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Old September 21, 2013, 07:04 AM   #1
Nightwind15
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Gun Safes and my purchase

This is my first post here and I hope this is the proper place to discuss this topic.

I spend the better part of two weeks looking at reading about and talking to others about a gun safe. Buying a gun safe is much like buying a mattress as it is not very subjective. There are so many brands and so many factors in the building of them I was for a time overwhelmed. My budget to buy one was 2500.00. My collection consists of both collectable and long guns I used each hunting season that mean little except to me after 55 years of hunting. They number 18 in all. I also have 9 handguns that go back to my competitive shooting days and presently to my concealed carry Combat Commander.

I ran the full gambit of the internet available safes and then on to the more expensive store brands. I found some companies not very helpful in making a selection and others very helpful and knowledgeable. I actually revisited several manufacturers until I came back to Steelwater gun safes. The sales people there not only knew every aspect of their safes but knew the competition inside and out literally. Each time I brought up a brand they went to the computer with me and compared them line for line. Each time Steelwater was equal to or better than the competition in the price range. My safe being delivered (included in the price) will be placed where I want it when it arrives.

In sales there is an old adage of giving the buyer that "warm fuzzy feeling and Steelwater safes have given it to me. I will post again when I receive the safe and let everyone know if it lives up to expectations. Buying a gun safe is not easy and considering there are no real regulations on them the process is even harder. You would think in our country with so many controls on so many things there would be standards....another
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Old September 21, 2013, 08:06 AM   #2
Louca
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Welcome to the forum Nightwind, I think you will like it here.

Congratulations on narrowing down and finally purchasing your safe. Personally, I think everyone who owns firearms or anything precious should be required to have one. You have overcome many obstacles to get where you are now. For some of us, those obstacles are difficult: cost, weight, size, somewhat permanent location, etc. My first hurdle was the cost. But when you divide up the cost between the number of items being protected, then divide by the number of years you will have it, the cost per year becomes quite small for such a huge benefit.

My main reasons for getting one were protection from theft and safety (protection from those that might want to play with things). Shortly after getting the safe, our house was broken into and they got a few things, but NONE of the valuable stuff. So I suppose it paid for itself right there.

Something else you mention that is good to pass along is good service. Good treatment of the customer, especially when they are lacking in knowledge or even totally clueless, is a HUGE thing. We often here about places that are not so great at dealing with the customer or even abusive to them; it is good to get positive reports, too. Almost makes you want to buy from them again, doesn't it?

Lou
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Old September 21, 2013, 03:49 PM   #3
iraiam
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Quote:
You would think in our country with so many controls on so many things there would be standards....another
When placing your safe, keep in mind that the usual 30, 60, 90 min @1400 degrees will be insufficient for a major house fire. My safes are generally protection against theft, I do have one serious fire resistant safe but it's not very big inside.

This data is several years old I'm sure, but the average house fire in America burns at 800 degrees for 20 minutes, thanks to close by, fast responding fire stations, out in the country where the the fire stations are fewer in number and farther away, a house fire can easily fall outside the average and reach temperatures well beyond the fire resistance rating of even very expensive gun safes.

I guess what I'm saying is, put some intelligent thought into where you place your safe, hopefully you can find a spot that will maximize the fire resistance, security, and accessibility of the safe.
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Last edited by iraiam; September 21, 2013 at 04:07 PM.
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Old September 21, 2013, 05:30 PM   #4
spacecoast
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I agree that the lack of standards when it comes to safes is a bit disconcerting, but it gives manufacturers and chance to distinguish themselves and for us as consumers to make a difference with research and self education.
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Old September 21, 2013, 07:40 PM   #5
BigD_in_FL
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Except you need to research WHERE each brand is made. Just like many old US brands that USED to be made here, many US safe names are now made in Mexico or China and the quality can be suspect. There is/was a poster here (a1abdj) who is a safe tech and remember, most of these "safes" are really Residential Security Containers. With these things, you really DO get what you paid for. One thing to consider is to contact a local locksmith who sells safes as they may have a used one from someone who upgraded and you might be able to get a used one for a great deal

Last edited by BigD_in_FL; September 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM. Reason: added safe tech's forum name
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Old September 21, 2013, 08:30 PM   #6
Nightwind15
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you tube

Go to www.youtube.com and watch the demo's on the steelwater safe. I am a skeptical person when it comes to spending money but these tests were pretty convincing. There is a series of tests there that show people brutally trying to break into a Steelwater. Again, I will let you all know how good this thing is when it gets here. It is made in China by the way as are my underwear now.
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Old September 22, 2013, 06:16 AM   #7
spacecoast
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I looked at their most expensive model ($2500) and the body is only 9 gauge. Not the worst out there (some of their others are 12 gauge, easily pierced by a fire axe), but for that kind of money I would be looking for American made and 1/4" steel at a minimum. Their $1000 safe is all 12-gauge, and would last only a very few minutes (or seconds) to someone with a fire axe or pickaxe.

