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[How-To] Stage Guns for Home Defense Safely

You’re sitting on your couch when the front door is kicked in, or a window shatters…and someone strolls right on in.

It’s late so your gun is either in the safe or sitting on your dresser or nightstand.

gun in nightstand
Your gun, just chillin’

Wherever it is, it isn’t within reach, and your attacker is already in your home.

So, what now?

Staging guns for home defense ensures that you’re prepared for whatever comes knocking down your door late at night. No sitting there, panicked and unarmed.

Gun Bed

If you’re new to staging or never really considered it before, no worries. We got you.

In this article, we’re going to cover your options for staging home defense guns, talk about safes and storage, and ultimately, get you better prepared.

By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do should trouble come barreling through your front door.

Table of Contents

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Some Things to Consider

Firearms instructor Tom Givens of Rangemaster likes to remind students, “You don’t get to pick the day you need your gun. Someone else will pick that for you, and they will only tell you at the last minute.”

He’s right.

When that moment arrives, you don’t want to be caught without the means to defend your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Back to the example earlier of the person breaking into your home.

When they come through that entrance…will they block you from wherever you’ve left your gun?

Break Down Door
Can’t leave if they’re in the way.

Odds are high you might indeed be cut off from your firearm.

So how do you ensure you have access to your firearm if you need it?

My first suggestion: wear it.

Best way to make sure your gun is near? Carry it!

It’s hard to find a flaw with keeping your gun holstered both for accessibility and safety’s sake. However, I know plenty of people who don’t prefer to wear their guns in their homes.

Sometimes, I’m one of those people.

When it’s 100-degrees here in Texas, you’ll find me in shorts and a tank top. In this scenario, I’m way more comfortable taking my gun off than wearing it.

Sweating
Me in the Texas heat.

But this is where staging comes into play.

I may not wear my gun, but I can at least have it ready nearby.

Best Spots to Stage a Gun for Home Defense

The first step in staging is house-specific. Look at your house’s floor plan and take that into consideration as you evaluate the best place to stage guns for immediate access.

Stop and think where you might be within the house if a break-in were to occur.

Floor Plan
Knowing your floor plan is the first step in staging guns.

For me, that’s one of three spots — the kitchen, the living room, or the master bedroom.

1. Kitchen

In my kitchen, there’s a Remington R1 Enhanced Double-Stack in .45 ACP.

I chose this specific handgun for hog hunting and found it quite reliable. I choose my loads carefully, and I understand range in this house is almost always going to be up-close-and-personal.

This R1 is locked in an under-the-counter safe from SnapSafe, the Drop Box Keypad Vault.

My Drop Box Vault is bolted under the counter, but it can also be bolted to the side of an object such as a nightstand or desk.

169
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It holds a single handgun and opens to allow you to take a firing grip as you remove the gun from the safe.

And, of course, it has a programmable keypad lock.

Since most people spend a significant amount of time in their kitchen — or have a kitchen door leading to the garage or directly outside — it makes sense to keep a gun at the ready in this location.

HBH Kitchen & Dining
We wished our kitchen had that many guns on the wall…sigh.

2. Living Room

I spend a lot of time in the living room, so I’ve given thought to the most likely scenario should a break-in take place.

Whatever I’m using as my EDC (yes, it rotates) stays on my body or right beside me, but I like having other guns accessible to cover times I’m not carrying.

Assorted Concealment Express Holsters
What shall I choose today? Hmm…

Staging a gun safe next to the couch works well. Stowing one beneath the coffee table or an end table is also a decent idea.

Do remember that any safe not bolted down may walk off if someone breaks into the house when you aren’t there.

Burglar with crowbar
Don’t want this guy grabbing your safe.

So, consider fully installing safes rather than just dropping them in place.

For me, that means using a Hornady Two-Gun Keypad Vault bolted alongside the record stand player and another by the couch.

115
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Master Bedroom

Finally, I find myself spending time in my master bedroom. And this is where you’ll find one of my favorite safes – the SnapSafe Under Bed XXL Safe.

What makes it so awesome?

The Under Bed fits…you guessed it…under most beds and it’s beefy!

505
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This means no thief is going to wander in and walk off with it.

My XXL model weighs 148-pounds – and that’s before I fill it with guns.

It offers a slide-out drawer, a digital lock with a key backup, and is made from 14-gauge heavy-duty steel.

SnapSafe Under Bed XXL Safe
SnapSafe Under Bed XXL Safe. (Photo: Amazon)

And yes, it features pre-drilled holes so it can be bolted to the floor.

Sure, this means dismantling your bed frame to install the safe and building the frame back up over it. But I am telling you it’s worth it!

SnapSafe Under Bed XXL Safe
Keys and a keypad, nice.

