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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. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    No. I have no idea how my numbers proved that. Small amounts of air heat faster than large amounts of air, so the protection would have to be greater. Yet in those cases, cement filled safes are being used. You gave an example of a very large cube, which would heat much more slowly due to the huge volume of air within. It's using ceramic, although most still do not.

    Regardless, we're still talking about safes and not vaults, and we still haven't been able to find an example of a safe with a UL rating using ceramics as its primary insulation.

    Actually both materials, ceramics and cement/concrete/composite/etc., transfer heat. I know this because my home oven is surrounded with ceramic inuslation, and yet it still gets warm on the outside when heating from the inside. All man made materials will transfer heat.

    I have found several materials used, including ceramics and even foam. However, the outer chamber is what does the heavy lifting, and that has always been cement.

    The outer chamber (the safe itself) is protecting against the 1700 and 1800 degree heat for 1, 2, or 4 hours, while keeping the interior of that chamber at 350 degrees or less.

    The inner chamber (the ceramic or foam lined container) is protecting against the 350 degree interior temperature of the outer safe, while keeping its interior at 125 degrees or less.

    There have been several banks that have burned down in the last hundred or so years. Can you point me to one where the cement vault failed to protect its contents?

    You may not be aware, but NFPA and UL are two entirely different organizations. The "NFPA-75" that you mention has nothing to do with UL.

    You can read the 1999 version of the NFPA standard here:

    http://www.minhbao.vn/userfiles/file/A_NFPA75.pdf

    Just giving it a quick glance, and it looks like you can use any material, so long as by building code it gives a "fire rating". Since it doesn't give a specific list of approved materials, I'm assuming your ceramics would work along with gypsum board, cinder block, brick, or concrete.

    I'm going to have to research the ceramic products you pointed to in those links to see if a) they really do carry a UL rating, and b) if so, which standard is being used for testing. Then I can comment further on the aspect of its rating, as issued by UL (if any).

    Edited: Houston, we have a problem. Your ceramic vault panels you linked to made by Firelock don't appear to be UL rated in any way, shape or form. The panels appear to meet your NPFA standards, and that's it. The door to the room is in fact a UL rated vault door, and it uses a secondary door to meet the media storage requirements. By the way, the door shown on their site is a cement filled Schwab.

    The Veritrust site does mention UL testing of their panels one time, but then goes on to explain on site modification of the vault during the assembly process. Since UL can not guarantee that these modifications are made in the same fashion as they were during the testing process, they will usually not certify the product without having an onsite inspection of the finished product.

    There's a big jump in UL's involvement in ratings involving theft. Most gun safes have an RSC rating, which is a BS rating, and also isn't worth the the sticker it's printed on. It does look good in sales literature though.

    A B rate safe is a safe using up to a 1/2" plate door, and up to a 1/4" plate body. Technically all safes are B rated at a minimum, although a true B rate safe is considered to use the full thickness.

    The first burglary rating UL has above the RSC is the TL-15 (heavy plate safes). Using A36 steel, your gun safe would have to have a 1" plate body, and 1.5" plate door to get this type of rating.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  2. PH/CIB

    PH/CIB Member

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    Thank You, Adirondack! for answering my question on building a stud and sheetrock closet around a gun safe, sounds like an economical way to get excellent fireproofing to me.

    Thank You, ALABDJ! for bringing up the subject of used safes, a used safe should be just as good as a new one and you can probably get a lot better safe for a lot less money by buying a used one.

    I read somewhere that in California, some guy with a lot of money built the exterior of his house, walls and roof using nothing but ceramic tile and when a forest fire went through the neighborhood all the houses burnt down except his.

    If we look at the space shuttle with ceramic tile on the exterior of the shuttle keeping the occupants from burning up, why is ceramic tile not being used on the outside and inside of gun safes?

    Last question, are sprinkler sytems effective? I see them all the time in commercial buildings, what would it cost to put a sprinkler system in a house?
     
