Smart options for safely and discreetly transporting and storing your weapon in your vehicle are plentiful, if you know where to look.
by Steve Statham
A concealed carry permit opens a lot of doors for bringing along your handgun in your day-to-day travels, but not all of them. A CCW permit isn’t some magic pass that can be used everywhere. A daily carry routine can often be broken up by trips to schools, post offices, or other places where handguns can’t be taken. At those times, weapons need to be stowed securely, and usually that means in your vehicle.
Additionally, some states have strict laws regulating how weapons can be transported. And the danger of thieves breaking into your truck is always a risk. With that in mind, we thought it was worth taking a market survey of the current state of the art when it comes to vehicle carry products. We sought out a variety of options for safe vehicle carry and spoke with industry insiders about what people should look for when selecting safes and custom vaults for their daily transportation.
The importance of safe vehicle carry is particularly timely now. The Covid-19 outbreak and resulting uncertainty has sent a lot of first-time gun buyers to their local gun stores. If you’re one of them, welcome! Consider this article a small part of your continuing education on the responsibilities of gun ownership. But even experienced gun owners might be surprised at the variety of vehicle carry options on the market and may want to reevaluate their own safety strategies.
“Although firearms are a means to defend yourself, they can become your worst nightmare if you don’t safeguard them,” said Matt Miresmaili, owner of Titan Vault. “If you carry a gun in a vehicle, it’s better to be in a locked safe that you have quick access to.”
“We know as gun owners we’re responsible to the community,” said Scott Bonvissuto with Console Vault. “We need to stow our weapons responsibly so that they’re not stolen, and God forbid used in some awful way. The onus is on the individual gun owner to secure their weapon when they can’t carry it.”
Much like purchasing a gun itself, choosing a vehicle safe is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
“Figure out what your needs are, and which storage solutions are going to meet those needs,” said TruckVault’s Maddie Campbell. “Some people only have a small handgun that would best go in a console product; some want to keep their firearms stored in their vehicle unattended, in which case, they should be buying the most secure storage solution in case of an attempted break-in, and others need to maintain access to their spare tire or keep some space available in their truck bed, and not every storage solution provider is able to accommodate for these unique needs…we do though, of course.”
Fortunately, there are a surprising number of options available for safely and discreetly carrying and storing a gun in a vehicle. Here is what we found…
Console Vault is about as aptly named a product as you’ll find anywhere. It is, indeed, a sturdy 12-gauge steel safe that fits entirely inside your vehicle’s factory center console.
“We started business back in 2002. We call ourselves the original in-vehicle safe,” said Scott Bonvissuto, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing at Console Vault, and one of the original founders and owners of the business.
“The number one advantage is, all our applications are custom designed to fit into each specific application,” he said. “If we design a unit for the Chevrolet Silverado, for example, the one with captain’s chairs, that unit is specifically designed to fit inside that center console like it came from the factory.”
Another obvious advantage to the Console Vault is that, with the entire works concealed within the factory console, it is not visible to any smash-and-grab miscreants peeking in the window.
The Console Vault is available with a barrel key lock, keyless 3-combo lock, or a 4-digit mechanical lock. No modifications to the vehicle’s console are required for installation.
Console Vault is also noteworthy in that they are an OE supplier to Ford and Toyota, and acquiring the ISO and IATF certifications to supply the big boys requires a whole other level of quality control. Aftermarket buyers, therefore, get the same high quality level that the automakers receive.
The Console Vault is available for a wide variety of applications, both domestic and foreign, although selection is mostly limited to trucks, vans, and SUVs.
“I get so many requests for the Ford Mustang,” Bonvissuto said. “I would love to make one for the Mustang, but the problem is, by the time you made something that would fit in that small cubby, you couldn’t put a small thing of Kleenex in it.”
Most applications carry an MSRP of $269, plus your choice of safe lock.
Titan Pistol Vault
Necessity was the mother of invention for Matt Miresmaili, business owner and inventor of the Titan Pistol Vault. Inspiration for his product came while camping with his three young children in Northern California bear country.
“I took the gun with me and we were camping in a tent, and all night I couldn’t sleep because I had a loaded gun under my pillow and I was worried maybe the kids could gain access,” Miresmaili said.
“Secondly, I was going to go to the range, and with the laws we have in California, you can’t really transport a weapon that easily in a vehicle. It has to be in a locked safe while transported from location to location,” he said.
Miresmaili found the available options at that time unsatisfactory.
“I encountered a whole bunch of problems with the existing products out there,” he said.
He had a checklist of qualities he was seeking.
“What can I do to fulfill my own needs? I need a safe, I need to lock the ammo separately, I need it to be portable, and I want something reliable. Electronics? I can’t even get my finger to scan in my iPhone,” he said.
Fortunately, Miresmaili had a background as a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in product design. What he came up with is the Titan Pistol Vault. The Titan is a hardened steel safe that can be mounted vertically or horizontally. One of its noteworthy features is a patented auto-delivery holster that raises the gun when the lid is lifted, making it a solid choice when rapid response is required.
“We can go from totally unloaded gun to fully loaded in 1.2 seconds, and the gun is ready to shoot. And that’s about the time it takes somebody to draw from their own holster,” Miresmaili said. The Titan Pistol Vault is made from 14-gauge powder-coated hardened steel. “If you want to drill into this safe, good luck. If you want to cut it, good luck.”
With a mechanical lock, the Titan foregoes the added complexity of biometrics or the lighted keypads that can attract attention. The ammo box accessory is ideal for use in states that require guns to be transported unloaded, and for others it can be used to carry a spare magazine or flashlight. The Titan Pistol Vault is available in two sizes, standard and compact. It is California DOJ approved, and at press time retailed for $369.
