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Thread: Gun Safes: What do you have, what would you suggest, what do you lock up?

  1. #1
    Regular Member SargentMac's Avatar
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    Gun Safes: What do you have, what would you suggest, what do you lock up?

    So I currently own 2 handguns and 3 rifles. I've got another 3 handguns and 3 long guns I'd like to pick up in the next 2 years. My wife and I are moving to Cali where her dad and her uncle both have guns but don't have them in safes. Her dad has 3 or 4 rifles and 2 handguns, her uncle has 2 long guns and 1 handgun. I'll be keeping the majority of their guns in my safe when we move. Figure that to being around 12 long guns and 8 handguns. I'm trying to decide what to buy and how much to spend.

    Capacity:
    I'm going to buy a safe that will accommodate at least twice what I'm counting right now which means I need a safe with a capacity of 24 long guns and 16 hand guns. I'd also like to be able to store my wife's jewelry (thankfully she doesn't have a ton), as well as important paperwork. I figure the equivalent of 20 inches cubed should be plenty for that stuff.
    - So when you guys bought your safe, what size did you get and what did you plan to put inside? Have you had to upgrade?

    Fire Rating:
    Being that we'll be in California, I'd like at least 60 minute fire rating but I need to do more research here. From the little reading I've done, the way the safes are rated varies by manufacturer. For example, some start the time when they start the fire, where others start the time when the fire reaches the rated temperature (or something along those lines).
    - So what fire rating does your safe have, and do you still expect it to last or do you wish you'd gone higher? Have you ever owned a safe that burned and how did the contents hold up?

    Security:
    There are several differences in thickness, number of bolts and bolt pattern, and even how you store it. While this obviously matters, I'm still trying to decide the right security to cost ratio. Something else to consider is the value to cost ratio.
    - What did you decide was best? Did you spend more money on one security feature over another? If you can remember, what was the ratio of value of your collection to the cost of your safe?

    Finish:
    There are matte finishes, textured finishes, and high gloss finishes. Different carpet interiors and shelving systems. I don't want to pay a premium for something that isn't going to hold up well.
    - What did you pick and how happy are you with it?

    Accessories:
    Different dehumidifiers, electronic locks, lights, racks or door holsters. These are relatively minor but still need consideration. I'll be putting in a dehumidifier and would like to put in a light. I still haven't decided how to organize my handguns but I like the door attachments.
    - What did you select or add on later? Did you find a better way (or more preferred way) of doing things than what the safe manufacturers provide?


    Thanks in advance for any input. Feel free to brag and post pics of your storage setup.

  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    Mine was $40 at a Wal-mart sale (MSRP is $50). It's a Winchester WM-180-7 electronic pistol safe. It came with a small piece of felt padding, but I use an old wadded up t-shirt, instead. It requires both a key and a code punched on the keypad to unluck it, but if the battery fails, a separate and different key I keep locked up elsewhere is used instead of the keypad.

    It's not fireproof, but it does have mounting holes in the back for wall-mounting and securing it against casual theft. If you built a wooden mini-rack, you could probably fit five or six normal-sized semi-autos. It's big enough for a Ruger Redhawk, too (.44 mag, 7-1/2" barrel).

    For twice the capacity of "12 long guns and 8 handguns," though, you're looking at a much larger safe. Costs vary widely. I've seen some real cheapies large enough for $500, but I've also seen ones of similar size but of much better quality and features for upwards of $3,000.

    Out of my league!
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  3. #3
    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    I just bought another safe this summer. I got a Liberty Colonial 23 and am very pleased with it. Of course, I'll never know just how good it is until it is used (attempted break-in or a fire). But I did some research beforehand. I has a good interior layout for storing long guns, handguns, and important papers, jewelry, cash, and other items needing protection.

    Best bet is to think ahead. Future gun purchases, ammunition, more household and personal important stuff, and other miscellaneous things. This is where most people make mistakes. They don't think ahead with this type of purchase. I have three safes now, two of which are actually worth anything. My new Liberty is the best of the lot.

    Good luck in your search and don't hurry your decision. Take your time and do your homework.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

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  4. #4
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Residential Security Cabinets (what most folks refer to as "gun safes") are good for keeping your stuff in one place unless you remember to lock it up after every time you open it, and you plug those holes in the back and bottom where they expect you to run lag bolts and power cords. If you do all that, you get some limited protection from heat.

