Buying Tips For Finding a Quality Gun Safe Cabinet
When you buy a long gun safe, you want to be sure you’re not getting taken for a ride. Here are some qualities of high-quality safes that you should watch out for.
First off, you should expect to shell out about $1200 on up for a decent safe. Contrary to popular belief, the major makers know the best placement for hinges is on the outside (unless you’re buying a Grade 1 European safe – they place the hinges on the inside, and have solid construction, no complaints here). The reason American safe makers place the hinges on the outside is so that the thieves waste precious time attacking that area, as opposed to the lock itself. They’ll get nowhere on a quality long gun safe.
The interior should be, at the very least, 58-inches high. The reason for this is you’ll have clearance then for your 30-inch-long barrels, and will allow for shelving near the top for your smaller items. Other great features to watch for, though they may be installed after-market, are a rotational rack, and a stack of drawers for your smaller guns and other items. After all, if you’re going to shell out this much money, you may as well be organized to boot.
As to locking mechanism, the dials made by Sargent & Greenleaf®, whose parent company is Stanley Security Solutions®, are top-shelf according to many in the industry. They aren’t the only name in the industry, but if they were, your guns would be in good hands! If you want to go with a digital combination, make sure it’s a UL Listed Type II or better, or Type I (commercial grade electrical) lock. Anything less is risky business.
Do your homework as to fire-proofing material, and there are plenty of opinions on this subject. Many manufacturers are using the UL listing for fireboard (a.k.a. a thin layer of drywall) to list their safes as a fireproof gun safe. This isn’t exactly top of the line quality, so really inquire from your manufacturer of choice how they construct their fireproof gun safe doors, walls and floor. A thin layer of drywall sandwiched between two thin sheets of sheet metal isn’t a quality safe!
The weight of your fireproof gun safe – especially the fireproof gun safe! – should be at least 750lbs. The steel should be at the very least 8 gauge steel for burglary protection, the better models use fire cladding and solid steel plating. By the way, when buying a gun safe cabinet, the lower the gauge of steel, the thicker the material.
Security on your gun safe cabinet should be at least a UL-listed “RSC” (residential security container) rating – this is bottom shelf security and is not tested to withstand break-ins nor fire damage. This is the minimum rating, and should be able to buy you FIVE minutes under a theft attempt. Given minimal tools, in other words, a thief off the street will be able to crack open an RSC-rated safe.
Your better bet is to buy a European Grade 1, or UL Listed TL-15 or TL-30. There are other, higher ratings for safes that pass tests that UL conducts that include explosion endurance, impact resistance, 6-sided attacks, and torch attacks, but usually such ratings incur exorbitant fees and aren’t typical for residential use. For that reason they won’t be covered in our gun safe reviews, but know that if your gun safe cabinet has these ratings, you’ve bought a quality safe. One of the best fireproofing materials for fireproof gun safe construction is Palusol®. This material expands with heat and keeps out fire, smoke and usually water as well.
Be sure the exterior is rust-resistant as well – this safe should give you more than a lifetime of endurance. Also, gun racks, drawers, felt lined shelves, an interior lighting system, a bolt-pattern to secure it in place, and a dehumidifying system should all be included or at least installed at some point.
Gun Safe Reviews of Great Gun Safe Cabinets
Onto the gun safe reviews!
Ft. Knox “Legend” Series Gun Safe Cabinet
Ft. Knox “Legend” series is their top-level line of safes. They are made with a 3/16-inch steel body plate, and are also protected by a 10-gauge, reinforced steel lining. The doors on the Legend series are 1-3/4-inches thick, reinforced and fire-rated. Mind you, the 1-3/4-inches is an “overall thickness,” so it isn’t fully steel! Actually, the steel is only 5/16-inch at the door, so just a little over a quarter inch. In other words, a good measure of that thickness is drywall or “fireboard” as they call it – simply the same stuff you can punch a hole through with your hand in your home or office. The good news is that there is a qualified “hard plate” and ball bearings to foil drilling attempts.
Ft. Knox has their own locking mechanism – the “Rack and Pinion,” which is a multi-gear system. They do have a mechanical re-locking system, but reviews seem consistent that their construction is decent. Their locking bolts are 100% independent of one another, and are comprised of up to 55 gears which in turn operate up to (28) 1-1/2-inch bolts. That’s good security, as are the corner bolts in the door.
Other features are the UL Listing, and certified fire protection at 1680 degrees F, for 90 minutes. It should be noted that their fire proof method is simply 2 layers of drywall, so not necessarily the best way to go as far as options are concerned. A few nice touches are the lights package, carpet lining, “limited lifetime” warranty, dehumidifier, remote relocker, and optional biometric locking mechanism. A good start to our gun safe reviews, all told.
On a Budget? Try this on Offer From Granite Security®
Weighing in at under 600 pounds, and sporting an economic $599.99 price tag, Granite Security® (who makes Winchester® safes), makes a Sam’s Club product that is available when it’s available. This safe is better than the other bargain gun safe cabinet fodder on the market, though it doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles. Many would-be gun safes on the market are little more than sheet metal lockers, and set you back about $2-400.
Not this safe. This safe has a place on our gun safe reviews because it is a quality product for the price. It comes with 1-inch-thick bolts, 1-inch-thick door jamb, and the walls weigh in at 12-gauge steel. With that level of protection, it’s been given the bare essential UL RSC rating, which is the lowest you want for a gun locker. It isn’t as high as it should be – only 56-inches on the interior, which means you’ll need to either modify the top shelf to accommodate your 30-inch-long barrel rifles, or remove the top shelf. The exterior is 60 x 30 x 22 inches.
A nice touch is that the interior is adjustable, so you can store 24 guns inside if you use both sides, or 12 on the left side. You can also opt for shelves throughout, but just plan on around 8 or 10 guns on each side. There is an access port for the dehumidifier, and this brute is heavy enough that a thief would have a difficult time walking away with it. The lock’s UL approved, as well, so you’d be good to go with this one.
Stack On® 36-Gun, Fire Resistant, Waterproof, and Convertible Gun Safe Cabinet with Electronic Lock – GSXW-836-DS
Stack On® has been around since the early 1970′s, producing quality gun safe cabinets, too chests, file cabinets and a host of other storage products. They have become a well-trusted name in making quality steel products, and this is the top-line, largest gun locker. This particular model is part of their “Total Defense Safes” line of products, so-called because they are rated from the ETL labs as fire-resistant as well as water resistant (according to their spec’s, these safes can last in up to 2 feet of standing water for 72 hours!). The unit has a rubber-like gasket along the door, as well as other water-proofing measures.
If you want to keep your guns secure, this safe comes packed with 7 very large live-action bolts, as well as 3 dead bolts on the hinge-side of the door. The door is pry-resistant, making sure nobody gains access to the contents. The locking mechanism is a 3 number combination for simplicity, opened by an austere, 3-spoke handle covered with rubber grips. If you forget the combination and are timed out after 3 incorrect entry attempts, there is also a trouble-key included. And don’t worry about replacing batteries, there’s an alarm for low battery life, the batteries are simple to replace from the front of the safe.
Stack On safe’s gun barrel rests are a patented feature, allowing your scoped guns to be neatly filed in place, using the carpeted gun racks. The gun safe cabinet comes with 6 fully adjustable shelves, so you can store 36 rifles or split the difference and use the safe for storage of other valuables in half of the space. The powder coated, silver and black motif with chrome hardware makes for a pretty sight, as well. At little over $1500, this is a rugged piece of equipment that will give you years of enjoyment.