There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a gun safe . The first is the overall size and shape of the gun safe . If you only need to store handguns, then a safe designed just for handguns is all you need – they are much smaller than safes designed to store rifles and shotguns, and less expensive. On the other hand, if you do need to secure rifles and/or shotguns, then you obviously need a tall, narrow, cabinet style gun safe . The number of guns that you need to store is another factor that will determine the size of the safe that you purchase. Also, if you have rifles with scopes mounted, you need to consider the extra clearance necessary for the scopes.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the gun safe is burglary rated. While a non-burglary-rated gun safe will keep the kids out, it might not protect your guns from a determined burglar who knows what they’re doing. So if theft is a concern, make sure the gun safe you choose has a burglary rating.
You will also need to consider the fire rating of the gun safe . The fire rating of a safe is the number of hours that the safe can remain in a 1700 degrees F fire before the internal temperature of the safe rises above 350 degrees F. In order to protect your guns from a typical house fire, look for a fire rating of at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
You will also want to consider the type of locking mechanism used by the gun safe . Models are available with either a traditional mechanical combination dial or with an electronic keypad lock. The electronic keypad lock is much more convenient than the mechanical combination lock.
Safeandvault.com offers two major series of gun safe . First, the L series, which uses nine 1-inch solid steel chrome plated bolts to secure the door, 1 layer of fire-proofing with a 30 minute 350 fire rating, and extra thick 10 gauge steel. For even more protection for your valuable guns, the H series offers ten 1-1/2 inch solid steel chrome plated bolts, a steel door that is double the thickness, twice the layers of fire liner, and a 1 hour 350 fire rating.
As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a gun safe . So remember, you will need to know the number and type of guns to be stored, how much and what type of security you require, and what type of locking mechanism you prefer.
Gun Safe Disection:
I have many customers wanting me to tell them “Which is the best gun safe”. Well, that is a tough question. Because most manufacturers produce several gun safe lines. A good, a better, and a best series. Some manufactures make all three series very good quality. Some will often produce a VERY low end model and sell it to a big box retailer. All from the same company. So you see it is difficult to say that ALL the gun safes that come from XYZ manufacturer are the best. When only their top series is great and the rest are overpriced metal boxes.So I would like to break down the components of a gun safe into several sections. Quality of steel, fireproofing, lock, relocker and hardplate, and warranty.
Gun Safe manufacturing:
I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one. China is the country of choice. Even the models that say “Made in the USA” are made in China. The box and bolts are made in China and shipped to California where they put on the lock and a liner and call it “Made in the USA”. Cannon, American Security, Browning, Liberty, and others are all made in some form in China. Though they may make a very high end model here in the USA. You will be paying $4,000 and up for these units. The strange thing too is that no other country really makes gun safes. Just China. Don’t be heart broken its a fact of life in the USA.
Gun Safe steel comes in several thicknesses. Often refered to as gauge. Steel gauge is thicker the smaller the number. So a 10 gauge is thicker than a 12 gauge. Sounds odd but that is how its measured. There is also a term know as “B-Rated” which means they use 1/2 inch plate steel on door and 1/4 inch plate steel on body. This is much thicker than a 10 gauge steel. A 10 gauge thickness is just under 1/8 inch. I prefer the 10 gauge steel models. Though there are some very good 12 gauge models available. Anything thiner than a 12 gauge I stay away from. Because the wall of the safe becomes flexible at this point. Too flexible for me. I have crow barred models that you can get at big box retailers that don’t tell you the gauge of steel. When I did, the wall let the bolt slip out. The bolt really didn’t bend. It was a good bolt but the rest of the safe did. That being said, pay attention to the steel thickness.
Gun Safe fireproof material:
Normally it is UL listed fireboard. Almost all the manufactures use the same stuff. However, a couple of companies do use a concrete fireproof mix. This is normally only on the really high end models. I have heard of 1 company using ceramic. Which is great stuff for fireproofing but too fragile for a gun safe. Stay away from it. Because it can crumble inside the door but you will not see it.
Gun Safe Lock:
Dial brands like LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf are very good. But its important to point out that some are made in the USA and others are made in overseas in China. Your gun safe that was made in China will have one of these locks. There are other brands also that are import from Asian countries but I prefer the LaGard or S&G as Sargent & Greenleaf are often called. If it doesn’t say the lock is UL listed. DON’T buy the safe. Keypads are great if you are keeping a gun inside for home security. Only a keypad will get you inside quick enough. Its very easy to open and convient. Worth money if you are getting in and out quickly. The negative is that it is a 9 volt battery operated devise with a maximum life cycle around 15 years. It is easy to replace by your local locksmith.
Gun Safe Relocker and Hardplate:
You will not see either a relocker or hardplate on the safe. Its in the door and hidden. You will have to ask or it will be in the brochure. If its not listed then it doesn’t have it. That is getting a little too cheap in quality for most gun owners. All UL listed Group II locks have a relocker automatically. What does a relocker do? Well, after a thief takes a sledge hammer and bangs off the dial from the front of the safe. He will often hammer a screw driver down the lock hole to try and knock the lock off the interior of the safe. This fires the relocker. (It will take a locksmith to get you into the safe). Hardplate keeps the expert thief with a drill out of the safe. Hardplate covers just the lock and must be melted in order to get past it and into the lock. This doesn’t happen very often that a thief has a blow torch or something to defeat it. Its more for bragging rights by the manufactures.
Lifetime fire warranty is normal in the industy. If you have a fire, they send you a new one for free. 1 year parts and labor is also normal. Though some are offering a Lifetime Burglary warranty now. If you get your safe broken into in a burglary or just destroyed the will repair or send a new one to you. However, some are offering a “Lifetime Warranty on Everything”. Stay away from that fairy tale. Those are fly by night manufactures that will be out of business within a year to two. (Sounds really great though)