Gun safes are purchased and used in order to keep gun and valuable belongings from being stolen or misplaced. In the case of firearms such as guns and pistols, one needs to take extra precaution to situate them in a safe that cannot be broken into and misused. Even though safes have been an integral part of most homes and offices for a long time, they haven’t been entirely reliable.
Searching for a new gun safe can be a tough task. There are multiple makes, models and types, even before we get started on security ratings and different testing standards. To help you avoid the pitfalls safe purchase, we’ve compiled a list of all those awkward truths that gun safe companies and online reviews like to hide. By following all these secret techniques you can avoid falling in a trap made by the gun safe companies or the online reviews. Be careful about all these points selecting your gun safe. Hope you guys enjoy it.
#1 The Budget Range of Safes Are Typically Simple to Break Into
This is a truth that most gun safe companies fail to mention. Typically, any gun safe that retails for under $49.99 will be easy to break into for most burglars. This becomes even more apparent when you come away from the main brands such as SentrySafe or Safety First. Most online reviews and ratings will mention everything else: heavy duty bolts, keypads, anti pry doors yet fail to mention any standards testing that might have been carried out.
Our advice? Stay away from the $49.99 budget safe niche and purchase the best quality safe appropriate for your needs.
#2 Fire Proofing Doesn’t Last Forever
Many gun safe companies, talk about “fire resistance” as though it would be possible to place the safe within the Towering Inferno and retrieve documents 5 hours later.
In perfect condition, might we add! The truth is, no safe will provide infinite coverage against fire. Eventually, all safes will succumb and allow the heat to take it’s toll.
Typically, safes are fire rated for particular lengths of time. 1 hours fire protection is a fairly common standard in the home market as is 2 or even 3 when purchasing high quality safes from good manufacturers. So before you decide on a fire safe, double check the length of time it’s fire rating has and ensure it’s suitable for your needs.
#3 Some Gun Safes are Often Very Insecure
You would think that gun safes are always made of high quality materials. After all, they secure items that could be used to seriously injure people. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Many gun safes, particularly those in the cheaper price bracket, are manufactured from extremely thin steel. Added to this are poor quality locks, hinges and keypads that hardly secure your guns and valuables from prying eyes.
We’ve witnessed some budget gun safes easily being cracked by teenagers. We have also seen firsthand a simple screwdriver and hammer used to penetrate and tear open the case of a cheap safe.
Our advice, please purchase a quality safe such as the Amazon Basic or a high end model such as the SFW123DSB from SafeSentry. For a little more budget, you can sleep soundly knowing that the most dangerous weapon in your home is secured properly.
#4 What’s in a Safe Rating
Most people who are purchasing a new safe are looking to secure cash, a firearm, antiques or important personal/business documents. A basic “B” rated safe, simply means that the door will the reasonably thick, (0.5 inches is typical) and the body will have a thickness of about 0.25 inches. When fitting a B rated safe, we would recommend using the floor bolt holes and ensuring the unit is securely bolted to the ground, making theft of the entire unit very difficult.
The next step up in security is the Underwriters Laboratory mark UL. If your unit is accredited with this level of security, it will display the UL mark sticker proudly on its body. You’ll also notice these safes looking much stronger their B rated counterparts with super thick steel (3 – 4 inches on the door/body is common) and very strong locking bolts.
The next step up is really where gun safes typically merge with commercial safes. These are rated as TL15, TL30 and TLTS. These safes are typically out of the gun safe buyers budget and with good reason, they’re typically used by jewelers and banks to secure small amounts of money or jewelry.
Why take so much notice of the rating? Well, many budget safe reviews might mention a B1 residential rating. This sounds good, yet in reality it just means the safe will put up with a basic amount of tampering before being unlocked. What we would suggest, is to not be blinded by the numbers with safety ratings. Instead, tally up the total value of all items that might be placed in your safe at one time, purchasing the most appropriate security/fire rated unit for your needs.
