There comes a time when you need to find the best protection for your guns. You may only own one handgun, but it doesn’t defeat the purpose of owning the best gun safe. The number of guns you own is, in fact, irrelevant. What truly matters is what protection we have for our guns to prevent them from ending up in the wrong hands.
The search for the right gun safe is, however, not as straightforward as one might think. A lot goes into making a gun safe and there are many factors to consider.
To a person with limited knowledge about gun safes, this may be a difficult and overwhelming task. There are many guides on the internet that will hold your hand during this process. Unfortunately, most of them are not updated or comprehensive enough.
We know the importance of protecting your guns which will be heavily reflected in this guide. It doesn’t matter if you own one small handgun or twenty long guns – we will guide you towards the best gun safe.
- Best Gun Safe Reviews 2017
- Best Gun Safe for the Money
- Best Gun Safe under 100 Dollars
- Best Gun Safe under 200 Dollars
- Best Gun Safe under 500 Dollars (Best Small Gun Safe)
- Best Gun Safe under 1000 Dollars
- Best Gun Safe under 2000 Dollars
- Best Superior Gun Safe (Best Large Gun Safe)
- 13 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Gun Safe for Your Guns
- #1 to Protect Children
- #2 to Protect against Burglary
- #3 to Protect against Fire
- #4 to Protect Against Natural Disasters
- #5 to Protect Other Valuables
- #6 to Protect Your Rights
- #7 to Protect Against Lawyers
- #8 to Keep Your Guns Organized
- #9 to Obey the Laws
- #10 for Insurance Coverage and Discount
- #11 You May Get a Tax Reduction
- #12 They Look Good
- #13 to Have a Peace of Mind
- What to Consider Before Buying a Gun Safe
- #1 What Size Should I Go With?
- #2 Biometric, Mechanical Dial or Electronic Lock?
- #3 Burglary Protection
- Burglary Rating
- Security Features
- #4 Protection Against Natural Disasters
- #5 Fireproof Protection
- #6 Waterproof Protection
- #7 Warranty
- Wrap Up
Best Gun Safe Reviews 2017
|Steelwater Extreme Duty 39 Long Gun Fire Protection for 120 Minutes AMHD593924-blk||Steelwater Heavy Duty 20 Long Gun Fire Protection for 45 Minutes AMSW592818-blk||Mesa Safe Company Model MBF1512E Burglary and Fire Safe with Electronic Lock, Hammered Gunmetal||Viking Security Safe VS-25BL Biometric Safe Fingerprint Safe||Sentry Safe Quick Access Safe 0.08 Cubic Feet|
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star||icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty|
|Best Gun Safe under $2000||Best Gun Safe under $1000||Best Gun Safe under $500||Best Gun Safe under $200||Best Gun Safe under $100|
|59″ x 39″ x 24″||18″ x 28″ x 59″||18.8″ x 17.2″ x 20″||10″ x 14″ x 10″||6.6″ x 9.7″ x 2.2″|
|932 lbs||425 lbs||131 lbs||26.6 lbs||12.2 lbs|
|Mechanical Dial Lock||Electronic Lock||Electronic Lock||Biometric/Electronic Lock||Electronic Lock|
|9 Gauge Body||12 Gauge Body||12 Gauge Body||14 Gauge Body||12 Gauge Body|
|3 Gauge Door||12 Gauge Door||12 Gauge Door||7 Gauge Door||12 Gauge Door|
|Fireproof icon-check||Fireproof icon-check||Fireproof icon-check||Fireproof icon-times||Fireproof icon-times|
Best Gun Safe for the Money
You are not alone if you have a limit of how much you can spend on a gun safe. There are many reasons why we might find ourselves restrained by a budget. It might be due to our financial situation or it might be by own choice.
Whatever your budget is, you should not settle for anything but the best within that price range. To help you with that, we have picked the best gun safe under 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 dollars. We also took the freedom to review the best superior gun safe, for those that can afford the best of the best.
Best Gun Safe under 100 Dollars
There are purposes for all safes, and the best gun safe under 100 dollars are not meant for serious storage. They are generally small and built with thin steel that a burglar could easily break into.
The purpose of a gun safe under 100 dollars is, therefore, rather limited. However, they will keep small children and unauthorized guests away from your guns.
You could also place such gun safe on your nightstand to have access to your handgun within an arm’s reach. This is a good way to quickly arm yourself if an intruder would break into your house during the night.
Sentry Safe Quick Access Safe 0.08 Cubic Feet
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||12.2 lbs||6.6″ x 9.7″ x 2.2″||Electronic|
The Sentry Safe Quick Access Safe 0.08 Cubic Feet is undoubtedly the best gun safe under 100 dollars. Heavily due to the steel exterior at 12 gauge which is considered very thick for its size. Most gun safes you will see in this price range have an exterior of 16-18 gauge steel.
Security is further enhanced by the pry-resistant door and the concealed hinges. On top of that, the electronic lock and the gas strut allows for quick and easy access to your handgun.
If you are looking for the perfect gun safe for your handgun under 100 bucks, this is the one.
Best Gun Safe under 200 Dollars
What you can expect from a 200 dollar gun safe is a slightly bigger and better safe than one for 100 dollars. Yet, we cannot expect these safes to withstand a burglar attack for that long.
Security wise, they will do a better job at protecting your guns and you will be able to fit more guns.
Viking Security Safe VS-25BL Biometric Safe Fingerprint Safe
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||26.6 lbs||10″ x 14″ x 10″||Biometric/Electronic|
The Viking Security Safe VS-25BL Biometric Safe is an extraordinary safe under 200 bucks. It’s a seamless welded construction with a 14 gauge steel body and a 7 gauge thick door. The door is strongly reinforced by two 20mm steel locking bolts. It’s also laser cut to reduce the gap for prying tools.
Additionally, it features a biometric fingerprint lock with a 500 DPI optical sensor. Another way to access the safe is with a combination and if the electronic fails, you can use the override key.
