Shooters buy ammo safes for a lot of different reasons. This article will cover the utility of the humble ammo safe and its place in the modern shooter’s “arsenal”. For many years the ammunition safe was only an item that hardcore shooters were buying, but in light of many changes to the market, and the presence of better marketing in the gun industry, many more shooters have come to realize the value of the ammo safe for their needs.
This article is a great guide for those interested in the idea of an ammo safe and will help the reader to get the best value and best feature set for their specific needs.
Best Ammo Safes Comparison Chart
Stack-On GCB-900 Steel Pistol/Ammo Cabinet
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Stack-On GCB-500 Steel Pistol/Ammo Cabinet
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Stack-On ASC-1416 Firepower Ammo Cabinet
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AmazonBasics Fire Resistant Safe
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MTM ACR5-72 Ammo Crate Utility Box with 4.5" Deep
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Why are Ammo Safes Needed?
In recent memory there have been many shooting incidents, stemming from poor gun safety training and lack of child protective equipment; there is also a very pressing concern by state legislators all over the United States to enact more and more regulation on gun owners – with many new laws in place already.
These concepts form a basis for the need for ammunition storage devices. Furthermore, there are practical reasons for a shooter to use a safe to store ammunition as well – we will cover this below.
A gun without ammunition is hard to use. Children can often put together the concept of firing a gun, but without ammunition in the firearm, it’s tough for any damage to be done.
Even teenagers or determined children would likely lose interest in having to bypass two different safes to get a functioning firearm. Because children cannot buy ammunition in a retail location, it becomes a very effective method of avoiding accidents with children around your personal guns.
Gun Safety Laws
In states like California (and others), the newest laws assign liability to the gun owner if a minor is harmed with a gun in the home due to lack of a safety device or safe storage.
In fact, several states require a safe at the time of purchase in order to release a firearm to a consumer. It’s only a matter of time before new regulations targeting ammo are also enacted.
In states where ammo purchases are already regulated, safe laws specific to ammunition storage already exist, including some states that make it illegal to not report stolen ammunition and to make it sufficiently difficult for a thief to obtain ammunition from your property. While it may seem ridiculous to many, it is a simple fact that these laws exist in some jurisdictions.
Increasing Ammunition Shelf Life
Needs exist for shooters to have an ammunition storage solution, especially as they grow their collection of firearms and need more and different cartridges on hand, or as they have no more room in the safe for ammo because the number of firearms has grown.
Being in a moisture-controlled, safe place makes sense for extending the shelf life of ammunition, which can be 100+ years with proper considerations and quality manufacturing.
Considerations When Buying an Ammo Safe
You’ll want to consider the important aspects of ammunition storage prior to dropping money on devices to protect your ammo. How much ammunition will fit, how hard it is to remove from a location, fire protection, theft protection (on-site and off-site), and price are just a few of these important considerations.
There is a diminishing return concept with it comes to the relative value of an ammunition safe once you have to store a significant quantity of the stuff. Many shooters with tens of thousands of ammunition rounds will opt instead for a safe door that is then mounted on the entrance/exit of a whole interior room dedicated to the storage.
Suffice it to say: at some point, you will be spending significant money to store ammunition if you need it to be in a safe, and you are buying many thousands of rounds. The sweet spot is about 1000-2000 rounds of storage room for a safe, where the price of storage is still affordable for the amount stored.
Thickness of Steel
Not all ammunition storage products are made with steel, though the best protection is from steel-based storage devices, as the steel is harder for a thief to defeat and offers robust security against curious children.
More importantly than the thickness of the steel, generally, is how it can be mounted to a permanent structure to keep people from removing the safe from your premises. Generally, you will find a lot of inexpensive safes are above 14 or even 16-gauge steel and get thicker as the price and specifications increase.
Locking for ammunition storage is generally not as sophisticated as for firearms. Ammunition by itself is relatively safe. The industry tries to keep ammo storage solutions cheaper than other safe storage to keep demand flowing and keep customers happy.
In most cases, you will be presented with a mechanical or electronic locking system that is proven, but still relatively inexpensive, as a component part on the less costly ammo safes.
Mounting and Anchors
Any safe will benefit from mounting to a permanent or semi-permanent surface from an anti-theft perspective. This is especially true of ammunition safes which are not generally made of the heavy, dense material specifications that gun safes are. Yes, you can use a standard gun safe for ammo storage, but the price increases significantly for the storage space if you do.
