phones? I put me cell phone on the other side of the nightstand and my Glock 27 closest to me. I turn my phone off when I sleep. (Nightshift) so If I need to repel boarders our dogs and alarms will warn me ahead of time. Just a thought.
Dave Blanchard
Out of sight out of mind at least to the intruder. Conceil your weapon in the rear of you night stand. Under your dresser drawer.
John W Woodward
As a defensive handgun instructor I advise all students to check the laws in their state regarding storing their handgun when it is not in their holster on their person. As a License to Carry Handgun Instructor in my state I make certain my students know what the state law is. Therefore, I do not recommend either option #2 or option #3 above. There are safes that look like furniture or are disguised that will make a handgun accessible in a variety of places in the residence.
Lawson & Christina Urfer
Great piece, thanks!
Herschel Hicks
I’ve seen these gun magnets advertised but I am concerned about the weapon’s metal parts becoming magnetized which would present a number of problems. Is this an issue?
Bill Rediger
Very good info
Well I will give you a different perspective on this based on my own situation. First good home self defense starts with having good home security to either alert you of a potential intruder and to slow the intruder down so you have time to react . To that effect I have motion detection cameras outside my home, window/door sensors on every entry way, motion detectors and motion sensored cameras for every large area that need s to be crossed, a panic button in the bedroom and the interior system is monitored by an external source plus all my systems are monitored on my iphone which I keep on my night stand. That being said and given the fact there are only two adults in the house when I go to bed at night I keep a loaded pistol on my nightstand out of my immediate reach and an ar15 pistol on the bench in the bedroom by the door,. Trust me when I tell you no one is getting in that house without me knowing it or having time to react. If they get in they will most likely not get out. There are also warning signs on every exterior door and window. Gates to the back yard are locked and there are locked grates on all window wells.. It would be almost impossible for someone to be successful in defeating that multilayered system without setting off the alarm. Other than being hardwired the entire systen is on battery backup.
Nicholas J Pela
What is the problem with carrying while at home? I have at least one gun on my person all waking hours, within reach when showering, on the nightstand when sleeping. No children in the house anymore, but if the grandkids are visiting the only thing that changes is that the nightstand gun is in a quick release safe/box. This is all the same for my wife also.
Jeffrey Bowe
The article seems to suggest staging a gun as in the only one. A better solution is to have multiple guns staged so you are never more than 22-27 feet from one so you can take advantage of the Tueller Principle as well. You can also realized that a small gun can be kept in a small drawer in a kitchen or laundry room and a larger gun such as a shotgun in a closet. You could also consider staging one between where you spend time and where you could exit from so that you could grab the gun on the way out and even though we don't feel like we should have to retreat it may still be a safer option with our gun in our hand. Think about where am I likely to be and where are they likely to enter. I do not want the gun between me and them, I want the gun on the opposite side of me from them so I can pick up space between us while retrieving the weapon.
Who keeps a round in the chamber of their home defense gun? Why would fumbling with a safe half-asleep be any better? I keep a 40 under my bed Mag in, chamber empty, if my cat comes along while I'm sleeping, chambers a round and shoots me, I guess I'm done, with the odds about the same as me vacationing on Mars this summer.
In my opinion, a home defense weapon should be within reach as you get out of bed. If it had to be secured, I'd recommend a quick open safe on the nightstand. Hidden or not hidden, your call.
To me, the best way to "store" a gun for home defense is to carry it on your person. I have one on my hip as I write this. If you have full control of your gun, then there is no danger of anyone else getting a hold of it, neither children in your home nor bad guys who enter.
Good ideas I'll try a couple and see what works. Good thing i have no children living in my house but have grandchildren visiting sometimes
I take exception to most of your suggestions as to where I should store my guns for home protection. In my area, home invasions are far and above the most common need for self protection. Most of these result in a door being kicked in and the occupants assaulted in just a matter of seconds. I doubt they would be very receptive to me asking them to pause for a moment while I retrieve my gun from my safe or hiding place. I live alone and I have my pistol on my nightstand and a 12 gauge, tactical shotgun in a bed frame holder. I have it loaded with 7 rounds of 00 buckshot. I have my outside doors fortified with long screws on the hinges and jams which would provide me with a few extra seconds to allow me to get into a defensive posture.
Ed Snyder
Home defense and a gun safe.... really!!! Ridiculous.... excuse me Intruder while I move to my gun safe, and remove my home defense weapon. Fumble around looking for the phone and squeeze the trigger.... ridiculous.... whomever wrote this obviously is not familiar with firearms!!! Get intimate with your weapons.
If you choose the fingerprint safe, make sure it works for you. As we get older, our fingerprints get harder to read. Test your solution. Just like firing the weapon, practice, practice, practice.
Linda Hudson
Very helpful.