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Bleg: Need a new gun safe

What do you guys recommend? For long guns. Likely a 24 rifle capacity. Fire rated for an hour. And, if it had some drawers, that’s be a plus.

36 Responses to “Bleg: Need a new gun safe”

  1. Linoge Says:

    I like my Cannon, but I haven’t had cause to test any of its features yet.

  2. qmony Says:

    I bought a Browning Pro Steel Silver SR45 recently. I could not be happier with it.

  3. Anthony Says:

    I bought my safe from Drake Safes out of NC. 1/4 inch steel for the door and the sides or you can upgrade as needed, and I thought the prices were very reasonable for what you get. Good family to deal with also. Now that I’ve lived with it for a year, when we see the mass market safes at the local outdoor stores we’re so glad we got ours.

    Uncle, you need to guest on Sean’s podcast!

  4. Mike Says:

    What’s your budget? If you can spend ~$1,500, Amsec BF series. This is a pretty illuminating thread on gunsafes:

  5. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    Johnson. Magnificent welding, superior insulation.

  6. aerodawg Says:

    They did my vault door and ive been well pleased with it.

  7. Tim Says:

    I bought the Browning Prostyle Hunter Safe and have been impressed with it in comparison to my Liberty and Home Depot (Sentry) safes.
    Highly recommended. Stay with the USA made safes, the upgrades that are available are worth the small premium over the Browning imported safes.

  8. JTC Says:

    Jewelry stores close and sell their fixtures all the time. Most have a UL TL-30 the size of a large fridge. These cost 5-8K new and these used ones can be had for 1-2K if your timing is right. Use your cabinet skills to build out the interior to suit you. Moving is expensive but worth it, paying a pro a couple hundred will save more than that trying to do it yourself.

    These things weigh 3000-5000 lbs and have laminated steel plate and hi-tensile concrete walls and glass-plate trigger relockers in the door…nobody is going to carry it out and only a pro with specialty equipment and a lot of time is getting into it. Not as pretty as a “gun safe” but I’m guessing it won’t be on display. None can compare to this level of security, and you will want to keep your cash, jewelry, and coins/bullion in there too.

    I know you will tend to disregard my recommendation, but others here might benefit from the nearly four decades of safe and security experience from which it is gleaned, some of it the very hard way.

  9. FiftycalTX Says:

    Well, I got a deal from the mountain of geese. It has a 75 minute rating, got $65 delivery (I’m 75 miles from stoar) and it holds all I need, (right now).

  10. Critter Says:

    I bought a Winchester (dunno who actually made it, but that’s the name on it) 32 rifle safe last year. It has the mechanical lock as opposed to the electronic one. right at 1100 and i paid the delivery guy 100 cash to put it where i wanted it. My local gunshop had them on sale and I jumped on it. I like it.

  11. Pete Says:

    The problem with most of these safes is, they aren’t. They are residential security cabinets and a porta-band or sawzall will have them open in minutes.

    If you want a safe, buy a used jewelry safe or order from these guys:

  12. Will Says:

    To be legally called a ‘SAFE’, it must meet the certification requirements. As Pete mentions, most are ‘security cabinets’. BIG difference in capabilities.

  13. Kevin Says:

    Assuming a tin box with a great paint job isn’t what you want to buy, buy a surplus Class 5 security container (rifle rack, comsec, etc – Class 5 is the key phrase) from Government Liquidation. Even after the various costs it will be both much cheaper and will be far, far secure than anything you can buy from anyone other than Amsec, and you don’t want to pay for a new TL-30 Amsec gun safe. Keep searching for a while, might take month or two to find one within a few states. You will have to go pick it up, bring a trailer that can have forklift load a pallet on it and then strap it it down. Have a safe guy who knows how to service government security containers work on it and possibly replace the lock before you put anything in it, preferably before you lock the door at all even when you haul it home. (Yes, I’ve had to have one drilled to open the door the first time – that sucked).

    You can also ask around the safe dealers (not the gun dealers) for used safes on the size you want.

    The used jewelry safe is a great idea, but I’ve never actually been able to pull it off. I’ve got 3 Class 5 containers, cost me maybe $2K plus $1K in service, gas, trailer rental, etc.

  14. Kevin Says:

    Fire ratings are generally worthless for gun safes. Notice how everyone just makes makes up their own standard? That’s because the way an actual fire safe keeps the content below about 350 degrees is water. Most people don’t like their guns to rust, which is what happens in an actual fire safe (high humidity is OK for the paper records – not so great for guns). Not to mention that having your guns in 350 degree steam for an hour, then sitting covered in moisture for a few days until the FD allows your safe guy to drill it open is probably not going to be ideal.

    Normal gun safes with fire rating apparently don’t keep out the fire combustion products. These are “highly reactive” and I’ve been told they will often turn your guns into junk by the time the FD allows your safe guy to drill it open even if they didn’t get cooked.