Mine holds my favorite long guns for home defense, plus another handgun and spare mags for everything.

In addition to the Under Bed safe, I also use a Hornady Two-Gun Keypad Vault bolted next to my nightstand.

115
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Hornady’s vault includes a shelf that can hold two handguns.

I use it to lock up what I consider my “house guns” — a Glock 17 and Glock 27.

Editor's Choice (Beginners, Home Defense)
530
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Staging Guns on the Go

While yes, we’re focused on home staging, we should take a moment to talk about car staging.

I’m betting most of us spend a good deal of time in the car, either going to and from work, running errands, or traveling.

Face it. There are times you’re forced to lock your gun in your vehicle.

PSA AK74 Shooting Car
Hopefully your car doesn’t looks as bad as ours.

First off, your car is absolutely not a gun safe. Don’t shove it under the seat or in the glove box and call it a day.

That said, you can store guns in the car with the right tools.

For this, we return to Hornady. The RAPiD Vehicle Safe took me some fussing to actually install in my truck, but it was worth it.

200
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I do wish I could afford a custom center console safe, but that’s not exactly doable on a writer’s budget.

Long story short, use a quality gun safe but minimize how often you have to leave your gun in it.

Safe in trunk of car
Lock up that gun when you can’t bring it with you!

While we are on the topic of safes, which ones are worth your time and money…

A Good Safe Goes a Long Way

For staging, you don’t need the same uber-expensive, fire-resistant safes you use for the majority of your collection.

Even so, the safes you choose should be durable and permanently installed.

Also, look for models that are pry-resistant and can handle bludgeoning objects or axes.

Liberty Centurion 24, Open
Take the time to secure any safe in your house so bad guys can’t run off with the goodies.

14-gauge steel will suffice, but it’s not the strongest steel on the market.

If you afford 12-gauge steel, go for 12-gauge. It’s nearly three times stronger than 14-gauge.

And if you’re shopping for your main, full-size safe, spring for 10-gauge or 8-gauge steel.

Keep in mind, safe weight and price jump as steel thickness increases.

If you install something like the SnapSafe Under Bed XXL Safe properly, it becomes a significant task for a thief to try to open it. They can’t just batter it and run.

505
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

They’ll have to take your bed apart to get a crack at it.

Quick smash-and-grabs are common, so bolt your safes down.

Don’t know how to do that? Take a look at our guide on How & Where to Bolt Down a Safe.

Locks

The lock on your safe should be more than just a key.

A programmable keypad backed up by a key is a great idea. RFID is also an option.

When choosing numbers for a keypad, program with unique but memorable numbers. Stop and think how easily and quickly you’ll be able to pound it out when under stress.

Will you fumble because you opted for an eight-digit code instead of a memorable four-digit one?

Oh, and don’t program safes with “1-2-3-4” or “4-3-2-1.”

Furniture-Style Safes

This is a good time to touch on the trendy coffee table and hanging wall shelf safes.

Although there are some out there keyed to RFID tags or with actual keypads, it seems the majority function with magnets.

Maybe the magnet is opened by applying pressure to the wood, or maybe it’s opened by sliding an object down the panel, but it is a magnet all the same.

Liberty Home Concealment Flag, Open
Liberty Home Concealment Flag

Many of the coffee table safes are literally coffee tables with no actual security offered. At first blush, these may seem like a great idea, but they tend to offer underwhelming security.

If you’re going to stage guns around your house and leave them…secure them.

Liberty Home Concealment Clock
Liberty Home Concealment Clock

Tossing guns in an easily-smashed or ripped apart piece of furniture – or, worse, one with no lock whatsoever – it’s just unwise.

Need even more recommendations for the best covert safes? Check out our recommendations for the 7 Best Hidden Gun Safes for Home.

Conclusion

When staging guns for home defense, stop, and think about your home’s layout. Then, plan your gun safes around these locations for the best access should a break-in occur.

SentrySafe QAP1BE, Open
SentrySafe QAP1BE

While gun safes can be costly, you can easily start with just one in the living room since you likely spend a lot of time in that area. After that, you can add more as you see fit.

Overall, be prepared. You can’t choose the moment a home invasion occurs, but you can plan ahead with the right tools.

Tell us your favorite ways to stage guns in the comments! If you’re looking to buy a quick-access safe, hit up our articles on the 5 Best Bedside Gun Safes for Quick Access and 10 Great Gun Safes for At-Home and On the Go.

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17 Leave a Reply

  • Vulcan

    There are some handy rubber grommeted and adjustable short rifle holders you mount on the back of the closet door I've been looking at. Pull it straight out of the rubber grommets and there ya go. Many of us have collected for years and it can't hurt to have one of some kind in most rooms and your main living room right next to you. Basement too for post tornado and if it leads to the garage or outside. Remember the flash will blind you and the noise stun you.

