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Old 01-11-2010, 08:32 AM
folly5678 folly5678 is offline
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Default Choice of guns safes and buyers decisons

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I wanted to share my research into gun safes. I have been agonizing over buying one and justifying spending a considerable amount of money for it. I feel that I need to list my reasoning for purchasing a Gun safe. Your reason or situation may be different but similar.

First off, weapons. Most readers have at least one… many have too numerous to count. They range in price from 89.99 for a Mosin 31/90 to thousands of $ for a military assault weapon. Second are precious metals and cash on hand. Many of us are collecting PM’s and or storing cash for a very bad day or bank collapse. Third is important papers that we need to protect. The safe could hold thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in things that are valuable to you and loved ones.

The reason for my gun safe is security and fire protection. I would hate to have someone break-in while I am at the store or at the movies. If someone is home 100% of the time than security is not an issue. However, I work during the day and the house is vacant for hours on end. Storing a gun in the attic may sound like a good idea but if thieves have the time they will search the whole house.

This is where the decision comes in. How much risk, am I willing to accept vs. cost of the safe? The more expensive the safe, the more I mitigate risk of breaking in and fire. So a safe to me is like insurance almost like prepping.
My recent education. There are hundreds of safes and safe companies out there. 85% of the safes sold are made in china. They have different labels and colors but they are Chinese and they are cheap in price compared to American made safes..

The major distributors sell Chinese. Some models are better than others. Some are called safes but are nothing but storage cabinets. Wal-Mart is famous for those. Things I learned. A 14 or 12 gauge steel safe can be broken into very easy. The thicker gauge steel safes 10 gauge, 7 gauge and 4 gauge are better but cost more. A lot more.

There are U tube videos showing how safes can be broken into very quickly with pry bars. So I believe a safe need at least 10 gauge for minimal protection. The door might be solid steel with 15 bolts but if the frame can be bent with prying than the door bolts means nothing. thicker frame means less chance pry. Fire protection is key. MOst safes if not all use fire board. Some claim to use creamic insullation but still have fire board in them. most claim they have a seal but some of the chineese seals melt instead of expanding after a certian tempature.

Okay Remember my risk vs. cost. Note: I am buying the largest I can afford as well. There are several companies online and in box stores selling Chinese safes including Wal-Mart, Costco, ****s, sportsman guide, and online sites steel water safes, big horn safes, stack-on and so many others I cannot even count.

The problem I see is these safes are not proven and cannot compete with the higher end American made safe companies including graddfuer, AMSEC, superior, higher end liberty safes, high end browning. I also learned that there are two or three manufactures that make the safes and distribute to browning and other labels. Sportsman steel safes used to manufacture their own safes and were top on the line. I have reports that they laid off most of their employees and are in fact importing Chinese safes. Beware the hand……

Okay so my dilemma. I am down to two or three choices. I am either going to go with a Chinese bighorn 7144 or an American made safe, (either graffunder, liberty, champion, browning or heritage) that is twice the safe irt fire rating 120 mins and 3/16 steel and extra security. Note: even these safes need to be bolted to the floor or slab. The smaller safe in particular under 600lbs. can be taken away with a dolly or 2-3 guys.

The decision, most burglars, 95% will be grab and go. It takes time to break into the safe. The bighorn will more than likely stop most thieves. It’s the 5%that bothers me. If I came home and found everything I had stolen because I was too cheap to go the extra dollars I would be so ****ed.

The other issue is fire rating. The American safes have a better fire rating over the Chinese. So that said, what have others done? If I went with the Chinese safe I would have a lot of money left over for an advanced weapon for protection or allot of preps. If I went with the American safe, I would have a better sense of satisfaction that my preps, weapons, papers would be protected from theft and fire. If/when the SHTF, I see theft increasing exponentially and lie I said, I cannot be home all of the time.

Note: I know there are other companies out there. I am sure some here have a safe brand they like. However, like I said, many are nothing more than Chinese safes with a new name. There are also a few small manufactures out there like sturdy safes, homeland safes etc. I am not discounting them but I cannot verify that the entire safe is made in America with American steel nor can I verify the safes claims.

Also note, Gun safes are residential security containers not real safe like in jewelers or bank. I have search Craig’s list for a real safe but have found they weigh in excess of 2000 lb + and the cost to move them is sometime more than the cost of the safe.

This post lets me put my thoughts on paper and hopefully hear other reasons or justifications to what they bought.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:36 AM
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I just looked at the gunsafes you list and would go with Fort Knox.
Old 01-11-2010, 09:59 AM
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Liberty/Centurion fat boy jr. Me thinks is the most bang for the buck.
Old 01-11-2010, 10:29 AM
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I bought a bighorn 600ml locally for $700 a few years ago, it was being sold by a local safemaker who uses this line as the entry level. I have no complaints, seems well made and solid (but its hard to say until someone tries to break into it or its in a fire)...
Old 01-11-2010, 10:33 AM
sherpaman sherpaman is offline
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I just had my Browning Safe delivered. They are made by prosteel and are the best ones I've found. They have lots of different models depending on how much you have to spend. I can move it by myself by taking the door off and using a dolly. It's such a good feeling leaving the house unattended now. I almost want someone to try to break in so I can say HA! NICE TRY SUCKA!


