The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Gear and Accessories

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 5, 2005, 11:53 PM   #1
mohutley
Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 97
Has anyone made a concrete gun vault?

I'm thinking about building a concrete vault in my basement, but not sure how thick it should be, PSI required, how to join the walls, roof, the costs, etc. I don't mind the work involved, just don't want to pay out the wazoo for a decent steel safe, and which I'll probably outgrow pretty quickly. Any suggestions, experiences?
mohutley is offline  
Old February 5, 2005, 11:55 PM   #2
Lawyer Daggit
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2004
Posts: 1,181
gun vault

I don't know of anyone who has made one inside, a fellow I knew who built one outside who stores a lot of powder etc designed one to vent upwards in the event of an explosion.

He got a lot of info by surfing survivalist sites on the web.

Good luck.
Lawyer Daggit is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 06:56 AM   #3
HankL
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 1999
Location: The Sunny South
Posts: 2,174
run a search using "concrete AND vault" without the quotes.
HankL is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 08:37 AM   #4
BillCA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Ca
Posts: 7,117
One word: Architect

For a concrete vault, you'll need to use steel reinforcing rod ("rebar") spaced about 6" on the horizontal and 8" vertical -- or whatever your local code indicates for structural concrete (like your basement walls). If the local code doesn't specify, 6x8" will work as a general rule. In the event of a structural concrete failure this keeps the material from collapsing. In the event of a thief with a sledgehammer, it prevents him from making a hole large enough to crawl through. How thick do you want the walls? 3" would be minimum IMO and 6" better. Lots of concrete.

One supposes that you'll make this vault with a steel vault door with the steel frame mounted into the concrete. As I think about this, I'd guess that you'd build this into a corner of the basement against 2 of the outside walls to save cost of concrete, right? In that case, there are other considerations...
  • Is the basement of modern construction with a moisture barrier?
  • Is it sealed? Are there any cracks in the area?
  • What kinds of temperature swings do you get between the seasons?
  • Is the basement finished and heated?
  • For structural integrity you should do your vault walls in a single pour (session). How will you do that if your walls go to the basement ceiling?
  • Are there water pipes, heating ducts, gas lines, etc that may have to be moved running along the ceiling of the basement?

The cost of this project could well exceed what it would cost you to just buy one mother of a safe and bolt it to the floor.

If it's a walk-in vault you're thinking of, consider some of the "extra" costs too. Like conduit needed to run electricity into the vault for lighting, dehumidifiers and heating. You should also think about adding a separate conduit for a telephone line and putting a phone in there so it doubles as a safe-room. Adding a coax wire connected to an external cell phone antenna will give you the ability to use a cell phone from inside the steel box in case the phone lines are cut. Inside that same conduit, you can add a 4-wire cable to permit wiring an alarm on the vault.

Then, once you have concrete walls, how do you fasten shelves, racks and such to the walls?

My guess is that the cost of construction will, depending on where you're at, cost more than a large safe. The problem here is how do you get a very large safe into the basement? I don't think most basement stairs will withstand the 1/2 ton weight of a safe.
__________________
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
BillCA is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 08:39 AM   #5
dfaugh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 17, 2002
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 1,715
Built a few

when I was in the security business...Mostly cinderblock with metal sheet on inside...We used old bank vault doors, that cost a few hundred bucks used...To actually make a poured concrete one is a bit of a pain...but if thats what you want I'd lay cinderblock, then pour into the voids...Check with local locksmiths that deal in safes, they can probably help you out....
__________________
"If you Listen to Fools, the Mob Rules"

"No one has the answer, but one thing is true.
You'e got to turn on evil, when its coming after you.
You've gotta face it down,and when it tries to hide,
you've got to go in after it, and never be denied.
Time is running out...Let's roll.
Let's roll for freedom, let's roll for love.
We're going after satan, on the wings of a dove.
Let's roll for freedom, let's roll for truth.
Let's not let our children grow up fearful in their youth."
dfaugh is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 09:05 AM   #6
mohutley
Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 97
I'm trying to me economical, but I think I need to really figure out a couple of things:
What will I settle for...how "safe" do I want to make it, how big, etc.
How much can I really spend

The good news for me is that my basement is mostly open on one of the narrow ends where I installed a 6' wide double door. I can easily bring in whatever I need.

