Camping with a Firearm

Camping with a Firearm
Camping with a Firearm
Camping with a Firearm
Camping with a Firearm

My wife’s family reunion was this past weekend. We went camping and fishing at Panguitch Lake in Southern Utah, which is a beautiful and remote lake that doesn’t even get cell phone service.

Everybody had a good time and was still speaking to each other at the end, so I guess you could say the reunion was a success even though we didn’t catch any fish that were big enough to keep and eat.

At the reunion, and whenever I go camping or spend time in the outdoors, I’m always carrying my gun with me. Recently, someone asked me what I did with my gun during the reunion since there were a ton of kids running around and I obviously didn’t want any of them to have access to it.

Well, during the day I always carried my gun on me as I typically do, even while fishing and other activities. But at night, I didn’t sleep with my gun on my hip and clearly, I wasn’t about to take my gun off and just put it in a corner of my tent. My daughter was in the tent with my wife and I, plus, I can’t trust the cousins not to go into my tent either.

So at night I simply took my gun off and stored it in a rapid opening safe.

The safe that I brought with me is the Gun Vault MV-500 STD Microvault safe. This is a smaller safe that stores my full size Smith & Wesson M&P and also my Ruger LCP. It uses a four-digit code that allows me to open the safe in about two seconds.

I slept with the safe next to me along with a flashlight (plus a Rayovac camping lantern) that way I could easily access my gun in the event of an emergency. Thankfully, the only problems we had at night were barking dogs and my 2-year-old niece who decided to scream bloody murder half the night and wake everyone up about 5 times.

The bottom line is, these days there are dozens of rapid opening safes out there, and whether you’re camping or just hanging out at home I think every responsible gun owner ought to keep their gun locked up when it’s not on their hip or in their pocket… but it’s also very important to be able to access it quickly, which is why I took the rapid opening safe with me this weekend and why I also have each gun that’s stored throughout my house in a rapid opening safe.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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In my Smith and Wesson 4506-1 I just put the magazine in my pocket which renders it inoperable.


I too have the S&W M4506, it my always wearing sidearm . . . and you simple solution is just that; effective and simple, you, sir, a ‘man after my own heart’ as the saying goes!
My “secondary’ is my S&W M29s, one of which was my best gift received -, other the the BS dipoloma of course – that back in 1961 and if it is not being worn, I’m sleeping with it under my pillow – fully loaded as is the case also with the M4508 & M1006 ‘companion back up”! All of my life and especially growing up in Dad’s gun shop where he built custom hunting rifles and bench rest competition rifles i was constantly among firearms many of which were ‘loaded’ and my FIRMLY FIXED mind set is still the conviction that a sidearm must always be loaded and at hand, readily and immediately available in the event needed to REPELL BORDER, ‘be they foreign but especially if they are the DOMESTIC ONES, who like roaches keeping coming out in the closet!!!


Sounds like something is wrong with it. You should take it back.


When I lived in Idaho and Washington State,I always camped with my wife and a son and a daughter and my 44 magnum,my kids knew about guns and they never touched them unless I said so, we never had a problem and we did not have any accidents either.

S democrat smith

Sorry – I totally disagree with what you are saying here and your thinking is what causes many deaths among children. Now I don’t know how old your child or cousins are but the correct thing to do is TEACH them how to handle guns correctly and safely. Take away the mystique of a gun and children will ignore it. If you do not, you are encouraging children to want to grab that gun and hold it and possibly inure themselves or someone else. IF your child and cousins are at least 6 years old, teach them how to handle, load, unload and also teach them NOT to touch the gun when you are not there. Teach them to ask how to handle a gun. My grandmother’s diary contained a poignant and telling story of her shooting two robbers when she and her family were coming cross county in a covered wagon. They were aiming a gun at her daddy and she shot and killed them with a rifle she had for a year. Often times she also went hunting with her dad to get food for the family. That is the attitude you should instill in your children – not one of my gun is so sacred I keep it in a safe. Come on – your children can be taught and they will NOT stray if you teach them correctly.


I agree, educate children young. My son could care less about touching any of my several guns that are hidden and loaded around the house. No curiosity! But I always remind them when he is alone at any point where they all are, just in case someone intruded in our home.

Tony Kammerer

Teaching children is absolutely a good thing, but in a situation like this family reunion camp out, it is not responsible to leave a gun accessible to children of all ages that likely have not been well trained.
And the one day of camp out is far from sufficient to teach all the random children, even if all of their parents were on board.


