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Getting a gun safe or are there other alternative options?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by AirPower, Sep 15, 2004.

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  1. AirPower

    AirPower Member

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    I now have a few guns that might warrant a safe purchase. I'm looking at the options but somehow safes just aren't the only answer. The question I have is if there are any equivalent or even better "non safe" options? For one thing, even if a safe's fireproof, most guns have wood or plastic parts. Does the temperature inside go up to the point of ruining them even though the safe wasn't damaged?

    For theft deterence, I've been thinking if you can secure a room or basement into a safe room, with blocked or no window entry from outside, reinforced wooden door with steel lining or pure metal door, deadbolt locks, locking lugs and may be multiple locks. You'll of course have to open and lock the room all the time but the room will then be versatile enough to secure important documents, run it as a home office, "safe room" for SHTF, and also keep the little kids out if you wish. Unless thiefs are willing to break thru walls or floors/celings, it should be a secure place. If they are that determined to get into it, or have enough time to do so, even gun safes would not work in those situations.

    Another one is monitored alarm system, which would be more feasible for single family homes instead of apartements. Gun safe can really only protect guns and some small items. Other than firearms, there's usually far more valuable (may not be monetary) in a home that you'd rather not stolen. A secure alarm system will protect the entire house, in fire, theft and medical emergencies. The cost for 24hr monitoring won't be so bad if you have to buy 2-3 safes just for the guns. Considering $30 a month, and each safe being $600 on average, 3 safes at $1800 can get you 60mo/5yr and you may get home insurance deductables.

    any other options?
     
  2. treeprof

    treeprof Member

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    Your guns'll be toast much sooner in event of a fire under the alarm scenario than under the gun safe scenario. More so in the event of a theft. Monitored alarm systems are nice (we have one), but they are actually a deterrent, not a protectant.

    Re a gun room, unless the walls are hardened and reinforced, it's much easier to get in there than it would be a safe. There are some companies that make actual safe doors for you to hang, and reinforcement panels for walls, but that's a pricey proposition.

    There are a number of fire rating levels (temperature and duration) for safes, and I'd go with the highest you can painfully afford. They will give you good protection in an ordinary house fire and offer very good theft protection. I have both a Cannon and a Liberty, tho I don't recall specific models at the moment.
     
  3. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    Different safes have different fire ratings. Low-rated safes will allow the contents to be heat-damaged much sooner than a higher-rated safe. The "typical" gun safe can be broken into in a matter of minutes, often less that 10 minutes.

    If the walls to your safe room are not reinforced, the room will be very easily broken into. A person can very easily put his fist completely through a sheetrocked wall between studs. I once repaired a rental house where I could walk from room to room without going through a door. My size 12's could get me through a typical sheetrock wall in less than a minute.

    Monitored alarms systems are only as good as the response time of the police or security forces. Friday and Saturday nights in some areas may typically see response time in hours rather than minutes.

    A combination of these systems would offer the most security: a concealed concrete bunker-type basement room w/concrete ceiling (all heavily reinforced with rebar) with a vault door, quality safes bolted to each other, quality alarm system for the house with a separate system for the safe-room and safes. Throw in a couple of well-trained dogs and I would feel reasonably certain that my goodies would still be there after a weekend away. Even better would be a trusted relative house-sitting while I'm away.

    Oh yeah...make sure none of your neighbors or your kids' friends know about your safe room or security measures.
     
  4. White Horseradish

    White Horseradish Member

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    How about the room in the corner of the basement being built fom cinderblock or brick? Only two walls would have to be built.

    I live in a 100+ year old house and I don't think any floor anywhere in it will support a safe. Also, I'm not sure a safe can be maneuvered through the doorway to the basement safely (no pun intended). Taking down some individual blocks would be much easier.
     
  5. STW

    STW Member

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    I believe you'll also need to do something to reinforce the floor above to give the same measure of protection of the block. You'd also have no fire protection from the floor/ceiling.
     