Extra neat feature you will find is the interior light, LCD display, and an adjustable shelf.
But hey! If you have a few extra dollars to spare, you can get the Fort Knox Original Handgun Safe PB1. Why should you consider this gun safe instead?
If we look from a burglar perspective, the 14 gauge steel body of the Viking Safe is the weak point. Especially if you compare it to the Fort Knox Handgun Safe that has a 10 gauge steel body.
The heavy-duty and solid steel body of the Fort Knox will be able to withstand a lot more burglary assault. It’s made in the USA, and it has a 5 out 5 rating. So if you are willing to add a few extra dollars at this price range – we definitely recommend this gun safe.
If you are not a fan of the top opening lid – Fort Knox have a similar gun safe with a side door that is worth checking out.
What speaks for the Viking Safe, though, is that you get more features and more space for your guns. They both have a 7 gauge thick steel door, but the body is where the Viking Safe is clearly the weaker one.
Best Gun Safe under 500 Dollars (Best Small Gun Safe)
Within this price range, we are starting to move towards legit protection against burglary. We might not be there quite yet, but with a budget of 500 dollars, you will see better quality and have more options.
But 500 dollars is not the easiest budget to stick with, though. Why is that you may wonder? Because at this price point, many will expect to get a tall and secure gun safe that can store multiple long guns.
The problem, however, is that a tall gun safe requires more steel, and steel is expensive. This results in manufacturers having to cut down on the steel to keep the price below $500. This explains the fact that you won’t see many decent gun safes for long guns under $500. It is simply not worth it. Already, at the 500-800 dollar range will there be a major increase of tall gun safes.
This leads to the dilemma; do you prefer size over more steel? Either you could go with a tall gun safe with thinner steel, or a small compact gun safe with thicker steel.
Mesa Safe Company Model MBF1512E Burglary and Fire Safe with Electronic Lock, Hammered Gunmetal
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||131 lbs||18.8″ x 17.2″ x 20″||Electronic|
A perfect example of a small and compact safe with thicker steel is the Mesa MBF1512E. Even though it’s small it can easily accommodate multiple handguns with accessories. Both the body and door are of 12 gauge thick steel, which is reasonably thin steel. However, we do consider it to be adequate protection against the common burglar.
The electronic lock features a relocking device that will trigger if punched. It’s also protected by a 3/16″ hard plate that will prevent drill attacks. With the six steel locking bolts, it will also offer protection against pry attacks.
Additionally, it has been factory tested to resist fire for 2 hours at temperatures up to 1830F. This Mesa safe is, at this price range, one of the best, if not the best in terms of burglary protection. The fact that it’s also fire resistant makes it great to secure important documents.
Stack-On SS-10-MG-C 10 Gun Fully Convertible Security Safe with Combination Lock, Matte Hunter Green
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-o||129 lbs||12.5″ x 15.9″ x 55.1″||Mechanical Dial|
In the Stack-On SS-10-MG-C 10, we have a more traditionally looking gun safe. Unlike the Mesa safe, this safe can accommodate up to 10, 54″ tall long guns. The unibody construction design includes four parts; the body, top, bottom, and door. The body part is of 12 gauge steel and the top, bottom and door are of 14 gauge steel.
Bear in mind that a 14 gauge steel door is too thin to be seen as adequate protection against burglary. Further into this article, we will get into the importance of steel to combat burglary. However, it has adequate protection against children and unauthorized guests. Perhaps, even amateur burglars that lack the right tools, but don’t count on it.
Further, it features a combination lock with a hard plate to resist drill attacks. It also has a two-way locking system with six 1″ steel locking bolts to counter pry attacks.
For the money – this is a good gun safe that you can enjoy for many years to come. It’s spacious and offers the protection you can expect from a gun safe under 500 dollars.
Best Gun Safe under 1000 Dollars
At around $1000 you will start to see adequate protection against burglary. It’s also more common with extra security features such as relocker, hard plates, and fire protection.
Steelwater Heavy Duty 20 Long Gun Fire Protection for 45 Minutes AMSW592818-blk
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star-half-empty||425 lbs||18″ x 28″ x 59″||Electronic|
The Steelwater Heavy Duty 20 Long Gun Safe is one of the best, if not the best gun safe under 1000 dollars. The body and door are made of 12 gauge steel, which is adequate protection against the common thief.
Further, it features an electronic lock that is drill resistant due to a hard plate located behind it. There is also a relocker device that will activate if the lock is removed or tampered with. You can also access the safe with a high-security bypass key if an EMP event wipes out the electronic lock.
To strengthen the door and protect it against pry attacks there are nine 1″ steel locking bolts. It’s also fireproof for 45 minutes at 1550F and can accommodate up 20 long guns.
Best Gun Safe under 2000 Dollars
At the $2000 mark, you will start to see some really heavy and high-end gun safes. Most of them, if not everyone, have UL rated locks and their steel body is normally 10 gauge or thicker. At this price, you will find gun safes with the best security features.
What will instead determine if the price goes up from here is the amount of steel. The thicker, the better, and the more expensive it gets. But if you are looking to protect your expensive guns you won’t regret buying a gun safe at this price point.
Steelwater Extreme Duty 39 Long Gun Fire Protection for 120 Minutes AMHD593924-blk
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star||932 lbs||59″ x 39″ x 24″||Mechanical Dial|
The Steelwater Extreme Duty 39 Long Gun Safe is a phenomenal gun safe just below the 2000 dollar mark. It has a 9 gauge steel body and a composite door reinforced by a 3 gauge steel plate. Now we are talking extremely thick steel that will be incredibly hard for a burglar to penetrate.
The mechanical dial lock is U.L. Group II rated, and secured by a drill-resistant hard plate. It also has two relockers that will prevent manipulation of the bolt work if the lock was removed.
