View Full Version : A pair of safe questions

October 31, 2009, 08:46 AM
I've been looking at safes for a while and finally found some I like in my price range. Two last issues to resolve.

1) Locate in the garage or in the house? The safe would be for non home defense weapons. I live in northern Illinois so we have a decent temperature swing. It can be -20 in February and +100 in August. The garage is partially insulated but not heated. Would I have issues with a quality safe or the contents with that temperature variation?

2) Assuming equal quality - electronic or dial lock? Electronic is convenient but dial should always work. Garage location would probably rule out electronic.

If I go with the garage location I can go with a 25% larger safe - which is always a good idea. :)

Any advice would be most welcome.


October 31, 2009, 08:59 AM
I suggest to keep it out of sight. Also, have as decoy a small safe in plain sight with a couple of hundred dollars and good fake jewelry.

October 31, 2009, 10:09 AM
Although I always suggest placing a safe inside of a house when possible, we have many customers who keep theirs in the garage. None of them have had any problems that I'm aware of.

I also suggest mechanical locks over electronic locks for a variety of reasons, but placing the safe in a garage shouldn't matter for either type.

November 2, 2009, 01:45 AM
Decoy safe is an awesome idea, instead of cash i would be more inclined to booby trap. Taser comes to mind, you can get a triple shot one now.


The only advice i can add is that you may want to rethink any extra money for fire resistance. I installed one in my buddy's garage ($3000 variety). He had me bolt it to the cement pad and part of the foundation wall. I called the manufacturer in order to find the best way to find the pre-drilled holes in the safe's outside wall. The dude on the phone didn't have a frigin' clue so we just started pulling things apart. We found that the fire resistance was accomplished with half inch drywall, three layers thick with felt glued onto the top layer. Drywall is great for fire protection but you should not pay extra when you could buy a cheaper safe and then design and build a cabinet utilizing the same drywall for comparatively no money and a much lighter safe. If you pay massive money for a fire proof safe be sure that fire resistance is at least done with refractory cement it is a denser product and is superior to drywall . DIY options also include "rock wool" and "kiln bricks". As far as keeping things climate controlled, the first thing you want to do is insulate the rest of your garage (with the money you saved not buying a crazy heavy safe) also dry wall over the insulation to further prevent the hazard of fire to your house and your weapons. Insulate your garage door as well, as best you can (foil faced 1.5 inch hard foam, spray adhered to the inside of the door) . Then get yourself some desiccant packs big versions of what you find in your new shoes and put those in the safes. Check on your weapons at least monthly to make sure they don't get too dry.

p.s. fire caulk any penetrations through your safe.

November 2, 2009, 01:53 AM
get yourself a safe that has and RF activated lock and get yourself chipped so you don't have to remember a combo or keys.

B. Lahey
November 2, 2009, 03:19 AM
i would be more inclined to booby trap

And I would be inclined to say that's a bad idea.

Unless you are storing plutonium or something of that sort, use of force to protect property when there is no other threat is a sticky thing legally.

Except in Texas after sundown.:D

November 2, 2009, 06:58 AM
2 safes here. Can you put it in a basement? The 'Zanotti' safe is one you put together wherever you want it, so it's easier to move. I believe strongly in a quality dial lock, ever have any problems with electronics over the long term? I also think extra fire protection isn't all that necessary. Unless you live on you own private section of land most fires won't burn your house to the ground. Any safe will give some protection. A relative did have a fire. His guns were not damaged by heat but by acidic smoke,soot, & water from the hoses.

November 2, 2009, 05:33 PM
In Texas you don't really have to wait till sun down. In Arizona you do.

November 2, 2009, 09:01 PM
Thanks for the replies. I don't think I'm ready to get chipped. Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man comes to mind....

I looked at the Zanotti at a gun show last month. I really like the concept. The door design doesn't thrill me. The thin lip around the edge of the door doesn't seem as strong as the thicker doors of some of the other designs I've looked at. It just seems like it would be easier to get a pry tool in there. I'm on a slab so no basement.

The fire department is, at most, 4 minutes away. I'm not really worried about the house burning to the ground but every bit of insurance makes sense to me. The kiln brick and cement is a interesting idea. If I go with a larger safe in the garage I may do that.

Both locations are out of sight. I'm starting to lean towards the inside location right now. Save the outside location for safe #2. :D

One more safe dealer to go look at. Maybe this one will actually want to sell me the safe I want.

November 2, 2009, 09:42 PM
One more safe dealer to go look at. Maybe this one will actually want to sell me the safe I want.

