Best Handgun Safes [2021]: Security and Storage for Your Pistols

by Roy Chesson

January 5, 2021

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The first thing that should be considered with firearms is safety.

When most people think about firearm safety, they think of safe firearm handling, however, safety should continue to be a concern even when you’re not using a firearm.

Handgun safes are a perfect solution to store your handgun safely so that no unauthorized persons (especially children) can have access to it while also allowing you to access your pistol in the handgun safe quickly should you need it in a defensive scenario.

Here, we rank and compare the best handgun safes to help you decide which one is best for you and your pistol.

Categories of Handgun Safes

Although there are many different styles of pistol safes, most handgun safes can be broken down into two categories:

Mechanical Handgun Safes:  Mechanical handgun safes have a mechanical locking system that doesn’t require any batteries or electricity.

Mechanical safes are very popular for their simplicity and reliability. If you’re concerned about battery or electronic failure, then you should look for a mechanical pistol safe.

Electronic Handgun Safes:  Electronic handgun safes use electricity (commonly bateries) to operate the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism itself is still mechanical.

Electronic safes for handguns are popular for users who enjoy technological features like easy code setting, multiple means of entry (some can use RFID cards), and lighting.

There are pros and cons to each category of pistol safe – let’s explore each below.

Best Handgun Safes for Each Type

Best Pistol Safes

Pistol SafeDetailsCheck Price
Best Mechanical

Fort Knox Original Pistol Box
  • Editor's Choice
  • Simplex Lock Technology
  • Heavy and Extremely Reliable
Check Price
Fastest Access

stopbox
StopBox
  • Editor's Choice
  • Lightweight and Portable
  • Extremely Fast to Access
Check Price
Best Electronic

Vaultek Essentials Pistol Safe
  • Editor's Electronic Choice
  • Rugged and Rechargeable
Check Price
Best for Travel

Vaultek Lifepod
  • Best Pistol Case for Travel
  • Extremely Rugged and Lightweight
Check Price

Spec Comparison of the Best Handgun Safes

NameMode of OperationExterior DimensionsInterior DimensionsWeight
StopBoxAll Mechanical11.25 x 7.9 x 2"8.75 x 5.75 x 1.5"28 oz
Fort Knox OriginalSimplex Lock12.5 x 4.5 x 10.5"11.63 x 3.63 x 10.25"22 lbs
Vaultek EssentialsElectronic Pin14.5 x 10.6 x 3.3"13.7 x 6.5 x 2.75"16 lbs
Vaultek LifepodElectronic Pin10.25 x 7 x 2.25"7.75 x 6 x 1.75"2.25 lbs
GunVault MultiVault Electronic Pin8.125 x 10.3 x 14"6 x 9 x 12.75"14 lbs

Hornady 4800KP

RFID Keyless Entry10.5 x 12 x 2.9"7.2 x 11 x 2.2"10.25 lbs

Reviews of the Best Mechanical Handgun Safes

Pistol safes with mechanical locking mechanisms can be either unlocked with keys or combinations. Key locks are typically very reliable, however, the keys are at risk of being lost (or found by those that shouldn’t have access). Combination locks can be handy because they aren’t as likely to be found by others and can be shared easily. However, combinations can be forgotten and certain combination locks (particuarly dial-style) can take a while to open.

The mechanical safes we recommend are just as fast as electronic safes and we even list one mechanical safe that has the fastest access of any pistol safe we’ve seen.

#1 Fort Knox Pistol Safe : Editor’s Choice

Fort Knox Pistol Safe

Sold on Amazon

Solid stay-at-home option for a mechanical handgun safe. Heavy and well-built.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Access Speed A-
  • Security A+
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

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Fort Knox Pistol Safe Specs

  • Mode of Operation Simplex Lock
  • Exterior Dimensions 12.5 x 4.5 x 10.5″
  • Interior Dimensions 11.63 x 3.63 x 10.25″
  • Weight 22 lbs
  • Special Features Simplex Mechanical Lock, Foam Lined, Pre-rilled Bolt Down Holes

Fort Knox Handgun Safe Review

When it comes to home storage handgun safes, Fort Knox is the gold standard. They’re bulky and heavy–but in a good way. They’re a pain in the butt to move place-to-place, and their heavy steel construction works as a natural deterrent to would-be thieves.

