buying a gun safe

Discussion in 'misc hunting and range related' started by grumpyvette, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    if you have more than a couple firearms chances are excellent that you should have a safe place to store them away from kids, and a safe place to limit or deny access by many amateur burglars, a good safe is a great start but a layered approach with an alarm system ,makes a great deal of sense.
    do some detailed research and don,t waste money on a cheap and nearly useless "security closet"

    all entrances under camera surveillance, doors with good locks, windows with hurricane rated glass and alarm contacts, motion detectors and a battery back-up so cutting phone lines and power to a home does not disable the alarm systems ability to call for outside law enforcement, helps
    if your serious about your firearms and valuables security you'll use a multi layered approach to security and do some research into what safe you need
    most "gun safes" will provide basic security
    but they are hardly the best choice if your serious, and its rather easy to accumulate a great many firearms over a few decades that both cost a great deal originally and those that can,t easily be replaced as many are no longer in production decades later, and most home owner insurance does not cover fire arms collections unless a specific addition rider is listed. an option to flood the room with pepper spray the alarm system dispenses, might be one option

    most home robbery's are committed by kids, drug addicts or professional thieves, and they generally want to take as little times as possible to limit risk of getting caught, almost any safe thats securely bolted to the floor and at least one wall will prevent the local kids and drug users from accessing the contents but, most cheap gun safes are easily opened by professionals,

    but you can greatly reduce your risk and their chances of success with careful planing, and careful site prep and your choice of safe.
    first DON,T ADVERTISE, to friends or acquaintances, that you own firearms or other valuables, a great many house burglary,s are the result of too much info getting to the wrong ears.
    most "GUN SAFES" are rather poorly made with thin sheet metal walls and have limited protection potential compared to most commercial safes, you can generally buy a used commercial safe rated for at least 30 minutes TL30 or better for the same cost as a new gun safe , an inch thick door on a gun safe doesn,t mean squat if the side armor is a pitiful 10ga-12ga or even, 1/8" thick, ID also point out you need a LAYERED alarm system with a cell phone dialer, and battery back-up so cutting phone lines and power does not stop the alarm from contacting police.

    obviously if the crooks don,t know about the safe thats a huge advantage! better locks, on outside doors, requiring a key from both sides, expanded steel screen over door windows, a monitored alarm,with cameras, video surveillance with a recorder OFF SITE and BOLTING the safe, in your office if you have one, to the concrete floor or joists would help, as would a locked fence and a couple large dogs, yeah its a p.i.t.a. but until its legal to shoot thieves caught in the act with zero legal issues, and they start giving thieves a MANDATORY first time sentence in jail, thats likely to be required
    its not that easy! to force a quality security safe like a typical gun safe, decent security safes have an INNER and OUTER steel box , and the steels at least 1/4" thick MINIMUM, usually a good deal thicker with several inches of special formula concrete poured between the inner and outer walls, that contains super hard metallic material, and structural re-bar in the slurry that transfers heat and makes cutting very difficult or nearly impossible, plus adds significant weight, making moving the safe without major equipment rather difficult especially if its bolted internally to the concrete slab and at least one concrete wall, and with a decent security system theres a silent alarm/hostage alert system code, that's optionally activated without on premises indicators
    next if your going to buy a decent gun safe don,t scrimp and buy cheap junk, get a decent safe and BOLT it to both an outside solid wall and the floor to make access much more difficult.

    any safe should be firmly bolted to a solid floor and if possible one or two walls

    WATCH VIDEOS ... id=flinbox ... safe.shtml ... 7Aod9g0Ajg

    FOUR OF THE 4 3/4"-6" long 5/8" diam expansion bolts with a couple large fender washers, should be used, one in each corner on a concrete floor
    correctly installed each bolt will require more than 3000lbs of pull force to shear
    deal with a REAL safe company not some sporting goods store, a real safe company will have a fork lift or other method of moving a 4000-6000lb safe, get a TL30 or TL 60 rated safe! and while they may charge to install the safe youll know its been done correctly, btw what damn good does it to to have a 1" thick steel door that locks into a solid frame on a "GUN SAFE" if its on a 10 GA safe body?, and any moron with a portable plazma cutter or air chisel, or axe and or 5-6 ft pry bar, can open a 10 ga steel safe body in minutes, 10 ga is just a bit over 1/8" thick ... metal.html
    heres what a fire axe can do to a cheap gun safe with sheet metal body
    watch these ... re=related ... re=related ... y_trtl30x6 ... ty-3910204
    you usually get what you pay for , but some fairly cheap safes are fairly decent values

    most large citys have a dealer in USED commercial safes that can get you a decent deal on a used safe that will cost less and give you a better safe for the money spent, and you can have it professionally installed or at least get some good advice on how to go about it.