I really like the idea of using high PSI concrete that I pour into forms, or maybe into wide cinderblocks, but I'm not sure how secure that would be from your basic sledgehammer.

Vault doors can be almost as expensiive as a fair-sized safe, so I would want to make sure I make a pretty good sized vault. Too bad I wouldn't be able to take the whole thing with me if I sell the place (#$%! motocross place opened up ~1mile away, and it sounds like chainsaws outside the window sometimes. So much for quiet country living.).
mohutley is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 01:12 PM   #7
Handy
Junior member
 
Join Date: August 31, 2001
Posts: 8,785
Since this a custom fabrication, try thinking outside the box.

Your safe doesn't have to be safe shaped. You could build a rather flat and low stucture, for instance, that uses a long pull out drawer to access the contents. Even a small, cheap door would work with such a design.


Also, since you're building this, I've always felt that the best vault is not the most secure one, but the one no one knows about. Drywall is not very stought, but a properly hidden space will foil any criminal, and is easier to build.
Handy is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 01:42 PM   #8
barnetmill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 25, 2005
Posts: 121
When I built my house I included a small closet made out of concrete block that was attached to an exterior wall. For the interior wall I put number 4 rebar down each block hole vertically and chipped the centers of block horizontally (you can buy special block for this) and layed a rebar horizontally every one or two courses. I used four thousand PSI concrete to pour all of the block. I made forms for the roof and layed down crossed rebar and two layers of mesh and poured it. The weakeast part is the door that I will have to improve. The only error was that the I decided I needed a larger room and needed to breakout the rear of the vault (external wall) so that I could enlarge it. Put a piece of plywood over it and put 40 rounds of 7.62 x 39 ball into a 20 inch circle to chip away enough of the concrete (this part had very little steel in it) away to allow me to break it down with a demolition hammer and saws. This took a couple of days to do. I added an extention to it.

Now I a have reasonably secure storeplace equipped with ventilation fans to take away humidy. It will stop most thefts and reduces legal liability since I have made a reasonable attempt to secure my firearms and ammunition. It also could served during hurricanes as a potential place of refuge. If so, you must block the door open and take tools inside with you. It the house falls in you could get trapped. It could be considered an Osha confined space.

The door is the most expensive part of this and must be designed so that cutting the hinges will not drop the door. A proper vault door is the way to go, but they were too expensive for me.

Other points are moisture considerations and the weight of the concrete could break a basement slab or foundations footer.
barnetmill is offline  
Old February 6, 2005, 09:25 PM   #9
BillCA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Ca
Posts: 7,117
Well, color me stupid. I'd completely overlooked the idea of cinderblock.

This would allow you to build it in sections and not worry about a homogenous pour like a formed wall would require. Use the rebar to prevent sledgehammer access.

Actually, if you build it along one wall, you could finish the basement-facing side with some 2x4's and drywall to make it look less obvious. The door could be concealed by extending this fake wall past the vault door at the end and making it look as if it's a closet space (that happens to have a vault door in one side!).

Venting the space near the ceiling and perhaps with a small grille opening near the foot of one wall would help maintain temp & humitity control (not to mention provide air if you got locked in.
__________________
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
BillCA is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 08:29 AM   #10
HankL
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 1999
Location: The Sunny South
Posts: 2,174
Quote:
Other points are moisture considerations and the weight of the concrete could break a basement slab or foundations footer.
Very valid points indeed. The moisture considerations have been addressed to a point so that leaves the weight.
HankL is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 10:44 AM   #11
Wraith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 22, 2004
Location: The Free State
Posts: 498
Think compact and well hidden. Even a cheap Stackable safe in the right location will be fine. You can't get in it if you can't find it.

Then again you could always build a walk in fortress with an argon atmosphere.
__________________
June 23, 2003
GRATZ et al. v. BOLLINGER et al.
The day America died.


