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Old April 7, 2006, 04:50 PM   #1
SaltySteve
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Buying a Safe is too Confusing.

Hey everyone.
I'm looking for a safe for my rifles and whatnot. I only have afew but there are a couple of other things I want to store also. The thing is I don't know anything about them. I just started reading here about them and I am learning as I go. I have up to $1200 I can use for the purchase and don't want to make the mistake of spending it on junk. I'm hoping someone can steer me away from the bull and onto a Safe that is the most bang for my buck.
Looks don't matter.
Fire rating does.
Are there any paticular brands to avoid at all costs?

Thanks Steve...
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Old April 7, 2006, 07:21 PM   #2
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Steve,

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask me.

I sell a number of safes, but may not have what you're looking for. Even if I don't have what you need, I can point you in the right direction.

I am not somebody that just sells safes....I am a commercial locksmith that specializes in safes and vaults.
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Old April 7, 2006, 07:35 PM   #3
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If you have $1,200 to spend on a safe, you should get one which is fire resisted.
Not only you can keep you gun(s) safe in there, but other values and papers.
They are a pain to move so!
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Old April 7, 2006, 07:47 PM   #4
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Count the number of slide bolts around the door... more is better.

Thicker door is better too.

Most gunsafes are really fire-safes with very secure locking mechanisms...
So check on the temperature/time ratio... how long at what temp...
the longer and higher the better.

Electronic combination pads are the most convenient but add to the expense...

If they tell you it's a 20 gun safe... think bull**** ...and figure on 10 maximum...

The taller ones are better because you will want two or more full shelves... up at your chest level or higher.

The lower portion should be open space with the guns against the wall... not in the middle...

Carpet kits are very nice but also add to the expense...

Shop carefully and be patient and you will find a bargain... I got mine at a gun show by buying a floor model from the display...

Bigger is worth the difference in cash...

It is a once in three generations purchase...
and a piece of furniture...
so don't buy something that looks like a piece of hud...
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Old April 7, 2006, 09:47 PM   #5
a1abdj
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Quote:
you should get one which is fire resisted.
Not only you can keep you gun(s) safe in there, but other values and papers.
This is what gun safe manufacturers want you to believe, but it's not true. Many gun safes may be ok for smaller amounts of valuables, and basic fire protection. Gun safes are not built to be as fire resistant or as secure as other safes designed specifically for those purposes.

There are some safes (gun safes included) which are built better than others.

Quote:
Count the number of slide bolts around the door... more is better.
In some cases yes, and in some cases no. The weak link with any gun safe is the steel thickness. The thicker the better. Once you get to a decent level of plate (AMSEC BF series uses 1/2" plate), then the top and bottom bolts aren't as critical.

The additional bolts do come in handy on safes using thin steel. Many of the gun safes on the market are using 12 ga doors. Others use 10 gauge. Both are too thin and easy to pry apart.

Quote:
Thicker door is better too.
Thicker steel in the door. Many of these safe doors are folded over to look thicker, but still don't use any substantial steel.

Quote:
Most gunsafes are really fire-safes with very secure locking mechanisms
Most gun safes would not pass muster as a fire safe, and really aren't that secure. Many gun safe are just one step above a file cabinet.

Quote:
So check on the temperature/time ratio... how long at what temp...
the longer and higher the better
If you want to take the word of the manufacturer. Each company tends to test their safes differently as there is no standardized fire testing for gun safes. One company's 60 minute safe may be built just like another company's 90 minute safe. Compare the construction more than the tag. 10gauge steel and two layers of fireboard should protect the same regardless of who makes the safe.

Quote:
Electronic combination pads are the most convenient but add to the expense
And are less reliable over time. Mechanical locks tend to last forever, electronic locks are prone to failure. If you want speed, go electronic. If you want reliable, go mechanical.

Quote:
If they tell you it's a 20 gun safe... think bull**** ...and figure on 10 maximum
100% correct. Each safe owner is going to have different weapons which require their own amount of space. If you add larger guns or optics, then it will reduce your space even more.

