Zenith gun cabinet

The gun cabinet rules and regulations

Gun cabinets (or as some people call them, gun safes) are a key piece of kit for a gun owner because the law states that you must keep guns and ammunition safely locked away. Knowing the latest gun cabinet rules is an important part of being a responsible shooter and not following the law could result in you losing your firearms certificate. 

On 12th December 2019 the UK law changed and now states that: ” When a firearm or shotgun certificate holder is under the age of 18, arrangements must be made for an individual aged 18 or over to assume responsibility for the secure storage of the firearms and ammunition held on the young person’s certificate.”

According to BASC: The person assuming responsibility must be either the certificate holder’s parent or guardian or a person aged 18 or over who is authorised to have possession of such firearms and ammunition. It may not always be necessary for the parent or guardian to also have a firearms certificate if arrangements are made for the firearm to be secured in a cabinet with two separate locks which can only be opened when both key holders are present and one of the key holders is a certificate holder.

share a gun gun cabinet

Clever and practical – this gun cabinet doubles up as a coat rack

Choosing a gun cabinet

Nowadays there is plenty of choice of equipment that will fit gun cabinet rules, ranging from utilitarian metal gun storage through to decorative pieces of furniture that belie their real purpose. (Read our list of the best gun safes.)

New technology means that personal security codes can replace traditional key-operated locks and some of the latest gun safes can even be opened by your fingerprint.

interior of a Browning gun cabinet

Plenty of room inside this Browning gun cabinet

Frequently asked questions about gun cabinets

shotgun cabinet

Should you have a heated gun cabinet?

How many guns can I keep in my gun safe?

Q: I’ve just bought another gun, bringing my total up to five. But my gun safe only says it holds four. Should I buy a larger one? 

A: In fact you can store as many guns in your gun safe as it will hold. The manufacturer’s description is just a guide. Try installing the gun cabinet lying down as this can double it.

Winter storage

Q: Do you need to heat your gun cabinets in winter? If the temperature is plummeting outside will your guns suffer if the cabinet is in an unheated room that’s a bit damp? Is there a danger of the cabinet rusting?

Coldness on its own does not cause rust, but condensation does. Condensation usually occurs when a mild, damp day follows a period of cold.

Inside a house there is always a danger of dampness on cold days, caused by such things as kitchen and bathroom steam, so it pays to take precautions.

Examine your shotgun regularly and give the metal parts a wipe down with a lightly-oiled cloth. You can also provide added protection by placing something which will provide an anti-rust atmosphere in your shotgun cabinet – check out the Napier range. 

What if you live in a caravan?

Q: I live in a static caravan. Can I have a gun cabinet fitted inside? What’s the deal if you don’t live in a house made from bricks and mortar?

There’s no reason why you should not keep firearms in a static caravan but as you recognise the security requirements differ from those for a house.

Your caravan should be fixed to the site or at the very least have no wheels or towing hitch so as to prevent it being easily towed away. Would-be thieves should not be able to gain access to the underside of the van.

Normally the gun cabinet must be bolted to the chassis of the van. Discuss security with the police before going ahead and making arrangements.

Can I lose my gun cabinet and wall-mount my guns?

Q: I’m tired of storing my four shotguns in a cabinet where I can’t see them and would like to have them in my little office upstairs against the wall.What are my chances of getting the police to allow me to bolt them securely against the wall with suitable locks and security cable?

A: It’s not an absolute requirement that guns be kept in a cabinet but for most people it is the practical solution.

One of the commonly accepted alternatives is that they be kept in a proper gunroom. I suggest you talk to your local police and discuss the possibility that your office be turned into such a room.

In principle I see no reason why it should not be. The downside is that only you or other certificate holders would be able to hold the key to the room.

Can I store my guns in the attic?

Q: I am applying for a firearms certificate so that I can acquire a .243 calibre rifle for stalking. I understand that I must obtain a gun cabinet, which I am considering installing in my loft. Would this be a suitable location?

A: While an attic may appear to 
be an ideal location in which to install a gun cabinet, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration.

A loft is usually subject to variations in temperature and humidity, even though it may be well insulated, and there is always the danger of firearms being adversely affected.

Cabinets must conform to BS 7558 if they have been made after 1992 and there are a number of essential requirements relating to locks, thickness of steel, hinges and seams if made before that date.

A gun cabinet, while out of sight of visitors, should also be readily accessible so that a gun can be quickly put away after use and cleaning, yet be in a warm part of the house to avoid condensation. Keys must be kept, ideally, in a small safe and their presence concealed and not disclosed to other members of the household.

Where should I site my gun cabinet?

A gun 
cabinet must be securely clamped 
at four points to a wall. However if you move it to a new location within your property you do not need to tell the police.

gun cabinet

Your gun cabinet should be secured to an inner wall of your house

Longterm gun storage

Q: What steps should I take for longterm shotgun storage? I am about to do a tour of Afghanistan and wondered if there are any steps I should take to store my two shotguns – an O/U and a semi-auto – while I’m away?

A:  If your house is going to be empty, then for security reasons I would leave the guns in the hands of a reliable registered firearms dealer, but you must expect to be asked to pay a shotgun storage fee.

If you are leaving your guns in your house, I would suggest giving them a thorough clean, rub the metal parts with an oily cloth, and put something to combat rust and damp in your gun cabinet. Napier VP90 is one such product.

Best gun cabinets 

Who should have access to gun cabinet keys? 

Renting a property

Q: I rent my house. Can I legally install a gun safe in it? 

A: This depends on the terms of your tenancy agreement. There is nothing in law which automatically excludes keeping guns in rented property. If you need to fix a gun cabinet to the wall it is your responsibility to make good the holes when you move out.

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7 legal things about gun cabinets you need to know

1.  Do you need to heat your gun cabinets in winter? If the temperature is plummeting outside will your guns suffer if the cabinet is in an unheated room that’s a bit damp? Is there a danger of the cabinet rusting?  Coldness on its own does not cause rust, but…

gun storage

How many guns can you store in a gun cabinet?

Q: When I got my shotgun licence three years ago I bought a four-gun cabinet. I’ve just bought my fifth shotgun and have been told by my firearms enquiry officer (FEO) that I am only allowed to own four because that is all my cabinet was intended for. Do 

My gun cabinet

Do I have to tell police when I move my gun cabinet?

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gun safe

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