Buying Guide

Not all Gun Safes are created equally.

One of the most popular type of safe on the market today is the gun safes.  They come in different styles and sizes. Many are only thin metal cabinets without fire or burglary protection. The question is where to start in choosing a Gun Safe?  First consider construction, thickness of metal and type of locking mechanism, followed by fire rating.  Gun cabinets in the past were made of wood and glass and would showcase your weapons for everyone to see. Now in the world we live in a good quality gun safe to protect your weapons and other valuables is a necessity. Don’t rely on a cheap thin metal cabinet to protect your guns. If you look around the industry, most low end gun cabinets have very thin metal bodies made from 14 to 16 or even as thin as 20 gauge steel. A standard hammer and large screwdriver can easily break into a thin metal gun cabinet. A quality gun safe should use a minimum of 11 gauge steel in the body of the safe and preferably 10 to 7 gauge steel.

Door construction is also very important. Look for a gun safe with at least ¼” of solid plate steel or composite equivalent in the door. More secure gun safes have a 3/8 to 1/2″ steel plate in the door. Look for gun safes with the Underwriter Laboratory burglar ratings of a RSC (Residential Security Container).  Better quality gun safes have higher of B Rated, U.L. TL-15 (Tool Resistant) and U.L. TL-30 ratings.  One note on this subject, there are high quality gun safes on the market that don’t have an official UL rating above an RSC rating BUT are built to TL levels of protection, contact us for more details.

What Security Rating is best to protect my valuables?

We have many customers that come to us wanting to protect a wide range of items, from Guns, Baseball cards, Money ,Important documents and other high value items. For these customers we would recommend a well built composite or a BF rated safe or greater.

We have provided the following industry guidelines for content value of the various levels of security that a safe can provide. These values are generally used for businesses for insurance purposes but are a good guideline for different levels of protection.  Contact your insurance company for specific limitations

  • RSC Up to $5,000 content value- passed a 5 minute attack test,  If this safe had a TL rating it would be a TL-5 , Note, RSC ratings can by applied to low end safes that are easily pried open up to very secure safes that could pass higher rating test but the manufacturers don’t go to the expense of testing them.
  • B-Rated Up to $10,000 content value – 1/2 inch plate door & 1/4 inch body
  • C Rated Up to $30,000 content value 1 inch protection on door & up to 1/2 inch on body
  • U.L. TL-15 Up to $200,000 content value- A TL-15 Rating means the safe door can successfully resist entry for a net assault time of 15 minutes when attacked with common hand tools, picking tools, mechanical or portable electric tools, grinders, drills or pressure devices.
  • U.L. TL-30 Up to $375,000 content value -TL-30 means the safe door can pass the same test for 30 minutes. Note that this does NOT include attacks on the sides or top.
  • U.L. TL-30X6 Up to $500,000 to $ 1,000,000 content value-  U L 30 minute attack on all 6 sides of safe
  • U.L. TRTL-30X6 $1,000,000 and up content value- U L 30 minute torch / tool attack on all 6 sides of safe

Please be aware that these ratings are subjective , some import safes that say they are TL rated are not and will not provide you with the level of protection that are indicated by the ratings listed. Contact Us for more details. 

Don’t rely on a fire resistant safe to protect against a burglary.

First, beware of any company that calls their safe “fireproof”, There are no “fireproof” consumer safes on the market today, they are all fire resistant, meaning that they resist heat and smoke (and some protect against water) over a given period of time , usually 30 to 150 minutes.

Fire resistant safes do a great job of protecting paper documents (and even small amounts of cash) from heat and smoke damage, however, fire resistant safes use very thin metal (14-18 gauge) in the construction of the safe which makes them easy to defeat for a burglar. The metal is primarily used to hold the fire retardant material and can be easily punctured, cut or sawed with simple hand tools. Some of the cheap fire safes on the market today can be opened by simply dropping them on a hard surface.

We DO NOT recommend storing high value contents such as large amounts of cash, jewelry or precious metals, in a low cost fire resistant safe. Over the past 22 years we have accessed  many cheap fire resistant safes that customers have been locked out of for various reasons , our record is 30 seconds to open the safe open with very simple tools .  We have also seen those same safes easily broken into after the owners mistakenly thought the safe would protect their valuables against a burglary attack.  The better choice is a burglar, fire safe or good quality composite fire safe that are burglar rated, or for content value above $10,000, look at a high security TL rated fire safe. These safes are engineered and designed to protect your valuables against both burglar attacks and fires.

Where should I place my safe?

In our experience, one of the most difficult decisions for customers is where to place their safe. If you do not have an alarm system in your home or business, then placing your safe “out of sight, out of mind” is very important.

We suggest that you place your safe where you are most likely to use it. An out of the way location will make you less likely to use your safe to store the items you purchased it for in the first place. Another consideration is the lighting available to illuminate your lock when you are inputting your combination. The hash marks on a combination dial lock are relatively small and can be hard to see in low light area’s. If you must have your safe in a low light area or be able to access the lock in the dark there are dial lights that affix to the top of the dial ring and illuminate the dial so you can see the numbers and hash marks on the dial.

What size safe should I buy? Bigger is better!

We know this was # 1 on the list but it is the number one thing our customers say to us after buying a safe.

One that is bigger that you think you need ! The most common feed back from the 1000’s of customers we have had through 21 years is that they did not buy a safe that was big enough. Also, think of the value of the contents you could be putting in the safe in future years? Bigger is Better when it comes to buying a safe!

Should I Anchor my safe ?

Anchoring is an effective way to secure your safe. One of the easiest ways for a burglar to break into any safe is to move it where they have the time and tools to get into it. . Even if you think your safe is hidden you still need to anchor it in case it is discovered by a burglar. Remember that being careful and taking extra security precautions will help keep your items secure.

Most safes have anchor hole(s) and are fairly simple to anchor into concrete. If you have a wood sub floor be aware that simply putting a wood anchor in your floor will not provide adequate protection, one of the most effective ways to secure a safe to a wood sub floor is to drill holes in your floor and extend long threaded rod down below the floor joist and take a long piece of 2 x 4 or angle iron and span multiple floor joist and secure the threaded rod and bolt down the safe.  If you decide to move and want to take your safe with you, simply remove the bolts. Contact Us for further details.