Sturdy gun safe review, good and bad (warning, it's long!)


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4288
March 18, 2010, 11:44 AM
I just received a Sturdy safe on Monday, and I figured I'd post a review. When I was researching different safes I found threads like this one from years back that were very helpful, so hopefully this will help researchers for years to come. It's long, but it addresses some of the things I found after months of research, and it states how Sturdy fits into that. This is a totally honest review, hitting the good and the bad as I see it with my safe. I am not the type to praise something because I'm biased because it's the brand I picked, but overall, I love this safe and would buy it again in a heartbeat.

I did a tremendous amount of research when looking for a safe, and learned far more than I ever cared to about what makes a good one good, and how burglars thwart safes. I had initially heard that in order to get a really good safe one should budget $1,000 to $1500. But what I found was that while safes in that price range will protect against your average smash and grab burglar, they don't stand a chance against someone who really knows what he's doing and has come prepared. At first it seemed that in order to get that level of protection you'd have to drop $3500+, which is way out of most people's budgets.

So it looked like there was a massive gap in price vs. protection levels. You could up the budget to $2000 for a slightly higher end Browning or the like (still not at the premium level), but spending 33% more wouldn't pay off with 33% more protection, it was more like 5 or 10%. In order to get the big security gains you'd have to triple what you were willing to spend.

That assessment was only generally true - Sturdy and the AMSEC BF series make safes at intermediate prices that offer significantly higher levels of protection. Comparing the same sizes, (apples to apples), $2000-2500 will get a safe with good fire lining that offers far more protection than their counterparts made by other brands. Both appear to bridge the gap so you're not spending an extra grand for a bunch of fluff.

That said, I went with the Sturdy. It offered at least equal (arguably better) protection for about $500+ less. I'm sure the AMSEC is prettier (and looks do matter), but function is the most important thing. Sturdy slightly edged out AMSEC's BF my mind in terms of thwarting burglary. In terms of thwarting fire, I'm not entirely certain which has the edge. Suffice to say they're both great. And the Sturdy's a good bit cheaper to boot.

Sturdy has a reputation of being extremely functional, yet cost efficient by in part by cutting down on the fancy level. I found this to be true. It is not as polished as some safes that are half the cost. I went into this purchase knowing that. However, I was surprised to find that I had lowered my expectations way too much. It actually has a very beautiful exterior. The textured granite paint job is superb. I balked at the idea of having to apply decals to my safe to make it look nice (shouldn't a $2000 safe be above stickers???), but after carefully applying them, I stand corrected. It looks very, very sharp. There's a puddle of drool in front of it.

Now for the bad (I promised to be honest). The interior left something to be desired. The bottom is covered with a thin fabric material that is not secured to the bottom. If the butt of a gun or something else slides across it, it pulles the fabric along with it and then you have to push it back into place (not difficult, just annoying). I had to wrap some duct tape to make it double sided to stick it down into place. Also, when you bolt the safe down, the bolt heads stick up between the metal bottom and the fabric covering. this leaves minor bulges and creates waves in the fabric. But it's not noticeable unless you really look. All this can be easily solved for a couple dollars though. You can take a thin piece of plywood, cut it to fit perfectly inside the safe, cut holes out where the bolt heads are, and tack that fabric down to it.

The only other downside with the interior is that when they cut notches in the fabric base to fit the contour of the door frame, it was sloppily done. One of the cuts is far from 90 degrees, and neither is exact to cover the ground perfectly up to the door frame. Just an extra 30 seconds of care would have solved this.

So now that I'm done with the bad (which is actually pretty minor if you think about it, and one of the two issues is easy to fix), a couple more brief things about the good. The gap between the door and frame is tiny. As it is, getting a prying device in there would be impossible. I know I know, somebody somewhere could do it, but for even a far better than average contender it's not doable.

This 7 gauge steel has to be seen to be appreciated. It's amazing. I'd shoot at it with various calibers to see what will/won't penetrate, but then I'd hurt the beautiful finish.

I checked out a lot of safes in gun stores. Even those in the same price bracket as my Sturdy felt flimsy by comparison.

Sturdy's customer service was outstanding. The kind of thing that hasn't been around for several decades. They will take the time to promptly answer whatever technical questions you may have, and go out of their way to share their knowledge and expertise with you in practical matters such as how to move the safe, what to bolt it down with, how to bolt it down, issues you might run into and how to solve them, etc. Even after watching their "how to" videos online, I had a few curveballs to throw at them and they answered with ease. Even the owner of the company himself is very accessible and eager to help.

There are a whole slew of other things that make this safe so great. Check out their website, as I've alredy written a novel here and don't need to regurgitate what they already say at their website. Plus, I'm writing about my impressions, not all the ultra technical stuff.

