In every NRA Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun course I describe safe firearms storage as being a sliding scale between security and accessibility. Obviously, having an unsecured firearm around presents a safety issue; however, one that is secured in a manner that doesn’t allow for quick access can be equally treacherous. About 10 years ago Hornady branched out into the security business and its initial offering, the RAPiD safe, quickly became my most recommended means of convenient security.
Although quick-access safes existed before this invention, Hornady made the device far more intuitive through RFiD technology, which makes access even faster and offers a variety of means with which to open it. That did leave a vacuum for for concealed carriers on the road (sometimes I need to stop somewhere I cannot bring my gun, for example), so Hornady RAPiD-ly started work on a “to-go” model, and the RAPiD Vehicle Safe was born.
Before I get into the guts, let’s talk about the external features of the safe, as these are the primary differences between this model and the ones built for home use. Because every car is different, Hornady needed to create a mounting system that can contour to any vehicle without making the unit so expensive that it’s out of reach for the everyday CCW holder.
This came in the form of an ingenious air bladder system that slips in between the seat and the center console after the safe is firmly mounted to it. This allows the safe to be mounted on the driver’s side or the passenger’s side, giving you the flexibility to best suit your vehicle and draw position. Once you’ve found a home for it, simply pump it up until it is snug and then loop the included cable around the strongest anchor point that you can find, typically a seat bracket. Between the cable and the 14-gauge steel, your gun is secure should somebody else become interested in it while you’re not in the vehicle.
So, we covered the “safe” part, now let’s look at the RAPiD part. This trademarked term pulls together the word “rapid” and a nod to RFiD tech. Just like the first model, the vehicle safe operates on the same principle: Just wave a “magic wand,” and the safe springs open. That magic wand comes in the form of an included keyfob, decal and/or rubberized bracelet. These devices need to be programmed to the safe (with the literal press of a button). If you aren’t keen on the idea of having these rapid-access items around—for instance, if young children are a concern—you can also access the safe through a numerical code of your choosing.
The mechanism is powered via four AA batteries or the included 12v adapter. If both of these fail, there is also a conventional key backup. (Do remember that you want to avoid putting the key fob on the same key ring that will be stuck in the ignition switch. In the case of a carjacking, you won’t be able to use it without stopping the motor and pulling them out.)
I tested my sample in a compact sedan, mid-sized sedan and a full-sized coupe. The unit installed effortlessly in each vehicle and illuminated another handy aspect of this mounting system, portability. If you want to move it from car to car it takes less than a minute to transfer, even making it realistic to take on vacation for your rental vehicle. I programmed the bracelet and a decal to work with the safe and that too took next to no brainpower.
The decals were new to me and allowed me to be creative with where I stuck them. Hornady shows one on the back of a cell phone, but why not your travel coffee mug or garage door opener? Both of these and the code opened the safe without fail each time we tested them, and the handguns that we tried with the unit remained right where we put them throughout normal driving conditions via the internal retention system. Hornady advertises the safe as being able to hold pistols with up to a 4-inch barrel length, but we found that you could go a tad larger in many cases.
The Hornady RAPiD Vehicle safe is a critical tool for every responsible gun owner who is not going to have their gun on their hip 24/7 when out and about. Far too often do we read about vehicular break-ins when the owner stepped inside of a store for just a few minutes. If responsibility didn’t sell me on the design, utility certainly would have, as it’s also a great place to leave a bulky wallet or cell phone when you don’t feel like having them on you for somewhere like a movie theater. It’s also great if your carry rig digs into your side or is inaccessible while driving, (which is my case as I am left-handed). While safes like these leave you many options, one thing is clear: Leaving your gun unattended and unprotected is not one of them. For more information visit Hornady.com