Securing your guns from unauthorized users is an integral component of ownership. A gun will serve hero or criminal, expert or fool alike with no prejudice. If an unauthorized user should find your gun, like a child, tragedy will be following shortly behind.
If a criminal finds your gun while ransacking your home or car in the midst of a burglary, you can rest assured it will be stolen and employed for no virtuous end, with your best-case outcome being it is sold to a commercial dealer instead of used in a crime.
The obvious go-to solution for securing firearms is through use of a safe. Large or small, a quality safe can secure your guns from wandering hands and deter or delay criminals from absconding with them. A good unit, secured properly, is the typical security measure employed by responsible gun owners to keep their guns safe.
But are they the only way? What about situations where one has neither funds nor ability to make use of a safe? You have a few options: you can keep a single gun on your person where it will be under your direct control, though you are out of luck if you should have more than one or two handguns and this is not always possible or practical at any rate.
You could go with the old standby of stashing your gun up on the highest shelf in a closet, though burglars will almost certainly find it as will curious children on their unsupervised explorations of their environment. We have all read stories of the latter scenario especially ending in tragedy time and time again.
Instead, we could take a third option: hide your guns, and hide them very well. The art of concealment, in the right circumstances, can be a valid, even ideal choice for a gun owner, even one with a secure storage container already in place. In this article, I will detail principals, examples and considerations you should understand before employing these methods for your own benefit.
You might choose to hide a gun for a variety of reasons: you may not own a safe, perhaps you desire to place several guns throughout your environment for rapid access no matter what part of your home you are in. If you are traveling, knowing good hiding places may offer a measure of security over keeping the gun in your vehicle (a likely target of theft) or in a questionable in-room “safe.”
Whatever your reason, the desired outcome is the same: keep the guns out of unauthorized or criminal hands! Careful selection of hiding places and a little practice will give you an advantage when you need a gun in a hurry if confronted with a threat. Truly hidden spots will remain not found from all but the nosiest of children or thorough of thieves.
There are a few attributes that will determine any given hiding spot’s viability and efficacy for a given task, discussed below. I will tell you up front that there is no one-size-fits-all hiding place: depending on your purposes, you might need maximum security, or maximum accessibility.
Rarely will the two meet. Some locations may incur wear or weathering on the gun that will need to be accounted for one way or another. You will need to use your head and common sense when choosing to hide a gun in any of the locations discussed below or one you devise yourself.
As always, take the time to think through all possible events that may result in someone finding the gun or you needing to access it in a hurry. What sounds great on paper or in your mind may not work out at all in practice.
As mentioned above, you will be biasing most hiding places towards either security or ease of access. A truly hidden, easily accessed solution likely exists, but is typically rare without some technical know-how or specialist methods.
Generally, the better hidden and more unreachable a location, is the more difficult and slower it will be for you to access it. If security is your primary concern, the more bizarre and unreachable the better when placing.
If you are stashing guns in ready positions for home defense, you will need to strike a balance between access and security from other’s grubby mitts depending on your family and/or visitor situation.
If you decide to locate a gun in an area of the home that is damp or wet, you must engage in regular routine maintenance and lubrication to prevent corrosion from wrecking your firearm.
The gun’s finish is a significant factor in determining maintenance intervals, with classic bluing faring much, much worse to exposure of that kind than a finish like Cerakote or nitrocarburizing.
It sounds silly, but if you are stashing guns high and low like a magpie you need a physical inventory of the guns themselves and their locations to keep from forgetting about them.
Spare me your rebuke about how good your memory is; you are human, which means you have a human brain, simultaneously one of the most wondrously powerful and laughably fallible structures in all of creation. Don’t run the risk of neglecting or, worse, forgetting all about a hidden gun and moving away.
Either write down the list in a fashion that only makes sense to you or keep it safely stored in a bank deposit box or electronically encrypted.
This bears mentioning again: if you are in a home with children, you must make absolutely sure that the child cannot access the gun no matter what until they are of age to be trained in basic gun safety and strictly follow instruction from parents and adults.
It is up to parents to determine the maturity and intelligence levels of their children and act accordingly; the very best protection for youth is training and education. You must plan otherwise that children will find any gun conventionally hidden in the home, and more than a few unconventional hiding places.
Similarly, common burglars will routinely find common hiding places, and professional thieves will ransack a home with no nook unturned in shockingly little time.
Given more time in the home, or if they feel they have little risk of discovery, the entire home will be processed thoroughly by thieves looking for hidden valuables. Only the most well hidden locations will escape an instance like that.
As a quick aside, many safes, certainly anything 500lbs and under, are considered man-portable, and can be carted off entirely with a sturdy dolly or team of strong crooks. Others will use tools found in and around the home to attack the safe itself or its anchoring system.
