There When You Need It: The Best Quick Access Gun Safes

| Last Updated:
September 9, 2023

Given the safety needs of most shooters and the absolute tactical advantage of having a loaded gun close by for personal defense, the quick access gun safe has become something of a hot item on the market of late.

This article will explain why there is a sweet spot for gun owners who need personal protection firearms with this type of safe, and how the marketplace has elevated a few premium versions to the top of a field that already has a great harmony between size, security, and accessibility, as well as price point.

Best Quick Access Gun Safes Comparison Chart


Our Rating


SentrySafe Pistol Safe, Quick Access Biometric Gun Safe

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VAULTEK VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe

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Fort Knox PB1 Handgun Safe

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Secureit Tactical - Fast Box Model 47

Stack-On PDS-1500 Drawer Safe Electronic Lock

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Best Places for a Quick Access Gun Safe

Generally speaking, a quick access safe (or more than one in a household) can be put anywhere they are needed. In fact, that is the point of this type of safe: to be where it is needed.

In a world where, despite becoming more frequent, the chance of needing to use a defensive firearm is still exceptionally low, no gun owner would ever be happy with having to go to a closet, or another room to retrieve a gun out of a standard safe.

When seconds matter, your gun cannot be minutes away.

Under a bed, in a side table drawer, or anywhere else, within reach, is the perfect place for a quick access gun safe. No matter where you put it, this type of safe needs to be accessible, that’s its strong suit. You don’t buy a quick access gun safe for total security – they are vastly a group of lightweight boxes made exclusively for moderate security and enhanced speed in obtaining your firearm. It is in this function where they excel.

Features of a Quick Access Gun Safe

Even though these safes are built essentially only for quick access, and not necessarily heavy security, they still have a few key benefits that, across the board, make sense for the type of user who would favor these safes.

VAULTEK VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe

While it is a master of nothing but accessibility, it is an adequate solution with high durability, good fire safety (on some models), and storage space (after all, you may not need several guns in a fluid, escalating situation – just one gun, quickly), for the needs of most users. Furthermore, this type of safe is an above average value, and the price point of most of these gun safes is exceptional.

Storage Space

Most quick access gun safes are more than adequate in storage space, with at least the room to hold two handguns. In a dangerous situation like a home invasion or a major disturbance outside, the number of guns needed to mitigate a situation will not generally exceed that number of firearms. 

As a last-ditch effort, the guns that will fit in the best quick access gun safes will be more than enough to stage a resistance or even a concerted effort for personal defense.

For those who have adopted the AR-15 or a Shotgun (or other long guns) as a home defense firearm, there are models on the market that excel in this market segment – there is one on this list. It offers a significant amount of firepower for those well-prepared for an engagement.

Easy Deployment

While some would argue that no safe should stand in the way of a person protecting their family or self, sometimes one must weigh the specific concerns of their unique situation instead of absolute practicality from a deployment perspective.

SentrySafe Pistol Safe, Quick Access Biometric Gun Safe (Source)

For instance, those homes with children in them will by choice or by regulation, nearly always need to have a safe, even if that safe is not as secure as some others might like. For this type of safe, you will want fast access over all else, so long as the security is enough to keep firearms out of reach of children (especially since the gun will be loaded).

A combination of lock styles including biometric mechanisms (increasingly more popular), push-button entry devices, and electronic locks all give adequate protection against curious children, and while it doesn’t help much with criminals, no one has the illusion that these types of safes are for hardened security against theft. Many gun owners utilize these safes as a secondary option that functions while they are in the home only.  


To further press the point, these safes are not necessarily for solely for safety, but they must be at least moderately well-constructed and capable of keeping a determined break-in at bay for at least some period of time.

These safes are predominantly steel boxes made of 12-gauge steel (one on this list is a 10-gauge box), though some are made from plastic-encased, fire-safe materials.

They are not very difficult for a seasoned criminal to break into, especially since they can be easily carried by a single individual to a protected location where they could be disassembled or destroyed easily for access to the firearm(s) inside.

For long-term, occasional use (like when a homeowner is sleeping) these safes will easily last decades under normal conditions inside the home.

Fire Safety

If they are built for fire ratings, they are generally able to keep a handgun safe for 30 minutes or so under legitimate fire conditions but are mostly built for peace of mind. None of the safes on this list are “fire safes" because largely it is our belief that this is a token specification when the construction includes it.

Though steel can burn, it still offers some protection for rooms on fire in the normal hiding places of such a safe as this type. Under a bed, these steel boxes will easily be enough to keep a steel or stainless steel firearm in good enough condition through fires that are extinguished early on.

