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?

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16 thoughts on “Storage for a self-defense handgun”

  1. Please checkout http://www.thepistolpad.com

    I believe this device goes a long way in resolving the conflict between keeping a pistol out of the hands of the wrong people while making the weapon instantly available to the right people.

    A companion device for shotguns will be available soon.

    Semper Fi,
    Wayne Crook

    1. What an interesting device!

      How is the gun secured on the device? It doesn’t seem to be secured in any way… merely it’s presense (or not) on the pad is what makes it all go. Is that correct?

      When you say “out of the hands of the wrong people”, who would you classify in that? Criminals? How about use in a house with small children?

      It’s an interesting concept and I like aspects of it. Good luck with it.

  2. The weapon is “secured” by a pull-away cable through the trigger guard that offers no resistance when the weapon is lifted but does fully activate your alarm system whether the alarm system is armed or not.

    The device itself is weighted at approximately 2.5 pounds providing a solid, stable platform.

    For Texans, there is an article about The Pistol Pad in the current issue of the Texas State Rifle Association’s Sportsman magazine (page 16).

    Semper Fi,
    Wayne Crook

    1. I just noticed the article about an hour ago. I received my issue but hadn’t read through it yet, just started flipping through it and lo and behold there it was. :-)

  3. I have a pistol pad in the night stand drawer next to my bed and enrolled in my security system. I have never felt better about having my personal defense weapon available but secure. I no longer worry about the maid or the pest control guy that comes when I am often gone and my pistol. My set up tells the monitoring center that there is an emergency at my house and that a gun has been deployed.

    My alarm guys really liked it and installed it with no problems. I have been in the security business for a lot of years and have seen a lot of products come and go but this is the4 first marriage between the personal defense weapon and the electronic security system.

  4. I have personally tested the system and find it the best and most viable option available today. It serves both issues of being able to activate the weapon on a seconds notice to address any life threatening situation, while setting in motion a series of protective measures aimed at minimizing risk to all involved including the perpatrator. It offers the best in weapon availability and protection. As a former Police Officer and Chief of Police, I fully endorce Pistol Pad.

  5. Before my blog comments turn into some sort of endorsement zone for The Pistol Pad….

    I should note that I’ve never used this product, I’ve never seen it in person. All the comments above are unsolicted and I have no idea who these people are that are posting here (nothing personal, that’s just the case). Of course they’re welcome to post here…. just all those new FTC rules. :-)

    While I think there’s some interesting stuff about The Pistol Pad, I do have some questions about it.

    How exactly does this restrict access? I mean, I understand the concept of it having a loop through the trigger guard, but that doesn’t really restrict access. If someone really wants the gun, they can still grab it. Sure it activates the alarm, but in between the time it takes for the alarm to go off, you to react, the alarm company to react and notify the police…. lots can happen. I don’t see this as being more secure than a locker/safe-type device. And if someone wants to do something bad (e.g. a workman in the house) they certainly can still do that… just an auto-activation of an alarm.

    I also don’t see how it can prevent theft. Deter perhaps, but if someone wants it, they’ll get it… and you just happen to get notification of the event. Granted safes aren’t a 100% situation either (depending upon the safe, of course).

    I also do not see how this can be an effective solution for an environment with children. It’s still very easy for a child to gain access to the gun. Now you’ll just be notified.

    Furthermore, I have to say that putting things through the trigger guard is a little bothersome to me.

    I do think it’s neat that in one fell swoop you can arm yourself AND notify police, especially if the signal transmitted to the alarm company is somehow indicative of the event. That is, I know with my alarm system that with a general alarm event they’ll call the house first to verify, but certain situations can cause immediate dispatch. So if this can cause such “hey, the Pistol Pad went off, immediately send police” (or can be programed to whatever setting you want…probably so, moreso on the alarm company and not the Pad itself), then that’s cool. And to me, that’s what seems the real benefit here: the ability to automatically notify an external.

    So I think it’s certainly an interesting device and it has a place. Just folks have to evaluate the solution vs. their problem set to ensure it’s a proper fit.

    1. Wow! Lots of good points and I will try to answer as best I can.

      It restricts access to only the person having the shunt keys by sounding the alarm and notifying the alarm company and hence the police. The police tell us that 80 percent of all of the firearms used in violent crime (with the exception of domestic violence) are stolen from honest citizens. They say that they frequently get calls from homeowners explaining that they can’t find a handgun that they had previously placed in a drawer or elsewhere that has mysteriously disappeared. They often cannot remember when they saw the gun last and haven’t had a break in or burglary so what happened to it. We can only surmise that it was stolen from their home by a person performing a service or work in their home, a friend or acquaintance or a relative. If the home owner has recorded the serial number of the firearms the police will report it as a stolen weapon and sometimes they show up in the pawn shop reports to law enforcement. The pistol pad would prevent this occurrence.

      While it is not 100% effective where children are concerned the consensus of opinion is that a child picking up a weapon protected by the pistol pad will immediately drop the weapon upon actuation of the siren and seek an adult as they will realize that they have done something wrong. It is much better to immediately know that a child has accessed to a weapon than to allow them time to play with or discharge the weapon.

      http://www.johnarobinson.com/henry.htm

      This website has some video clips of Suzanna Gratia-Hupp and yours truly discussing the device which may explain some things.

  6. Thank you for the reply.

    From that perspective, I can see how this can be useful. It’s certainly better than just shoving the gun in a dresser drawer and forgetting about it. I still don’t think this can *prevent* the theft (if someone really wants it, they’ll take it), but it’s certainly a bigger deterrent than if the gun was unsecured in any way.

    Again, I see some utility for the device and I do think the ability to both arm yourself and notify police at the same time (as well as activating local alarms) has a lot of utility. That “all in one” motion is certainly useful.

  7. Thank you for your insightful comments as they have caused to rethink our information in order to better explain and to help others understand the functionality, intent and usage for the pistol pad.

    I really appreciate your very objective remarks and opinions.

    1. Yes I am. I appreciate the offer.

      Right now things are busy due to Thanksgiving, but after Thanksgiving I’ll drop you a line. Sound good?

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