Introduction: How to Store a Gun Safely

Picture of How to Store a Gun Safely

For those who own firearms, safe storage is essential. You would not want your 3 year old to have access to matches and gasoline. You would not want a criminal to have access to your car keys. Guns are the same way. Proper storage techniqes (along with gun-safety training, and good gun-handling habits) can help avert a tragedy.

For many children and adults, guns are a matter of curiosity. They are unaware of (or even worse, unconcerned by) the inherant danger of firearms. They may act out scenes they've seen in movies or on TV. In this case, disaster is close at hand.

Criminals want to steal your guns. They are a symbol of power, and an easy way to victimize the un-armed. In a worse case scenario, a criminal may access your unsecured weapon and turn it on you or your family.

Step 1: Gun Safes

Picture of Gun Safes

Gun safes come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. An inexpensive, yet functional handgun safe can be purchased for less than $50 (U.S.) A large, well-made, climate controlled rifle safe can cost several thousand dollars.

Step 2: Trigger Locks

Picture of Trigger Locks

Trigger locks are a handy and inexpensive way to disable a firearm if a safe is unavailable. There are many styles to fit most types of firearms. There are similar locking devices that keep the action of your weapon locked in the "open" position, thus rendering it inoperable. Remember, your gun may still be stolen with a trigger lock in place, but it will not be immediately useable. Most new firearms come with a trigger lock from the factory.

Step 3: A Few Inexpensive and Unusual Ways to Render a Firearm Temporarily Un-Fireable.

Picture of A Few Inexpensive and Unusual Ways to Render a Firearm Temporarily Un-Fireable.

There are several ways that make a firearm temporarily un-usable. These are quick fixes and are not recommended as a long-term solution.

1) Take the bolt out and store seperately.
2) Take the cylinder out and store seperately.
3) Use a common padlock.
4) Disassemble gun, and lock in the trunk of 2 different cars.

Step 4: Final Cautions

First, always store your weapons and ammunition seperately. A weapon without a projectile is no more dangerous than a hammer or a cane.

Next, Check local, state and federal laws. Some areas require certain types of storage. (I actually know of a community, where it is an offense to carry an UNLOADED gun. The constable will stop and check you to make sure your gun is loaded!)

Lastly, If you choose to keep a loaded gun in the open, it is your responsibility to maintain control of it at all times. Many law abiding citizens (police officers, security personell, etc.) have left a gun on the nightstand, only to have it discovered by one of their childrens' untrained playmates. This is a tragedy in the making. Make sure this never happens to you!


skunkbait (author)2012-11-02

Honestly, I'd get a newer smaller one that I could access quickly in emergencies, and keep a gun in it for self defense. Any other guns could go in the bigger heavier one. That'd make them harder to steal.

zupyo22 (author)2012-04-06

omg a discussion on the internet without a bunch of ignorant (expilicitive)s arguing over whose right and all that BS that's why i love instructables!!!!!

awoodcarver (author)2011-09-18

Great instructable ,Always a good thing to teach the kids young how to handle a firearm if you own them ...My son has had a single shot Chipmunk .22 rifle hanging on his wall since he won it at age.... six minus the firing pin .........I do strongly agree with the take away the curiosity about guns from your kids and they wont want to Play with guns that a friend may have or they may find......At 17 now my son has never had a problem with it or any of my guns ....

gearhead1951 (author)2009-07-04

I realize that all cant be the same , However, I dont need a weapon if th' bugger is in my house and th' lights are out !! Or if they are in arms reach ! Th' last time I had a weapon pointed at me, th' silly bugger did not have th' damn thing off safety and was almost touchin' my face with it (thats how I saw th' safety on) !! He was also slobberin' drunk so I did not hurt him but I still got th' gun at my brothers house in TN

skunkbait (author)gearhead19512009-07-04

Yep, Most confrontations I've faced never escalated to the point of gunplay. And if you're able to disarm your adversary, it's best to do so. I've had a gun pointed at me a couple of times. It's no fun. But one time I had to pull my gun in a confrontation. It really saved the day. After it was all over (and the cops took the cuffs off me!), the cop told me "off the record" that I'd done the right thing, and probably saved two lives.

