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How safe is your safe? You might be surprised at how safe it’s not!

How safe is your safe? You might be surprised at how safe it’s not!

 Owning guns is a great responsibility, and one of those is keeping them out of the wrong hands. A safe is one way to do that, but how to you choose from the hundreds of models available?
Buying a gun safe is no trivial matter. We want a device (a box, if you will) that will keep bad people from getting to our guns, and usually to also keep those firearms relatively unscathed should fire break out.The trouble is that gun safes don’t usually carry any specific ratings as to their resistance to forced entry, and some of the fire ratings are actually made up by the manufacturers themselves. We’re left picking a safe on scanty information and pretty paint jobs, which is why safe manufacturers go to great lengths to make sure their finishes are glossy and their hardware nicely polished to match.

It’s surprising, for instance, to see how easily even a “heavy duty” safe can be breached with normal workshop tools. Door thickness, as it happens, is almost irrelevant and yet it’s the feature most people look at: “that’s a thick door, no one’s going to get through that!” The scary part is that a crook doesn’t need need to, because the frame into which it locks is often easily parted from that nice door with a crowbar and the thief is able to easily retrieve the loot contained inside.

How about those nifty locking bars? Are more better, or is the diameter more important? What’s a relocker?

That’s before we get to the fire ratings: did you know that most gun safes aren’t actually fire rated? Their insulation might be, but that doesn’t mean that the safe itself is! Gun safe makers have been known to make up their own ratings, meaning that you really can’t easily compare one safe to another using their supplied numbers.

Underwriters Laboratories ratings? Did you know that the vast, overwhelming majority of gun safes aren’t UL rated as safes at all, but in a separate category known as “Residential Security Containers”? An RSC rating isn’t terribly reassuring: UL says that an RSC only has to survive five minutes of attack by one person with basic hand tools. Two guys or better tools? It might take you longer to get into it with the combination!

(It’s been alleged that some makers have even claimed their safes to be “UL Listed” because the cord for their interior light carried a UL tag. I don’t know if that has really happened, but given some of the other shenanigans which have happened it wouldn’t surprise me!)

Buying a gun safe isn’t a simple undertaking, and given how much they cost might it not be a good idea to educate yourself before opening your wallet? I’ve got a great resource for doing just that!

A while back I found a very interesting site called gunsafereviewsguy.com, which claims to deliver factual information about gun safes, how they’re made, what they’ll do, and why. It’s a big site with many pages, and though I wasn’t able to verify every claim I did pick a few at random to check out — and found the information to be correct.

(Some of the information I was able to verify from past experience with safe dealers when my parents owned a jewelry store. Jewelers are a little pickier about their safes than most gun owners, probably because they’re forced to be by their insurance companies!)

The owner of the site is an engineer named Jaime Capra, and everything on the site has that written-by-an-engineer feel. By that I mean that it’s pretty thoroughly researched and a lot of attention has been paid to the details of the information presented. Between my own fact checking and the degree of specificity of information presented, I think I can reasonably conclude that Jaime’s site is fairly trustworthy.

He covers everything — and I do mean everything — you could ever possibly want to know about gun safes, right down to the insulating materials used in the “fire resistant” varieties. He also has a number of pages devoted to busing myths about safes, burglars, and even whether a safe is the best choice for you.

Capra goes beyond talking about safes, too, with “100 Money-Saving Ways to Protect Your Guns”. It’s an interesting site, and you can spend a LOT of time there!

Luckily, the site has a good “start here” section that will get you the information you want and need fairly quickly. Be advised, though, that he goes into great detail everywhere, so if you’re looking for a sentence-length answer to “what safe should I buy”, you’re not going to get it. As I said at the top, safes are a complex subject and though the site does a superb job of making the subject easier to understand, there’s still a lot information you need to make an informed decision. This site makes it easier to get that information, not eliminate the need for it!

All in all, I think Gun Safe Reviews Guy is a great site and one which I’m sure you’ll find interesting and informative. One word of warning, though: once you’ve read through some of the material, you may be looking at that pretty safe in your living room with a very different — and very jaundiced — eye!

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On November 5, 2014

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