And as if the bulk alone wasn’t enough, the Fort Knox Original Pistol Box comes with 4 pre-drilled mounting holes so you can ensure your safe stays put.

The real star of the show is the Simplex mechanical locking system the box has. It’s a mechanical pin system that’s been tried and true in security systems from lockboxes to front door mechanisms.

The Fort Knox pistol safe doesn’t have a whole bunch of extra features, but that’s ok with us. It’s a simple safe that performs exactly as it should.

This is the premium option on our list and the most theft-resistant.

Fort Knox Pistol Safe Pros and Cons

  • Mechanical Safe Reliability
  • Simplex Lock Design
  • Pre Drilled Mounting Holes
  • Heavy and Sturdy
  • Not Readily Portable

#2 StopBox Pistol Safe : Fastest Access

StopBox Pistol Safe

Sold at StopBoxUSA.com

A portable and lightweight mechanical handgun lockbox with super quick-access.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Access Speed A+
  • Security C
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

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StopBox Specs

  • Mode of Operation All Mechanical Patent Pending Lock System
  • Exterior Dimensions 11.25 x 7.9 x 2″
  • Interior Dimensions 8.75 x 5.75 x 1.5″
  • Weight 28 oz
  • Special Features 5 Available Colors, Adjustable Combination with Actuator Accessories Available, Security Cable Ready

StopBox Review

If you’re looking for a lightweight, yet secure way of storing your pistol, that is super fast to open, then the StopBox is the way to go. Note, however, that this lockbox is not a “safe.” It is made from plastic and is meant to prevent unathorized acces (especially by children) and is not meant to hold up to an adult with the intent to gain access.

It’s quite unique for a mechanical lockbox. Many mechanical safes you’ll come across–such as our #1 on this list–tend to be large and heavy. However, the StopBox can give you the reliability of a mechanical safe along with portability.

The locking mechanism is actually a patent pending StopBox design that brings together a few different elements in order to operate. It may seem a bit tricky at first, but after practice, you’ll be able to access your weapon extremely quickly and efficiently.

StopBoxes come with a variety of other features alongside its size/weight advantage. It’s a slim-lined box for ultimate discretion; however, if you want to personalize it, there are 5 different colors to choose from. Also, you can swap out the locking mechanism for an advanced lock to provide even more locking combinations. Not to mention, it comes security cable ready.

StopBox Pros and Cons

  • Insanely fast
  • Lightweight and Portable
  • Very Reliable
  • Personalized Color and Lock Combination
  • Cable Ready
  • Takes Time to Learn How to Operate Locking Mechanism Efficiently
  • Low security rating

Best Electronic Handgun Safe Reviews

Electronic safes can be opened either by combination buttons, fingerprints, RFID cards, and, in some cases, mobile devices.

Here’s a note: fingerprint/biometric gun safes might seem like a good idea, but we only recommend them if they also have combination button access. Also, in case of electronic failure, we recommend choosing a safe with a backup mechanical method of entry.

#1 Vaultek Essentials : Best Electronic Pistol Safe

Vaultek Essentials

Sold on Vaultek

Heavy duty rechargeable electronic safe with backlit keypad entry.

