Storage for a self-defense handgun
James R. Rummel has an entry about how to store a handgun kept for self-defense. This actually started as a comment on his blog but got long enough I thought it warranted its own blog entry.
Overall I agree with James:
- Concealed carry is a great option as it always keeps the handgun on hand, ready, and should keep anyone else away from it.
- Home-security is far more than just “have a gun”. Upgrading your locks, frames, lights, other sorts of barriers to prevent or delay entry. All good things.
- There is no perfect storage solution; they all have trade-offs.
- Trigger locks are bad.
But I disagree with what appears to be his recommended choice of storage: either in a box under lock and key, or using a cable lock.
Now, these methods of storage I think are fine for longer term storage and/or storage of a firearm you don’t need ready access to. But for a self-defense gun? No way. The reason? It takes too long to get the gun into action. Try it yourself. Take your self-defense handgun, unload it (including removing the rounds from the magazine, or obtain an empty magazine maybe loaded with dummy rounds, doesn’t matter). Now lock up the gun with a cable lock or put it into the locked box. Put the key where the key would be kept. Now, try getting the gun into action. Find the key, unlock the box or the cable, remove the cable or open the box, load the gun (with the empty or dummy magazine), get it into action. How long did that take? Anything longer than about 2-3 seconds is potentially too long (consider the Tueller Drill as a data point). Maybe you can get a gun into action from a cable lock fast enough, but I can’t. And consider you’re doing this in an ideal state. What happens when the shit hits the fan, adrenaline is pumping, fine motor skills are useless, you can’t find the key, maybe you drop the key, you can’t get the key in the lock, and so on. To me, such means of storage are not acceptable for a pistol (or any firearm) that’s to be used for self-defense.
So what is?
Consider a combination lockbox, such as those from GunVault or V-Line Industries. You can store a loaded handgun within, a couple presses on a combination and viola, access to your loaded gun. Unauthorized hands (children or otherwise) cannot get into them, but you can — quickly. We always joke how “when seconds count, police are only minutes away” well, when seconds count, speed of access to your self-defense mechanism matters too.
I have a GunVault and my recommendation there? I’m OK with what I have but next time I’ll buy the V-Line. Why? Simplicity. The GunVault is certainly neat, but there’s too much that can go wrong from electricity being out to the backup batteries being dead. While you can surmount those problems, I have too many times where I’m trying to press the buttons and they don’t take just right because they’re too sensitive, and so I’m struggling to repeat the combination numerous times and hoping I get it right before the vault locks me out. The V-Line is mechanical, which means a lot less to go wrong, a lot less technology to fail when you least need it to. I do think the GunVault is better geared towards opening by touch, and I also prefer the way its door is oriented and thus access is granted. As was stated before, it’s all about trade-offs.
There are similar quick-access style safes for shotguns and rifles.
Updated: James updated his posting with comments and linking back to this blog post. Thank you. In doing so, James reminded me of his blog’s focus, and from that I have a challenge for readers.
James has a posting about inexpensive ways to lock up your guns. Are they the best way? They’re certainly better than not locking them up at all, and I even some “urban camouflage” advantage to them. My main trouble with the “locking toolbox” approach is the speed of access. So to my readers, some of whom I know are engineers and smart folk, what could be done to improve upon this design to allow for an inexpensive storage mechanism that still allows quick access?
First thing I thought of is to not use a keyed lock but instead a combination lock. In fact, a quick Google search turns up push-button combination locks, which may be faster/easier to operate in a pressure situation (I don’t know, never used one).
What else could be done?