Part I: What You Need To Know About Buying Your First Gun Safe

Part I: Let’s “Safe-It”, Nothing is Safe. What You Need To Know About Buying Your First Gun Safe.

Almost everyone who has regularly attended a gun show, worked in a hardware or big-box home improvement store, or as a locksmith across the Country observe that in times of uncertainty (i.e., Y2K, Post-911) and disaster, and now in the current global financial crisis, the home safe has a particular allure and see an up-tick in sales. By Gun Shows Today – your #1 source of gun show schedule dates and locations. It seems no place is really “safe”, including big financial institutions.

So to be “safe” instead of sorry, many individual consumers consider purchasing safes to protect a wide variety of property. Three may come to mind: guns, cash/valuables, and important paper materials, like insurance policies and official documents, such as birth certificates and passports.

The decision to spend the money to buy a safe, and to pick this one method of protecting possessions over others, such as a bank lock box, may be highly personal, but there are a few myths and realities/considerations that may help.

A myth or common misconception is that items locked in a typical bank lock box have some inherent financial protection and will be available in times of need. First, the items in a bank safe deposit box are not FDIC insured. In addition, most provisions of bank safe deposit boxes exclude any liability for it.

Second, in a time of great crisis, a reasonable question to ask yourself is whether the bank will be open and available to you to get your possessions. Banking laws have provisions for closure in the right factual circumstances.

Equally, it is myth that something can be fully protected. Remember, anything can be stolen or destroyed in the right situation.

For many consumers, a bank deposit box may well be the best choice for passports, coins, gold and important documents like life insurance policies. Assuming you weigh this to having your own safe, there four basic, but important, things to consider:


It may not seem apparent, but any gun collector who has a gun safe will tell you one thing; a safe will rapidly fill up, so consider what you are going to keep “safe” in your safe to evaluate the size you need. This is the easy part, as almost everyone arrives at the same conclusion – we all have many items worthy of safe storage.

Unfortunately, everything in life comes with tradeoffs. In general, the bigger the safe is in size, the more it will cost and weigh. However, the upside is more choice. There is a wide array of safe material used today. The most basic is steel and hardened steel.

More advanced safe construction uses composite box materials to multiple materials sandwiched together, such as steel and fire-retardant fabric and heat-expanding seals around doors and other orifices.

Most locksmiths can guide you to a standard product line of safe of sufficient size and quality construction materials to secure your particular property. With firearms and jewelry in particular, it may be less costly, or minimally more useful, to have a custom-built safe.

With jewelry, safes are available with a very high level of security and interior fit and finish that may include drawers made of exotic woods and metals and lined with expensive fabric.

However, there is always the risk the safe itself will be stolen and “cracked” at a later time. This raises complex issues, such as structural reinforcement of the home or office to support its weight to anchoring it to the structure.

With firearms safes, they tend to be very large, often time approximating the size of a refrigerator, so the space it will occupy is an important consideration. If the desired result is to carefully conceal a safe of any size within a wall, making it safer, because it cannot be found, this must be considered with new construction or reworking of an existing space by a finish carpenter.

Furthermore, a firearms’ safe may itself weight many hundred of pounds, and when subsequently loaded with heavy firearms, create unique support and placement issues. Gravity may be your friend in getting this safe to a location below grade. On the other hand, what goes down, is hard to come up, so where the safe is placed is where it may be for the rest of its life.

So fortunately (or unfortunately) deciding to purchase a safe is only the start, followed with size and construction considerations. Yes, color too, but if it works for its intended purpose, to mitigate or stop its intended threat, it may not look as colorful later. In a home fire for instance, the paint may burn off and the handles melt. If the safe is a fire safe, it is likely it met its intended purpose and its contents remain safe and intact.

Size matters. So does construction materials.