Review of the Best Ammo Safes
Now we're going to switch gears a bit and take a look at a few of the best safes for storing ammo. Let's see which models made our list and why.
A very nice price-point on this two-shelf, square platform, steel cabinet that is a perfect ammo specific storage solution. It’s not a traditional safe, but it offers excellent value for the money for a dedicated ammo storage unit.
The size and shape, as well as the strong internal construction of the shelving system, give a tight, compact, but reasonable storage unit for more than a thousand rounds of intermediate-sized cartridges.
The good fit and finish, and the ability to permanently mount the steel cabinet are enough to secure this unit as a best-in-class for the money, so long as the primary concern is child safety. While it isn’t a guaranteed theft-proof unit, it should suffice for an overall application in your shooting closet.
It can combine with other Stack-On units to enable good customization options and with the two shelves to stabilize the sidewalls allows for some multi-unit configurations for very high-volume ammo storage.
The Stack-On products are all entry-level as gun safes generally, but as ammunition safes, they are perfectly built. They are lightweight, easy to reposition, but able to be securely stored with heavy ammunition and bolting hardware to keep thieves at bay.
The benefits of this Stack-On piece are the dual interior shelves and the incredibly reasonable price point. The structural rigidity of the unit due to the shelving system and the ability to combine units and bolt down for secure placement are important. These units are excellently made well-priced ammunition storage solutions. No frills, but adequate in all perspectives for ammo safe usage.
The Stack-On brand is known for this type of box and it’s very usable in most shooter’s use cases. The simple box design is still well-built and offers shooters enough storage space to keep children out of the ammunition and reduce the potential for accidental negligent shootings.
The shelf gives good central rigidity to the box which will allow multiple boxes to be stored and bolted together if you wish, helping create a very good system of ammunition storage, especially for interior installs. It might be a bit light on security features for exterior (barn or garage type) installations.
Not a huge safe, but a very accessible one that will still be able to hold up to about 1000 rounds of intermediate-sized cartridges. The security isn't top-of-the-market, but it is more than adequate for most interior installations behind a door, such as in a closet or in a basement.
The ability to easily mount this box offers shooters a chance to really increase the usability of the safe and improve overall security, especially for childproofing. A single interior shelf offers you a bit of storage variability and can help to keep the box rigid and functional. You cannot beat the price for simple ammunition storage, especially for small caliber rounds that come in standard boxes/case sizes.
The footprint helps out when floor space is at a premium. This skyscraper-style build offers great ammo storage at a low price point relative to peers, especially for a dedicated ammunition storage solution. This box offers heavy-duty steel construction that doesn’t disappoint for interior storage behind an interior door.
Tons of storage, excellent weight for space available (it weighs about 55 lbs.), and the ability to hard mount for additional theft deterrence give shooters a lot of features for the paltry price point.
Not a traditional locking mechanism, but more than enough for child protection, and strong enough to make theft much harder than a half-hearted effort with a pry bar.
It’s not the strongest offering from a security perspective, but the overall dimensions and the capability of storing, and easy to access high volumes of ammunition make this a serious contender for most shooters who don’t buy a safe for ammunition based on anti-theft security needs, but rather as a way to keep the ammunition separate from the firearms and making a second hurdle to inquisitive children.
Bolted down, with other security measures in place (like a home alarm), this can be a decent theft deterrent; it is robust enough to keep many thieves at bay with the right complementary services and products.
This standard safe gives good value for money and comes with credibility both from a user-review perspective but also because it’s built within the Amazon eco-system.
The overall value and utility of this safe give you fire resistance and high-heat performance for your expensive ammunition, which should be kept out of reach of children or stored in a way that deters theft.
Good fire ratings, good heft (14-gauge steel body panels) and total weight, and a solid locking mechanism make this safe a clear winner at the price point.
For the money, it's hard to beat this safe, even if it isn’t made specifically for guns and ammunition. The Amazon safes and perks that come along with being part of the Amazon product portfolio make this a safe most shooters can trust. The utility and storage space is very good, and the security and safety of the contents is a top line focus for the build.