In exceptionally hot conditions, neither a "fire safe", nor a steel box, will be enough to keep the metal on any firearm protected for more than 15 minutes when exposed to direct flames or even close flames from losing its temper and becoming useless from a durability perspective.


Without question, the quick access safe is among the best values for the dollars spent and the utility for home defense. At under $300, generally across the board, these safes are excellent additions to any serious gun owner.

Quick Take - The Best Quick Access Gun Safes

Review of the Best Quick Access Gun Safes

Now that we've highlighted some important background information related to quick access gun safes, let's take a look at some of the best models currently on the market. 

1. SentrySafe Pistol Safe, Quick Access Biometric Gun Safe

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One of the two, least expensive safes on this list, the Sentry Safe is the mainstream product for the mainstream population that only allows a single handgun to be stored.

The appearance is polished and refined, considering the low price point, and the model has two different lock configurations, a baseline digital locking mechanism and a biometric version (that costs about double what the digital lock version does).

The footprint of the safe is small and allows easy concealment in drawers or other hiding places, but it is substantially built weighing in at 12 pounds.


  • Small Footprint
  • Relatively Heavy-Duty Build Quality
  • Low Price Relative to Others in the Market Segment
  • Mainstream Brand Name and Good Reputation for Consumer Products


  • Single Handgun Capacity Only

Bottom Line

If you are a first-time gun owner and need a California DOJ approved gun safe for the primary reason of home defense use, with children in the home, this is an excellent choice especially considering how low the price point is.

The good finish quality of the construction will impress most users and the tiny dimensions will make it easy to stash one or more of these safes in your home for reacting to home invasion or other defensive needs quickly, while still providing first-level protection against curious children. The locking mechanism is one of the weakest on the list but still functions well for most.

2. VAULTEK VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe

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With a small footprint and the ability to use this at work, in the car, or in other settings where traditional safes cannot be brought along, this is an interesting option. The opportunity (depending on size) to fit more than a single handgun in the safe also makes it more versatile.

Proven locking technology, in a field where locks sometimes are the weakest link, proves that the Vaultek is an excellent choice for discerning users who cannot compromise on accessibility or quality of construction.

The biometric locking mechanism is actually very reliable, which is more than most companies competing with Vaultek can say about their technology. The included app for your smartphone adds features like battery monitoring and anti-tampering/safe open logs, etc. You can also unlock the safe with your smartphone.


  •  Lots of Extras
  • Can be Stashed Anywhere Easily
  • Smart App for Your Phone is Actually Useful
  • Can Fit More Than One Handgun Depending on Size
  • Portability is Unmatched, but so is Security With the Included Hardware


  • Batteries can Still Fail at a Higher Rate Than Mechanical Locking Mechanisms – Though a Well-Designed Mechanism for an Electronic/Biometric Variant

Bottom Line

Vaultek has thought of everything. Short of sleeping with a loaded, unlocked firearm next to you, this may be the best innovation for handgun users on the quick access safe front in decades. It is “smart”, but not simply for that specific designation – it actually does smart things like allowing remote unlocking through your smartphone.

One spouse could unlock the safe while the other calls law enforcement in a midnight break-in scenario. This allowance for remote unlocking changes the game for quick access safes.

The accessories like a locking cable and set of mounting hardware make this the most turn-key solution for casual users and hardcore users alike. The price point is on par with the middle-ground mainstream safes in the market subsection. A brilliant design for legitimately quick access.

3. Fort Knox PB1 Handgun Safe

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Super-heavy gauged steel with a durable hammered finish and wraparound top lid mean you won't have difficulty keeping people out of this box. It is easily the strongest build quality of any of the safes on this list, and subsequently, is stronger than most market offerings in a very large field.

The tried and true push-button Simplex mechanical-locking mechanism is easy to use and very robust. No meddling child would be able to defeat this safe. The huge interior space makes this a very good choice for those who utilize handguns for home defense protection. The proven Fort Knox name adds to the credibility and the box still remains portable for use anywhere in the home.


  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Heavy-Duty Construction
  • 10-Gauge Steel and Smart Security Features
  • Gas Strut to Help Keep the Lid Up When Inside the Safe
  • Simple, Proven, Long-Lasting, Reliable Locking Mechanism


  • Very Specific in its Use Case – Solely for Pistol Users in Need of Extra Protection Against Entry to the Box, but Still Need Relatively Quick Access

Bottom Line

You buy the Fort Knox when you want better protection against theft of your quick access box. Note: it must be secured in an additional way to increase total protection, as it is still light enough to be carried out of the home by a thief.

