Weapons Security – Bug In Or Bug-Out

Dr. John J. Woods    Contributing Author to SHTF Blog

If you own firearms, you certainly want to keep them safe and secure. However, if you are a prepper you need to be particularly concerned about firearms being secure both at home before or during a Bug In.gunsafe3

For an executed Bug Out there is an equal need for in-transit security procedures as well. But then especially during a Bug Out escape and in event of either a short term or prolonged hideout escape scenario, steps need to be planned and followed to make sure you maintain control of your firearms, ammo, and related gear.

The balance of security has to be a fine line between keeping firearms locked up from internal prying little hands and eyes, or unauthorized adults pilfering around the house and the requirement to access them quickly when the immediate need arises.

Following a real life practical plan a prepper friend of mine uses, let’s consider some thoughts, tips, and advice for implementing a fairly comprehensive firearms security plan as part of an over all prepper strategy. Surely we won’t cover all the potential bases, so consider this just an initial starting place in any plan you develop.

Bug In Security

    A home firearms security plan is what I would classify as a no-brainer whether you are a survival prepper or not. Let’s not be party to contributing to another home bound firearms accidental shooting where a kid or somebody else got a hold of an unsecured gun and shot somebody. These events often end in dire results.

Case in point I have secretary at work whose son was involved in an accidental discharge of an unlocked firearm at home and he is now paralyzed from the mid-chest down. He will probably never walk again at the age of 18. Sad for certain, but really I think this is more along the blatant lines of plain ole stupid on the part of the kid and his parents. Everybody needs to guard against such occurrences.

Home security can be accomplished as simply as applying the firearms lock straps that many manufacturers are now including with every factory boxed gun. These can be bought separately for older guns. Other manufacturers like Ruger for example are including specialized gun locks that when in place are very difficult if not impossible to defeat.Gunlocks2

The primary downside to such cable or action locks is that they are key operated. This means of course, that the keys have to be in a place of easy availability. Each gun then may also likely have separate type locks that will have separate keys. This could get quite complicated if speed of access is a consideration. A system would have to be concocted to deal with this. Perhaps some kind of color coded tags?

And of course, the guns would still need to be secured or otherwise

If, and this is a big IF, the guns are only needed during an actual Bug In or Bug Out event, then the weapons can be secured more safely in a gun safe. This does not have to be a Brinks Security walk in bank safe, but anything from a common business steel supply cabinet to a full-fledged gun safe made specifically to lock guns up.hidden from plain sight. If the guns are locked individually, I could see putting them say on top of a closet shelf, but being locked up would be better. Guns could be stolen and the cable type locks could easily be cut off. A key lock door knob could also be put on a closet door as one mode to deter unauthorized access. However, easy access has got to be the big issue here.


There are some very nice, well made, and highly secure sheet steel gun safes made by Stack-On that are quite affordable. They make many different sizes and configurations. These can and should be bolted to the wall studs or to the floor or both for added security. Stack-On gun security cabinets are key locked but some of the more upper end models will have advanced locking systems.

Of course full sized, heavy duty, channel steel, welded gun safes are made by many companies including Redhead at Bass Pro Shops,

Browning, Winchester, Cannon, and others. Some are even fire proof rated. Such safes can cost upwards of $2000 and more, but this is the ultimate in gun security. Their locks are usually electronic coded push buttons, or turn dial combination locks.

If there is an issue of having say one handgun easily accessible in the house, then there are also single gun lock up cabinets that function on finger press combination sequences. In the event of a break in or other disturbance the gun owner can quickly press a hand on the lock mechanism and easily withdraw a loaded gun.

There are many options available to keep guns locked and safe at the house. We just urge that you include such thinking in the overall development of your prepping guns security plan. Make sure the appropriate adults in the family also know the system and the plan. You may think that loaded shotgun leaning against the bedroom wall is a good idea, but be prepared to suffer the consequences if an accident occurs.



    Remember, too, that according to traditional gun safety training, ammo should be stored and locked in a completely separate location. I’ll let you work this out to suit your plans and depth of security arrangements. Guns only work when they are loaded, so work out a system to keep magazines close by or in the gun perhaps with an empty chamber.

In Route Weapons Security

    Keeping guns safe and secure during a Bug Out can be much more problematic. First there is the issue of maintaining control and access during the transportation phase from the main house to the Bug Out location. This may be coming out of a big city or suburb headed to the rural wilds, or leaving at night from home to a house or cabin in the country. It could be going from a rental apartment in a big complex to a wall tent in a national forest somewhere.

