The Best Smart Safes 2020
There comes a time in every parent’s life when hiding things in drawers and on shelves just doesn’t work anymore. If your baby is making moves and grabbing onto furniture, it’s time to get a gun safe that can keep your firearms locked up and out of reach.
|Product name||Primary locking mechanism||Interior dimensions||Learn more|
|Verifi Smart Safe S6000 Biometric Safe||Fingerprint scanner||17.1 x 11.8 x 7.3 in.||View on Amazon|
|Liberty HDX-250 Smart Vault*||Fingerprint scanner||3.75 x 9.75 x 11 in.||View on Amazon|
|Hornady RAPiD Safe 2600KP||RFID||7 x 7.7 x 2.2 in.||View on Amazon|
|VAULTEK VT 20i||Fingerprint scanner||11x 5.75 x 2 in.||View on Amazon|
|Barska Biometric Rifle Safe AX11652||Fingerprint scanner||9.7x 7.63 x 52 in.||View on Amazon|
Data effective 11/19/2020. Offers subject to change.
*Currently not sold by the manufacturer on Amazon
Even if your “baby” has flown the nest already, a smart safe box is a worthwhile investment. There are just some valuables—like passports, family jewelry, birth certificates, and more—that most of us feel uncomfortable leaving in a filing cabinet. Advancements in biometric tech (fingerprint scanning) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) safes mean you’ll still have quick access to these items when you need it. Not to mention they’ll be safe from prying eyes, natural disasters, or worse.
If it seems like everything is becoming “smart” these days, you’re not wrong. You’ll find futuristic tech in thermostats, door locks, and even light bulbs, Safes are no exception, and we took a close look at biometric scanners, RFID scanners, sizes, and other features to decide which smart vaults will keep your possessions secret and secure.
Who makes the best biometric safe?
The Verifi S6000 Biometric Safe slides into first place, all thanks to its impressive “FBI-certified” 3-D fingerprint scanning technology. The Liberty HDX-350 Smart Vault is a close second.
Best overall: Verifi Smart.Safe. S6000 Biometric Safe
- Access: FBI-certified 3-D fingerprint imaging (up to 40 fingerprints)
- Walls: 14-gauge steel
- Door: 8-gauge steel
- Extras: Tamper alerts logged with a timestamp; AutoLock
- Interior size: 17.1 x 11.8 x 7.3 in.; fits 4 pistols lying down or 5–6 in a rack
- Noise: No beeps; mechanical noise when safe opens
- Weight: 32 lbs.
What we like
Accurate fingerprint scanner
If you’re hunting for a biometric safe, you’ve probably noticed a trend in the reviews: those on the cheaper end of the spectrum can be a little fussy when it comes to reading your fingerprints. But not the Verifi Smart.Safe.
It works so well it’s almost magic, and the company claims its 3-D fingerprint imaging technology is even “FBI certified.” (We’re not quite sure what that means, but the scanner designer, Zvetco Biometrics, says the safe features an FBI-approved silicon chip.)
The reliable fingerprint scanner and roomy interior make this our pick for the best biometric gun safe—and best all-around biometric safe for whatever you want to keep safe, hands down.
Maybe it’s just us, but nothing brings on panic mode faster than not knowing whether we locked a door. Thankfully, the Verifi comes with an AutoLock feature. All you have to do is shut the door, and it automatically locks your valuables inside. Now you just have to remember to shut the door . . .
What we don’t like
Get ready to drop at least a few hundred bucks on the Verifi Smart.Safe. S6000. But if you’re looking for a roomy biometric safe that scans your fingerprint the first time, every time, it’s worth it.
Runner up: Liberty 9G HDX-250 Smart Vault
- Access: Finger swipe (up to 15 fingerprints)
- Construction: 14-gauge steel door
- Extras: Reinforced anti-pry latch
- Interior size: 3.75 x 9.75 x 11 in.; fits roughly one handgun plus magazines and accessories
- Noise: Mechanical noise when safe opens
- Weight: 15.5 lbs.
What we like
The HDX series comes in three sizes: the Liberty HDX-150 gun safe, the mid-sized Liberty HDX-250, and the larger Liberty HDX-350. We prefer the HDX-250 because it’s the perfect balance between size and price. It’s large enough for a handgun and some magazines or passports, jewelry, and other important documents, and only costs a little more than the HDX-150.
Let’s face it—with enough time, tools, and muscle, almost any safe can be busted open. But Liberty stands apart because it actively addresses security issues found in its safes.
One reviewer outlined security vulnerabilities they had found in the Liberty HDX-250 biometric gun safe, as well as the updates the company added to its new design to remove those flaws.1 Color us impressed.
What we don’t like
Difficulty closing the door
We noticed the door sometimes needs a forceful push to get it to shut and lock. This may not be an issue if your safe is mounted, but it could cause the safe to slip around if it’s not.
