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AMSEC BF vs. Sturdy safe question

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by TJ42, Nov 26, 2009.

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  1. TJ42

    TJ42 Member

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    I just read the great thread in this forum in which, among others, sturdy safes with 7 gauge steel and additional fire lining were compared to AMSEC BF 6030 and similar models. The AMSEC seems to have 11 gauge outer skin, almost 2 inches of "drylight" fire insulation, and then a 16 gauge inner skin (some thought the inner skin may a little thicker, such as 14 gauge). Opinions seemed to be that the two safes (Sturdy, AMSEC BF) provide equivalent burglary protection. I am down to comparing these two safes and have a question.

    When it comes to cheaper safes with say 12 gauge steel, people seem quick to dismiss them as very easy to get into with a sledge hammer, or a pry bar or even a big screwdriver and hammer. A Sturdy safe with 7 gauge steel backed by fire lining is said to be much superior given the thicker steel, which makes sense to me. So how come the AMSEC with an outer layer of 11 gauge and drylight insulation is thought to provide equivalent protection to the sturdy with 7 gauge steel and fire lining? Won't the 11 gauge steel on the AMSEC, even backed by the drylight insulation, be about as easy to get into as a safe with 12 gauge steel and some drywall or other insulation backing? Will a sledge hammer or pry bar really be deterred by that drylight behind the relatively thin steel? More to the point in comparing Sturdy and AMSEC BF, I guess I am having a hard time understanding how the thin layers of sheet metal and drylight on AMSEC together provide equivalent burglary protection to the Sturdy 7 gauge steel with firelining. It seems like the Sturdy safes should provide a lot more burglary protection, given the 7 gauge vs. 11 gauge skins, both backed by fire lining.

    Thanks a lot for considering this question.
     
  2. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    The AMSEC is 10 gauge and 14 gauge. I have verified this myself with AMSEC at a level above the customer service reps that answer the phones.

    The reason the lighter steel of the AMSEC would offer similar brute force resistance to the thicker steel of the Sturdy is because of the rigidity formed by the cement material formed between the two sheets of steel.

    Take cardboard for example. On it's own, the brown paper used to make cardboard is easy to rip, tear, fold, etc. Once formed into a rigid structure, it is no longer as easy to do those things.

    Every try bending a full sand bag in half? Same principle.
     
  3. TJ42

    TJ42 Member

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    Mr a1abdj, Thanks, that does make some sense to me (and I appreciated your posts in the other thread I read). I suppose I am focused a lot on the skin comparison...no I could not bend a full sand bag, but wouldn't getting a pry bar into the sand to start to rip it open be a lot easier with a thinner bag material? I think I remember reading comments/ideas elsewhere about safes like "don't be fooled by safe companies that state they have 3 inch thick walls, etc...they really have very thin sheets that sandwich some kind of insulation, and the thin sheets and insulation are all easy to get through in comparison to thicker steel." This drylight and two thinner sheets construction made me think of those other types of less expensive safes. Just plain thicker steel seemed like it could offer less opportunity to pry, cut, etc. But these are just the impressions of a newbie! This kind of subjective comparison between the two types of construction seems hard to do absent a test of some kind, at least for someone like myself who does not have any experience in safe construction, tests, sales (or safe cracking!). I kind of want to like AMSECs more than Sturdy because they seem to be more readily available via local dealers compared to Sturdy which is not, but this nagging question about steel thickness has emerged.
     
  4. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Yes. But would doubling up on the bags make much of a difference? For the most part, gun safes are the bags of the safe industry. They are the lightest, and thinest boxes made. There isn't much of a difference when dealing in any metal measured in gauge. Until you get to 1/4" and thicker, you're not going to prevent a simple brute force attack.

    Most gun safes are a single outer wall with gypsum board resting against the inside. In the end, it depends on what the material is that is sandwiched between the thin steel sheets. Of course thicker steel is better, but it is also heavier and increases the cost of production. There are gun safe manufacturers that build gun safes using solid 1" plate, but their price reflects their construction.

