Want the quickest access safe to protect yourself and your family?
Learn the top criteria I used in selecting my personal bedside gun safe so you can apply it to your home situation. Then followed by recommendations for all budgets.
Then see the safes in action with my actual home defense pistol.
Table of Contents
Safe Selection Criteria
Selecting a gun safe might be actually harder than what you went through selecting your handgun.
There’s so much stuff out there across so many price ranges. I’ll try to make it easier by going through my top criteria when selecting my actual bedside gun safe.
- Quick Access: My home defense pistol will be going in this safe and in a defensive situation, I want to be able to access it in around 1-2 seconds.
- Reliable: I’ll likely be groggy and fumbling around in the dark. Is the safe 100% reliable and easy to use in that state?
- Adequate Protection: Expensive and less used guns go into my larger and more secure safe. This bedside version is just to deter smash & grab burglars or to stop a nosy guest. I’m not looking for extreme child or fire protection here.
- Space: Enough of it to hold a full sized handgun like my Glock 17.
- Mountable: I make sure that the safe is small enough to be mounted high the closet or nightstand drawer so it’s harder to access for small children and won’t just walk away with someone.
1. Fort Knox FTK-PB
Through all my research and asking around, I ended up with the Fort Knox FTK-PB Simplex Handgun Safe after a less than optimal buy or two.
It met and exceeded all the criteria I had set out for myself. I do not regret my decision and I tell all my new gun owner friends to get their own.
And each and every one loves it after install.
“Simplex” means that instead of electronic keys, a rotary dial, or biometrics, it uses mechanical buttons that provide good feedback and allow me to open the safe in around 1.5 seconds.
*2018 Update*: 2 years worth of usage and going strong for my simplex safe.
All I do is put in my 2-stage code and turn the knob clockwise. An example of a 2-stage code would be pressing the 1st and 3rd button simultaneously, followed by pressing the 5th button.
I also like that I can previously input the code and turn the knob clockwise but not actually open the top. This means you can have super fast access to it at night if you open it before you go to bed.
I wanted something that, like my self-defense gun, would “always go bang.” The Simplex lock is American made (as is the entire safe) and does not need batteries, like so many of the popular safes out there, need for electronic keys or biometrics. Also, no beeps and reading errors that could get you killed. There’s a lifetime warranty too.
2 years in of nearly weekly use…it’s still going strong with no messups. Plus the foam is still good even after some oil dripped out from my gun.
The safe is really heavy (~20 lbs) since it has 3/16″ steel doors and 10 gauge steel bodies. I feel confident if it ever fell off a truck, or got attacked by a crowbar, it would put up a good fight. I also like that the corners and sides are folded in to make prying much harder.
Plenty of space for my full-size Glock 17 and extra mag.
There’s also two layers of foam underneath my gun and I feel confident that you could put at least one more full sized pistol in there if you wanted.
4 pre-drilled holes on the bottom for easy mounting.
It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close. The first few things I don’t like are nit-picky but the last one can be a deal breaker for you.
First is that it’s susceptible to water damage. My wife left a cold cup of something in the top left which formed condensation and left a pattern. I’m just glad it’s kind of cool looking.
The foam around the hinge gets in the way of closing but is easily addressed by just cutting it off. Here’s the finished product.
And the potential deal breaker is that it only has 1081 combinations that any smart child could try in a relatively short amount of time. However, if you don’t have kids yet, or plan on concealing the safe, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
What’s your take on the Fort Knox?
2. GunVault SpeedVault & 1000S
Because of the angle of the SpeedVault, it is the front-runner for mounting under a desk in a home office for example.
Quick Access: Quick access in the 2-second range. Video later shows slight speed reduction in taking out a handgun for the side opening models such as the 1000S.
Reliable: Not as reliable in my opinion as mechanical Simplex locks, but tons of people swear by them. I’d be comfortable using them if I were to unlock them before going to sleep. Can turn off the key entry sounds for “stealth” mode.
Adequate Protection: Tight fittings and thick steel meet my requirements for protection against burglars and nosy guests. 12 million combinations so the possibility of someone brute force trying all of them are much less likely. However, it still has a key override so keep it hidden.
Space: If it can fit a full-size 1911 style handgun, it will fit my Glock 17. Other GunVault models are available for smaller or bigger storage needs.
Mountable: Easy to mount and the SpeedVault defines what it means to be a bedside or desk side safe with its ingenious opening mechanism.
3. Stack-On PDS-500
What I first chose as my gun safe due to its immense popularity on Amazon and its great reviews. The Stack-On PDS-500 is a great budget safe but just be aware of its shortcomings.
Quick Access: Pretty quick access in the 2-3 second mark depending on your code. However, I found the top opening door is smaller than the base, you can have occasional hangups of your gun.
Reliable: Not super reliable in my opinion. I tested myself with late-night wake-up drills to try and open the safe and I found myself forgetting to hit the “*” key after my code. The knob also sometimes does not work if you immediately turn clockwise…I found I had to turn counter-clockwise until it reset and then turn it clockwise for 100% reliability. I’d only be comfortable unlocking it before I slept.
Adequate Protection: Decently heavy (~10 lbs) and seems pry-resistant. Includes backup key access when you pry off the “Stack-On” nameplate on top to keep it hidden. Older models seem to be easily picked with just a paper clip. You can protect against this by getting a new lock or just super-gluing the plate.
Space: Fits my full-size Glock easily with extra space for a mag or two.
Mountable: Has bottom mounts.
4. Vaultek V20i & V10i
We conducted a full review, but here’s the gist:
Quick Access: 4 easy ways to access your firearm: key, number code, fingerprint, or Bluetooth app.
Reliable: Fingerprint scanner was a little iffy when our fingers were wet. But the other options were 100%. If using this for your bedside gun safe…I’d stick with the number code.
Adequate Protection: Very robust feeling that resists drops and hits. Plus pry-resistant.
Mountable: Comes with two pre-drilled holes and screws. Plus cable attachment.
We’ve also reviewed their newest and biggest version…the MXi Handgun Safe.
Hopefully, I helped you out a little in choosing the right bedside gun safe for your purpose. Here’s a video that compares the Fort Knox FTK-PB against the GunVault 1000S. It was the final research that steered me towards the Fort Knox.
What did you end up choosing? Let us know in the comments! Or looking for larger safes…check out our Best Safes for Handguns & Long Guns.