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February 25, 2010
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PoliceOne Staff How to Buy...
with PoliceOne Staff

How to buy firearm storage products

By Lindsey J. Bertomen

Firearm storage units protect, secure and control access to firearms and accessories. A firearms storage product differs from a safe because it is placed in an area which has its own indigenous security or natural security. Here are some points to consider when purchasing firearm storage products:

Natural protections
Natural barriers include areas frequented and secured by armed personnel in close proximity to the access areas. For example, a firearms storage unit would likely be in a locked area near the briefing room of an agency or in an alarmed evidence locker which is manned by a clerk at all times.

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Firearm storage units are also a good purchase when it is logistically impossible to move a huge cumbersome safe into an area where it won’t fit through the doors. A firearm storage unit is designed to temporarily or permanently mount to a fixture in a building.

Climate control
Even when storing firearms for short periods of time, it is recommended to consider either a dehumidifier or a station which has eight rechargeable desiccants. For storage longer than a year, the firearm should be prepared for storage by using an anti-corrosion oil film designed for this type of storage.

Hinges and consistent welds
When shopping for firearm storage units, look for sturdy steel enclosures, hinges with consistent welds and chip resistant finishes. Sharp corners should be radiused to prevent damage to firearms and other things which might be present in the storage area. This is especially important if the firearms storage unit is a walk-in model. It shouldn’t have an abrupt threshold, which can trip the user, or an area where one could hit their head. Hinges should operate smoothly.

Quality construction is paramount. If it is a portable rack designed to store and transport firearms, pay attention to how securely a firearm can be mounted. If the portable unit falls off the back of a truck, would it break apart and release guns or stay intact and protect the public?

Most firearm storage units have a metal floor. Inspect the floor and imagine spilling some solvent inside the unit. How easy would it be to clean?

Prepare firearms for storage
A lot of institutional knowledge on firearm storage comes from the military. The Army found that prepared firearms can be stored safely for years. Poorly prepared firearms can be rendered useless in months. The military also discovered that wear and tear is accelerated in storage when lowest bidder storage units fail.

Flexibility for logical arrangement
An experienced user of firearm storage treats the unit the same way a person would merchandise their products. There would be a logical arrangement of firearms and accessories inside each unit. Anyone can glance at the unit and notice that something is missing because of an empty rack.

Some storage units can be built into existing walls. If they are designed to do this, examine how they integrate with the company’s other modular racks.

Questions to ask
Finally, before you do make your purchase, make sure you're answered the following questions:
Can I store firearms with the optics and accessories attached?

Can the shelf units accommodate several different configurations of the same firearm?

Will the component brackets fit racks from previous model lines?

Can the storage area be configured to accommodate two dissimilar firearms, side by side?

Can individual storage units be made mobile for an incident in progress?

Can one do a serial number inventory without removing the firearms from the rack?

Can one inspect the contents of the unit without opening it?

Is there a way of interlocking multiple racks? Can the racks be stacked?

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. His articles on firearms tactics have appeared in print for over a decade. Lindsey enjoys competing in shooting sports, running, and cycling events.

About the author

PoliceOne Staff Reports feature contributions from our vast universe of subject matter experts. These sources include our own cadre of columnists as well as industry analysts, educators, and other noted specialists in their fields. P1 Staff Reports focus on an array of subjects including product reviews, product round-up features, “How to Buy” articles, and when necessary, product recalls and safety alerts. If you want to join our panel of experts, or have suggestions for topics we should cover here, please e-mail products@policeone.com with your feedback.



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