    The AMSEC vs. Sturdy debate is easier to understand once you put some real numbers in front of it:

    The Sturdy's 7 gauge steel is .1793". The insulation they use is not rigid, and offers no additional security barrier.

    The AMSEC's 10 gauge outer shell is .1345" (less than 1/20" difference). The 14 gauge inner liner adds .0747" for a cumulative thickness of .2092". The fill material, although not a high PSI fill, is rigid, and offers additional strength when sandwiched between the steel.

    There is no burglary testing for gun safes because they aren't anywhere near secure enough to have a rating. To keep it in perspective, the lowest UL burglary rating is a 15 minute rating against all common hand tools, power tools, and pressure applying devices. Using the same steel that most gun safe manufacturers use, a safe with a 15 minute rating would have a 1" solid plate body, and a 1.5" solid plate door. Most of these gun safes use 10 times less steel. Dividing that 15 minutes up, that leaves you with 1.5 minutes of brute force resistance. Why rate a safe for 2 minutes when it takes the police 6 minutes to arrive?

    The design of the AMSEC is nothing new, although it is rare in the gun safe industry. Safes have been built in a similar fashion to the AMSEC for over 150 years.
     
  5. BADUNAME17

    BADUNAME17 Member

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    Hello again a1abdj buddy! Alyssa here. This is the third thread someone needed to remind you about our 14 gauge inside steel liner. :) Thats ok thou! How have you been?

    I'm sorry, but if you call AmSec direct at 1-800-421-6142 a woman named Donna (or something real close) will tell you the insulation does not add anything to the security of the safe. It's far from being solid. Compressed sand can be firm and packed hard, however, drylight will compress.
    While I was on the phone with her I asked about the warranty when it came to the linkage parts (in general, its the most problematic thing that could go wrong with safes) and they only warranty them for a year.


    11g will not provide equivalent protection to 7 gauge. That's over 50% more steel in the body of a Sturdy Safe alone. You cant compare our safes with other safes with thin steel like this. It's not apples to apples. Thank you guys!
     
  6. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I've been great. Yourself?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but not all of your safes have the 14 gauge inner liner. This is only on the safes using the ceramic wool insulation? It gets confusing when you try to compare a safe that is built to one spec everytime to another safes that construction changes depending on options.

    Using Allyssa's example, the AMSEC still has a total of .2092" of steel, and the Sturdy would have a total of .2540" (.0448" more than the AMSEC). Although in both examples, you are getting approximately twice the steel you would in a 12 gauge gun safe, it's still on the light side as far as safe construction is concerned.

    You can call Ford directly at their 800 number, but I doubt the person who answers the phone will be able to answer technical questions as it relates to their products. AMSEC is no different.

    Donna is a customer service rep at AMSEC. She is not an engineer, she is not a fabricator, and although I do not know her personally, I don't believe she's ever been a locksmith, safe tech, or professional thief.

    If you want to know how a car runs, talk to a mechanic. If you want to know how a safe works, talk to a safe tech. I'll go further to state that if you want to know this information, do not talk to somebody on the payroll of the manufacturer.

    As far as compressing the insulation, you are correct. Your ceramic insulation can be compressed. AMSEC's insulation can be compressed. 2" thick solid steel can be compressed. It's a matter of how much pressure is applied to do the compression. If you have an engineering study showing the difference I would like to see it. Although I am not an engineer, and have not read a study as it relates to this particular comparison, I can speak from a lay person's observation.

    You can compress ceramic wool by pressing it with your thumb. You can not compress AMSEC's insulation by pressing with your thumb. I will assert that the difference between the PSI required to compress each material is the difference in burglary resistance provided by each material.

    I don't believe the answer to your question was correct, but I can speak from experience. My company provides warranty service throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area for many gun safe manufacturers, including AMSEC. Off the top of my head, I can recall four or five calls in the last few years that were linkage related, that were not a result of an attempted burglary.

    All of these safes had one thing in common. The linkage issue was a direct result of gypsum board dislodging and blocking the boltwork of the safe. Sturdy will not have this problem, nor will AMSEC since neither use gypsum board. In fact, most safes will never have a linkage problem unless physically attacked or constantly abused.