The video is not very convincing. He was able to shake the safe around just by the handle, meaning it is relatively light and likely 12-gauge steel. I'm not sure why all the discussion about the hinges, they don't do anything to hold the door closed on a decent safe, there should be just as many bolts on the hinge side as the opening side.

The axe attack demo is also unconvincing, a pointed tool like a pick axe or fire axe would be much more realistic (and would I think yield different results with that safe).

I'm not saying you got a poor safe for your needs, fortunately very few safes ever have a break-in attempt. Hopefully you had a chance to check out the CE Safes video as well before buying.

Last edited by spacecoast; September 22, 2013 at 05:50 PM.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:17 AM   #8
Nightwind15
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Weight

I purchased the two hour version and it is rated at 932 pounds. As I said we will see when it is delivered. Thank you all for your input. I will post my observations after it come and I sign for it. I know there are better safes but for my needs and the quality it seems to fit the price range well.
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:32 AM   #9
spacecoast
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Glad to hear you bought a relatively heavy one. The door on that one is 1/4" steel, a positive. Be sure to bolt it down. My advice would be to position it in a closet or other enclosed area so it's difficult to get to the sides or back (or top).
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Old September 25, 2013, 08:20 PM   #10
Nightwind15
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The Steelwater arrived today

The trucking company R&L Carriers backed the semi down the drive and within twenty feet of the garage door. (I am being specific to let others know what to expect about delivery). With a palate jack the driver moved the safe (Well boxed) to the lift gate and asked me to help steady it on the way down. No problem. Unloaded and wheeled it to the door where he told me I needed to open the box and make sure there was no damage. He helped me slide the carton open and then slide the foam rap from the safe. It was beautiful. I signed off on the manifest and he moved it into position in the garage. He sad he could not help me take it off the metal bars it was attached to. Very stable and so much better than a palate. He left it with a couple of feet of where I was going to set the safe and bore the holes to bolt it down.

Curiosity was getting the better of me so I had to open it and see what was inside. I read the lock information and the preselected code. I put the code in and nothing. three times and nothing. The handle would not turn to retract the bolts I assumed. Called Steelwater and was told that someone would return my call ASAP. I waited ten minutes and called back. I was transferred to "Wayne." He ran me though some attempts to open it using a couple of punches as handles as the handles were in the safe. Nothing doing. So, he told me to pack the safe back up and he would send a pick up for it first thing in the morning.

Being the stuborn type I decided to give the old college try and work on it some more. I found some long bolts in my bolt bin that were the same thread as the handles. Screwed two in pushed in the code and gave it a sharp snap! It opened! I tried to work the bolts with the door open and they would not move. I lubricated the bolts and still tight. I then decided to look at the mechanism behind the door pannel. Super good looking gears and bars with great number of bolts of two sizes. It became very apparent that the smaller nuts were on the part of the mechanism that was supposed to slide. I got a 10mm 1/4 drive socket and rachet and loosened them ever slightly. Tried the lock and mechanism again and it worked flawlessly.

Next morning I called "Wayne" and told him I fixed my issue. He as very glad of course and very apologetic. He said he wanted to do something for me for my trouble and is sending me extra pistol cases and a document case. Fair enough and no hard feelings. I love the safe.

Got it installed and started loading it, playing with the layout and checking the lock function over and over. All is well. I am happy with my purchase and really liked the concern that Steelwater had for my problem. He told me that he was going to personally check to make sure this never occurred again. This safe is worth the money while it may not be a 8000.00 safe it would take a pro to get into it and it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling knowing some of my weapons and documents are safe. I still have my loaded 870 nearby, my Combat Commander on the nightstand, feeling secure is a wonderful feeling.

Buy what you can afford but do not discount the Steelwater brand.
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Old September 26, 2013, 04:32 AM   #11
mxsailor803
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Glad you like your safe. I'm actually thinking about one of these myself. What size did you finally decide on? Does it have the room you were expecting?
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Old September 26, 2013, 05:41 AM   #12
Nightwind15
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39 gun

It is layed out nicely with plenty of room for my 15 long guns. I really like the pistol pockets that velcro to the door as well. Long term we shall see the ownership process has begun but for now i can recommend them. I own a retail business so I understand having issues with purchases, how they are resolved is what matters and Steelwater was prepared to bite the bullet for me.
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Old September 26, 2013, 07:02 AM   #13
spacecoast
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Glad you had a happy ending, but I am surprised that nobody from Steelwater had tried the lock to make sure it was functioning correctly before paying someone to take it to you. Hopefully they didn't just take it off the boat, put it in their warehouse and then ship it directly to you.
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Old September 26, 2013, 08:29 PM   #14
Nightwind15
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Steelwater follow up