    a decent commercial safe is a totally different class of safe from the typical gun safe
    a typical gun safe weights in at 600-1500lbs, and have, 10ga-1/8" thick walls only the better brands high end designs have a minimum of 1/4"-3/8" walls, good versions are 1/2"-1" thick , some have two walls separated by inches of re=enforced concrete and re-bar a decent security safe can weight 4000-6000lbs,and have 3"-5" thick walls composed of steel surface and concrete filled walls and a 1" or thicker door backed with several more inches of layered bracing, and USED commercial safes cost, is frequently similar to a new gun safe.
    [​IMG] ... rity-safes ... guide.html

    it should be obvious that if you bolt a safe into the back corner of a small closet , and used quality locking bolts to bolt it into a solid floor,you limit easy access with tools, naturally the type of floor and safe will dictate the anchoring methods required but making access to the safe restricted improves security.
    it should also be obvious that having a QUALITY alarm system,on your home (REDUNDANT ALARM SYSTEMS ARE OBVIOUSLY EVEN BETTER)
    Word of caution for you guys using cell network to transmit security data.
    A cheap ass ebay cell jammer makes your shit worthless. Have a hardline to a batt backup pc running a google phone number as backup.
    ESPECIALLY THOSE that, are monitored 24/7/365 and having a system that dials police if activated on the house key pad that can,t be disabled by cutting phone lines, or cutting power to the house,equipped with an exceedingly loud alarm bell or siren, that's hard to locate or disable is MANDATORY, as is a hostage/silent alarm code activation option
    Don,t think that the cost of a decent safe is wasted money
    your very unlikely to buy a decent safe and not be able to sell it several years later for near what you paid for it or more, and you might be astounded at what a few common firearms would cost to replace.
    one of my neighbors had two deer rifles he purchased in the 1970s for less than $200 each, stolen from his home while he was on vacation, too replace them now with identical rifles cost him almost $1900
    his wife lost some jewelry and was shocked to find its replacement cost was easily 20 times what she originally paid for it in the 1960s
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2017
  2. DorianL

    DorianL solid fixture here in the forum Staff Member

    Won't spreading the word that you own a gun and are willing to use it deter would-be fools? :mrgreen:
  3. DorianL

    DorianL solid fixture here in the forum Staff Member

    Considering a biometric safe - scans fingerprint...
  4. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    theres options if you have some cash and want something impressive ... lar-vaults & Storage-_-Winchester-_-952493&sdc_id=eBay

    keep in mind that having a thick door and door frame and large locking bolts may seem impressive but if the safe body steel is listed as a 3/16"-to_-1/8" or even flimsy, 10 ga-12 ga steel, like most of the less expensive safes have the doors strength is almost meaningless

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2017
  5. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    heres a cut & paste you might find useful
    " I apologize in advance for the length of this post but I recently bought a gun safe and did a fair amount of internet research before buying. I hope the information below will compensate for the length.

    A lot of the information below comes from a couple of professional safe technicians who post on the internet. One of them is a dealer for Graffunder, which is one of three manufacturers that sells gun safes that are true safes. Another is a safe technician who sells gun safes as a “sideline” to his real business, which is installing and servicing safes for stores and banks. However, I have not discussed any of the information below with either of these two gentlemen, and any mistakes in the information below are mine and mine alone. Full disclosure, the latter sold me my current gun safe.

    First, some background. There are two ratings systems for safes. The UL rating, and the SMNA (Safe Manufacturers National Association) “rating” which preceded the UL rating and is accepted by insurance companies for risk assessment (i.e. how much to charge safe owners for insurance policies on the contents). The SMNA rating is based on the construction of the safe, specifically the thickness and type of steel used in building it.

