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Gun Safe Buying Guide

Those who take their firearms seriously should also approach how they store them with the same gravity as they would dialing in a shot or scrubbing a bore to a mirror shine. Which is why, sooner rather than later, a gun safe should top the list of firearms necessities.

gun safe buying guide


It's generally not an investment to take lightly since gun safes are expensive and the importance of the service they'll provide you and your collection. But, taking a studied approach, developing an understanding of exactly what they offer and weighing each one's benefits is certain to make your money well spent and give you priceless peace of mind.

Generally speaking, there are two primary threats to firearms in the home: fire and theft. For the most part, gun safe companies and the media pump up the former over the latter as the greater of the two and they're not off base. A house fire is, overall, a greater statistical danger. That said, these statistics are subjective; there are certain corners of the country where crime burns hotter than house fires. Ideally, just to be on the safe side, you should shop for a gun safe that protects against both.

An additional point, while not a threat in a traditional sense, a gun safe also provides a way to control access to your guns, an important factor, especially if you have children. As Massad Ayoob points out in his book Gun Safety, realistically there is no way to gun-proof your home, so you must gun-proof your child by teaching them the respect and responsibility of owning firearms. Nevertheless, sometime in their life, they might have less-than-mature friends who formulate less-than-mature notions. Nipping catastrophe in the bud with Cannon, Winchester or what have you safe is well worth the investment.

Not all gun safes are created equal. In fact, not all gun safes are really gun safe. For the most part, there are two types of gun storage options: actual gun safes and gun lockers. Confusingly, for the sake of marketing juice, many gun lockers call themselves gun safes. Clear as mud now? There's no bright line between safe and locker, but if there is a major distinction it's fire protection. Gun safes have it, lockers don't.

The 350-degree Fahrenheit mark for internal temperature, the line where most companies certify their safes too, for an hour and beyond is a solid starting point. Additionally, a reputable retailer who specializes in gun safes is worth his weight in gold when it comes to finding which ratings actually live up to their billing.

Conveniently for shooters, shopping gun safe steel is fairly simple, given thickness is expressed in gauges. And just like shotguns, smaller numbers mean more. From there it's a cakewalk, the thicker the steel, the more protection.

Now you have your gun safe picked out and are confident about its security and fire protection, it's time to figure out how you'll access your treasures. For the most part, modern gun safes use three access methods: combination lock, electronic lock and biometric lock. As you've probably already guessed, they each have their own advantages and drawbacks.

Starting with the most traditional, the combination lock is the picture of simplicity and reliability. Merely spin the dial and unlock the door; the only weak link in the process is you and your faulty memory. However, if you're in and out of your safe a lot the process of left four, right two, left one gets arduous. Additionally, if you need a gun in a pinch, a combination lock is far from lightning fast.

How big you should go is a tricky proposition. It's easy to save money and buy for your present needs. A more prudent course of action is planning for the future and purchasing a gun safe that will handle guns you'll add to your collection. Yes, it is more expensive now, but cheaper in the long run, given it saves you from another safe purchase.

It's easy to get chintzy and play the odds with your precious guns. After all, nothing has happened up to this point right? But when you take a sober look at the threats your firearms face when not in use then the need of a gun safe becomes evident.

With a gun safe capacity, bigger is better. Most folks make the mistake of purchasing a safe as large as they need, or maybe a bit larger. You WILL fill it up. More guns will come. Insert a small document safe for important papers and electronic files and add a few handguns, maybe in their boxes or in an accessory rack or stacked in unzipped soft cases. Some jewelry or photographic equipment, coins, and the next thing you know, it's full.

Maybe you're concerned about the weight of a large safe. Don't be. The square inches of a safe bottom spread the weight evenly, the same as a refrigerator or waterbed. Your floors and stairs will hold up fine.