  6. ken w.

    ken w. Member

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    GUN SAFES

    I think you need to ask yourself whats more important:Not to have your guns stolen,or Not to have your guns burned up.I have my guns in 3 cheap $200.00 gun lockers to keep the honest folks out.I have them on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the house(split level).I'm not really worried about them getting stolen as much as keeping them away from the neices and nephews.
    As far as keeping them safe from fire,If my place goes up,there's so much stuff in this house to feed a fire,those guns would be toast in the best fire rated safe around.
    As far as anchoring them down,an older man in my parts had his gun collection in a safe ripped thru the wall of his house by wraping a chain around it and pulling it with his own farm tractor.So,if you think that you are completely secure,there's someone that will go the extra mile to take what they want if they want it.
    The thing that I would watch out for in storing a gun in a basement is humidity.I see more guns ruined by storing them in cases and basements than ruined by fire.
    I would say the best thing to do along with securing your guns is not to adverties that you have them at all.I'm not saying I don't have guns laying around the house,but I have the where nobody can see them from the windows.Same thing with safes,if you can't see them,they most likely won't know.;)
     
  7. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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  8. bill2

    bill2 Member

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    gun lockers?

    I have my guns in 3 cheap $200.00 gun lockers to keep the honest folks out
    _____________________________________
    Ken,

    Where did you buy the gun lockers? I don't have room for a safe, but a gun locker I can probably fit into a closet in my townhouse.

    Thanks
     
  9. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Airpower;

    The fire protection of safes does indeed vary greatly. Most, Liberty, Cannon, etc., are rated for 1200 f for 30 min. However, there is no national standard for these ratings. In other words, unless you know exactly how the safe was tested, you can't know how good it's claim is. Slow ramp-up to temp. time, safes laid on their back, etc, are all ways to 'pass' that cheat the customer.

    The rating that you can trust is the Underwriter's Laboratory certified. They will certify either one or two hour ratings. Safes that can pass the U.L. standard will protect the contents during a fully-involved house fire. The kind where the frame of the house burns & the structure is a total loss.

    In the U.L. test, the safe goes into the furnace upright. The gas is lit & the temp is brought up to 1750 f. Then, the clock starts for one or two hours. The safe spends every minute at the rated temp. At the end of the time, the internal transponder is read. It cannot exceed 350 f internal. Then the gas is shut off, & the safe is left in the furnace to cool to laboratory ambient, constantly being monitored for internal temp. At no point can it exceed 350 f.

    Safes that meet the U.L. fire certification will almost certainly meet the 'B' or 'C' burglary rating too. The problem for the average homeowner, is the cost of a true safe. Most start in the mid two thousand range for a 10 to 12 slot container.

    Check the construction of any container you look at. Almost all known 'name' brands have sheet metal sides, top & bottom. They'll sell you a door, but the rest of the container is 3rd-rate protection.

    If you want a good true safe, look at the high end AMSEC's, the Armory series, or Brown, or contact me via PM. I'm a locksmith that sells safes for a living.

    900F
     
  10. Cap n Ball

    Cap n Ball Member

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    I live in an old house and on the second floor is a room that was outfitted to be a library. It has floor to ceiling bookshelves covering all four walls. It is next to a large bathroom. The floor is a slab of concrete with old ceramic tile on it. I was shown by the contractor who refurbished the house a very cool 'extra'. One section of bookcases was designed to give access to a narrow room running alongside the bathroom. It has the same floor as the bathroom and is completely tiled floor to ceiling. One would never suspect it was there and the locking mechanism in the back of the bookcase is also hidden by a sliding panel of tounge in groove. I keep my three inexpensive gun safes in there. I think it might have been a hiding place for liquor during prohibition.
     
  11. YammyMonkey

    YammyMonkey Member

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    CB, what do you think of the Fort Knox safes?
     
  12. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    Now THAT is the truth!

    My priorities WRT securing firearms are the following:
    1. Keep out of hands of children.
    2. Keep out of hands of criminals.
    3. Keep from being burnt up.

