Massively tough, highly portable, and quick to open, the new Fast Access Pistol Box from Steelhead Outdoors is a solid investment for home or mobile handgun security

by Rob Reaser

I must admit my guilt.

On far too many occasions I have failed to properly secure my carry gun in my vehicle. This happens when I must go into the county courthouse, the post office, or some other Constitution-violating premises. I usually slip the gun from my holster and slide it under my truck’s center console or throw it in the glove box. Neither are good options, but Main Street smash-and-grabs are unknown in my low-density rural area, so I throw the dice and take my chances.

For most places in this country, this would be a horrible idea. The better bet is to have a secure and hidden lockbox to stow your weapon for those times when you can’t carry it on you.

There are many options on the market today that satisfy this need. I recently tested one of them from a company called Steelhead Outdoors. I had never heard of the company until an associate mentioned them and said they had a new pistol safe that would work for both home and mobile applications.

Steelhead’s primary angle is the manufacture of modular safes that can be assembled on-site by two people and disassembled should you need to move it. They also make several keyed handgun lock boxes. Their newest, though, is called the Fast Access Pistol Box.

Unlike the company’s other pistol boxes, the Fast Access model uses a Kaba Simplex lock instead of a keyed lock. If you are unfamiliar with Simplex locks, these systems utilize a series of mechanical pushbuttons to release the locking mechanism. No keys are necessary and there are no electronics to fail. The five-button system used on the Fast Access Pistol Box can be user-programmed to open using as few as one button up to all five buttons in multiple combinations/sequences. To open, simply push the buttons as programmed and turn the lock knob to the right. Turning the knob left resets the lock.

The box measures 8.5 x 12.25 x 3 inches. As you can see, this is large enough to accommodate at least two pistols and a spare magazine each. Here is how it fits with a Sig P320 and a P365 plus extra magazines. Plenty of room.

The contents, of course, are well-protected. The bottom of the box includes two layers of 3/8-inch foam. I like this because if you need additional depth, such as to get the lid to close on an extra chunky pistol, just remove one layer of foam. The lid is padded with a layer of egg-crate-style foam. Between the two, guns and magazines stay put and are drop protected.

As far as material construction goes, the Fast Access Box is built like a tank. The box is made of 12-guage steel that has been laser cut, formed, and TIG welded with seamless precision. You may surmise from all of this that the Fast Access Box is no lightweight, and you’d be correct. Empty, the unit weighs just under 15 pounds.

Covering the steel inside and out is a tough black textured powdercoating. Although I haven’t had enough time with it to see how it will hold up in the back floor of my truck, all indications are that this finish should deliver years of protection.

The box’s ¼-inch hinge is also robust in construction and opens smoothly.

An interesting feature is that the hinge pin is also protected courtesy of pin guards integrated into the box. These are simply tab extensions of the box wall that extend to cover the ends of the pin on both sides, preventing the pin from being punched out. It’s a welcome touch that further adds to the box’s security.

There are a couple of ways you can secure the box. For mounting to a desk, dresser, or inside a drawer, the base includes pre-cut holes in the four corners underneath the bottom foam pads. Just mark your holes on the mounting surface, drill pilot holes appropriate to your mounting hardware, and secure.

For vehicle or mobile applications, the Fast Access Box comes with a 6,000-lb. rated ¼-inch 7×19 galvanized and nylon coated cable. The cable end locks into the box via a small slot in the base flange. The other end of the cable is a crimped loop. With this system, you can easily secure the cable around your vehicle’s seat frame or other suitable structure. The box then stows under the seat. No drilling, modifications, or additional hardware are required.

So, if you are looking for a vehicle- or a bedside-friendly pistol safe that is high on ruggedness and that does away with the need for keys or electronic access codes, you’ll want to give the Fast Access Box by Steelhead Outdoors a close look. At $300 MSRP, it’s not the lowest-priced lockbox on the market, but it just might be the toughest.

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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