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Custom GunSafe Cabinets Discourage Access by Kids and Crooks While Letting Gun Owners Enjoy Their Favorite Firearms

Dec 2, 2008

Arthur, ILL.—Americans love their guns, buying about four million firearms each year to add to the millions they already own. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, more than 40 percent of adult citizens own firearms. The average American owner claims 4.4 of them.

Besides personal safety and property protection, gun owners enjoy firearms for many other reasons. Some hunt game animals or birds. Others plink at targets for fun or test their shooting skills with competitive skeet, trap and sporting clays events. Collectors look for certain rare or unusual firearms, and some people like to pass on family heirlooms from one generation to the next.

Regardless of use, all gun owners want to protect their possessions from both curious children and would-be thieves. That's why companies that make trigger locks, steel vaults and other gun safeguards are doing a brisk business these days.

In business only five years, GunSafe offers custom hardwood cabinets that let people display their favorite guns without making them vulnerable to kids and crooks. The one-of-a-kind cabinets offer both visual and hidden deterrents without compromising the appeal of personal gun collections. In fact, the stunningly handsome cabinets enhance the beauty of prized firearms.

Located in Arthur Ill., GunSafe artisans handcraft six- and 12-gun cabinets, as well as specialty pieces to showcase larger and smaller collections. Clients sometimes want to display an individual firearm. Others may request cabinets for their pistols, knives and bows. Most GunSafe cabinets are designed for permanent display in the home or office, but some are built for travel to shows or club events.

Oak, cherry, maple, walnut and mahogany are popular choices of hardwood. Other varieties, including exotic species, are also available. Glazing and distressing are two of several finish options, along with many choices of glass, hardware, shelving and hand-carved scrollwork. Most clients opt for finger-tap lighting features, which offer a range from subdued mood to spotlight illumination.

Some people prefer a stand-alone cabinet; others wish to incorporate the piece into entertainment centers, bookcases and other furniture motifs, styles, colors and woods.

Dr. James Campbell, an orthodontist from Panama City, Fla., ordered custom-deluxe cabinets for a huge trophy room with mounts for more than 100 big-game animals. GunSafe provided a pair of eight-gun vertical cabinets and one six-gun horizontal cabinet for Dr. Campbell's favorite rifles and shotguns.  To match the cypress walls of the trophy room, company artisans used alder for the cabinets and then applied a clear finish.

“They got it right,” Dr. Campbell said. “These cabinets speak for themselves. Guests talk more about them than the trophy deer above the cabinets.”

Another client, John Glover of Pleasant Hill, N.C., ordered a massive deluxe cabinet in walnut, which workers then distressed and glazed.  Built to exacting specifications, the elegant 112-inch-long cabinet accommodates nine firearms to each side and six more in the center atop five legal drawers that hold Glover’s files for hunting waterfowl, upland birds and big game. 

“It’s a magnificent piece,” Glover said.  “I’m very proud of it and I admire it every day.  The quality was beyond my expectations.” 

“Very few cabinets are the same,” explained William Schlabach, GunSafe owner. “Most of our customers want to make a personal statement, which stands to reason—after all, the firearms they own say a great deal about their personality, taste and character.”

Old World craftsmen make each custom GunSafe cabinet according to the client's specifications. The company will also suggest designs and amenities based upon the client's wishes and needs. For example, long guns may be displayed with the barrels pointing down instead of up. Combination rifle/pistol cabinets, specialty shelves and lockable storage areas are other examples of custom designs. Owner initials, nameplates and family crests provide unique touches. Most GunSafe cabinets feature leather-tucked gunstock protectors.

Barry Elkins, an attorney in Baton Rouge, La., stored his handgun collection in closets and tool chests.  Elkins wanted a lockable chest of drawers to keep the firearms safe, in the bedroom, from his young children. He also wanted to store some hand-made knives and needed space for holsters, belts and other accessories.  He sent Schlabach a computerized sketch for a pistol cabinet, and Schlabach responded by recommending a clever way to lock all seven drawers at once.  The pair sent sketches back and forth until they agreed on a functional design tailored to Elkins' needs and expectations.

“I had never seen any GunSafe products except for catalogs and brochures,” Elkins said.

“The cabinet that William Schlabach made out of cherry for me is a fine piece of furniture. It's exactly what I was looking for.”

Jim Stafford, now retired from the small manufacturing firm he owned in Albuquerque, N.M., is a gun collector and recreational shooter.  The GunSafe cabinet he ordered in cherry wood holds 12 guns, but Stafford said he should have ordered it even larger.  “I was so delighted that I wish I had had a desk built in, too,” he admitted.  “The cabinet is so much better than the literature suggested.” 

Schlabach said most gun owners he talks to don't want to hide their favorite firearms in a steel vault.  They want them displayed for all to enjoy.  “Our challenge is to make the guns as secure as possible,” he said, “without detracting from their visual and emotional appeal.”

Special door locks are virtually unpickable. Further, most cabinets feature two steel bars cleverly encased in fittings of rectangular hardwood to make theft or tampering unlikely.

The removable top bar unlocks via the same tubular key used on the door. The key also fits a steel safe in the cabinet base. The safe is ideal for storing ammunition, permits or other important documents. An adjacent shelf is adjustable for more storage space and can be fitted with a lock, if desired.

GunSafe workers will install a see-through polycarbonate shield across the lower cabinet, which renders disassembly of any firearm—assuming someone had the key to open it—which is impossible.

Schlabach explained that instead of taking apart their guns and hiding the pieces in separate places, owners can now display their favorite pieces without worry.

“Like a precious painting or other work of art, many gun owners want their possessions out to view and enjoy,” Schlabach said. “That's half of our company's goal. The other half is to ensure the guns are safe and secure.”

For more information, call 877-448-6723 or go to