Gun Safe Buying Guide
People with guns need safes that can secure and protect their firearms. There are a variety of gun safes available in the market and each gun safe caters to a specific need, and what works for one gun owner may not work for the other.
Who Makes the Best Safe?
A good question... Sticking with the tried and true brands that have made a name for themselves in terms of both reliability and durability is a good way to make sure you purchase a gun safe that is going to last, and more importantly is going to do the job of keeping people out.
Cannon Gun Safes
Is one of the undisputed leaders in home safe security. They have been keeping guns safe since 1965 and have continued to improve every year for more than 50 years running.
WHAT SETS CANNON GUN SAFES APART?
Longer Bolts with Anti Pry Tabs:
Cannon gun safes boast features like longer, stronger bolts (twice as long as the competition) housed in doors and frames with anti-pry tabs. The construction of Cannon safes keeps intruders from getting to guns and valuables after multiple pry attempts.
Triple Hard Plate:
3 layers of 60+ RC hardened steel protect the locking mechanism on your Cannon gun safe. These features will keep your valuables secure even after several hours of work with an oxyacetylene torch.
Cannon True Fire Ratings:
While other safe companies test their safe like they're cooking a thanksgiving turkey (keeping the heat at 300 degrees for the majority of the test), Cannon's True Test reaches 1200 degrees within the first 8 minutes of testing and stays at that temperature until failure.
Cannon conducts several True Tests to insure that their product is set at the highest standard and continues to improve year after year.
A Back-up Plan:
Cannon's revolutionary dual access EMP lock provides a manual combination back-up plan for anything that could compromise the electronics in your locking mechanism. The EMP lock will protect you against threats such as electromagnetic pulses, dead batteries, floods, fires, and natural disasters.
Winchester Gun Safes
Gun Safes by Gun Makers
Winchester is a company that knows how to protect guns. They have been a leading manufacturer of fire arms for many years and know exactly what it takes to keep weapons in the home secure from children, burglars, or fire hazards.
An American Brand You Can Trust
Many people decide to go with Winchester because of the trust in their brand and their many years of manufacturing quality products that don't disappoint their customers.
Reliable and Classy
They main objective of any safe is security. Safe owners want a product that will keep their children safe from accidents, safe from thieves, and safe from natural disasters and fires.
They also want a safe that will allow them quick and easy access to their fire arms for home defense. Winchester is a brand that promises all of these features and more and have made consistent progress in improving both their safety rating and easy of access to safe owners.
Winchester provides great safety, ease of access, and also a classic look that will add to the elegance of any home.
Standard Features on a Winchester Gun Safe
Winchester safes feature a drill-resistant exterior and have special features that protect the interior, and therefore you can rest assured that no burglar is ever going to get his hands on your guns. They are fire-proof and have automatic re-locking capabilities that turn on when someone tries to break the safe's lock.
Winchester gun safes are equipped with a UL-listed electronic keyboard that can be used set any combination. You can choose your combination and keep changing it whenever. The safes locking bolts are really thick and solid - the Supreme range of safes has 2" thick bolts while the Silverado series has 1.5" thick bolts.
These safes are heavy and cannot be moved around by thieves. Each of them weighs between 500 and 1,000 pounds and it is impossible to lift or fool around with the safe without raising a racket. These safes also come equipped with bolt holes, which allow you to securely fasten the safe on the floor and make it 100% immovable.
The adjusting shelves in these safes can be organized in any way. This allows you to change the layout of the safe and tailor it per your needs. The interior door storage system makes for additional storage and each safe features very elegant beveled edges.
Shop Winchester Gun Safes
Recommended Safe Features for Long-Gun Storage
Budget $1200-1500 for a safe from a major maker, with external hinges, and an interior at least 58" high.
That gives you room for 30"-barreled rifles with a top shelf for handguns and other valuables. A rotary rack and slide-out drawers are great additions.
- Digital locks offer quick-access and convenience.
- Interior at least 58" High and 30" wide
- Overall Weight 750+ Pounds
- 8 Gauge or Heavier Wall Thickness
- Double-Wall, Composite Door with Relockers
- Minimum UL RSC Rated. TL-15 or TL-30 Rating is Desirable
- External Hinges
- UL Type 1 Commercial-Grade Electronic Lock
- Custom Interior Suitable for Scoped Guns with Long Barrels
- On-Door Storage System for Non-scoped Long Guns OR
- Rotary Gun Rack for Scoped Rifles and ARs
- Slide-out Drawers for Handguns
- Fire-lined Inner Safe for Paper and Media
- Low Gloss, Rust-resistant External Finish
- Pre-Drilled holes for Lag Bolts and in Rear for Electric Cord
- Overhead Fluorescent Lamp and/or LED Mini-lights on Strings
DOs and DON'Ts of Safe Buying
DO purchase a safe that is bigger than you think you need.