    Google up Denny Hansen's home fire, where most of the stuff in his safe either charred or melted. Google up the videos of folks tipping the safe over and popping it with wrecking bars. Admittedly a good instalation will trevent tipping but they can still be defeated quickly and easily.

    If all you are looking to do is comply with California law on "safe storage" then get a steel school locker or job box. If you are looking for a real safe or a fire-resistant box go to a locksmith and be prepared for sticker shock.

    BTW - I have a residential security cabinet. It might keep my wooden guns from getting scorched but I do anticipate all the plastic to melt if the FD does not put out the blaze in 30 minutes.

    stay safe.

  5. #5
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    Something I've often wondered for large fire resistant safes is why they don't have a water jacket around them. Yes that would only last for so long, but that's all ya need in a fire generally.

  6. #6
    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    Wink

    So, you hit the basics...protection for fire, theft....but missed water.

    Price seems to be based on fire protection time (60 min) or longer...you pay more....you can mitigate that somewhat by where you keep it. If it's in the Garage, you may have more time (unless the fire starts there)....

    I also bought one heavy enough that it will take 3 men and two boys to lift it...for the theft issue....having the large door pins that go into the frame are better and the more the better. Internal hinges of course and a digital locking mechanism....when you leave, you can drop the battery out and no one gets in (unless they are that clever).

    lastly though, if there is a fire, the door of the safe should also have a water barrier protection to prevent burst pipes and 2 in force main water pressure to fill it up....if it doesn't burn up, it will drown without it...but of course that also add's some cost.

    like all things, guns included, when your seeking quality and features, buy the most expensive protection system you can afford.

    (IANAD)... = "I am not a dealer"

    /////just a few additional thoughts...

    J
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....Teddy Roosevelt

  7. #7
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    Check craigslist, I see safes for sale all the time (~$300 including 30-60 min fire protection) via alerts. Obviously size matters and the larger the safe is going to cost more.

    Why so many safes? Because people upgrade. They start off with something that will hold 5-8 long guns, and soon enough (a few years down the road) they have exceeded the capacity by adding a few documents, more guns and valuables.

    Because you're coming to CA, be aware that you'll want to get a safe that is CA DOJ certified. It'll save you a little hassle when purchasing a gun (long/hand gun, I can't remember). Plus they have a law in CA that if your unsecured weapon gets stolen/used, you're potentially guilty of a felony.

    I do like the digital locks as you can program in several combinations, but there's nothing wrong with a manual combination (until the insides get worn and you have to adjust by +/-1).

  8. #8
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    I purchased a Patriot Safe. "The Collector" model.

    They gave me 100% financing, and free delivery to my door! The $98.00 monthly payments were a breeze, and it is paid off now. I am thinking of buying a second one.

    I was going to buy "The Armory" but the only thing stopping me was the fact that it wouldn't make the turn into the room where I wanted the safe. The footprint was too large. I would have had to tear out a doorway, and re-frame it after the safe was inside.

    The thing about these safes ... they really aren't "safes." They're metal boxes with layers of gypsum board or some other fire resistant material sandwiched between the metal sheeting that makes up the exterior and interior walls. Yes, they'll put up a good fight against a crowbar or other tool, and the better "safes" have a hardened steel "region" built into the door where it is most likely to be attacked for the locking mechanism. FEW safes offer an entire hardened steel door, top to bottom, and side to side.

    Sadly, they're much easier to break into than most people know. I'm a formerly certified welder/fabricator. I know how they're built. I won't post the details here, but suffice it to say that with 10 minutes of time and some AC power, along with the ability to make some noise undetected, I can get into any one of them with relative ease.

    To offset the security design flaws inherent in a sheet metal body safe such as the ones sold at gun shows, the ones with the fancy gold decals and polished black enamel paint and chrome plated five-spoke handle, you can HELP your safe deter an attack by choosing to place it where it would be extremely difficult to access it. For instance, do you have your safe bolted to the floor next to an exterior wall? UH OH! The bad guys will come in, punch two holes through the wall, wrap a chain around the safe and pull it through the wall with a dually pickup truck, dragging it down your driveway to where they can load it with a winch! Placing the safe where there is no room for a vehicle to pull such a maneuver will increase the security of the safe.

