Be it from prying eyes, fingers or leaders, hiding your weapons is an integral part of safely owning firearms, and never more than when it comes to your handguns. Tips and tricks for keeping pistols undercover and accessible in the home has been a deep and long running theme in our comment box, and though we’d never endorse rashness, here’s the dirty to keeping your handguns out of sight (but never out of mind).
Editor’s note: This is number one in a series on basic techniques and methods to keeping your handguns concealed and safe in any environment. Stay tuned for more solutions on hiding your handgun at work, underground and on your person.
In the home
When hiding your handgun, consider whether the storage length will be long or short term and always look for places in your home that are by their own virtue not frequented often by others. Under a cabinet would be a decent balance of security and accessibility for back up guns requiring longer term storage.
Make no mistake, stashing guns around your house is serious business — the safety of others is at stake so there is no room for error. For this reason, an honest and informed (and even professional) assessment of your living space and conditions is crucial. Where as a couple living alone in the woods with few visitors may get away with storing their frequently carried 1911 in an old boot in their shoe closet, a family of five has a lot more to consider.
The first decision is between long and short term storage while the paradox here is between security and access. A corollary consideration is who are you really hiding your guns from: Kids? Thieves? Jackboots?
The decision and method you chose to hide your handgun will fall somewhere between the extremes of concealed carrying your gun at all times and burying your handgun as a super long-term survival strategy. When making this decision, more than ever, terrain and circumstances dictate tactics.
Short term solutions are ideal for every-day-carriers. Storage styles fall on a spectrum between two categories, “go-to guns” (primary weapons that can/will be accessed at a moments notice) and “backup guns” (guns that are better hidden and harder to access, but may hold some specific strategic value). These back-up guns toe into the arena of long term solutions that apply more to BBQ guns and survival treasures (more on these in future installments).
When children are a part of the equation, look for high spaces and unfrequented (not “forbidden”) places — on the top shelf of Dad’s closet of mystery may not your best option (but then again, depending on your brood, it might). Also realize that education is the only real long term solution to keeping your children safe around guns.
When it comes to hiding your handgun, custom solutions are often the best (and most satisfying) solutions.
Inevitably, someone is going to call out this article for divulging tactics and they will be right — adopting what is readily known is at odds with the philosophy you’ll need to abide by when keeping your handgun out of sight. Take the information here as inspiration and seek out creative and adaptive solutions on your own for full effect (custom solutions are often the best solutions). The best place for your handgun may be on your person and in a gun safe at all other times.
Rapid access safe from Hornady use a credit card swipe to access. These storage devices come in many different sizes and make use of other technologies like fingerprint detection and wrist units. Others use classic combination locks.
Small rapid access safes utilize a variety of technologies and can be stored discretely (and some quite creatively) in any room of the house, but they are all cost prohibitive. To be sure, these are superior options for any gun owner looking to sidestep the access/security paradox, but for the other half, situation and terrain should, as always, determine tactics.
Magnetic latches come in various styles, are usually quite cheap and offer a range of adaptive solutions for the creative gun owner. Their real value is in ability to store and remove your handgun easily and repeatedly via magnets, though hooks and other apparatuses may be more appropriate.
Protip: On many guns with metallic components, magnetic latches can make great, cheap fast access mounting mechanisms.
Whenever hiding a handgun in “plain sight” (with very little security, the towel/sheet method would qualify as such to this author) do a full and honest assessment of your living conditions before and have another, more secure storage spot on the ready if your circumstances change.
Check out any linen closets or bathroom cabinets for space to hang a small gun just above the door on the wall/panel closest to you (so that the gun would be directly over the head of someone rummaging through the space). Most closets are “shallow” and have molding around the door frame for cursory concealment. While a burglar might go through your bedroom closet more carefully, in the bathroom they likely will not. Note, this method is not suitable for walk-in closets.
The tank of the toilet is a viable (though not ideal) back-up option for storage — just make sure the handgun is double (or triple) wrapped to avoid any moisture coming into contact with your gun or ammo.
Under the “beach towels” or “dog sheets” (just not under the bath towels you use regularly) on a high shelf is an extra thrifty, low-tech fix for the washroom.
Your laundry hamper offers a lot storage potential for handguns as thieves are usually not interested in your soiled clothes. Store the gun in a bag and hide amongst your unmentionables or, utilize a liner and hide underneath. This method works as a dirty solution for hotel stays too.
A hamper with a liner is often of little interest to an intruder and offers a variety of hiding options (just don’t put your gun in the wash, or leave it sitting out naked when you remove the liner to do the laundry).
