As for features that make a good gun cabinet, look for a high-quality lock and handle, and buy the thickest-gauge steel you can afford. A gun cabinet is definitely not up to the same level as a quality gun safe where security is concerned, so maximize the security where you can.
A good gun cabinet will also have provision inside to lean your long guns against the interior walls in dedicated, padded racks, rather than letting your guns touch each other and get scratched.
Also, look for pre-drilled locations to bolt your gun cabinet to the wall (ideally into the studs) to provide a little more security from theft or tipping.
Cabinet or gun safe? How to make the right choice for you
There are four primary areas of difference when it comes to comparing a gun safe and a gun cabinet: Price, security features, weight, and fire resistance. It will be up to you to determine what matters most to you in your situation. Let’s go over some pros and cons of each option.
Gun cabinet advantages
The main two advantages of a gun cabinet are low price and light weight. If you can afford a gun, you can afford the price of a lockable gun cabinet to help keep it secure. Often, big-box stores have sales and you can get a functional gun cabinet for a ridiculously low price.
Additionally, most gun cabinets (at least the metal type we’re primarily talking about in this article) are easily moved into or out of a room, and one person can usually manage this task, particularly with a hand truck or dolly. If you live in an apartment, change locations a lot, or just want to be able to move your gun storage cabinet frequently, a lightweight gun cabinet can make sense.
For keeping firearms out of the hands of young children or out of the sight of the casual observer, a gun cabinet can be part of an effective strategy.
Disadvantages of a gun cabinet
One of the main advantages (mobility and light weight) of a typical gun cabinet is also a potential downside. A couple of motivated thieves can walk off with your entire cabinet and contents, and break into it at their leisure. It’s a good idea to bolt your cabinet down (as with a safe), but the metal of most gun cabinets is so thin that a motivated thief can rip it away from its moorings.
Additionally, the security of a gun cabinet is generally relatively poor compared to a proper gun safe. The keyed locking handle, the flimsy bars, the thinner metal, and the loose tolerances of a typical locker-type gun cabinet make it easy for anyone with a pry bar, drill, or grinding tool to break in and steal.
Third, the vast majority of gun cabinets offer no fire resistance at all. If you have a home fire, your firearms and valuables will likely be a total loss if you store them in a typical gun cabinet.
Advantages of a proper gun safe
In our view, the advantages of a quality gun safe are so numerous and profound that there's almost no reason to go with a gun cabinet, except in very specific “edge cases” mentioned above. A real gun safe (like Liberty’s line of USA-made gun safes) offers drastically improved security, with much thicker steel, infinitely better dial or digital keypad locking mechanism, hardened locking bars or bolts, a pry-resistant door and hinges, drill-resistant, hardened steel security plates, and redundant automatic relocking mechanisms.
In addition to the increased security features, a proper gun safe with a humidity-controlled interior also protects its contents from the ravages of mildew, mold, and corrosion.
And anyone who has experienced the devastation of a home fire will tell you the benefits of keeping your most precious valuables, records, and firearms in a good, fire-resistant Liberty safe.