Never Forget 9/11.

Cold dead hands...
Wraith is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 02:02 PM   #12
shaggy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2004
Posts: 1,519
Have you seen these?

http://www.safesrus.com/vaultrooms.htm
shaggy is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 02:29 PM   #13
guntotin_fool
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2004
Posts: 1,446
Yeah we have built some...
easier to build it when you build the house but not always the way it goes.

do not forget to reinforce the ceiling, it is easy to see a dedicated burglar just cutting a hole in the floor and dropping into it

I also agree that making this room seem like nothing at all is a good idea. best one we built had a regular looking steel door that actually had a simple key knob but there was a big dead bolt that acted from the top and bottom and made the door nearly vault like. we covered the concrete walls with drywall and this room had seperate vents and light and phone. the room was finished inside like a Fine gun room, nice chairs etc but it was hell for stout., this guy had hunted africa and India and all over and had the money to do this right. funny thing once i had done this my name got around as someone who could do "gun" projects and i have been doing pretty good doing them ever since.
guntotin_fool is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 06:34 PM   #14
dairycreek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 30, 1998
Location: North Plains, Oregon, USA
Posts: 1,867
Are you more concerned about theft or fire?

If theft is the main concern then nothing will beat a lockable, all steel, safe. If fire is the main concern then double sheet rock hung on a 2x4 stud wall will give you pretty much the same kind of fire protection as will a steel safe. My anal son-in-law made a 12x12' gun room (as he calls it) in his basement by hanging double sheet rock on the inside, outside, and roof of the room and it is hell for stout. He used a double reinforced (told you he was anal) concrete door with a very strong lock system. It will protect against fire and a thief better have a lot of time and determination to break in. His insurance carrier liked it and gave him some kind of break on his gun insurance.
__________________
ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR HEARING AND VISION

GOOD SHOOTING
dairycreek is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 06:44 PM   #15
shaggy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2004
Posts: 1,519
Quote:
If theft is the main concern then nothing will beat a lockable, all steel, safe.

...except a sawzall.



Most big name gun safes have a RSC rating by UL. Some better ones carry a TL-15 or TL-30 rating.

Here's a summary of the rating system and what it means in order of increasing security.

Theft resistant - This rating means the safe provides a combination lock and minimal theft protection.

Residential Security Container rating (RSC) - This UL rating is based on testing conducted for a net working time of five minutes, on all sides, with a range of tools.

TL-15 rating - The TL-15 rating means the safe has been tested for a net working time of 15 minutes using high speed drills, saws and other sophisticated penetrating equipment.

TL-30 rating - A product carrying the TL-30 security label has been tested for a net working time of 30 minutes with the same types of tools mentioned above.

TL-30 x 6 - The TL-30 (30-minute) test is conducted on all six (6) sides of the safe.

TRTL-30 - The TRTL rating designates a safe which successfully resisted 30 minutes of net working time with a torch and a range of tools which might include high speed drills and saws with carbide bits, pry bars, and other impact devices.
shaggy is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 07:53 PM   #16
dfaugh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 17, 2002
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 1,715
Shaggy

you forgot TRTL-60 (Mostly used by jewelers)...Now, as I mentioned, I was in the security business, and, in additional to building and servicing vaults and safes, I was also a legal "safecracker"...Here's the scoop on the UL ratings.

The test is done with a HIGHLY qualified technician, who has, at his disposal, all sorts of pretty heavy-duty tools, as well as a set of BLUEPRINTS for the safe. In the real world, we did occassionally have a few successful attacks on TL15 rated safes. Using the methods they did, we figured that none took less than 2-3 hours. And they had tools that the average burglar probably doesn't carry in his back pocket (Like a 12" gas-powered cutoff saw!)

On the other hand, we had a neat little gizmo (sorry, no free hints) that I could penetrate a 3" thick TL15 or TRTL30 for that matter door with...in 3-10 seconds...I could have it open less than 2-3 minutes later, in most cases...(OK, a little hint...They showed a large version in the movie "Thief", with James Caan.)

