Gun Safe Buying Tips
A gun safe (also known as a weapon safe)
is a freestanding fire and/or burglary safe with an area of the safe configured specifically to house weapons.
Our military grade gun safes can be found here
Our highly configurable estate luxury gun safes can be viewed here
Pros - Easy to install.
When properly anchored, provides very good protection from attacks.
Can be placed in conveniently accessible locations.
Safe contents are very easy to access.
Cons - Few.
Harder to conceal than floor or wall safes.
Gun Safe Specific Buying Tips:
- Use Caution when storing ammunition in your safe - The following story best illustrates this tip... A long time client's safe was subjected to an intense home fire. The fire burned for hours at very high temperatures. Despite this onslaught, paper contents within the Brown Gun Safe were kept below flashpoint. The multiple cases of .50 caliber ammunition at the base of the safe, however, did ignite. When fired through a gun, bullets produce very little smoke. When ignited through non-standard means, however, excessive smoke is a common by product. In this instance, the erupting ammo cases obliterated all contents within one foot of the ammo cases and caused heavy smoke damage to the rest of the safes contents. Even with the extensive smoke, most of the safe's contents, largely paper memorabilia and photo albums, survived intact. Had there been no ammo containers, however, all of the safe's contents would have made it.
- Think twice before storing any ammo in a safe as your exposing the other safe contents to higher risk.
- Avoid storing large amounts of ammo or powder inside a safe as the ensuing pressures if ignited can outpace the safe's ability to safely vent, creating the potential for a safe grenade.
Be wary of "special features" - When shopping for a gun safe be aware of features that are only seen on gun safes such has internal hinges, fire liners, etc. as they are usually marketing features more than safety features.
The gun safe industry is very competitive and pressure from a marketing department for ‘new features’ can actually reduce a safes ability to protect.
It's helpful to look at commercial safes to best identify the features most essential to a safes protection as these safes are built to endure in extremely high burglary risk environments.
For example, external hinges are a standard feature on commercial safes because the average burglar will waste valuable time trying to cut or pry them. Unknown to the criminal however, in any quality safe the hinges simply swing the door and are in no way part of the security of the safe. Changing a safe's door to internal hinges may add a visual appeal, but it also means a burglar will immediately attack the lock and other more vital areas on the safe.
Click here to see our commercial weapon safes.
Dehumidify - If you do opt to purchase a fireboard based fire/burglary safe. Be sure to keep a quality humidifier inside the safe at all times as moisture evaporating from the fireboard insulation can often travel into the safe's interior creating a damp environment that rusts metals and dampens paper based belongings.
Composite clad fire safes don't suffer from the above mentioned moisture problem as the inner burglary safe is fully sealed off from the moisture medium by thick seamless steel walls.
A dehumidifier is still a good idea for any safe that resides in an area where there is high humidity or a drastic change in temperature throughout the day, like the garage, as it will absorb any excess moisture.
General Safe Buying Tips:
Check for a thick solid steel door and walls: It is essential that the safe you purchase has both a solid steel door and walls of substantial thickness. Without this base level of steel protection, any safe can be opened within minutes despite the hoopla of additional advertised protection features. While the majority of top selling safes on the market tout a plethora of protection features, virtually all fail miserably in this essential area.
The safe you choose must have at minimum a ½” thick solid steel door and a ¼” thick solid steel body.
Steel is very expensive and heavy, vastly increasing the safes build cost and the cost of shipping overseas to the reseller. As a result, nearly all oversea manufactured safes (and even many local built safes) cut these costs by making their safes with thin sheet metal wrapped around various forms of drywall to give the appearance of a robust safe. Click here to learn more.
Be highly suspect if the safe manufacturer or reseller doesn’t state solid steel or lists "composite" for their wall or door material as this can be anything from sheet metal wrapped around wood to sheet metal and drywall.
Also be on the lookout for safe sellers that list just ‘door thickness’ rather than the barrier material type and thickness as this is a recent trick many underhanded safe marketers employ. By listing the total thickness of the safe door including the safe dial, barrier material, airspace, inner bolt work, etc.... the provided figure can sound quite impressive while actually preventing the buyer from obtaining any solid information on how thick the barrier material actually is or what it's made of.
Click here to learn more about the industry recognized protection rating systems.
For details on the protection levels offered by Brown Safe... click here.
Judge a safe by its weight - Weight is one of the biggest factors when determining the base ability of a safe to protect from both burglary and fire.
- Steel is heavy, a quality safe with solid steel walls will weigh substantially more than a flimsy safe fabricated by wrapping sheet metal around insulation panels.
- High density concrete based amalgamate is heavy. A concrete amalgamate based composite fire safe will weigh substantially more than a safe that uses insulation panels.