    January 29, 2021 8:45 pm
  • Smitty

    For probably many of us, that is BIG money. We have a reliable good brand revolver and a .22 bolt action rifle. No way could we afford that many firearms, let alone safes for them. As a senior on a low fixed income that will never happen. If I have a safe it will be one I build.

    January 27, 2021 8:14 am
  • Charles Renton

    However it secures to your vehicle do NOT rely on the combo lock; mine shit the bed within two weeks of purchase. That said, keep hold of those two keys because you can't have them replicated.

    January 27, 2021 8:00 am
  • GregV

    Forget about staging. Just keep a gun on your person at all times. When you go to bed, have it on the table next to you.

    January 27, 2021 6:38 am
  • LDR

    Thanks for the gun safe reviews. Please let us know when the gun staging article will be published.

    January 26, 2021 6:45 pm
  • Percy Blakeney

    Nice job, PEW PEW, telling me I'm posting posts too quickly, and this is my first in weeks.

    January 26, 2021 5:45 pm
    • Bear

      I got this guy name of Murphy seems to follow me everywhere, so odds are that a home invasion, just like a long-awaited phone call of old, will occur when I'm on the throne.

      We have one of those knob handles pump-action 20 gauges stuck business end first into a towel slot across from the john. Works for me and momma..... we hope.

      D'OH!!!! Although I've NEVER commented, PewPew says I'm doing it too quickly. Horse apples.

      January 27, 2021 2:19 pm
  • Percy Blakeney

    I own a significant woodworking shop. Too, I play with rare earth magnets, some with up to four hundred pounds pull.

    With the foregoing in mind, my inclination is to go for concealment, versus a safe. If it's not suspected, known or found, its safer than if it were in a safe that could be carted off with a hand truck.

    On the rare earth magnet thing, I just bought six that, each, have about 80 pounds pull. Embedded in wood these can hold panels on walls with ease and a kid hanging on them is not going to, accidentally, pull the panel off.

    Using rare earth magnets, which do not lose pull like the ones we grew up with. As such, wainscoating can be installed on walls, decorative panels can be placed on walls and so on to make access to guns far quicker than if in a safe, but still secure by way of sound concealment.

    Then there are things like toe kick drawers, decorative pillars that are hollow, stair kick plate storage and so on.

    January 26, 2021 5:44 pm
  • Satire for Sanity

    Staging guns all over is just the first step. What you really need to think about is staging decoy guns the bad guys will try to steal instead, and then decoys for your decoy guns to keep them safe. And it goes without saying this all happens in your decoy house... that’s electrified.

    January 23, 2021 10:17 am
    • Doug

      Some preparation for anticipated events is good but too much is just miss appropriated funds that might be better spent later. My luck it would be cops breaking into the wrong address and I'd be standing there with a gun in my hand.

      February 2, 2021 9:23 am
  • Tom Dillon

    Newb here. I hear a lot about storing ammo separate from your firearms. One PewPew author said he stores ammo in a completely different room, and so should we. In my mind that means never being prepared for the instant need should there be an intruder, road rage, etc. etc. And now I read this...surely firearms that are staged are done so with ammo, right? Otherwise, why bother? So what's a newb supposed to do?

    January 19, 2021 4:56 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      Hello! That really depends on your situation. I know many owners especially with young children keep their firearms and ammo in two locations for increased security. They will at most have 1 firearm loaded in a quick-access safe in a nightstand or something close at hand. Personally, I don't have kids, and every member of my family is very well versed in firearm safety -- so I don't feel the feel for the extra layer of protection. I have firearms and ammo in the same location, many magazines are kept always loaded and in easy to grab places, etc. I do make it a policy that any firearm that I do keep "loaded" I actually keep "cruiser ready". That is magazine loaded and in, but the chamber empty. For my CCW when I leave the house, I carry with one in the chamber -- but my HD guns are all kept chamber empty. That is the extra layer of safety that I feel is reasonable for my situation.

      January 20, 2021 3:04 am
  • beaky

    I have dozens of guns scattered all over the house, and mines in the front yard

    January 19, 2021 11:08 am
  • Dave Z

    How does that hornady rapid safe secure to the vehicle?

    January 18, 2021 7:00 pm
    • James Rossetti

      By steel cable and a bladder. Hornady also has a long rifle rfid safe for a vehicle or home. I have a Hornady pistol and rifle rfid safe in my suv ands shotgun rfid safe in my downstairs closet.

      January 26, 2021 4:17 pm
  • Prepper

    What the hell? I JUST put them all in the shower.

    January 18, 2021 6:30 pm
    • Brandon

      Lol just strap them to the dog. When the intruder comes in, call you dog. DOG PISTOL.

      January 19, 2021 7:47 am
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