Maybe you are trying to save a few bucks. I understand. Most gun owners have one safe, and it is filled. Their alternative is to buy another one or remove items to fit more guns. Buy a substantially larger safe than you think you'll need in the first place. You will fill it. Also, just because a safe's interior may be designed for 8 or 12 or 24 long guns, beware, you'll never fit that many in reality without bashing them together anytime you need to remove one. That figure of 8, 12, or 24 guns is based on small, slender rifles like a Winchester 94 lever gun or a field shotgun. In reality, we all have a lot of guns that have protrusions everywhere, like scopes, bolt handles, bipods, slings, shell carriers, etcetera.

Buy a safe one time, and make sure it has the long gun capacity and volume for everything you may want to store in it, now and forever. If you want to also store ammo in your safe, plan for it to take up LOTS of room.

There is no firm definition of the differences between these two terms. I consider a gun safe almost impossible for the average person to get into. The steel is very thick and penetrable by power tools only, and even then, it is a rare individual indeed that has the technical knowledge to know how to break into a gun safe.

More often than not, a gun safe will have some kind of fire-resistant liner, and will always have a dial or electronic lock, never just a key. Even a small long gun safe should weigh a couple hundred pounds, whereas gun cabinets may weigh 50 lbs.

Cannon Safe has a locking mechanism called the EMP. This stands for Electro-Magnetic Pulse, which is the resulting pulse that a nuclear blast emits. It destroys all modern electronics. Cannon's system combines an electronic keypad on top of a mechanical lock. Cannon's locking mechanism may also mean, "Extra Mechanical Protection", because you always have the mechanical dial to open your safe if the electronics cannot.

Biometric locks work by reading a fingerprint. Place a finger on the scan window and it opens, like in the spy movies. Simple as that. These are prevalent in handgun cabinets for quick access. biometric gun safes, or fingerprint gun safes, can be programmed to open for multiple users.

Some advanced biometric weapon safes even offer Wi-Fi connectivity which allows you to monitor gun safe access and adjust settings remotely. Wi-Fi gun safes provide real-time alerts of unauthorized access, making them a great choice for families who want to monitor their firearms 24/7.

Live bolts move when the handle to the unlocked door is turned. They retract into the door to unblock it so it can be opened. Higher end safes will have live bolts surrounding the door, with generally at least two on the top and bottom. It is incorrect to say that live bolts give better protection than dead bolts, but only live bolts may be used on the non-hinge side of the door.

These attributes are the minimum I would consider for a secure safe in my home. I don't know anyone who has had a safe of these minimum protection levels that has been broken into, and I've sold hundreds over the decades. Many companies will tout the composition of the steel in the bolts, but I think it's a moot point.

Sometimes, the placement of the gun safe will preclude you from opening the door 180 degrees, so that may not matter in your purchase decision for that location. External hinges will also allow you to remove the door for significantly less weight during moves.

Most security companies will tout anything from super-hardened bolts, to anti-drill plates, or anti-this or that, but most of those are again, moot points. It is very rare for a safe to be broken into. The local bad people are not capable of doing this.

The few times I've heard of guns in a safe being stolen, it was because the burglars took the whole safe. In one incident, the homeowner was eventually charged with stealing his own safe. Detectives thought it strange that no marks or damage was done on any of his walls or stairs during the move of his fully loaded 50 gun safe. It is crucial that your safe is bolted to the ground.

With in-wall gun safes, they are often bolted to the beams in your walls. Almost all gun safes will have holes predrilled for anchoring bolts, and most come with the hardware, sometimes even including a masonry bit.

Fire Protection is a must in a gun safe if you want to guarantee your firearms and valuables are secure. The industry standard in fire lining is 1200 degrees F for 30 minutes. The reason for this is that the average house fire does not reach 1200 degrees, and the heart of the fire moves on within 30 minutes.

For businesses and larger buildings that may have fires that last longer and burn hotter, perhaps consider something like the option of a safe with a 1500-degree fire rating for an hour. You'll pay for it with less money in your wallet and more weight in the fireproof safe. Most fire liners work by releasing moisture as steam when they get hot. The steam cools the interior of the safe.

Obviously, it is imperative that after a fire, you clean and maintain all your guns, inside and out. The door gaskets expand and create a seal when heated. After any fire, there will probably be water damage, also. Not all safes are watertight. 041b061a72


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