When purchasing ammunition for your firearms, you may wonder how to store it safely. Ammunition — handgun and rifle cartridges and shotgun shells — is typically packaged in plastic or styrofoam containers inside cardboard or paper boxes. Some opt to store ammunition in military ammo cans. This can provide a convenient and hermetically sealed option for those on a budget. But there are better ways of organizing and storing your ammunition long-term, especially if you want to keep it dry and secure.
The 5 Best Ammo Safes
SentrySafe Digital/Fire/Water Safe
SentrySafe designed this model to protect your valuables, including ammunition, from three threat categories: forced entry, extreme heat, and water damage.
- Forced entry: To protect against unauthorized access and theft, the Digital/Fire/Water Safe features a combination of countermeasures. These range from digital to mechanical. The safe uses four 1” locking bolts, which the company states are 60% larger than those used by traditional safes. The pry-resistant hinge bar ensures that the safe door is reinforced against attempted forced entry using tools. The bolt-down hardware renders the safe especially difficult to remove from the surface to which it’s attached.
- Fire: Underwriters’ Laboratory — the safety certification company — classified the SentrySafe as capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,700°F (927°C). Since the safe is made from solid steel, it’s durable when it comes to impact and extreme heat.
- Water: ETL certified, the SentrySafe can protect your valuables from up to 8” of water for up to 24 hours, which is ideal for protecting against flash flooding and extreme weather.
Digitally, the SentrySafe features a battery-powered programmable locking system with a keypad, allowing you to input a 1–8 digit code.
The interior features a door tray, a deep pocket on the inside of the door, a rack for keys, and an adjustable drawer that locks. For increased visibility when you need it, the safe has interior, battery-powered lighting. The ability to see during a power outage is critically important during home invasions or similar emergencies, when intruders may deliberately cut the power.
To power the electronics, SentrySafe uses four AA batteries. However, the manufacturer notes that owners should use high-quality batteries with lifespans of 8–10 years to ensure optimal long-term storage performance.
At almost 87 lbs., the SentrySafe isn’t light, but it’s not as heavy as some popular gun safes either. The safe should be bolted to a surface, so its lightweight design is not a handicap.
Liberty Safe Ammo Can
Resembling a sturdy storage cabinet at first glance, the Liberty Safe Ammo Can is a safe designed explicitly to store ammunition as securely as possible. Featuring an internal capacity of 11 cubic feet, the Ammo Can contains three integral Perma-Shelves, each capable of holding up to 125 lbs. of ammunition. This combination cabinet and safe can help you organize your stockpile efficiently.
The 14-gauge steel construction and two 4” wide military-style locking bars that measure ¼” thick protect your ammunition and other valuables. These extend more deeply into the safe than traditional locking bolts, increasing protection against pry-bar attacks and other forced entry attempts.
For full access to the safe’s contents, the door has two external hinges that allow it to rotate 180°. You can open the 1” steel door with a cylinder key, and the manufacturer includes two so that you and another authorized person have access to the firearms, ammo, or other valuables that you store.
While not specifically rated for fire protection, the Ammo Can’s steel construction and one fireboard layer provide heat resistance.
The Ammo Can weighs 270 lbs. — heavier than SentrySafe’s offering but lighter than some heavy-duty models. If you intend to store a significant quantity of ammunition in the Ammo Can, the combined weight should deter most thieves. However, you shouldn’t rely on its weight alone. You can bolt the Ammo Can directly to a concrete or wooden floor. For this purpose, Liberty Safe sells an anchoring kit.
Plano Sportsman’s XXL Storage Trunk
Comparatively lightweight and portable, this ammo box is designed to keep your ammo protected from the elements, including humidity, and to enable you to transport it securely.
Made from impact-resistant plastic, the XXL Storage Trunk is a sturdy, all-weather case for storing and transporting ammunition in quantity. Featuring heavy-duty latches and a reinforced, lockable lid, this box keeps your ammo safe for range trips or air travel.
With wheels that glide effortlessly and can withstand heavy ammunition loads and an integral pull grip, you can use the XXL Storage Trunk for different applications, such as transporting ammunition for hunting, recreational or competitive target shooting. If you’d prefer to use the Storage Trunk as a substitute safe, it can be used to prevent unauthorized access.
Unlike a traditional safe, however, you can’t rely on weight to stop burglars or thieves from taking it with them. Although the plastic construction is durable, it’s not a substitute for steel. As a result, you shouldn’t expect the Storage Trunk to protect against fire.
The XXL Storage Trunk has a capacity of 108 quarts, which would be 3.6 cubic feet (approx. 102 liters).
Champion Crown 45 Gun Safe
The Champion Crown 45 Gun Safe isn’t the company’s most spacious offering but seems to strike an adequate balance between cost and volume. Providing ample storage space in the form of sturdy shelves and drawers, this safe has a volume of 42 cubic feet.
The Crown 45 weighs a hefty 1,525 lbs. The safe has 16 locking bolts, each measuring 1½” in diameter, using a pinion-driven radial gear system to operate the locking mechanism. Its larger counterparts, the C-55 and C-65, feature 20 and 22 bolts.
The gun safe incorporates a bolt-dent system that ensures the door won’t open even if the bolts are damaged or bent. The Crown 45 also includes a diamond-embedded armor plate to protect against drill attacks.