I received a call this morning from Steelwater double checking that all was well with the safe. (Nice touch) They said an employee that upgraded my lock apparently tightened the 10mm nuts replaced the cover and locked the safe. He did not try to open it again. An oversight no doubt and not one that would sit well with most people but I am happy with the product and the company service as they had already sent a recall tag for the safe to be picked up in my email. I am glad it was easily resolved and happy with the free gifts for my trouble.
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Old September 28, 2013, 01:42 AM   #15
Magnum Mike
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Quote:
Personally, I think everyone who owns firearms or anything precious should be required to have one
Starting to sound like an anti gun politician. Should all guns remain in there at all times too?
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:18 PM   #16
skeeter
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Besides bolting down any safe it is best to place it near an exterior wall or two as a fire will be cooler than in the center of the home.

Any gun that is not cased with be ruined from the moisture (rust) given off by the water trapped in sheet rock or the fire proofing itself. One of the few exceptions is Ft.Knox and American Security who both line their better safes in metal. Amercian Security also uses a concrete like mixture that does not hold moisture. Their top of the line safes mix that concrete like mixture with carbite and is almost impossible to cut into.

Buying a safe is actually very complicated. That thick looking safe door may really be thin sheet metal even if it is 5" thick. Then there are the relocker issues, type of lock (electronic are NOT anywhere as reliable as a manual combination lock , best being a S&G), actual thickness of the metal body, type of welds, and fire rating as it is more common to have a fire than to have a break in of the safe.

FT.Knox makes a great safe just I think it also has some fluff in that the corner locks really are not needed as long as the door is a solid 3/8" or more of plate steel.
I really like the top of the line American Security which is 1" plate steel body but it is expensive. In general you get what you pay for except with the safes made in China or Mexico. There they make the money and you get what you didn't pay for.
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:39 PM   #17
RodTheWrench
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Quote:
Personally, I think everyone who owns firearms or anything precious should be required to have one

"Starting to sound like an anti gun politician. Should all guns remain in there at all times too?"

Magnum Mike, have you landed yet? From jumping to that conclusion?

I agree with louca that everyone should own a gun safe. Should they be "required to"? No, but there's a FAR better chance of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and children if firearms are secured. I don't believe all of your guns should be locked up at all times, either, but why wouldn't you want to keep the guns you don't need immediate access to in a safe?
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Old October 8, 2013, 10:13 PM   #18
guggep
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With all respect - a correction to what Skeeter said about the linings & fill of safes like Fort Knox or Amsec. The fireboard, fireclay, or concrete linings all hold some small degree of free water. Amsec bakes the HS and possibly the BF lines to minimize the amount after mfg, but the amount will very with the safes permanent environment. The free water in the fill will be dwarfed by the amount of water produced by the calcination of the fill material in a fire. All of that water will end up inside the safe (by design) to regulate the safe temperature. The inner welds are not water/steam tight. Everything in the safe will be wet after a fire - that's how they work. The thermodynamics calculations have been provided by others on other forums. Be sure to oil your guns and use microwave safe Tupperware or other water tight storage to keep dry anything that must stay dry.
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Old October 10, 2013, 05:48 AM   #19
dean1818
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I am researching safes myself

I think you can spend 100,000 on a safe and none are 100% foolproof.

Many if not most all burglaries are snatch and grab types

If someone is determined to get in your safe, and you are away long enough, (and havent turned on the alarm) they can get in.


I want a safe that offers some fireproof protection, as well as sturdy enough to deter the common thief...........

Hopefully I can get it for $1000
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Old October 10, 2013, 06:12 AM   #20
spacecoast
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Quote:
Hopefully I can get it for $1000
Depending on your size requirements, that may be a challenge if you want to buy American-made. The Chinese are dominating the lower end of the market.
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Old October 12, 2013, 03:51 PM   #21
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Can a safe and contents survive a house fire.. sure. Do I expect the contents of a steel safe that is basically a oven to survive a fire...NOPE. I don't put much stock in fire ratings on a steel safe but to each his own. My one suggestion is to consider a 20 rifle safe to really be a 10 rifle safe and so on and so on. Secondly, a sawsall will get into just about any safe so I have never spent more than $1500 on any safe, since at some point its protective ability peaks so anything more is just a waste of my money. I don't like electronic anything on a safe and always seek a old style dial combination. My main consideration in a safe is that:

1. Cant be carried by 2 guys
2. Cant be quickly entered with prybars, hacksaws or sledge hammers.
3. Has a dial combination
4. $1200 to $1800
5. Will honestly hold 10 rifles
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