    You are 100% correct (although the AMSEC is 10 gauge). You can not equal the two safes in a steel to steel comparison. However, when it comes to safes using multiple barrier materials, you have to go beyond comparing the steel.

    You have to compare the cumulative strength of all of the materials combined. There are safes out there that use a 10 gauge outer steel with a few inches of 25,000 PSI fill material embedded with carbides, ceramics, fiberglass mesh, and a whole assortment of other nasty goodies. You could compare them to a gun safe too, but even though the steel may be the same thickness, you're not anywhere near your apple to apple comparison.

    I want to add a for the record here:

    I'm not here to say the AMSEC is a good safe because I sell them. I do sell them, but not very many. There are a lot of people that sell them for less than I do, so people tend to buy them from those sources (this is a different gripe all together, so I won't go into it here). I charge more for mine because of the service and knowlege you get with the purchase.

    I'm here to say the AMSEC is a good safe because it's a good safe. Sturdy is a good safe too, although I think the AMSEC still has the advantage from both a fire and burglary perspective. I don't think it's a good safe because I sell them. I don't think it's a good safe because I build them. I don't think it's a good safe because I'm an employee of the manufacturer.

    I've worked with safes since 1990. When it comes to safes, I know a thing or three.
     
  7. BADUNAME17

    BADUNAME17 Member

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    I see how you feel, we just feel differently, and it's ok to agree, to disagree. Your still a good man in my book. Now, in response to what was said:

    I see. Only Sturdy Safes, with fire liners , will have a 14 gauge inside steel liner. Looks like you guys were talking about our safe fire lined, so I wanted to make it clear.

    We feel this difference in thickness, (although seeming slim on paper) makes a big difference to a fire axe.

    She was the tech service rep. who made it very clear she knew what the material was, seen it for herself (even relating it to looking like drywall with air in it) and then added that it offered no protection. We feel that one should believe a good reputable companies safe teck support.

    We feel neither fire lining material would be formidable so far as impact resistance. Just another reason why it‘s always been, “the more steel, the better“ in gun safes. I’d like to see an engineering study done of the Drylight material against a small hammer or screw driver, although, I already know what would happen. We feel that, just because you cant push dry light in with your finger, does not mean, it will help a 10 gauge body safe against a fire axe.

    That’s more linkage problems than we ever had in our whole history , but that’s besides the point. I was referring to all gun safes on the market who incorporate clutches and sheer pins in the design as being problematic in general. We feel that, safes with clutches and sheer pins in the lock design, have more problems than a safe without them. You can read about it here at sturdy safe.com/minuteman.htm under the girl pictured trying to open a safe. Amsec really does warranty the linkage for only a year thou.

    Next time someone is set on buying an Amsec gun safe, I’d hope it would be from you. Locals to you (who want to buy an Amsec), would benefit even more from buying from a company like yours, however, we sell our safes to people all over the world. These people, see these treads, so I hope you understand why I’m posting. We feel your contribution to helping SO MANY people in these forums deserves something. There is not enough time for me to do so, or I would more often. If you like, I’ll go ahead and link your website to our websites "related links" to help you rank a little higher in search engines. I don’t know if your familiar with that, but a one way related link is real beneficial when it comes to web searches.


    We have been making safes for about 30 years, and we are a repair station for all brand gun safes (including locksmith knowledge of course). :)
     
  8. al123

    al123 Member

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    FYI older discussion from another forum:

    http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=319818&highlight=sturdy+safe

    I was one of the many confused gunsafe buyers out there and FWIW here's my two cents. :confused:

    I don't know about Donna's technical support credentials but she certainly contradicted AMSEC's own claims about the BF series i.e. "American Security Product’s DryLight (trademark pending) is an advanced poured concrete insulation material that eliminates the use of gypsum board and provides a dry and seamless barrier to protect valuables against intense fires and burglary attacks, etc."

