So your firearms collection is growing on the scale of both inventory and value, and you want to protect your investment. Bravo – consider yourself applauded. Before you go diving into a major purchase, however, there are a few key factors you’ll want to consider. Gun safes, see, may appear to be massive, dumb blocks of cavernous steel, but there’s a lot more that goes into them than that, including a whole lot of your money. You can also opt for popular gun safe brands such as winchester gun safes which is value for money.
As inferred, a quality safe, like many discussed on this site (Fort Knox, Browning, Big Horn…) is the product of mechanical engineering, tested trial and error, hundreds of man and machinery hours, and like any successful selling commodity, the fruit of a well executed business and marketing plan. All that said, you surely can’t be expected to know the ins and out at every unit you come across. But there’s no reason you can’t have someone else point out the well-made safes for you. Premium safe manufacturers typically apply their own signature touches to ensure that their product protects your valuables, but there’s one common goal that they all share, and that’s security.
Level of security is about the closest to a universally measurable characteristic you’re going to find when shopping for a gun safe. The most common unit of measurement used is the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) mark of approval. UL is a world renown product testing company which other companies hire when they want to put their claims to the test. And ‘test’ they do. UL doesn’t fool around. They have a staff of professional safe crackers to try to pry, drill, and punch their way into the safe. Not only do they have free reign over how they break in, but the manufacturers are required to give them the blue prints ahead of time. If UL endorses the safe you’re looking at, you know it’s built to hold up. Underwriters Labs gives very specific ratings on everything from small office safes to commercial bank vaults. In the interest of simplicity, you’ll want to look for a safe with some level of their RSC (Residential Security) burglary rating.
Unfortunately, unlike burglary protection, fire protection isn’t universally measured. As you browse the many gun safes for sale on the market, you’ll encounter any number of fire safe certifications. Whether its a Phoenix seal (Champion), a BTU rating (Liberty), or a third party endorsement like that of Intertek ETL (Cannon and Stack On), make sure you look a little into where you’re putting your money. The fact is, most safe companies make up their own fire ratings, and we’re more or less expected to believe them. Interior dimensions, environmental elements, contents of the safe; a huge number of factors make it difficult to consistently measure the effectiveness of fire resistance claims, but you can keep your eye open for a few key features.
One, a fire safe isn’t going to protect very well without insulation. Regardless of whether it’s sheet rock or fireboard, generally speaking, the thicker the better. Also important is how it’s distributed. One weak point can cause the whole thing to burn up in a hurry. Make sure that whatever material was used to insulate the safe, was applied equally everywhere. On top of that (literally), you want to find a safe with a tight, continuously welded seal. ‘Stitch welding’, a method often employed on cheaper safes give hot gas an opportunity to make its way through the interior, and once it does, it’s over. The general structure of the safe is also important. It’s very common for a safe to cave in during a fire, especially when the ceiling above falls on top of it. To combat this scenario, Liberty constructs the body of their safes out of just two massive pieces of composite steel for unmatched reinforcement. Other manufacturers like Browning and Fort Knox employ very similar methods.
A direct reflection of a safes’ quality, whether it be in regard to fire protection, burglary resistance, or resilience to the wear and tear of time is the accompanying warranty. Call me snooty, but I wouldn’t even consider purchasing a gun safe that didn’t offer some level of lifetime coverage. Of course, there’s a lot of reading of fine print involved. The three or four companies discussed in this article, all cover repairs, replacement, and the freight charges required to win over your customer satisfaction, but it’s not always the case. Some companies will cover anything and everything that goes wrong, whether it be floods, fires, crooks, or manufacturer defects. Others may offer lifetime protection on fires and burglary, but no protection on floods, and five years on wear and tear. One more thing to investigate when shopping for a safe, particularly if you’re looking for used units, is whether or not the warranty transfers to new owners. If you plan on handing this down through your family, and peace of mind is a big concern, make sure they’ll be covered too.
I’ll leave you with that knowledge. If you take a little bit of extra time, read all the fine print, talk to the experts, and find the right product that fits your needs, you’ll wind up with a safe that will keep your valuables protected for generations. Keep reading the Gun Safes Guide for more information on security storage products or make a trip out to Gun Safe Haven.