Talk to me about safes
Maybe not the right section but I am looking at getting a large safe for our house to go in our closet. My wife and I have decided we would like to get one as our"first anniversary gift" for each other. We are firm on not getting a "gun locker". We do not have kids nor are we planning on having any soon, but our gun collection between the two of us is rapidly growing and we would like a safer place to store our weapons when we are on vacation or in the event we are both deployed or something of the likes. We see the ones at dicks sporting goods, sports authority and wal-mart all the time. What should be look for when purchasing these safes? What brands should we stay away from? Which ones should we look into? Are the ones at the above mentioned stores worth a look? What are your personal experiences? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.
Good call on the gift idea!
I look at the size I think I need and go up from there. Then I look at fire rating. I get the best firerating I can afford. There are different lock types, electric/ battery and the standard rotary. You need to decide. The pins how many and how thick are they. Are there any on the bottom or top or are they just on the sides. What kind of seal do they have around the door for fire. You can always make shelves or a system for storing your rifles and add lights so don't worry about that so much.
go to the webs sites that sell safes, check out Cabelas and Gander Mountain as well as your local fleet farms.
Here is one of the best resources on the 'net other than here, for info on safes: Gun Safe Buyers' Guide
This will get you started.
There's probably a fair amount already written on safes here in DC, which you'll find if you use the search function. But a few guidelines, in no specific order:
- get "enough" safe. Sounds like you and your gal already have a bunch of guns, which is a good reason to believe you'll end up with more, and I've rarely heard someone who's had a safe for a few years complain they got too big a unit.
- a good safe will have locking lugs on all 4 edges of the door, and plenty of them
- read what manufacturers have to say about the fire rating of their safes
- your safe really needs to be bolted to the floor, or otherwise secured to something substantial (more substantial than sheet rock or 2x4 studs). The "soft underbelly" of most safes is the floor, so the
determined and knowledgeable thief will tip the unsecured safe over and sledgehammer the floor to break into it. (That gem came from a safe manufacturer.)
- a light inside the safe is a really nice feature!
- locks: a shooting friend of mine and I both got safes within a few weeks of each other, each with a battery-powered digital lock, and both of our locks failed within a month! By cosmic coincidence, mine magically was able to be opened and didn't need to be drilled out, but my friend wasn't so lucky. We each replaced our nifty but brain-dead digital locks with the old-fashioned dial/tumbler types. Our experience may be rare, but be aware it happens, and choose for yourself.
A hunting partner back east saved a bunch of bucks by calling around to moving and storage companies to see if they had any safes available. Since movers usually charge by weight and distance, big, heavy things like safes and pianos frequently get left behind when a family or business moves. My buddy got what may have been a town clerk's safe, as it's the size of a huge credenza with double doors and very substantial roll-out shelves (like drawers) as if to hold survey maps. But this beast held over 30 longs guns lying down, so it gave up nothing in capacity. He got it for little more than the cost of local delivery, around $200. Something to consider if you're not fussy about what your safe looks like.
Where to shop? I'd skip Wal-Mart, and I've never seen anything substantial at Dick's. Around here we've got a Bass Pro Shop, Cabela's, and Sportsman's Warehouse, who all carry decent safes, like Browning or private-labelled ones made by Liberty or Ft Knox. I got my Liberty safe on sale at Cabela's, and with delivery and installation it was just under 2 grand. Right now I wish I'd spent $500 more and gotten the next bigger size!
Hope that helps get you started.
I agree with a tumbler lock. Batteries/electronics fail at the worst times.
Get a bigger safe than you think you need. Mechanical dial is best in my opinion.
I bought a cannon, wanted the outlet inside the safe, all the fire ratings were about the same...also guareenteed against floods shop around bought mine from atwoods, they go on sale a coupld times a year..
Also buy American if you can. stay away form Chinese safes.
Make sure, no matter how big it is that you pay attention to the fire rating - this tells you quite a bit.
And, Anchor it to the floor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just like I do not wade into the 'caliber wars', I will not pretend to tell you what you and your Bride want. But this site might help.
Gun Safe Buyers' Guide
I bought a First Alert fire proof safe from Home Depot. I was storing my handgun in it but I mostly bought it for important documents to keep them safe in the event of fire or tornado. Because of the tornado risk here I moved it to the basement. If it was on the second floor and a twister hit it would be gone. Having said that it is roomy enough to hold many handguns, probably at least 7 or 8. It is a key and electric combo so you need the combination for the keypad and the key to open it. Weighs about 80 pounds empty so it would be real hard to walk off with.
Budget and size of safe are two of the primary elements you'll need to decide upon.
There's an old saying about buying a safe: buy one twice as big as you think you'll need. Might well apply in your case, particularly as you say your collection has been growing.
IMO, in a larger floor safe, I'd look for some of the following features:
- At least 1/4in steel used throughout, the toughest type of steel you can afford.
- At least 8 1" locking bolts along all four sides of the door, preferably more.
- A good, commercial-grade, manual dial lock.
- Decent anti-drill, anti-pry features built into the design.
- Fire rating, if desired. Highest temp/time rating you can afford.
- The ability to bolt that bad boy into the concrete foundation.
- The ability to position it in a spot that's difficult to impossible to tow away (ie, bolted to garage floor, but close to where a truck with chain could yank it away).
- The ability to position it in a spot where visitors won't even know it's there.
The latter "features" speak more to your location, of course. It might well help dictate the size of safe you want to acquire.
Keep in mind that a used safe can be just as good, if a bit rough. With a new lock and bit of touch-up paint, it can be a good way to get a great safe at a great "used" price. Check craigslist and other auction/classifieds sources, for occasional deals. Often the pricing on used ones can be exceptionally good, since folks often just want the darned thing outta there.
One of the more important things to remember is: layered defenses help. Consider an alarm system and other aspects of your defensive prep, since a stand-alone safe that's otherwise unprotected won't keep it from being taken eventually, if they've got enough time.
Brands to consider, at least initially: Graffunder, Fort Knox, AMSEC, Cannon, Liberty or similar.
You don't have to go big on your first safe.
I now have 4 gun safes (not counting some in-the-wall units), and I just add safes as the collection expands.
Also, you can segregate weapons by purpose with more than one safe.
My most recent purchase was a Stackon safe from Amazon; no tax and free shipping.
Since you're ready to purchase, start checking the internet for good deals once you've settled on a design/size you like.
I just want my safes to be burglar proof: nothing that could be opened with ordinary tools.
If they've brought a plasma cutter, they are welcome to the contents.
safe or not?
If your safe is able to be broken into or possibly towed what good is it? Put a false wall in a closet or in several closets or attic. People don't look up, try a false ceiling or second set of pull down steps into your attic, or room up there. Don't let friends see your hiding places. Good luck.
Sadly I've seen a big, nice quality, gun safe go through a hot fire. The safe was completely ruined inside and out, the fireproof material (dry wall) crumbled like a jig saw puzzle. I'm sure it did the job based on the rating, but it can't hold out forever. Guns stored without a case were toast, those that were bagged were damaged but repairable in most cases.
BTW don't store any significant amount of ammo in your safe, during a fire it cooks off compounding problems for the contents by adding more heat and soot.
I think this video covered a lot of great info. Especially on high end customizable safes.