    Unless I question Donna directly, I have no real idea what she meant and why she would contradict her own company's claims. The AMSEC people I talked with believed the party line on Drylight's "seamless fire AND burglary protection".

    Nevertheless, everyone should be skeptical of any claim that doesn't have clearly documented tests from a third party. This left me only to trust AMSEC's reputation, input from knowledgeable people, and my basic understanding of physics and materials engineering (Young's and bulk modulus etc.).

    When I visited a couple of dealers, they had cut-away samples of the Drylight sandwich for the BF series RSCs. One would never mistake it for Chobham armor, but it was considerably more substantial than "drywall with air in it". Drywall you can scratch out with your fingernails; I certainly couldn't do that with this stuff. It was more like dense/hardened pumice or tile grout completely adhered to the steel walls. Energy or impulse strikes will transfer through from front to back. How efficient that transfer is the unknown variable with the AMSEC body.

    Can we say how much more protection does Drylight add to the RSC body than without? How about anywhere from one to 50 strikes with a pick-axe? Or better than "no protection", but less than impregnable? I think AMSEC's engineers may know but that information is not out there. Sturdy's mantra is more steel up front is better. You know what you're getting. You're guessing with the AMSEC BF. Nevertheless, the added burglary protection from composite body construction isn't without merit.

    Anyways does comparing burglar resistance between RSC brands really matter that much? 7 Gauge sheet steel isn't 1/4 inch plate. Neither is RSC Drylight composite. And that's just comparing them with B-rated safes only. When RSC manufacturers crow about their burglary resistance, it's like bragging that your Suburban gets better gas mileage than your neighbor's Excursion. I had to be on guard from the constant exaggerations from salespeople on how incredible their products were. I found AMSEC, Fort Knox, Liberty, and Browning representatives to be equally bad.

    Purchasing a vehicle was easier. Picking a firearm (the reason for the safe) was much easier.

    Reputation was important. At places I've worked for, AMSEC safes were common. I ended up with the AMSEC, but I think Sturdy would be just as good a choice for me. Visalia nearby Sturdy also would have been acceptable. If I had a real collection it would have been a Graffunder or AMSEC TL-15. Even the supposely flimsy 12 Gauge body containers in a protected location would have been acceptable. Regardless, the best advice I received was to buy from a reputable dealer that has experience with safes and not just locks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  9. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    al123 has a lot of good points.

    I have said it many times. Sturdy builds a great product, and I would certainly suggest one of their safes over many of the other commonly thought of brand names.

    The Sturdy vs. AMSEC debate that we have here is important for one major reason. Both of these safes are priced in the same ball park as many of the other brand name units that offer much less protection. If you are spending in this price range, you should certainly be looking at both of these safes.

    You can find heavier built gun safes. AMSEC offers UL listed TL-15 and TL-30 gun safes. Graffunder and Brown build B, C, E, and F rated gun safes. I even sell a TL-30X6 gun safe. The reason I'm not comparing these safes to any of the other gun safes is that they are priced in an entirely different budget. If we were talking about gun safes in the $4,000+ range, I would be talking about them.

    Most gun safe buyers are spending $1,000 to $2,500, and both the AMSEC and Sturdy fit within that range. They offer so much more than the other safes in that price range, that the choice should be simple.
     
  10. Keizer

    Keizer Member

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    I think anyone with a budget of $1,500.00-$2,000.00 will end up with the AMSEC BF series, and Sturdy at the top of their list after doing their research.

    I was torn between these two brands of gun safes (RSC's), and let me tell you it was a hard decision. Being a former journey level machinist, I naturally gravitated to Sturdys 7 gauge steel walls. I have worked with all gauges of steel, so gauge thickness to me is more than just numbers on paper. I have a feel for the strength and workability of different gauges of steel.

    After learning more about safe construction from a1abdj, I started leaning more towards the AMSEC BF series. I liked the fact that it was built around a design that has been used in safe manufacturing for years and years. The decision was still hard to make though.