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  • Reliability A
  • Access Speed A
  • Security A-
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

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Vaultek Essentials Pistol Safe Specs

  • Mode of Operation Electronic Pin
  • Exterior Dimensions 14.5 x 10.6 x 3.3″
  • Interior Dimensions 13.7 x 6.5 x 2.75″
  • Weight 16 lbs
  • Special Features Backlit Keypad, Rechargable Battery, Interior Red Light, Anti-Pry Bars

Vaultek Essentials Handgun Safe Review

The Vaultek Essentials is one of two of Vaultek’s signature VT series–the cheaper of the two nonetheless (more on this in a bit). It’s a steel-formed case and the heaviest electronic handgun safe on our list.  The Essentials pistol safe is actually large enough to store two full-sized pistols with extra magazines for each. And it comes with mounting hardware and included security cable, so you can choose with option is best for you.

This safe’s got some pretty sweet features too. The numeric keypad is backlit, so you can make operate the unit easier at night. Plus, the interior is backlit with a soft red light. And as we mentioned earlier, it’s the cheaper of the VT series. The more expensive of the two is actually a Bluetooth model. But we highly recommend against that. Bluetooth is just another security gateway in which someone can get through to hack your safe.

Vaultek Essentials Safe Pros and Cons

  • Backlit Keypad
  • Red Interior Light
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • Anti-Pry Bars
  • Must Maintain Electrical Charge
  • Susceptible to Drop and Water Damage

#2 Vaultek Lifepod : Best for Travel

Vaultek Lifepod

Sold on Amazon

Extremely portable and weatherproof pistol safe perfect for taking outdoors.

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  • Reliability A
  • Access Speed A
  • Security B+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

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VAULTEK LIFEPOD PISTOL SAFE SPECS

  • Mode of Operation Electronic Keypad
  • Exterior Dimensions 10.25 x 7 x 2.25″
  • Interior Dimensions 7.75 x 6 x 1.75″
  • Weight 2.25 lbs
  • Special Features Features Waterproof, Airproof, Dustproof, Floats, Up to 1 Year Battery, Integrated Micro USB

VAULTEK LIFEPOD HANDGUN SAFE BACKGROUND

Our biggest gripe with this box though is that it’s possible to lock yourself out. And that’s because it comes with an

If you’re the outdoorsy type and plan on carrying along your pistol, you might want to consider the Vaultek Lifepod. The first thing you’ll notice about this pistol safe is just how light it is. At just over two pounds, it can fit snugly within your pack and minimize your carry weight. It’s another electronic keypad-type handgun safe with four available digits for the PIN. 

But what really makes this pistol safe unique from every other safe on the market is its ability to survive in the wilderness. Thanks to its specialized gasket, the Lifepod is waterproof and dustproof meaning your gun will still be safe even if you’re caught out in a storm. Another bonus is that this safe floats if dropped into water which will definitely come in handy if you’re out boating.

Our biggest gripe with this box though is that it’s possible to lock yourself out. And that’s because it comes with an anti-lockpick feature inside the box. When activated, you cannot use the key to open the safe–only the electronic PIN. And if you lose power (run out of battery), you’re screwed until you can hook up to an external power source or make a battery swap.

Vaultek Lifepod Safe Pros and Cons

  • All Weather Design
  • Floats on Water
  • Micro USB Backup
  • Long Battery Life
  • Can Lock Yourself Out of Box with Anti-Lock Pick Feature

#3 GunVault GV2000-DLX Pistol Safe

GunVault GV2000-DLX Pistol Safe

Sold on Amazon

Standard two-shelved electronic handgun safe.

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  • Reliability A-
  • Access Speed A
  • Security A+
  • Value B+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

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GunVault GV2000-DLX Safe Specs

  • Mode of Operation Electronic Pin
  • Exterior Dimensions 8.125 x 10.3 x 14″
  • Interior Dimensions 6 x 9 x 12.75″
  • Weight 14 lbs
  • Special Features Two Shelf System, Foam Lining

GunVault GV2000-DLX Safe Review

GunVault safes are another pretty popular model due to their affordability and ease of operation. But the one we really like is their GV2000. And that’s due to their heavy walled design and their single shelf. The addition of a shelf maximizes the use of vertical space and creates a two-tiered handgun safe. The extra compartment is great for stashing things such as cash, extra magazines, medicine, or even a second pistol.