- Steel and high density concrete amalgamate together are really heavy. A true burglary safe with solid steel walls and concrete amalgamate fire cladding often carries three time the mass of an equivalent size safe constructed from sheet metal and drywall panels. These are the safes to look for.
- If a safe is heavy, it doesn't necessarily mean the safe carries a lot of solid steel, the weight can come from the concrete amalgamate alone. To determine the amount of solid steel used by a safe, it's still best to learn the actual steel thickness for both the door and walls.
Stick with a UL approved lock - Always check that the safe you plan to purchase has a UL approved Group 2 lock or better. The three dependable lock manufacturers are LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, and Kaba Mas. These are the only lock manufacturers that produce locks guaranteed to provide decades of trouble free operation.
If you decide on a safe without a UL approval, there's a 95% chance the safe's lock comes from China. The vast majority of safe manufacturers who equip their safes with "their own" lock brand also use Chinese locks. While highly affordable, Chinese built locks are highly undependable and are prone to early failure.
We routinely receive calls from agonizing safe owners permanently locked out of their safe by a malfunctioning Chinese lock. Opening these safes is generally a very costly and time consuming ordeal as it's nearly impossible for even a licensed locksmith to obtain accurate blueprints to aid in a clean repairable entry into the safe. Most safe owners in this unfortunate position opt for the faster and less expensive forced entry option. The safe is rendered unusable after a forced entry and the owner is stuck with a hefty bill and in the market for a reliable and secure safe... many current clients sought out our company after experiencing one or more highly unpleasant lockouts with inferior safes.
To view details on our UL approved electronic keypad lock, click here.
Click here to view info on our combination dial lock.
To view our biometric lock... click here.
Avoid fireboard or drywall based fire safes: Although fire safes constructed with fireboard, drywall, fiberboard, or other panel based insulation materials make up the majority of safes sold today, they provide inferior fire protection when compared to true composite fire safes or composite clad fire safes.
More importantly, these panel based safes provide fire protection at the cost of highly reduced burglary protection. The majority of fireboard style safes provide little to no burglary protection. Click here to learn why.
Consider entry convenience: A safe that is slow to open or access is a safe you are less likely to use. Adding an electronic lock can make opening the safe quick and easy, as well as enabling the user to reset the combination when needed without the aid of a locksmith or combination kit. For the ultimate in user convenience and security, a high grade biometric lock can't be beat.
Click here to see our electronic lock offering.
To view our biometric lock... click here.
Check for re-lockers: All quality safes should have re-lockers to help ensure the safe remains locked in the case of a burglary. Re-lockers are hardened pins that are triggered, in a variety of ways during an attack, and cannot be retracted without hours of drilling. The number of re-lockers on a safe will range from 2-10+ depending on the size and burglary grade of the safe.
Bear in mind, re-locker pins only prove useful when the safe has a substantially thick steel door and walls. Most safes today are equipped with two or more re-locker pins. But on a steel deficient safe, these pins along with the locking bolts simply tear or bend right through the safe's thin door jamb by prying on the safe door with nothing more than a common crowbar.
Click here to learn more about our glass plate re-locker system.
Consider a custom safe: Does the size of your chosen safe make best use of the space it's occupying? Is the interior layout of the safe well suited to your needs? In many cases there's room for improvement and this is where a custom safe is worth consideration. Brown Safe is one the only safe manufactures in the world to offer fully customizable safes. Custom sizes, finishes, and interiors are available at a very reasonable price point. We can work with you and/or your interior designer, architect, and carpenter to ensure a quality safe built to your exact specifications.
To see a few example custom safes...click here.
Installing a Gun Safe:
- Anchor it - Always bolt your safe down. While you may think there’s no way anyone will manage to wrangle the safe out of your house when it takes specialized machines and muscle to perform the installation, never underestimate the resourcefulness of highly determined burglars.
Concrete provides the most secure anchor, so it is the preferred surface for mounting your safe. Remember though, an inaccessible safe receives rare use... so if you have to place the safe in a location that's far out of the way in order to mount to concrete, reconsider.
Always mount using 1/2” concrete bolts or larger, and use more than one bolt. Four mounting bolts are ideal.
When anchoring to a wood floor, whenever possible, anchor one or more bolts into a foundation support beam rather than just the plywood floor.
- Watch for medium wall gaps - When possible, avoid anchoring the safe near a foundation wall in a way that creates an 8” to 18” gap between the wall and safe. Gaps smaller than 8” are ok but with slightly larger gaps it is possible to leverage the safe away from the wall using a car jack, ripping the safe’s base anchor bolts out from the flooring.