What safe do you want? Where in Illinois are you?

November 2, 2009, 10:43 PM
cause you haven't read enough giberish, check this out.


Getting chipped isn't so bad the biggest decision is whether or not to get one that will deactivate when your hand is severed or continue transmitting.

November 2, 2009, 10:49 PM
if you have a foundry supply house somewhere near you. It would be a great source for any DIY fire protection you may invest in.

November 2, 2009, 10:55 PM
Check SAMS Club. I got my Winchester safe their 8 years ago. Does the job and I did not bother to bolt it down. If some one can load a 600lb safe 4 1/2 bolts will not stop them.


November 2, 2009, 10:55 PM
My concern with the safe in the garage would be humidity. If it goes from cold to warm quickly, the safe will stay cold and condensation will be a big problem.

November 4, 2009, 12:12 PM
Locating a safe inside a controlled environment is best (house) but either way will work. Just make sure you use Silica Gel (Desiccant) inside the safe, this is a must no matter where you put it. The Silica Gel will absorb the excess moisture. These that I found work great in safes, plus you can reuse them:


guns and more
November 4, 2009, 07:03 PM
As already reported, a big temperature swing will cause moisture to condense in the safe.
Personally, I like my safe in the bedroom.
I like the electronic lock because it's fast and I open and close mine every day.
Some like to spin the dials, but I couldn't do that in the dark with my adrenaline pumping.

There is one rule you will thank me for.
Decide how big a safe you need, then get one twice as big.

November 6, 2009, 09:48 PM
What safe do you want? Where in Illinois are you?

I'd like to look at one of the American Security safe. From several people here (like yourself) and a few other forums they seem to be a good deal in my price range. The Amsecusa web site has a dealer locater and the two that I've visited so far tried to sell me everything except a amsec.

I'm in Northern Illinois about 30 miles NW of Chicago.

Thanks for the tips about humidity. I think the safe is going to go in the house.

The big box stores around here rarely have safes. To be honest I didn't like the door construction in the few I've found.

Thanks again for all the tips.

Te Anau
November 7, 2009, 08:12 AM
Here's the advice I would offer based on experience.
1.Buy a safe that has external hinges on the door.Much easier to move.
2.Dont rely on silica gel packs for humidity protection.I use a Dri-Rod.Much better.
3.A good mechanical lock is vastly superior to a good electronic lock IMHO.
4.Bigger is better.
Southern Security Safes used to offer an excellent guide to purchasing a safe at their website.Find it and read it.It really helped me.

November 11, 2009, 09:21 PM
I have two safes one good one very good. the lesser one is in a closet not bolted down with a dial lock on it, the other is in the open and it weighs 1700 lbs and is bolted down. the reason i bolted it down is because me and my wife moved it a while back and it was very easy to move. It has a electronic lock. In my opinion the electronic lock is the way to go, i have never had any problems with it. as far as external hinges go i wouldn't get one with them just so i could remove the door, thats something that i would never attempt.

guns and more
November 11, 2009, 10:56 PM
1. House.

2. Electronic.

I open mine every day and lock it when I leave. With dials, I would not do that. In addition, the prospect of spinning the dials in the dark with someone in the living room and the adrenaline pumping would be impossible for me. I've had it two years, and I'm thinking of changing the battery just to be safe. (no pun intended)

as far as external hinges go i wouldn't get one with them just so i could remove the door, thats something that i would never attempt.
The real advantage of external hinges is that the door will swing open 180 deg. Mine has internal and looks cool, but the door only opens 90 deg. It limits which corner you place it in, and how much natural light gets in, and a lot of minor details. I had to move mine because I placed it with the left side against a wall, only to discover the door was like a wall on the right side. So access was a narrow tunnel.

November 12, 2009, 08:00 AM
Go as big as you can fit and afford. I thought mine was big enough and it was full with what I already own. I like my electronic lock. My neighbor hates his dial because it is a pain to open. I dont know which is better, just two opinions on convenience.

November 12, 2009, 08:48 AM
Most of the gun safes do not have a "T" burgalary rating. A t30 has to have a min. weight of 2000 lbs. I use jewelry safes. More expensive, but are true "safes". Chuck

November 12, 2009, 08:59 AM
place in the house, preferably in a closet corner where it can be bolted to the floor and two walls. Get the manual lock - they don't have anywhere near the failure rate of the electronic ones.

I would look at my local locksmith who sells safes - he may have a pristine one that someone traded in on an upgrade available for less money