In short the ratings can be deceiving. We sold a TRTL60 jewelers safe that the manufacturer claimed would take 2 men, 52 hours to open(and believe me, knowing how it was constructed, it was one tough SOB)....We defined a strategy that we figured would get us in, in 3-4 hours, 8 hours max (but we had "blueprints" (actually photographs) of where the relocking devices were(essentially "booby traps" that lock the safe independent of the lock)...And we never got to try it so who knows? But 52 hours? BWAHAHAHA...
__________________
"If you Listen to Fools, the Mob Rules"

"No one has the answer, but one thing is true.
You'e got to turn on evil, when its coming after you.
You've gotta face it down,and when it tries to hide,
you've got to go in after it, and never be denied.
Time is running out...Let's roll.
Let's roll for freedom, let's roll for love.
We're going after satan, on the wings of a dove.
Let's roll for freedom, let's roll for truth.
Let's not let our children grow up fearful in their youth."
dfaugh is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 08:15 PM   #17
shaggy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2004
Posts: 1,519
dfaugh

And I thought I was the only only who saw "Thief".

I wouldn't be too worried about a thief with a thermal lance - if they have that kind of equipment I'm sure they'd be looking to bigger marks than me. Besides, I'm guessing it would probably destroy quite a bit of what was in the safe. Of course even if they have the acetylene torch to light the lance, they could probably get into most RSC rated gun safes on the market.

My current safe is an RSC, but I'm planning on buying either a TL-15 or TL-30 with my tax refund. Since you have some expertise in this area, what are your thoughts about the relative benefit of the TL30 over the TL15? Is the extra 15 minute rating really worth the extra cash? IOW if they have the equipment to get in a TL15 how much extra protection is the additional 15 minutes of a TL30 really going to provide?
shaggy is offline  
Old February 7, 2005, 10:06 PM   #18
barnetmill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 25, 2005
Posts: 121
In addition to the obvious have a hidden place

The large concrete vault is for securing the bulk of what I have. Anything of great importance would be put somewhere else. Options include as mentioned previously by others behind a wall, under attic insulation, burried in a dry place in water proof container, etc. Such hidding places are only intended to fool theives and are not very big.

Protection from moisture is important and ammunition must be protected from extreme heat or it (the propellant) will degrade.

Some 30-06 I loaded in 1961 was stored for 6 years in my brother's attic while I was overseas. I was firing this ammo in '85 when I got back in an old P17 that has generous headspace. The ammo fired and grouped well. I noticed some carbon about the base of some fired rounds. Paid no attention and kept firing. I got a head separation and gas in my face. I closely examined an unfired round and saw green spots. I decided to inspect the power and place a bullet in the muzzle to worked the bullet loose. The case broke in half. Apparently the power was degraded and released NO2/NO3 products that attacked the brass. Smokeless powder is produced by nitrating either cellulose and/or glycerin with concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids and upon breakdown nitrous products are released.
barnetmill is offline  
Old February 15, 2005, 10:01 PM   #19
mohutley
Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 97
Thanks guys for all the information. Time to get moving.
mohutley is offline  
Old February 16, 2005, 08:29 PM   #20
Craigar45
Member
 
Join Date: November 25, 2004
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 92
I was about to shell out $1k on a safe (after shipping and all that) when I decided to check Craig's List- If you are not familiar, it is like a big public bulletin board. Craigslist.org
Great if you happen to live in or near a liberal hell-hole like seattle. :barf:
Anyway, I found a nice safe from 1906. Four to six inches of castable refactory/concrete all through it. I am planning on re-finishing it sometime in the near future. The previous owner never had the combination, so he just took the tumblers out and latched it. Took me about two hours to determine the combo. The previous owner just about crapped his pants when I told him. After all, I only bought it for $200
Dfaugh- Any idea what kind of rating this thing might be good for?

As to the vault idea, call some concrete companies. It would not be difficult to form one up, but it might be costly. I like the stash idea myself...

Craig
Craigar45 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:36 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11139 seconds with 10 queries