    The UL ratings are:

    RSC (residential security container). This means that the container will resist one trained safe cracker trying to break into it using a short handled hammer and large screwdriver (no power tools) for at least 5 minutes. Not very impressive, is it? In my opinion, these are not true safes.

    TL-15. This means that the safe will resist entry for a period of at least 15 minutes against all common hand tools (hammers, pry bars, chisels, etc.) , power tools (drills, saws, grinders, etc.) and pressure applying devices used by trained team of safe crackers.

    TL-30. This means that the safe will resist entry for a period of at least 30 minutes against all common hand tools (hammers, pry bars, chisels, etc.) , power tools (drills, saws, grinders, etc.) and pressure applying devices used by trained safe crackers.

    UL likes to brag that the best safe crackers in the world are UL technicians.

    The SMNA rating system is as follows:

    B-rate. ½” plate steel door, ¼” plate steel body

    C-rate. 1” plate steel door, ½” plate steel body

    E-rate. 1½” plate steel door, 1” plate steel body

    F-rate. 1 ½” laminated steel door with 1”plate steel and ½” manganese steel, and 1” plate steel body.

    In practice, a TL-15 UL rated safe would have E-rate construction, and a TL-30 UL rated safe would have F-rate construction.

    In addition, you should know that all true safes (i.e. safes used for documents, jewelry, etc.) with UL fire ratings (the most stringent and reputable rating) all use a composite construction with a concrete-like filling between the outer plate and the inner safe lining. This composite construction adds additional protection against brute force entry into the safe, as well as additional weight. No UL rated fire safe uses gypsum board/sheet rock or ceramic lining, which is what almost all gun safes use for fire protection. Also, as far as I know, almost no gun safe has a UL fire rating, although many will claim to use UL rated parts (which is a different matter). There are a few gun safes that use the same construction as UL rated fire safes, however.

    So how much safe do you need? Here are some recommendations from Graffunder, a true safe manufacturer, based on the value of the contents:

    Up to $30,000 B-rate
    $30,000 - $100,000 C-rate
    $100,000-$400,000 E-rate
    $400,000-$800,000 F-rate

    The safe and vault technician that I talked to recommended:

    Up to about $25,000 B-rate
    Up to about $75,000 C-rate
    Over $75,000 E-rate

    By the way, I call him a technician and not a safe salesman. He does moving, maintaining, locksmithing and emergency opening of safes and vaults in businesses such as jewelry stores, up to the type of vault in your local bank. Gun safes are a very minor part of his business.

    The above assumes that your house is also alarmed. As you can see, although there are some detail differences in recommendations, there are broad similarities in their recommendations, which gives some degree of confidence.

    Now, the kicker. Almost all gun safes sold by gun shops or sporting goods dealers are not true safes, but RSCs. This includes ALL gun safes by Fort Knox, Browning, Liberty, Patriot, Sentry, Sturdy, Cannon, Champion, Stack-On, Winchester, etc.


    The reason – they don’t use sufficient thickness of steel. Most use 12 gauge (0.105”) or 10 gauge (0.134”) steel for the body. Sturdy uses 7 gauge steel (0.179”). Fort Knox uses a 3/16” (0.187”) steel body on their top of the line models. With all of these, a fire ax or concrete saw will go through the wall in a few minutes. With an E-rate safe (1.00” solid steel), a fire ax will most likely scratch the paint really badly - an exaggeration, but you get the idea. A bazillion locking lugs sticking in all directions like a hedgehog and folded edges won’t make up for thin steel. A solid 1” thick welded steel plate body will resist prying better than a 3/16” folded edge. This is not to say there are not differences between them in security. But none qualify as full B-rate construction, the lowest SMNA rating.

    If you think this doesn't make a difference, here is a picture of a Liberty "gun safe" that was broken into with a fire axe in a couple minutes: ... ry2dy3.jpg

    Most gun safe manufacturers make only gun safes. They do not make safes suitable for grocery stores, jewelry shops, casinos or other businesses that need a real safe to store money and valuables, or fire safes suitable for storing valuable documents, etc. BTW, if you have valuable documents, the best place to store them is in a bank safety deposit box, not your home safe.

