gun safe info

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gun safe info

#1 Post by Grizz » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:01 pm

I am looking at a 19 cubic foot 500 pound 40 gun Cannon safe. It will fit a spot in my place and allow me to secure the candy from the grand kids...

I'm wondering what reviews or opinions or outright experience you could share. If you bought a different brand what's the difference? Is the company straight and honest? I know, that would be asking a lot these days, but I am curious and would like something that the kids can't move or hack......

Thanks in advance . . .

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Re: gun safe info

#2 Post by Old No7 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:44 pm

You can go on Google and find videos of crooks getting into safes pretty quick, but the better names will generally perform better.

Also, be advised on the maker's label inside the door, most items sold as "safes" are not safes and are actually labeled as "residential security containers".

In fact, just Google "safe vs residential security container" and you'll see a lot of info on that topic.

Best bet is to do some research before buying.

But a few things I'd strongly suggest are these:

* Do NOT buy an electronic lock.

* Mount it off the floor (if in the basement) on 2 stacks of cinder blocks.

* Securely fasten it to the base (cemented-blocks or concrete floor) and to the back wall.

* Mount it where access to it is limited, or build a small closet around it (limits use of tools -- see info below).

* Use a Golden Rod to prevent any moisture inside.

* Add some interior lighting (really helps).

* Buy one TWO TIMES bigger than their # of guns rating.

Others will chime in with other thoughts I'm sure...

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Last edited by Old No7 on Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: gun safe info

#3 Post by Old No7 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:51 pm

In addition to what I'd posted up above, here's some 11-year-old info from "The High Road" that seems as relevant today as it was when it was first written...

By the way, I'm a 3rd generation locksmith (no longer working in that field) and we used to service locks and drill safes back in the day.

Very good insights in this write-up below. :!:

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Gun Safes: The difference between "Safes" and "RSC's"

I've been researching secure storage now that I've moved into a house and can set something up for the long term (like 10 to 30 years).

Some of the best info I’ve found has been right here on THR. I want to especially mention and thank member’s XYZ and ABC. They are both safe technicians and provided much good info.

This post is based on the info they provided and the other research I did on the web. If anyone in the safe industry has any comments or corrections, please feel free. I am not a locksmith or safe tech, so this is just my understanding after my research. I just wanted to put all the info I learned in one place.


Once you have more then three or four guns, especially long guns, it's time to start looking into a large container to store them all securely.

Notice I said "container" and not "safe." That was deliberate. The majority of what are commonly called and sold as "Gun Safes" are actually UL (Underwriter's Labratory) listed as "RSC" or "Residential Security Containers" and not actual safes. This includes the "safes" available at big box stores like Academy, Gander Mountain, Sam's Club, etc, with brand names including "Liberty," "Winchester", "Browning," etc.

So what is a RSC, and how is it different from a true safe?

Simply speaking, a RSC is a large, sheet metal box with a lock. The metal for the sides and doors is typically 12 gauge or 10 gauge. That's pretty thin folks. The actual door or walls may be thicker due to the addition of gypsum wallboard or similiar materials designed to reduce (not eliminate) the effects of heat or fire. The other advantage, from a seller's point of view, is this type of "composite" or "clad" construction makes the door and wall look thicker and more secure to the average buyer and helps with sales.

The locks are usually UL rated and offer good security. The weakness is in the actual body of the unit.

The UL RSC classification means that any specific RSC labelled container will resist forced opening for up to *five* minutes by an attacker using simple, non powered, hand tools. We're talking screwdrives, hammers, and pry bars LESS then 18" long. RSC's are not rated against any attack by power tools or any attack lasting longer then five minutes.

Five minutes, that's it, and that's with just hand tools. And that's assuming a more or less amateur attack. To a pro, it might as well be unlocked. This attack does allow the attacker to knock the RSC over. It is much easier to get through the back or sides then the door or lock. The welded corners are especially vulnerable. For maximum security, RSC's should always be bolted down to keep them from being tipped over and attacked at the weak points.

Now, as long as you understand the limitations of a RSC, and don't pay too much for one, they do have a role. A RSC will protect you from your kids or unauthorized guests getting into your firearms (unless they are willing to destroy the safe to do so. Not likely if they just want to "play with daddy's guns.")

A RSC also helps protect you from quicke "Smash 'N Grab" burglaries, of the type typically done by teenagers and other 'ner do wells. The "smash 'n grab" robber wants to be in and out as quickly as possible and often won't take the time to try to defeat a RSC. You can add to your security by hiding the RSC to make it less likely they'll even find it in a quick run through the house. Remember though, that if the "smash 'n grab" robber does decide to attack your safe, it's only certified to hold up for five minutes agains the very tools he probably used to break into the house in the first place.

