Whether you are a new pistol owner or a seasoned shooter with the latest full-sized safe, a good lock box should be on your shortlist of gear to get. While not as unbreakable or immovable as a conventional gun safe, a lock box is an excellent, cost-effective way to safely store a handgun or two. That goes for your first handgun or the handguns you keep where a safe would be impractical. While some models of lock box emphasize discretion, the Steelhead Outdoors Pistol Lock Box is overbuilt to store your weapon and be used as one.
Steelhead Outdoors has been making their lockboxes in addition to a number of full-sized gun safes at their facility in Shakopee, Minnesota since 2016. Their smaller options include a handgun locker, a mechanically-locked fast-access pistol box, and both a small and large key-entry pistol box. This overview concerns the large pistol box, which I have been putting to use for the last six months.
The Large HD Pistol Box might be better treated as a portable safe than a lock box. It is large enough to fit two mid-sized handguns, as well as a reload or a small handheld flashlight. With the foam padding stripped out, the box is 8 1/2 inches wide and 11 inches tall, with a depth of 3 inches. Unloaded, the safe weighs in at eleven pounds. Part of that weight is the use of thicker 12-gauge powder-coated steel instead of lighter 16-gauge steels used in typical lockboxes you can find at big box stores.
Indeed, the rest of the Steelhead lock box is visually larger and more reenforced than the alternative options. The hinges are twice the size, miking in at 1/4 inch in diameter. The hinges are both pinned and welded to the body and the cover of the safe, making it much more difficult to defeat. This basic pistol box, like most others, uses a keylock for entry. This particular keylock has a multi-bar design that is resistant to picking and the body of the lock is surface hardened to discourage drilling.
Even the included security cable is the next size up. It is a three-foot length of 1/4 inch steel cable that is coated to 5/16 inch in diameter. It is designed to be looped around an immovable object and latched to the inside of the box. But if using the cable is not enough security, Steelhead’s pistol box is also equipped with four mounting holes in the bottom of the safe so that it can be bolted to a wall or floor.
No lock box will be perfect. Smaller models like a Snapsafe excel at storing a single smaller handgun in more places but are lightly built. Access with these lock boxes tends to not be immediate. To keep costs down, most of them are going to be accessed via a key lock. These smaller boxes have smaller locks and correspondingly small keys that can be fiddly to access in a hurry. Other small boxes use a faster electronic lock but you are relying on a battery to access your firearm. A mechanically locked box like what Steelhead offers would be a great solution but these are more expensive. The HD Pistol Box strikes a great balance but has its disadvantages.
The PD Pistol Box is small enough to take up little room inside the home but it is more substantially built than other boxes. When locked there is no way to get the box open. There is a small TIG welded slot between the cover and the body of the safe under the keylock but no tool can get into it. There is no other point of entry at all. Unless you were to sheer off the locking bolts around the keylock (which takes quite a bit of time), the only way in is with the included pair of keys. The keys are big and so is the lock. This makes the Steelhead box surprisingly quick to access, provided you have it on hand!
The extra size of the HD Box does have the downside of perhaps being too big if you are on the go. It weighs eleven pounds empty and it isn’t something that will go into a backpack. Nor is it something you can bolt down or tie down in an inconspicuous location in some vehicles. It slides under the seat of a Ford F150 okay, but not in my Honda Fit. If your vehicle is big enough or you are using the Steelhead safe for at-home use, rock on.
The HD Box is an excellent addition and equally valid if you are storing firearms or other small valuables. The only potential weakness I could ascertain comes from the provision for a security cable and bolt holes. While using both would provide the best possible protection, if you use the included security cables only, you are stuck with the four holes in the back of the safe. While these holes are small and will be inconsequential to deterring most breaches of property, I could why some users might see it as a weakness if a would-be thief has enough tools and time to get into it. But, given the tools and time, no safe is safe. The Steelhead HD Pistol safe is as basic as it gets and is well-built enough to secure your weapons and be used as one. Despite its potential drawbacks, I give it a thumbs up.