Firearms are hot ticket items for burglaries because they retain value, are easily transported, and can be used to commit other crimes. Roughly 75% of the yearly estimate of stolen firearms occur during burglaries. The remaining 25% occur during other property crimes. When combined with preventable firearms accidents you have a very good reason to secure your firearms.
Enter the biometric gun safe
Biometric safes are pretty cool, if they work. There is definitely appeal to being able to open your gun safe with one finger, particularly in an emergency. However, don’t be distracted by this feature alone. You need to think carefully about what kind of biometric gun safe you’re buying.
A biometric gun safe (or any gun safe) is an investment into the safety and security of yourself, your family and your firearms. To save you the pain of going through each one, I’ve picked out my 9 favorite and outlined their features.
Today’s list includes the following:
- SentrySafe QAP1BE: A great middle-of-the-road option. This safe provides many desirable options with a bare-bones setup. While other models have more luxury features, this model only has the essentials.
- VAULTEK VT20I: A well rounded, compact gun safe. On the more pricey side of the market but provides excellent benefits and options. Perfect for traveling or space saving options.
- GunVault Minivault GV1000C-STD: This vault allows for no-eyes access. Perfect for those times when you can’t see. It is also a very economical option for those who are cost conscious
- BARSKA Biometric Safe: A solid choice for those who are willing to not let cost be a factor when selecting a safe.
- RPNB Biometric Access Safe: An affordable biometric safe that allows for multiple access methods with similar security to higher priced models.
- BARSKA Large Biometric Gun Cabinet: A larger option from BARSKA that will fit more than just a handgun. Perfect for your rifle or shotgun protection.
- Viking Security VS-20BLX: This mini-safe is another affordable option to secure your pistols and other valuables. It also has numerous quality of life additions that make it more convenient to use.
- Awesafe Biometric Safe: Another compact option, this safe allows quick access to your firearm at an affordable price.
- GunVault Speedvault SVB500: A Popular option for those that want to keep a firearm in a more ready state than other options.
A biometric gun safe typically has all the features of a conventional gun safe – a set of keys, reinforced metal construction, possibly a wall mount. The difference is that you can program your fingerprint into the safe – just scan your finger and you’re in.
The main advantage of a biometric gun safe is that you don’t need any keys to get into the safe. This can be crucial in an emergency as well as provide everyday convenience.
There is a spectrum of biometric gun safes out there, from around $120 to $600.
Most of the factors that you should consider when choosing a biometric safe follow the same lines as any regular safe. These include size, construction and mounting, for example. You could do well to read one of our many guides on how to choose the best gun safe as background.
However, as far as biometric gun safes go, you must also consider the following other factors:
- Reliability of the biometric/fingerprint scanner
- The number of fingerprints you can program into the safe (perhaps you have a spouse who may need to access the firearms?
- Software (some include nifty mobile applications that allow you to track when the safe has been open and who has access to it, for example)
- Power (is it battery powered, how long does it last for, etc.)
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
This is pretty obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people get this wrong! You need to answer these two questions for yourself.
- What are you going to actually store in the gun safe?
- Where are you going to put the gun safe?
Firstly, most of the biometric gun safes on the market are small and designed for one or maybe two handguns and some valuables. There are larger options too and I have included the BARSKA large biometric gun cabinet which can store multiple rifles, however.
Check your dimensions (this includes any additional attachments you want to have on your gun) before you commit to buy.
Secondly, where do you want the biometric gun safe to be stored? Whether you want it to be mounted to the wall or a mobile safe for security on the go, check your priorities.
We’ve written about this elsewhere on Sniper Country when discussing safes (for example, our best handsafe guide). You need to consider the safe’s construction.
A good safe will be made out of reenforced metal and have anti-prying features to deter unauthorized entry. Additionally, you don’t want to get locked out! Ensuring you have multiple access points may sound counter-intuitive. However, you at the very least want to have emergency key access in case the biometrics fail.
Top 9 Biometric Gun Safes
Sentry Safe QAP1BE
For the home, you can’t do much better than this Sentry Safe at this price (around $160). It covers a lot of bases. It’s built for quick access and many users keep it close to their bed mounted to the wall or in a drawer. I like it.