Even though RSC's advertise fire protection, my sources tell me not to rely on that. At best, a RSC will help protect your firearms from a less-then-complete house fire. The shorter duration and lower the heat, the better. Don't trust the ratings advertised by the manufacturers though. The only consisent, reliable and independant fire rating that means anything is the UL 1 hour (or better) ratings. Unfortunately, there are no RSC's that meet this rating as the standard materials and construction required to offer this kind of protection are too expensive for RSC use.

Don't get me wrong though. Any fire protection is better then none, just don't believe the manufacturer's claims and don't rely on a RSC to keep vulnerable items like paper documents, jewlry, or electronic media safe, even from a smaller fire.

Enough about RSC's, let talk about true safes.

By comparasion a true, "B rate" (construction graded) safe will have a 1/4" steel body and 1/2" plate door, minium. That's the low end of a "true" safe and is based on construction materials, not resistence to attack. Some "B rated" safes may also have the UL RSC classification if the manufacturer choose to spend the money to submit that model to UL for testing. While these safes have the RSC classification, any RSC made to "B rate" construction standards will be head and shoulders above any other RSC rated container.

UL also lists safe with "TL-15", "TL-30," and higher ratings. This is a measure of attack resistence against attacks using power tools. A "TL 15" rated safe will resist attacks for 15 minutes, a "TL 30" for 30 minutes, etc. That extra resistence does come with a price though as the heavier materials used in the construction and better build quality add significantly to the expense.

There are also "E" and "F" construction ratings that are roughly comparable to the TL 15 and TL-30 UL ratings. These safes have not been submitted to UL for testing though (typically due to the expense of doing so).

Be aware that "burgler resistent" and "fire resistent" safes are two different things designed to do two different jobs. Typically, the construction methods and materials used for fire resistent safes don't offer much protection against forced entry and the burgler resistent safes don't offer much fire protection. The two goals are mutually incompatable to some extent. There are dual "burgler/fire" resistent safes available. My understanding is that they would protect adequately against either danger, but not as well against each specific threat as a safe designed specifically for that purpose.

Now the bad news. Typical B rated or better safes are *generally* much more expensive then RSC's. In most cases, the higher the rating, the higher the price. However, there is often a price overlap between the more expensive, "high end" RSC's, especially at full retail, and some of the lower end B rated safes. For about the same amount of money you can significantly improve your protection by looking for a B rated safe instead of some of the more expensive of the RSC's.

How much money you should spend depends on what you need to protect, from who, and the value of the items you want to protect. It makes no sense to spend $3,000 on a safe to hold $1,000 worth of Mosin Nagants or Mausers. Conversly, it's "penny wise and pound foolish" to keep a $10,000 collection in a $500 RSC.

A RSC is going to be easier to find, easier to move, and will protect you from unauthorized access and quick smash 'n grab robberies.

A safe is going to be a little harder to shop for, harder to move and install, usually be more expensive (but not always) and offer increased protection against a determined thief or an attack with power tools.

The best advice on RSC's I got from a locksmith and Safe Tech was this: Since the majority of RSC's offer essentially the same level of protection, you should get the least expensive RSC you can find that meets your needs.

If you compare RSC's that are the same size with the same storage capabilities, the more expensive models usually just have better finish, nicer trim, or more "features" that don't really make them more secure. So why pay more for things that don't help? He recommended the "Winchester" labelled RSC's available at Sam's Club for a good value in a RSC.

For safes, the brands I've been told are good and are commonly available include American Security and Graffunder. There are others as well, but those seem to be more common and a good value.

Another option is to hunt for a used commercial safe, usually from a Lock and Safe dealer. These will be made to "B" standards as a minimum and offer a significant savings over a new model. I looked at some TL 15 rated safes yesterday that were only $1,000. That's about a $5,000 savings over a new example. The downside is that they aren't configured for guns so you will need to hunt to find a unit tall enough for long guns. You'll also need to build or buy the gun racks yourself as the safe will either be empty or have simple shelves. (I passed on the TL 15 safes as they weren't long enough for rifles. They would have worked great for a large handgun collection though)

As with any business, used inventory turns over constantly. To find a used safe call around to local "Lock and Safe" stores. Use the yellow pages and google. Find out what warranty they offer and don't forget to ask about the cost for delivery and installation. Also make sure your floor can hold a heavier, "real" safe, as they can weigh up to several thousand pounds empty, depending on size and materials.