    Instead put a sprinkler head or two over it and ensure that part of your house and where the water supply line runs (probably want to use iron) will collapse last.

  15. rd Says:

    My suggestion is to layer the protection if possible.

    Build a closet around the safe using FILLED concrete block, poured cincrete wall, or stud wall filled with cement board and/or drywall. A fireproof ceiling helps seal out the fire. Use a fire rated door with a good lock set. And Anchor the safe securely when you install it. If it is on the lowest floor or basement, raising it a few inches on concrete pad might keep it out of the fire fighting water.

    A couple of cases of water on top of the safe might keep the area cooler if the worst happens.

    Listen to Kevin. Safes keep their insides cool using STEAM during a fire. Put important papers, photos, electronics in waterproof air tight containers, or at least plasic bags with dessicant. Those valuable guns you handle every four years or so? Maybe plastic sleeves, some oil and grease and dessicants would be useful. Change out the desscants and inspect for moisture regularly.

  16. Steve Ramsey Says:

    If it’s a 24 gun safe, that means 24 single shot shotguns with straight stocks.

    Bolts, optics and whatnot take space. So go bigger than your intended number of long guns, ensuring adequate space for you handguns and other stuff as well.

    I don’t care for electronic locks with no manual backup.

    I paid to have the thing professionally moved and installed. That was well worth the added cost.

    The high end Chinese made safes sold by reputable safe dealers are fine. Brahma is what I bought. It was recommended by the dealer over a Liberty model I was looking at. He showed me how this particular model (the fatboy) was vulnerable to prying attack. (liberty safes are generally great, but the dealer didn’t like this one)The ones at Costco, like the Winchester branded safes? Stay away.

    I put mine in a closet, making it difficult to get at the sides and top with any sort of cutting tool.

    And as long as thee are locking bolts all the way around the door, it doesn’t matter if the hinges are external.

    And if you still find your safe filling up, create more room with rifle rods. I find them better than those cheesy cutouts.

    And plan your lighting and dehumidifier setup and make sure there are ports to run the power and how you are going to plug them in before the safe gets bolted down.

  17. Alien Says:

    1. Buy a bigger safe than you think you need. It’s cheaper to buy 150% of requirements now than add that extra 50% in 5 years.
    1B. Bigger and heavier is better. Bolt it down anyway.
    2. I like the higher level Ft. Knoxes (their doors have a LOT more structure in them), but they’re much spendy.
    3. Liberty safes are good; Michael Bane had warranty issues with Cannon, he went to Liberty.
    4. best safe deals I ever got were from Randy Register at Southern Security in Knoxville. He can get any brand.
    5. Regular “safes” won’t work for guns; they achieve fire protection with water absorbed by the concrete liner – it turns to steam during a fire keeping the inside temp low – but the constant high internal humidity will rust guns in a heartbeat.
    6. If fire protection is on the priority list tied with security, look at high end data safes. (Pro tip: for ammo and document protection, data safes can’t be beat, and they turn up on the used market, still kinda spendy, tho; Fire King makes excellent data safes, but the big ones are spendy ($12K at wholesale last time I checked) (FYI, data safes must survive 1750F for the full duration of the rated period and NOT allow internal temp above 125F, AND then survive a 30 ft drop onto concrete without breaking the seal).
    7. Under no circumstances do you want an electronic lock – EVER – and order/buy the upgrade to a higher level S&G combo lock (more precise internally – means the combo you dial must be EXACT, not +/- 1/2 mark on the dial, more difficult to “soft finger” a way in).
    8. If you have a safe you need an alarm system; ANY safe (or RSC) can be defeated if the bad guy has enough time. Put an alarm system panic button near the safe in case the bad guy holds a gun to your wife’s head to make you open the safe. FYI, have a detailed conversation with the alarm company so they know if they get an alert signal from the “safe room panic button” it’s a hostage situation. And schedule a test for that button and the alarm company’s response.

  18. Pete Says:

    A more secure setup would be hiding the safe so they can’t even attack it.

  19. HL Says:

    I have the browning Pro-Series. They have great interior appointments and are well rated against fire and theft. They are also American Made.

    I bought from Knoxville Safe House behind West Chevrolet in Alcoa. They were wonderful to work with. I couldn’t have been happier with the product and service.

  20. mikee Says:

    Today I realized once again I am poor.

  21. Patrick Says:

    Kevin mentioned the steam ingress issue in most fire-rated safes, and you should consider it solid advice.

    Most fire safes are really nothing more than a thin steel box (usually well under 10 ga, sometimes even 16 ga) that is wrapped in glorified drywall. Then they slap another steel shell around it, and usually the outer shell is thicker than the inside shell.

