Best Gun Safe Guide

What Is The Best Gun Safe?

Before you can find the best gun safe for your needs, there are many things to consider.  Obviously your main concerns will be to keep an unauthorized person from getting to your guns.  It could be a thief, a crazy person bent on destruction, or it could be just keeping your children or neighbor’s children away from your guns.

Maybe the disturbing issue with a newspaper in New York publishing maps of homes with guns (and the break-ins that happened after that map was published) or the Android apps that will mark your home as having a gun have motivated you to find the best gun safe for your lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, you will want a safe that will make it extremely difficult for someone to get into, but you also have to be able to get to your guns as quickly as possible in an emergency. Other concerns will be price, weight, size and location for your gun safe, as well as whether or not you want to be able to move your gun safe from time-to-time.We’ll address some of those issues further down.

Where Will You Keep Your Gun Safe?

When deciding on buying a gun safe you should consider where in your home, car or office that you will be storing the safe.

If the gun safe is going to be kept in your home and you won’t be transporting it to any other place then it makes sense to look for a safe that can be bolted to the floor.

If you need to transport your guns, then a smaller safe that is not permanently affixed to your home will be right for you. In that case something like the Gunvault MV500 might work well depending on how many guns you need to store.  The gauge is light but as long has you have control of the safe it is quite suitable for safe gun transporting.

If you have a basement then your problems are easily solved by storing your safe in that location.  It is a more difficult location for a thief to get in and out of.  Most burglars want an easy access area because they know the more minutes they spend in your home the more likely they will be caught. But if you don’t have a basement the next best place is a closet.

What Steel Gauge Is Best For Your Gun Safe?

For top security a heavy gauge steel safe (with multiple locking bolts) is what you will need.  Keep in mind that the lower the gauge the stronger and thicker the safe will be.

Good thickness gauges run from 12 to 7, with seven being the strongest. Any gauge higher than 12 is one you should stay away from if you think you will be vulnerable to someone hacking away at the safe.

A 12 gauge steel safe is lighter and you can move it around more easily – but then so can the thief.  A 12 gauge can be hacked away at with an axe on the sides and bottom, so try to get a heavier gauge if you can afford it.

A 10 gauge gun safe will be stronger and heavier, thereby making it extremely difficult for a thief to hack open, but it will also be more expensive.  If you think you need a 10 gauge steel gun safe then keep in mind it will cost about $1500 and up.

So figure out how vulnerable you are.  Do you live in a dangerous area where break-ins are frequent?  Who is living in your house?  Do you have children?  Frequent visitors?  You want to eliminate the possibility of anyone getting to your guns, hurting themselves and others.  So pick the strongest safe you can reasonably afford to spend on a good gun safe.   I would actually recommend 8 gauge but it all depends on your needs and budget.

The upside to spending more on a gun safe is that you will have it forever.  It’s not like this is an expense you will have over and over.  A better safe is a good investment in your safety and peace of mind.

Gun Safe Locking Systems

The locking system is what keeps thieves and children from getting your guns but the locking system mechanism is also where most thieves or children will start working first to break in.  So let’s look at the different types of gun safe locking systems:

Electronic or Digital Lock Gun Safes

There are electronic button locking systems where you enter a combination (you have programmed) using several numbered buttons on the safe, and the safe will open.  The downside is that these types of locks require batteries. There have been numerous complaints about them malfunctioning.

For example, if you are in a situation where you need to get to your gun quickly, and the battery has died, you are out of luck.  These electronic locking systems are only as good as your battery.  Some have the battery pack in an easily accessible location and some don’t. Nevertheless, if you are in a life and death situation do you want to find out that you can’t get to your gun because the batteries in your safe do not work?  Would you want to go find some batteries, put them in the safe battery compartment while you are under duress?

On the other hand, if you are a diligent person and you check your battery life on a regular basis then you should not have a problem with this type of locking system. It all comes down to checking the battery life on a fairly consistent basis.

Mechanical Lock Gun Safes

Mechanical dial locks are better, or at least more reliable and longer lasting than the electronic systems.  These are commonly known as combination locks. They are manually operated.  As long as you remember your combination and haven’t given it out to anyone, or written it down where someone can find it, then this type of locking system works just fine.

