Gun safety aficionados will tell you that proper firearm storage is a lot like going out to eat. If you can’t afford to tip your server, you can’t afford dinner out. Similarly, if you can’t afford to store your firearm safely, you can’t afford to own a firearm.
That said, your circumstances will determine the best time to buy a gun safe. While you don’t need the fanciest biometric safe money can buy, you at least need a secure storage option that fits your lifestyle, your budget, and the other people in your home.
When Should You Buy a Gun Safe…
While responsible storage, operation, and maintenance should all be top priorities for every gun owner, there may be some wiggle room in your safe purchasing timeline.
Let’s explore some common scenarios to determine how soon you should buy a gun safe after purchasing a firearm. As always, a little common sense goes a long way.
…If You’ve Just Purchased Your First Firearm?
If you’ve just purchased your first firearm, there are a few questions to ask yourself to determine the best time to buy a gun safe:
- Is this the only firearm you plan to purchase?
- How much ammo do you plan on purchasing?
- Will you need 24/7 access to your firearm?
If you only plan on owning one firearm, you’ll only need a safe large enough to store one gun. In this case, you should purchase a safe as soon as it’s financially feasible for you.
If you plan on purchasing more firearms but aren’t sure what your collection will look like in the future, consider waiting until you have a clearer picture of your ideal firearm selection. You don’t want to buy a small handgun safe only to need a long gun solution in a few months.
Everyone’s ideal ammunition stock is different. If you plan on having at least 1,000 rounds on hand at any given time, you’ll need a safe that can accommodate that volume. Safe prices increase with size, and if you plan on needing a large safe, perhaps you can wait until a holiday sale to purchase your ideal storage solution.
If you’re only purchasing a firearm for a specific hunting season—and not for home defense or everyday carry—you likely won’t need 24/7 access to your gun. If you want to wait for a good deal or until your firearm collection is more complete, consider storing your firearm in a friend’s safe if you don’t need everyday access.
Even if you choose to delay a safe purchase for any amount of time, you must take other steps to secure your firearm:
- Store the gun in a clean and dry location where it won’t collect dust.
- Use a trigger lock with a key to prevent potential accidents.
- Use a soft or hard case (preferably with a padlock or combination attachment) until you have access to a safe.
…If You Have House Guests or Roommates?
If you have roommates or plan on having house guests soon, it’s paramount that you purchase a gun safe as soon as possible. The benefits are twofold:
- You’ll prevent unauthorized access to your firearm by unskilled or unsafe users.
- You’ll give your roommates or houseguests peace of mind if they’re uncomfortable with firearms.
If you can’t get a safe before your roommates move in, before your house guests arrive, or if they’re already staying in your home, take sensible precautions to prevent accidents and potential discomfort:
- Consider storing your firearm in a friend’s safe temporarily.
- If you have to store the gun in your home, use trigger locks and a locking hard/soft case.
- Inform other people living in your home that you have a gun and that it’s safely stored.
…If You Have Children or Special Needs Adults in Your Home?
If there are children or special needs adults living in your home, it’s imperative that you purchase a gun safe before you purchase a firearm.
Accidental shootings by children happen almost every day in the United States. You need to protect minors and people with developmental differences from accidents to the best of your ability by storing your guns in a safe.
…If You Live in a High Crime Neighborhood?
If you’ve purchased a gun to defend your home in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, you may feel that you need access to your firearm any time you’re at home. But, when you’re away from home, your gun needs to be secured to prevent theft and accidents by potential intruders.
Purchase a gun safe as soon as possible, but in the meantime, consider storing your firearm in your locked car when you’re away from home. Even if you use a keyed case or trigger lock, thieves could still steal your gun and break past your simple security measures.
…If You Have More than One Gun?
If you have more than one gun unsecured in your home, you double the chance of potential accidents. If you have the money to purchase a second (or third) firearm, you need to prioritize proper storage overgrowing your collection.
Small safes are available to accommodate multiple handguns, but a larger safe is more appropriate for a mixture of handguns and long arms. As your firearm collection takes shape, purchase a safe that can fit all your guns to prevent accidents and secure future purchases.
Times of Year to Buy a Gun Safe
While you can purchase a firearm and a gun safe during any time of the year, holiday sales offer a great opportunity to shave down the price tag. If your situation allows, purchase your firearm shortly before holiday sales—like Black Friday and after-Christmas specials—begin.
Some retailers, like Dick’s Sporting Goods, even offer pre-Black Friday sales on gun safes. But, for more information about your local firearm, ammunition, and storage market, ask a local gunsmith for advice.
Ultimately, the best time to buy a gun safe is anytime you have a firearm to store. Safety, protection from accidents and theft, and protection from the elements are safeguards worth every penny.