Gun. Safe?

Often overlooked, a sturdy gun safe serves multiple roles in the home. It will help protect your firearms and other valuables from robbery, can help prevent fire from destroying those same items, and (possibly most importantly for many households) will keep weapons out of the hands of children and other unauthorized persons.

The real key to picking out a safe is to identify what the it’s purpose is. Is it just to keep the kids away from the guns, or is it for security, or fire protection, or all three? Those cheap, glorified locker ones at the sporting goods stores (like this one at Academy Sports) are plenty good to keep the kids away from the guns, but they’re not likely to provide any real security against a determined criminal with a few minutes to spare and a pry bar. The steel is simply too flimsy on those “safes” to provide adequate protection.

For security, a gun safe like a Liberty or Cannon is a good starting point. Relative to safes that are used to store *really* valuable things, these aren’t really all that secure – a crook can get into them if they have enough time and tools, and a little knowledge about how the safe is built. But, they’re generally sufficient to prevent the usual scumball from getting your stuff, especially if you position them correctly in the house (more on that below).

Most of the good safes have some fire protection value – the more expensive the safe, usually the more fire protection. The secret here, though, is that the insulation is simply sheet rock. You can add more of that on your own, if you want, and get a better fire rating for less money – possibly at the expense of cosmetics inside the safe. In a really serious house fire, any safe we can easily put in our house is probably not going to completely protect your stuff. It’s just going to burn too hot, too long. But, aside from that, the safe will protect your valuables in lesser fires.

In picking size, two things to consider. First, the general rule of thumb is to always get one a size bigger than what you think you need – your collection will tend to grow, and you can also use the extra space to store valuables in the house. The other thing is the size of the doorways you need to move it through in your house. You can always pull doors off of their hinges, but you can’t (easily) enlarge your doors, so make sure that the safe you pick will fit through all of the doorways leading to the place where you’ve chosen to place the safe.

If you *can*, you want to position the safe so that it’s back is against an exterior wall – hopefully one that’s masonry of some sort. You also want the installer to bolt the safe to the floor for you, both for safety and security. The reason is, the back of the safe is the weak point, and you want to prevent someone from getting to it, if possible. Cutting through an exterior wall is harder to do, and it exposes them to being seen by your neighbors, and such. If it’s bolted down, they can’t tip it over or come in with a dolly and wheel it away to another location. They’ll have to break into it in place, which requires a good amount of time and makes a lot of noise.

For many folks – especially the ladies – having a safe inside the house is undesirable. It’s hard to decorate around a safe, unfortunately. So, frequently, the safe gets installed in the garage. That’s cool, as long as you take steps to control the humidity level inside the safe. Look into either a desiccant pack or a Golden Rod to keep the relative humidity down.

I ended up purchasing a Liberty Franklin 35 series safe. Pretty much any of the Libertys are good safes. Liberty’s Centurion series is a step up from the cheap sheet metal construction quote-un-quote “safes”like the one referenced above. I know several folks who own Cannon safes, and they like them a bunch. Spend the money and time to get the right safe for your needs, and it will serve you well for a lifetime!

About the author


USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/03/gun-safe/

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