Well, I looked around here and there was little information on the dakota safe, so I thought I would post a small user review:
First: I bought this Residential Security Container because I live down 21 steps (thank god it was down... this time) and I am in the Navy. I will be moving eventually so I needed something I can throw in a U-Haul. I also rent so I couldn't just put the safe anywhere in the house. The heaviest part of the safe (the door) weighs 190 lbs. Not easy but a lot easier than 500 lbs...
I also purchased it because my house was recently broken into. The thieves didn't get to far in because my room mate caught them in the act but they were just 21 stairs and a door away from my firearms, which some of them were loaded. If they had got that far they could have easily used them on my roommate. I don't really feel comfortable about that. So I needed something.
The Dakota is an RSC technically with a 30 min fire rating (... about worthless really). I really like it though because you can take it apart. It is bolted together on the inside by bolts that are pretty easily put together.
Assembling it wasn't that hard, took me about 2 hours total using nothing but a wrench and a socket and some of the packing boards to lift the door for me to bolt it together. I did this all by myself and for reference: I'm 6'0" 230 lbs. If you do decide to buy one, make sure your panels slide all the way forward into the slots they are designed to fit in. If not, they will not fit at all and then start to crunch (it's drywall).
The shelfing system is adequate. I put about 300 rounds of 9mm and 45 on it and it didn't seem to have any problem. The interior seems to have plenty of options as far as setup if I expanded my collection of long guns or with a little woodwork and carpet you could build your similiar system easily.
It has an electronic keypad that has the battery accessible from the front with two changeable codes. If you are not a fan Dakota Co. told me on the phone they could mail a mechanical lock with mounting hardware for ~$50.
It does have four mounting holes in the bottom for floor mounting. It also has one hold in the right top corner for a electric dehumidifier. But the back board(fireproofing) doesn't have a hole, so either you would have to snake the cord around the backboard or drill through the drywall.
Cost in Washington from Sportsman's Warehouse was $699 (no sales tax). I feel that it would at least deter a smash and grab thief. Given probably... 3-4 minutes with the right tools (crow bar, pry bar, or saw-all) they would have no problem. This will also keep it way from unknowing drunk people/kids.
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February 12, 2008, 02:58 PM
Nice review, thank you.
February 12, 2008, 09:08 PM
I just acquired a Zanotti which is another modular safe/RSC product. The Zanotti is similar but does not have any drywall on the interior. They claim it is fire resistant for 20 minutes at 1200 degrees F (IIRC). The Zanotti also uses L-shaped pins to assemble, not nuts and bolts.
While you pay a premium for modularity with these safes, I think it is worth it. I've learned enough here on THR and have seen enough YouTube videos to know that the average gun safe, modular or not, is just a deterrent and will not stop a determined thief with common hand tools. The fact the safe is easier to move is a big plus. The only place I have in my house that can safely accommodate a safe is also a royal PITA to get to and a standard size safe would be too big.
The Dakota looks to be a nice piece of equipment. However, they need to ramp up their marketing. I've been looking into safes/RSCs for a year now and have NEVER heard of them. Some quality half-page ads in American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, or similar mags would do them some good.
ETA: You mentioned Sportsman's Warehouse... why don't the other big box gun retailers carry modulars? I have never seen one at Scheels or Cabelas. One of the turn-offs for a "regular" safe for me is the freight and curbside delivery. I think the modularity would be a huge selling point when you put it next to your average Winchester, Cannon, or Liberty safe. Your average SUV can swallow it and two average men can handle the panels without a dolly, acrobatics, or feats of strength.
February 12, 2008, 09:28 PM
I don't know why they don't advertise. They seemed like nice people over the phone, maybe I will call them tomorrow and recommend something like that. Yeah, I would also think that retail stores would carry more options but they don't...
I think there is a stigma against these kinds of safe compared to similar priced safes that these are inadequate. The real truth is any safe under $5K won't slow any determined criminal.
February 12, 2008, 10:29 PM
The real truth is any safe under $5K won't slow any determined criminal.
There are a lot of safes that cost less than $5K which will provide very good burglary resistance. Looking at used safes, you could get into a TL rated unit large enough for guns in the $2K to $3K range. New, AMSEC is the only company that builds a TL rated gun safe. It can be had in the $5K to $6K range, and is far better than any of the offerings the gun safe manufacturers sell in that same price range.
Modular safes are not new. They are fairly new to the gun safe market, and they do have their place. This makes two companies that I'm aware of that are in the modular gun safe business.
