The video below’s from this year’s January SHOT show. Tom Kubiniec is more than slightly convincing. The President of SecureIt Tactical  argues that the majority of gun safes hold less guns than advertised, are easily compromised, won’t protect guns in a fire, contain chemicals that corrode your firearm and are a bitch to access efficiently. Needless to say . . .

Mr. Kubiniec reckons his safes cure all those ills. And well they may. The question is: aren’t all gun safes just security theater?

In other words, the metal boxes give the impression of inviolability to thieves, deterring them from trying to get your guns. ‘Cause if the bad guys really want your guns, they can watch YouTube videos and learn how to defeat your gun safe in minutes.

Or . . . get you to open the safe.

It ain’t brain surgery, folks. If a thief knows you have guns, he knows you can get access your guns. The threat of death is all it takes to “encourage” a gun owner to surrender his or her safe combo.

Which is why a good alarm system is your first line of defense for securing your precious firearms. Carrying a gun to defend against thieves is your second.

Of course, a gun safe is worthwhile when you’re not at home. Or when you don’t want children or teens to gain access your guns. But against a serious thief or fire, don’t kid yourself. Gun safes aren’t so safe, no matter who makes them or how.

80 Responses to The Truth About Gun Safes?

  1. Or you know, make your home more secure. It often amazes me how much effort some people will go through to defend themselves but live in a house that is little better than a cardboard box when it comes to keeping people out. I keep my guns in a simple metal locker, I put my money and time into fortifying the house itself. 4″ thick doors, no windows on the ground floor that a person can fit through. Its not that complicated.

    • Gun owner or not, it’s easy to overlook the “simple fixes” that at heart we all know about. Keeping the shrubs cut back, a little bit more lighting, making sure your alarm stickers are visible.

      I know that some thieves will “dumpster dive” to research a property before breaking in – who has a new big screen, or a new laptop. I put the occasional Federal HST box into the trash, and I have a neighbor that shoots trap and all the spents end up in the dumpster. So yes, I’m advertising that “there are guns in the building” which might attract thieves. But I’m also advertising “there are guns in the building” and perhaps you should move on! Most meth heads around here don’t want to face an armed homeowner…and the ones that do are too hammered to be very effective 🙂

      • I always liked the concept of planting roses or other REALLY thorny plants (cactus in the southwest) under all the windows. The thief may get in, and out, but he’s gonna pay a price and leave some DNA.

    • Sounds like nobody could escape a fire through a window on the first floor of your house if the upstairs was on fire and the front door was blocked, and EMTs or firefighters would have a hard time getting through those fortress doors to save your life if you were lying on the floor somewhere in need of urgent care.

      Your scenario may be good for SHTF and civil unrest, but maybe not so good for the more common risks of fires, heart attacks, and strokes. There is a trade off between safety and security when it comes to making the exterior of your house fortress-like.

      My security goal is making sure nobody can break in the house without making enough noise to wake me up if I’m sleeping, or without setting off security alarms if I’m not there. I can always board up windows later on if it looks like large scale mayhem is on the way.

      • I used to think this way.. until I got robbed twice while I wasn’t home. You’ll never feel safe in your own home after something like that – I promise you.

        Now I’m of the hard-target mentality. It should take at least 25min of hard labor to get into my house uninvited.

        • I don’t waste time with making my house a fortress,if I was in the city I might, but instead I simply have a couple of ankle-biters that throw a fit when intruders are at doors or windows. BUT, my small farm is surrounded by “obstacles” and prickly pear, so there is only ONE way in and one way out for the uninformed uninvited visitor. And lastly, if you enter my home uninvited, you can expect to encounter armed resistance!

    • +1

      It’s called target hardening. If there’s a will, there will always be a way, but making it as inconvenient or difficult as possible for a potential burglar should be the goal. An alarm system is starting point number one. The common argument I hear against one is “the person is still going to get in your house”. No, it won’t keep someone out, but it will limit the time they have to rummage through a house or work on getting a gun safe open.

    • “Its not that complicated.”

      Doesn’t sound that comfortable, either! My house is mostly glass, any security features could be easily defeated with a rock. And the view of the lake that surrounds 270 degrees around it is spectacular. And secure house, safe, whatever can all be defeated pretty easily unless you have an armed guard. I am the armed guard. And all the glass also gives me a fine view of anyone approaching my property.

      • Yeah, when i hear all the fortifications some people do for their home, i always think all the bad guy has to do is wait, he can get you as you get in your car, as you get the newspaper, whatever, but unless you never leave you “bunker home” anyone can use you or your family members to just walk right in.

        I agree with you, you are your own best security guard.

        Oh, also, small noisy dogs for when you are not home, and at least one mastiff for when you are 😉 Mastiffs are not good at protecting property, but they are the most human-loyal protectors on the planet.

  2. “…argues that the majority of gun safes hold less guns than advertised, are easily compromised, won’t protect guns in a fire, contain chemicals that corrode your firearm and are a bitch to access efficiently.”

