Freedom is balanced by responsibility. Nowhere is this more obvious than within the firearms community. Gun owners learn safety rules and they are rigorously enforced by range officers and fellow shooters alike.
Securing firearms when not in use is a responsibility that most gun owners take very seriously. Even so, there is the occasional, well-publicized tragedy where a child obtains a firearm and an innocent is harmed or killed.
With the Rapid Safe, Hornady addresses one of the major dilemmas that all gun owners face: the balancing act between quick access in an emergency with secure storage at all other times. In this review, I take a look at the handgun storage device and highlight its strengths and weaknesses.
The Hornady Rapid Safe is a metal lock box designed to securely hold a single handgun for easy access in an emergency. While it can be used anywhere, it is more likely to be found on a bedside table than not.
While there are a variety of similar pistol safes on the market, few employ all of the features the Rapid Safe does. First among these is the rapid access via an RFID emitter. A wristband, key fob or card can all give you access to your gun in less than a second. More on these in the “Gaining Access” section below.
The lock box is constructed with 16 gauge steel. A high-quality finish is used on the metal to give it a pleasing look and nice feel. The lock box has a very solid feel. It feels more substantial than some of the other pistol safes I have examined.
I found the Rapid safe was significantly heavier than similar gun storage boxes from other companies. Without any contents, the Hornady weighed in at 16 lbs, 6 oz on my Weighmax shipping scale. For comparison, I weighed my GunVault GV 1000S – also made of 16 gauge steel – and it came in at only 8 lbs, 5.2 oz.
Ample foam padding is used to hold a pistol in a metal sleeve. This brings us to another aspect of the Rapid Safe that sets it apart from the competition. When opened, the gun is presented for a quick draw. Other gun boxes simply open a door leaving you to scrabble about trying to find the gun in the dark.
As the lid of the safe opens, the gun is presented and can be quickly grabbed. I tested this repeatedly and was pleased to see the gun did not move around or shift inside the box. The gun is presented in the exact same way each time the safe is opened.
The lid of this strong box is heavy, but is quickly raised by a pair of gas struts. Over the course of several years, it is possible that the struts would become weaker, though I have no way of suggesting how much time that might take. It could be five years, 20 years or longer.
The Rapid Safe has a relatively large footprint for a pistol box: 9″ wide and 15.5″ long. This takes up quite a bit of room on my nightstand – more than I would like.
Even with a relatively large size, the Hornady pistol vault doesn’t have a lot of excess room inside of it. The metal sleeve holds every full-size pistol I tried: SIG SAUER P226, Smith & Wesson M&P, Glock 17 and Colt 1911. However, there was not additional room for an extra magazine, flashlight or cell phone. If you want these things, expect to store them outside of the pistol box.
It seems very clear to me that the Rapid Safe was designed by Hornady for a single purpose: to secure a self-defense pistol and present it rapidly in the case of an emergency.
The Rapid Safe exceeds the ASTM International standards for youth resistant firearms containers. In general, this standard establishes a moderate level of security to prevent children under the age of 12 from accessing the firearm.
Additionally, the Rapid Safe is approved by the state of California for use as a firearms safety device.
The Rapid Safe is not a Residential Security Container as per UL listing guidelines. In my opinion, the UL Residential Security Container standard is fairly weak, and doesn’t offer any real indication of theft resistance. Yet, it is presented by some very expensive safe companies as “proof” of theft resistance. Actual safe ratings (TL-30, etc.) are rarely used by those safe companies.
Unlike some other companies that try to present their products as something more than they are, Hornady focused on the most important balance faced by many gun owners: quick access to a self-defense gun balanced against keeping it out of the hands of a child. Hence the ASTM standard. However, I strongly believe that the Rapid Safe will still perform as well as or better than many of the general UL-listed locking containers that are sold on the market.
I’ve found that very few of the companies that have their products UL listed go through the process to meet the ASTM standard that Hornady’s strong box meets.
The bottom line in all of this is none of the consumer grade locking boxes and safes will deter a determined thief, especially one with access to tools. However, many of these units – the Hornady Rapid Safe especially – can prevent a tragedy that may result from a child from getting a loaded gun.
Getting into the Rapid Safe is accomplished in any of three ways: RFID emitters, electronic keypad and mechanical key. I found the RFID to be the fastest with the keypad being a close second. Using mechanical keys was very slow, but is an excellent failsafe to ensure access when the other methods have failed.
Included with the Rapid Safe are five different RFID “keys” that can be programmed to access the container’s contents. There is one key fob, one credit card-sized keycard and three rubber wristbands.