Do be sure to get a bigger safe than you think you need. I stretched my price range about $300 to go up a size larger than I thought I needed, and that was a very good decision. Much thanks to all those internet posters before me who convinced me to do that!

Fire lining is optional, and the smallest safe (which is still a decent size) without the firelining can be had for less than $1500.

As far as bang for your buck, after months of research I am firmly conviced that the Sturdy can't be beat. Even with the few minor negatives, I am incredibly pleased and strongly recommend that anyone who is looking at a slightly cheaper safe hold off and save for a few months longer to get one that offers the level of protection in some $3500 safes for half the price.

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Scott30
March 18, 2010, 12:58 PM
Nice review. Should be very helpful to anyone in the market for a new safe.

WinchesterAA
March 18, 2010, 01:49 PM
I'm not in the market of safebuying yet, as I'm currently in the process of home buying..

However, that ones coming up shortly, and I have a pretty good idea where I'll start looking =)

Thank you very much for the post.

Smokey Joe
March 18, 2010, 03:00 PM
Gee, what a name! Good marketing. And nice to read a positive review. Pictures would be nice. Here's Sturdy Safe's website: www.sturdysafe.com

rocky branch
March 18, 2010, 03:07 PM
Definately get a bigger safe than you think you need.
They seem to shrink with time.

leadcounsel
March 18, 2010, 03:13 PM
Nice review and very fair.

I have two Sturdy safes and like them a lot. Sure, they have some minor blemishes but who cares? They are made by a great American company using American workers and their customer service is second to none! When I need something they are immediately responsive and helpful and very knowledgable.

Don't forget these are competing with cheap Chinese crap and low wages and cheaper materials. If an American company has to 'cut corners' to compete, I'd prefer it to be with the meaningless cosmetics rather than funcitonality or lowering true quality.

The safe works well, and I'm comfortable it will deter all but the most aggressive safe thieves.

Deltaboy
March 18, 2010, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the Review!

waterhouse
March 18, 2010, 03:39 PM
I'm very happy with my Sturdy safe. While simple, the interior layout is great. Some of my friend's have bigger safes externally that hold fewer gun because of the layout, but Sturdy seems to have figured out an efficient way to use the space, even with scoped rifles. They were very helpful when I called to ask questions, and they called the day after delivery to make sure everything was OK.

I doubt I'll ever need another safe, but if I do I'll buy from them again.

heeler
March 18, 2010, 04:15 PM
Yes,a good review.
I recently purchased an Amsec BF 66x36 and was heavily considering the Sturdy of equal size.
There was not a hundred dollars difference in pricing to boot(the Sturdy I priced had the fire liner).
I even spoke with Terry who CALLED me.
I dont think another builder would bother with that and that's a fact.
The only reason I went with the Amsec is that there was no Sturdy safe anywhere I could look directly at.
There is no doubt that in the price range of anything that amounts to a reasonably secure home gun safe that Amsec's BF and the Sturdy stand heads above a lot of the others and for a much better price generally.
Glad we are both happy with our purchases.
So far I have found nothing on my BF,inside or outside that even comes close to the word sloppy or shoddy.

RM
March 18, 2010, 04:23 PM
Thanks very much for your excellent review. Can you tell us the size of your safe, any extras you ordered with it, and the price you paid?

Z-Michigan
March 18, 2010, 05:13 PM
Great review. I bought a Sturdy Safe about a year ago and would have written about the same review in every aspect.

RM, Sturdy will send you prices, or you may even be able to download a price list on their website.

4288
March 19, 2010, 10:07 AM
Heeler- Yep, the Amsec BF series is great. I had a tough time deciding between the two, and I agree that I'd have been very pleased either way.

RM- The model I got was the 3224. Sturdy's naming convention is easy - the model 3224 is 32.5" wide by 24.5" deep. With the fire lining installed the interior dimensions are 27.5" by 19.5". Sturdy lists their prices on their website. The 3224 with fire lining is just over $2000, shipping included. The next smaller model (their smallest) is 2723. Check out their website for extras and upgrades and the prices for them. And they're very honest about what benefit you get from various upgrades - unlike most sales pitches, there are some upgrades that they state upfront are overkill and generally unnecessary.

One other extremely important thing I forgot to mention. Sturdy's online videos recommend some different types of anchors to bolt the safe down. I almost went with wedge anchors, until I did a little digging and found out that with a firelined safe, if you use wedge anchors and you decide to move down the road, your safe isn't going with you. It wouldn't be as big an issue with the non-firelined safe. Drop in anchors give the same level of strength and the safe will be able to be removed when you get a new house.

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