After spending time researching online and talking to a handful of experienced gun owners, I learned why the weight of a gun safe is important. With this knowledge, I was able to purchase a safe with the right amount of weight that fits my budget.
A handgun safe weighs between two to 10 pounds, wall safes range from 20-30 pounds, and stationary ground safes range from 50-1600 pounds. Depending on size, weight, and the amount of steel used versus other materials, the heavier one will offer more protection against burglars and fires.
Gun safe manufacturers use all kinds of marketing ploys such as fancy cosmetics and pointless accessories to mask low-quality components and maximize profits. In turn, misleading customers into over-paying for sub-par safes with inaccurate information being advertised. The bottom line, compare the weights and amount of steel used in construction.
Different Styles of Gun safes
The size and style/type of safe you need depends on the size of your gun collection and anything else you plan on storing in your gun safe. Consider how accessible your guns will be once they are all inside the safe, and the possibility of expansion, which is usually inevitable.
Below is a basic list of the different types of gun safes:
Stationary but movable, minimal theft protection, zero fire protection, ideal as a decoy safe to fool thieves.
Usually low security like a gun locker, ideal for storing old/inexpensive firearms or ammo, the intended purpose is to distract thieves from the true valuables.
Portable, easy to store, affordable, offers minimal security.
Also known as a handgun safe, usually portable, fingerprint scan lock, most ideal for quick access during an emergency.
Stationary, requires installation, ideal for concealment.
Usually stationary, hides firearms in plain sight, allows quick access, offers minimal security while allowing maximum concealment and accessibility.
Although no safe is 100% fireproof, choosing a safe with this level of protection increases security against not only fires but burglars as well, portability depends on the weight Heavy-Duty Safe – stationary, provides maximum security against fire and theft, most spacious and costly option.
A good rule of thumb is to mentally double the number of guns you plan on storing now and in the future. Manufacturers love to advertise large-capacity gun safes, resulting in limited interior space that holds rifles too close together. Even if your safe holds all of your guns, filling it to maximum capacity means taking out each gun whenever you need just one of them, and returning them all before shutting the safe.
This is equally as painful as putting them all back so you can shut the safe. Also, keep in mind the interior of your safe will shrink even more if your rifles have scopes or any other attachments. Gun safes can be a great place to secure valuables or any other non-gun items you want to keep out of reach. However, storing ammunition in a gun safe is not recommended in case of a fire. Think about it in this sense; Storing gunpowder in an enclosed container (such as a gun safe) could potentially create a bomb, although the safe itself may not explode, anything inside of it will be damaged.
Besides the obviously obvious caveat against storing gunpowder with your guns, another reason is the humidity created inside a safe can damage your ammunition. This is why a gun safe dehumidifier is imperative to ensure proper storage of firearms and ammunition and avoid environmental damage.
The take away from this is to store your ammunition in a separate container or safe. Gun lockers are ideal for storing ammunition which is a cheaper alternative to a gun safe. While gun lockers don’t provide protection against fire, they most certainly provide a great “decoy” safe for zealous thieves looking for a quick score.
Don’t Be Fooled
Comparing the weight is a useful way to judge the construction and quality of similarly priced gun safes. If the prices are similar but there’s a large difference in weight, be leery. Gun safe manufacturers love to mask the quality (or lack thereof) of their product. More often than not, the heavier one will provide more security and the lighter one will probably have unnecessary cosmetic features such as chrome plating and customizable options designed to increase the price tag instead of security.
How Can Weight Affect the Cost and Vice Versa?
Most gun safe’s walls are built with layers of steel, drywall, and amalgamates(poured concrete).
The basic rule here is more steel offers more security/protection and more cost. Drywall offers zero structural support and less than minimal protection against theft and fire, it’s nothing more than cheap filler. Amalgamates are used in heavy-duty gun safes and offer greater protection against theft and fire.
If the prices are different for similar size and rating, check the weight and amount of steel used in construction. The gauge of the steel also plays a crucial role in how secure your gun safe is. 12 gauge provides little security against burglars, even 10 gauge can easily cut with an ax. Look for a gun safe with 7 gauge or heavier. The door usually has the heaviest gauge steel and the sidewalls and top/bottom will be the weak spots with thinner gauge steel.
“Total door thickness” is a marketing ruse used by manufacturers to fool consumers into overpaying for more drywall and less steel. The advertised thickness of a gun safes door and walls can be misleading in that the measurement includes the door panels, inner sheets of steel and drywall, the lock, the dial, and anything else attached to the door.
“Combined steel thickness” is another way manufacturers attempt to sell over-priced low-quality safes offering minimal security. Combined steel thickness is usually a combination of two separate sheets of steel with drywall as the middle layer.
Is Gun Safe Delivery/Installation Expensive?
A gun safe delivered and installed can account for 20-80% of the cost. Moving a gun safe can be dangerous and can damage anything along the moving path. A heavy-duty gun safe should consist primarily of steel and amalgamate, which is ideal for thwarting any attempt made by thieves at stealing the whole safe to break open at their convenience. However, if you rent or relocate often, especially if stairs are involved, a heavy safe is probably not for you.
I have also known people who were able to avoid hiring a moving company to relocate their gun safe.
Below Are Some Tricks to Moving a Heavy Safe and Doing It “Safely”:
- Empty the safe of ALL contents. Makes sense right? Minimizes the total moving weight as well as avoiding damage to said contents.
- Make sure the door is closed AND locked. Doing so will avoid potential damage and injury during the moving process.
- Use a moving dolly and locking ratchet straps.
- Wrap the safe in blankets to avoid exterior damage.
- Hire professional movers!
There are also some “home remedy” ways to move a safe, however, none of these methods are encouraged due to how dangerous they could be.
I’ve been advised to use objects to distribute the weight of the safe to make moving easier. Some examples are golf balls or PVC/metal pipes which expands the weight distribution. Although this makes sense from a physics perspective, the possibility of losing control and causing damage to the safe or anything in its path, or injury while moving, outweigh by far the temptation to cut corners and save money. Think about everything involved in owning firearms or a gun safe as an investment. Avoid wasting money on pointless accessories, and start a safe fund for any future maintenance or improvements you may want to make.
Location Location Location!
The location of the safe is important too. Keeping a gun safe upstairs could be hazardous in the event of a fire or natural disaster which may cause the floor beneath said gun safe to collapse. Consider how often you plan on accessing your gun safe. The ideal set-up for me personally would be a heavy-duty safe to hold the bulk of my collection and any high-value items, a gun locker to hold ammunition and inexpensive/old firearms, and a bio-metric gun safe next to the bed or in the nightstand in case of emergency.