The 'Must Have' Features To Consider for A Gun Safe
Some people buy a gun safe without knowing what they should be looking for. Others don't know that there are features you should look for in a gun safe. Below is a list of features you should really consider and why they're important. Now you don't need to have all of these features on the safe you choose, but having several is a damn good start. Hopefully, this will help in selecting the right safe for you.
- Capacity: "Go BIG or Go Home!" Basically, you should buy a safe that's too big for the guns you own (at least 1 ½ times). Safe capacity is rated by the number of gun slots in the safe, which is not the same thing as how many guns it holds. Capacity is based on un-scoped rifles or shotguns. So if you have 4 or 5, a safe capacity of 11 or more is the way to go. You know you're going to buy more in the future, so do it right the first time.
- Fireproof: A gun safe that is fire resistant cost more than a safe that isn't but you should pay the extra money for the protection. A fire can destroy your guns and you will be out of more money than what the additional protection would have cost you. The average home fire in town burns for about half an hour at 1,100 to 1,200 degrees F. If you live in the country, far from a fire station and nearest hydrant, you risk a longer fire. Also, there are no “fireproof” consumer safes on the market today. That's just marketing and optimizing space. They are all fire-resistant, meaning that they resist heat and smoke (and some protect against water) over a given period of time and heat exposure, usually 30 to 150 minutes. Yes, we have "fireproof" safes, just zero-in on the fire ratings we have easily displayed for the safes you're considering.
- Gauge: All gun safes are not secure enough if an intruder wants to get access to the contents inside. Some safes are made of steel that can be easily split or drilled through. When looking at the specifications of a safe you should not buy on that is lower than 12-gauge steel. If this criteria is important to you, then we recommend purchasing a safe made of 10 or even 8-gauge steel since it is nearly impossible to penetrate. Door construction is also very important. Look for a gun safe with at least ¼” of solid plate steel or composite equivalent in the door. More secure gun safes have a 3/8 to 1/2″ steel plate in the door. As a minimum look for gun safes with the Underwriter Laboratory burglar ratings of an RSC (Residential Security Container). Better quality gun safes have a higher rating of B-Rated, U.L. TL-15 (Tool Resistant) and U.L. TL-30 ratings.
- Waterproof: When looking for a safe you should buy one that will not allow water inside. Your weapons will be destroyed if water gets into the safe and the extra money will prevent this from happening. A "fireproof" safe is not generally waterproof and the vast majority are not. These safes have an intumescent seal that expands in the case of a fire, which works well against water that is extinguishing the fire. However, this won't do well under submersion due to a flood, hurricane or a major water leak. A true waterproof safe needs to have a rubber seal that prevents water from leaking in these unforeseen disasters.
- Lock Type: The type of lock you prefer depends on what you will be using the safe for. If you're going to be using the safe for personal protection, then purchase something that can be accessed quickly. Usually, quick access safes are electronic and have a keypad or fingerprint scanner. Some electronic locks are EMP resistant, some are not. So if you're a 'Prepper' or just concerned about this phenomenon, we recommend the S & G brand of electronic locks for EMP resistant single lock installation. Now, if you are using your gun safe to primarily protect your guns, a safe with a key lock or mechanical combination will do the job. Most mechanical lock manufacturers recommend that you have your lock serviced at least every 5 years by a qualified safe technician. Either way, you choose the best quality locks are U.L. rated and will provide an excellent level of protection.
- Anchoring: Just because you have a safe doesn't mean your guns or valuables are theft-proof. A burglar can easily walk away with a light safe to access it later. Consider a safe with pre-drilled holes to anchor onto the floor or any other solid object that can't be easily moved. Concrete floors are ideal to anchor to. If you have a wood subfloor, one of the most effective ways to secure a safe is to drill holes in your floor and extend long threaded rods down below the floor joist. Take a long piece of 2 x 4 or angle iron and span multiple floor joist and secure the threaded rod, then bolt down the safe. If you decide to move and want to take your safe with you, simply remove the bolts. Safes without anchor holes pose an issue if you were to modify the safe. This could void the warranty. Remember that being careful and taking extra security precautions will help keep your items secure.
- Keypad Lock-out: When buying a safe with a keypad, you should get one that will lock if someone keys in the wrong access code multiple times. This will prevent them from trying until they enter the correct pin. A safe without this feature can be opened by an unauthorized person who tries hard enough.
- Batteries: There's nothing worse than having a bada** electronic safe and it's dead when you need to access it. Don't be guy and SOL. Make sure that if you buy an electronic lock safe, that it has a backup entry option. Whether it be by key or A/C adapter or a low batt-indicator.
- Dehumidifier: Consider having a gun safe dehumidifier to keep your guns and other valuables in a better condition. Waterproof safes or ones that have similar airtight sealing will trap moisture from the air that's inside the safe when you close the door. You will be exposed to the risk of moisture in the long term that will rust out your collection and safe interior. It is recommended to open the door once in a while to let fresh air in, but also to keep a desiccant pack inside to capture moisture when the door is locked. The pack has to be replaced or reactivated in the oven at least every six months or earlier if your environment is particularly humid. Or better yet, invest in a dehumidifier.
Security Rating: Some safes can be drilled or pried into with hand tools. To prevent this, you should check to see if the safe is BF (Burglary/Fire) Rated or higher. With these ratings, it is nearly impossible to access. There is an industry guideline for the content value of the various levels of security that a safe can provide. These values are generally used for businesses for insurance purposes but are a good guideline for different levels of protection.