    I can not afford a good quality fireproof safe at this time. I do, however, have the means to take care of priority #1...and have done it for ~$60 total expenditure. #2 priority is marginal (will take a burglar a bit more time) & #3 is beyond my means.

    Yes, there are means other than safes, but a true fireproof safe is the standard.
     
  13. aguyindallas

    aguyindallas Member

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    I am right with JRFruser on this one...

    What I have that works for his "#1 and #2 needs are most likely the same.

    I think I got it at Wal-Mart. Its a two lock, steel cabinet. It holds 8 long guns and has a small shelf on the upper end. It will hold a couple loose pistols and some ammo. It has a couple little hanging trays on the door for misc stuff. I put a few other non gun valuables there. It can be easily bolted to the floor and wall, does not weigh a ton and will keep an honest person honest. A real crook will probably rip it out of the house and a fire will certainly ruin everything.

    For what I can afford, it does a great job.
     
  14. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Yammy;

    We've looked at taking on the Ft. Knox line. Our problem with them was the price vs protection equation.

    The Ft. Knox is probably the best of the non-safes. But it's still not a true safe. The problem is that the top of their line costs as much, or something very close to, a true safe.

    In other words, I could sell something to one of my customer's & know that for, say $400.00 more, I could have sold them what they thought they were buying. I won't do that.

    When you get into the price range of the Liberty Presidential or Ft. Knox Yeager / Titan, you are very closely approaching what I can sell a true safe for in my store. At that point, why not spend a few hundred more & get significantly more protection? The person looking at the high-end Liberty's or Ft. Knox's isn't concerned about the last dollar. So why take their money & not give them the best I can?

    900F
     
  15. petrel800

    petrel800 Member

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    First thing I would do is properly insure your firearms to value. The NRA has a couple good programs.
     
  16. crawfish

    crawfish Member

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    White Horseradish,
    As far as your floors being able to support the safe, if they can support a refrigerator they will support the safe. Most building codes specify floors as being able to support a minimum of 400lbs pre square foot. If your house was able to pass inspection to be purchased you shouldn’t have a problem with support.
    Building a proper gun room isn’t cheap. I had one built during the renovation of a root cellar. The whole job cost about $8K without the cost of the lower vault door and frame or the upper vault door, frame and strong wall. I got the doors and frames as scrap and paid $0.33 a pound for them they run right at 4000lbs for the lower door and 600lbs for the upper one. But I sleep easy when I’m away as there is a sprinkler system with a separate power source from the house to run the pump. I have seen safe rooms that were very good in structure but very weak at the door and frame, roof and by excavation. The floor of my 8X23 magazine is 23 feet under ground with 13 feet of earth on top. But as I said the other 30 or so feet in front of that is a root cellar that is why it is under ground.
     
  17. YammyMonkey

    YammyMonkey Member

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    Good lord man, if those aren't true safes, what would it take to be considered a true safe, and could you point us in the direction of some?
     
  18. joab

    joab Member

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    I recently bought a two bedroom house that I plan on adding at least 2 more rooms to.
    Originally I was going to frame in the carport but after Charlie and Frances I have decided to use block and build a storm safe room. Today after laying all my guns out on the floor for the fun of it I have decided to make the room my general safe room.
    Making the room a safe room will cost about $1000 to $1500 dollars more to build but may increase the value of the house that much.

    I will be able to run a seperate power source such as a generator or solar power to it in the case of power outage

    A sprinkler system can be installed for fire suppression

    The windows will be small , raised and barred

    The three steel entry and exit doors will be hung in steel frames and the locking bolts will work vertically which would make them infinitely stronger than the traditional horizontal bolts

    The 10 x 20 ft room would act as either my "Man Room" or home office with the added benefit of allowing me to proudly display all my guns on the wall instead of hiding them in a safe and bringing them out once in awhile to lay out on the floor to admire all of them
     
  19. YammyMonkey

    YammyMonkey Member

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    And I thought I was the only one who actually called his room the "Man Room." :D
     
  20. joab

    joab Member

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    Got that from a local talk show host Jim Phillips.
    The sign on the door is gonna be
    " He Man Woman Haters Club No Girls Allowed"
     
  21. campbellcj

    campbellcj Member

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    As alluded to above, IMHO most of the "gun safes" I've read about and seen are not what I would consider safes at all. They are really more like like fire-resistant cabinets, barely more than your typical locking office file cabinet (just a different shape).