- Affordable: $160 is a great mid-market price for this safe’s feature set
- Mountable: can be sensibly secured to the wall or heavy furniture for added security
- Steel construction
- Multiple access: you can program 4 fingerprints, which is usually enough to cover an average sized family
- Multiple access points: you also can use keys or enter a keycode to gain access
- Quiet door: secured by a gas strut, the door can be opened and closed quietly so you do not draw attention to yourself
- It’s on the smaller size: (9.7 x 6.7 x 2.2 inches for storage) which makes it suitable only for one handgun
- Battery operated: not uncommon but does not include rechargeable batteries or a plug; still, you can use long lasting Alkaline AA batteries.
The fingerprint takes about a second to respond, so no delays there. It’s good for a domestic, low risk situation where no one is likely to try to break into it. I’m a fan.
This isn’t a million miles away from the Sentry Safe above. It’s actually a similar design, although a little smaller. However, it is more sophisticated. Instead of only being able to store 4 fingerprints, you can store up to 20. It has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which lasts for four months on a 2.5 hour charge reliably. Moreover, it is better built with stronger steel (16 gauge).
It goes a step further, however. It includes a mobile application which enables you to monitor the safe. You can unlock the safe remotely, review battery life, and review a log of when the safe was opened and by whom.
That’s not to say that anyone can connect their mobile device to your safe – you need to verify the bluetooth pairing with your fingerprint.
- Mountable: great for a drawer, wall or bedside table
- Steel Construction: 16 gauge and also powder coated to prevent corrosion
- Multiple access: store up to 20 fingerprints
- Multiple access points: includes keys and keypad for entry
- Motion-activated backlighting: improves night time access
- Rechargeable battery: 4 months long on a 2.5 hour charge
- Mobile app: not a big deal but quite cool, I enjoy being able to review log entries.
- Reports of children gaining unauthorized access with their finger print – although unlikely, check
- The safe can be compromised if dropped repeatedly at an angle (not an issue if mounted in a domestic situation)
GunVault Minivault GV1000C-STD:
First up, this biometric gun safe is one of our cheapest (you can pick it up for around $100). It follows the same pattern – mountable, good for domestic situations, and compact. Like the VAULTEK it can handle 20 fingerprints. However, its battery life leaves a lot to be desired. It takes AA batteries, which is a shame because with a direct power supply, this would be a good, no thrills gun safe. It’s the perfect size for a pistol and a few mags.
- Cheap: at around $100 it’s not bad value
- Multiple access: can program 20 fingerprints
- Steel construction: competitive for the price
- US made
- Battery life: standard AAs will not last long, an Alkaline alternative may yield better results
BARSKA AX11224 Biometric Safe
The BARSKA is a little more on the expensive end ($245) but it’s a trooper – it’s solidly built and weights in significantly higher than the previous three gun safes we’ve looked at. There have been reports of this safe surviving aggressive burglaries and even a house fire.
It’s on the larger side so you can store multiple handguns and include clips and ammo with ease. My buddy has one of these installed in his wardrobe and he hasn’t any problems. One of my favorite features is the additional battery pack.
- Mountable: includes strong mountable hardware
- Multiple access points: 120 different fingerprints (unlikely you’d ever need so many!)
- Quick entry: fingerprint scans in ~2 seconds for quick access
- Space: you can fit multiple firearms and also purpose the gun safe for other important valuables
- Pry resistant: heavy steel construction is designed to resist forced entry and features deadbolts
- Non-rechargeable batteries: includes a internal backup but still relies on AA batteries
- Limited access points: only fingerprint and emergency key
RPNB Biometric Access Safe
This safe is affordable and can store multiple handguns, mags and other necessities, such as a torch, easily. Perfect for a bed side table or similar, it has two holes in the bottom so you can bolt it down. It has three access points (fingerprint, keypad and physical key) and the fingerprint reader is reliable. You have multi-access (you can store 20 prints) too. Like the others, it’s AA battery powered (with no backup) but changing long-lasting Alkaline batteries will ensure longevity.
Overall, it feels solidly built all round and it’s easy to use. For $120 it’s a good piece of kit.