February 13, 2008, 08:21 AM
Nice review. I am in the market for an RSC to keep kids and the curious out.
That video showed exactly how I would go about trying to tear apart an RSC. It pointed out that hiding the safe and tight quarters are going to slow down guys that just want to pry it apart.
February 13, 2008, 09:22 AM
There are smaller Graffunder C series units available for under $5K. Sheer determination won't get anybody in one. The door is a solid plate of one inch thick steel. All other sides a half inch steel backed with concrete, & that's lined with more steel.
Of course, I'm prejudiced, I sell Graffunders. And to make matters worse, I also think I know what I'm talking about.
February 13, 2008, 10:14 AM
Make it three: http://www.gunngard.com/
I'm surprised there aren't more. Zanottis are expensive and there's a long waiting list, two indicators that they need more competitors.
As for a $5,000 safe... I suppose if I had enough $$$ to fill it with appropriate hardware, I wouldn't cringe at the price. I think the wife would want a new car and a dishwasher first!
February 14, 2008, 12:13 PM
I want to introduce myself. My name is Scott Jones and I am the owner of Dakota Safe Co.. Thank you for the good review of my product. As far as the advertising goes I am trying. Until recently I had never been on a forum before. I had a customer that had bought a safe that was pretty internet savvy and decided to give me glowing reviews on all the forums to "help me out." Needless to say after about 2 weeks of apologising for "threadomercials"
I have been trying to watch and join in as time will allow.
I have a safe and vault company in Tulsa OK and sell most of the major brands of gunsafe and commercial safes. I have beeen in business 16 yrs.
While my safe is not the answer to every gunowners needs it certainly fills a niche in the market. People that move alot,up/down stairs, mobile homes etc.. I have tested the safe as to pry /beating attempts. My delivery guys were given crowbars, sledges and a splitting maul to try to break in and they gave up after 45min. The way we folded the panels makes them very rigid and a thief would have to cut three sides of the bolts to get a panel open far enough to gain access. I will put it against it any sub $1000 safe in that type of attack. My honest opinion on safes:
The absolute finest gunsafe on the market is Graffunder.
Very pricey but if you can afford it buy one. Go with at least a "C" rate
1/2" steel side wall and 1" solid door.
After that I would go with any of the major brands and try to get a gunsafe with a 3/16" side wall and a plate door. You can go with a composite door but only two manufacturers that I know of Amsec and Fort Knox will show you what the steel thickness is in the composite. Many of the major manufacturers are putiing a layer of 12g on the outside and a layer of 14 or 16g on the inside, and filling the void with sheetrock so it doesnt sound like a tin can.
Get a safe with a top locking bolt. Makes a huge differance in a pry attack!
In my testing there is not much of a differance between 10g and 12g they are both kind of thin.
Although my safe tested at 1263 for 30 mins. in fire(got 36 mins but still call it 30) Do not count on any safe to make it through a house fire! Over the years I have had 6 safes that were in homes that burned to the ground. Two of them were 1/2 hour rated safes - nothing but burned gun barrels left inside.
Four were 1 hour rated safes - 3 made it very well- one didnt.
One was a two hour safe - It did just fine but where it was sitting i dont believe it got very hot.
Put your safe in the lowest part of your house in an outside corner. I dont know why but the corners of a room do not get as hot as the middle. Put any media- negatives-diskettes etc in a media cooler( most office supply stores have them for under $50) and then put it in the safe. All papers and burnable items should be in the bottom of the safe. All of the safes that I have opened over the years after a fire were hotter in the top than the bottom.
Any questions please feel free to post here or email me at email@example.com
February 14, 2008, 02:40 PM
Welcome to THR, Scott. PM inbound.
February 14, 2008, 05:07 PM
Welcome to THR Scott! I love it when manufacturers come and listen to the consumers in such a direct way as this. :) .
February 14, 2008, 06:50 PM
Are you a member of SAVTA or Clearstar?
February 14, 2008, 07:55 PM
A Question for DakotaScott:
I just checked out your website, and I AM interested in your product. However I was confused by the listed capacity of "12/22" (not counting the expansion packs). Is it 12 or 22? Is it a matter of configuring the interior "sardine can style" for the extra capacity?
February 15, 2008, 10:42 AM
A reply to both questions.