The door is further secured by 18 solid steel locking bolts with a diameter of 1 1/2 inches. Bear in mind that the average bolt is 1 inch thick.
And last but not least, it has 2-hour fire protection at 1875F and can store a maximum of 39 long guns.
Best Superior Gun Safe (Best Large Gun Safe)
What is a superior gun safe?
Generally speaking, it’s a gun safe with the thickest steel and the best security features.
These gun safes are the highest of the high-end gun safes on the market. They are pure quality and the best storage solution for your most valuable items.
American Security BF7250 Safe, Matte Black
|icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star icon-star||1789 lbs||71.25″ x 50″ x 28″||Electronic|
The American Security BF7250 is a beautiful and massive premium gun safe at 1789 lbs. It’s made in the USA and has an incredible 7 gauge steel body and a 3/8″ thick steel door! Besides offering great burglary protection, it also has ETL approved 2-hour fire protection.
The lock is U.L. Group II rated and supported by a hard plate and two relocking devices for added security. Additionally, the 11 1 1/2″ chrome-plated locking bolts make it virtually impossible to pry.
As mentioned, it’s a massive gun safe and you will be able to fit an immense number of guns and valuables.
13 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Gun Safe for Your Guns
#1 to Protect Children
A study done by Everytown showed that in 2015 there were at least 278 child shootings in the U.S., in which 82 was fatal. A shocking 70% of these deaths could have been prevented with responsible storage.
Responsible storage doesn’t mean to buy a cheap lockbox or hide your gun in a drawer. No, it’s imperative to practice gun safety and acknowledge the responsibility that comes with owning a gun.
The equation is really simple, if you own a gun and have children in your home – invest in a proper gun safe, period.
#2 to Protect against Burglary
Did you know that it occur more than 5,400 burglaries on a daily basis in the U.S.? It’s true, in fact, there is a burglary happening every 13 seconds of the day.
The statistics are unflattering and should be a great revelation to anyone. Mostly to those that has expensive and irreplaceable items.
Do you own guns worth a lot of money? Perhaps you own guns that have been passed down for generations and that have sentimental value to you. The idea of getting robbed on priceless heirlooms is a devastating thought.
The only true way to protect your valuables from burglars is to invest into a high-quality gun safe.
#3 to Protect against Fire
In 2014, there were an estimated number of 367,500 reported cases of home fires in the United States. We have all seen how reckless a fire can be and how it will destroy anything in its path. Your guns and the valuables you hold dearly are no expectations as they will vanish in the flames.
Thankfully, there are high-quality gun safes that can withstand high temperature for hours. If you own a fireproof gun safe, you will increase the chance to one day be able to pass on your guns to the next generation.
#4 to Protect Against Natural Disasters
Burglars, children, and home fires are not the only danger your guns may face. A natural disaster, while less common for some, will also pose a serious threat to your valuables.
To protect your guns from a natural disaster you should invest in a sturdy fire and waterproof gun safe.
#5 to Protect Other Valuables
A great benefit of owning a gun safe is that you can secure so much more than just your guns.
You could store expensive technology like your camera, laptop, cell phone or a tablet. You could also store cash, important documents, passports, and jewelry. But foremost, you can protect irreplaceable items like a photo album or family heirlooms.
Items like this, people tend to store casually in a drawer or something similar. These valuables are thus extremely vulnerable to fire, flood, and theft.
#6 to Protect Your Rights
A topic that is heavily discussed is whether to restrict the rights to own a gun or not. An argument that gun-control groups like to point at is the lack of security amongst gun owners.
This view can change if all gun owners practice gun safety by owning a gun safe. It would certainly increase the awareness that gun owners do in fact care about the safety of their guns. That way we can protect our guns as well as our right to own them.
#7 to Protect Against Lawyers
Imagine that a burglar break into your house and steal your unprotected guns. Further imagine that these guns are later used in a robbery with a fatal outcome. If the victim’s family finds out that you didn’t secure your guns properly, it’s likely that you will see a lawsuit coming your way.
If you own a gun safe and your guns still get stolen, you can at least prove that you have taken the necessary precautions. This would act as a protection against lawyers and lawsuits filed against you.
Even if this is a worst-case scenario, it is definitely a risk for any irresponsible gun owner. It’s also a really good reason, by itself, to invest into a good gun safe that will keep your guns safe.
#8 to Keep Your Guns Organized
Do you own many firearms or are planning to do so in the future? Then you will sooner or later run into the problem of not having a good place to store them.
A good way to keep your firearms nicely organized in one place is to invest in a gun safe. A gun safe (depending on the size) usually have gun brackets and pockets where you can, in a tidy way, store your guns.
#9 to Obey the Laws
There are several states in the U.S. that demand you by law to keep your firearms in a gun safe. It would with other words be illegal and extremely irresponsible for a gun owner to not own a gun safe.
However, each and every state has different laws and if you are curious you check them out here.
Also, In 27 states and D.C, you are obligated to obey the child access prevention laws. This law force gun owners to provide secure storage for their gun to prevent a child from accessing it. Be aware that this law may in some states also apply to gun owners that don’t have children themselves.
#10 for Insurance Coverage and Discount
A certified gun safe is something an insurance company may require if your guns reach a certain value. If you would have to make an insurance claim in the future, owning a gun safe would make your case a lot stronger. That way you can prove that you have taken the right measures to protect your valuable guns.
To be certain that your guns are fully covered, we recommend that you call the insurance company. Make sure you do this before you buy a gun safe so that you know what type of gun safe you need to cover your insurance.
If you ask you may also get a discount on the insurance because you own a gun safe. But yet again, be sure to research what type of gun safe that will comply with the certification rules.
#11 You May Get a Tax Reduction
In some states, you will get a tax credit if you purchase a gun safe. This is seen as an attempt to encourage gun owners to secure their guns.
#12 They Look Good
Not only will a gun safe add a new level of security to your home, it will also enhance the decor of any room. Especially that of a high-premium gun safe with its size, shiny finish, and decorative patterns.
