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    Gun Safes vs. Gun Cabinets: What's the Difference?

    If you’re looking for a dedicated place to secure your firearms, you may be wondering if a gun safe or gun cabinet is better for your needs. Both offer stylish firearm storage, but there are some differences between them. At Tractor Supply, America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer, we offer a wide selection of both gun safes and gun cabinets. Here, we discuss both options, the differences between them and how to know which is better for your needs.

    Gun Safe Basics

    A gun safe is like a regular safe, but it is built specifically to store firearms with organized slots. Gun safes also have more heavy-duty steel constructions and more advanced locking mechanisms than traditional safes to prevent unauthorized access. They are often made with fire-rated or water-resistant materials to provide an extra layer of protection against damage from the elements. Some common types of gun safes include:

    • Pistol safes for storing small handguns 
    • Long gun safes for storing rifles and shotguns
    • Portable gun safes for transporting firearms 
    • In-wall gun safes for discreetly storing firearms 

    Many types of gun safes also have space for you to store other valuables like important documents, cash, jewelry and more. At Tractor Supply, we sell a wide selection of gun safes from top brands like Cannon SafeLiberty SafeRemingtonSports AfieldStack-On and Winchester Safes.

    Gun Cabinet Basics

    A gun cabinet is another type of storage designed specifically for firearms, made to organize and showcase firearms. They often look like furniture and have a lighter-weight construction (usually wood or thinner metal) that isn’t fire-rated. Gun cabinets typically don’t have space for items other than firearms, but they do often have clear panels so you can see your collection. Gun cabinets often use a lock and key to allow access, but it’s not an advanced mechanism designed to keep intruders out. At Tractor Supply, we offer gun cabinets for rifles and shotguns, with 8-gun or 18-guncapacities and with keyed locks or electronic keypad locks.

    Gun Safe and Gun Cabinet Differences

    Now that you know the basics of gun safes and gun cabinets, we can explore the differences between them so you can see which one is better for you. The main differences include:


    One of the main differences between gun safes and gun cabinets is their construction. Gun safes are usually made from heavy gauge steel that is thick enough to withstand prying, drilling and other impacts (typically 12-gauge). Gun safes may also be fire-rated or waterproof to offer added protection.

    This is different from the construction of a gun cabinet, which is less durable. They can be made of either wood or thinner metal (18-gauge or less) which offer standard durability, but not extra protection against impacts. Gun cabinets also don’t have fire-rated constructions, so they offer less protection against smoke and fire damage than gun safes, which are often fire-rated. 

    When determining which construction is better for your needs, consider factors like the crime rate in your area, the number of firearms you own and what other items you want to store. If you have many firearms and live in an area with a high crime rate, you may want to opt for a more durable gun safe over a gun cabinet.

     Locking Mechanism

    The next main difference between gun safes and gun cabinets is the locking mechanisms they have and how secure they are. Gun safes can be made with a variety of highly secure locking mechanisms, including:

    These mechanisms protect against theft, impacts and unauthorized access. Many gun safes also have relockers that reinforce the locking bolts if the first lock fails.

    These highly secure locking mechanisms in gun safes are much different than the locks used in gun cabinets. Gun cabinets can be locked, but they are not highly secure. The lock is typically a sliding bar or a conventional key lock which can’t provide the same level of protection against unauthorized users.

    When deciding whether you need a gun cabinet or safe for security, consider how many firearms you own and their types, any potential threats in your area and how fast you need to access the safe. If you need to access firearms quickly, a gun cabinet can be beneficial because it’s easier to open. However, if you want to ensure your firearms are safe from your children, thieves and more threats, a gun safe is a more secure choice.


    Another key difference between gun cabinets and gun safes is their costs. Since gun cabinets are made with thinner steel and less secure locking mechanisms than gun safes, they come at a cheaper price point. Gun safes, especially those with advanced features, can cost more. However, they can last a lot longer and offer better security, making them cost-effective over time. To determine which option is better for you, consider how many guns you have, if you’re likely to get more and how much you can invest in firearm storage. 


    Another difference between gun cabinets and gun safes is in their style. Gun cabinets tend to look more like furniture, while gun safes look more like regular safes. Gun cabinets also usually have clear panels to display your firearms and let you admire them, while gun safes don’t. Gun cabinets are usually made in smaller footprints to work in compact spaces, while gun safes can be very large and require a solid foundation. If you live in a smaller space and want to show your firearms off, a gun cabinet is probably better for you than if you want your firearms to be extremely secure and have extra space to spare.

    Considering these main differences between gun safes and gun cabinets can help you decide which is better for your security, accessibility and budget needs.

    Shop for Gun Safes and Gun Cabinets at Tractor Supply

    Whether you choose to store your firearms in a gun safe or gun cabinet, at least you can know they are in a designated safe space. Tractor Supply has more than 85 years of experience providing high-quality products like gun safes and cabinets, along with recommendations and advice. For more information on the best gun safe or cabinet for your needs, stop into your local Tractor Supply store to speak with a team member or browse our inventory online.