Why You Shouldn’t Keep the Gun On the Night Stand

safe on night standWhat should you do with your gun at night while you sleep? There are several different thoughts and ideas about this and what is considered to be safe in terms of firearms storage. We take a very direct stance on this that says it's generally not a good idea to keep any firearms unlocked or out in the open while you're sleeping.

The main reason why, is because we want to keep our guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, whether children or criminals.

We tend to catch some heat for our stance on this, but please hear me out.

In a recent class a student told me,

“My father taught me that when there is an intruder in the home seconds count and you won't have time to get to the gun safe. You should sleep with the gun on your night stand for quick and easy access.”

While I agree that time is important and not really on your side when you need to protect life, striking a balance is key especially if you have young children at home.

Your firearm storage plans in your home should revolve around gun safes. That is plural because it's a good idea to have a main safe for the rest of your guns, and a quick access safe for your nightstand gun.

When a firearm is properly stored in a gun safe it is secure against various dangers including burglars and little children. Quality gun safes have the added benefit of also protecting the contents from flood and fire.

Many of them can be opened quickly and stored in places where one would feel they need emergency access to the firearm.

The key is to properly balance availability and safety. A small gun safe mounted to your nightstand or in the drawer of your night stand makes that firearm nearly as available as the gun sitting atop the nightstand but it also adds a significant layer of safety while reducing liability and risk.

Here is a short graphic on a test I did, showing the time difference between using different types of safes, the drawer of the nightstand, and nothing at all which was the control:

As you can see keeping the gun in a safe is a little slower, but only about 1.5 seconds for the quickest type of safe. With practice, you can get faster.

I talk a lot more about this in the following video, as well as show these tests as I ran them:

Of course, as pointed out in the video, things would play out very differently in the middle of the night if you're attacked. You have to deal with grogginess and motor function issues, but as with all things, you should practice these things.

You should know what it is like to get to your gun quickly so you can defend yourself appropriately.

And of course, we go into a lot of detail on home defense in our Complete Home Defense course, found by clicking on that link.

How do you balance availability and safety? Let us know in the comments below.

This is an update to an article originally published on 12/5/15.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of ConcealedCarry.com. ConcealedCarry.com provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Mickey on December 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I do think some kind of pistol safe on the night stand is a good idea–sleeping and dreaming could reult in grabing the weapon by accident —-just sayn

    • Mike on December 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      I agree 100% I cant even sleep with a phone on the night stand.. Ive woken up talking to people on it with no memory of it ringing 😉

    • Dick on January 7, 2016 at 9:50 am

      I have often thought about that. I keep mine handy at night BUT I have to get out of bed to get it. Thanks

  2. Joe on December 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t have any children. None, so this isn’t an issue for me. Kids do not come into this house at night. (At least they shouldn’t, or else…) If they are here in the day (with a relative say), then the guns are already locked in the gun safe, with the exception of my primary and back up piece which are secured upon my person. However I don’t keep the pistol on my nightstand (nor in it), and it’s not in some holster stuffed between my mattress & box spring. (It’s not anywhere on the bed, nor is it even touching the bed.) It is instantly accessible to me, and in fact puts me in an excellent fighting position if the need arises (God forbid), but is not in plain sight, and it’s not in any type of safe. I’m not going to say where I keep it because I don’t want anyone to know, hence the term “concealed”, both from sight AND mind (of anyone but me.) There are always exceptions to every rule, and the number one rule is to practice, practice, practice with your firearms so you can handle them quickly as well as “knowledgeably safe” (as is humanly possible.) Another thing I do is constantly test new methods, as well as improve upon old ones to create a good working foundation, and I will always stress the foundation basics. Watch your back, and keep your nose clean. (And your powder dry!)

  3. Dynamicdave on December 16, 2015 at 2:25 am

    I keep my .357 next to me on my computer stand. Easy reach. We have NO CHILDREN in the house. It is holstered and ready for action. Same rules don’t apply for everybody and their particular circumstances.

    • Todd on September 16, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      Agreed. No kids, weapon close by.