#13 to Have a Peace of Mind
Last but not least, owning a gun safe will give you “peace of mind”. From a mental point of view, it’s comforting to know that your guns are protected. It will help you to sleep better at night, to be more relaxed on your vacation and to focus better at work.
What to Consider Before Buying a Gun Safe
- What Size Should I Go With?
- Biometric, Mechanical Dial or Electronic Lock?
- Burglary Protection
- Protection Against Natural Disasters
- Fireproof Protection
- Waterproof Protection
#1 What Size Should I Go With?
Do you already have a feeling of how big of a gun safe you want? Think again.
Here is why.
We read about so many customers that are thrilled with their new gun safe. Everything is perfect and it works great until they realize they have already grown out of it.
We could all learn from this, in order to make a smarter investment. It’s after all, an expensive investment that you will come to own for a long time. During this time, it’s a high possibility that you may expand your weapon collection. You may also realize that you want to store other valuables alongside your guns.
Do yourself a favor and go with a bigger gun safe then what you initially had in mind. That way you don’t have to spend your hard earned money on a new bigger gun safe in the future.
#2 Biometric, Mechanical Dial or Electronic Lock?
Biometric, mechanical dial, and electronic locks are the most common locks you will see on a gun safe. They all have their pros and cons, and you might find one that suits your needs better than another.
Let’s take a closer look at them all, and what ratings you ought to be looking for.
Biometrics is a form of security that has grown rapidly in popularity during the last few years. By biometrics, we generally talk about iris or fingerprint authentication. The last one is the biometrics commonly used in gun safes. However, this convenient technology tends to be more common in smaller gun safes.
The great benefit of having a biometric lock is that it doesn’t require you to remember a password. The only thing you need is your finger, and unlike a password, no one can steal or guess your fingerprint. Well, unless they chopped it off, of course. The use of a unique fingerprint as identification is considered the most secure way to access a safe.
Another plus is that it provides quick access and you don’t need a lot of concentration to open it. This is beneficial if you wake up groggy in the middle of the night and need your gun. Ideal for this situation would be to have a biometric handgun safe on your nightstand.
As you can tell, there are great advantages with biometric locks, but they are far from perfect. A well known and prominent downside with the biometric lock is the poor reliability.
The reason is that biometrics is a fairly advanced, expensive and new technology. Thus many manufacturers choose to go with a poor and cheap fingerprint scanner. If there is a decent biometric system in place, it’s usually attached to a weak body to compensate the cost of the biometrics.
Remember how we said that biometrics is considered the most secure way to access a safe? Let us clarify by saying that it only applies if the biometrics is of high quality and if the scanner is clean. Yes, a biometric lock needs regular maintenance as smudge and dirt can block access to the safe.
The cheaper a biometric system is, the more sensitive will it be to dirt. Be aware that an approved fingerprint mark left on a cheap scanner can give access to a non-registered user. This emphasizes the importance of high-quality and maintenance.
If you follow this path, invest in a high-quality biometric gun safe and do proper maintenance. That way you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of owning a biometric gun safe.
- Unique Fingerprint authentication
- Quickest form of access
- Easiest to access
- No combination code to remember
- Less reliable than the other locking systems
- Requires a power source
- Expensive technology
- Requires maintenance
Mechanical Dial Lock
The modern rotary combination lock was first invented by Linus Yale, Jr. in early 1870. Besides a few improvements, it has virtually remained the same ever since. The great benefit with a mechanical lock is that it doesn’t require a power source. And with minimum maintenance, you can expect it to work flawlessly for decades. The lifespan of a mechanical lock will far exceed both biometric and electronic locks.
Since it is mechanical, you won’t have the freedom to change the combination yourself. Instead, you will receive a pre-set combination code from the manufacturer. To change the combination you would have to call and pay a technician to do it for you.
A mechanical dial lock has reliability advantages, but there is always a catch. It will take you about four times longer to open and you will have to give up on some modern conveniences. You will also need good lighting and perhaps even your reading glasses.
But people who buy a gun safe with a mechanical dial lock don’t look for quick access or fancy technology. No, they choose a mechanical lock because it is the most reliable lock, and have been so for many, many years.
- Most reliable
- No power source
- EMP proof
- You can’t change the combination yourself
- Takes longer to open
- You have to memorize a pre-set combination
Electronic locks are the most common locks used by gun safes today. They are also the most popular choice amongst customers and there are plenty of good reasons for that.
First of all, they are user-friendly and you have the luxury to change the combination at any time. There are many combinations to choose from, as the average length of a combination is 4 to 6 digits long. You can also register multiple users assigned to different combinations.
Second and perhaps best of all – they are fast to open which is important to many customers. To further enhance the access time and the security there are a variety of features available. A backlit keypad, for example, will make it easy and quick to gain access in the dark. As security goes, there is a common feature that will prevent brute force attacks. This is done by blocking access if you use an incorrect combination a consecutive number of times.
Electronic locks have many perks; however, there are a few negative notes as well. The fact that it’s electronic makes it prone to failure at some point. If the keypad fails, you can change it easily, but if the actual lock itself fails, it’s a different story. Due to security reasons, this part of the lock may be situated inside the safe. To gain access again you would need to hire a professional to drill into the safe.
The easy and fast access that an electronic lock provide is a benefit that will promote daily usage of the safe. However, this will eventually wear out the keypad and the most frequent used keys. This is information that a burglar and perhaps even a child could use to crack your combination. If wear and tear have developed on the keypad, make sure to replace it to maintain the security of the safe.
The lifetime of an electronic lock is up to 10 years, which is considerably less than a mechanical lock. Another minor disadvantage is that you have to change the batteries about once a year.
EMP – Electronic Locks Worst Enemy
An EMP is a major concern to people looking to buy a gun safe with an electronic lock. EMP is short for “electromagnetic pulse” and is the worst enemy of electronic devices. It can appear in nature as a lightning strike, or by humans in the form of a nuclear detonation.