Quote:
The taller ones are better because you will want two or more full shelves... up at your chest level or higher.
Some of the tall safes (72") are hard to get into homes. Keep that in mind before buying the safe, and run it by the person moving it first.

Quote:
Carpet kits are very nice but also add to the expense
Here's a whole list of things that add to the cost, and don't mean a thing when it comes to gun safes:

Anything that's designed to thwart a drill: Diamond hard plate, angle in the frame, etc. Burglars don't use drills...locksmiths do.

Anymore than one relocker: If your relocker goes off, it's because somebody beat the lock on the safe. If they're that stupid, they won't be smart enough to defeat a relocking system.

Antipunch bolt systems: Again....burglars don't punch bolts on gun safes.

Quote:
Bigger is worth the difference in cash
Some people prefer one larger safe.....I suggest multiple smaller safes. Keeping your eggs in seperate baskets keeps them more secure. It takes the same amount of time to break into these safes regardless of size. Multiple safes will increase that time per safe.

Quote:
It is a once in three generations purchase...
and a piece of furniture
You shouldn't buy a safe because of how it looks, you should buy it because of what it can do. Many gun safe companies are more worried about look than function. There are real safes out there that look good too...and offer much better protection than a typical gun safe.
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Old April 7, 2006, 11:04 PM   #6
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a1abdj
Good stuff... thanks

Quote:
they won't be smart enough to defeat a relocking system.
The smart ones won't try to come in the front door and through the locks...

There are simpler and faster ways...

Get beauty and quality you still have to live with the darn thing...

I like the idea of three smaller safes over one large...
But that doubles the cost...

I have a friend who has the one which is half the size of mine (same height) and hew cannot afford another one nor has he a space to put another one...
If he gets one more rifle... he'll be wishing he had been able to get the bigger safe.
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Old April 8, 2006, 12:40 AM   #7
SaltySteve
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Good info everyone. All the safes I see look alike. Are most of them built by the same people and renamed.
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Old April 8, 2006, 10:39 AM   #8
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Many of the low end safes come from China and are relabled with the US company's name. Cannon, Liberty Centurions, and some of the Brownings are imported and labeled.

The only low priced gun safe that I've seen which is made in the US, is the Winchester safes sold at Sam's. They are built by Granite Security in Texas.
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Old April 8, 2006, 10:54 AM   #9
SaltySteve
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So I guess my budget of $1200 is considered low. Lets say I have $2400 to spend. I was looking at the Fort Knox stuff. specificaly the Protector and the defender models. Much diff?? Am I on the right track? Also, what about the amsecusa stuff?
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Old April 8, 2006, 11:08 AM   #10
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I bought the Granite Safe from Sam's

I am very pleased with it, Both it's perceived quality and price.

A1A, do you consider this to be a "decent " safe?

I paid about $650 for it.
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Old April 8, 2006, 04:21 PM   #11
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SaltySteve,

One option you may wish to explore is buying a used commercial safe from a locksmith/safe company. It's possible to get much more protection than a "gun safe" for the same, or less, money.
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Old April 8, 2006, 06:16 PM   #12
a1abdj
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Quote:
So I guess my budget of $1200 is considered low. Lets say I have $2400 to spend. I was looking at the Fort Knox stuff. specificaly the Protector and the defender models. Much diff?? Am I on the right track? Also, what about the amsecusa stuff?
I sell both of those, and have nothing bad to say about either. However, I think from a "real safe" standpoint, the AMSEC is a better unit. The Fort Knox looks nicer, but I think the AMSEC would protect your valuables better. I think the AMSEC BF series is one of the best buys in its price range.

Quote:
A1A, do you consider this to be a "decent " safe?
Granite builds an OK safe, but they've been caught up in the price wars with China. They have been cutting corners to produce a less expensive safe. They aren't bad safes, but I think a 10 year old Granite is nicer than the new ones.