Thieves and curious children will likely be attracted to your bedroom closet so extra care must be taken when attempting to hide anything of value here. One, high concealment, low cost, lowered security method is to hang the gun off a plastic hanger (one that is easily broken) through the trigger guard (for semi-autos I advise against storing with a round in the chamber). Cover with a button up shirt and jacket, pants and tie (leave the dress shirt partially unbuttoned so that you can reach in and grab your pistol unfettered).
Suits are just one of many types of clothing that can effectively hide your handgun and keep it ready to grab at a moments notice. Alternative methods could be sewing quick entry pockets on some old jeans that can be accessed while the pants hang.
Most desk and dresser drawers have space somewhere between the door and the outer panels, separated by a frame. Handguns can be hidden here, but for added security, try adding interior wood panels (on both or all sides) to hide the gun visually if a thief pulls out the whole drawer.
Nightstands and dressers usually have room between the drawers and the outer paneling and depending on the style of yours, may be suitable for short or longer term storage. Likewise, custom cabinets can be built for those with talents in the woodshop.
Whenever drywall work presents itself, you have the opportunity to hide a handgun before sealing up any holes. Cut out an appropriately sized section in a place where guests or family are not likely to touch or lean (a good place would be next to an entry door, below the switchplate). Mount your weapon (a simple hook will do here) and glue the old drywall back in place with the help of some patch tape. Mud and paint to match. To retrieve the gun, just put your fist through the patch and grab.
Vent safes (some of which are quite sophisticated) and basic storage solutions behind duct panels will usually suffice for long term storage, but for added benefit, take advantage of turns in the ductwork that cannot be seen into when opening from inside your home.
A/C vents (or ducts or intakes) can be used as longer term storage solutions. Usually A/C vents are mounted high and require a stool or ladder to get access to and there are many throughout the house. For additional security, put your handgun in a case and securely tie a piece of fishing line then push the package around the corner of duct so it is not visible upon removing the front panel. Keep the line out of sight by lying it along the corner of the sheet metal duct and using clear tape to secure.
Kaboom is not for kids. Be smart when stashing guns in your pantry and do not pick foods or locations that will garner any attention from kids, bad guys or other house guests.
For those with heavier security concerns, less contact with visitors and children, and solid body front doors with storm doors (usually your main entrance), a gun can be secured around the doorknob and hid via procedure. When opening the door to someone, invite them in but leave the main door open against the wall, hiding your pistol from the room. For bonus concealment install hooks and hang coats so they hang over your piece (or store your gun itself in a coat pocket).
An empty cereal box in the pantry stored on a high shelf is a decent short term solution. Don’t chose Trix either (they’re for kids), pick something boring but not out of place in your food stocks. This method will work well with a variety of dry goods or even inside a detergent box, wrapped in plastic or bagged.
If you are worried about malfunctions due to frozen ammo, use the fridge. For more discretion, you can wrap the gun loosely in tin foil (not in the shape of the gun) and date/label the bag.
Go Walter White, Ziploc bag your revolver and hide it in the fridge or freezer. Most freezers won’t get cold enough to cause any malfunctions and pinch comes to push, you can fire the gun through the bag (just make sure you tell your sous chef it’s there, under the peas).
Those grocery bags folded (or collecting) next to the refrigerator, under the sink or wherever you store them can make for a great subterfuge storage area. Just bag the gun and hide it in a readily accessible but out of the way spot amongst the clutter. The same method works with the empty pizza boxes by your trashcan — just make sure you are in full control your environment at all times (and nobody takes out your gun with the garbage).
CD stash cans (and DVD stash cans, and hollowed out books etc., etc., etc.) can be purchased or made at home.
Thieves used to love CDs, but today, not so much. A small CD wallet is a decent extra dirty solution to short term storage (and also one that migrates to the car easily). You can also make a “stash can” by gluing several CDs together and hollowing out the center (no gluing required sometimes for thick cased albums like The Wall). Have fun with the end albums too (may I suggest, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Back my Bullets”?). Works just as well for DVD cases.
For families full of winners, most trophies unscrew at the bottom and are hollow inside. The bigger the trophy, the bigger the space — an added incentive to always strive for the top of the podium.
For a back-up storage spot, check out the underside of your couch to see if there is a sagging cloth that covers the framework (nowadays these often velcro off, but you may have to do a little surgery). You’ll be surprised how much room is under there and the frame will permit you to mount all sorts of fixtures for storage.
Most couches (even ones with mechanical components underneath) usually have ample room and plenty of frame to affix gun mounts. Often, these area is only covered by a thin piece of cloth that is removable and replaceable.
This article is all about getting gun owners talking and thinking about an important, unavoidable and often fun aspect of owning a weapon, so please share it with anyone you think would enjoy or benefit and please add any solutions (you are willing to part with) in the comments section below.