    As far as I know, there are only three manufacturers that make gun safes that are true safes: AMSEC (BF series with a ½” door, and composite body construction, not quite B rate but reasonably close, and HS – TL15 and TL-30 rated safes), Graffunder (B to F-rate safes plus custom), and Brown (B to F-rate safes). These manufacturers are also the ones that have composite safes built like true fire safes. Not coincidentally they are also the only gun safe manufacturers that make true safes that go into jewelry stores, etc.

    So why doesn’t everybody make true safes as gun safes? Two reasons – weight and cost. A true B-rate gun safe with fire protection weighs upward of 1500 lbs, a C-rate upwards of 2000 lbs, an E-rate safe upwards of 2500 lbs. This means ground floor placement on a concrete slab is mandatory in most cases. Getting a couple of your friends together to move it in is not an option – unless your friends are professional safe movers. If you live in an apartment building, installing an E-rate safe may not be an option simply due to sheer weight. Even if you live in your own house, installing a safe on the second floor could be heavier than the building was designed to support.

    Cost is the other factor – an AMSEC BF, which is the closest to a true B-rate of any of the popular “gun safes” is going to be $2000 and up street price. Increase the rating, increase the cost. An E-rate gun safe with fire protection is going to run about $6000 or more, not including delivery and installation. A lot of gun owners don’t want to pay that much money for a safe. The safe tech that I bought my safe from suggested that a good safe would cost about 10% of the value of its contents, which is what mine worked out to be. When you consider that a safe is a lifetime investment, it’s relatively cheap insurance - the problem is, you have to pay for a safe in one installment, so to speak, whereas most of us accumulated our firearms over time. When you add up the total cost of your guns it can be quite a shock. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for. If you want a true safe, it's going to cost you. But consider how much money you have in your guns, how much they are worth to you beyond just the money, and how you'll feel if a gun that was stolen from you is used in a crime.

    After considering all this I wound up spending a lot more money than I had originally planned – but I’m satisfied with the additional security and peace of mind it bought me.

    Hope this helps"
  6. 87vette81big

    87vette81big Guest

    Just how good are vintage safes Grumpy ?
    Like the kind old banks would have from the 1930's - 1960's.
    I see them come up on adds and auctions sometimes.
    Some appear to weigh 8000-15000 #s.
    No idea how you would ever move one that big.
    Big forklift. Or a rented crane.
    Let alone get it into a basement.

    Any C4 Explosion proof.
    Fun question.
    See it done on the old 1930's to 1970's movies.

    Thinking of the old Clint Eastwood 1975 movie THUNDER BOLT & LIGHTFOOT.
    Beau Bridges in movie too.
    Starts off Clint is a preacher with a previous safe cracker life.
    Mob catches up.
    Fast get away in a 1973 Super Duty 455 Trans Am automatic.
  7. 87vette81big

    87vette81big Guest

    Fort Knox is the target prize.
    They get in & grab the gold.
    Clint uses a 20mm Calibur anti plane - tank gun.
    Blast right through 4 feet if rebar concrete wall.
    Good old movie.
    Sure you recall it too Grumpy.

  8. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    yes I remember that movie, I remember the ass end of the car the guy drove, had the trunk area jacked up about 12"than it should have been


    vintage safes are in general much better made from serious steel but the locks need to be upgraded an older safe will not have auto RE-lockers, and punch plates , that are designed to jam the lock closed if bent etc. like the better newer safes, most (GUN SAFES) are a joke as far as security goes, they may look impressive but the body not the door is frequently very vulnerable, if you visit a real commercial safe dealer he might show you the difference and have a deal, or two in used commercial safes
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2017
  9. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

  10. Jeffdn02

    Jeffdn02 New Member

    This is a bit old but I thought this might help as well as far as fireproofing is concerned (copy and paste):

    Pay Attention To Fire Protection Rating So You Don’t Get Burned

    There are a ton of different options out there and information that makes it very overwhelming to try and narrow it down to the perfect safe. One of the best routes is to shop according to type of safe that fits your specific needs. The term ‘fireproof’ is pretty generic and there are several different ratings based on the materials the safe is made from.