    I will be honest, and am not trying to knock the Sturdy safe by saying this. After comparing the construction (which I feel is most important when making a gun safe purchase) between the AMSEC and Sturdy safes, I chose AMSEC for one small reason. Aesthetics! I felt that both safes were equal in build quality, and fire protection. However, since the price was pretty much the same between the two, I was picking the one that I felt looked the best.

    Don't get me wrong, as I mentioned, construction was my main concern, and beauty was 2nd. If I could offer some advice to Sturdy, it would be to somehow make your product more visually appealing. Again, I'm not trying to knock your RSC's, I think they are top notch from a construction stand point. However, I do think that there are things you could do to make them more attractive. It was the deciding factor for me.
     
  11. 78tsubaki

    78tsubaki Member

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    Sturdy was my choice based upon the simple beauty and design of the linkage and door, the ultimate strength of the materials and construction methods used, and the simple but robust interior layout. I really like the standard paint job especially with the decals that are provided.
    I am glad that I took the leap of faith and purchased Sturdy directly from the manufacturer in Fresno. I have been a Sturdy owner/user for a little over a year. I had a need to change my combo, which I did with the expert help of Terry (the owner) over the phone. It is nice when you can call the owner of the business directly and discuss your equipment. I try to buy American when I can and that is getting harder to do.
    Personal decision here. I can tell you that I was helped every step of the way by Sturdy. I too appreciate a1abdj's expertise and assistance in his postings over the years.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  12. piper

    piper Member

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    I did alot of research and looked at alot of gunsafes before I made my purchase almost a year ago.The price of guns was getting to the point where they were the main target for a break in so some cheap gunsafe didnt make much sense.While no safe is totally fire or burglar proof I wanted something that would at least give the best protection for a reasonable amount of money.There are alot of good safe manufacturers out there with AMSEC and Sturdy safe being two of them.It was not an easy choice because several brands would have worked well but I went with Sturdy safe.I had alot of questions and Terry spent alot of time one the phone with me and never once was pushy or acted upset that I had so many questions and was taking up so much of his time.He also is the owner of the place.Everyone there was very friendly and helpful.When I scuffed up the side when getting the safe in the house I called them and they sent me some touch up paint free of charge and now it looks just fine.That is the beauty of not having an automotive finish.It can be touched up.I am very happy with my choice.
     
  13. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Alyssa,
    I'm very happy with my fire lined Sturdy Safe. Outstanding product, outstanding customer service. I need to order another. I sent in a request for a quote. Thanks and Merry Christmas.
     
  14. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    I'm pleased with the way my slate gray safe looks. I like the ruggedness and DON'T want some frilly pretty safe.
     
  15. Keizer

    Keizer Member

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    What I meant was, The Sturdy safe reminds me of a high school locker in terms of appearance. They are definitely all business, and there is nothing wrong with that. The AMSEC's have a classic safe look, and are built similar to the way real safes have been built for years.

    I think AMSEC has the advantage with making their safes look better, because you know some people are using them for furniture, and not hiding them in their closet. And since the prices are about the same between the Sturdy and AMSEC......most will probably choose an AMSEC. They do sell lots of safes each year.
     
  16. djameson

    djameson Member

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    queston for A1: you list earlier in the thread the bf body is 10 gauge outer and 14 inner. I was at a gun safe showroom and they had a amsec bf cutout plaque and it list the body as 11 gauge outer and 16 inner. Has amsec recently changed the construction of the bf series and now use 10 & 14? thanks,
     
  17. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    They were originally 10/14, and to my knowlege have never changed. A little over a month ago I met with AMSEC over an unrelated issue, and while we were talking asked about the gun safes.

    I'm assuming the problem lies with the fact that they are a large company, because you will hear both answers depending on who you talk to. They assured me that it has never changed.

    I have a cut out myself, and it does not list any specs. Now that you've brought it to my attention, I'm going to call and have somebody locate a newer cut out and see if it's different than the one I have.

    All in all, I feel a little silly debating gauge thicknesses of gun safes, because when it's all said and done, anything measured in guage is still not thick enough. The only exceptions to this are safes using true burglary composite construction.
     
