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Protection Level Ratings

Security Safe Construction

Even the most sophisticated anti-theft features are ineffectual when installed in a security safe with a weak foundation.

The first line of defense for any security safe is its door and walls. One substantially thick steel door and five thick steel walls are the only fundamental means of preventing a determined criminal from gaining entrance. Through clever and immoral marketing, safe builders have mastered the ability to bury this plain and simple truth in a barrage of technical terminology and captivating graphs.

Wall and Door thickness cuts to the core of a high security safe's construction and ability to protect. This should always be your number one concern when deciding on any safe.

Below, you'll find a summary of industry recognized safe steel thickness ratings and the level of real world protection you should expect from each.

When you buy a safe, you're entrusting the manufacturer of that safe with the most precious items you possess. You're putting your faith in the builder that their claims of protection are true, that the safe you're purchasing will adequately protect your cherished items to the best of that manufacturer's ability. Those who routinely fabricate and sell these imposter safes do more than a disservice, they are committing the ultimate industry sin by abusing the buyers trust, and exposing them to potential pain and heartache. Brown Safe has never engaged in this practice, nor will we ever, and we are disgraced by those who do. We take great pride in producing the most rugged safes in the industry. We build every safe by hand in our U.S. factory.

For your own peace of mind, I highly recommend you spend the time to research prior to purchase, as the market is riddled with inferior units. While outrageously inexpensive or imported safes are a true cause for suspicion, high-priced luxury safes can be just as insecure as their cost-cutting counterparts. A very good starting point for safe research is right here in our Safe Buying Guide section. Once you've familiarized yourself with safes and their protection levels, you'll understand why the flagship safe produced by the majority of manufacturers is where our base unit begins.

False Security Safe Construction Ratings

No Recognized Rating - Nearly half of all top-selling safe brands fall into this category.
The only rating they bear, if any, is based on a system the manufacturer creates on their own that has no correlation to any industry-recognized standard. This is an avoidance tactic used to mask safes that provide an unacceptable level of protection. Avoid these safes.

Theft Resistant - This rating simply acknowledges that the safe has a lock on it; no other protection level is guaranteed or implied. This type of safe construction provides roughly the same level of protection as a locked file cabinet, which can also carry this same rating.

RSC (Residential Security Container)(TL-5) Rating - This is a UL rated container that certifies the "safe" is capable of withstanding a beating by one man wielding a screwdriver and a small hammer (that can weigh no more than three pounds) for up to five minutes.

Another way of putting it...One man armed with only a hammer and screwdriver can generally gain access to these home security safes in just over five minutes. Safes bearing this rating make up the remaining half of top-selling safe brands, with very few exceptions. Do not put anything of value in these safes.

"Safes" or containers of this type tend to list their steel thickness by gauge. Common gauges range from 10 to 20.
Due to the high cost of steel, many of these same companies will combine the measurement of their steel plating with the thickness of their drywall fireproofing panels, reporting one combined measurement in a manner that intentionally sways the uninformed buyer into assuming the quoted wall or door thickness is all solid steel or a similar protective material. This underhanded trick has met with such resounding success that it has been adopted in various forms by nearly every major safe builder. The easiest way to spot these counterfeit safes when uncertain about the reported steel plating thickness is to check the safe's weight. A 60-inch-tall false safe will weigh between 300 and 800 lbs. with fire protection. True security safes of this size start at 600 lbs. without fire protection and jump up into the 1500+ lbs. range with fire protection.

True Security Safe Construction Ratings

Class B Rating - Weighing in at 2 to 4 times the mass of an RSC safe, Class B security safes are a vast step up in protection. A Class B high-security safe is equipped with a ½" solid steel door and ¼" solid steel walls on all five sides. At its core, this is a safe with a substantial foundation, one capable of easily resisting hours of brute force abuse by amateur criminals. These safes will generally be capable of withstanding entry attempts by semi-skilled criminals for an hour or more, depending largely on the types of tools used to attempt entry.
Security safes outfitted with additional burglary countermeasures will withstand even skilled attackers for sustained periods.

Class C Rating - Double the weight of a Class B, with double the steel thickness all around. Class C security safes are yet another major upgrade in protection, with a 1" steel door and a ½" steel body. A Class C security safe provides roughly double the penetration protection and tends to have roughly the same amount of added burglary countermeasures as class B security safes.

TL-15 Rating - Now this is where things start to get interesting. This is a burglary-resistant rating given by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent safety testing and certification organization. The TL-15 rating guarantees the safe is capable of withstanding sustained attack from a seasoned safecracker with an assistant and intimate knowledge of the safe's inner workings. For this test, the safe must resist specific safecracking power tools for at least 15 minutes.
Our TL-15 rated safes are built with a solid steel core and a fire-resistant outer shell for substantial protection against burglary and fire.
A mid-sized TL-15 rated safe weighs as much as a mid-sized car... making these safes extremely difficult to haul out of homes on the sly. These safes can easily withstand any manner of attacks by amateur and semi-trained burglars for a far longer time than the criminal has time for.
But as impressively tough as these safes are, their TL-15 rating means that an assisted seasoned safecracker, with intimate knowledge of the inner working of the safe and safe specific tools, can gain entrance to the safe in as little as 16 minutes, though usually much longer. If the contents of your safe are important enough to give you cause to believe this type of person may someday be attempting access to your safe with more than 15 minutes of time on their hands, you'll want to step up to even higher protection ratings.

TL-30 rating - This UL rating certifies that these safes have been tested to withstand attack for at least 30 minutes by a group of professional safecrackers, armed with blueprints of the safe and using the full gamut of tools and attack methods.
Often, these safes will have twice the amount of door and body steel as a TL-15 rated burglary safe. In addition, TL-30 rated high-security safes commonly employ additional features to further slowdown professional attackers. A whole array of measures and counter-measures come into play at this level of the safe vs. safecracker game, and safe builder defense methods vary widely in their approach and design. Our TL-30 rated safes also include a hardened fire-resistant outer shell to provide advanced protection against burglary and fire.

Class M rating - The M rating is the highest non-custom security safe rating Brown Safe offers and one of the highest protection levels available anywhere. M rated security safes are currently only manufactured by Brown Safe. To learn more about this rating, click here.


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