Crikey! I’m just interested in why 3 people voted Helen’s wonderful post DOWN??

Nathan Redbeard

Because her advise is poor. Absolutely yes, teach your young children about guns. My son is only 2, but somewhere around 4-8 when he is ready, we’re going to the range with an airsoft gun, a .22 rifle and a .22 pistol so he can learn about guns, how fun they are, and what you need to do to be safe with them. However, even after that, I would do the exact same thing as Jason when camping because my next child is due in January and she will not be old enough to have that conversation yet (most likely). Add in cousins/friends’ kids/random kids at a campground who may or may not (probably not) have had the same instruction, no way I’m leaving my gun outside of a quick access safe when not on my hip.

Wolf Rankis

I have to respectfully disagree with you mam. This microvault seems to me to be an excellent compromise between safety and effective ability to react to a threat. Marksmanship is a long way off from actually having to access and use a weapon in a defensive crisis. What you suggest renders a potential defensive weapon into a construction project with only seconds at play. Regretfully, we are living in the era of “home invasion” robberies, proliferation of gangs, etc, are becoming more and more frequent in all communities, and not nearly enough police officers available.


I carry when I am in my house. So does my wife. We have dogs. Funny thing is here in NJ i can’t carry out side my property! I have a CCW for 43 states but can’t get one for my home state. Sad…but also why I am moving.

Andy Wolf

Children aren’t idiots if you train them properly.
I saw plenty of child soldiers in my travels. I’ve seen well-versed kids who put some of these so-called shooters to shame.


I like the safe idea and the teaching the kids idea. They are not mutually exclusive of each other.

Gregory Tbd

Curious about weather it is even legal to have a firearm in many camping sites especially the ones that are federal and some state parks. The laws in some national parks regarding firearms is worse than trying to carry through an airport!

Jeff Coder

Don’t ask, don’t tell! 🙂


And don’t get caught because they will put you under the Liberal media spotlight as some NRA lunatic. Follow the laws as best you can or others will suffer for your negligence. There are always options and if you’re not comfortable with the restrictions, go somewhere else.


I recently went on vacation and carried my gun with me. I did lock it away as I did not need to carry it where I was, but we showed my grandson what it was and taught him a little bit, had a talk and then I locked it away and I had the only key.


I do not have childeren at home any more. We go to their house as it is bigger. But even my 2 yr old grandson will see a gun,even on TV and tell everyone it is grandpas, don’t touch. Makeing sure they are not a forbibben object takes away the curiosity aspect.


I have the same safe and while away from home it is what I use as well!


Something about taking a safe on a camping trip sounds wrong. I grew up being taught that a gun was just another tool, like a hammer, screwdriver, or chainsaw. Each has its own inherent risk if used improperly or by somebody who doesn’t know how to operate it.
Being taught early on how to operate a firearm prevented the “childhood fascination” with it, and thereby reducing the risk of an accident (thanks DAD!!!!).
I camp. I carry. I do them simultaneously. And the kids are there from time to time. But they also know how to shoot….well I might add. So they see a gun as just another tool.
Sorry, but there’s absolutely no way I’m taking a safe on a camping trip.


That’s great for YOUR kids but not the OTHER kids. Not everyone is as lucky as you and your family in the education and exposure to firearms. IMO, Jason did the correct responsible thing.


My kids where told their friends would not be as smart ,and to make sure their curiosity did not make them do something stupid. (and I do not leave loaded guns around indiscriminately, guns in one place,ammo locked in another,more to stop thieves than kids. ) the kids my children platyed with all came from well behaved, intelligent families and where well trained.


Rarbb, I hear ya. Again, that’s your situation and your decision. Me, even if I know other kids are responsible and have been educated, I still could not live with the fact that if I did not secure my weapons, and a kid got hurt or killed, that I could have avoided the situation by putting them in a biometric safe that takes a 2.4 seconds to access my gun.

Crap, even in the USMC we had to keep weapons unloaded unless we were on watch or in combat detail.


Mike I did not mean to imply that I would leave guns around for kids. I was just expressing my disgust with the mostly lib attitude that it is MY job to protect their children, when a little education goes a long way. The idea that a gun is inherently dangerous and there for bad is my problem. I stress safety and good storage all the time in my Hunter Ed Classes.

bob rice

I dont disagree with you Mike…but everybodies situation is different. When I go camping I take my dogs..and unless they have learned how to shoot then I wont need a safe. If the grandkids are around ..then thats a different story. I believe its called..Common sense.