No, I am not currently a member of SAVTA or CLEARSTAR. I was a member of SAvta and ALOA. years ago when I still had the locksmith side of my business running. I am not familiar with CLEARSTAR. On the commercial side of the safe business I mostly service existing customers. I have have had the safe business for most of the Indian Casinos and the largest bank chain in the area for over 12years. That combined with our retail gunsafes, safeart, safedri, slicksticks and the many other safe related products that we manufacture here in Tulsa keeps us very busy. We do most of the service work in the area for Cannon, Liberty, Champion, Amsec and Fort Knox. We also move safes for most of the locksmiths in the Tulsa.
The safe has a modular interior. It will hold 12 long guns with the lower side shelves in place and 22 with the side shelves removed.
February 15, 2008, 11:33 AM
It's good to have another somebody who's been on the locksmithing side of the business.
In the event I am ever asked about your modular safes, I'd like to know a little more about them:
Do you manufacture them in Tulsa? If not, where are they made?
What type of lock(s) do you use, and who manufacturers them?
What type of warranty comes with the safe?
February 15, 2008, 04:29 PM
I am in the market for a safe that is put together in place also. I want a mechanical lock though.
February 16, 2008, 12:11 AM
I would like to add a small +1 for Dakota Scott. He sent me a private PM and informed me of my... construction error. If you build the safe properly: the dehumidifier hole is on the bottom left. Funny enough, the safe is still together(improperly...) and I love it! Thanks for joining THR dakota scott!
April 17, 2008, 11:52 PM
I cam across this thread by accident. I have purchased a couple of safes from Scott and plan on buying more. He and his team are extremely professional and helpful. If you live in the Oklahoma/Missouri area, he is your best bet.
May 22, 2008, 11:10 PM
I just bought a Dakota Safe - they are made in China, at least that is what is on the boxes.
May 26, 2008, 12:03 AM
I'm not aware of any manufacturers other than Dakota and Zanotti that produce consumer site-build safes. Regarding Scott's point about the difference between 10 and 12 gauge, I was researching the market a while back and found Sturdy Safe (http://sturdysafe.com/), which uses 7-gauge steel. They do a lot of business with prisons, police departments and other outfits that need to open and close the door 30 times a day -- they're not pretty, but they seem to be durable as all get-out.
Kitchen_Duty, thanks for the tip on the availability of mechanical tumbler locks on the Dakota safes -- since their website says nothing to that effect, that has kept them off my potential purchase list.
January 26, 2009, 12:31 PM
Thanks for chiming in here Scott! I know this thread is old, but since I am planning to pull the trigger on one of these (and I found this thread in my search for reviews), I figured I'd send it to the top so others could add what they may have experienced in the past year with your products. I just replied to your email - take care.
December 11, 2009, 02:22 AM
A quick update, sorry for the unnecessary thread bump: I had to move, took it all apart, moved it, put it all back together. This time took me about 45 minutes to put it all together. My roommate even put the entire thing in the back of a Subaru Outback for those who were wondering.
Sportsman, last I saw (they got bought out by someone) stopped selling it also.
I have no idea if it was built in China, even if it was I would still buy it. The price was good and the product is good, that's all that matters to me.
Still very happy with it, thanks Dakota safe.
September 18, 2010, 10:30 PM
I got Zanotti ZA-I in June 2010, and here is a small review that I wrote.
Zanotti ZA-I safe review
I ordered my safe in mid-November 2009, and finally got it in the beginning of June, a month ahead of promissed delivery date. The owners, Mark & Dave, have both been extremely helpful (above my every expectation!), straightforward from the very start, and always available on the phone. The cost was around 1330 (with lining and goldenrod dehumidifier) + around 175 shipping to the nearest terminal. If you can pick it up yourself in Waterloo, Iowa, you can eliminate this shipping expense.
ZA-I safe that I ordered came in three boxes to the local carrier that I was able to fit in my sedan car with folded seats, so these are not huge boxes by any means. The heaviest box contains the door and the back panel, and is around 4 inches thick, 5-foot long and 2-feet wide, the second box contains two sides, and the lightest and smallest square box contains the top and the bottom. I recommend having someone else to help you with loading/unloading them, though one strong guy could handle these with a good dolly.
According to my measurements (very precise caliper used), The top, bottom and the door metal is 0.18 inch thick (or 7-gauge steel), and the sides and the back are 0.12 inch (or 11-gauge steel). This is a bit less than a stated 1/8 and 3/16, but close enough nevertheless.
