What to Look for in a Gun Safe

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Liberty Gun Safes

People buy gun safes and lockers for many different reasons. However, the most common and common-sense intended purpose is for the protection of young loved ones, natural disasters such as fire, flood, (and tornados if you live in Texas or surrounding states), and sticky-fingered thieves. If you’re shopping with a limited budget, the three above mentioned reasons for buying a safe should be prioritized according to personal importance. For example, If you are like me and don’t have children and don’t have children in your home, then natural disasters and thievery should be the most important considerations.

A quality gun safe will have a UL 1037 Attack Level 1 Residential Security Container RSC-I rating or higher. Heavy gauge steel, continuous welds, ample interior space, and a quality lock are imperative when choosing a gun safe. More steel means more protection against fires and theft.

As a responsible gun owner, the safety of your family and anyone else who may enter your home is paramount.

Why Buy a Gun Safe?

There are many reasons you “should” own a gun safe, which are all essential and should be considered first when you decide to buy one. However, you should also “want” a gun safe too. After too many hunting/gun range trips, packing up and loading will become tiresome and tedious. Storing all of your firearms inside a safe keeps them together for convenient access while preventing potential cosmetic damage from improper storage.

Reasons to Buy a Gun Safe:

  • Gun safety
  • Protection from children and others who enter your home
  • Protection from burglars
  • Protection from fire
  • Protection of other valuables
  • Quick access and central gun location
  • Insurance coverage, limitations, and possible discounts

Types of Gun Safes

Fireproof safes – offer the highest amount of protection and safety for your firearms.
Gun lockers – or gun security cabinets are a less costly option that provides limited protection from people who may enter your home who do not pose an immediate threat. Keep in mind that gun lockers do not offer any fire protection.
Concealed safes – are also widely available and even a viable option for the gun owner whose goal is concealed easy access. These types of safes can have the ability to hide in or on objects such as bed frames, hollowed-out books, inside custom furniture, and even walls and floors.

Although it may seem overly cautious to lock up a safe, it’s certainly not a bad idea. A closet or pantry could be converted into a gun safe room. The added level of security will serve two purposes by hiding your gun safe and keeping unwanted guests unaware of it without their knowledge. Reinforce the door to your gun safe room with a deadbolt, secured hinges without removable pins, and a solid core door. The location of your gun safe room should not be in heavy traffic areas where people will be able to see the reinforcements you made to the door.

Now, for that extra level of security against potential thieves, a decoy safe can serve multiple purposes.

This is where an inexpensive gun locker will become an investment. The decoy is where you want to store old or inexpensive guns and ammunition, so you don’t ruin your other firearms in case of fire. Hide your “real” safe well and keep it to yourself! Get yourself a decoy gun safe/locker and make sure it is easy to find but out of the way. The idea is to distract potential thieves with an obvious target while the real valuables are safely hidden.

Lock Options

Keyed – Ideal for long term storage where the contents will not be regularly accessed. Also Ideal for gun display cabinets.
Combo – 15-20 seconds to open, these are what you will find on most gun lockers and less expensive gun safes. The main downfall of this type of lock is the time it takes to open.
Electronic – These take about three to five seconds to open, making them ideal for home defense safes, or if easy/regular access is necessary. These are battery-operated, which means they will need to be regularly tested and replaced.
Biometric – The fastest opening type of lock which scans your fingerprint to open. However, this is a relatively new technology which is still being improved, the main thing with this type of lock is making sure your hands are clean before using.

Size Matters!

Have you ever heard anyone say their gun safe shrinks every year? Well, they certainly do if you keep buying more firearms and accessories like any normal person tends to do. A gun safe’s weight can range from 5 to 1500 pounds and more. Before purchasing and installing a gun safe, plan ahead, consider the following:

Your current collection size and the possibility of expansion. Mentally double the number of guns you have before purchasing a gun safe. You don’t want to crowd the safe or have to take out every gun to get to one gun every time. Consider non-firearm items you plan on securing as well. Ammunition is not something you want to store in a safe. In the event of a fire, any live ammunition inside the safe will damage the contents.

How often do you plan on moving? This is a huge factor because a gun safe is something you do not want to move more than once.

Measure both the gun safe you plan on buying and the location you want to install your safe before making any purchases. Consider the path and surroundings from your driveway to the install location, will the safe fit through hallways or doorways? Will the gun safe’s door open correctly and quickly?

The type of floor that will support the gun safe is equally important when weighing your options.

Always bolt your safe to the floor with included or appropriate floor bolts. Remember, layers of security are your best defense.

What to Look for in Construction

Steel is the most expensive part of a gun safe, and the first area corners are cut to reduce production costs. It is also the most critical area for burglary/fire protection. The door of the safe should have the most steel compared to the other walls/top/bottom. The inside of a gun safe’s walls should have a steel plate no thinner than 10 gauge. However, even 10 gauge steel can be hacked through with an ax or saw in a few minutes. If possible, install your gun safe in a location with surrounding walls except for the door, of course. This makes it far more difficult for burglars to attack it from the sides where it will be weaker.

The 12 gauge steel in most gun safes is only suitable for as a deterrent to non-burglars. Keep in mind most gun safe manufacturers advertise the exterior dimensions, which is meaningless when considering interior space.

The better the fire protection, the thicker the walls will be, which will give you less interior space. That being said,

The best way to compare the construction of gun safes, without cutting them open, of course, is to compare their weights. When comparing two different safes, Find out the weight of both, the heavier one will usually provide the most protection. If the prices are close in range, but the weights are not, then more than likely, the lighter safe has unnecessary cosmetics such as chrome plating, fancy exterior, and interior features. If the prices are different for two comparable gun safes, check the weight to make sure what you’re paying for is steel and not bull.

Gun Safe Prices

Price also comes heavily into play when researching gun safes to buy. It’s like the saying goes, “how can you put a price on personal protection?”. Well, I don’t think it’s the price people consider as much as their budget. Gun safes range in price from $400-$2500 at most hardware stores. Also, consider the size and weight when calculating install/shipping costs, which can add up to 20-80% of the price of the safe by itself.

Gun safes are an integral responsibility to any gun owner’s collection, and they provide safety, protection for your investments, and peace of mind knowing in the event of a natural disaster, your firearms have a chance of survival.