Your gun collection is bound to grow over time. A good safe is more than just a gun locker — it becomes a secure storage device for your family's other valuables as well. You'll find you quickly fill up even a large safe. Spend the money for the size, protection, and features you want. Your gun collection may be worth many tens of thousands of dollars so it makes sense to invest in the protection of your valuables.
DO spend more for a safe that offers fire-resistance.
But you have to do your homework — you can spend a lot of money for "fire-proofing" that actually is not very effective. Make sure if sheet-rock is used that it is properly installed. If you have valuable documents and media files, it's not a bad idea to purchase a smaller, commercial-grade fire safe to put inside the gun safe. This gives you double protection. Choosing a reliable brand like Cannon or Winchester is a good way to make sure that the safe you buy lives up to the guarantee of the manufacturer.
DO investigate the safe's specifications.
Just because a safe is big and heavy doesn't mean it's particularly secure. Heavy-gauge steel is much more resistant to cutting and drilling than light 12- or 14-gauge steel. Some safes on the market have walls so thin they can be penetrated with a fire ax. We recommend 10-gauge steel at a minimum, and 8 gauge is much better. The safe should carry a UL RSC (Underwriters Laboratories "Residential Security Container") or better rating.
DO ask about the safe's safeguards against tampering.
A quality safe will feature extra armor or devices to defeat drilling. Low-grade safes can be opened in a few minutes with simple, battery-powered hand tools. All safes should have relockers to help ensure the safe remains locked in the case of a burglary. Relockers are hardened pins that are triggered during an attack, and cannot be retracted without hours of drilling. The number of relockers on a safe ranges from 2-10+ depending on the safe's size and burglary grade.
DON'T store powder in your safe.
A tightly-sealed metal box with a large quantity of powder inside is a bomb. Store powder in a separate, lightly-constructed cabinet or wood box. The main thing for powder is to keep it dry and away from moisture and light.
DON'T store large quantities of primers in your safe.
If one primer goes off it can detonate others, causing a chain reaction. If you have many thousands of primers, don't store them all in one corner of your reloading area.
DON'T leave the wooden pallet on your safe and rely on the safe's mass alone to deter thieves.
A 10-year-old kid with a rented pallet jack can move a 1000-pound safe with ease if the pallet is attached and the safe is not bolted down.
DON'T place your safe in plain view, such as the front of your garage, or corner of your living room.
This is just an invitation to theft. And be discrete when you load and unload firearms — so you don't advertise to the whole neighborhood that you have a large gun collection or valuables needing worth extra security.
DON'T leave power tools or cutting torches near your safe.
Size and Weight
Recommendation: At least 58" interior vertical clearance; at least 750 lbs loaded weight.
A bolt-action rifle with a 30" barrel is about 52" inches long. Therefore, if you want to get a long-barreled gun in your safe, with a bit of room for a top shelf, you'll need an interior 58" or so high. As far as width, 36" and 40" are common sizes that will give you ample space for a couple dozen rifles. A 36"-40" wide interior will allow you to have a 16-gun rotary rack on one side, plus a normal shelving unit on the other. A nice, wide interior also lets you place shorter rifles (or AR-15 uppers) horizontally on an upper shelf. That is a very handy and efficient storage option.
In terms of weight, obviously a 2000-lb safe is more secure than a 500-lb safe.
When safe vendors were asked about a reasonable compromise in terms of less weight compared to safety…
We asked a number of safe dealers, and most felt that a safe in the 750-lb range offered a good combination of size and security. At this weight, the safe can't be moved with a typical appliance dolly. It will be big enough, with large enough footprint, that it will resist being tipped over. It will be too heavy for a couple of thieves to push up a flight of stairs. Conversely, a 500-lb safe is much easier for a couple men to manhandle, and two strong men can get one into the bed of a pick-up truck using a ramp.
Safe Construction and Wall Thickness
Recommendation: Minimum 10 Gauge steel walls, 5/16" solid plate door or 1+" composite door, armor shielding over lock box.
Strength is important in a safe. This is a function of components, design, and construction quality. You want a safe with great exterior strength, because during a fire, the house roof or other structural elements may fall on the safe. If the safe splits a weld or if the door springs lose, your valuables are toast.
Well-constructed safes are built with continuous welds, not "stitch welds" linked with body filler.
Steel is very expensive. That's why low-end safes have very thin steel wall panels, 12-gauge or even 14 gauge. Thin steel does not offer much of an obstacle to penetration. A concrete saw will zip right through 10-gauge panels, and 12-gauge, single-panel steel can be penetrated by a Fire Ax. Commercial-grade safes, used in banks and jewelry stores, use much thicker-grade steel.
But the average attack on a residential gun safe is more of the "snatch and grab" variety, by criminals who don't have heavy-duty cutting tools or torches, and who want to get in and out fast. So, it's reasonable to compromise a bit on the exterior shielding of the safe to have a manageable weight and reasonable price. Still, we recommend 10 gauge steel as a minimum, and 8 gauge, or 3/16", is much preferable. You should compare that to the wall thickness on other brands. Thicker steel is definitely harder to cut, and more resistant to break-ins.