Coffee bean (author)skunkbait2009-11-01

 Now that's a story I would mine hearing. Care to tell?

Coffee bean (author)Coffee bean2009-11-01

* wouldn't*

skunkbait (author)Coffee bean2009-11-01

I'll see if I can think of a way to tell it, so as to protect the identities of the innocent (actually, they weren't exactly innocent,....mostly just stupid).  It's a long story, and if I can't think of the best way to tell it here, I'll just PM you.

Coffee bean (author)skunkbait2009-11-02


glorybe (author)skunkbait2009-07-20

I do know the feeling. I had a punk empty a revolver at me from about 75 feet. He missed six times! The guy thought I was seeing his girl friend which was not true. He was caught a few days later after shooting someone else.

gearhead1951 (author)skunkbait2009-07-04

As scary as a gun in th' hands of someone with th' expressed intent to use it on you is, knives bother me more !! And th' best definition of bravery I have ever heard is that it is when no one but YOU know how scared you are!! Th' only thing else I got to say on th' subject is that if you aint able to engage that weapon 'tween yer ears first, any others you got dont matter

mjadolphson (author)2009-01-23

What good is a gun if it is not ready to defend one's family. Trigger locks, gun cases, safes and the like are all pretty much useless if you have home defense in mind. You dont want kids to get at your guns then keep your bedroom door locked, or keep all of your guns except one in a safe and the other on your person at all times. When kids are about 8 they should be fine unsupervised around your weapons, unless of course you've never taught them gun saftey, let them shoot, or demonized the act of touching "your" gun. Let kids handle the weapon unloaded when they are curious, explain the rules and tell them if they ever want to look at it its fine, but ask first. You however must obey your state laws which very greatly or if an incident should occur the goon squad will come for you. Please people, be safe, but dont overdo it to the point that your sacrificing the little time there is between you, your gun, and decision time when confronting criminals. Shoot safe, be safe, and think.

maruawe (author)mjadolphson2009-02-19

I agree if you have more than one gun Extra guns should be in a safe place. Education about guns and what they can do is more important than locks..... All four of my kids watched demonstrations of what each of my guns did when discharged and what happens when the bullet hits something.....Each knew where my primary gun was and that it was loaded and dangerous....I never had a problem.. Each of them went with me when I went to the range to practice.. As a parent I was astounded that they learned so much,of my eight grandkids seven have been with me to practice The last will go when she is five or older Education is the most important thing, not locks ........ never leave a gun empty , people fall for the idea that everyone --unloads-- a gun and plays with it and have accidents.............. .

glorybe (author)maruawe2009-07-20

I agree that most kids can be taught gun safety but the other side of the coin is that part of growing up can involve getting off the right track for a bit. Sadly when guns get into the mix a very good kid can make some really tragic errors. Unusual emotion and adolescence are welded at the hip at times.

maruawe (author)glorybe2009-07-21

The key is discipline You are right kids have a lot of distractive behavior but if you teach discipline and have their respect . Most parents teach "I'm the parent,your the child" .this approach is common. Parents have to be a confident as well as a parent . I teach that I am your friend as well as your parent,mutual conditions can be reached that will help, not hinder growth of both parent and child. But there are times that you have to say as a parent .This is the way it will be and not vary in your statements Decisions are final.