The wristbands are made of a heavy-duty rubber and come in three sizes. For my wife, the smallest size was the best choice, while the largest fit me the best. If you have two people of a similar wrist size, you would need to purchase an additional security bracelet.
If you are not used to wearing jewelry, it might take a little time to get used to wearing one. However, the bands did not pinch or pull at my skin or arm hair. I wore my band while sleeping and had no discomfort issues.
All of the RFID keys worked perfectly with the safe. Once programmed, you simply move the RFID emitter within an inch (or so) of the Hornady logo on the control panel to “pop” the lid open. The reading of the RFID chip and opening of the safe takes less than a second.
A major drawback to the RFID system in the Rapid Safe is that only two of the keys can be used with the lock box at any given time. Essentially, the safe has two memory slots so that only two of the RFID emitters can be used (one for each slot.)
This limitation can hurt your flexibility. For example, you will not be able to program the safe to open for two of the bracelets plus the key fob. I strongly encourage Hornady to consider adding additional memory slots in future gun storage devices.
A set of large, red buttons adorns one side of the control panel. These buttons – four numbers plus a large “enter” – are another point of entry into the box.
The keypad ships with a standard entry code, but is easily changed to a four-, five-, or six-digit code. Being able to vary the number of digits in the code increases the number of possible combinations for someone trying to gain unauthorized access.
Clear directions describing how to change the code are included with the Rapid Safe. The process essentially involves pressing a button on the interior of the safe and then entering the new code. It’s quick and easy.
The keys are backlit, so as soon as you touch any of the keys they will light up. This makes punching in a six digit code much easier at night.
When pressing the keys, there is a clicking sound. Hornady, thankfully, did not make the keys beep with each press.
A pair of tubular keys (aka barrel keys) are included with the safe. These are useful as a backup to the RFID and keypad access systems. However, they would likely be far too slow in a violent encounter.
The mechanical lock is concealed behind the Rapid Safe’s control panel. You have to pry the panel back and then use the key to open the safe. For a tertiary method of entry, it is fine. However, it is slow and should not be considered as anything more than a failsafe..
Reading the RFID emitters and running the backlit keypad take electricity. Standard household AC current is the primary power source. Additionally, Hornady built a battery backup into the safe.
An AC power adapter is included with the safe. Fortunately, Hornady uses a space saving design that does not cover up the second receptacle in a wall outlet.
The power cord plugs into the left, front corner of the safe. I found this to be a minor inconvenience, and would have preferred that it plugged into the rear of the box.
Tucked away behind the control panel is a battery backup. This backup takes eight (8) AA batteries and will power the safe during a power outage. According to Hornady, a set of AA alkaline batteries should be replaced every year. I did not see any mention of the use of lithium batteries.
I repeatedly tested the unit on the battery backup, and it worked just as well as when it was plugged into AC power. I did not see any delay in the reading of the RFID keys or when I punched in the code on the keypad.
There are a number of competing handgun storage products on the market. I mentioned the Gun Vault GV 1000 S above. I think the Hornady Rapid Safe offers a number of advantages over many of them, but I completely understand that this is a personal decision. Factors like size and price come into the equation.
Of the competing products, I own the Gun Vault. While the Gun Vault is a good product, I feel the Hornady Rapid Safe is a stronger container and the RFID makes access much quicker. I’ve heard good things about the Gun Box, but I’ve not had a chance to test it.
I found the Rapid Safe worked flawlessly to provide reasonable gun security while still allowing me quick access in an emergency. The access process was intuitive and fast.
I liked the RFID option much better than existing fingerprint readers from other manufacturers. To date, I’ve not heard of any of the fingerprint scanners working with 100% reliability. Additionally, the RFID is much quicker than entering a 6-digit access code.
None of the existing pistol safes will prevent a gun from being stolen. Those kinds of safes require thousands of dollars in construction and materials. However, for deterring a child from gaining access to the firearm, the Hornady Rapid Safe appears to be an excellent tool.
It is now my bedside safe, and I can give it no higher praise.
As I’ve stated in other reviews, my goal is to provide you with the best information possible so you can make an informed decision about how to spend your money. As such, I feel I need to be completely transparent about all dealings I’ve had with Hornady on this product.
The review unit was provided to me by Hornady at my request. No promises were made by me to do anything other than a fair evaluation. No payment was made or offered to me to do the review.
Hornady is not an advertiser, nor am I currently in any discussions with them to be one.
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Last Update: October 17, 2022