    Do you really think that 16ga sheet metal would stop a serious thief? Sure it would...for about 30 seconds :rolleyes: To a plasma cutter, that is like cutting warm butter with a razor blade.

    I am admittedly a gun newbie but what I would envision as a real 'safe' would most likely weigh several tons and would be secured deeply into concrete or major beams in some fashion. It should probably also be hidden from general view i.e. not your typical plain-view garage or basement location.

    Personally I always believe that a multi-pronged approach to any problem is best; i.e. get the alarm AND the dog AND the safe AND the locked outer room/closet door AND the extra insurance coverage, etc.

    Recent incidents in our office building at work reminded me of the irony of some loss situations. For example our office building (as is typical) has gorgeous solid wood doors on the suites. They've gotta be 1-1/2 or 2" thick and have nice locks+deadbolts. But the friggen WALLS all around are cheap-a$$ sheetrock, are non-load bearing, and can be punched-through sawzall, serrated blade or even a fist with ease! The point is that 80% of the security measures we see are just BS psychological deterrents and if you really want to protect yourself and your stuff, you probably need to do those things but also have several other layers of "real" safeguards behind.
     
  22. Norton

    Norton Member

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    We're in the process of planning an addition to our rancher that would add 12 feet across the entire back of the house giving us a larger master bedroom, a real master bath, a larger kitchen and a little mud room.

    What this will give me is an opportunity to do a little creative engineering for the space under the master bedroom extension. This would be an extension of the existing full basement, most of which is finished.

    1. No plumbing in this area to burst or otherwise cause grief.
    2. Browning 6 panel steel door with "safe like" bolts.
    3. Concrete on all four sides
    4. Concrete subfloor under the master bedroom
    5. No windows
    6. Minimal amount of wood/other combustibles used in this area to burn

    While the Browning door is not as ideal as a true vault door....it will blend in with the existing doors in the house and not draw undue attention to that room.

    I would then store all of my firearms in typical RSCs within this area, providing two levels of physical security.

    Sould give me about a 12'x8' area to store guns, ammo, preparedness materials
     
  23. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

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    Another .02.

    I have safes for fire protection. Good rated safes.
    Theft detterent is another story.
    Given the average burglar won't make it in, if given enough time or the opportunity to come back, away for several days, they will.
    A professional thief can break a safe lock quickly.

    The trick is to hide the safes so they can't be found.
    False walls that blend into the rest of the house work well.
    I had a pantry closet that left an alcove of 8' where shelves were. It recessed in 4.5'
    I extended that pantry closet wall the whole length and put two good fire rated safes inside.
    Then I used tongue and groove pine to cover the wall and hinged two sections in front of the safes.
    They are internal hinges and the grooves hide the break.
    Then I used a couple of screws top and bottom to secure the openings and have removeable plugs to hide the screws.
    There is some antique kitchen furniture in front of the wall.
    It takes about 5 minutes to get into each safe.

    After I was done, I paid a private security agency that sets up safe rooms in houses to see if they could find something in mine. I didn't tell them what or if I had hid anything. I just said point out anything obvious.
    It took them 3 hours to find the wall and that was beacuse they were looking for it and the only reason they found it was it sounded hollow when knocked on.
    They made recomendations and the wall sounds as solid as any wall in the house.
     
  24. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    If I ever have a custom house built, y'all are giving me some great ideas.
     
  25. DragonRider

    DragonRider Member

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    Same here.

    John
     
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