Regardless of whether you own guns for sport, recreation, livelihood, or defense, it is a known fact that firearms are an attractive target for theft because they are expensive. It’s not always fun to talk about the possibility of having a person enter your home and steal your gun, but this is something that all gun owners must consider.
Why Do I Need a Safe?
This is the question many gun owners ask. Gun safes can cost hundreds of dollars, so it can be an additional cost. You can stash the gun in a safe place like a vault or the closet or the bedside drawer. No one will know you have a gun if you don’t talk about it or post about it or use it in public. Why need a safe?
The answer is easy. Bad things happen even to good people with good intentions of why they own a gun. Guns are high in value and easy to convert to cash on the black market. You will be sorry if ever your gun becomes stolen. Yes, the police can help bring it back to you, but they won’t return as they were when they are taken from you, as it may come with scratches and dings. They are also susceptible to damage. No one would wish that a fire would burn down their house, but it happens, and this will certainly damage the gun.
Guns are highly dangerous when in the hands of a wrong person. The first thing you have to consider when planning to buy a safe is: Who/what do I plan to protect against? It will be impossible for anyone to prevent absolutely all potential methods of attack, but if you know what are you protecting your gun from can help streamline your choices and prioritize one feature of a gun safe over another. To help, here are some examples of people and situations you have to protect your gun from:
- Smash-and-grab burglars armed with hand tools
- Professional thieves armed with power tools
- Your children and pets
- Neighborhood kids with access to your home
- Your teenager and his/her friends who come over
- Your friends who come over, especially if there’s drinking involved
- Persons with mental illness or instability
- Untrustworthy home workers like repairmen, technician, nannies, housekeeping maids, etc.
Some of these people and situations are more practical to protect against others. If you are concerned about preventing access from curious children, neighborhood kids and your children’s friends, a gun with a simple yet trusty set of lockers can be enough. A hidden safe might be enough to protect against burglars and unworthy home servicemen looking for an easy score. But if you want to protect your home against professional thieves because many burglaries have been happening in your neighborhood, then you have to get a high-quality (and therefore expensive) safe that is fixed to the floor or even the structure of your house or building. It’s up to you to decide what level of protection you think you need for your firearms (as well as your valuables) and then plan accordingly.
A gun safe also acts as a protection to your guns. Simply storing your gun in a closet or drawer doesn’t prevent scratches and dings from happening to your gun. Some people have a valuable gun collection, and most are difficult and impossible to replace because they are either customized, modified, vintage, or has sentimental value. If you want to treasure your guns, keep them in a safe that is lined with a good foam lining.
Owning a gun safe can also add to your insurance if you own a lot of guns. Homeowners’ insurance covers each and every item in your home including your firearms, but there’s a coverage limit up to which the value of the guns is covered. If you own more guns than the coverage limit, those won’t be covered. If you want extra coverage, you have to pay additional fees, which is possibly hefty. But if you get a gun safe, you can get a discount on the insurance rates.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Safe
Buying a safe requires careful consideration, considering a number of important factors like the desired use of the safe and the characteristics of the safe itself. Your choice of safe must be fitting for your gun protection needs. Here are some of the factors to consider before you buy a safe:
1. Size and weight
One of the first things you have to consider before you buy a safe is the size and weight. Knowing this is essential for finding an appropriate spot for your safe in your home and office. This will also affect overall cost and transportation logistics. Especially when buying online, always check the size and weight specs first before placing your order.
2. Storage capacity
Take into consideration the type of stuff you want to store in your safe. It may be a couple of pistols or a large gun collection, plus ammo and magazines. You may also want to store jewelry, gadgets, important documents, cash, and other items in your gun safe, so take this into consideration. If you own just a handgun, then a small gun safe you can place on the bedside drawer can be enough for you. If you own a gun collection that includes large rifles, then you need to consider buying a safe of a larger model.
3. Steel quality and thickness
The build quality of a gun safe is one of the most important things to consider when buying a gun safe. This is what keeps burglars from trying to drill, bend, or cut the safe to open it. The thicker and better-quality the steel is, the longer it will take to get into the safe. Most standard gun safes are made of 12-gauge steel – this is quite strong, and it can be considered as a decent safe. But steel with this thickness can be tackled with an axe or crowbar. A 10-gauge steel is heavier, but the more expensive the safe becomes. The heavier steel gauge, the more expensive the safe becomes. As the gauge number decreases, the heavier the steel is. A 17-gauge steel is flimsier than an 11-gauge steel.
4. Locking mechanism
A locking mechanism is essential, whether to a pistol safe, full-size gun safe and even a gun cabinet. Without a quality lock, the security of your guns will be very lacking. There are a lot of locking mechanisms for a gun safe, including an electronic lock, mechanical lock, biometric fingerprint lock, key fob lock and more. The most common locking mechanisms include an electronic lock, which is great if you need quick access to your safe. It needs batteries to work. Meanwhile, a mechanical or dial lock is good for people who store their safe in a quicker access spot, or for people who don’t use their safe often.
5. Fire protection
The fire ratings are important to consider when buying a gun safe. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons to own a safe – to protect your guns and other valuables from unexpected fires. The least fire protection rating under industry standard is 30 minutes of fire resistance at fires about 1200 degrees. But if you live far away from the nearest fire station, it may be best for you to get a safe with a higher fire rating and a longer fire resistance.