Best RFID gun safe: Hornady RAPiD Safe 2600KP
- Access: RFID wristband, fob, or sticker
- Construction: 14-gauge steel with 2 hardened internal locking lugs
- Extras: 1,500-lb. rated security cable and pre-drilled mounting holes; fits in most glove boxes
- Interior size: 7 x 7.7 x 2.2 in.; fits most compact and subcompact guns
- Noise: Noisy keypad access, silent RFID access, mechanical noise when safe opens
- Weight: 8 lbs.
What we like
Multiple access options
Some people like key fobs; some like wristbands. And others prefer stickers. (Yes, stickers.) If one of these choices tickles your fancy, this RFID gun safe has you covered.
It also comes with a backup key or PIN access in case you lose your RFID accessory or it stops working.
If your gun safe needs a name, we think “Old Reliable” is fitting for the 2600KP. While some reviewers reported issues getting other fingerprint safes to open every time, most said Hornady’s RFID technology was easy to program and use consistently.
What we don’t like
Troublesome RFID stickers
If a sticker is more your style, watch out for a few limitations. A thick phone case or wallet could prevent the RFID sensors from detecting the sticker and opening your safe.
If you run into this issue, you could place the sticker on the outside of your case instead, but the logo may make it obvious that it’s the key to your safe. And you’ll risk additional wear and tear on the edges of the sticker.
Limited space for larger handguns and items
Most handguns with four-inch barrels or revolvers with two-inch barrels will fit like a charm inside this gun safe. Anything larger, and you may want to upgrade to the Hornady 2700KP.
There’s also limited space for other valuables. Need to keep documents safe? Better fold them to fit them in the 2600KP. Small pieces of jewelry or passports and social security cards might fit, but we think your money will be better spent on a larger biometric safe if that’s what you want to keep secure.
Best biometric pistol safe: VAULTEK VT 20i
- Access: Fingerprint (up to 20 fingerprints)
- Construction: 16-gauge carbon steel construction
- Extras: Integration with VAULTEK Smart App; fits in most glove boxes
- Interior size: 11 x 5.75 x 2 in.; fits a Smith & Wesson 686 revolver or 2 Glock 19s, plus many other combinations of handguns with magazines and accessories
- Noise: Beeps when opened; silent mode available in app
- Weight: 5 lbs.
What we like
Extra app functionality
The VAULTEK VT 20i was the only gun safe we found that came paired with a free app. Once you add your safe to your account, you can remotely monitor the battery levels, track usage history and tamper alerts, unlock the safe, and turn off the sound.
We will say the app isn’t perfect—the Bluetooth connection can be sketchy. But overall, it provides an extra level of monitoring that can help ease some anxieties you might have while not at home.
Rechargeable battery pack
The included lithium-ion battery promises four to six months of life, and you can monitor it closely on the app. When the power levels start to drop, just plug the battery in and recharge it—no more running to the store to pick up new batteries.
What we don’t like
Unreliable fingerprint scanner
We like to joke that technology is amazing—until it isn’t. Case in point: the VT 20i’s fingerprint reader can take several tries to get a clear scan. Luckily, the keypad provides quick backup access if you’re in a rush and can’t get a good read on your fingertips.
A possible workaround: add multiple scans of your index finger, or scan all of your fingertips on both hands. The VT 20i allows you to store up to 20 fingerprints, so that’s two hands’ worth of IDs for both you and one other person you trust.
The VT 20i runs on the pricey side, at least in terms of smaller gun safes. For about $100 less, you can safely stash your handgun in the Hornady or a similar handgun safe.
Best for long guns: Barska Biometric Rifle Safe AX11652
- Access: Fingerprint (up to 120 fingerprints)
- Construction: 2 mm.-thick steel construction (about 12 gauge) and 3 pry-proof steel deadbolts
- Extras: Tamper-proof inner edges
- Interior size: 9.7 x 7.63 x 52 in.; fits up to 4 long rifles (without scopes) plus handguns, ammunition, and accessories on the top shelf
- Noise: Beeps when fingerprint scanner is in use and when opened; silent mode available
- Weight: 66 lbs.
What we like
Emergency battery pack
If you hear the cringe-worthy sound of all your electronics shutting off at once thanks to a power outage, don’t worry, because Barska has your back. This biometric safe comes with an emergency battery pack you can hook up to the fingerprint scanner, so you’ll still have access.
Multiple fingerprint scans
Scan away to your heart’s content: this biometric gun safe can store up to 120 unique IDs.
Our tip? Scan each finger on each hand in multiple ways (diagonally, to the side, high on the scanner, low on the scanner, etc.) so you can reliably open your safe in a flash. Then repeat the process with anyone else you trust with access.