CrossBreed Pac Mat System
CrossBreed Holsters’ Pac Mat system offers a way to seamlessly carry off-body while transferring your handgun between backpacks, briefcases, satchels, and in vehicles. The system includes a modular holster teamed with a Kydex panel lined with loop fastener. The holster can be adjusted anywhere on the flat panel for a truly custom fit.
“The main advantages to using the Pac Mat system for vehicle carry are safety and versatility. Safe trigger guard coverage is just as important in your vehicle as it is on-body,” said CrossBreed Holsters’ Lindsey Ruckman. “The Pac Mat and Mini Pac Mat holsters feature a hand-molded Kydex shell and mounted leather backer that CrossBreed is known for to assure proper retention of your firearm and firm trigger coverage. Another favorite feature is the flexibility and versatility of this type of vehicle carry. The Original or Mini Pac Mat can be placed or mounted in a variety of locations and orientations to suit each individual’s specific needs.”
With extensive flexibility in mounting location, the Pac Mat is a solid option for rapid response situations.
“The mounting options for the Pac Mat systems are virtually endless. The panel can be simply placed in a console or glovebox. But other options include mounting the panel or placing additional Velcro below the steering column, under the dash, in or on door panels, under a seat, or anywhere that a person wants their firearm safely in place,” Ruckman said.
The Pac Mat is available in right-hand or left-hand draw, and magazine carriers in a variety of calibers are available. Prices start at $42.95 for the Mini Pack Mat, plus options.
Hornady RAPiD Vehicle Safe
Hornady makes a variety of portable gun safes in their RAPiD line, and the Vehicle Safe is the one specifically targeted at securing weapons inside a car, SUV, or truck.
The RAPiD Vehicle Safe is worth exploring for those who want additional flexibility in mounting locations. It utilizes an inflatable exterior bladder that will allow it to conform to different spaces in a vehicle, and it comes standard with a security cable for attaching to the seat frame. It has 14-gauge steel exterior construction teamed with two hardened internal locking lugs.
The RAPiD Vehicle Safe can be accessed using the RFID wristband, two RFID stickers, or RFID key fob that are included. If preferred, or for backup, the user can opt for the included barrel key or program a 4- to 6-digit security code. The safe is powered by a 12-volt car adapter or 4 AAA batteries. The interior dimensions are 7.5 inches high by 5.6 wide and 1.7 deep. MSRP is $271.91.
TruckVault® offers a vast selection of secure storage solutions aimed at meeting the needs of law enforcement, commercial applications, or those involved in hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. Although the company is perhaps best known for its All-Weather line of in-bed pickup storage vaults, they also produce products for sedans and SUVs.
The pull-out drawers can be configured in a variety of ways to accommodate multiple long guns, handguns, or any other important tools and gear. Buyers can customize their TruckVault by selecting full-width or half-width, drawer counts, lock types, drawer faces, and interior carpet.
“All of our products are built-to-order and tailored to the vehicle they’re going in and have a high level of security that is in between a simple gun safe and a full vault,” said TruckVault’s Maddie Campbell. “TruckVault storage systems are ideal for long-term storage or bulk transport, but not necessarily for rapid defensive response. Our All-Weather TruckVault storage systems are unique in the industry as they’re not only water resistant but waterproof, dustproof, and the fact that they’re made out of MDO wood instead of metal makes them heat resistant.”
TruckVault also offers storage solutions for vehicle interiors. The SeatVault line is designed to fit out-of-sight under the flip-up rear seats in crew cab and extended cab pickups.
“Our SeatVault product is increasingly popular as it’s our most budget-friendly option and it’s also just a really cool, concealed product that doesn’t take up any extra space in your truck,” Campbell said.
TruckVault is also a good option for those who own newer vehicles where aftermarket pickings are still slim.
“We recently came out with designs for the new Ford Explorer, Jeep Gladiator, 2019 Chevy Silverado, and Sierra,” Campbell said. Prices vary based on application and options.
SnapSafe Trunk Safe II
SnapSafe is a brand that many gun owners are already familiar with, as plenty of shooters have one of the company’s modular safes taking up residence in their home for rifle and shotgun storage. A trip through their Specialty Safe category will lead you to the SnapSafe Trunk Safe II (MSRP $479), designed to fit in SUVs, RVs, and large car trunks. At 42 inches wide and 13 inches deep, there’s plenty room to store long guns, pistols, cameras, and other valuables.
This trunk safe is a beefy box with a 13-gauge steel exterior, 6-gauge steel door, and eight interior locking lugs. Internal hinges and gas shocks help that sturdy lid to open smoothly. The Trunk Safe II uses a digital lock that can be programmed for 3- to 8-digit access codes, plus a key backup. The Trunk Safe II may not be the choice for those who need rapid response capabilities, but it will securely hold a lot of gear out of sight of potential thieves.
Bulldog Personal Car Safe
Bulldog Cases and Vaults makes a variety of cases, holsters, and bags for home, vehicle, and personal carry. Bulldog’s Car Vault is made from heavy-duty steel with a black matte powder paint finish. It has a key-style lock and comes with mounting hardware, bracket, and security cable. The Bulldog Personal Car Safe is a universal design. The bracket allows it to be mounted anywhere or it can be secured with the 3-foot cable. The interior dimensions are 10 x 6.4 x 2 inches.
This offering from Bulldog might appeal to those on a budget, as the $56.99 retail price is one of the lowest of the safes and vaults shown here. Sometimes, the simplest, least expensive option can be the right one.