Features to Look for in a Gun Safe

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on June 14, 2008 at 12:24 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > How-To Guides and Other Info > Features to Look for in a Gun Safe

As previously discussed, safe and responsible gun storage is essential. I’ve been asked what features I recommend for gun safes, which I discuss below:

1. A Secure Lock
A secure lock is, of course, essential. Luckily this is not too difficult to find, since most gun safes that are of reasonable quality will have a good lock. You can choose combination, key, biometric, or a combination there of. I personally prefer a combination dial that also locks with a key. Such locks are mechanically simple, secure, and don’t require electricity to function. Some prefer electronic locks with a number pad, since they can be opened very quickly. Others prefer biometric safes (such as fingerprint readers) for the same reasons. One concern with biometric safes is that fingerprint readers can sometimes be defeated relatively easily. Another is that criminals may be inclined to cut off the owner’s finger in order to gain access to the safe, whether such tactics would actually work or not. Most higher quality safes will also feature various security measures to prevent the lock from being defeated. Don’t forget that most criminals who break in and would steal guns are not toting a plasma cutter along with them, so most gun safes will stop most criminals. Similarly, most children who might misuse guns also don’t have a plasma cutter to burn through a gun safe and get to the contents.

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2. Internal Hinges
Most high quality gun safes will have hinges mounted on the inside. This prevents a criminal who is trying to break in to the safe from having an easy spot to begin their attack. I have seen some safe manufacturers (which produce safes with external hinges) argue that their hinges are just as good, but I remain unconvinced.

3. Substantial Weight
A heavier safe is generally a more secure safe. This is because the materials (such as steel) that the safe is made from are heavy, and more of the material will necessarily result in a heavier safe. A heavy safe is also more difficult for a criminal to carry away and break in to at their convenience.

4. A Means of Bolting Down the Safe
Many guns safes will have a built in means of bolting the safe to the floor or wall. This will make it substantially more difficult for a criminal to steal the safe, especially for smaller safes. For those who don’t have the option of bolting their safe to the floor or wall, ensuring that the safe is heavy enough (hundreds of pounds) will help prevent it from being carried away by all but the most dedicated criminals.

5. Ample Space
People who buy one gun tend to buy more guns in the future. Even for the small percentage of people who don’t follow up with the purchase of additional guns, extra room in the safe is a great place to store other valuables and important documents. Buying a larger safe up front is much less expensive and much easier than buying a safe that is too small, then buying a larger one later.

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6. Fire Resistance
Most good gun safes offer some level of fire resistance. 30 minutes is a standard rating for entry level safes, and high quality safes offer multiple hours of fire protection. When evaluating the fire resistance of a safe, look for a UL certified rating, rather than a rating by the manufacture, which may not be worth the paper it is written upon. Also be sure to note the temperatures that the various parts of the safe are rated to reach in a fire – often the top shelf will get considerably hotter than the floor of the safe. Furthermore, many gun safes will stay cool enough to protect guns and papers, but not computer media such as CDs, DVD, or floppy disks, so be sure to check what the safe is rated to protect.

8. A Humidity Control System
Humidity control is an important consideration when storing firearms and ammunition. Many safes will come with the ability to add a dehumidification wand to the safe. Such safes will have a small opening near the rear of the safe, allowing the dehumidification wand’s power cord to pass through the safe.

Hopefully this will help those considering a gun safe.

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  • Don Leavitt

    I know this is an old article, but I just found your site and figured I would contribute something I've heard.

    If the safe has bolts on multiple sides of the door, external hinges can serve as a distraction for the thief as the time spent wrecking the hinges will not make the safe any more vulnerable. The time wasted could serve to discourage the thief, perhaps causing him to give up his endeavors.

    While certainly not fool-proof, in high-quality safes with bolts on multiple sides of the door there is no disadvantage to having external hinges.