What we don’t like
No padding inside
We have to admit the interior leaves a little to be desired. Aside from a foam rack that allows you to stack your firearms, the inside of this gun safe has no padding, just bare steel walls.
That being said, it’s possible and fairly inexpensive to jury-rig some padding with extra carpet or foam you might have on hand.
If we had three wishes, one of them would be that the Barska Biometric Rifle Safe was just a tiny bit bigger. Its smaller size means you’ll have to diagonally store tactical weapons like an AR-15 or anything with optics attached, which also means you won’t fit four firearms inside.
- The Verifi Smart.Safe. S6000 Biometric Safe’s reliable “FBI-certified” fingerprint scanning, AutoLock feature, and roomy interior make it worth the higher price.
- The Liberty 9G HDX-250 Smart Vault has room for your valuables and a handgun, plus the biometric scanning tech is pretty reliable.
- The Hornady RAPiD Safe 2600KP unlocks with a variety of reliable RFID access options and can travel with you in your glove box.
- The VAULTEK VT 20i comes with a feature-loaded app for monitoring battery levels, tamper logs, and more while you’re away, but the fingerprint scanner has issues.
- The Barska Biometric Rifle Safe AX11652 stores up to 120 fingerprints so you can gain quick access to your long guns, though the interior leaves a little to be desired with no padding and limited space.
Best water and fire resistant safes
You’ll notice our top picks for biometric safes aren’t listed as water or fire resistant.
While searching for the best smart safes, we noticed that those also rated for water or fire resistance received poor reviews—or cost thousands of dollars. So we weeded them out of the final list of high-quality picks.
But if you are searching for a way to protect important documents from a fire, flood, or even damage done by firefighters as they hose down a house fire, we think these safes are better equipped to do the trick.
Best overall—SentrySafe Fire-Resistant & Water-Resistant Safe
- Fire-resistance: UL-classified for 1 hr. in up to 1,700°F
- Water-resistance: ETL-verified in up to 8 in. for up to 24 hrs.
- Lock type: Digital combination
- Weight: 86.6 lbs.
- Interior size: 11.9 x 12.6 x 13.9 in.
Best budget pick—First Alert 2017F Water & Fire Protector Chest
- Fire-resistance: UL-classified for 30 mins in up to 1,550°F
- Water-resistance: Waterproof safe seal allows chest to float during a flood
- Lock type: Key
- Weight: 20 lbs.
- Interior size: 8.58 x 13.23 x 2.91 in.
Good but pricey—Mesa Safe MBF1512C
- Fire-resistance: UL-classified up to 2 hrs in 350°F
- Water-resistance: None
- Lock type: Combination
- Weight: 140 lbs.
- Interior size: 12.5 x 14.25 x 16.5 in.
What to look for when searching for an RFID or biometric safe
You’re locking your valuables away for safety, but when you need them, you don’t want to deal with a finicky fingerprint scanner.
When looking at biometric or RFID safes, try to get a feel for how reliable the fingerprint scanner or RFID reader is, either by testing it in person or reading what reviewers have to say. All the safes we chose here tested well for reliability, but in some cases, you may still run into issues. After all, technology isn’t perfect 100% of the time.
Some problems, like a dirty scanner, are easy to fix. If you choose a biometric safe, be sure to clean the fingerprint reader often with a Q-tip.
Similarly, dying batteries can cause issues, so swap old ones out with new ones—and stick with the recommendations made by the manufacturer.
Are you looking for a biometric pistol safe, or do you need something larger for long guns, documents, jewelry, or other valuables?
Regardless, check out the interior dimensions of each safe to get a better idea of what items can fit inside. Some handgun safe manufacturers even offer life-size printouts of safe interiors on their websites, so you can place items on the printout to see what fits.
Keep in mind: safe’s look bigger on the outside, so you might have less interior space than you think. It pays to check the dimensions.
A steel safe is all well and good, but the truth is, not all steel safes are made equal. Keep an eye out for the gauge of steel—the lower the number, the heavier duty it is. That means a 10-gauge steel safe is sturdier than a 14-gauge steel safe. You’ll see we’ve recommended some 14-gauge steel safes with high-tech features, but for the highest possible security overall, we recommend no thinner than 10-gauge steel, or around 2.5 mm. thick.
However, even 10-gauge steel can be cut with the right tools, and you’ll be paying close to a thousand dollars or more for safes with even sturdier construction. Since small safes are more prone to simply being carried off rather than cracked open right in your home, you may be able to sacrifice a bit of sturdiness for a lower price. (And be sure to mount your safe to a wall or the floor to prevent it from being removed.)
It’s also important to do your research: are there any videos or articles about your model of safe being hacked or broken into? If so, has the manufacturer responded by updating the design or materials?
If your biometric gun safe keeps your home defense handgun secure, you may also be interested in our reviews of the best home security systems that can provide another layer of protection.