  3. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I could see this. Most houses in these types of events catch fire from blowing embers. If you can keep the embers from coming in contact with something flamable, then you're off to a good start. This is why most of these homeowners are out hosing their roofs off during fires. Keeping the roof wet will buy time as well.

    The tiles on the shuttle are only exposed to a high temperature for a very short period of time. It's similar to the ceramic house. You only have to protect it long enough to escape the danger.

    Ulitmately, when somebody wants a highly burglary resistant or fire resistant enclosure, they built it out of reinforced concrete. There were vaults in the World Trade Center buildings (modular vaults at that), that survived the collapse, and the heat.

    They are very effective. Many people run a single sprinkler head over their safes. If you are wanting to run an entire house, you may need more water than your supply line can handle. Something to keep in mind.
     
  4. adirondack

    adirondack member

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    I believe you have found the safe yourself although you choose not to believe that the ceramic wool IS the primary insulation on the class 125 safe. After all, if the cement were so good why would they need an inner liner of ceramic wool or foam? Yes most of the temperature drop is across the cement (which I'm sure is a cost savings measure since they already have a class 350F safe manufactured) but it is the dry ceramic wool or foam (foam has excellent thermal resistance) that enables the safe to meet the class 125 standard of keeping below 125F with less than 80% humidity.

    Yes that is a fundamental law of thermodynamics although they use fancy words like Entropy.

    Oh yes I'm quite aware of the difference, my job has me dealing with codes and standards daily and I have actually used NFPA-75 before on a project I had once upon a time. Of course, UL is a third party test outfit which is supposed to be unbiased in their testing.

    There is a newer version of NFPA-75 which has some significant changes.

    Well I know in your world, UL testing means a lot. In the industrial world where structures are large, complex and unique. UL certification is impractical, impossible or not really trusted (I.e., the customer is going to want to see the test done in person aka a F.A.T. Factory, Acceptance Test and sometimes even upon arrival at the site S.A.T. although in this case it would be kind of hard to do that.) I'm sure Firelock would be more than willing to have each of their custom built vaults tested by UL to get official UL certification but I'm also pretty sure the customer isn't going to want to pay the extra amount, well all maybe but the government.

    Frank you yourself said air is a great insulator; put some space between the doors and you have pretty effective insulation, even if they are just cement filled :)

    Well Frank, I don't want to appear rude but I'm traveling next week so I won't be able to respond but I have to say this is a very good discussion and I do still appreciate your expertise on the subject; although we might have to agree to disagree on fire protection I think.

    Back to the spirit of the thread though:

    I still feel the AMSEC BF series (the new one with 11ga shell and a denser fill) has higher marks for fit and finish but for security and especially fire protection, IMO the Sturdy Safe is the clear winning.

    Also, although I've never had to deal with AMSEC customer support; I would be very surprised if any company is even close to what Sturdy Safe offers, they even take the time to comment here on this thread; where's AMSEC in all these discussions?
     
  5. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    No. The primary insulation is the cement filled safe. Otherwise, they would just make the whole thing out of ceramic. Why do they use ceramics on the inside? Easy explanation. Most cast fire rated safes give off moisture during a fire. For the purposes of media storage, this needs to be controlled. This demands the use of a "dry" insulation. In addition, space is at a premium on a safe. An additional layer of cement is adding a lot of weight, and taking up valuable space.

    This also holds true for free standing data inserts. These boxes rely on the primary insulative properties of a UL rated document safe. When placed inside, they meet the UL standard for media storage.

    This is why we are in an apples and oranges discussion here.

    I have installed several vaults for the US Government. All of them have been cement.

    This is quite common on antique vault doors that use no insulation at all. You have a main steel door, anywhere from 12 to 20 inches of air, then a second set of key locking steel doors. This system appears to have worked well, only being abandoned due to the amount of space the doors ate up.