As a rule, any security measure will only buy time, nothing more. There is nothing that is unbreachable or unreachable if someone has enough time and willpower.
In conjunction with an alarm system, thieves will usually put themselves on the clock, grabbing only what obvious items they can before beating feet with their ill-gotten goods. Like you would with any other defensive or security measure, consider hiding places as just another layer in your integrated protective plan, not a one-shot, fool-proof method for securing your guns.
Today we are hiding iron and lead, not silver and gold. Below are some ideas you may consider using for your own purposes or simply as fodder for your own creative process. I have added a few thoughts and concerns on each.
Start thinking about why or why not each of these would be workable in your home. If one is, what variation could you put on the concept? If not, why? Would another location be subject to the same deal-breaker?
Inside a fixture– Behind a real or false panel, receptacle, sconce, or medallion. Take care around live electrical components if applicable.
In the pantry, fridge or freezer– Take an empty or partially full box or container that belongs among the others and hide a gun inside. You’ll need to step up maintenance checks if keeping a gun in the fridge or freezer. This location is easily compromised by guests or family.
Among the towels– A stack of towels or linens will hide a handgun easily with no outward sign of disturbance.
The laundry basket– If it is full of dirty clothes, so much the better. Few family members and fewer crooks will search the hamper.
Boxed up– A shoe box or similar among others of like kind can be a good hiding place for a handgun and still quick to open.
In the vents– You can hang a gun on a piece of cord inside a vertical shaft or simply push it back away from casual notice in a horizontal shaft. Tape a piece of string to the “ceiling” of the horizontal shaft to make retrieval easier.
Trash Day– A stack of broken down boxes or bags of “trash” comprised of crumpled newspaper can conceal even a long gun in plain sight.
Under the sink– Fashion a hook from a coat hanger or other sturdy wire and you can hang a handgun close under a sink, invisible to anyone who does not stick their head under the washstand.
Picture frame– A thick picture frame, or one that stands off the wall a bit, can have its back papered over and with the gun secured in the resulting space.
Hidden in clothes– The clothes hanging in your closet, especially sturdy coats or trousers, can handily hide a gun suspended from a hanger or piece of wire. Take care if you decide to just drop a pistol in a pocket; the garment will hang skewed, a dead giveaway that something has been hidden inside.
Behind drapes or curtains– attach a holster or hanger that will support the weight of the gun to the wall behind thick or layered drapes. So long as they are undisturbed the gun remains out of sight.
Inside furniture– Create a small cubby underneath a chair or sofa. Utilize a false bottom or back in a drawer or nightstand. Use your imagination. Don’t stick it under the sofa cushion and call it good, everyone looks there.
Inside/Under a Vase or Trophy– Depending on the dimensions of the gun, a vase or trophy may hide it either inside or under the base. Take care here, as anything that appears valuable may be a target of theft.
Inside a clean paint can– A good spot. A cleaned out paint can, complete with old paint spatters and label, placed among others in your workshop or basement is likely to evade detection.
Use a Book Safe– Ah, the classics. Make your own or buy a purpose made unit. Beware; many thieves have long been keen on ripping every book off shelves as SOP looking for just such a contraption.
Stashed in the attic– Either inside a box of stuff or concealed somewhere around the structure.
Behind upholstery– With a little DIY work and some thread, Velcro and glue, you can create an imperceptible flap where fabrics join on a piece of furniture or seat in your car. Affix a holster or peg inside to hold the gun.
A custom compartment– In the wall, ceiling or floor. With attention to detail and some ingenuity, it is entirely possible to craft a truly seamless secret compartment. If you ensure there is no telltale like a rattle, squeak, shadow or visible edges, these can make one of the best stashes.
Behind a false wall– Similar to the custom compartment, you can create a false wall in a closet, pantry or end of a hallway that is designed to be removed or swing away. Another variation that can yield perfect concealment for long term storage is simply drywalling over the same finished space with minimal or no framing. In an emergency the drywall can easily be broken away to access the contents.
Decoy gun– The great bamboozle. Control perception, control events. If you have some old, junky guns, or even a nicer, but broken gun, you can prominently display it or “hide” it in an obvious clichéd hiding spot.
If a thief should find them, he may be content with the score of a gun or three and depart while the getting is good. The remainder of your stash will be safe. Take care that you permanently deactivate or sabotage your decoy guns, think welded slugs in barrels, shaved firing pins, etc.
Well planned, clever hiding spots are viable solutions for securing and maintaining ready access to guns so long as a few essential guidelines are followed. Don’t fall victim to “tried and true” hiding spots: they aren’t fooling anyone. With a little ingenuity and some elbow grease, you can secure your guns when safes are not available or practical.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.