January 19, 2018
It's not a difficult task to secure your weapons and tools at home. However, vehicle storage is another matter altogether. Many weapons are stolen from vehicles every year, and while it's bad enough that you're out a nice gun or knife, it would be even worse to find out that one of those tools was used to harm an innocent person.
Vehicle security starts with the look of the vehicle. Anything indicating that the vehicle owner is also a gun owner works against your personal security and may as well scream, "Hey, break into my car! I own guns!" Just as you wouldn't advertise your everyday carry (EDC), don't advertise your lifestyle. We're going to take a look at solutions from the most economical to the top of the line because security shouldn't hinge on income.
Putting the gun in a lockable center console or lockable glovebox is a good start. Another easy, economical solution is to use a cable lock in conjunction with an element of the vehicle's structure. In my last truck, I ran a cable from the magazine well/ejection port of the rifle to a hole drilled in a seat support. Now, I understand that this doesn't provide security against a dedicated thief, but it provides a level of security that I was comfortable with given the environment that the truck was used in. It also wasn't the quickest to deploy, but again, it was quick enough given the environment and role that I expected the rifle to fill. This was my personal ride, not a work ride. There are very few scenarios where need for speedy deployment could take precedent over the need for security. Security and deployment are always at odds, and the balance needs to be skewed depending on the mission. Generally speaking, you can have inexpensive, quick to deploy or very secure. Pick two.
Moving up on the security scale, we have security cabinets that can be installed in the vehicle. These range anywhere from simple sheet-steel boxes that are bolted under the seat or in the truck all the way up to purpose-built reinforced steel boxes with mechanical or biometric locking systems. I've used several versions of the ShotLock system from TruckVault Inc., both in my home and mounted in the trunk of my wife's car, and I've been very happy with them.
The ShotLock is available for pistols, ARs and shotguns, so regardless of your gun, they've got what you need. The pistol and the shotgun versions fit a wide variety of firearms. Everything from a full-size 1911 to a 4-inch revolver to a G26 fit in the pistol box with no problems. The shotgun version fit both Mossberg and Remington models with nary a hitch.
The ShotLock boxes come with either a mechanical lock or an electric, battery-powered lock. In both cases, there is a keyed bypass. Both of them are built from 14-gauge steel, which is considerably more robust than many of their competitors, and are powder coated in matte black. The construction is straightforward, and I appreciate the anti-pry lip that overhangs the door. This simple but effective design prevents a thief from wedging a crowbar into the door and bending it off the lock. You can tell that the designers were thoughtful. They were not content with simply making a box with a lock. The locking systems are robust, and I used both of them extensively.
My Shotgun Solo-Vault 200E is set up for a Mossberg and employs a clever internal mounting system to keep the shotgun in place, even when hung vertically. There is an adjustable hanger that can be bolted in multiple locations internally. The ejection port of the shotgun interfaces with the hanger, allowing the gun to, well...hang. When the cover closes over it, the shotgun is locked in place. The ShotLock comes with plenty of foam to custom-fit to whatever shotgun you choose, and while the set up initially looked complicated, it only took about 15 minutes. The battery pack is another cool feature, as you can either install the batteries internally or use a battery pack that plugs in externally. If you plan to mount the vault, then the external pack is the way to go, since replacing the batteries does not require the vault to be disassembled. I'm happy with the ease of the electric lock and the overall security package. Sure, a dedicated thief with power tools could get it, but they'd have to know where it was and it would take time. As I said previously, security and access are always a compromise.
I also received the mechanical lock version of the ShotLock Handgun Solo-Vault. While slightly slower to access than the electronic version, it's still fast and accessible in the dark. The handgun vault has a hole in two adjoining corners to allow a cable lock to be used, but I mounted it in the trunk using bolts. It has worked out wonderfully so far, and I can't recommend these products enough.
Moving up the ladder to what I consider to be the king of vehicle security, we have the TruckVault by TruckVault Inc. This is a custom-fit, custom-built solution for anyone involved in law enforcement or the dedicated outdoor lifestyle. Available for trucks, SUVs and larger sedans, the TruckVault provides a high level of security, requiring heavy duty crowbars or power tools to defeat. When I was assigned to my police department's counterterrorism bureau, all of our trucks and SUVs were equipped with them, making the hauling of our dedicated equipment a much more convenient and secure proposition. Moved from the field to the desk, I gave up those cool toys. I didn't think that I'd ever possess that level of security or convenience again, since TruckVaults are not an inexpensive proposition.
Well, it turns out that when you get a second career as an outdoor writer, the investment is well worth it. My all-weather vault is custom-fit and has an attractive matte-black, all-weather finish. It has withstood every element possible, including snow in Flagstaff, Arizona, 115-degree heat in Las Vegas and everything in between. The heavy-duty seals have kept out moisture and dust, and the reinforced drawer slides handle the weight of my gear easily. I was recently involved in a serious accident, and while the truck was totaled, the TruckVault was in perfect shape. In fact, I bought a new truck with an identical bed, just so I didn't have to get rid of the TruckVault! The standard-height version retains some bed space for range and outdoor hauling, and the vault is strong enough to hold over 2,000 pounds on top of it, so steel targets are no problem. The hardware is rated for extreme outdoor use, and the folding T-handle latches are recessed, keeping them out of the elements.
While my particular version is Spartan in appearance, there are several options available, including wood finishes to match the wood in even the most luxurious SUV. Yes, it is an investment, but if you spend more than one or two weekends a month on the range or in the field, then I highly recommend it.
While I wish that we still lived in a time that allowed for shotgun racks in the back window of our pickup trucks, I fear that those times are gone for good. Some jurisdictions have even made it a crime to have an unsecured weapon stolen from your vehicle. Don't be a victim twice; secure that gear.