Whether you’re traveling by land, sea, or air, it’s important to properly secure your firearm. The last thing you want is the man ruffling your feathers while on the road or at the airport. In this guide, I put together a collection of the best portable gun safes. All five of the models featured in this article include security cables, meet TSA firearm regulations, and are California DOJ approved. Plus, I included choices to fit all budgets ranging from fancy to basic lockboxes that’ll get the job done.
Before we get started with an overview of the safes, let’s first consider several points about the use of portable gun safes:
- Unlike the best vehicle gun safes, portable safes are made for a wider range of activities and aren’t meant to be bolted down inside your vehicle
- Portable safes are meant to safely transport your firearm(s) from point A to point B, not keep out master lock-pickers or professional thieves
- A good portable safe should be lightweight and easy to pack in your checked luggage or slide beneath your car seat
- Most portable models include security cables to attach the safe to fixed objects while away from home. This feature is especially useful for RV owners, campers, and during hotel stays
- Lastly, quality models keep children out
Now, let’s go over the key specs of each safe before going over the reviews of each model where I’ll share the pros & cons.
Top 5 Portable Gun Safes
|#1) Hornady 98153 Alpha Elite Lock Box||
|#2) Vaultek VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe||
|#3) Hornady RAPiD Safe 2600KP and 2700KP||
|#4) Vaultek LifePod Weather Resistant Portable Gun Vault||
|#5) SnapSafe Lock Box Portable Steel Handgun Safe||
Best Portable Gun Safe Reviews
Several of the key differences between the safes in this guide to consider before we go over the reviews are:
- Available Sizes
- Access Methods
Under each review, I share the highlights of each model along with the most important points to consider in the pros & cons before making your final decision.
#1) Hornady 98153 Alpha Elite Lock Box
Of the five models in this guide, Hornady’s Alpha Elite is the best portable gun safe for the money. This all-in-one safe is built for all types of travel, it’s listed on the official CA DOJ website, and the TSA will love it. The best part is the price for what you get in return. Several of the security features I like are the 16-gauge steel body, pry-resistant security band, and Hornady’s special dual crossbar latch mechanism.
If you plan to fly with this safe, 16-gauge steel is what I usually shoot for because it’s not too heavy, yet it’s heavy-duty enough to resist damage and keep your firearms secure. For enhanced security, each Alpha Elite Lock Box includes a 3 ft 1500 lb rated security cable, and what I really like is Hornady’s cable receiver design that doesn’t eat up valuable interior space.
Lastly, the case features a premium crate foam-lined interior to protect your handgun against scratches and to prevent it from shifting while in transit. Also, you’ll have no trouble moving this safe between your vehicle and the airport or your home by connecting the security cable to your under-seat hardware. All in all, this is the first model to check out for all your travel needs.
- The price is unbeatable for the quality
- Sturdy and well-built yet not too heavy to pack in your checked luggage
- The included cable is heavier duty than competing models
- A solid connection point with Hornady’s innovative cable receiver design
- Good anti-pry protection
- A dual latching mechanism rather than a single
- One of the better child-proof handgun gun safes you’ll find in this price range (exceeds ASTM International standards)
- Hornady doesn’t issue new keys if you lose both keys
- Barrel keyholes are prone to pick attacks
- Heavier than the LifePod and SnapSafe LG models
#2) Vaultek VT20i Biometric Handgun Safe
For folks who want a portable gun safe that does it all, the VT20i is the pick of the litter. Unlike Hornady’s Alpha Elite, you have multiple access methods, including a biometric fingerprint scanner and backlit keypad. In total, the biometric scanner stores up to 20 unique fingerprints, which makes this model a great choice for gun owners who travel with their significant others. Additionally, of the five models in this guide, the VT20i accommodates the longest barrels with its 11″ interior width.
Noteworthy anti-theft features on this vault include anti-pry reinforcement bars, dual anti-impact latches, interior hinges, and a clean unibody design with no visible welds. One thing I really like is the fact that it doesn’t weigh much more than the Alpha Elite box, despite offering a higher level of security. If you take a look inside the VT20i, you’ll see that the latches are the beefiest of the five safes.
Finally, the base package includes everything you need to get rolling out of the box including a security cable, mounting hardware if you want to transition between home & travel, and two backup keys. One last feature I want to mention is the concealed key slot on this vault, which I like better than the keyholes located on the face of a safe.