A triple horizontal bar locking mechanism with a key override makes lockouts difficult to occur and entry easy for the primary user. The robust build structure makes theft more difficult and movement to a different location nearly impossible with a large load of ammunition inside. This is unique at this price point because it does improve upon the overall value and security of your ammunition stash significantly.
With a game-changing footprint and usability, this is the tackle box of ammunition storage offering cheap, utilitarian storage and excellent build quality that cannot be matched from a price point perspective. This MTM clamshell-style ammo box offers seriously generous interior dimensions, light overall weight, and lockable latches.
This offers more purpose and usefulness for shooters than any other market offering, and while it is not a traditional ammunition safe, it is the piece that completes the puzzle for most shooters who need a good way to move from secure storage to the range without too many hiccups or any security concerns.
A major departure for its price range and the standard, square, steel, boxed construction that has ruled the market for years from the ammunition storage perspective. This plastic box is much more versatile, even if it is a bit less sturdy, and a lot less secure.
Still, this is a legitimate choice for any shooter looking for ammunition storage, especially as a secondary or complementary product in a portfolio of storage solutions for high-volume and frequent shooters. 400-500 rounds of shotgun shells can fit into this cavernous, yet portable, easy-open box that is priced exceptionally well, even for use cases outside of the ammunition storage space.
Shooters will likely want to purchase several for multiple uses outside of ammunition, as well as the utility this box offers and more than adequate security under casual oversight, even if it isn’t a long-term secure storage solution. This is an excellent range accessory for high-volume shooting trips.
How to Store Ammo
Ammunition is very well-built from a longevity perspective. Standard practices industry-wide are astonishingly good and offer great shelf life for those who want the longest viability in ammunition.
Very few makers do not adhere to these standard best practices; even the budget producers make top-quality cartridges by design. That said, certain environmental factors can degrade or diminish life expectancy for ammunition if not kept in check, the most dangerous being extreme heat, the next most dangerous being moisture, followed by steadily elevated temperatures, and finally, other ambient conditions.
Keep Your Ammo Cool
In the most basic of terms: do not apply any legitimate heat source to ammunition. Do not use a safe heater. Do not allow excessive heat to build up in an area where ammunition is stored.
Not only because heat can deteriorate anything (including electronics, mechanical parts, and yes, gunpowder and primer chemicals), but because there is a very real risk of explosion because of the gun powders in your cartridges when exposed to excessive levels of heat.
Keep Your Ammo Dry
This is arguably the most important oversight many shooters inadvertently perpetuate, as it’s a given that you would not want to apply high heat to a flammable/explosive substance that becomes extremely dangerous when it “cooks off”.
Therefore, most of the issues, when it comes to deterioration over the long-term with ammunition, is moisture driven. You need to “keep your powder dry” by managing humidity inside any location you store ammunition, especially in a space that has high fluctuations in temperature.
This fluctuation will inevitably cause condensation to form inside a safe and therefore can lead to rust/oxidation and ultimately (far worse) the dampening of powder through moisture infiltration into the body of the cartridges through the primer or case throat connection.
Do you Need to Keep Your Ammo in the Dark?
The short answer is no. The light doesn’t affect ammunition like other environmental factors. But, if given a choice between a cool, dark place and a hot, sunny place, most shooters would choose the former rather than the latter.
“Light oxidization” is not a ‘thing’ with ammunition – we’re not talking about a fine olive oil. That said, certain best practices lead to better oversight and stewardship of resources, and therefore it’s considered a best practice to utilize a cool, dark, moisture-controlled storage location.
Ammo safes are an important tool for those who are actually turning over (using it rapidly) their ammunition supply, but they are also a great tool for those who are inclined towards the “prepper” mentality, too (stockpiling).
The general profile for ammunition specific safes is a lighter weight build, with more interior space, and less overall security. This is not a negative and has served the market well, especially with how hard it would be for some to justify spending money on a safe that would never hold a firearm.
The items on this list offer a great variety of options that any shooter will be able to find a fit with. The inexpensive choices previewed here are more than adequate to do the two things that are most important in the realm of the ammunition safe: child-resistant security for your ammunition and a place where they can be protected from most of the elements that would threaten to degrade the components of the cartridges.
In the end, it’s not about getting something best-in-class from an overall market perspective (you wouldn’t want to pay the premium for that just to store ammunition), it’s about matching the needs to the available options and finding your best-in-class in that space: these chosen selections do just that.