    • GunnyGirl on November 10, 2023 at 1:46 am

      If your sound asleep and an intruder enters your home, and they happen upon your firearm, you could wake up to it pointed directly at your face… What then?

  4. Rumple Stiltskin on December 16, 2015 at 6:37 am

    What good is a gun you can’t access for immediate use??

    • Jacob Paulsen on December 16, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Rumple, I agree but I also am of the opinion that there are a lot of ways to make the gun both available for immediate use AND secured in a locked safe.

  5. Semper Fi on December 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

    We have no children at home, So we keep our gun’s where we can get to them quick if need be. Also if someone breaks into your home will their gun be in a gun safe. Oh wait give me a minute to get mine out before you shoot me. If there are no children living there I say keep it where it makes you feel safe and not in a safe

    • Tim on September 16, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Correct, NO gun safe will ever be as fast as a gun just out of sight on a nightstand!

  6. LARRY on December 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I agree with all of the above.

  7. Anna on November 4, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Why not just teach kids to not shoot themselves or their friends? Just because you have kids around is a very bad reason to keep your defense guns in a safe. Growing up I knew where the guns were kept throughtout the house, how to use them, and when to use them. Somehow I never shot anything other than a few critters or targets despite growing up with guns everywhere.

    • Rickety Rick on September 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I always grew up with guns around, then in the late seventy’s we had kids of our own. My loaded gun was on the nightstand. My kids were well versed about guns, and learned how to shoot and learned respect. This started from day one.
      As an aside, there is no such thing as gun violence. This is a leftist’s propaganda term. May I suggest criminal shooter instead ?

    • Parker on September 18, 2020 at 1:28 am

      Agreed Anna!!!

  8. Jimmy Lewis Ratcliff on August 4, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    My dad had 7 kids, we had no guns in the house. I spent a lot of time on my grandparents house. Shotgun, and rifles were there. I carried around the .22 from the time I was ten, the shotgun at 15. Never a problem. Never understood dads logic.

  9. Jimmy Lewis Ratcliff on August 4, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    On my grandparents farm.

  10. Sarge338 on September 16, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Here’s the issue with the “test” in this case. You weren’t asleep before you had to access the firearm. I will **guarantee** that you will not manipulate keys and or number pads as quickly after being awakened in a start from REM-stage sleep. Your heart will already be pumping and then you have to try to shake out the cobwebs and access your safe. Couple this with (in my mind) not wanting to turn on a light to alert the intruder to where you are.

    I would be willing to bet that those times to get to your gun would at least double if you were actually asleep when you were jolted out of bed by an intruder. Unless you have an obstacle course between their entry point and your room (or your kids’ rooms), that extra time is not acceptable. That’s the difference between me getting to my kids or the intruder(s) getting to my kids.

    If I need my firearm, I want nothing between it and me. I have no intention of crippling my home defense due to the “progressive” mindset that a present firearm equals a dead kid. 30 years ago, I didn’t know ANYONE with a safe, and everyone had guns. Now everyone is expected to have at least one safe if they own a gun. Unless everyone is ready to concede that current youth are as dense as uranium, I’m not changing anything.

  11. Rico de la Llama on September 16, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    I agree with Rickety Rick, I grew up in a house with no guns but in the 80’s I had guns and little kids in the house. I had mine in the night stand, my daughter who was 4 had already been taught to keep her hand off the handgun my son 2, I thought was to young to understand. That was till I was sitting in the bathroom doing my business when he comes wadling in holding the gun by slide and hands it to me. After the excitement of seeing that, I got cleaned up and made plans for the next day to go shooting. I explain that the gun could be very hurtful if handled incorrectly. He looked at me quizzically as to ask how? I had prepared for that question the day before. I had brought a large watermelon with us and I asked him if I spanked hard and he said yes! I spanked the watermelon a few times as hard as I could with no mercy. I asked him if the watermelon was hard and he agreed. So you know where this is going, I walked out about 10 yards from us and had him look at the watermelon when I shot it. He never touched the gun again without getting immediate permission. He’s 34 now and I gave him that S&W SS mod 645 when he turned 21 his 6 and 8 year old boys have no problem following the rules either, and they like to shoot too. No one touches the gun without dadas permission. I do agree they should be out of line of sight and a magnet screwed discreetly into that nightstand hides the gun perfectly. When the boys come over I lock up all the guns except our carry guns as a precaution because they might come across the unexpectedly and this isn’t their home.