During vehicle travel in a Bug Out you are going to want your defensive firearm(s) at the ready. I have tried many different ways to do this and have not until recently been too comfortable with any of them.

If you can name all these guns, you get a prize.

Belt holsters don’t work well for the most part unless it is a cross draw rig especially for a right-handed shooter in the driver’s seat. The side door compartment to the left of the driver seat can be OK, but sometimes there is a tight squeeze between it and the seat. Ditto the same situation between the driver seat and the center console. If there is no console then the handgun could be simply set down on the floor as a compromise. In either situation I recommend you practice drawing your gun from these locations in a vehicle.

I found the best case scenario for a quick weapons holster mount under the steering wheel using a Gun Creek Customs (.com) vehicle gun mount. This positions a nylon handgun holster right under the steering column for a quick, rather unobtrusive draw. Their mounts can attach either to the gaps in the under dash molding or using a strap fixture to wrap around the column. The holster is held secure for a positive handgun withdrawal.

Whatever you do in terms of in vehicle weapons security and deployment, be sure to practice it live even without having to fire out a window or door. Moving from an unarmed condition to a ready position is the key.

I have seen it suggested using a SBR (short barreled rifle) or a shotgun from inside a car, but I have never seen it work in real practice. A long gun is simply too wieldy to get to a ready position from inside a vehicle. If you anticipate a stoppage or event up the roadway, then getting to the ready inside an open door could be done using the door as a shield. Practice this, too.

Firearms Security in the Field

Naturally I favor permanent structures for a Bug Out location over a camping tent. An RV hard sided trailer would be better than a thin fabric Alpine tent in terms of security for both firearms as well as inhabitants. But use what you have and plan accordingly for all contingencies.

Again access is the most important element as well as guarding against unauthorized tampering in your absence. Out in the wilds either camping or living in an alternative home or cabin many preppers likely intend to keep a firearm on their side or a long gun nearby. I guess it all depends on the relative threat in your area.

For security in a hard structure see section above again for Bug In conditions in terms of weapons security. If you don’t have a hardened dwelling or a sturdy out building, storage shed or something similar, then you have to work on a plan to secure and protect valuable weapons and supplies from unwanted access and the outdoor environmental elements.

There are some portable carry, lockable, metal gun cases like safari cases that can yield a measure of security out in the field. Just work out a way to keep these covered and protected from rain, snow, and such. Few things foul up firearms quicker than moisture. Just keeping them in the back of a contained vehicle might be an option. Lying on the floor of a tent might not be.

Individual firearms could be cable locked as suggested for Bug In conditions when these tools are not in immediate need of use. Survival vaults, tubes, or containers that could be buried, or just hidden nearby could be another option. These need to be waterproof and sealable from outside contamination.

As one might well imagine, this discussion is endless. Everybody’s situation is different, but if you have weapons in the mix, then security and protection of these value assets is essential. Just put it down on your “to do list” to work on a strategy to secure weapons for a Bug In or a Bug Out option.

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19 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle August 6, 2014, 12:36 pm

    … it’s a good idea to keep a detailed list of what firearms you have. (and a will, to specify how they are to be distributed upon your demise)

    • irishdutchuncle August 10, 2014, 10:41 pm

      there comes a point, where your great firearms collection will not benefit you any longer. (especially if there are too many for you to operate with out on the battlefield)
      lack of OPSEC makes your home base a target for invasion.
      (three people can maybe keep a secret if two of them are dead, but nothing is guaranteed)

    • Rockman August 11, 2014, 8:24 pm

      It would make more sense if you had a hidden out of site gun storage facility that the police coming into your home dont see right away. Why not have flags and red lights on your gun safe while your at it come with a refrigerator dolly and carry off the whole thing Stop thinking like a civilian in peace time it will get you killed. During the battle of Savo the allied ships were in two groups and the Japs attacked the Northern group first. The southern group officers saw the gun flashes and heared the boom of guns and shells and then they saw burning ships. The did nothing but wonder what was going on. We lost 4 heavy cruisers and one DD while the Japs lost 57 men. Our officers thought in peace time terms. Get rid of the polite little girl attitude

  • SEBAGO DAD August 6, 2014, 3:23 pm

    I have found that the best way to control my weapon for every day practice as well as a Bug-In situation is to simply wear it. Of course this is most practical for a handgun. I wear a S&W 9mm all day, most days at home.