However, the GunVault isn’t perfect. Out of all of the safes on this list, this model has received the most complaints of electronic component failure. And while the safe does have a manual backup key, it just goes to show why we prefer mechanical safes over electronic. Fortunately, GunVault has shown exceptional customer service in these instances and replaced the faulty equipment.

GV2000-DLX Safe Pros and Cons

  • Two Shelf Design
  • Foam Lined
  • Several Reports of Broken Lock Mechanisms
  • Not as Reliable as a Mechanical Safe

#4 Hornady RAPiD Gun Safe w/ RFID

Hornady RAPiD Gun Safe w/ RFID

Sold on Amazon

Electronic pistol safe that utilizes RFID technology.

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  • Reliability A-
  • Access Speed A
  • Security A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

TBD

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Hornady RAPiD Safe with RFID Specs

  • Mode of Operation Keypad Entry or Keyless RFID
  • Exterior Dimensions 10.5 x 12 x 2.9″
  • Interior Dimensions 7.2 x 11 x 2.2″
  • Weight 10.25
  • Special Features RFID Entry, Spring Open Assist, AC Power capable

Hornady RAPiD RFID Gun Safe Review

At first glance, the Hornady RAPiD Safe looks like it can do everything. It’s large enough to keep a full sized revolver and has a spring-open assist. And it exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testingand Materials) safety and durability standards. However, the biggest draw to the Hornady RAPiD Safe is its unique method of opening.

This safe can be opened in three ways: barrel key, electronic pin, and RFID proximity. The RFID function works by opening the safe when one of five programmable RFID decals is hovered over the lid. Hornady even provides a wristband equipped with an RFID chip that way you’re always prepared.

But even though the RFID opening is the safe’s biggest strength, it’s also the biggest weakness. With five RFIDs able to be programmed at once, it gets difficult to actually control access to your gun because anyone with an RFID can open your safe.

Hornady RAPiD Gun Safe w/ RFID Pros and Cons

  • Extremely Sturdy for an Electronic Safe
  • Can Access Safe via RFID, Barrel Key, or Pin
  • RFID Programming Can Be a HUGE Security Risk

Upgrades for Your Handgun Safe

Even if you already have a pistol safe, here are a few upgrades you should consider:

Dessicant Pouches

Despite how sealed away your firearm is away from unwanted hands or criminals, there’s always a possibility that moisture or air can seep into your safe. This can even include sticky air that gets trapped inside your safe during regular opening and closing. And depending on where you live (or the humidity of your storage location), this air can cause rust and pitting to your pistol or other stored components.

Minimize this by tossing in a few dessicant packets. These packets soak up the moisture from the air and keep your safe’s internals dry. These are a cheap, effective way to maintaining your pistol in the best condition possible. We like these from Interteck Packaging because they’re cheap, effective, and rechargable.

Security Tethering Cable

Sometimes, having your pistol in a safe just isn’t enough to deter would-be thieves. In fact, your safe may be light enough to quickly scoop up and taken to be forced open later. However, you can further protect your safe by tethering it in place using a steel security cable.

You’ll find that some safes have predrilled holes just for this purpose making the installation of a security cable very easy. However, you may have to drill a small hole in other models. But once holes are available, this security cable from Liberty is a great quality, easy-to-install option. 

Best Handgun Safes Buyers Guide

A large firearm safe is a great tool for safely storing firearms. However, if you only have a handgun, or you’d like to keep a handgun near your bedside at night so that you don’t have to get to where your large safe is in an emergency, something much smaller would be more appropriate.

Thankfully, there’s something perfect for this: a handgun safe. They not only prevent possible deadly accidents, but it also prevents their criminal misuse (potentially against you).

Unfortunately, some safes have features that we think you shoud avoid completely (biometric only access) and others have extra features that you may not need to pay for. Also, some options just aren’t realiable enough to be trusted with your life.