I agree Bob. It is situational and common sense. I bring my dogs too… when I can.
Never thought to try and teach them to shoot. I’ll let you know how that turns out.


I cant stand people that say its not necessary to lock up a gun. Say, “my kids know better” or some crap like that. It’ll be your house that some poor kid dies. People that openly post that they leave guns in reach of kids should have there kids taken away. Its called child endangerment.

And yes, I have guns, lots of them, kids know how to use them as well. But I dont leave them unattended with kids.


People that do not teach their kids safety because of a stupid political agenda are the ones committing child abuse. When are we going to start punishing these negliegent parents?


I completely agree with you Hale. It is one thing to have a small pistol safe in your automobile, but not in your bloody tent. A holstered firearm is the correct way to keep an in use firearm stored while camping. Holster does not have to be worn when sleeping either.
I find this be yet another, in a string of endless poor advice from Jason Hanson. No ex CIA agent and ex Patrol Officer is this stupid. I have serious doubt about this persons background and experience.


I completely agree with you Hale. It is one thing to have a small pistol safe in your automobile, but not in your bloody tent. A holstered firearm is the correct way to keep an in use firearm stored while camping. Holster does not have to be worn when sleeping either.
I find this be yet another, in a string of endless poor advice from Jason Hanson. No ex CIA agent and ex Patrol Officer is this stupid. I have serious doubt about this persons background and experience.

Overall I’d say, use some common sense.


I looked up on Amazon the gun vault that was mentioned and there seemed to be problems with this item. One reviewer sent in a video which was a little scary. Good article tho.


I’m fortunate in that at home I can keep my firearm right next to me as I have no children. If I do have company with children I either carry concealed, or I lock it in my bedroom, and lock the bedroom door. I have zero trust when it comes to children and loaded firearms…too many bad things can happen!


I have the GV1000 and the NV200. Both great products. Both from Amazon for what I consider a good price. If it’s not on me, which is rare, it’s locked up.
Teaching your own kids is a must do but for other peoples kids? Their parents may not want that education. Might want to check with them first! Some people (still) think only criminals need guns! 🙂 Knowledge is power.


Good luck attempting to open your safe in the the middle of the night under extreme pressure.
The only time your firearm used for personal protection belongs in a safe is when
you are not in control of it.
You can argue that it only takes a second, or that you have practiced and practiced, but it’s
not the same. Under extreme circumstances anyone will be ineffective to handle this task
before they or a family are shot, eaten by a bear ect, a tent is not a house. There is no time!


One could argue if you can’t keep your composure to open that type of quick opening safe, then how the heck are you going to safely operate a gun under pressure? Practice, drills, and advanced training is all you can do until the day the SHTF and then you must rely on muscle memory. That’s what we did in the USMC and it’s what I still do today. Lets just hope that day never comes.


I’m not here to argue this point, unless you have been awakened from a dead sleep to

bad people breaking down your bedroom door.

This did happen, I have a very sturdy door to the bedroom that takes a beaten before

someone gets in.

When you’re asleep this is the most vulnerable time for anyone, had the door been weak I would have been more than likely dead


Mussel memory is paramount under these conditions, but I still fumbled getting to my weapon beside my bed.

I’m a combat veteran and a ret .LEO and I train quite a bit, To retain by LEOSA

privileges I have to qualify twice a year with my P.D. I also drill weekly.

To answer the composure issue you mention.:

I have been there, in combat and 2 separate occasions as a LEO, not counting the

“home invasion” And I will admit I was scared to a point, but retained my composure

and mussel memory indeed takes over.

It is mot my intention to make slight of where you keep you’re weapon while camping

but to lend my experience, everyone reacts differently under fire, or an emergency

resulting from a life threatening accident..


Argue is a figure of speech. I’m glad you were prepared for and survived that H.I. You are correct in that sleep is ‘one’ of the most vulnerable situations for defense. We were trained to be awakened and react but most people are not and do not practice that. You need as many layers of defense as you can get, such as your reinforced door. Now that I am a father of 4 children, I no longer have fellow Marines to stand watch as we sleep so my replacements are my German Shepherds. There are many ways to improvise alarms around a campsite as you probably know being a combat vet. Look into biometric safes. They only take a few seconds to open with really no though process. But, if you have a situation where you can safely keep your gun unsecured while you sleep, there should not be one in the chamber, such as how I keep mine in the safe. There are stats on people who keep a chambered round in a gun that’s within reach while sleeping that fired the weapon on themselves or a partner while in a dream state.

