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Safe advice from A1 & others (high security)

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by NotAGunNut, Sep 7, 2013.

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  1. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Hi A1 and others,

    I've read a lot of your posts on this forum, as I search for a real safe for my house. I only own a handful of long-guns and hand guns, but I'm looking to get the biggest possible anyway, to store various valuable papers, cash and the like.

    I initially budgeted $1200 looking at getting a Cannon safe from a local big-box store, but over the last couple of weeks of research I've realized that's not a real safe and will most likely not live up to the manufacturer claims of [real world] burglary and fire protection. So then I started looking at UL rated safes for both burglary and fire protection. It seems the most cost-effective options are the AMSEC BF and Meilink Dauntless safes. The Meilink is rated UL RSC & UL Class 350, but no mention of the type of material it's made of. The AMSEC is rated UL RSC but no UL fire (though it does have some type of concrete mixture poured - I didn't notice a pressure ratings nor what's inside it). But at least I do know that it's 2 sheets of 10-gauge (1/8") steel plates in the walls sandwiching the mixture. The door also has a 1/2" steel plate.

    I'm looking for real specs on both safes if anyone has them.

    Both of these safe options are approximately 2x higher in price than what I initially budgeted. Are there other options out there which have a minimum of a 1/4" walls + 1/2" door ("Class B") that are UL rated for burglary and fire (1+hr)?

    Another option I've considered is buying a used TL15/TL30 safe. It looks like those can fit in my budget [now up to ~$2k], but moving them is a bit tougher. I can move it within my house but usually people want them removed from their businesses, which I'd be uncomfortable doing [not to mention I don't know if I could do it - at least at home I'd have time to go to the store and pick up what I need, figure things out, etc].

    Looking forward to reading everyone's opinion and hopefully get some new options to research.

    Thank you and sorry for such a lengthy first post :)
     
  2. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    By the way, I forgot to mention that the burglary rating is probably more important to me than the fire rating, but not too much. I can put cash and important documents in a small safe like this [or similar] Sentry fire/waterproof chest for extra fire protection within the large safe.

    Could a safe expert tell me whether this will do the trick and if it's a good tactic?

    I wouldn't want to lose my guns either, though, as some of them are irreplaceable and worth thousands of dollars. I think they can handle more than 350F though, but don't know about the plastic parts on the AR's.
     
  3. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    When I get this question, and I do several times a week, my reply is usually the same. In the vast majority of cases, it makes more sense to go with a multiple safe approach than a "do it all" single unit.

    The firearms are usually not the high value item needing protection, but they do require the largest dimensional space. A high security safe, large enough for guns, is going to be costly and heavy. In a residential setting, the weight can be the deal breaker. Larger safes also stick out like a sore thumb. There's not much you can do to hide them.

    It usually makes more sense to purchase a lower level gun safe that will do what you need it to do for the long arms. Then, purchase a smaller purpose built safe for the "other stuff". This will reduce your cost, allow more placement options inside of a residence, is easier to hide, and is lower to the floor (which provides better fire resistance).
     
  4. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    A1, I appreciate your answer. As I mentioned earlier, two of my rifles are literally irreplaceable - which is what got me thinking about the "BF+" rated safes to begin with. The multi-safe approach isn't ideal for me because of that. Additionally, I only have a handful of rifles, so they don't take up a terrible amount of space (though they do dictate a minimum inner height of a safe).

    Do I have to worry about weight if it's going straight on the concrete at the ground level? Most of the used safes I've been looking at have been in the 2500-3000lb range.

    Regardless, I'm looking for more options for *new* safes which I may not be aware of.

    Do you (or others) know how the following compare:
    - AMSEC BF6032
    - Meilink Dauntless BC5428-1
    - Sturdy Safe w/4gauge upgrade (I'm just not sure about their fire insulation compared to even BF, which isn't a UL rated safe)
    - Zykan Cobalt ZB-06 (no specs listed)
    - Zykan B5936 (what's FIL fire rating??)
    - Others??

    I'd like to stay in the ~$2k price range, though I realize most of these are slightly higher.

    Thanks
     
  5. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    A little bird has told me that AMSEC will at some point be offering a BF "heavy duty", which will have a 1/4" plate liner.

    No idea on what the price will be, but if priced right, would be hard to beat.
     
  6. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Hope the birdie is right. I'll be looking for it. Thank you.
     