Don’t get caught off guard! It’s not too difficult to find a top-notch safe that you can rely on if you know what you’re looking for (if you somehow missed them, we recommend our favorites above).

In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ll help you determine the right safe for you by examining these important factors:

Benefits of Having a Pistol Safe

You may believe that you really don’t need a pistol safe. Perhaps, you live alone and in a low-crime area. However, handgun safes have many benefits–not just to prevent theft or undesired access.

  • Storing your weapon in a gun safe may be the only way to legally own a weapon, depending on where you live.
  • Handgun safes are designed to protect your weapons from damage or rust.
  • With your weapon safely stored in your safe, you won’t have to worry about children or other individuals accessing your firearm.
  • Your gun becomes much less susceptible to theft.
  • You have a secure space to store other valuables like money, jewelry, or sensitive medication.
  • Allows you to safely travel with your pistol–even on airplanes.
  • Handgun safes keep your firearm protected from the elements if bringing them outdoors when camping or hiking.

What Types of Handgun Safes Are Available?

As you can see, there are tons of different pistol safe styles. In our list above, we’ve got them broken down into two main types: mechanical and electronic. However, those are just broad generalizations.

Each specific type of handgun safe has its own merits and disadvantages. Let’s explore different types of handgun safes including the pros and cons of each.

Key Lock Gun Safe

This is the most traditional safe type you can find. These safes function via a conventional lock and key. These safes are the most reliable since there can never be any electronic malfunctions. The biggest downside to these safes is that you could lose the key to your safe. If this happens, you will need to call a locksmith to break into the safe and you will likely need to replace the entire lock.

  • Sturdy and Very Reliable
  • No Means of Electronic Failure
  • Slow to Enter
  • Normally Need a Light Source to Operate in Dark
  • Slow to Enter Normally Need a Light Source to Operate in Dark Lost Key Can Result in Needing External Help or New Safe

Wheel Combination Safe

Another traditional safe style is the wheel combination safe. These operate just like any other wheel lock. They’re very sturdy and reliable as long as they’re kept free from the elements. A gummed up combination wheel can lead to improper entry of your combination. And if you forget the combination, there’s going to be trouble. Fortunately, most of these safes come with a lock and key backup.

  • Very Secure with Thousands of Different Possible Combinations
  • No Means of Electronic Failure
  • Not Very Weatherproof
  • Takes the Longest Time to Enter Safe
  • Combinations Can Be Easily Forgotten

Push Button Pin Mechanical Safe

In this mechanical style, the safe is opened by depressing the right combination of levers (or pins) associated with the corresponding number. Often, the entire passcode is only 4 or 6 digits long allowing for an easy to remember push code. These often allow a much faster access than wheel combination safes or traditional key locks. However, they’re much more prone to internal breakage of the actual lock mechanism.

  • Much Quicker to Enter than Other Mechanical Options
  • Code is Easy to Remember
  • More Moving Parts than Key Lock so More Potential Breakage

Electronic Pin Gun Safes

These operate on the same principle of having a pin number like the push button mechanical safes above. However, with this safe, your pin is input via a keypad like on an ATM. These safes provide a super fast entry when compared to mechanical safes. Being electronically operated, these safes require a power source and are normally battery operated. The major downsides to these safes are that the batteries don’t last forever. Thankfully, most of these safes come with a mechanical means of backup entry such as a key or combination lock.

  • Very Fast and Easy to Access
  • Easy to Remember Pin
  • Backlit Keypads Allow for Low Light Operation
  • Batteries and Electric Charge Must Be Maintained
  • Units Without Mechanical Entry Backup Render Your Weapon Unaccessible in Zero Battery Situation

Biometric Gun Safes

These safes are the most secure to get for your home because they have a scanner that reads your fingerprints. Every human on earth has a unique set of fingerprints, and no one but those who have access to the safe will ever be able to open it. However, most of these types of safes allow you to program in many different fingerprints that way other trusted individuals can have access. Biometric gun safes are electric and usually have additional access methods such as a traditional key or number lock so you can still get access to your weapon should something cut the battery life short.

