A confirmed bachelor, I started a family relatively late in life. I was used to keeping my firearms collection strategically placed throughout my home, loaded and ready for bear. As a federal law enforcement officer who has served for many years on the Mexican border and in Afghanistan, I learned that a little paranoia can be a healthy thing. But a new bride and then a new child meant that my ideas on firearms storage needed a major overhaul.

I was taught at a young age that an unloaded gun was a paperweight—the only ones I kept unloaded were packed up in desiccant and stored away. I still believe that an unloaded gun is useless for home defense, but keeping a loaded gun out of my daughter’s hands until she is old enough to respect and understand it has become a paramount priority. I have a large gun safe, but I needed something for the bedroom, and so began my search for a pistol safe. I decided I needed something that would keep my kid out yet still be easily accessible to my wife or me.

My wife wanted something simple that she could open under stress—no keys, no dial combinations. I started researching. One of the first things I learned was the word “biometrics.” It refers to identifying people by their unique characteristics: voice, DNA, retina and fingerprint are most commonly used for locks. A small safe with a biometric fingerprint reader was an option, but I wanted absolute reliability. Like my weapons, I demand that my safe work the first time, every time. So after trying out many pistol safes, the following made the cut.

GunVault

GunVault is probably one of the biggest name in pistol safes, and the company is no stranger to biometrics. GunVault has six models that offer a biometric lock. GunVault’s biometrics utilize a self-learning algorithm that adds new minutiae to the fingerprint templates each time a user touches the fingerprint sensor. Why is this important? Over time, your fingerprint may alter slightly. If your safe does not adapt, then you could have a false read. And the new system can store up to 120 fingerprints. Biometric GunVaults, which range from $229.99 to $349.99, run on 9-volt batteries, come with mounting hardware and have both visual and audible low-battery indicators as well as key-lock overrides. GunVault’s most unique pistol safe is the SpeedVault, which is thin, foam-lined and the perfect size for one pistol. The SpeedVault can be mounted on the wall or under a desk or kitchen sink and has a front that flips forward to place the weapon’s butt in the perfect position for a draw. (gunvault.com; 800-222-1055)

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