Gun Safe vs Gun Cabinet – What To Choose?

You’ve bought your first gun, or maybe you already have a few, and you’re ready for some storage. In fact, your municipality might require you to keep your gun locked up in some way. There are several options to choose from, but gun safes and gun cabinets are both quite popular. A gun safe vs gun cabinet: which is the right choice for your needs?

A Quick and Dirty Rundown

Before we get into specifics, let’s cover the general differences. A gun safe is more protective than a cabinet. A gun cabinet is made for display and aesthetics. Gun safes are harder to get into, both for you and for potential thieves, and they are usually waterproof and fireproof (up to a point). 

Gun cabinets, on the other hand, are easier and simpler to store in your home. They can offer more tasteful security–enough to keep out kids, but not burglars–and still allow you to easily get to your guns. They are also a great choice if you want to display heirloom pieces. 

Both of these devices can store your favorite guns, but there are some differences that will make one or the other a lot more or less suitable for your needs.

Gun Safe vs Gun Cabinet: Making a Choice

Understanding Safes

Fires and Environmental Damage

With a fire, you have multiple dangers to consider. First, there’s the fire itself. Then, there’s the water and/or chemicals used to fight the fire, both of which can damage your guns. Finally, there’s the chance you won’t be allowed to set foot in your home for weeks while cleanup happens, leaving your guns unguarded and vulnerable to thieves while you’re away. 

A gun safe is much better protection in this scenario than a cabinet. Many gun safes even come with dehumidifiers to protect your guns from the environment around them. These are great if you live with a lot of humidity, which is corrosive to your guns.


You’ve probably heard it said that nothing can stop a thief who really wants your stuff, and that’s largely true. A determined thief with the right tools and enough time can get into any home and any safe. But while that’s true, it’s not actually a real-life scenario. In real life, thieves are usually lazy and looking for soft targets (unless you incentivize them by broadcasting the high value of what you have inside). 

In real life, thieves are working against the clock, and only with tools they can conveniently carry with them. Gun safes come with bolting mechanisms so they can be secured to the wall of your home, meaning a thief can’t just walk off with the safe and work on opening it later. They are also typically constructed with strong steel to make it really hard to drill through them.

However, this same security that protects the guns from burglars also makes them harder to access in the event of a home invasion. Unless you’ve got a personal weapon you carry with you and secure near your bed at night, you will waste a lot of precious seconds getting a gun safe open if you’re home when an invader breaks in.

Kids and Safety

Another advantage of gun safes is the way they protect your guns from accidents. There are two types of accidents to worry about, of course. The first is the most obvious: you don’t want kids (or childish adults, for that matter) to get the guns and hurt themselves or someone else in an accident. Gun cabinets will keep out most kids, but not more savvy, older kids and adults. 

Of course, we’d suggest that the best protection is for responsible gun owners to teach their children to be responsible gun users, too. A gun is a tool, just like a chainsaw or a knife, and you can teach a child to respect a tool and handle it well. 

The second type of accident you want to avoid is your gun storage unit falling on someone accidentally. Gun safes are often a better choice here than cabinets because they are heavier and can be bolted firmly to the wall.

Understanding Cabinets

Fire and Environmental Damage

A gun cabinet can help you protect guns from humidity. Most are made of wood and have glass doors, so they aesthetically pleasing and display nicely. Some even have dehumidifiers. However, they will not stop a fire, though they may offer protection from the chemicals and water that come with fighting the fire. If you have a lot of guns, a cabinet simply doesn’t give the sort of protection from fire that you might need. 


No burglar will be deterred for long by some glass. If you’re away and someone manages to get past your home security system and breaks in, expect to lose all your guns. However, if you’re home and involved in a home invasion scenario, most people will find it a bit easier and quicker to access their guns from a cabinet than a safe.

Kids and Safety

As stated above, these cabinets will keep out most younger children, so if you’re training your kids and they are reliable and responsible around guns as they get older, a cabinet could be fine. However, if you prefer not to give your kids any experience with guns, be aware that not only will a determined child be able to break the glass of a cabinet and get access, but they might be all the more tempted precisely because this is “forbidden fruit” that they can see every time they walk by. 

Another danger is the gun cabinet falling on someone. If this is a concern for you, you’ll have to look for cabinets that are particularly made to attach to the wall. Remember, too, that while a safe is usually in an out-of-the-way spot, like a closet, a cabinet is usually right in the middle of household traffic.

So what’s right for you? It all depends on your situation. How many guns do you have, and of what type? Do you want to display or secure? Do you have kids, and how are they around guns? What’s the crime like in your neighborhood? Sit down with these questions, go over the pros and cons of a gun safe vs gun cabinet, and then make your choice!

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.