I recently completed a review of a few portable gun lock boxes for Concealed Carry Magazine, USCCA’s print magazine for members. While writing the article, which will appear later this year, I happened across what I feel is the most unique high-tech portable lock box: the Safetech GunBox.
While most locking boxes — depending on price — rely on keys, combinations or finger-input sequences to unlock, there is one that relies on an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system: the GunBox 2.0.
Before I get into the high-tech side of the GunBox 2.0, let me discuss one of the overriding design concepts behind it: “hiding in plain sight.”
Most portable gun lockers or vaults look just like what they are: gun lockers or vaults. Now, there is nothing wrong with that style of handgun locker. Most are very solid and will hold a handgun securely, defending it against all but the most determined unauthorized personnel. They all share one thing in common, though. They are designed to be kept out of sight — bolted down in a drawer, cabinet, closet, car or truck — since there is little doubt as to what might be inside.
The GunBox doesn’t look like a typical portable gun lock box. Its sleek, contoured design looks like a piece of audio equipment or a computer gaming center rather than the solid storage system for a handgun that it is. It is designed to be kept in the open and blend in with the surrounding décor. I’m not used to saying the word “décor” in conjunction with firearms, but it really applies here.
Constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and weighing in at 4.7 pounds, the GunBox 2.0 is much more solid than it looks and is available in multiple colors: Carbon Black finish, Gun Smoke (the color of my sample), Gun Barrel Raw Silver, Billet Grey, Arctic White and glossy Bond Black.
In keeping with its “space-age” (a term which dates me, but aptly describes the GunBox 2.0) appearance, the 2.0 features an access/locking system, which is primarily based on an RFID system — another departure from the standard vault. Without getting too technical, the GunBox 2.0’s RFID technology is a proven system — like that used in modern door key cards that don’t need to be inserted into the locking system itself. The “keys” are merely passed in close proximity to release the lock.
The 2.0’s lock is powered by a battery that can be recharged via one of its USB ports or the standard plug-in charger that’s included. In fact, the extra USB ports can be used to charge your cell phone or other devices if so desired. There is no battery involved with the RFID devices. A warning light will flash and an audible tone will sound when the 2.0 needs to be recharged.
There are currently five different RFID-unlocking devices available for the GunBox 2.0 (and other GunBox models), allowing the owner to pick the system that works best for him or her: credit-card-sized keycards, an RFID sticker that you can attach to other objects to create an individualized RFID device, a bracelet, key fobs, and, what I think is perhaps the best option, an RFID ring.
No matter which form the RFID devices take, they all work the same. To open the GunBox 2.0, you simply push the center shield emblem on the lid, which shows a blue “go” light, and wave the unlocking device across the top of the emblem. Once you do that, the really cool stuff happens. The 2.0 beeps and the lid pops open, quickly pushed up by dual pistons and giving hands-free access to the interior. There is a small white LED light in the lid to gently illuminate your handgun for easy access. To close the GunBox 2.0, simply push the lid back down.
I mentioned earlier that the RFID ring is the best option. Made of bright stainless steel with the RFID in the black center compartment, the RFID ring looks like a quality signet ring due to the GunBox shield emblem in the center. I’ve been wearing the RFID ring several days and nights while the 2.0 has been residing on my nightstand. With the ring on, I don’t have to try to locate a key card or fob. I can just reach over, push the shield and, with the same hand, run the ring across to access the gun. It’s a very slick system. By the way … all RFID devices are waterproof.
If that isn’t enough, the GunBox 2.0 features two other methods of access. One is through your smartphone. Download the GunBox app and bingo, you can open the 2.0 using your phone. I will say that this method is slow compared to the RFID, but, if you misplace your RFID devices, you can still access the firearm in the GunBox. The App also controls other features, such as enabling a motion-sensing alarm that warns you that unauthorized persons are moving or attempting to tamper with the 2.0.
The final opening method is the biometric (fingerprint) reader. The 2.0’s reader will store up to 100 different fingerprints. After programming the fingerprint(s) you want, all you have to do is push and hold your finger on the reader. It will beep twice after a second or two and then open the box, longer than the RFID. Don’t push the shield button first like you do for the RFID. In my opinion, the biometric reader is also a last resort option for opening in a crisis. Unlike the RFID system, the biometric reader has to look at your finger and determine if it matches against prints stored in the memory. It is likely that in a startle/crisis moment, your finger may be shaking, and you may not operate the reader correctly. Or, if you are sweating or your finger is wet, bloody, or dirty, you might not get a good read either. Ever get a bad read on your iPhone or other fingerprint reader system? My point exactly.
The GunBox 2.0 has interior dimensions of 7.5 x 8.75 x 1.75 inches, which means it will hold a large combat pistol like my Beretta 92. There are pre-drilled holes in the base for permanent mounting. An optional tethering cable is available should you want to mount it in your car temporarily.
The GunBox 2.0 retails for $319.00 and comes with two reader cards and two key fobs. The ring, labels, and wristband are extra cost options. The 2.0 is available without the biometric option for $275. There is also the Echo model for $199, which does not have hydraulic opening or USB ports. And, if you want a hide-in-plain-sight storage system for a long gun and ammo, there is the SK-1, which looks like a large wireless stereo speaker. It actually does contain a Bluetooth speaker and will be available mid-February for $699. I believe GunBox hide-in-plain-sight gun lockers are a real game changer. For more information, visit www.thegunbox.com.