    Taken from:
  11. Peter Kein

    Peter Kein New Member

    If you are excited to get the gun safe online, you must make the right move now! Instead of worrying on what to pick from, don’t hesitate to check the different features of the gun safe. Through the use of gun safe reviews you can decide which unit can prove to be effective and which cannot. So, pick the right one and see how this gun safe works.
  12. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    read the info carefully, and remember the strength of the door and door frame and lock may be impressive,
    but if the body of the safe is listed as 12ga -18 ga or 2MM -too-3 MM .
    its a fairly cheap & flimsy steel box, that a determined theif can cut or pry open if given access and some time. the object of having a gun safe is too prevent your valuables from being stolen,and a good theif will have some idea how to break into most flimsy safes.
    remember it takes 24.5 mm to make one inch and if its 18 ga,
    that means you stack 18 sheets of steel that thick to equal 1 inch
    with today's tools neither thin sheet steel provides much protection.
    the better commercial safes, will generally have both an inner and outer steel wall with special formula concrete and a net of steel re-bar in between the inner and outer walls, floor and roof and back walls, that are 1"-to-6" thick, and the door will also be multi layered and recessed in a solid or thick box steel frame, that makes the safe weight a good deal more and makes cutting with a torch or cutting tool far more difficult!
    in most large citys, used or re-conditioned commercial safes, that are far suoperior in design and construction, are available if you shop carefully,
    in any case , remember to securely bolt any safe to at least the floor and one or ideally two walls with high quality fasteners designed for that type job and having redundent MONITORED burglar alarms that can,t easily be cut or easily dis-abled makes a good deal of sense
    remember that as with most tend to
    "get what you pay for" and while a typical gun safe does provide decent security to keep the kids and local non-pro drug user's out of the contents
    its a muli -layer security approach with quality home, door and window locks,
    ,redundant alarms. that can,t be disabled by cutting power or phone lines,
    quality bump proof ,house locks that can,t easily be bye-passed and bolting the safe to both the floor and at least one wall ,
    to reduce the chances of it being easily opened by non-professionals.
    remember the longer it takes to gain access the greater the chance the thieves will be caught,
    monitored key pad alarm systems, and loud alarms,bells and sirens,
    that can,t easily be disabled,
    alarms that dial police even if phone and power lines are cut increase risk to

    spending $1500 to prevent $2000 of contents from being stolen seems like it would be rather foolish,
    but spending $1500-to $3500 to prevent $30K-70K of contents from being stolen seems like it would be rather a good investment,
    and it might amaze many people how quickly the total value of a firearms collection tends to increase, a simple 30/30 rifle you paid $68 dollars for in the 1960s
    or a S&W model 27 you paid $250 for in the 1970s,
    could easily be worth well over $1000 now
    I priced out a couple rifles I own and most now cost 3-6 times what I paid in the 1970s

    it would make little sense to spend $1500-$2500 on a cheap gun safe that you may have over time filled with $15K-$50K worth of valuables like jewelry and firearms , when a much more secure,and possiably larger, used commercial safe, can be purchased for $2500-$3500 in most areas.
    and like a garage no mater how big you build or buy one it will eventually be filled to capacity
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  13. Rob Tredwell

    Rob Tredwell New Member

    Guns safe can be a tricky to buy. Quite a lot of points to keep in mind while buying them. I would say weight of gun safe is quite crucial. heavier it is more likely good quality steel is used in it. Although some may say that its filled with hard rock but hard rock density is still lower than steel. So guys its really upto what you can afford. My second suggestion is to buy expensive gun safe that can last for years in terms of space.
  14. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    if your city or a reasonably close location, has one or more dealer,s in used and or refurbished commercial safes, (TL30-TL60 x6)

    you would be smart to at least look over their inventory,(s) and not be in a huge rush too buy a gun-safe,
    as inventory changes and youll occasionally see decent deals at many commercial safe dealers
    Id also suggest you discuss transport, delivery and installation, while that may or may not be included in the price,
    your going to need to deal with those factors as a decent safe will weigh between 1500 lb and 5000 lbs,
    placing its transport and installation out of the range most home owners can easily handle by themselves
    and certainly a truck with a lift gate and maybe a fork lift, would be required

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017

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