Gun Safes

Most honorable Technoid,

Could you please provide some additional wisdom in selection of a new or used gun safe/vault?

I have looked (casually) at what seems to be a tremendous variety of these… some of them at Wal-Mart look as though I could open them with a good hunting knife through the side of the safe… others, at the other end of the spectrum, look to be VERY secure and fire “proof” as well.

One thing I have learned (from you) is that humidity can be a very real threat; so how do you get the power to the goldenrod??? The better safes don’t exactly come wired” or drilled for wiring! Where is the point of over-kill on these things?? In concept the safes seem to be a great idea, however they will definitely impact the wallet!

Are there any “gotchas” or especially important features to look for when purchasing or choosing a location for one?? (I hope to choose wisely & only do this once, UNLIKE buying shotguns)

Thanks so much for any insights or experience you can share,

Dear Alan,

Shooters’ requirements as to gun safes differ quite a bit. In some houses all that is needed is a modest locking cabinet to keep small children at bay. In others, something more substantial is required. I am going to go under the assumption that what you want is something more substantial than a “cabinet” type from K-mart.

Unless you are a jewelry dealer, I don’t think that you have to go overboard. My pal on the state police says that the average house burglary takes well under ten minutes. They aren’t going to mess with trying to crack a safe. If your house is in a remote area where they can camp out for a while, that might be another consideration, but every burglar knows that the longer he spends in your house, the better his chance of going to the State’s house.

The things that I considered in choosing a safe were:

Total price delivered and installed. Make SURE that you know the price of the delivery charges ahead of time. They can be substantial if you are getting a heavy safe like a Browning or Fort Knox. Also, many delivery services just dump it in your driveway. Figure out how you are going to get it inside and whether that will be included.

Interior configuration: If you have more than a few long guns and want to shoot all of them, get the “easy out” “U” shaped interior. Most companies offer an interior selection. Peg board on the door is a good place to pistols. If you safe doesn’t come with this, you can add it.

The Lock: Get a safe that comes with a standard brand (S&G or similar) lock. You may be opening and closing that thing a lot and don’t want a lock that will wear out or give you trouble. A “professional locksmith” at recommends manual dial locks over electronic locks.

Size: Here is the best advice you will ever get- BUY THE LARGEST SAFE YOU CAN AFFORD. Trust me on this one. Like milady’s purse, safes just seem to fill up on their own account. Bigger really is better. A second safe costs a lot more than buying a large one the first time around. Besides, having a bunch of empty spaces in the safe just begs you to get new guns to fill them up. Think big, buy big.

Strength: I really don’t feel that is important for most of us. Strong enough is strong enough. Personally, I wouldn’t pay extra for extra locking bolts or thicker steel. The standard stuff that Browning makes will keep anyone but a pro out and the best gun safes won’t stop a pro who has time and knows what he is doing. Remember though, I am talking about starting with a substantial Browning, Fort Knox or similar safe. Even at their lowest level, most of these can contain a nuclear explosion.

Rather than get an more expensive thicker safe, it really makes sense to use lag bolts to attach the safe to the floor. If two guys and a dolly can carry your safe in, they can carry it out- but not if it is bolted to the floor from the inside. Lag bolting is cheap and effective.

Fireproof: This adds a lot of expense and probably depends on what you will keep in the safe and where in your house the safe will stand. If it is in the cellar, it is probably less necessary as cellars don’t get the same heat in a fire that the upper floor do. Personally, I keep my really vital and valuable stuff at the bank in their vault.

Now, as to humidity and rust: I use a Golden Rod dehumidifier in the safe and wipe down my guns with Sheath for long term storage. For short term storage, I use Ballistol on metal and wood.

Getting electricity into the safe is not a problem. All the ones that I have seen have a small hole somewhere. You may have to cut the plug off the electrical cord to get it through the hole, but you can always re-splice it. The big safes have threaded holes on the top. They are hung by a thick bolt from these holes while they are painted during production. I just run the electric cord in through there. The cord goes to my Golden Rod and also to a small pull-chain light so that I can see what I am doing when I root in there among my treasures.

That is all that I can think of at the moment. I am sure that I will think of other major criteria that I missed as soon as I send this off. Ever thus. Remember- buy big or buy twice. Up to you.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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1 Response to Gun Safes

  1. Also, with Bruce’s comment about buying a larger safe…………………….if the safe says 36 guns, figure it will hold 25 max. That is not to say it will not hold 36 of the “perfect” firearms for that safe, but add in scopes, side by sides, etc, and if you pack it, it will take you three months to get the gun you want to shoot this Saturday out without moving 8 other guns, and banging up two or three along the way. Trust me, I bought a “quality” 36 gun safe, and now have 2 safes in the house. One safe my wife knows the combo to………….they other, well let’s just say I still cannot figure out why she can never get the door open when she tries! Just sayin!


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