As of writing this, the AR remains on the high side of the sine-wave pattern it has been on since becoming the lightning rod for gun control advocates. The good news is that this drives sales up. Pressure for gun bans also brings in new customers who are first-time buyers and want to make sure they get a gun while they can still buy one legally, and who are often particularly interested in the AR platform. They also tend be concerned about safe storage — and if they’re not, it’s your duty as a retailer to make sure they become that way before they leave. While many seasoned firearms owners already have a way to keep their guns secure and out of unsafe hands (be it a strong room, safe or other device), new buyers are still looking for a way to secure that first gun. From this vantage point, it makes sense to look at the AR Blocker as an add-on for an AR purchase.

Retailing for $39.95, the AR Blocker is the second product from gunBlocker, whose U.S.-made Pistol gunBlocker was named one of the top 10 innovations of 2015 at last year’s NRA Show. A multi-caliber device with a unique geometric key, the pistol blocker retails for $19.95 and fits most pistols over .380 ACP caliber. It can be easily modified to fit a .380, but cannot be used on larger pistols afterwards. After testing by a German proving ground, it has been approved for use in California and Maryland, as well as other states. The AR-15 gunBlocker is a natural progression of that technology.

Made of a proprietary military-grade polymer, the red-colored AR Blocker inserts into the magwell of virtually any unloaded rifle that takes an AR magazine (gunBlocker has a lengthy list on their website) and locks into place with a unique Abus security key that makes the lock almost impossible to pick. The fruit of a meeting at IWA where the original designers of the device turned it over to the gunBlocker company for completion. Once the blocker is inserted (the gun must be empty and the bolt locked back) and the push button is pressed, a locking rod protrudes from the device toward the rear of the rifle. Not only can it not be removed — making it impossible to put a magazine in the rifle — but the chamber cannot be loaded, and the upper and lower cannot be separated. The partially withdrawn bolt is held in place by the buffer tube so the upper cannot be lifted off the rear. Simple and intuitive to use, the device comes out in a matter of seconds once the key is inserted and turned, making the rifle functional again.

The Abus security key is crucial to the practicality of the device. It uses a set of dimples on the side of the key instead of the traditional toothed key, which is relatively easy to pick by those with a working knowledge of locks. Each unit comes with two keys and a plastic card with the key’s coding on it so the key can be reproduced if it is lost. Obviously, the wise user will store this somewhere other than with the key or lock. Blocker asks users to contact them soon after the purchase with certain identifying information so if someone does call later and ask for another key, they will be able to call the original purchaser and verify the request before producing the key. In other words, Blocker will not simply send another key. Blocker also has the ability to produce multiple units with the same key — an important option for law enforcement agencies or those with multiple AR-style rifles.

While it cannot stop theft, the AR Blocker does insure that anyone stealing the gun is going to have a hard time finding a way to use it other than as a club. With nothing to pry against but a thin polymer lip protruding from the magwell, it seems highly unlikely that it could be removed without power tools and a fair amount of time to work on it. Although it’s always better to control access to the gun entirely — such as having it locked in a safe — the AR Blocker does keep the gun from being used by unauthorized people when this is not an option and can keep curiosity from becoming fatal.

“Our idea of success is to save a lot of lives,” said Rich Wilson, part owner of gunBlocker.

A retired policeman who invested 26 years into his service, Wilson has seen firsthand the results of guns in the hands of people who had no business with them and sees this device as a way to “protect the Second Amendment, families, community and kids.” The first concern is more pressing than ever — irresponsible ownership and unsafe storage provides fodder for those who wish to ban firearms and, worse, yet leads to tragedy and loss of life for which the owner of the gun is morally responsible, if not legally. For users who do not have access to a safe, or for times when a rifle needs to be accessible but not to all comers, the Blocker is an excellent option. For more information, go to www.gunblocker.com.