    Do you rely on the two bolt-down points in the floor? UH OH! Get a safe that has FOUR anchor points, one at each corner. it will resist the rocking action to break it loose. Get a large, THICK steel plate and drill it to match your anchor points. Place it at the bottom of the safe, and cover it with the same or similar gray carpet material. Now run your bolts down through that plate into the concrete anchors. Instead of pulling two bolt heads through sheet metal, the bad guys NOW need to pull the entire steel plate through the bottom of the safe if they are going to move it. Much better security.

    If you place a safe in your home, find a place where you can then frame up some walls around it. The walls (ordinary 2x4 with drywall, etc.) should be designed such that they will simply be in the way when someone wants to attack your safe with a crowbar. I know ... it's a pretty safe! you want to place it where it can be proudly displayed. Nope! Bolt it down, and build strong walls all around and above it, so if someone wants to go at it with an ax or a pry bar, they're going to have to remove the walls first.

    I'd REALLY like to find a large safe with 3" or 4" thick hardened steel walls, top, bottom and door! Now THAT would be a safe! Of course, it would probably cost more than a new home.
    Last edited by gravedigger; 10-25-2010 at 03:37 AM.

  9. #9
    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Safes are like home security systems, car alarms and disabling devices, and any other items which an owner attempts to secure and protect. If someone is determined enough and knowledgeable enough and has the time and inclination, they are going to get what they are after. The only way to stop them is with force or the threat of force. That means standing guard 24/7 over your property. Since this is not only not practical but nearly impossible for most everyone, we rely on second best equipment to protect our property.

    The "casual" burglar is most likely not going to take the time, nor is he likely to have the knowledge and tools, to break in to a good safe to see and grab what's in there. He wants to be in and out quickly and move on to other victims. We have had a rash of over 100 break-ins within the tri-county area where I live (Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun). The perp(s) enter through unlocked doors and windows of cars and homes at night while the homes are occupied, and get whatever they can quickly. There have been a few cases of forced entry as in breaking windows in doors, etc. Purses, wallets, money, keys, small electronic gear, and handguns are the prime items of interest. They(??) are still at large and operating.

    These people are not likely to try to break into a gun safe or a car which is locked and has an activated alarm. The reality is that the things we buy and do to protect our property when we are not around or able to do this ourselves will deter the majority of perps but certainly not all. But if someone is intent upon getting our stuff, nothing is going to stop them except for the threat of violent force.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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  10. #10
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    I just have a wood cabinet with my long guns in it. I keep my handgun in the truck. I figure if I need a long gun in the house a safe aint gonna do me alot of good in a hurry.

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    You could always dedicate one room of your house to raising poisonous snakes, and bolt the safe to the floor in the center of the room. Leave a light on!

  12. #12
    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gravedigger View Post
    You could always dedicate one room of your house to raising poisonous snakes, and bolt the safe to the floor in the center of the room. Leave a light on!
    That could work! Yeah, that would probably scare most perps away. One down side, though. The room's gonna smell something awful before long. Snakes don't use deodorant.
    Last edited by SouthernBoy; 10-26-2010 at 07:17 AM.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

  13. #13
    Regular Member cbpeck's Avatar
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    I was raised in a family that sold gun safes through the 80's & 90's, so I've seen quite a few of them over the years.

    95% of safes will keep out 95% of burglars*. Unless the burglar comes into your home anticipating the safe, he's not likely to get into it. And if he is anticipating the safe, he'll be able to get into most of the commercial safes available on the market today.

    A few key features to look for in a respectable safe:

    - Recessed door
    - 3/16" minimum steel door (some "composite" doors will be much thicker, but we're looking at the thickness of the outer layer of steel)
    - 1" locking bolts
    - 10 gauge or thicker steel body
    - S&G lock with hard plate reinforcement
    - Your preferred level of fire protection
    - 400 lb minimum weight

    If a knowledgeable thief brings a cutting torch with him while you're out of town for the day it's probably time to call your insurance company. With the right equipment it is surprisingly easy to cut through the side or back of most safes. Inexperienced thieves are much more likely to try (unsuccessfully) to compromise the door.

    Positioning of a safe is a very important consideration as well. One excellent location is underneath an interior staircase. These spaces are typically closets or open air in a basement. Either way, a burglar won't be able to "wrap a chain around the safe and pull" with a truck.