6. Safe features
The critical features that comprise a safe to make it reliable and secure are things you must not overlook. This includes door frames, the door itself, locks, anti-pry tabs, bolts, re-lockers, reinforced lock protecting steel layers and the construction of the frame and door. It’s best to do your research first about these features in many safe models before settling on a safe for purchase.
For some people, a warranty may not seem important, but it really does matter. Having your safe fixed for free is something you will enjoy once you discover defects or damages on the safe. Many companies offer lifetime warranties, and the longer the warranty, the better. If a company can offer a lifetime warranty, it means they are very confident with the quality of their safe. There are also manufacturers that only offer 1-year, 2-year, or 5-year warranty. Warranty is very important to look at.
Your budget is perhaps the most defining factor when you buy a safe. Your budget allocation must depend on the guns you own, the types and number of guns you have, and the level of protection you need. There are a lot of gun owners who do not need extra protection or features (which add to the price) and a standard gun safe without the bells and whistles can meet their needs. But if you have an expensive gun collection, then a higher-end gun safe will be your best option.
We recommend that you buy the best quality of gun safe you can afford that fits within your means and your budget.
For many people who are keen on keeping their interior design intact, the aesthetics of the safe is very important. Full-size gun safes are starting to become a piece of furniture to many gun owners – especially gun collectors – so the exterior appearance of the safe matters.
Gun Safe Ranges
Like other products, you get what you pay for with gun safes. Here’s what you can expect in gun safes in different price points
Economy gun safes (Small safes cost around $50-$500; large safes cost less than $1,000)
In the lower end of this category, you will find gun cabinets and low-end gun safes. These range as low as $100 and are basically a thin metal box made to keep people from accessing the firearms inside. These usually provide minimal security and can be opened in a short period of time with basic tools. For gun cabinets, calling them “safes can be misleading because they can be easily defeated by a burglar with a crowbar.” Most gun cabinets use a basic key lock, basic combination lock or a basic electronic lock to keep the safe secure. These types of gun safes are generally sufficient for protecting against curiosity and unauthorized access, but not that sufficient for protection against thieves. Brands such as First Alert, Sentry and Stack-On lead the market on low-end rifle safes and gun cabinets. These companies also sell slightly higher-end safes.
If you’re looking for large safes, there are many available in this range that can hold 22-30 guns. Manufacturers include Diamond Back, Cannon, Stack-On, Mesa, Browning and some others. These will feature lower-end components that you sacrifice for size and price. You will not get all the “bells & whistles,” but you will get a safe
Mid-range gun safes (Small safes cost around $500 – $1,000; large safes cost around $700-$2,000)
These are a popular safe range, as many offer good security and good fire protection. There are some good safes in this tier, but there are many others that are simply overpriced, looks-like-a-safe lockers than real gun safes. But if you are looking for smaller gun safes and pistol safes, you can find a lot of decent ones in this price range.
They offer just the right protection against burglary, curiosity and short fires. These types of safes usually offer 30 minutes to 1 hour of fire protection in 1,200 to 1,400 degrees. However, you can also find some with questionable fire protection. The fireproofing is usually poured into a shell made of 2 sheets of thin metal. This is more secure than the single sheet of metal found in a gun cabinet. Some of these safes have a thicker door up to 1/4 inch plate steel, and the fireproofing material and boltwork are located behind the plate. Brands such as Diamond Back Safes, Mesa, Stack-On, Sentry, AMSEC, Gardall, Browning and Cannon all build safes in this price range. Some of these are very good safe that I would feel comfortable purchasing myself.
If you need a large safe but are on a budget, you can find safes large mid-range safes that can cost around $1000 to $2000. These safes will offer many of the features you want at a reasonable price. Safe such as Diamond Back, AMSEC, Browning, Mesa, and Cannon will be found in this category. These are generally of good quality and offer security and fire protection that is reasonable.
High-end gun safes (Small safes cost over $1,000; large safes cost over $2,000)
These safes are top quality and offer superb security and fire protection. Many times these safes have 1-2 hours of fire protection and offer additional security features such as a glass relocker, good hard plate, extra thick bolts and added security in the door and body. Some of the more popular of these safes include AMSEC, Browning, Cannon and Liberty safe (Liberty not generally found online).
High-end gun safes typically have body walls of at least 12 gauge steel, door material equivalent to at least 3/16” steel and must have a UL-listed Group II combination lock or a Type 1 electronic lock.
Large high-end gun safes are the best safes you can purchase if you own an extensive gun collection. Most avid hunters and firearms collectors would strive to purchase a safe in this category. Expect to find UL rated high-security body and doors, UL-rated fire protection for 2 hours or more, premium components, velvet interiors with drawers as options. These are the best of the best and include AMSEC RF SF and BF Series, Browning Platinum Plus Series, Cannon C35 C30 and C2. Liberty and a few other manufacturers also have safes of high quality and large size.
The most important thing when considering a safe is to find one that works for your needs and budget. You can find the same safe at as much as 30% cheaper from one website to another, and you can almost always find a safe shipped to you from an online source at a much lower price than purchasing it locally. If you do purchase the safe locally, you have a few advantages. You can feel and operate the safe before you purchase it if you find a local safe dealer. Try asking for free delivery and installation when dealing directly with a local vendor. With online dealers, you should be able to find free shipping on most safes in addition to the lower prices.