One last thought. Whatever you pick, RSC or safe, go with a good quality mechanical lock, not an electronic lock. If you don't believe me, talk to a few locksmiths. If you open your gun safe on a regular basis, all electronic locks WILL eventually fail. A mechanical lock, properly serviced, will last a lifetime. (Yes, mechanical locks do need service. How often depends on how much they are used. You don't service an electronic lock. You just cut it out and replace it when it breaks.)
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Re: gun safe info

#4 Post by crs » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:01 pm

Good move.
My grand kids have never been able to crack my Browning safe.
I have memorized the combo and the written copy is not readily available
There are two other key operated safes and a key operated gun display case and grandkids have not messed with them.

Of course all kids have been taught to shoot and they too have guns in the safes.

So far, so good.

Oh yes, we also have guard dogs. :shock:
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Re: gun safe info

#5 Post by stretch » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:54 pm

Oh yes, we also have guard dogs.
Probably more effective than the safe, eh? 8)

All of that advice is good. I have an okay safe, but I'm under no illusions.
If a bad guy wants what's in it, and they have 30 uninterrupted minutes,
and some power tools, they'll own the contents.

One other piece of advice - don't advertise that fact that you have lots of
guns or a safe casually. If nobody knows about it, then it won't be a target.
If you're unlucky and you get hit by the typical residential burglar, it will
probably save the contents.

I recently read an article on motorcycle locks. It seems that the preferred
tool of thieves is the cordless angle grinder with a diamond-tipped blade.
The toughest lock lasted something like 11 minutes. If they come
prepared with that sort of hardware, it takes a VERY good safe to keep
them out.

For the best fire protection, put the safe in a basement if possible against an outside
wall. Keep it away from your oil tank, pile of firewood, etc..


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Re: gun safe info

#6 Post by jnyork » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:07 pm

I cant add anything to what Old No7 said, except to stress DO NOT buy an electronic lock .. Also, watch the size and make sure it will do the job for you. If a safe is advertised as "40-gun" safe, in reality it will hold about half that unless the guns are shotguns or leverguns. Start throwing in some scoped rifles and / or EBRs and your capacity goes down in a hurry.

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Re: gun safe info

#7 Post by M. M. Wright » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:19 pm

Mine is a Browning which I've set into a wall and trimmed out on the inside. It's bolted to the floor and to the studs on either side of it. I added two layers of 5/8" sheet rock all round for heat shield. I have no beliefs that it will hold up to a determined attack but it will take them a while. Oh, and 5 noisy dogs.
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Re: gun safe info

#8 Post by vancelw » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:46 pm

When you build that small closet around it, pour Gypcrete in the wall voids and use a solid core door that goes all the way to the floor. Better fire protection than any rated safe.
If there ever is any kind of fire, you WILL need to immediately clean and oil everything.

I agree with buying a bigger safe than you think you need. However, I have close to 100 guns in a 36 gun safe. I know a guy who could probably fit twice that in his. But you do need it roomy to reach something without having to unload 2 dozen to get to the one you want.
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Re: gun safe info

#9 Post by AJMD429 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:58 pm

If possible, have dogs, two different alarm systems and yard label for a different one (confuse them), and good doors, un-enterable windows all good. Someone always home even better. Neighbor always home helps.

As far as safe, put it in an area where fire debris will be minimal, surrounded by block walls if able, to reduce heat exposure. Put it where water won't collect if flood or fire happens. Conceal safes if possible (buy a pretty decoy-one for the living room and keep all your scrap lead in it). Maybe also a glass-front display case with some $99 junkers in it. As others have said, bolt it to everything.

You can get more guns in a safe if you take out the racks and out all the guns in gun-socks, just leaned on each other slanted towards the back.

My science teacher was a beekeeper and had an indoor 'observation beehive' with a tube so the bees could go outside for forage. I always thought it would be fun to have a decoy safe or big toolbox that was actually a beehive; modify the door so if it gets yanked open you can't close it..... :mrgreen:
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Re: gun safe info

#10 Post by Grizz » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:19 pm

Thanks for all the info. I might get a job box and bolt it down. And keep looking for something more secure.
I'm especially fond of the stealthy camo . . .
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Re: gun safe info

#11 Post by Pete44ru » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:48 pm


FWIW, I've had a Cannon safe with a mechanical/dial lock in my basement for about 20 years, and have had only a single issue - pilot error.

My error was rapidly spinning the combination lock dial (impatience) for years - which caused it to occasionally fail.

A locksmith came to my home & repaired the lock, admonished me to go slow when dialing (I do now :oops: ) & charged me $50 for the service call.

It's been two years since, I've been a good boy - and have yet to have any more issues.

My safe sits on a base made of concrete blocks, and is lagged to a stud behind the safe, which I secured into my poured cement house foundation with a RamSet.