The combination of a proven locking mechanism and spacious interior, as well as the seriously heavy-duty construction, make this a very solid box on this list, as it combines the best of both worlds between security and quick access. 

Ten-gauge construction is more than most safes can offer in this market group. A lifetime warranty that will probably never be needed, thanks to the quality of construction, is a nice perk as well. Fast to get to your firearms without a battery or electronic device to fail means this is a very good contender for the top spot on many users’ lists.

All steel and not particularly heavy-duty from a relative perspective in comparison to traditional safes, this is still the ideal choice for rapid accessibility by a homeowner in a personal defense scenario.

The lightweight structure is made up for by the ability to secure it through hardware to more permanent structures. The size allows for rifles or shotguns (multiple) to be contained within. It is light enough to be easily portable but still offers the robust locking and construction quality to keep curious children away from loaded firearms.

This is easily the best compromise on all fronts, including budget, to make it the finest pure offering on the market in the safe world for quick deployment and ease of firearm access.


  • Movable for Use in Vehicles or Cabins, etc.
  • Can be Bolted to a Wall or Other Structures
  • Can Hold a Lot More Firepower Than Other Options in the Market Space
  • Can Lay Flat Under a Bed or Stand Next to a Bed Supported by a Wall Mounting
  • Built Exceptionally Well With Intuitive Features Like Vents that Reduce Moisture and     Heavy-Duty Locking Bars


  • No Real CONS

Bottom Line

Hands-down the most versatile and well-suited gun safe for quick access in the entire bunch, as it is perfectly placed for home protection where a rifle or shotgun can be used instead of a handgun, but where the safe will fit a handgun also.

Utilizing a handgun in self-defense is inferior in all ways to a shoulder-fired long gun, especially from a stopping-power perspective. Utilizing a rifle or shotgun gives much more control, accuracy, firepower, and safety for the user, as it's much easier to lose a handgun during a tactical engagement or in hand-to-hand encounters.

All of this factors into the utility of this safe, but the bottom line is that it’s well-built, offers legitimate security for child safety, and gives the most room of any of the “quick access’ safes. A top choice without equal for most users.

5. Stack-On PDS-1500 Drawer Safe Electronic Lock

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An excellent price-point makes this a good choice for first-time gun owners in California (or other places where you need a safe to finalize the purchase of a firearm). The quality is above average and the brand is well-known. The backup locking mechanism adds a fail-safe to the product for failing batteries or concerns with electronic component.

Simple anti-tampering aids, like a lockout of the electronic pad after three missed attempts, add security to the safe against children meddling with your firearms.

Heavy-duty construction is much more than you should expect at the price point and the interior dimensions allow for multiple firearms. It can still fit into a drawer, making it versatile. Mounting hardware for more permanent installation is included and this is a great entry-level product.


  • Inexpensive
  • Large Interior Volume for the Footprint Size


  • Locking Mechanism is Weak and There are Concerns About an Outdated Design – This Can be Fixed by Contacting the Company for Older Models Still in Stock – Newest Models Have This Concern Addressed Adequately

Bottom Line

With some concerns about the locking mechanism, this isn’t a top choice for those with teen children, but the overall quality for the money is very hard to beat.

The size of the interior compartment makes this an excellent safe for in the home when you need to be able to centralize specific items like car keys, wallets, passports, and handguns, etc. This is a great multipurpose box for semi-monitored oversight.


A quick note: Any time you have a loaded firearm in a safe or otherwise, the user should take appropriate considerations to keep firearm safety at the forefront of any situation.

While we advocate for a loaded firearm for quickest access and deployment, we do not advise skimping on safety and security needs, especially where children may have access to such firearms. Plan accordingly to help avoid tragedies.

When looking for the right safe for quick access and fast gun deployment, while still offering some amount of protection against theft or for preventing access by a child, these safes are the best in the field.

They offer strong accessibility and moderate levels of performance on all other aspects. While this is a niche part of the gun safe market, it is an increasingly important market segment and these five safes do an excellent job of leading the pack with a harmonious approach to addressing modern home protection needs.

Michael Lutes

Michael Lutes is the managing editor and owner at Gun Mann. He is a veteran, gun enthusiast, 3 gun competitor, and 2a advocate. Mike has a passion for innovation and education across the industry to create great content, training, and insights from the best and brightest.

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