  • Fingerprint Locked
  • Can Program In Multiple People
  • Fastest Safe to Enter and Access
  • Batteries Must Be Maintained Charged
  • Fingerprint Sensor Must be Maintained Clean At All Times
  • Extremely Unreliable

Construction and Durability of Your Handgun Safe

One of the most important things to check when purchasing a handgun safe is its construction and durability.

You’ll want to ensure that your safe is going to be made out of a heavy-duty quality material. For less portable–and often mechanical safes–you’ll find that pistols safes have a high grade steel construction. While durable, this makes the safe much heavier and more difficult to tote around.

If you’re looking for something a bit more portable, you should opt for a polymer constructed safe. These are usually much lighter and easier to transport. Either safe can provide a high degree of protection and security for your handgun.

However, you do need to beware of low-grade weapon safes. You’ll normally find these being passed off as “budget cases”. But as is the case with many things, you often get what you pay for. Guns are expensive and dangerous. There’s no need to jeopardize safety or your investment on a cheap knockoff.

How Big Does Your Pistol Safe Need to Be?

When it comes to determining the right size of your pistol safe, there’s a couple different things you need to consider.

First, what exactly do you plan on storing in your pistol safe? Of course, you’ll have your pistol–that’s a no-brainer. And you’re also going to want room for a magazine or two. But what about anything else?

You may find that your pistol safe is also another great place to stash some emergency cash or sensitive medicines. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that your home safe is 1.5x bigger than you need it to be.

For instance, if your gun is 7” long by 5” tall, you’re going to need a safe whose minimum interior dimensions are slightly larger than that. But by getting a safe where your pistol fits extra snug, you eliminate extra room for magazines or other valuables. So instead, opt for dimensions that are 1.5x bigger. This would be a 10.5” x 7.5” interior measurement for the above gun.

Second, you’re going to want to consider the portability of your pistol safe. Typically, the larger the safe…the heavier and more difficult it’s going to be transferring it from place to place. If you’re looking for a handgun safe that you can just grab and go, you may want to consider pistol safes made out of sturdy polymer instead of steel casing.

Additional Features for Your Handgun Safe

When it comes to shopping for your next handgun safe, there are a bunch of other cool features you might want to check out.

Textured Button Indicators

If you’re going to need to access your safe quickly in the event of a home invasion, it’s probably going to be during nighttime. And that can present a certain difficulty if you can’t make out which buttons to press in order to enter your combination code. Look for safes that have textured button indicators–similar to Braille–that way you can determine what buttons your fingers are on even in the dark.

Lighting

Opening your safe in the dark may present a bit of a challenge no matter what type of safe you get. However, choosing a safe with exterior lighting can be a real life-saver. With many electronic safes, you’ll find backlit keypads or even small lights on the exterior to help you get into your pistol safe even in the darkest of environments.

Rechargeable Batteries

One of the biggest issues with electronic safes is that the batteries need to be maintained and swapped out. But some safes make it easier by having built-in rechargeable batteries. These work just like your phone does. When the battery life is running low, simply plug your safe into its charger, and you won’t have to worry about keeping batteries on hand for it.

Multi Layered or Drawers

Sometimes the best way to get more room in your safe isn’t by buying a longer or wider safe. It’s about stacking vertically. Getting a safe with drawers or multiple layers can give you more room not just for your weapon but extra mags, rounds, or pistol light. Just keep in mind…These safes are going to weigh much more than their single shelf counterparts and will probably be best as stationary safes.

Water and Weatherproof

If you plan on bringing your handgun with you on a camping or canoe trip, you’re definitely going to want to have a weather and waterproof safe. Exposing your gun directly to the elements over time can lead to rusting or other damage. Fortunately, there are lightweight cases available that are not only water and dirt resistant but will float in case of an overboard situation.

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About Roy Chesson

Roy Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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