Coffee bean (author)maruawe2009-06-23

I couldn't agree more locks will only make the item seem forbidden and everyone wants to touch the thing they aren't suppose to. It is always better to have your children well acquainted with firearms than to lock them forever. Of course it is always your call on how responsible your children are. BTW i don't think that it is good to have a round in the chamber as most people think to check the magazine but not the chamber and i doubt is is every so close that you won't have time to rack the slide.

maruawe (author)Coffee bean2009-06-24

When my children were small( under 5) I took them out int the yard (country home) and shot beer cans off a post, and as i shot the cans I told them wha caliber the gun was and the bullet velocity and had them hold the can that had been shot. ,We labeled each can put it on top of the gun case, so it was a reminder of what a gun can do.. the only time the gun case was locked was when we had guests I have heard both of my daughters tell their friends what each can was and how you had to have training before you could touch a loaded gun and then only with a parent along.. This method worked well for me and taught them a valuable lesson about guns and how to handle a gun....

skunkbait (author)mjadolphson2009-01-23

Hey, I'm with you. We keep 3 handguns loaded at all times. We keep a rifle and a shotgun hanging on the wall (unloaded but with quick access to shells). The rest of the guns though, we lock up so they won't be stolen. Everyone in my household has gone through a gun safety course, and my wife and I both went through a concealed carry course. The instructable though, was aimed at the lowest common denominator. Some state (and national) laws make "safe" storage mandatory. It's better to know how to securely lock your weapons (like if you're out of town or something), than to think the nightstand is the ONLY place for your loaded weapon.

mjadolphson (author)skunkbait2009-01-24

Yea, I know what you mean. Alot of states are very unfriendly towards guns (there evil). Like MA, DC, NY, CA, on and on. I personally will never live in any of those places. Its really sad, because they still have more crime than the rest of the country. What I find the funnies, is I have lived in FL, NC, CA, WA, and the difference between the city areas and the city is like night and day. Crime in the city of course is part because of the high population, but here is Jacksonville, the majority is concentrated in the ghetto area's, but back in NC the crime is faaaaaar lower, even in the ghettos. Yet, the country is portrayed as redneck infested KKK gun nut central, and its quite the opposite. People are polite, and there not afraid to talk to you. Here in Jax, god, everyone has a stick up there butt, and for the life of me I dare not argue with anyone here, they all tell me 911 was a conspiracy, the Cia invented crack, and nameless other paranoid delusions. Agh, im rambling now. However my main point about the crime is, EVERYONE knows people in the country have guns. There has never been a break-in, in my old neighborhood. Criminals think twice when they KNOW there taking their life in their hands. At any rate.

glorybe (author)mjadolphson2009-07-20

If you had lived in South Florida you might have found that having a gun with you at all times is not a bad idea. Violence gets over the edge in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. And one huge problem is that the people who need guns the most may very well be the least likely to qualify for a carry permit. For example the type of person that collects cans to get by because he is homeless is in far greater need of protection than someone in a better neighborhood.

Coffee bean (author)mjadolphson2009-04-11


one on the night stand ready to go and the rest safly disarmed

skunkbait (author)brandon borick2009-04-07

That's mostly the way we approach it. We keep 3 handguns ready. We keep a small rifle and a shotgun handy for farm purposes too. But beyond that everything stays pretty well locked up. It makes it easier to put the rest away when an "un-trustworthy" or stupid/curious person comes around.

brandon borick (author)skunkbait2009-04-09

i was jokeing but that sounds good

Thoth (author)2009-02-19

For my wheel guns, I typically use a padlock with a very long shank. So I can thread the cylinder onto the lock as well as locking the frame of the revolver. Besides offering that little bit of extra security, you won't risk losing or misplacing the the cylinder. (Happened once as I was in a rush to get to an appt. and forgot to store the cylinder with the rest of the gun and my father came across it and put it in safe storage without telling me where he put it.) Got the idea from seeing the Ruger revolver locks.

skunkbait (author)Thoth2009-02-19

That's a good way to go about it. My dad has a history of misplacing important parts too!