A non-protected electronic lock will most likely be disabled if it’s exposed to an EMP attack. With a non-functioning lock, you will have no access to your gun safe. Be aware that these types of events are very rare, but there are three ways to prevent being affected by an EMP.
1. Look for EMP proof electronic locks – There are several electronic locks out on the market that offers EMP resistance. S&G is a great example of a manufacturer that produces EMP proof electronic locks.
2. Choose a redundant lock – A redundant lock consists of both an electronic lock and a mechanical lock. If the electronic lock fails in the case of an EMP event, you can still access the safe with the mechanical lock.
3. Choose a mechanical lock – A mechanical lock will eliminate the EMP threat altogether. If there is one lock you can always depend on it’s the reliable mechanical lock.
- You can change the combination yourself
- Quick access
- Allow multiple users
- Requires a power source
- Susceptible to EMP
A redundant lock is a dual lock that often features an electronic and a mechanical lock. The electronic lock will provide easy and fast access, while the mechanical lock offers reliability. This is the perfect solution if you are concerned about an EMP event disabling your lock. With a redundant lock, you will simply get the best of both worlds.
Then there is the Simplex push button lock which is yet another mechanical lock. This mechanical lock is reliable and the buttons allow for quick access in matters of seconds. The Fort Knox Handgun Safe we talked about earlier is a great example of a gun safe with a Simplex lock.
UL Ratings for Locks
Underwriters Laboratories is a third-party safety certification company. Later in this article, you will learn that they test and certify burglar and fire resistance of gun safes. They also work with validating a locks construction and its resistance to manipulative attacks.
First, we have the UL 768 standard for combination locks. Both mechanical and electronic locks may qualify for ratings that fall under this protocol. However, Since UL 768 was first developed for mechanical locks; some of the requirements will not apply to an electronic lock.
The three different ratings that a lock can receive under UL 768 are Group I, Group II and Group 1R.
Then we have the UL 1034 standard for Burglary-resistant electronic locking mechanisms. Type 1 is the only rating specified by U.L. under the UL 1034.
To receive the Type 1 rating, an electronic lock must meet the following requirements:
- The lock itself with its memory must be situated inside the safe to prevent manipulation.
- The combination must be stored electronically in a Non-Volatile Random Access Memory. This will prevent the combination from being reset if the battery is dead or taken out.
- The lock itself must initiate the retraction of the locking bolts, not the keypad. If the lock is exposed, an experienced thief can easily retract the bolts with voltage.
- To prevent the owner from being locked out, the batteries must be situated on the outside of the safe.
These UL ratings are a worthy indicator to determine the quality of a lock. If you want solid protect against burglary and have a decent budget – make sure the lock is UL rated. Group II rating or better is what we recommend for mechanical locks. Group I, Group II or Type 1 rating is to prefer for electronic locks.
What Lock Type Is Best for Me?
Now when you are familiar with all the lock types it’s time to make a decision. This is done best by comparing the pros and cons of each lock to see which suits your needs the best.
In the end, it will all come down to your own personal preference. But if you are still unsure – here is how you can break it down to make your decision easier.
If reliability is important to you – consider a gun safe with a mechanical dial lock. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that the other lock types are unreliable.
If easy and quick access is more important to you – consider a gun safe with a biometric or an electronic lock.
#3 Burglary Protection
Did you know that in the United States it occur a burglary every 13 seconds? There are in fact more than 5,400 reports every day and in 2013 $4.5 billion was lost in property due to burglary.
This is a serious threat and one of the most important reasons why you should invest in a gun safe. Luckily, the average burglar doesn’t have the knowledge, tools or time to open up a high-end gun safe.
That doesn’t mean that you have to invest in the most expensive gun safe to keep the burglars out. If you learn what to look for, you can find an affordable gun safe with adequate protection against burglary.
…and that is what this segment is going to be all about.
But before we get started you have to understand that there is no such thing as a burglar-proof gun safe. With protection against burglary, we are simply buying time.
The average home intrusion lasts 8 to 10 minutes and during this time a burglar will gather as much as possible. Then he or she will retreat to avoid getting caught.
To protect your guns, the key is to own a gun safe that takes a great amount of effort and time to break into. To find such gun safe, you must know what to look for in the construction. You also need to know about burglary ratings and the best security features.
To determine the strength of a gun safe, you must first look at the construction. This will give you vital signs of how adequate a safe is to withstand a burglar attack.
Most important is to understand how a safe is welded, and what the door and walls are made of.
How’s the Welding Done?
The design of a gun safe is more important than you might think. The best advice that you can get is to avoid a spot welded gun safe. The manufacturers that produce these safes also tend to fill the gaps with body fillers.
The downside with a spot weld construction is that the welded joints can easily be broken. On top of that, the body filler that they use is flammable. You will see these cheap constructions more common among low-end gun safes.
If you want better security you ought to be looking at gun safes with continuous welds. These safes will be less susceptible to burglars that will try to exploit weak points in the body.
Today, the most well-known safe manufacturers will have a uni-body construction. The top and bottom piece will be the only parts welded, which will reduce the amount of welded joints. For better weld quality, the welding is often carried out by robots.
So, remember to look for continuous welds as this will result in a more sturdy and pry resistant gun safe.
Door and Walls
Besides looking at the welds of a gun safe you must be mindful of the construction of the door and walls. The amount of steel you will find in the door and walls will determine how resistant it will be to a burglar attack.
You want to do this by looking at the gauge number, which will indicate the thickness of the steel. The lower the number is, the thicker the steel will be.
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The first thing to understand is that gun safes are not created equally. Second, great exterior strength is not a certainty, as steel is the most expensive part of a gun safe. In fact, most manufacturers fall short when it comes to the steel – in an attempt to save money.