- Program the fingerprint sensor for use with multiple fingers and for both you and your significant other
- The best pry resistance of the five safes
- Connect to the safe via Bluetooth with the Vaultek app for full customization and remote unlock
- Fits full-size handguns with room for an extra mag(s)
- Adjustable interior LED light for clear nighttime access
- Up to 4 months on a single charge and a 2.5-hour charging time
- The best quick-access gun safe of the five models
- The priciest option
- You might prefer one of the lighter models
- The fingerprint reader may not open the safe on the first try 100% of the time
#3) Hornady RAPiD Safe 2600KP and 2700KP
RFID is another quick-access method that’s just about on par with biometric fingerprint sensors. Compared to the Alpha Elite model, Hornady’s RAPiD safes are the heavier duty option with 14-gauge steel, which also makes them heavier. Having said that, you definitely get a more secure safe that offers several access methods for speedier access. Also, remember that key replacements are understandably not available for the Alpha Elite vault for security reasons.
Each RAPiD safe includes several RFID tags, including a branded wristband, key fob, and decals to attach to items of your choice. Once you program the tags, you simply hold them up to the safe for speedy touch-free access. In addition to RFID access, you also have the option to program a 4 to 6-digit passcode for keypad access.
A couple of final highlights of the RAPiD safe are the spring-assisted door, two internal locking lugs, an included security cable, and an included wall power supply for optional AC power. Also, there are multiple sizes available to accommodate your preferred handgun.
- Touch-free RFID access with multiple included RFID tags
- Heavier duty and more secure than the Alpha Elite
- Keypad access with battery & AC power options
- Spring-assisted lid for one-handed access
- RFID access requires no light for arming yourself at night
- Silent keypad mode
- Heavier than the Alpha Elite
- The lid does not open a full 90º
- You may experience interference if you place the included RFID sticker on a phone case
#4) Vaultek LifePod Weather Resistant Portable Gun Vault
Now for the lightest of the five safes, Vaultek’s LifePod. Keep in mind, this is the one safe in this guide that’s not made of steel, which comes with its pros & cons. What I like is that the material is lighter and built to take a beating without showing dings or scratches. The next highlight is its weather-resistant design. This is the only model in this guide that’s waterproof, and it carries an IP-65 rating. Along with being waterproof, it’s dustproof, airtight, and it even floats.
One cool feature is the touch-activated backlit LED capacitive keypad. When unlocking the safe, you simply touch the keypad to illuminate the keys before entering your passcode. Once unlocked, you undo the side compression latches for moderately quick access to your firearm. When locking the safe, you simply touch the lock button on the keypad rather than having to input your code again.
The feature I like the most is the option to disable the key lock using the switch inside the case to protect against pick attacks. Also, there’s a USB port located next to the covered keyhole to open the case if the battery dies. Overall, the LifePod is the best choice in this guide for air travel because of its lightweight, weather-resistant body, and modern features.
- It floats, and it’s waterproof
- The option to disable keyway access using the internal switch
- A USB port to power the keypad if the battery dies
- Solid protection against the elements
- Its lightweight design won’t add much weight to your checked bag
- Includes a security cable and tether lanyard
- The side compression latches slow down access
- Single latch
- Does not fit full-size handguns
#5) SnapSafe Lock Box Portable Steel Handgun Safe
Last up is the cheapest portable gun safe that I like a lot, the SnapSafe Lock Box. Essentially, SnapSafe’s Lock Box is a cheaper version of Hornady’s metal pistol vaults. The first thing I like about this vault is it features 16-gauge steel, which matches what Hornady and Vaultek offer. However, once you go beyond the steel body, the security features aren’t quite on par with the other vaults in this guide.
The latch is more of a get-the-job-done type of latch than a high-security latch that thwarts pry attacks. The important thing to keep in mind is that this model is well-built, meets TSA requirements, and it’s a CA DOJ-approved firearm safety device. So, if you’re goal is to find a good low-cost pistol vault that’s officially approved for air travel and land travel through California, you’re in the right place.
Lastly, the base package includes a 1500 lb rated security cable, two layers of interior foam, and two keys. All things considered, I wouldn’t go for anything cheaper than this model if you want a reliable portable gun safe.
- The most affordable portable gun safe of the five
- 16-gauge steel construction
- Foam lining in the top and bottom panels
- Includes a 1500 lb rated security cable
- 2 keys included
- The lightest steel vault in this guide
- The easiest to pry open of the five
- Prone to pick attacks
- Not a good choice for transitioning between home and travels
The best portable gun safes meet TSA guidelines and are California DOJ-approved firearm safety devices. By choosing one of the models in this guide, you give yourself the best chance of avoiding any problems while on the road or inside the airport.
Beware of lesser-known brands that claim to meet TSA guidelines or comply with CA DOJ standards. All CA DOJ-approved models can be found on the official CA DOJ website, and I already put the time in to check for the models in this guide.
Hornady and Vaultek both manufacture premium-quality gun safes, while SnapSafe is a good budget alternative. It’s wise to stick with these companies to get the most reliable access and the strongest security for the money.