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Re: gun safe info

#12 Post by Tycer » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:27 pm

M. M. Wright wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:19 pm
Mine is a Browning which I've set into a wall and trimmed out on the inside. It's bolted to the floor and to the studs on either side of it. I added two layers of 5/8" sheet rock all round for heat shield. I have no beliefs that it will hold up to a determined attack but it will take them a while. Oh, and 5 noisy dogs.
If I owned guns, this is near exactly what I might have done.
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Re: gun safe info

#13 Post by mickbr » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:32 am

I spent some time removing safes for a living. The fact is most safes aren't...safes that is. What you get mostly is a 1/4" steel box with a lot of internal trimmings adding to the weight. You need to check the actual steel in the doors and walls. The thick 'composite' door often is thin steel sheet with fire material. There is the UL T ratings which can get a bit confusing but generally safes fall into.

1. Security cabinets. Means 1/16" to 1/4" steel walls usually. Most gunsafes and 'home firesafes' fall between these levels.The lighest are like a clothes locker. Obviously a kid can pry these in a minute with a screwdriver. The highest rating is about 1/4" steel and if its doors and walls are put together right these will be 'almost' hand tool proof. If a good team can topple these and work at them with pry bars they might flip the door. But generally for opportunistic crime, they are okay. Obviously for powertools they are easy meat. Note even the heavier versions of these can be gimmicky, you need to check reviews on each model. Painted glossy logos, carpet interiors, vault style spoke handles( these are only needed on 2000lb+ vault doors where the boltwork weighs several hundred pounds, on a 500lb gunsafe they are a sales gimmick), all that stuff would be better off spent on more metal thickness, basic doorknob and grey paintjob not making it obvious what you have inside.

2. Plate safes. This is at least 3/8" to 1/2" of steel in the walls and door. This is where real security starts as it is pry and hand tool proof. You need grinders and powertools to beat them, and some skill with the tools.

3. Plate safe with fire fill. Basically the same plate safe with an extra skin and some fire fluff between the layers, or some fire brick. The second skin or steel is real thin but will afford some additional protection.

4 Plate safe with concrete fill. This is where real security starts for businesses, as they need insurable cash ratings over 25,000. Usually the door is solid plate with a additional hardplate around locking areas. The walls though will have two layers of steel with concrete poured between. This adds security and also basically doubles the weight. A typical safe like this converted to gunsafe is serious business. In 5ft height or what they called a 60" cash safe in the old days will weigh about a ton. Not as hard to move into place as you'd think. Prying one edge up and rolling it on steel pipes or broomhandles you can roll it into many positions in your garage or lower floors.

5. TRTL or TDR fill safe. These are bank or jewellers safes. Both the walls and the door of the safe will be inches thick, layers of steel and high MPA concreate with hardened inclusions in the mix to destroy cutting edges and drill bits. Only world class teams can get into these. There aren't many such teams around these days. The highest level safes in the world were the british anti-arc units. They used heavy steel monolithic core in two layers with copper between( hard to plasma cut copper) with alum oxide nuggets( harder than drill steel) matrixed through the copper.These are tens of thousands of dollars new but like most safes there is a great used market.

Businesses, bank branches, supermarkets closing down will usually be looking to get rid of several of the above classes of safe. Often you can pick them up for a steal, or even free for the cost of removal. Used safe and locksmith businesses will often have several used safes they have refurbed for a fraction of the cost of a new unit. If you have the solid floor and access you might want to look at a used real safe, often they come cheaper than the 1/4" gunsafes. If you find a used safe, pay a safe tech or lockmsith the call out fee to check it out. He will make sure its servicable. A servicable real safe will outlast its owner.

For lighter or gunsafes ways to increase security are.
1. Bolt it down. Prying works a lot better if the burglars can topple it and pry it with bodyweight.
2. Place in corner of room to protect two sides with the opening side closest to the wall. Pry attacks need to flip the door from around this side and if there is a wall in the way they can't do it
3. Use furtinure to limit access to the safe- bolt down a beer fridge, tool cabinet, even sofas either side can make it harder to pry or work on
4. keep powertools locked up or out of sight. Many crimes are opportunistic and they will use what is laying about.
5.Alarms, of course.
6. Hide it or disguise its appearance. Another reason I am against all the logos and fake spoke handles on safes. Can't think of any worse way to let intruders know there is a box full of guns and valuables right there.
7. don't show it off or talk about it. The wrong ears overhear you or your buddies at work or in a diner talking about your fancy safe and you may get a visit one night. Even a 3 ton TRTL60x6 Or british AA is easy to open if you are forced to do it at gunpoint.
Last edited by mickbr on Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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