Examples of that are low-end gun safes, that are characterized by having thin walls of 12 to 20 gauge steel. 12 gauge steel walls are, however, adequate protection against the common thief. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that you can compromise slightly on the steel to get a better price.
Be aware, though, that a more sophisticated thief could penetrate 12 gauge steel with a fire axe. This is the reason why we recommend at least 11 gauge steel if you are truly concerned about your gun’s safety.
The door is usually the part of a gun safe that will take most damage during an attack. That is one of the reasons why the door often has thicker steel than the rest of the body.
There are 100% steel doors and there are also composite doors that are made up of steel and other materials. Bear in mind that a composite door will be much thicker than a pure steel door.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the composite door is more secure. No, in fact, it’s the amount of steel that is in the door that matters and what will stop a burglar attack.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers will try to deceive customers by advertising the overall door thickness. You can easily be tricked to believe that a 1 3/4″ composite door is more secure than a 3/8″ steel door. If you knew that the composite door had 1/3″ less steel in it, you would know that the 3/8″ steel door is more secure.
How much steel is in the door, is the right questions you ought to be asking.
Looking at the construction is essential to determine the security of a gun safe. Burglary ratings, however, is a certified proof that a gun safe can withstand a burglar attack for a specified time frame.
Ratings certified by U.L., in particular, is what you want to look for in a gun safe.
UL Burglary Rating
The Underwriters Laboratories, with the commonly used acronym U.L., is a safety science company. They have been in business for more than a century and are testing over 19,000 products yearly.
It’s one of the most well-known agencies when it comes to testing the security of safes. With safes, in particular, they specialize in testing burglary and fire resistance.
All tests that U.L. conduct is carried out by a team of professionals. This team will during a specified time-frame, use common tools to test the burglary resistance of a safe.
Each class assigned by U.L. must meet the requirements listed in UL 687 Standard for burglary-Resistant safe.
UL Class TL-15
To receive the TL-15 rating, the front-face and door of a safe must withstand a 15 minute attack. During this test, a team will use common hand tools used by burglars in an attempt to pry open the gun safe.
UL Class TL-15 x 6
To receive this classification a safe must comply with the requirements of TL-15 on all six sides.
UL Class TL-30
To receive the TL-30 rating, the front-face and door of a safe must withstand a 30 minute attack. During this test, a team will use common hand tools used by burglars in an attempt to pry open the gun safe.
UL Class TL-30 x 6
To receive this classification a safe must comply with the requirements of TL-30 on all six sides.
UL Class TRTL-15
To receive the TRTL-15 rating, the front-face and door of a safe must withstand a 15 minute attack. During this test, a team will use common hand tools and torches used by burglars to open the gun safe.
UL Class TRTL-15 x 6
To receive this classification a safe must comply with the requirements of TRTL-15 on all six sides.
UL Class TRTL-30
To receive the TRTL-30 rating, the front-face and door of a safe must withstand a 30 minute attack. During this test, a team will use common hand tools and torches used by burglars to open the gun safe.
UL Class TRTL-30 x 6
To receive this classification a safe must comply with the requirements of TRTL-30 on all six sides.
UL Residential Security Container Rating (RSC)
To receive the RSC rating, a safe must withstand a 5 minutes attack targeting all six sides. Common household tools such as a chisel, crowbar, drill, and hammer will be used during this test.
Important to note is that many gun safes on the market today have at least an RSC rating. In fact, the majority of gun safes will only have an RSC rating. This is why you can sometimes see a high-end Fort Knox safe and a low-end gun safe both rated at the RSC level.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are of equal quality or will offer the same security. It’s simply a matter of cost and to get a gun safe tested for a higher rating is expensive. Therefore, many manufacturers choose the minimum rating to prevent adding to the customer price.
This emphasizes the importance of understanding the anatomy of a gun safe. So do yourself a favor and don’t focus exclusively on the ratings. Instead, look at the construction to help you identify a well-constructed gun safe.
California Department of Justice Gun Standard
It’s fairly common to see a gun safe that has been approved by the California Department of Justice. But what does this security standard mean?
First of all, this is a not a burglary rating – this is a construction standard. The construction of a safe, however, defines what protection a safe has against burglary. Thus, it’s important to know about if you are looking for signs of a well-constructed gun safe.
For a gun safe to meet the CDOJ Gun Standard it has to fulfill ALL requirements listed below:
- Have the capacity to fully accommodate firearms in a secure manner.
- Feature either a mechanical or an electronic combination lock. It must provide at least 10,000 of three digits, letters or symbols combinations. Further, the lock must be protected by a hard plate with an RC above 60.
- The door must have at least three 1/2″ thick steel locking bolts that intrude the body or vice versa. These bolts must be operated by a handle and further secured by the lock.
- If a gun safe has a single wall, it must be of at least 12-gauge steel. A double walled gun safe, however, must have the walls adding up to at least o.1″ (~12 gauge).
- The door must be reinforced by at least one layer of 7-gauge steel or by two layers of 12-gauge steel.
- The door hinges must be protected to prevent the door from being removed.
- It must be capable of repeated use.
A U.L. rated RSC gun safe will also meet the requirements for the CDOJ Gun Standard.
Another way to understand the burglar resistance of a gun safe is to look at its security features. Features like locking bolts and bolt-down capability are pretty much standard for all gun safes. Then we have features such as relockers and hard plates that are more common in more pricey gun safes.
These are all features that will help to enhance a gun safe’s burglary resistance. Below, we have covered the best and most common security features to look for in a gun safe.
Locking bolts are probably the single most important feature when it comes to pry-resistance. Without them, there are little, to no defense if a burglar would try to pry open the door of your gun safe.
Today, locking bolts are more or less standard in pretty much all gun safes. However, the locking bolts used by manufacturers will vary in numbers, size, and quality.
Generally speaking, the more locking bolts a gun safe have the better secured will the door be. Size-wise, both length and diameter will matter and here is why.