  12. Larry Hines on September 16, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    I use a magnetic mount that is out of sight.

  13. GENNARO AVETA on September 17, 2020 at 1:06 am

    Why is no one commenting on, alarms or pets that cause an alarming bark? A well put together alarm system is key in any home or area you live in.
    You, now have time to react. Alarm goes off, dog barks intensely at the noise? Why not talk about those points of intrusion of home?
    That in my opinion would give me ample time to react to a threat. Better than not knowing, when someone breaks into my home.
    Your numbers are nonsense and impracticable!!
    I have measures in my home that allow time for me to act and giving me the time to do just that. Gun safe or not!
    I do not leave my firearms out and available to visitors, children or any others. I know when the are coming and lock them up and put my ammunition in another room!
    I am mindful of others coming into my home always! That is responsible gun ownership!! Simple!

  14. Eric Hammers on September 17, 2020 at 7:40 am

    All interesting perspectives. I do not have kids in the home anymore either. However, when I was raising my kids, When they were 7 years old (twins), I took them out in the desert. I took a handful of water melons, a 12 GA shotgun and a .45. These were the two weapons NOT locked up. I explained to them the watermelons were like people’s heads. I even painted happy faces on them (which brought giggles from the twins). Right in the middle of talking about gun safety and why they should NEVER play with them, I pulled the trigger on the shotgun, completely destroying one of the water melons. (Yes, it was done safely) Both my kids jumped out of their socks. As I watched them standing there stunned, I let it sink in a moment and then explained the water melon could have been one of their friends heads, or each others, or mine. They lesson stuck and to my knowledge, neither of them EVER touched one of my firearms without me present (as I taught them to shoot over time).

    Back to the topic, I keep three firearms “strategically” placed in my home and the rest locked up. They are all out of sight. Good stuff, thank you ConcealedCarry.

  15. Dale on September 17, 2020 at 10:55 am

    I think this is the ideal solution, if you don’t have kids to worry about. The Brave Response holster which, if I remember correctly, I first learned about here. I fill its four pockets with 1) firearm, 2) spare magazine, 3) tactical flashlight and 4) Bluetooth earpiece.

    If there’s a bump in the night I can have the whole assembly on body within seconds, no clothes required. If you slide it around to be appendix carry, you even have your most cherished body parts covered.

  16. Alex on October 18, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    There are never any children around my apartment. My apartment is also not so big, so a determined intruder could make their way from my front door to me laying in bed within 5 seconds. Even the small amount of time a good quick access gun safe adds to my firearm being ready to use could spell disaster for me. My firearm is in my nightstand and that works for me. No need to worry about my dumbass being unable to remember to combo to a quick access safe while I’m in fight or flight mode with a home invader 10 feet away from me. If I’m out of town, the gun is locked and inoperable, otherwise it’s ready to go. Whats the point of a home defense tool if you can’t reasonably use it for defense?

  17. David on September 13, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    The advice in this article, for folks with no children in the home, is patently absurd. Once an intruder has reached my bedroom, there is zero time to waste. Your “1.5” extra seconds to open a bedside safe is ridiculous, and doesn’t even consider the physical and mental conditions folks are in when suddenly awakened by danger.


  18. 38Special on November 10, 2023 at 2:03 am

    If I’m worried about a stranger entering my home, I’d definitely invest in a security alarm, first off. This gives anyone more than enough time to retrieve their firearm from a gun safe, or locked box, if the situation we’re to arise.

    Chances are, if an intruder triggers an alarm, they’re not sticking around… This, not only keeps you safe, in your home, but will also reduce, or prevent the the possibility of you taking another persons life. Or accidently hurting or killing someone you know, mistaking them as an intruder. These types of things happen all the time! However, there are also those who use that as their excuse, to off someone, intentionally. But that’s neither here, nor there.

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