_soapy_ (author)2009-01-07

An additional thing to note is that you can easily add a length of chain or steel wire to any of the "padlock" steps. This gives you a trivial way to further immobilise the weapon.

skunkbait (author)_soapy_2009-01-07

Yep. It won't keep a criminal from using it (for long), but it'll keep those rotten neighbor kids from shooting eachother!

grenades_and_ham (author)2008-08-11

is that rifle with the bolt removed a mosin nagant by chance?

no it's not,Mosin bolts are overly complicated things of beauty, and they don't safeties, which that bolt has. it's not a mauser bolt either.

a mosin nagant bolt does have a safety its not a conventional one. but it does by rotating the bolt when its in the locked position by pulling it back and turning a quarter turn to the left. thats the safety its not conventional and difficult to do but thats what it is.

Insert "practical" into my post and it's true again. ;-) BTW his third pic in step three is a mosin.

Yep, it's one of the American made ones (pre-Bolshevic).

carpespasm (author)skunkbait2008-12-07

A friend of mine just got a Mosin a couple weeks ago. They're very nice guns once you clean the cosmoline out. Figuring out how to coax the bolt back together the first time was like a rubix cube though.

skunkbait (author)carpespasm2008-12-07

Yeah, the bolt can be tricky. It took me a few minutes to get mine back right, the first time. Fortunately, I had another one (still assembled) to go by.

Yeah, I just leave the bolt open, rather than using the "safety".

Pwag (author)grenades_and_ham2008-09-02

It sure looks like it. The Fins also had Mosin's so it might not be a Ruskie

nature223 (author)Pwag2008-10-12

actually everyone in the baltic AND the chinese fielded them at one time or another

skunkbait (author)Pwag2008-09-03

The first picture I had posted was something else. The Mosin picture that's up now is actually one of the U.S. made ones (1914).

acaz93 (author)grenades_and_ham2008-08-11

hey , you took that from MGS4

It does have the straight bolt-handle, but it's not one of the old Russian Rifles. I'm not sure what it is, but I'll post my personal pics soon (probably with a Nagant).

=SMART= (author)2008-09-19

Cool 'ible May i ask for an inventory of your gun collection?

johnstonsean (author)2008-08-31

Cool gun!!!!!!!!!!!

skunkbait (author)johnstonsean2008-08-31

My wife and kids gave it to me for fathers day a few years ago.

explosivemaker (author)2008-08-14

.....away from the bullets.....

skunkbait (author)explosivemaker2008-08-14

I agree. Check out step 4.

grenades_and_ham (author)2008-08-13

idk why i keep mine around. it was cheap got it for 50 bucks 1944 it kicks like a mother but it does have really good knockdown. no wonder vasiley used one in the battle of stalingrad.

Yeah, I've owned a few. My oldest boy has a sporterized model. They aren't sexy or slick, but they'll certainly do the job. They're good value for the money.

chilbert007 (author)2008-08-12

Doesn't locking up a gun with a trigger lock or safe prevent it's actually usefulness in a self defense situation where you would need to use it? I mean, I am all for keeping kids out of the guns, but shouldn't the child know how to use the gun too in case? ( Note, I am speaking of a child whom the parents have already deemed old enough to use said weapon in a pinch. I am not trying to say arm 5 year old, but I am saying that using a gun lock or keeping the ammo away from the gun effectively eliminates the usefulness of a gun if it was bought for the purpose of protection. Just my opinion. I do not even own a gun.

skunkbait (author)chilbert0072008-08-12

I keep 3 loaded guns in the house, pretty much at all times. The rest of the guns stay locked up, mostly because I'm afraid they'll be stolen. I can afford to lose a couple of hundred dollar pistols, but I can't replace a few of my hunting rifles, or the pistol I was given on my 15th anniverssary. I'm 36 and I cannot remember living in a home without immediate access to a gun. My kids are trained and have access to guns any time they need them (they each have a gun safe). If they have friends over, I go even further to secure the guns, as I can't be responsible for the actions of other children. The fact is some people (even gun owners), don't want to train their kids. Those kids shouldn't get access to weapons.

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