What’s the Difference Between a Gun Safe and a Gun Vault?

Gun safes and gun vaults are two excellent options for securing your firearms at home or at work. Although they have a similar name, these two options for security have distinct features for storage. In this article, we’ll go over the benefits, and drawbacks of gun safes and gun vaults.

What is a Gun Vault?

A gun vault is a broader term, but the vault door is essential in the construction of a gun vault. The vault can be any room in your house, apartment, or office that you secure with a vault door. That space effectively serves as your “gun vault.”

The floor, walls, and ceiling of a room you want to convert into a gun vault should be as thick and durable as possible, ideally hardened, reinforced concrete (or solid steel if you can pull that off).

There is another way to use the term “gun vault,” though “gun vault” most often refers to a vault room with a vault door securing it. Handgun vaults are small gun safes designed to store one or two handguns and other small valuables while keeping them secure but accessible to the authorized user. When people say “gun vault,” they usually mean a secure room with a “safe door” or vault door.

Advantages of a Gun Vault


A gun safe can hold a few or a few dozen firearms or other items including documents, jewelry, etc. A gun vault can be as big as you want it to be with the space that you have available.

Vaults can be  large enough to house multiple artillery pieces, thousands of guns in display cases, mounted hunting trophies, leather couches, marble floors, and other items. 

Your only constraints are your property line and your wallet.


A gun vault can serve as a “panic room” or fallout shelter in addition to a safe place to keep all of your valuables. 

You can keep food storage, survival packs, and whatever else you want in your gun vault, depending on the size of the room.

More Available Options

While a quality gun safe can withstand extreme temperatures, a gun vault can benefit from integrated, in-room fire protection systems such as sprinklers or even halon fire suppression systems.

Better Theft Protection

Because of the more “hidden” nature of a gun vault, as well as its inability to be simply chained up and dragged off, a gun vault may offer a higher level of theft protection than a gun safe. This is, of course, dependent on the quality of the gun vault’s walls, vault door, and door frame.


Because you can convert any suitable room into a gun vault by installing a vault door, the cost is essentially limited to the door and any systems you want to install alongside it. If you build your home with the provision for a vault room from the start, that cost can be rolled into the price of your home construction, making it a little easier to swallow.

Disadvantages of a Gun Vault

Humidity control and drainage

Because a gun vault is larger than the interior of a gun safe, you’ll want to install a quality dehumidifier system in your gun vault, as well as an automatic sump pump in case of water intrusion. Many gun vaults are built on or below ground level, and moisture coming through the concrete floor and walls, as well as the possibility of flooding due to natural events or broken pipes in the home, can be a problem.

Maintaining proper conditions inside a gun safe is easier and less expensive than maintaining proper conditions inside a large gun vault.

Zero Mobility

As previously stated, you cannot walk away with or move your gun vault. This has the advantage of discouraging the types of thieves who try to steal a gun safe, but it also means that you are fully committed to the location of your gun vault and cannot simply take it with you if you move. You might be able to remove your vault door and bring it with you, but a home buyer will almost certainly pay a premium if you leave it in place for them.

Construction Required

As previously stated, you should plan for hardened, reinforced concrete walls (or steel plate if you can swing it) for your gun vault. 

While you CAN install a vault door almost anywhere in your home, standard interior walls made of drywall and 2×4 studs will not keep access out for long.

What is a Gun Safe?

A gun safe is a standalone container, usually made of steel, with a locking mechanism, a hinged door, and provisions inside for storing firearms and protecting them from theft, unauthorized access, moisture, and fire damage. Of course, other valuables and items can be stored in a gun safe as well.

Advantages of Gun Safes


Gun safes can be easily moved from one location to another and are relatively simple to install in your home or office. 

We recommend professional safe movers, but in most cases, a few strong men, some PVC pipe for rollers, and possibly a heavy-duty dolly or hand truck can get a gun safe in or out of the desired location for installation or if you move homes.

Some of the larger and heavier gun safe models may have some restrictions on where they can be installed, such as ensuring that your floor is rated for the load, but in general, you can install your gun safe wherever you want and bolt it down for safety and increased security.


A high-quality gun safe does not have to cost thousands of dollars. 

There are several lines of low-cost gun safes that still have high security ratings and fire protection. 

When the vault door and construction of the safe room/vault are factored in, a gun safe is almost always less expensive.

Humidity Control

Because the interior of a gun safe is less capacious than that of a gun vault or safe room, it is easier to maintain a proper humidity level for maximum protection against corrosion, mold, mildew, and other environmental factors that can harm valuables. 

If you live in a humid area, you must have a good safe dehumidifier.

Safes have more convenient access than vaults

Because a gun safe can be placed anywhere in your home or office, you can choose the level of convenience that best suits your lifestyle and security risk. 

Safes in gun shops or offices may be accessed numerous times throughout the day. 

Most gun vaults cannot accommodate this because one of the primary benefits of the gun vault is that it can be located deep within the home for maximum security and minimal exposure to visitors or customers.

Furthermore, gun safes typically include pre-installed facilities for storing long guns as well as shelving for storing handguns and other smaller valuables. 

A vault door is simply a door that secures a room; you must provide the amenities for your valuables inside, which will incur additional costs.

Disadvantages of Safes over Vaults

Too Easy Access and Visibility

The ease of access to a gun safe that may benefit homeowners or office managers can also be a liability, because the more people who know about the existence of your gun safe, the more likely it is that one of them will tell the wrong person. A gun vault door buried deep within your home, possibly behind a false/concealed door, is less likely to be noticed by casual visitors or customers to your business.

Easier to Breach

A safe may be easier to breach depending on the construction of the gun vault we’re comparing. Nothing can stop a determined, knowledgeable thief with the right tools and plenty of time.

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