    Also, I have worked out that an anckle holster is not a bad option for in car carry while driving. This mode of carry is best suited to smaller handguns and those less sensitive to exposure to the environment near the ground. To me this means a stainless steel revolver, in my case a S&W 640-1 Centennial Magnum.

    Lastly I would add that if practical, it is best to engage your target OUTSIDE the vehicle. Any one who has fired even a .38 or .22 from inside a vehicle with the windows closed will agree. It is doubtful that one will be wearing ear protection while driving.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. August 7, 2014, 7:59 am

      The only semi-practical firearm I’ve seen that worked pretty well from a vehicle was a pistol gripped Savage 24C Camper my Uncle used to own. He drove a Ford Ranger pickup and was able to shoot it out the driver’s side window very quickly when driving about his ranch, mainly with the lower 20 gauge barrel. Many animals will hold still when a vehicle drives by, but will bolt when the vehicle stops and door is opened – this setup worked well.

      • Chuck Findlay August 8, 2014, 1:06 am

        I’m not too sure that a pistol grip shotgun is all that practical, having shot several over the years, they kick in an odd way and that can make it hard to aim well. Pistol grip long guns are most times used for tactical situations, not hunting.

        I have an old (so old it has no ser number, I don’t have any idea when it was made 1950s ???) Savage 24 and I love it, it’s a good firearm for hunting. One of these days I’m going to order several tubes for it to fire 32-Mag, 357-Mag, 41-Mag and 45-Auto. handgun calibers in the shotgun barrel so it can be used with some of my handguns. I don’t own a 40 cal handgun, but I may get an insert for it as the ammo is all over the place and SHTF it may be useful to be able to use some of it.

        But then not having a 40-cal handgun is a good excuse to buy another gun, and I could talk myself into a new gun without too much work…

  • Roseman August 6, 2014, 4:48 pm

    We have no bug out scenario as we are too old to prevail in a chaotic situation.
    Our go to weapons are in our bedroom which is close to the den and living room. Our house is a medium sized ranch.
    The spousal unit has her revolver loaded and hidden on her side of the bed. My shotgun is in plain view on my side of the bed unloaded with the shells in an adjacent drawer.
    No safe or gun locks are utilized as we want immediate access to our guns when required.
    When we have company, the bedroom door is locked for safety purposes.
    We are both retired and are home most of the time. If we go out, we lock the bedroom door. We have two very large dogs to discourage intruders. This works for us.
    As you said, everyone has different circumstances.

  • Chuck Findlay August 7, 2014, 1:03 am

    About 10 of my guns are loaded, When things go bump-in-the-night i’m not going to have to look for mags or ammo. I have no small kids around any more and I live alone so I don’t worry about young ones getting the guns and having an accident.

  • MIO August 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Too old to bug out? Even from fire, flood etc? Ain’t gotta be the apocalypse.
    This article has some good ideas and info to think on.
    Bugging out the collection isn’t carried. You carry what can be reasonably carried that’s it. Thats your security. Then every morning or night the leaders, parents or whatever you should be doing/ getting a green report (military style) http://www.armystudyguide.com/content/the_tank/army_report_and_message_formats/sensitive-items-report-se.shtml
    that everyone still has their weapon and what the status is of it and other important equipment.
    If the group is small then it is easy. It gets harder to keep up with many people but is doable.

  • David Blanchard August 11, 2014, 9:37 pm

    As a police officer, I believe in carrying conceiled , I also believe in being prepared . I believe in honest citizens carrying loaded weapons and defending their family’s as well as themselfs . When the xxxx hits the fan,the difference will be with friends and relatives the loner will have a tough time. Shotguns , automatic assault rifles and handguns will even the score , keep plenty of ammo. heads down and powder dry.

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  • Rockman August 15, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Its a new ball game folks. Might as well put waving flags and red lights on the gun safe for the Feds to come in with a refrigerator dolly and remove the safe. Think in terms of the Gestopo 1943. Hide the guns where they are out of sight. Locally during mushroom hunting season the first thing rangers ask campers is where is the gun? Think survival and hide things out of sight where the jawohl Heinrichs cant find them.

  • dub August 17, 2014, 8:28 am

    I mounted a Blackhawk Serpa holster under the steering column. Just remove the paddle and drill three holes in the plastic cover. Works great.

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