#5 Fire Resistant Safes are Not Anti Burglary Safe
One trick that many gun safe guides use, is to mix fire ratings and anti burglary standards up. This can easily confuse the gun safe buyer and lead to incorrect choices. The easy way around this, is to understand that fire and anti burglary ratings are two distinct issues, with a high rating in one not indicative that it will perform well in the other.
We would advise against holding extremely valuable jewelry within a budget fire rated safe. These are typically broken into within minutes using low end tools such as screwdrivers or pry bars. If you’re going to be holding jewelry of value higher than a few thousand dollars, consider purchasing a safe with a higher rating such as a UL or possibly even a TS15 or 30 model.
#6 Digital Media is Not Secure in a Fire Safe
Thankfully, this is an issue that’s stopped being widely miss-represented. However, it’s something all homeowners should know about when they talk to sales staff who might have out of date training. A fire safe, can protect your valuables from smoke or flame damage. However, most safes could never realistically protect your property from heat damage caused by long term exposure to a house fire. This creates an issue with items that require being kept cool at all times. The items most susceptible to this are:
- Laptop computers
- All types of hard disk
- Old floppy disks and cassette drives
- Traditional photos and negatives
- USB drives and flash drive cards
- Micro SD and mobile phone SIM cards
Most high quality fire safes are designed to keep the internal temperature under an already toasty 350 degrees. This is fine for plain paper, as it has a high combustion temperature and won’t burn until roughly 450 degrees. Digital media and more volatile traditional media (Photos) won’t make it near 350 degrees without suffering large amounts of damage.
Our advice is to only purchase a fire safe for paper documents, cash or items that require flame or smoke protection rather than heat. If you have items of technology or digital media that need securing, we would advise holding these in a small, portable safe that can be evacuated with you during an emergency.
This doesn’t mean your digital media is unsafe. Consider using an encrypted USB stick or setting up encryption on your laptop as a method to avoid data being useful if it ends up in the wrong hands. There are also dedicated companies that can secure cassette or floppy drive backups for you. These companies are highly secure and have strong fire protection systems in place to keep your data safe.
#7 Watch Out for Cheaper Safes with Flashy Keypads
This top tip comes courtesy of hundreds of online safe review comments and occasionally, angry customers when their shiny new purchase stops working. Cheaper safes are always built to the price point they inhabit. This is fine if the safe is of simple construction, allowing the manufacturer to focus on security and quality rather than gimmicks.
Unfortunately, many budget safe manufacturers decide to include inferior quality, electronic keypads, mostly made in China. This can lead to all sorts of issues, from low battery life to complete failure of the keypad within a short time period. If you’re making a purchase at the budget end of the market, look at online safe review comments to make sure there are no upset voices mentioning quality of construction or frequent faults that occur within 1 or 2 years of manufacture.
#8 Watch Out for Exterior Dimensions Listed as Interior Ones
This is an obvious “mistake” that many online reviews and product listings make. There are two separate measurements that safe manufacturers use when designing a unit.
For most people purchasing safes, the interior measurements are by far the most important. This is because the case, door and base are typically at least 0.75 inches in thickness, even more for highly rated safes. So when purchasing your safe, make sure you know exactly what each measurement the review gives out is for, and make your purchase based on the correct information.
#9 That Safes are The “Final Word” in Security
Many online reviews tout the gun safe as the only thing you need to keep your valuables secure. This is fair enough from a marketing standpoint, as many safe companies have no interest in selling security products they don’t offer. However, unlike many safe vendors, we recommend viewing your new safe as part of a good household security regime.
Don’t be scared to get the advice of your local state Police department and do carry out some research on how to secure your home. Quite frequently, the most important security “upgrades” you can perform to your home are actually the cheapest.
Simple things like purchasing a padlock and keeping your garden gate locked at all times make a huge difference. Whatever you do, don’t expect a high security safe to do all the heavy lifting during a burglary. Take steps to ensure your entire home is designed to keep prying eyes outside, where they belong!