The article is about a civilian camping situation where there were kids and adults unfamiliar around guns and where the gun owner was in a tent. No reinforced door. Set up a perimeter alarm, have a dog if you can (I don’t go where I can’t bring mine) and have the biometric safe with a chambered gun in it ready to rock. Mine is actually secured to the bottom of my cot with a bracket I modified.

I can’t for the life of me see a problem with that.


You need to do what your comfortable with, as for me, it stays with me locked and loaded with one in the pipe. We need to choose what is best for us. Your comfortable with a safe, do it. I don’t, so I won’t (neither will my wife who also carries). We don’t have kids or grandkids and keep loaded weapons distributed and handy through out our house. As far as dogs go, always a good idea. I have a 110 pound Rotty who has a 13 pound Papillion for an alarm. Both my wife and I also carry alternative weapons on our person. After all we are both “vulnerable” senior citizens. 🙂


I agree with you there, well said. I have 2 large breed German Shepherds approaching 130 lbs. They work as a team and I plan on getting a new pup from the same breeder every 4 years to keep a pack always in their prime. Soon I will be able to breed them myself. Enjoy your dogs, stay safe and thank you for your comments.


Thanks Mike for the good info, a wise man will always take good advice

and learn, stay safe and good luck.

Mike, thank you for your service to our country.

Semper Fi. Brother.


Semper Fi my man.

Be Real

This is an article full of terrible advice. Almost every single article this guy Jason posts are full of terrible and most times dangerous advice.


Mussel memory…..a dish I’ll always remember. Muscle memory….the result of training and practice, practice, practice.

Andy Wolf

I went camping once in a protected state area. Actually, I was backpacking. I ran into a drug operation and took a lot of fire. I only had my Glock 26 and was massively outgunned. I had to hide most of the night until they left. The local authorities just shrugged. Now, if I’m going any long distance, I keep my AK Pistol in the bottom of my ruck to be unzipped in a jiffy.


COl. Jeff said: A handgun is useful to fight your way to a rifle.

Andy Wolf

You can’t carry a rifle into certain state or protected areas except during certain hunting seasons. The AK pistol goes around that, offering me the legal versatility of a handgun with the power of a long rifle. Toss an EOtech and a light on it, slip on an AFG and you’re good.

Keith Ward

Last fall I went camping with some friends, and there kids. I had my
Springfield XDm 45 with me, during the day it was on me, but at night it was under my pillow for quick and easy access. A lot of people think I am crazy for carrying my gun all of the time, but I just tell them they are the ones that are crazy for not carrying.


I was just a simple Deputy Sheriff in rural Wisconsin, but if I am camping or anywhere else for that matter, no one is going to sneak in and take my gun out from under my pillow without me knowing, and I’ a 68 year old man.


Gun lies next to me at arms reach, between tent wall and my sleeping bag, if it’s not on my person. No way is anyone going to get between me and the gun without my noticing. They would have to walk on me to get to it. I might add that I have seen some stories about some of these so called safe safes and they were not too safe (not sure if this was one of the ones tested). I don’t think I want to give anyone an additional two seconds.


Great story. I do the same thing using the Bulldog Personal Safe and I have the Bulldog Car/Personal Safe installed for those occasions when I have to attend school events.


In general, I don’t agree with much of Jason’s recommendations, but in this case I do. He doesn’t appear to be ordering anyone to do this his way. He made a value judgement for himself and his family. It is no sin to err on the side of safety, especially with children. If he chose to take whatever personal risk was involved in order to make sure nobody accidentally hurt themselves or someone else, then I can find no fault with his actions.


I have carried a gun with me camping for many years. Never needed to take a gun safe along. Never had some strange kid in my tent going through my personal stuff while we slept. I also keep some knives around and never found a kid to pick it up. Maybe it depends on the character of your family or those your camping with. If I’m that afraid of someone getting to my gun, I’d be finding others to spend time with.

The thing with needing a gun for self defense, you don’t normally know when you’ll need it, unlike a hammer or screwdriver. I always carry when I’m camping, which includes both backpacking and kayak camping. The threat can come from either two legged predators or four. The only way I keep my firearm ‘packed’ is when I’m on the water, using a zip lock to keep the water off it, and keep it in the day hatch behind my seat. No safes. That’s my choice, and everybody in a free country has one!

mike m

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Why not sleep with one of those jogger chest packs, or a shoulder holster?