The four cardinal rules of gun safety:

  • Always assume the gun is loaded
  • Keep it pointed in a safe direction
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot

And one we'll be exploring today: Store your guns to keep them inaccessible to any and all unauthorized persons.

We at Tactical strongly follow and believe in these rules and practice them daily. We're incredibly grateful to the original designer of modern-day fireproof safes in the mid-1800s, Silas C. Herring in the city of New York. The firearms industry began pushing for the concept of gun-specific safes, as they should. The idea transformed into today's safety standard that guns should always be stored out of reach by all responsible gun owners in large, heavy safes.

Gun accidents happen most commonly in the home. It is the best option to always secure your firearms to protect your loved ones and yourself—don't forget the ammo too.

But is a gun safe the only way to secure your firearms?

Not anymore. In fact, thanks to modern technology and ingenuity, there are many creative ways to lock up your guns in an entirely safe manner that doesn't involve a safe. For the gun collecting enthusiast with a massive collection, some safes can reach 750 lbs. and upward. That's an awful lot of weight to be moving about on your own or with a buddy if you can't afford professional installation.

Not to mention, The Underwriters Laboratory, the world's leading independent, not-for-profit testing lab conducted safety and quality tests on a wide range of gun safes. Today? Many of the gun safes sold commercially are UL-rated, RSC certification, which is short for "Residential Security Container," but notice that's not called a safe. A true gun safe will have what's typically referred to as "B-ratings."

Let's explore some of the most popular and what we think are the most creative means to keep your guns locked up that aren't in your common gun safe, in no order.

  1. Biometric Pistol Safe

Not your usual bulky, expected square box. Biometric technologies have made leaps and bounds since its creation years ago. Fingerprint locked micro vaults or pistol vaults can be mounted discreetly throughout the home and can guarantee the only one with access to that gun is the right fingerprint. Many of them offer backup override keys as well in case of emergencies, interior lights and 18-gauge steel housing or better. This is perfect for having a single pistol on hand whether you want one under the bed, by the nightstand or in other hidden out of sight places but do not want any risk of anyone being able to access it.

  1. Building a Room

Though not entirely budget-friendly or economical, the alternative to an expensive, weighty and difficult to handle gun safe may be the right choice in the long run. If you find yourself at the point where you have to spend three or more hours trying to get everything ready to go out for a week of training, where your range bag is in one place, ammo stored elsewhere and magazines and hearing protection in another—it might be time to turn that empty spare room or large closet that's not getting used into a room for your firearms.

Even an unfinished basement could be converted into a home gun vault.

Building a room yourself or having a vault professionally installed is an option many gun owners today are turning toward. Particularly skilled gun owners and handymen or women can even DIY an extremely sturdy locking safe door too.

If you are good with carpentry, building your own racks and storage cabinets may not be as expensive as you originally thought. Though one recommendation is to splurge on the vault, or safe door, to ensure that up-to-date safety standards are in place.

There's also space to consider. For a standard hunting rifle or a single pistol, a safe is still a viable solution. But if you're an avid collection with AR rifles with short barrels, several hunting rifles and a various assortment of handguns, storage in safes can become a cluttered, haphazard-riddled clutter.

Alternatively, if you don't have the carpentry know-how to build your own racks and storage, there are some top-notch companies that can sell preconfigured gun racks that are easily installed in-home to store your firearms. Retrofittable steel vault doors are available from many manufacturers starting at roughly $1000.

  1. Hidden in Plain Sight

Sometimes, the ultimate in security is having it completely, entirely and securely hidden. For those who don't want the obvious giant safe, there are smaller inconspicuous places that are made to look like everyday objects with safety standards that even The Underwriters Laboratory would love.

Thwarting would-be gun thieves or people getting their hands where they never should be can be as easy as storing your firearms in places only you would expect them to be.

  1. Weapons Cabinet

Though maybe not as visually pleasing as a room and not as easily hidden as single portable biometrics safe, a weapons cabinet with a rack is still a great, safe alternative to the bulky gun safe. Options today can range from the standard plain cabinet with no hangers to completely custom painted, custom-built cabinets that can stand out or blend in with a home's décor.

As technology advances in both safety and storage, more and more options will open up for creative ways to lock up your firearms for those of us who can't or don't want to deal with the giant, weighty safe.

Of course, no gun will always be 100% secure, so cover your assets no matter what storage you choose and get insurance. Always layer your security features outside of what any safe, rack, or vault manufacturer offers you too.