Length matters in the sense that the further it travels into a safe the wider a burglar would have to pry the door. It also must have a sufficient diameter to be able to defeat cutting tools. Standard locking bolts are 1″ thick, which will provide adequate protection.
When it comes to quality you want a solid steel construction. You want to avoid gun safes with locking bolts that look like they are made from a cheap metal.
A relocker is an additional security feature to a lock and it can be either internal or external. It’s designed to protect the safe against drill and punch attacks made to the lock. If a burglar tampers with the lock, a spring-loaded bolt will trigger to lock the bolts in place.
A re-locking system is one of the best security features you can have in a gun safe. Especially since many burglars attempt to remove the lock to retract the locking bolts. With a relocker, however, they may remove the lock but the bolts are sturdy locked in place.
Anti-pry tabs are reinforced brackets installed to give the bolts additional support levels. The extra level of support will prevent the bolts to bend during a pry attack.
This tiny addition to a gun safe will increase the strength of your locking bolts by up to 400%. It will with other words require an immense force and plenty of time to pry open a door with anti-pry tabs.
External Vs Internal Hinges
The first thing to note is that a gun safe does not depend on its hinges for security. It’s only true function is to swing the door. Thus, both external and internal hinges are equally adequate from a security standpoint.
Instead, hinges have become a question about looks and usability rather than security.
The general idea about external hinges is that if you cut them off the door can be removed. This is true IF there are no locking bolts keeping the door in place. But, this is extremely rare as it would be a major security flaw for any gun safe manufacturer.
Internal hinges are for many the better and more modern looking option out of them two. The sleek look, however, has a disadvantage as it only allows the door to open 90 degrees. Be aware that this may lead to compromised accessibility to the content.
But in the name of security, it shouldn’t be a factor you base your decision upon. What truly matters, though, is how many locking bolts you have and where you have them. That is what will keep the gun safe door in place, not the hinges.
There are many ways a burglar can break into a gun safe. The average burglar will attempt to pry the door with a crowbar or punch the lock with a hammer.
A less common, but more professional burglar will use more sophisticated tools. A high-speed drill is a popular tool that is frequently used to drill and manipulate locks.
An effective way to counter a drill or punch attack is to protect the lock with a hard plate. You will find that many manufacturers offer multiple layers of hard plates. Some even have ball-bearings hard plates that are designed to destroy the drill bits.
A must-have security feature for your gun safe is to have the option to bolt it down. It’s recommended that all safes lighter than 700 lbs should be anchored.
There are, however, two good reasons to bolt-down a gun safe regardless of weight.
- To prevent burglars from stealing the safe– Experienced burglars know that a gun safe can be time-consuming to break into. They are also aware that there may be items worth thousands of dollars inside the safe. They will attempt to break into it, but if they notice it’s unbolted, they will most likely steal it instead. This is more common than you think, and it applies to all sizes of gun safes. So whatever you do – BOLT IT DOWN!
- It prevents burglars from tipping the safe – Before they steal it (1) they might try to tip it over. This allows the burglars to get a better angle for their prying tools and to add more force to the attack.
#4 Protection Against Natural Disasters
We have all seen how destructive a tornado can be and what a mess they leave behind them. Likewise, has a hurricane the force to damage your valuables by flooding your house.
The steel construction of a gun safe will be able to protect your guns from a collapsing roof. But, if exposed to fire or submerged under water you will need better protection for your guns. Thus, we suggest you look into fire and water protection if you live in an area prone to natural disasters.
Warranties are also something you would want to look into. Thankfully, most manufacturers offer a warranty that will cover your gun safe if it’s damaged in a natural disaster.
#5 Fireproof Protection
According to a study made by NFPA, you can expect an average of 5 home fires in an average lifetime. Out of these fires, there is a one-in-four chance that it will large enough to report to a fire department.
The cause for most residential fires is related to cooking, heating, and electrical malfunction. Natural disasters that we talked about earlier were responsible for 1.6% of all fires in 2014.
The most common reasons why people buy a gun safe today is to protect their guns from children, burglars, and, fires. In this section, you will find out how to determine what is adequate fire protection for your guns.
But the process of choosing fire protection is not as straightforward as one may think. It’s complex in the sense that some houses burn fast, while other burn slower. It has a lot to do with the size and design of a structure, what is in it, and the intensity of the fire.
We simply can’t predict the duration of a house fire. Neither will we know the temperature, as it will vary between houses. However, industry experts claim the average duration of a fire in a room is up to 20 minutes.
A 30 minutes fireproof gun safe would, therefore, be adequate to protect your guns from a house fire.
But time is not the only factor to consider, we also have to look at the temperature of the fire. According to the DHS, the temperature of a typical house fire will peak at around 1100F.
Adequate fire protection would, thus, be a gun safe that can withstand 1100F for 30 minutes.
What Is Fire Rating and Why Is It Important?
To help you find adequate fire protection in a gun safe there are fire ratings to guide us. These ratings will give a customer an indication of what degree of fire protection a gun safe has.
To get labeled with a fire rating a gun safe must complete extensive performance tests. The tests are carried out by independent testing agencies such as U.L., ETL, and Mercury.
These are expensive and time-consuming tests for a manufacturer to carry out. Thus, many manufacturers decide to do their own fire testing. The upside with a third-party rating, though, is that it provides the customer with a higher level of confidence in their safes.
UL Fire Rating
Just as with burglary ratings, U.L. also test and rate the fire resistance of a gun safe. There are three fire ratings a safe can receive under UL 72 Standard for Tests for Fire Resistance of Record Protection Equipment. Class 125, 150, and 350.
During these test, U.L. will monitor both the interior and exterior temperature of a safe.
UL Class 125
This is the recommend UL Class if you were to store electronics such as hard drives and DVDs. Any temperature above 125F will have a serious impact on the data stored on these devices.
To receive this classification the interior must stay below 125F during the specified time.
Label example: CLASS 125 – 2 HR.