    Humidity is a very real concern when storing firearms. Many old currency safes were lined with cement. Cement retains water, so these safes are a poor choice for storing guns. I currently live in an arid part of Washington State and when I first moved here I thought I could skip the dehumidifier in my bedside lockbox. Not so - steamy showers in the adjacent bathroom caused corrosion on a gun that was kept in the lockbox (fortunately I was able to address the problem before the gun was damaged). Any gun safe should have either an electric dehumidifier or a large quantity of silica gel inside.

    *If your "safe" weighs less than 400 lbs, it is no safe at all. It is a cabinet. It will likely keep teenagers out, but not many burglars. You can either accept that level of protection or upgrade. The choice, and consequence, is up to you.

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    don't forget, if the heat gets over 400 degrees or so, you've just changed the "heat treatment" of the metals in your firearms!

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    Campaign Veteran GLOCK21GB's Avatar
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    Every thing is locked up in the gun SAFE, but the Glock & my AR15 ( next to my bed ) & the 22 ruger pistol & 1000 rounds sleep in the Bug out bag, soon the Kel tec sub 2000 9mm will be the van gun.
    http://youtu.be/xWgVGu3OR4U AACFI, Wisconsin / Minnesota Carry Certified. Action Pistol & Advanced Action pistol concepts + Urban Carbine course. When the entitlement Zombies begin looting, pillaging, raping, burning & killing..remember HEAD SHOTS it's the only way to kill a Zombie. Stockpile food & water now.

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  17. #17
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    Ironic that I stumbled across this thread.... just bought a safe from Gander Mtn. Timberidge series. Picking it up this weekend, lots o' features. Fire/water seal on the door,lots of door bolts, good fire rating, and heavy! (650Lbs). It's getting built into the wall in the room, so it should be secure enough.

    It's going to have all the guns and ammo and the more explosive reloading stuff. There is a smaller concrete based safe that all the paper stuff goes into.... leaves more room in the new one for guns!
    <-----Leading by example....while armed

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  18. #18
    Campaign Veteran GLOCK21GB's Avatar
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    I would love to have one of those BIG HUGE HEAVY safes like what your getting. mine are a little on the lighter duty side, I have 2 identical gun safes, bolted together....would be tough to steal....lol
    http://youtu.be/xWgVGu3OR4U AACFI, Wisconsin / Minnesota Carry Certified. Action Pistol & Advanced Action pistol concepts + Urban Carbine course. When the entitlement Zombies begin looting, pillaging, raping, burning & killing..remember HEAD SHOTS it's the only way to kill a Zombie. Stockpile food & water now.

    Please support your local,county, state & Federal Law enforcement agencies, right ???

  19. #19
    Activist Member swinokur's Avatar
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    Don't know your budget but a top rated safe made in Cally is Sturdysafe. The owner actually builds the safes himself. Excellent CS too.

    www.sturdysafe.com

    Another good manufacturer is Amsec

    www.amsecusa.com
    Last edited by swinokur; 11-18-2010 at 02:19 PM.

  20. #20
    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swinokur View Post
    Don't know your budget...
    I was looking safes at at Dick's Sporting Goods on Thursday. They had about a dozen stand-up models, nearly all of which were less than $1000. Some quite good ones fitting the OP's requirements could be had for $500.
    The First protects the Second, and the Second protects the First. Together, they protect the rest of our Bill of Rights and our United States Constitution, and help We the People protect ourselves in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence.

  21. #21
    Regular Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    To me, the best two companies for larger gun safes are Liberty and Cannon. I have owned safes from both and could not have been more pleased with either of them.

    At the time I purchased the Cannon a couple of years ago, they had the best warranty on the market that I could find.
    http://www.cannonsafe.com/warranty

    For smaller safes or single handgun safes, I don't think one could go wrong with a Gunvault safe.
    http://www.gunvault.com/
    Peace through superior firepower

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    "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

  22. #22
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    I've got this one ... http://www.tractorsupply.com/tools/s...k-safe-4061927

    I keep everything that's not loaded in it.

  23. #23
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    Gun Safes What Do You Have

    I have two Fort Knox safes. One larger, and a smaller one as well. I ran out of room in the larger one. These safes are fire resistant, very well made, and they are expensive. You get what you pay for and I highly recommend them.

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