- Affordable: at $120 it’s good bang for your buck
- Capacity: you can handle two or three handguns comfortably with room for accessories – it’s surprisingly roomy
- Multiple access points: fingerprint, keys and keypad
- Multiple access: you can program 20 fingerprints
- Compact and sleek design: everything about this feels solidly built – it’s not an eyesore
- Non-rechargeable batteries
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
BARSKA AX11652 Large Biometric Gun Cabinet
This is similar to the previous BARSKA in everything but size – this is for rifle storage and has internal dimensions of 11.5 x 11.5 x 53 inches. In other words, three or four rifles (five at a push) and a handful of pistols. Moreover, it includes shelves for accessories and a 3-point steel deadbolt locking system.
It gives you space without being unreasonably heavy – at ~120 pounds you can quite easily store your guns in the upper storeys of your home. The fingerprint takes about 2-3 seconds to compute.
- Space: fits 3-4 rifles/long guns and various accessories and handguns
- Fingerprint reliability: excellent customer feedback
- Lightweight: for this size, it’s remarkably lightweight and can be installed with relative ease
- Improved security: 3-point steel deadbolt locking system hardens its durability
- More expensive: it’s good value but still more on the expensive side for most
- Size: depending on what you want, the size could be downside
Viking Security VS-20BLX
Stores several pistols and features a removable shelf. Viking Security has a reputation for robust manufacturing. However, be wary of some reports of electronic failure. It ticks a lot of boxes otherwise: multiple access points, multiple fingerprints (32) and it can be bolted down. It’s not overpriced ($150) but you may be better off with some of the other alternatives listed above.
- Multiple handgun storage: it’s nice and roomy
- Removable shelf: convenient for accessories and ammo
- Multiple access: keys, keypad and fingerprint
- Multiple users: biometric reader can store 32 fingerprints
- Some reports of electronics failure: equally we have spoken to many happy customers but do your research
Awesafe Biometric Safe
Compares most easily to the Sentry Safe above. This is an excellent safe – it’s heavy duty, easy to use and very easy to set up. I particularly like the internal LED lights that automatically turn on when you open the safe. Like the Sentry, you have a keypad, physical keys and the biometric reader. It’s fast access.
There were some customers who had problems with the spring-action of the door but customer care happily sent out replacement units. It’s a great bit of kit for the money ($129).
However, like other biometric safes, there have been reports of children gaining access with their fingerprints. Check and put it out of reach of young children.
- Great value for money: only $129
- Strong and sturdy: the construction for this price is excellent
- Internal LED lighting: nice touch for night time access
- Multiple access points: keypad, physical keys and biometric
- Multiple users: biometric reader can store 20 fingerprints
- Reports of a defective latch mechanism
- Some reports of defective fingerprint reading (always check)
GunVault Speedvault SVB500
The design is unique, designed to store one pistol and enable ease of access. The gun comes out semi-ready, with its grip accessible once opened. It features foam lining, an interior LED, a 9 volt battery (beats the AAs) and mounting. It fulfils the same range of features similar to others in this price range (~$120-140).
The design also enables better concealment (i.e. round the back of a bedside table, down the side of a bed frame), which will be appealing to some buyers. You can fit a handgun and a couple extra magazines in there.
- Fast-access design: for speed of draw, this is the most efficient design encountered
- Concealability: safe can be concealed creatively in a home or office environment either mounted or unmounted
- Warranty: 17 year limited warranty in case of defects
- Multi users: can program 20 fingerprints
- Company expertise: has specialized experience of biometrics for >20 years
- Steel construction: 18 gauge steel hardened exterior
- Reports of safe being easily compromised with blunt force
These biometric gun safes can offer a good degree of protection and security for your firearm. They can also give peace of mind with their ready-access design and ability to be mounted discretely in a domestic setting, particularly the bedroom.
However, it is important to remember that all gun safes can be compromised and they should not be relied upon as the primary source of security for your firearms, particularly if your main motive is to restrict their access to children.
Having said that, there are some offerings in the mid-tier price range that deliver value. Let me know what you think, whether you own any of these safes and if there’s any I’ve missed out!