Quote:
One option you may wish to explore is buying a used commercial safe from a locksmith/safe company. It's possible to get much more protection than a "gun safe" for the same, or less, money.
This is an excellent option. However, many commercial safes are far to heavy for residential installation and must be kept in a garage. The delivery will also usually run quite a bit more than it would for a lighter gun safe. If you can get your hands on a good used safe and keep it in your garage, you'd be much better off.
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Old April 8, 2006, 06:43 PM   #13
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a1abdj,
Thank you for the straight forward answers and info. It is refreshing to hear from someone who knows what he is talking about because he is in that line of business.
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Old April 8, 2006, 07:11 PM   #14
san_chang4837
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Safe for a pistol?

I was looking at safes at Wal-Mart last week. I saw a safe for $170. I think it was "sentry" (not sure). It was fire safe and water resistant (great for hurricanes). However, from what I have been seeing here, it would seem that this safe is too cheap to store a pistol (or two) in?

Is this safe good enough or should I get something else?
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Old April 8, 2006, 07:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Is this safe good enough or should I get something else?
You should get something else, but not because of the quality of the safe. Sentry makes an excellent document safe. They are not very secure against theft, but they are very good protection from fire.

Document safes use a very moisture rich insulation, and the humidty levels within the safe are often too high for gun storage. I think Sentry even mentions this specifically in their owners manual.

Most types of document safes are constructed the same way, and there is really no way around it. The moisture will always be there, and there isn't any way to get rid of it without harming the safe's fire rating.

Sentry does make some regular steel safes without any fireproofing which would work well for handguns. I would look for a safe that is either all steel (no fireproofing), composite construction (dry fireproofing), or uses a dry insulation (gypsum).
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Old April 8, 2006, 08:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Lets say I have $2400 to spend
That's about right for the top of the line Browning Medallion

That's what I have (five years now) and I'm very happy...

Electronic key punch pad has been flawless and I haven't even had to change the battery yet.
I open it at least once a week... often more frequently.

It's pretty too!
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Old April 9, 2006, 08:54 PM   #17
san_chang4837
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Thanks

Thanks a lot for the advice!
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Old April 9, 2006, 10:20 PM   #18
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I am a Liberty safe dealer and I would say the Liberty Franklin in any size gives you the best deal for your buck!
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Old April 10, 2006, 03:54 AM   #19
SaltySteve
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Thanks guys, I'm doing my best to reply in a timley manner but I'm on a ship right now in the Med and I don't have continious access to Internet. I have been reading everyones responses and trying to check some of the sites and get prices but it's hard to do on a super slow Int Connection and limited time online. I hope to get home 1st week of May and make this purchase. I'm trying to get this thing narrowed down soon so I can pull the trigger on this ASAP. There's been a rash of breakins where I live (our town has doubled since Katrina) and I wouldn,t be able to live with myself if someone stole my weapons and used them against someone. So I'm looking for theft protection first then Fire Protection. I have no Garage so it will have to go in the house. Plenty of room in my house. I know I stated $1200 then $2400 budget, but in reality I will spend what ever I have to to get the job done. I'm just trying to make a smart purchase. I don't mind spending it but I can't stand wasting money.
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Old April 10, 2006, 11:17 AM   #20
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Steve,

It all starts with what you have to protect. If you only have $5000 worth of stuff, it isn't worth spending $4,000 on a safe.

If you have anything worth more than $5,000 to $10,000, then you need to stay away from just about every gun safe on the market, as none of them will offer the protection you need (with a very few exceptions).

The more protection the safe offers, the more you will pay...unless you're looking at gun safes. I've seen $7,000 gun safes that wouldn't protect nearly as well as a $4,000 real safe.
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Old April 10, 2006, 11:51 AM   #21
SaltySteve
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I suppose my biggest threat is the smash and grab type of hoods. you know, the crackheads and bored kids lookingfor something exciting to do. My belongings aren't that valuable but the potential libility value is high, I have a lot to lose in a cival lawsuit. If you know what I mean. I would be happy with something that someone like that could not walk out the door with.
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Old April 10, 2006, 05:25 PM   #22
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It IS too confusing. But I've come to this opinion myself, on the subject of fire ratings:

As someone pointed out, you cannot trust the manufacturer's own internal test for fire rating. I'd buy one *ONLY* if the test was done by U.L. (underwriter's laboratory). I was going to buy a Liberty safe until I found out that the fire rating on the Libertys was done by some off-the-wall company called Omega or some such, and for all I know, Omega might be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty (and therefore subject to extreme bias). Either it's UL tested to a certain number of minutes from a 1200 external temp until the inside reaches I think 350, or it's meaningless as not comparable to UL, or worse, potentially completely made-up. If I were you, I'd start off by finding the ones who have the UL fire rating you want (decide whether you want 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 75 minutes, 90 minutes, or 120 minutes). Then, among those, decide how many cubic feet you must have to meet your needs. Then, among those left, decide which are in or out of your price range. Finally, among those that are left, if any, look at the physical security features such as weight, number of locking lugs, whether the steel is bent or welded (bent is better), steel thickness (thicker the better), whether the hinges are extenal or internal (do NOT get one with external hinges - they are easy to defeat). That should get you started. Use MS Works to make a spreadsheet detailing your research.
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Old April 10, 2006, 05:59 PM   #23
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I've seen these safes for some time at the local gun show. They have a simple, very heavy duty, tightly crafted product and have been around for a good while. I can't afford one now, but I'm going to get one eventually. They always have lots of impressive pictures of their safes which people have tried to get into.

http://www.drakesafe.com/
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Old April 10, 2006, 07:37 PM   #24
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I just bought a Liberty safe---the Colonial model. It will be delivered Thursday. As I remember, there is a sticker placed on the inside edge of the door that gives it's fire rating. I thought it was a UL sticker. I'll let you know when it's delivered. Mine is last year's version. The current production fire rating is higher according to the web site.
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Old April 10, 2006, 11:28 PM   #25
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Quote:
As someone pointed out, you cannot trust the manufacturer's own internal test for fire rating. I'd buy one *ONLY* if the test was done by U.L. (underwriter's laboratory).
There's only one problem with this.....I have never, ever, seen a gun safe with a UL fire rating. Gun safe companies tend to use dry insulation, and only moist insulation can handle the higher temps that UL tests.

Also, in some cases a safe may very well pass the UL test, but for various reasons will not carry a tag. UL regulations state that all safes must be produced identical to the safe tested. If you change anything about the design, you have to resubmit for testing.

There are a lot of safe companies that build outstanding custom safes which can not carry UL tags for this reason. A UL rating isn't the end all be all, but it is a good benchmark.

Quote:
there is a sticker placed on the inside edge of the door that gives it's fire rating. I thought it was a UL sticker
The UL sticker inside of your Liberty safe indicates that it kept a UL tech armed with a hammer and a screwdriver out of the safe for 5 minutes. This is a UL RSC (Residential Security Container) rating. Notice the Lab didn't refer to the unit as a "safe" but rather a "container". This is because most gun safes aren't really considered safes by professionals.

Liberty makes an OK product, but I believe they are one of the worst at deceptive marketing practices.

Quote:
They always have lots of impressive pictures of their safes which people have tried to get into
Anybody that claims that nobody has ever broken into a safe they made is either a liar, or hasn't been in the safe business very long. Most gun safes are built out of very thin steel....this steel does not take on magical properties just because they form it into a box and mount a dial on it.

I've seen bank vaults compromised. I've seen 1.5" steel plate safes cut in half. I've seen 5,000 pound safes "walk off". A 12 gauge steel gun safe is 1/10" thick. Most gun safes are the wet paper bag of the safe business.

Most people will not encounter a professional burglar, and don't need bank type protection. Unfortunately, even a meth head can swing an axe or a hammer during a smash and grab.

Just weigh your options before making a decision. If you are willing to accept a little higher risk for a cheaper, less secure safe then that's fine....so long as you understand the risk. The problem I have with a lot of these gun safe companies, is that they mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a far greater protection than they really were.

By the way...here's what 5 minutes with a sledge will do to a 12 gauge safe.
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