Rifle rods are handy pieces of plastic and Velcro that allow gun owners to store rifles vertically rather than at an angle. According to the product’s inventors at Gun Storage Solutions, vertical storage doubles the number of rifles that can be fit into a safe, delaying the need for larger (and more expensive) storage solutions.
The Velcro attachments also allow for much easier access to rifles stored at the back of a safe. I don’t have many rifles, but I’m constantly removing each of my long guns just to reach the one at the back. Rifle rods let me arrange my firearms in a grid, so if I need one at the back I only have to remove the rifles immediately in front of it.
But at $39.95 for the smallest kit, rifle rods from GSS have always struck me as overpriced. I don’t know what it costs to make a rifle rod, but it can’t be more than $0.50. I’ve also noticed that the plastic rods tend to bend on guns with heavy barrels or heavy scopes.
So, I decided to make my own. After a bit of internet research (thanks especially to Youtube user ramssl!), I came up with a solution you can make at home. Here’s what you need:
- Length of 3/16 in. or 1/8 in. steel rod, depending on the caliber of your rifles. Three-sixteenth inch works for .30 cal. bores, but it’s a bit tight for anything smaller.
- Wooden drawer pulls
- Black polyolefin heat shrink tubing
- Optional: Paint
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Shoving steel rods down a rifle barrel is a great way to ruin the barrel. But that’s where the shrink tubing comes in, which you can find in the electrical section of your local hardware store.
This list also assumes that your safe is already covered in carpeting. If it isn’t, you’ll need to attach a carpet-like substance for the Velcro to adhere to.
Step 1: Measure and cut the rod
The length of your rod will depend entirely on your safe and your guns. I bought 48” rod and cut each piece in half. I have a top shelf in my safe, so my rods didn’t need to be any longer than 24”.
I used a simple hacksaw to cut the rods. I placed each rod in a vise and cut through in less than a minute.
Step 2: Flatten the drawer pull
The drawer pulls will need to be flattened to ensure sufficient Velcro attachment. If you leave them rounded, only the top portion of the Velcro will meet the carpeting.
A band saw would have expedited this process. Since I don’t have one, I just used extra-rough sandpaper and a block of wood.
Step 3: Attach rod to drawer pulls
The 3/16” rod fit snugly into my drawer pulls. I used a hammer to seat the rod, being careful not to split the pull.
To attach the 1/8” rod, you can plug the drawer pull with a 3/16” piece of Dowling. Place a small amount of wood glue in the hole and cut the Dowling rod flush. Once the glue is dry, you can drill an appropriately-sized hole.
SEE ALSO: GunsAmerica’s Gun Safe Buying Guide
Step 4 (Optional): Paint
Wooden drawer pulls are handy because you can paint them or stain them however you think is best. I painted mine black so they wouldn’t be visible in my safe.
Step 5: Cut and attach Velcro
I used a box cutter and a quarter to cut the Velcro into nearly circular pieces. The Velcro I purchased came with a sticky back, so once I cut the pieces I just had to attach them to the drawer pulls.
Be sure to test several different diameters of Velcro circles to determine which works best in your safe. If the piece is too small the rifle rod won’t securely hold your rifle. But if the piece is too large it might pull the carpeting in your safe or even detach from the drawer pull.
I found a quarter-sized piece of Velcro to be just right. I also secured the carpeting above my rifles with a few extra staples.
Step 6: Attach the heat shrink tubing
You can find shrink tubing in the electrical section of your local hardware store (be sure to purchase the correct sized tubing!). Cut a section of tubing approximately one inch longer than the steel rod and slide it up.
Heat the tubing with a hot air gun until it shrinks down to the size of the rod. If you don’t have a hot air gun (like me), a hair dryer works as well (though it takes much longer).
Keep a one-inch piece of tubing hanging off the end of the rod. This protects your bolt face in case the rod falls down the barrel.
Step 7: Enjoy all that extra safe space!
I have a rifle and a shotgun I rarely use, and three rifles I use all the time. Before installing the rifle rods, I was constantly having to remove two rifles to access the one I needed. Now I have all three lined up, so I can grab the one I need and get to the range.
While I probably spent more on these rods than I would have on official Rifle Rods, the result is higher quality. These rods are custom-fit to my safe and they won’t bend trying to hold up my heavy rifles. Plus, the next time I purchase a new long gun, I can make a new rifle rod with the leftover parts from this project.