Safety comes first, but protecting your gun is important. Use our guide to choose the storage that’s right for you.

How To Buy Gun Cases And Safes

With guns being a major investment for many buyers, it doesn’t make sense to carry them around wrapped in a rag. To further protect them at home, you may also need a safe, which is a good way to deter theft and to keep them safely locked away from people who should not have access to them, such as your children.

Materials

Gun cases come in a wide variety of materials both on the outside and inside.

Soft cases

  • Soft cases can be made of canvas, vinyl, Cordura nylon or leather
  • Canvas and vinyl are generally less expensive but Cordura nylon withstands a lot more punishment from abrasions and resists water well
  • Leather is considered a premium protector, especially when it’s of a good, thick grade. It withstands punishment and holds up well in rough weather conditions.
  • You should also look for a soft case that has a heavy rubber tip protector at themuzzle to provide added protection
  • Most soft gun cases are lined on the inside with either flannel or fleece to prevent scratches. Some also will come with foam padding to further protect your gun and to help keep the scope zeroed in.
  • If you carry your soft case a lot, you should consider one with a sling to make this job less cumbersome and more comfortable

Hard cases

  • Hard cases come in a hard molded plastic or aluminum
  • Hard cases are essential for long-distance travel, such as on planes. If you travel by plane, look for a hard case that is FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved.
  • Hard molded plastic cases are less prone to scratches and generally are less expensive than aluminum cases
  • Aluminum cases provide an extra degree of toughness and security since the material is harder to pry open or drill than plastic
  • Both molded plastic and aluminum cases come with foam inside to protect your rifles or pistols. The thicker, the better since this keeps your firearms securely in place.
  • Some manufacturers prefer a closed-cell foam since it does not wick away as much of your gun’s oil. This is a key consideration for long-term storage.

Safes

  • For safes, steel rules. How much steel and the quality determine the security of your safe.
  • The thicker the steel, the harder it will be to drill through it
  • Additionally, if you have a valuable collection, look for safes with a high fire-resistance rating. Most manufacturers list their fire rating such as 1200 degrees F for 30 minutes. Most safes are fire-resistant, not fireproof.

 

Locks

  • Most soft cases generally will accommodate a simple padlock
  • Hard cases typically come with lockable steel latches or combination locks on the latches similar to those on a brief case
  • Safes offer a number of locking mechanisms:
    • Some come with a combination tumbler lock, key locks, electronic keypads or a combination of these
    • Consider the locking bolts, with bigger diameters providing more security
    • Barriers are placed in front of many locking systems as well, using case-hardened steel to foil drilling or cutting
    • A recessed door frame also makes it tougher for a criminal to pry open

 

Size/Capacity

Carrying Cases

  • Carrying cases can accommodate a range of pistols, rifles and shotguns
  • Manufacturers will list the maximum length firearm that can be carried in their cases
  • Additionally, these cases often accommodate multiple firearms
  • Once again, look for the manufacturers’ capacity ratings

Safes

  • Safes are designed to hold pistols or long guns
  • Smaller safes and pistol boxes are specifically designed to accommodate pistols. The small safes often have shelves that can be adjusted or removed to organize your pistols.
  • The big advantage here is concealment–many are designed to fit under a bed, in a dresser or on a night stand
  • The disadvantage is security since the lighter weight makes it easier for someone to carry the safe away. Many manufacturers provide bolt holes to anchor the safes and boxes in a fixed position.
  • Bigger safes designed for rifles and shotguns are tougher to move
  • Manufacturers list the interior capacity of their safes

 

Use

  • If you’re an average hunter and primarily travel by car, then look at a good grade of canvas, vinyl, Cordura nylon or leather
  • You’ll be best served with a case that offers a heavy rubber tip protector at the muzzle and that’s lined with flannel or fleece
  • If you travel extensively or carry multiple guns, a molded plastic or aluminum case will help your guns withstand bumps as they go through baggage handling. Look for airline-approved FAA cases.