Old 01-11-2010, 10:33 AM
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I was trying to make the same decision. Spend $300 now to slow down a theft and spend $1000 later to really protect them, or just save up and spend $1000 once.
My brother was looking at getting one, so we both bought one at the same time, which the safe dealer cut us a little deal for buying two.
I got a Liberty with a manual dial. They had lifetime replacement on the dial and the whole safe if it was damaged due to theft or fire. The digital dials had a limited replacement. Mine weighs 700lbs empty. I paid $1000 plus $250 to have it delivered. Yea.. well worth $250. They had to go up 4foot of steps and had to use a battery operated dolly. Not something I would try on my own.. if they dropped it, they replace it, I drop it.. well...
It has either a 90 or 120 min burn time, I can't remember. If it is something you plan on keeping a long time, go with American made. Like you said, they are made better.
Tractor Supply had a chinese made safe for $700 which looks like the one that I have, but it has a lower burn rate, and did not weight as much.

Plus I found out, you can write off a safe for "tax" storage, and it can lower your home insurance.

And buy a size bigger then you need. TRUST ME!!!!... it will fill up..

Plus if there was ever a fire fight, I am MORE then willing to hide behind the door. THAT THING IS HEAVY.. I don't see any handgun or most rifles going thru it. plus it only has about 2 inches of clearance off the floor. Yea. yea yea.. I know someone will say.. bla bla bullet it go thru it.. but most criminals aint spending $10 on a bullet..
Old 01-11-2010, 10:44 AM
ozarkeagle ozarkeagle is offline
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Go with the Bighorn, if they have all day to rob your house they will get into almost any safe made. Also check out Stallion, made by the same company that makes Bighorn but it is 2 inches deeper. By the way Gun safes are really RSC'S residential security containers and are rated at about 5 minutes to get into with hand tools. A real safe takes about 30 min to break into. However a real safe like a jeweler uses would cost a fortune and weigh a couple tons if it was big enough to fit guns into. Basically your trying to stop the smash and grabbers.
Old 01-11-2010, 10:53 AM
Nately Nately is offline
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I bought a Bighorn at Costco. I am very happy with it. I left the metal feet on. and bolted them to the floor. Also, it is pushed into a very tight spot with just enough room to open the door. Also it is behind a locked metal door, the door has a regular door knob lock and a dead bolt lock. Good luck, on getting to it in a timely manner. As you said most crooks are smash and grab. This would be a tad bit more than a smash and grab.
Old 01-11-2010, 11:17 AM
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I've worked with safes more than a little.

The problem with tall safes is they are easier than you may think to tip over, because by pushing on the top, you are effectively using a 5 or 6 foot long crow bar against the base (and any bolts holding the base down). Once on their side, most safes are much easier to compromise, because only the door is real sturdy. On the subject of bolting them down, it is too easy to defeat their fire resistance if you do not consult with the manufacturer on the exact method required to maintain the rating. And don't just trust the installer to do this research for you, or to follow the instructions - make sure he does.

On the subject of cost of delivery and installation of 2000 lb safes, you can probably relinquish one of your lower-cost weapons to a good safe-man in trade for installation. Just try walking into a locksmith shop and chatting a little while about what you're trying to do and are willing to trade, and they will probably know somebody with the experience and ability to deliver and install cost-effectively.

On the subject of toughness, most guys who have worked with rebar or in a machine shop or as an iron-worker could open most residential safes in a very few minutes with a portable torch (there are really hot varieties) or an abrasive cut-off tool. If you can afford it, move up to one that is rated for TRTLX6 - torch and tool resistant on all six sides.

As for used safes - some of the insulative material put in safes (often the used government surplus type) will dry out over the years, rendering them useless for fire resistance. Sometimes I think about the option of buying a goverment surplus safe that is rated X6 for tools, and then installing a professional fire sprinkler system (or an improvised one) in the room with it. This may be a more cost-effective way to have the best of both worlds without paying as much.

I know one person who came up with a clever system. He bought an inexpensive, large safe and gave it a pleasing paint job, and displayed it so that it was one of the first things someone's eye would catch. He then hid a very good quality small safe in another room, where it was hard to find. A burglar would likely be drawn to the big ox, and never take the time to find the hidden safe.

Unless you have $5k or more to spend on a safe, you're looking at compromises of some sort. If you have the money, I'd buy an Israeli made safe, like Masada or ISM.

Another good option is to find an anchor of a mall or jewelry store that is going out of business or moving. You can sometimes get their safes, really good ones (though not always fire rated) for a very good price ( $500 - $1,500 plus moving costs) if you're patient, and keep looking diligently.

Hope the ramblings help.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:44 AM
horatioo horatioo is offline
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cant you put several layers of sheetrock around a safe to help it fire protection capabilities? I put in a fire rated set of doors once. The frames were steel tube wrapped with a couple inches of some kind of gypsum.
Old 01-11-2010, 12:02 PM
mightyoak mightyoak is offline
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Build your own.

Buy a safe door and build one into your house like a closet.

You can also upgrade the fire proofing just by adding fire rated drywall.

I'm building a house and I'm looking at building a vault into the house this way.

I'd use heavy gauge steel roofing and sandwitch it between layers of drywall. This would all be screwed together internally and then lined with a nice plywood interior to build shelves on. Long screws would hold the plywood into the framing of the house through the rest of the layers.

The vault could be as big as you needed then at minimal extra costs.
Old 01-11-2010, 01:05 PM
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I recently bought a Big Horn. Yes they are made in China, but cost was a factor. Mine weights 830 lbs. empty, it took 4 guys and a commecial dolly to get it in the house. Filled I estimate it is about 1200 lbs.

Inside I have another smaller fireproof safe to put in documents and cash to ensure they are protected from fire.
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