    In a fire, the drywall starts to cook off moisture, which helps keep temp inside the box lower. Problem is the heat is high enough to easily buckle and snap the welds used on the thin sheets that make up the box (expansion of steel sheets is extensive at even low temps). The inner shell will crack somewhere, and super-heated steam and chemical ‘whatever’ will get into the inner chamber. Reactions occur and contents are at risk.

    The cost to protect something from fire is high. The inner shells are usually a ‘real’ safe (1/4 or heavier plate) and the fire cladding is poured concrete/vermiculite/other. The outer shall is made thin, so that it will burst and off-gas steam. The inner plate is heavy enough to survive the expansion of the metal without rupturing (think: boiler plate).

    I know this from my job, where I have occasion to secure things from intrusion and fire. Basically it is expensive to do both with any real efficacy.

    So, with all this said I put my guns into a few stack-on steel cabinets, locked behind closed doors. The money I saved buys more ammo. I insure the guns and know that in the event of fire, some things are likely lost forever (I don’t collect anything of real value, though).

  22. Patrick Says:

    On used safes: an old jeweler’s safe is a great option if you get insured delivery. If the glass re-locker breaks you have a big boat anchor on your hands.

    Also, the biggest issue that stopped me from getting a ‘real’ safe was little kids. Jewel safes look like great hiding places for little kids, and this more than anything has stopped me from getting anything air tight. Maybe I am paranoid. But food for thought.

  23. the Other cliff Says:

    You are a contractor. Build a room in your basement with filled cement blocks and put a vault door on it. Be sure to secure the ceiling. it will also make for a good tornado room.

  24. Ron W Says:

    ” I don’t care for electronic locks with no manual backups.”

    Great point, Steve Ramsey! I had just a small safe for documents once and when batteries got low, it would not open. Had to get locksmith to drill out lock. I would much rather have combo lock or key. My gun safe has a key which is on my house and car key chain that is almost always with me…that is when I’m dressed.

  25. KevinM Says:

    I well note the guys who suggest out of industry solutions – jewelry or government safes. If you have the time to jack with it they are probably right. Hell build a vault closet lined with faranging steel.

    I am happy with my Ft. Knox Defender. Two steps up from what you can buy at Cabela’s or Gander Mountain.

  26. KevinM Says:


  27. Liston Says:

    If you get electronic opener, make sure you have mechanical backup because of EMP.

  28. Todd S Says:

    I’m not one to make recommendations on the type of safe, but definitely get a Gun Storage rod system. Turned my 24-gun safe into a 35-gun safe

    I’m not with the company and I get nothing outta this. I just really like the product.

  29. Sigivald Says:

    Also, remember that any practicable solution won’t stop a serious thief, only a in-and-out amateur.

    If you’re gone all day or for the weekend and the safe is deep in the house, well, your neighbors are never going to notice that grinder opening even 1/2″ steel.

    (Remember, a ton-and-a-half safe is going to be … awkward to install, in most homes.

    I’m pretty sure my stairs aren’t rated for 3,000 pound loads, nor are my floors, at least not for concentrated loads, rather than 3,000 pounds in one corner.)

    What’re you trying to do? If it’s “keep the guns safe from non-targeting thieves and house fires”, that’s a different game than “from any possible attack”.

    Like Patrick says, you have insurance to cover fire losses – preventing thieves from [easily] stealing your guns is a mix of moral and liability imperative.)

  30. Michael Bane Says:

    After my research I went with Liberty Safes with manual locks. I’ve been very happen with them. Take it from me…electronic locks really suck when when they stop doing that locky thing. Secondly, locksmith guys I talked to pointed out that each time you touch those numerals, you both wear a little off and leave a little bit of oil on them…makes it easier to figure out the combination. Thirdly, my original safe that tanked was opened by a locksmith with a computer that plugged into the lock point. The locksmith explained to me that there was no need to worry, because there was NO WAY that handy hacking computer could EVER be in evil hands.

    Yeah…you betcha!!!

    Michael B

  31. Roger S Says:

    Johnson safes custom made to your specification in zionsville indiana. I’m a happy owner.

  32. Alien Says:

    Just had a thought – Roger S mentioned Johnson safes as a custom safe builder – so is CE Safes in the Miami area. Last time I talked to Curt he mentioned they were building a 3500 lb 60″WX72″H model.

  33. NotCVlauswitz Says:

    I have two: an AmSec and a Fort Knox. My buddy the paranoid PhD electronics CEO in MA has a custom Sturdy-Safe that was shipped all the way out there from here. He did extensive research before purchasing.

  34. rd Says:

    FYI Stay away from Damp-rid Dessicant!

  35. Will Says:

    Once you decide on your new safe, consider using a double row lazy-Susan (turntable style) long gun holder-dispenser. It gives the most efficient use of space, and pretty much eliminates having to move half the guns to reach the one you want, and without knocking over several in the process. They tend to be very accommodating to mounted optics space requirements.

  36. Jerry Says:

    All that and no jokes about your drawers. Seems odd.

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