A Stack-On gun cabinet is many things. It’s handy. It’s affordable. And it keeps a few firearms out of the reach of little hands. But a burglar with a crowbar can pop one open faster than you can say “homeowner’s insurance.” And if a house fire threatens your boomstick collection, well, maybe you can make an interesting garden sculpture out of the smoking ruins once they’ve cooled.
All of which explains the peace of mind I enjoy now that the Stack-On is gone and my guns and a few other valuables rest safely inside something purpose built to protect them from larcenous and incendiary threats.
Utah-based Liberty Safe — the biggest safe maker in the business — makes a broad range of American-made storage options for your precious babies. Units from the compact, affordably-priced 12-gun Centurion all the way up to almost-closet-sized models like their 64-gun Fatboy. But at the top of the range, with its heavy seven gauge steel, 22 bolt door seal and 2.5 hour fire rating is the Presidential series.
Mine is the 33-gun, 1300+ pound Presidential 40 model. What do you get for your hard-earned money when you buy a mid-four-figure safe like the 40? Three things, primarily; top notch design and finish quality, endless configuration options and superior fire protection.
Once Liberty’s local delivery guys had the safe in place, the first thing you notice is the attention to detail that went into the interior finish.
You can configure the Presidential model in any number of ways to fit your particular inventory thanks to dual-use adjustable shelving.
The edging and stitching work are impressive.
There’s an included multi-outlet unit — including a USB jack — in the lower right corner of the safe.
It’s perfect for accommodating the included dehumidifier, cellular access monitoring system or anything else you want to keep in your safe that requires power.
You can personalize the Presidential’s configuration as you please in any number of ways. Here’s how I’ve laid out mine.
This nicely appointed drawer is where we’ll keep my wife’s fabulous jewels and my extensive collection of IWC watches…if we ever manage to accumulate any of those things.
The included door liner is designed with room to store eight handguns.
There are plenty of pockets, pouches and elastic bands to stow everything from magazines to emergency gear.
The two large lined “cool pockets” on the lower part of the door liner are ideal for holding and protecting important documents…like that divorce decree you’re sure to wind up with if your wife ever finds out how much you really have invested in your arsenal and safe.
Another long gun or two and I’ll have to reconfigure things.
The top shelves have plenty of room for ammo, magazines and such.
There’s no end to the customization opportunities here. The only items you see that don’t come standard with the safe (besides the guns) are those four pistol hangers ($20).
The interior is lit by recessed LEDs. If you leave the door open and walk away for about four minutes, they automatically shut off. Reach inside and they sense the movement and turn back on again. In short, Liberty’s thought of virtually everything here.
The Presidential safes are rated to protect your goods for 2.5 hours at 12o0 degrees.
Something my research has shown me is that there’s apparently a lot of flim-flam that goes into the fire ratings of safes. Some companies shoot for a particular time and temperature rating and get there by gradually raising the temperature over the designated time period. When they momentarily reach the maximum temp then drop it back down. As long as the contents aren’t singed, they call it good.
When Liberty tests their safes, they put their units into an oven at the full-rated temperature and hold it there for the rated time period.
The four-inch door is firmly held in place when closed by a series of 22 pry-defying 1.5-inch bolts set into the seven gauge American steel construction. That makes a difference, too. All of Liberty’s steel is US-made. They tell me there’s a clear performance difference between the domestic steel they use and lesser quality varieties available south of the border that go into some competitors’ safes.
There are two additional items you get when you buy a Liberty safe; a true lifetime transferable warranty and first rate customer service…something I needed the first day I owned the Presidential 40.
The safe’s pre-set combination lock (electronic or biometric locks are optional) didn’t work. No matter how many times I tried it, no dice. You’d expect a safe that drains your wallet as much as a Presidential does to, you know, open. A call to Liberty’s extremely helpful customer service line didn’t resolve the situation. It seems that even the best safes can be jostled enough in transit to jar the tumblers out of place, throwing off the combination.
The impressive resolution, though, was that within two hours of my call, a Liberty locksmith was standing in my garage, diagnosing the situation and re-setting the combination for me. The problem couldn’t have been resolved any more quickly or satisfactorily.
While the guts of the door were exposed he showed me how punching the lock on the Presidential is an exercise in futility for would-be burglars. While no safe is un-crackable, the build quality here ensures that anyone trying to force their way in is going to spend a long time going at it. Time enough, you’d hope, to discover the situation and call 5-0.
With the exception of the initial combination lock problem, there’s nothing the Presidential doesn’t do extremely well. It’s a quantum leap from my old Stack-On. And while this kind of security doesn’t some cheaply, what’s your peace of mind worth?
Specifications: Liberty Safe Presidential 40
Height: 5 feet, 6 inches
Width: 3 feet
Depth: 2 feet, 4 inches
Weight: 1310 pounds
Construction: 7 gauge steel, with four layers of fire-protectant fiber board (two expanding layers in the door jambs and door)
Fire rating: 2.5 hours at 1200 degrees
Price: $6,099 delivered
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
Theres no getting around it…the safe is beautiful, both inside and out. And there are a variety of color options to fit your taste and decor. You can see in every detail that a lot of time and effort have gone into all of the Presidential model’s finish and design work.
Reliability: * * * *
While I’m as dedicated as anyone to thoroughly testing my gear, I won’t be subjecting this safe to 1200 degree temperatures or setting my house alight to see how it does. From the extensive research I’ve done on how the safe is made and tested, I’ll sleep soundly knowing everything I’m keeping in my Presidential is well-protected. The hiccup with the combination was disappointing, but it provided a good demonstration of Liberty’s superior customer service.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
A beautiful, well-designed safe with top-of-the-line protection and a true lifetime warranty. The Liberty Presidential is as good as it gets.