Champion manufactures the safe body from a single piece of pressure-formed steel to prevent pry attacks. This safe boasts an all-steel construction. The inner door thickness is ten gauge, while the outer door thickness is ⅜”.
The Crown 45 is a Phoenix Class V safe, which means it can withstand temperatures of up to 1,750° F for two hours, ensuring that your valuables, including ammunition, remain protected.
Security can be fashionable, and to demonstrate this, Champion offers its line of safes in various colors and finishes to supplement any decor. In high-gloss polyurethane, you can order a Crown 45 in black, dark cherry, platinum, bronze, and ivory. In two-tone high-gloss polyurethane, the Crown 45 is available in silver birch, gold dust, gunsmoke, and cherry. If, however, you’d prefer your Crown 45 to have a textured finish, you can choose either granite or sandstone.
Spika Safe Box
Featuring an internal capacity of 2 cubic feet (56.6 liters), the Safe Box weighs 44.4 lbs. and is 19.6” × 14” × 13”. At this weight and these dimensions, you can neatly tuck this safe out of sight just about anywhere in your home or office.
The control panel is multi-functional, so you can determine your preferred method of gaining access. If you prefer a password lock, there’s a provision for that. If you like biometrics, the panel also recognizes fingerprints.
The safe is made from steel, as are the two locking bolts that keep the door closed. However, the door panel automatically locks to the door frame with three steel hooks when the door is closed and features a spring-loaded deadbolt for an additional protection layer. If a burglar or thief attempts to break through the door, the deadbolt will deploy. To guard against pry attacks, Spika reinforced the door’s locking edge, so any attempt at forced entry will be challenging.
You can use four bolts to attach the safe directly to a wall or cabinet. This ensures that thieves won’t be able to pick it up and leave with it, despite its relatively lightweight construction
As a failsafe against the electronic password/fingerprint scanner becoming nonfunctional, Spika supplies an emergency key.
To prevent tampering with the settings, the battery box located above the door conceals the setting button. The hidden button prevents unauthorized persons from attempting to reset the password.
A series of placement hooks on the door complements the adjustable shelf, which allows you to store different valuables in a neat, organized fashion. Interior lighting by LED ensures you can see everything if the power goes out.
Why an Ammo Safe?
Like firearms, ammunition is valuable, especially during period shortages or when the threat of restrictive legislation looms on the horizon. These two factors work hand-in-hand to cause prices to rise and stocks to disappear.
Many gun owners stockpile ammunition during relatively stable periods to ensure a continuous supply for range practice, reloading, hunting, and self-defense. If you’re a competitive or tactical shooter, you may expend several thousand rounds per week in training. Some gun owners also buy ammo when it’s cheap and keep it as an investment, selling it later when prices rise.
Gun Safe, Ammo Safe, or Both?
If you store firearms in a safe, storing your ammunition along with them makes sense, but some gun owners prefer to keep them separate. A dedicated gun safe or lockable storage cabinet, especially those that gun owners use to store rifles and shotguns, need to be taller and take up more space.
For those who own a large collection of firearms, this means that organizing them alongside ammunition can become a hassle. You might find that there’s not enough space to arrange your firearms and their respective ammunition in a single safe. To remedy this, designating a safe specifically for ammunition can help keep your collection organized, according to make and caliber.
Security and General Protection
Besides protecting your ammunition against theft and unauthorized access, a safe can protect your ammunition — and additional valuables — against environmental damage, such as housefires, flash flooding, and other forms of extreme weather.
While metallic cartridge ammunition contains both low and primary explosives — i.e., smokeless powders and primers — the explosion hazard is minimal. The firing chamber’s confined space allows a cartridge to generate the high pressures necessary to propel a bullet at high velocity. Remember, ammunition, like other valuables, can be damaged or destroyed by extreme heat.
As for water, modern cartridges typically consist of copper-jacketed bullets and brass-cased cases, which provide some moisture resistance. However, while modern cartridge ammunition is somewhat resistant to water and moisture, even if your cartridges are high quality, sealed, and crimped, submersion is not advisable.
As a result, a safe that can resist submersion to some extent is advisable if you live in an area prone to flooding. For keeping your ammunition and other valuables dry otherwise, especially those susceptible to corrosion, you should consider adding desiccants — packaged drying agents that absorb moisture in the air.
Should You Use a Safe?
Everyone’s circumstances are unique, and whether you should use a safe is ultimately your decision. If easily accessing your ammo in an emergency case is a priority, you can add to the safety and accessibility by storing your ammo in an ammo can within the safe.
Some states have storage safety laws, and you may be required to store your guns and ammo in a safe.
Where the priority may be to prevent a child from accessing a loaded firearm, an RFID lockbox is worth considering as an alternative.
A safe can provide an organized and secure long-term ammunition storage method, protecting your cartridges against theft and unauthorized access, fire and water damage, and humidity(use a dehumidifier).
The best safes have robust construction, offering several countermeasures against forced entry, such as pry-bar hinges, locking bolts or bars, steel construction, and more.
However, the best safes for ammunition also provide sturdy shelves or drawers that can keep your cartridge boxes or magazines neatly organized.