  7. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    NotAGunNut;

    Neither the AMSEC BF nor the Meilink are U.L. rated safes, they are RSC's, or Residential Security Containers. AMSEC does make a rated safe in their HS series I believe, as does Brown and Graffunder. All of them will exceed your stated budget.

    The Graffunder that would seem to come closest to your needs would be the B6026. This would have slots for 12 long guns, one full width full depth upper shelf, and smaller shelves running down one side. It weighs about 1225 lbs empty and is a U.L. B rated safe. Price is approximately double what you've stated your budget is. The external dimensions are 60" tall, 26" wide, and 22 3/4" deep. Graffunder also offers excellent fire protection.

    My personal choice with your budget would be the AMSEC BF based on my experience with them. I have not seen the Meilink you referenced. Putting one of the very inexpensive plastic "document" type accessory containers in the larger RSC will give you some additional protection. Whether or not it's enough in a total loss home fire is problematical.

    900F
     
  8. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    CB900F, I appreciate your reply. I've looked at Graffunder... they're priced for a different consumer from what I've seen :).

    I understand that the AMSEC BF & Meilink are RSC's but at least they're urglary rated (though I don't know the specs on the Meilink besides that).

    Again, thanks for the reply.
     
  9. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    One more question for you guys. I've read that most locks are replaceable (they're standard with standard mounting points). I'm really interested in an electronic lock only, but I want a U.L. listed lock. Does U.L. rating make a difference in electronic locks? Additionally, in your experience, how often does the solenoid inside the safe fail? Are there electronic locks with a key or another override in case of such a failure? What do you recommend?

    I'm sure I won't find a safe with exactly what I want, so it'll probably have to be swapped out afterwords.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Yes. There are safes that use non UL rated locks that can be opened by bouncing, with coat hangers, etc. There are plenty of Youtube videos that show how easy it is. Not only will a UL rated lock go a long way in keeping a criminal out, but more importantly, it will keep children from getting in and out of your safe without your knowledge.



    It's not always the solenoid or motor that's the problem. Think of all of the pieces involved: Keypad, circuit board behind keypad, wiring, circuit board in lock, wiring, motor/solenoid, "lock bolt". This is really an over simplication because there are hundreds of parts and pieces, and in many cases, if any of them fail you're locked out.



    No. Over-rides are usually a security weakness.



    This can depend somewhat due to installation concerns. I've had pretty good luck with the Lagard Basic, AMSEC ESL, and Globalok.


    .
     
  11. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    NotAGunNut;

    If you're insisting on an electronic lock, I'll also suggest the LaGard Basic. Our shop has a lot of them in consumer's hands & we have very little trouble with them. A point that you need to keep firmly in mind though is that when you run the combo on an electronic lock, keep your hand off the handle or else. What "or else" you ask? Putting any force on that handle puts pressure from the lockworks transfer bar on the retracting bolt. The small motor in the lock then has to overcome that pressure, if it can. This leads to motor failure. One well-known electronic lock uses a nylon threaded yoke between the motor & the bolt. Pressure on the bolt causes the metal rotating armature to strip the nylon threads in the yoke. CONGRATULATIONS!! You have achieved a problem. It usually takes some time for this to happen, so the warranty has lapsed also.

    Although it takes longer to run the combo, there are some very good reasons to use the time-tested mechanical combination spin dial such as the S&G 6730.

    900F
     
  12. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Gentlemen, once again, thank you for your input. I looked up the S&G 6730 and it requires so many turns to open. My current safe works more like a padlock. So with a custom code you can really speed up how long it takes to get in.

    Is this 3-2-1 rotation combination necessary for all U.L. locks?

    Hopefully what I'm saying makes sense...
     
  13. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    The number of rotations is related to the number of wheels, plus the driver if the lock has one. All UL rated mechanical locks have drivers, and some non UL rated locks do not.

    A 3 wheel lock (3 numbers), all set to different numbers, with a driver, will require a 4, 3, 2, 1 sequence. A 4 wheel lock with driver would require a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 sequence. A 3 wheel direct drive lock (no driver) would require a 3, 2, 1 sequence.

    If you set any wheel next to another wheel at the same number, it reduces the number of turns. It also reduces the security. An example of this is how we set the locks in our warehouse. Every wheel is set to 50. This allows you to turn the dial left to 50, then back right to stop, without having to go through an entire combination sequence.
     