  18. Zip7

    Zip7 Member

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    I came down to the same two in my research a while back and chose the Sturdy. I do think that they are very similar in overall levels of protection against theft. I looked at some other brands that were much flimsier.

    My choice was heavily influenced by cost, because I needed to buy two safes. I could get by with one of the largest models, but that would not fit through the door I needed it to go through. In the end, I bought the Sturdy because of the option of buying it without the fire insulation. This made the 2 Sturdys about half the cost of what I could get 2 AMSECs for locally. I'm very pleased with the Sturdy product - it actually will hold more guns than I expected it to and I will have extra space, AND saved some $$ - which means.... more guns!
     
  19. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Well I don't know about AMSEC customer service, but I can tell you that Sturdy has outstanding service.

    For example:
    The carrier that shipped my safe delivered it with a bent handle and dial. I narrowed it down to the carrier must have damaged it by running something into it. The carrier denied responsibility. Sturdy said it left their warehouse with no damage but without batting an eye they sent me a new dial and handle free of charge and I got it in a couple days. That probably cost them at least $50+.

    Another example:
    I came home from my first Iraq deployment and had forgotten my safe combo. :banghead: Thankfully I had never changed it. I should have written it down, but I had it committed to daily memory. But when I didn't use it for a long time, I forgot it. Sturdy had it on file and were very helpful. That may make some people uncomfortable, but I'm fine with it. I will be changing it and they provided easy instructions on how to do so.

    Another example:
    I was deciding on where to place my safe and they were helpful with helping me figure out whether a certain part of my home could handle the load.

    They have always been very responsive when I've needed something.

    Bottom line, I'm a very choosy shopper and don't have money to burn. They provide an outstanding product, outstanding service, and all at a very competitive price, by Americans, in America, for Americans! And if I have to spend a few extra bucks to employ Americans I'm okay with that. :D
     
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I called yesterday, and they told me 11 gauge outer & 16 gauge inner liner. Still a very solid barrier for a gun safe when you think about the dense material contained within, and the 1/2" plate door is tops. A better gun safe than most.

    AMSEC BF series, Sturdy, and the Ft Knox Defender (not the pretty paint job) with steel upgrades are what seem to me to be three of the best choices in the size and price range I am studying. The top Champion safe (Crown) seems pretty good as well. The more I study though, the more confusing it can be. I think I am backing off to mull it over for a while before going any further. No rush. :)
     
  21. chrisrgr

    chrisrgr Member

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    a1abdj,

    Between 2008 and 2009 did Amsec change the weight of the BF6030? In 2008 they said it weighted 885 and on their website now it says 976. Is this a misprint or could that be the change from a 16 gauge liner to a 14 gauge liner?
     
  22. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I do know that the fill material that they used was changed to a heavier material. This caused the change of weight.

    I still have not had the opportunity to speak with those at AMSEC, but it is possible that they reduced the steel after increasing the fill.
     
  23. chrisrgr

    chrisrgr Member

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    So then does the current model have the 10 gauge body and 14 gauge liner like you posted in November?

    After doing some research for a couple of months I decided to purchase the BF 6030 a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting on delivery. I would like to get a "for-sure" on the technical specification of the safe, however there seems to be some discrepancies in the information available. It seems that every year Amsec has changed the BF in some way, (2010 - introducing 3-way bolt works) and apparently calling the company directly about the technical specifications also produces varying results.

    Anyway, thanks for your knowledge on these forums, its a big help to talk to someone in the industry.
     
  24. pjripple

    pjripple Member

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    Interesting...I have been looking at the same safe, the BF6030 and maybe the BF6636. I noticed at my local retailer that some of the BF6030's had a bolt on the top of the door and some didn't. Maybe I'll look at the date of manufacture next time. Obviously something changed at some point. It would be nice to know exactly what your getting before it shows up on your curb.
     
  25. chrisrgr

    chrisrgr Member

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    That's funny, when I asked my dealer about the bf6030 with the bolt at the top of the door he told me Amsec hasn't started manufacturing them yet, and that they would cost more.

    So they are making them? Is the cost the same?
     
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