UL Class 150
If you intend to store tape recordings or microfilm the UL Class 150 is to recommend. A temperature above 150F will distort the film and the information stored will be lost.
To receive this classification the interior must stay below 150F during the specified time.
Label example: CLASS 150 – 2 HR.
UL Class 350
This UL Class is adequate if you are looking to store paper documents inside your safe.
To receive this classification the interior must stay below 350F during the specified time.
Label example: CLASS 350 – 2 HR.
The UL Fire Endurance Test
When a safe is tested against a specific UL class, the safe is placed in a furnace. The temperature is then increased for the duration of the test. During this time the interior cannot exceed the internal temperature for the specified classification.
Let’s illustrate this with two examples:
- To receive the UL Class 350-1, a safe must withstand 1700F in a 1-hour test while the interior is held below 350F.
- To receive the UL Class 150-2, a safe must withstand 1850F in a 2-hours test while the interior is held below 150F.
This is how the time and outside temperature correlate during the endurance test:
- 1/2 Hour Rated Products – 1550 degrees F
- 1 Hour Rated Products – 1700 degrees F
- 2 Hour Rated Products – 1850 degrees F
- 3 Hour Rated Products – 1920 degrees F
- 4 Hour Rated Products – 2000 degrees F
When you look at gun safes, you will see that it’s more common to see what outside temperate a gun safe can withstand. If you are looking for a specific UL class it’s usually declared on the UL label.
ETL Testing Laboratories
ETL is another well-known agency that conducts security and reliability tests. Over a century has ETL ensured that companies met the industry standard in terms of security.
ETL is seen as a less expensive option to U.L. and it’s not as recognized among customers. The ETL label, however, is equal to UL’s label as they met the same safety standards.
Cannon Safes is one of the major gun safe brands that use ETL to perform fire tests on their safes.
ETL Fire Ratings
When ETL perform a fire test they place several thermo-sensors inside the safe.
ETL then stages a realistic situation of a fire by slowly exposing the safe to 1200F. The temperature of 1200F is reached after 10 minutes and will be maintained for the duration of the test.
The test will then continue until one of the sensors pick up an internal temperature above 350F.
To receive the ETL label a safe has to complete one of either the 30, 60 or 120-minute time test.
Mercury Fire Rating
AMSEC is one of the major brands that use Mercury to perform fire tests on their safes.
Mercury Class I
For a safe to receive this classification it must withstand 1200F for 30 minutes. This while maintaining an internal temperature below 350F.
Mercury Class II
For a safe to receive this classification it must withstand 1200F for 60 minutes. This while maintaining an internal temperature below 350F.
Mercury Class III
For a safe to receive this classification it must withstand 1275F for 90 minutes. This while maintaining an internal temperature below 350F.
One Last Thing About Fire Protection!
Did you know that a fireproof gun safe can actually harm your guns? You may find this hard to believe, but there is a good explanation why that is.
You see, most fire-rated safes are designed with a tight seal that will prevent hot air from entering the safe. At the same time, it will prevent fresh air to enter which can cause a build-up of moisture inside the safe.
With a high concentration of moisture inside a safe, it’s very likely for mold and mildew to form. This may cause damage to your guns in the form of rust and corrosion.
But there is no reason to sulk because there are good solutions to this problem!
One of them is to invest in a dehumidifier for a gun safe. A dehumidifier comes in many shapes and sizes, and there are those that are wireless. There are even bags and packs that you can get cheap to get rid of the humidity inside your safe. With a dehumidifier in your fireproof gun safe, you will ensure that your guns stay rust and corrosion free.
If you refuse to a buy a dehumidifier, don’t worry, there are other ways to combat this issue. One way is to air out your safe on a weekly basis and another is to avoid installing your safe in an area with high humidity.
#6 Waterproof Protection
There are many potential situations in which a gun safe could immerse or be exposed to water.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters you might get your house flooded. You could also experience the case of a severe water leak. And if you had a fire, the water used by the fire department will accumulate in your house.
These are scenarios that could potentially happen to anyone, which makes it a serious threat to your guns. As a gun owner, you are probably aware that your guns may be susceptible to water damage if submerged.
You will find that there are not a whole lot of gun safes built to resist a lot of water. However, most gun safes are capable of withstanding water from a sprinkler system or water sprayed from a fire hose.
You can find the best gun safe in the world, but if it has lousy warranty policies – is it worth the risk? Truth is, you never know if a burglar, fire or flood will damage your gun safe in the future. But if it would happen, you would be happy knowing that you at least have a great warranty to fall back on.
They always talk about protecting your investment and a gun safe is no exception. It’s a lifetime investment that will serve to protect your most valuable items. Therefore, you should always take your time to read about the warranty before you buy a gun safe. Read it carefully to fully understand it and ask questions if you have to.
Commonly a safe manufacturer will grant two types of warranties. The lifetime warranty that will replace the safe in the case of a break-in, fire and sometimes floods. Then there is usually a 1-year warranty that will cover damaged or defect parts and labor. However, for electronic parts such as the lock, there are usually limited warranties.
But remember that far from every manufacturer offer the same warranties, so be sure to look it up. And how pessimistic it may sound – always expect the worse, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Here we are, more than 10,000 words later and we hope that you are more educated on gun safes than you have ever been. After all, that is what we wanted this comprehensive article to be all about. Because buying a gun safe today is not a picnic, in fact, it requires extensive research. It doesn’t help that the information we seek is scattered all over the internet. The information can also be hard to comprehend for someone that have no experience with gun safes.
To wrap it up, all the information you will need in order to find the best gun safe is right here under one roof. And the most important to take away from this buying guide is that gun safety is important. Not only for your own sake but for everyone else as well.
Another important thing to remember is that steel is your best friend to protect your guns. And you should always consider protection against fire and water.
If you are still confused about something or need some extra guidance – feel free to contact us. We are more than willing to help you find the best gun safe.