    What we agree or disagree on is great for discussion, but means little in the real world.

    UL is the authority on testing. Manufacturers should know what they're building, and why they are building it that way. They all tend to agree on one type of material when it comes to building a fire rated safe, so I have to assume there's a good reason for that.

    I disagree, although in some aspects it's a close call. I would give the edge to the AMSEC, and not because I sell them. I often suggest the Sturdy to people as well, dependant upon their use of the safe. I don't sell Sturdy.

    I can base my opinions on actual real life experience dating back to 1992. If you have any actual experience with safes for the basis of your opinions, I'd be happy to hear about it when you get back.

    Sturdy is a small company. I'm a small company. Both myself and Sturdy spend a lot of time on the phone with customers.

    AMSEC is one of the largest safe manufacturers in the US. While Terry and I are talking on the phone, they're busy churning out tens of thousands of safes in a year.

    AMSEC just sent out a brand new vault door for a customer of mine because the paint wasn't just right. I would say their customer support is just fine, even if they aren't joining gun forums to talk about their products.
     
  6. rescueswimmer

    rescueswimmer Member

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  7. smilit1

    smilit1 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I have been lurking for a little over a year on this forum. I am so thankful to see people like Frank Zykan and Terry & Alyssa from Sturdy on this forum as well. Thanks for taking your time guys (and girl, respectfully)! I didn't even know Sturdy Safes existed until I began reading these posts. I am in the market for a gun safe. I have narrowed it down to an AMSEC or STURDY.
    I just wanted to let all you guys on the forum know that I am an engineer at HONEYWELL. I am familiar with both the NFPA 75 and 86, however my group deals mostly with industrial combustion and we design to the NFPA 86.

    I am smiling really big right now for a few reasons:
    1.) HONEYWELL doesn't make any of those "Honeywell" safes.
    2.) I showed my engineering colleagues these posts and how Adirondack did his calcs and now the P.E.'s are giving their opinions. Production has ceased!! (The P.E.'s words around here are like GOSPEL, they bless all the crap we are not sure about, so once they get involved, it gets very comical watching nerds fight about splitting hairs.)
    3.) Since most of us engineers are hunters, the big boss being one too, I had an idea for AMSEC/Frank and STURDY/Terry. We have the means to test any kind of ceramic or composite concrete here. (We have a tech center with all sorts of ovens and fancy machines that test for stuff like this.) I can have our genious techs cook up each material and give us an independent opinion about which fire barrier resists heat transfer better and then post it here. I think this would shed some light on this interesting issue.
     
  8. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    What kind of sample would you need?

    Short of sending you an entire safe, the only material I would have access to would be in the form of a cut away sales display.
     
  9. rescueswimmer

    rescueswimmer Member

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    Im in for 50.00 to donate to the cause. Would love to see how this turns out. Sadly I don't think anybody will come through on this.
     
  10. waterguy52

    waterguy52 Member

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    Found this thread searching opinions of the amsec vs sturdy. I am considering the BF6030 or sturdy 32/24/60 or 36/27/60. I have talked to cannon, browning, lierty........not impressed. I am really stuck on the fence between the amsec and the sturdy. how are others finally making their choice?
     
  11. heeler

    heeler Member

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    Well I guess I will wade back into this resurrected thread....The Amsec BF is made by a true commercial safe company so without any doubt there is a lot of know how in the end product as far as security and fire protection.
    The Sturdy is a well made gun safe by a well established but much smaller company.
    If you can look first hand at the Sturdy it may be all you are looking for.
    Unfortunately I could not see one first hand but did see several Amsec BF's at many dealerships so I went the Amsec route.
     
  12. waterguy52

    waterguy52 Member

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    Thanks for taking the time, which Amsec?
     
  13. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Contributing Member

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    We are not going to replay the 'Sturdy Safes vs the world' threads any more. Let's let this one die.
     
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