You will find some posts on the internet about how one can go through a 10-gauge steel with a fire axe, however after seeing and feeling this 11-gauge (0.12) steel, I just don't believe that. One guy in a forum I follow wrote about trying to do just that with a 12-gauge steel plate, and after trying for a long time, he finally gave up. Maybe, just maybe, a very, very strong guy can do it when a safe side is big enough, and in a perfect position (on the ground), but when bolted down (and when that side is perpendicular to the ground) I would bet against it with no hesitation. Top, bottom and the door, being 7-gauge, are out of question really for any brute-force attack.
I was able to do everything myself, including installing the door. Note that this is ZA-I, the smallest Zanotti safe, so if you ordered ZA-II or larger safe - get some help, as every piece will be heavier, and especially the door.
The manual says you will need 20 minutes to assemble it. Forget about that. Maybe if you already have experience doing it. I needed 2-3 hours, mostly because I had a problem inserting an L-pin into one of the hinges. I ended up using a sand paper to smooth out the top of one of the pins, and it finally went through. My advice is that you should not hesitate to use a sand paper to make the pins go in smoother. If you use it just for the top of the pins, this will have no effect on how strong the bond will be, but will make it much easier to insert them. I also used some white grease for all the pins, this is pretty much a necessity. Some difficulty inserting these pins is actually expected, as they are made to very tight tolerances. The sturdiness of the final result makes it worthwhile.
The manual says you should use a hammer. Fortunately I previously read in one other review that rubber mallet is a better choice, and it sure is. If you use a regular hammer, I guarantee you that somewhere in the process you will cause some damage to the paint. Use some ear protection once you start inserting the pins, hammering them even with a rubber mallet will cause some noise, and remember that while doing that you will be in the safe with all the pieces in place except for the door. Not healthy for your ears.
Update: Moved in Aug 2010, and this time assembly / disassembly was much faster, probably because I already had experience with it, and possibly because I marked the position of every pin in relation to hinges.
...is truly beautiful (I didn't see an attachment option in this forum, otherwise I would attach a few photos). Once all the pins are in, I can confirm it is as sturdy as a one-piece safe. My safe is black with silver, and it looks great. The combination lock is also silver, and while I am not an expert, it looks like a very good quality one. Once locked, five steel bars hold the door, if someone forcefully removed the hinges, this door would still be in place. The locking mechanism itself is protected by a very thick metal plate
(this is underneath already thick 7-gauge door), that I did not even measure. It's certainly thicker than 7-gauge steel. The sides, top and bottom have re-inforced edges where they come into contact with the door / door bolts.
There is nothing really in the safe that would provide fire protection, except the thick steel itself. I chose the carpeting option, but this is to
protect the guns from being kicked into the safe sides, and provides no protection against fire. If your objective is protecting your guns from fire,
you should probably look elsewhere, as Zanotti has no fire-lining whatsoever.
...is - get one. Unless if you need fire protection, I highly recommend them. If you just walk in into Bass Pro or any other gun store, all of the safes I have seen (even the very, very heavy ones) are made of 12-gauge
steel. I don't think they are as safe as Zanotti, and they are certainly not as convenient. Assembled ZA-I is 350-400 lb, and carrying it into your
home on one piece, and especially up/down the stairs would be no fun at all. With Zanotti, you have no such problem, but burglars still do, even if they manage to pry it of the ground (which they shouldn't if you do it right with concrete anchor bolts).
One problem that remains is - long wait time. In my case, it was around 6 months, but I hear that this has been increased to even longer time now. With such a backlog, I am not sure why they don't increase capacities and expand their business... Zanotti Armor must be losing a lot of business of customers who can't wait that long.
September 18, 2010, 10:45 PM
I acquired an unused, never assembled, 8 year old Zanotti. What is the purpose/function of the key access in the middle of the dial tumbler? I have what seems to be the correct key but the lock does not turn with it. the (single) handle is straight down and I haven't been able to open the lock - the combo I have is certainly correct as it is both on the bill of sale and still hanging from the factory tag on the dial.
I would assume the key would disable the dial tumblers or the handle but, no confirmation in the sketchy documentation and the Zanotti folks are on vacation for another week yet.
Any insights appreciated!
September 18, 2010, 11:06 PM
If there's nothing wrong, when the dial is positioned so that 0 is on the index, the key should turn the lock. All the keylocking dial feature is for is to lock the dial & keep it from turning. That keeps the kids from playing with it, or a manipulation attack by a thief. The keylocking dial feature should never be used to secure the door itself. In other words, always spin the dial after latching the door. Then bring the dial up to zero/index, and use the keylock feature. When you want to get in, you'll have to do a complete re-dial, but your security will be much better.
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