Just be aware that recent articles in Forbes magazine and others have proven that even a 3 year old can work on a combination locking mechanism and get into a gun safe.

There are more expensive combination locks that will lock-up if someone tampers with the lock, so that is a feature you might want to consider when purchasing a gun safe. Se if the combination lock has a tamper resistant feature.

Biometric Lock Gun Safes

Theoretically, one of the safest and most reliable gun safe locking systems is the biometric locking system.  Basically the lock can only be opened and locked with your fingerprints.  All you do is swipe your fingers over the lock and you are in.

You can also have another designated person or persons have their fingerprints logged in to the locking system as well.  So if you are a husband and wife who use the guns you can both get into the safe but your children or a thief cannot.

However, these locking systems also require the use of batteries.  So the same warning applies.  Make sure you diligently check the power on your batteries on a regular basis or you will find out at the worst time that you do not have access to your guns.

Locking Pins

If an intruder can’t get in through the locking system they usually start to pry at the corners of the safe.  By doing this they try to get the door to move away from the actual body of the safe.

A safe door that is locked with large steel pins can prevent this.  The more pins and the heavier they are the less chance someone will get into your safe.

Look for a gun safe with pins in the corners, top and bottom.  Again, this will be more expensive but harder for the thief to open the safe.

Gun Safe Fire Ratings

The fire rating of your gun safe is also something you need to consider.  The average fire lasts from 25-45 minutes and reaches 1200 degrees in that time. There are safes that can withstand a 1200 degree fire for 30 minutes, 60 minutes and some for 100 minutes to 200 minutes. You can also spend more and get a fire rating of 1400 degrees for an hour, two hours and two and a half hours.

Winchester Safes have some of the best fire protection. The Winchester Ranger is an excellent choice for fires of 1400 degrees for one hour.

So to figure this out a common sense approach would be …how far do you live from the Fire Department? If you live near a fire department maybe you don’t need 100 minutes, surely the fire department will get to you sooner than that.

Sometimes how much of a fire rating you need is determined by what else is in your safe.  If you have other valuable items besides your guns then you might not want to take a chance that the fire department can put the fire out quickly enough to save your valuables.

For instance, if you live in any area of the country where you are subject to wild fires then you know it really won’t matter if you have 30, 60, 100 or 200 you probably are going to lose your valuables.  But if the odds are that you will get your fire put out somewhere within those 100 – 200 minutes then you decide how much of a chance you want to take and pick the rating that is best for you and your wallet.

What Size Gun Safe Should You Buy?

The internal size of the gun safe is most important in determining which gun safe to buy.  Depending on what type of gun you are putting in your safe you can usually figure that if the manufacturer says you can get 30 guns in the safe you can realistically get half that amount. That has been my experience and from what I hear it is pretty typical of any gun safe.

So prepare for a larger safe if you have various types of guns, for example if you have scopes on your guns or bolt action rifles, etc. You will find that buying a gun safe bigger than you currently need is a wise choice.  You may want to add to your gun collection in the future and you may want to put other valuable items in the safe besides guns.  So, you won’t be sorry that you have the additional room in your safe.

Bolt It to the Floor If You Can

One sure way to make sure no one takes your gun safe out of your home is to bolt it to the floor. If you are buying a gun safe that you want to bolt to the floor make sure the safe already comes with holes drilled out on the bottom.

If you are able to bolt your safe to the floor I recommend you do so.  Not only does this stop someone from taking your entire gun collection but bolting it to the floor is an extra safety precaution.

Another reason to bolt the safe to the floor is that the door to some safes are so heavy that they can topple the safe over when it is open.  And, some safes are so heavy that this could actually cause harm to you or a family member if they were to fall on someone.

Gun Safe Weight

The weight of the gun safe is determined by the weight of the gauge.  Gun safes can be a few hundred pounds to 500 pounds and over.   Check to make sure what weight your floors can realistically hold.  And, make sure you get the safe delivered to your home, whether curbside or actually placed inside your home for an extra charge.   How to Keep Your Gun Safe Dry