  14. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    I was watching this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUm3G71BOMc

    And that's wayy too complex (read: PITA) to do every time.

    Is there something like this Cannon EMP lock:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxr_uvKa22s

    I'm sure the Cannon unit isn't UL listed, but it would be great to have the mechanical reliability in the rare event the electrical components may fail. I really want electrical but don't want to be a statistic if/when the thing fails.

    Anything similar available from the manufacturers that you guys suggested?
     
  15. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    NotAGunNut;

    Mechanical dials are not really that complicated, people have been using them for hundreds of years. The trick is just to count-down 4-3-2-1. L-R-L-R.

    OK. first number is your dad's birth year, 1946, or 46. So, spin left four times to 46 under the top index & stop. Reverse, second # is first new car you bought, 04, & the third time it comes up under the index, turning to the right, stop. Reverse spin left, third # is the year your sister was born, 75, second time under the index, stop. Reverse, turn right, you should feel the dial pick up the fence say around 0, turn against light resistance until the dial STOPS, probably around say 88. Turn the L handle & open the safe door.

    Note that the numbers are not going to be easily deduced even by a family member and you should be able to pick ones yourself using the same concepts. Also note that the numbers are separated by at least 10, and the third number does not lie within the 80-0-20 dial quadrant.

    900F
     
  16. shortstack

    shortstack Member

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    That is the exact sequence I have to follow to unlock my Chatwood, except I need a small key to unfreeze the dial, and a larger key (about six inches long and is made up of two pieces) to enable the locking bolts to be retracted after the combo is input.

    I let lack@s@fe set my combo, the delivery guys gave me a sealed envelope with the keys and instructions inside
     
  17. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Alright, experts, I have one more question :neener:

    I found out that the Amsec CSC4520 comes with a gun interior (see image below).

    Amsec advertises a 2-hour 1700F factory rating, which I'm fine with since it's 2-hour and of sufficient temperature that I'm confident it will do fine in my house. The size is a little cramped, but it'll suit my needs and would allow placement in my office rather than the basement (both are concrete floors).

    Since most of the valuables would be cash and documents, I wouldn't mind placing it somewhere more convenient than the basement, either - though still debating/soul searching on what exactly to get, where to put it and so on.

    The question that I have is: what type of burglary rating would one expect from this safe? They don't list steel thickness and they don't say what the "unique, high-density fire and burglary resistant composite material" is either.

    Any clue?

    Thanks again guys!

    [​IMG]
     
  18. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    One of their engineers says that the fill is the same used in their AMVAULT line, but not as thick.
     
  19. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Thank you. Any ideas about steel thickness?
     
  20. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Light gauge. On these safes, the steel does little more than provide the form for the fill material, and provide a smooth, clean, paintable surface.
     
  21. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    NotAGunNut;

    Excellent fire protection and a major deterrant to the smash-n-grab burglar. But, against either a knowledgable or determined thief with some time, not so much. If you go that way, and it's not a bad way to go either, then a layered defense with alarms, etc. would be my suggestion.

    900F
     
  22. Keb

    Keb Member

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    safe deposit boxes

    some banks have safe deposit boxes that hold between 20 and 35 handguns.
     
  23. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    CB900F, sorry I didn't see your post earlier. I AM looking for something that would stop a smash-and-grabber. However, the one thing that worries me about RSC's is that if you give it a whack with something it'll break/distort, giving the person confidence that if they whack enough or do enough they can get in.

    This is one of the reasons I'm looking for something beyond the standard standard 12-gauge and even the less common 10-gauge gun "safe." I want someone to strike it or try to pry it (or whatever) and have no give; hoping it'll act as enough of a deterrent.

    Given that this is a game of probabilities, there's a low chance someone will break into my house and an even lower chance that someone who breaks in will be skilled.

    Unfortunately, heavy steel costs $$. Proper designs cost $$. Proper fire protection for the aforementioned costs $$. So I'm trying to find something which will give me all of the above at the best price point - with caveats of course.

    People keep talking about getting a used TL-rated safe and I've found several, but it's a big logistical unknown (weight, glass relockers, moving/removing it, etc). Then there's a need for fabricating a custom interior and potentially refurbishing the unit. Not to mention the fact that the choice of options, sizes, etc. is non-existent. This just isn't that huge of a market to choose from.

    This is why I'm looking for a middle ground :banghead:
     
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