    Lets see, yes, yes, maybe, maybe, and what safes has this guy been using?

    The purpose of a safe is not to stop MI6 from rappelling down through your chimney and hacking your code using IR technology, it’s about hardening your guns against smash & grabs and thieves of opportunity. Of which just about any safe accomplishes.

    • Except most StackOn safes. They’re sheet metal, I haven’t measured one but I’d guess they’re something like 16 gauge. Kick the door in the right spots and it will deform to the point that the latches don’t engage and that hook lock will tear right out.

      • I don’t think simply kicking one of the sheet metal boxes will pop them right open. If you beat them up too much they actually get harder too open.
        Even cutting is a pretty involved task and most burglars aren’t going to spend the time. As long as it’s anchored well it provides minimum security.

        Some of us can’t place a 600 lb safe in our quarters. Of course they are better safes but even the sheet metal boxes beat a closet or under bed hiding place,

        • Then you’re not kicking it right.

          Kick it old school and that thing will pop open. I’ve done it. Picks are an easier solution though, the locks on those things are child’s play.

        • Someone should tell Cabela’s to change their signs then. I’ve seen them marked as “safes” at multiple locations. (By the store, not the manufacturer).

      • Voice of experience?….😬 I *kid*……I *kid*…….

        But srsly folks, who risks stealing an AR when you can buy/build one for under $300?

        • Tim, even in America, there are people who will rip your wiring out of your house in order to sell the copper. And, many people are prohibited from buying that $300 AR, while no one is prevented from stealing yours, except by you.

  3. No rampart holds if it isn’t defended. This is a truth about security that’s been known since the days when this blog would have been written in cuneiform on clay tablets.

    • If your neighbors aren’t Conservative and imbued with the importance of Societal Agreement, then it is pure folly to have glass windows on your home or car, and idiotic to share a road divided merely with a yellow line. But in all instances, you are safer than not assuming moment to moment peril from your fellow man.

  4. “Fewer” guns, not “less” guns.

    And, as noted, safes (or security containers) are an important part of a complete breakfast, I mean, security plan.

  5. Front door and bolts are hardened steel, sides and back are mild steel, if one of the sides or back is accessable all you need is a cutting wheel and a few minutes and your inside with a large enough opening to remove all in side.

    • That is his point though. A safe that costs twice what his cabinets cost uses the same mild steel followed by drywall. Why not pay less for the same security?

    • “Warning: Contains Black Powder. Do Not Use Cutting Tools Or Torches To Open” – written very clearly on the door of a friend’s safe, and he ain’t bluffing.

      • +1

        Learned that trick from a friend who has a walk in safe with about 25 pounds of black powder.

        “Go ahead make his day.”

      • If you want a high security safe see if you can get a surplus GSA security container that is rated to hold TS material. They are rated for 30 minutes if I remember correctly. Coupled with an alarm system your guns will be about as invulnerable as you can get. Their configuration would only be good for handguns or maybe an SBR.

        • The rating you are describing is called TL30. They are all over craigslist. In fact, buying a commercial safe from craigslist is probably the best choice for most people other than renters since they are real safes and are heavy.

          A TL30 safe will run 3000 to 5000 lbs.

        • HA. I had a TS-45 that I could stand in if I bent over at the waste slightly on my first ship. But, it weighed north of 3000 pounds.

      • My father used to keep his oxy/acetylene torch next to the gun safe filled with his reloading supplies, including a lot of smokeless powder.

        • HA! Guy down the street from me did that, tho with black powder and for producing fireworks rather than reloading. Also outside. Fella had some substance problems but made the greatest fireworks you ever saw. So one day the shit is hitting the fan outside, cops, ambulances, the whole schmeer. We went to see whassup, his son, about 11, says “My dad blowed hisself up.” Turned out he’d needed to do some welding, forgot the bench he was using was a barrel of black powder. Not seriously injured, miraculously enough, took months for the hair and eyebrows, etc, to grow back. Since he made money welding, and fireworks were just for fun, he decided fireworks had to go, serious loss to the neighborhood.

  6. It all depends on your purpose.

    Professional thieves will case your place and one way or another they’ll get your guns if they have 20 minutes free, which they likely will, because… they cased your pad and they know when you leave.

    There’s about a zillion ways to open up a safe provided you don’t give a shit about the safe itself. Thieves that come equipped are gonna get your stuff.

    Anyway, I disagree with the alarm system being numerous uno. Dogs. Big, scary dogs are your number one if you can have them. When you’re home, your gun(s) is second. The alarm is third at best. The alarm only becomes #1 when you’re on vacation or something so that both people and dogs are not present.

    • I have to agree with you on this one. We had an incident a few years ago when I was out of town. My wife locked herself and the kids out of the house. She took them over to a neighbor’s house and called a locksmith. When he finally showed up, she went back over to the house to meet him. Long story short, he started to get pervy on her. She started to raise her voice in distress, and our dog picked up on it from inside the house and went absolutely crazy. The locksmith said, “Sounds like a big dog.” My wife said, “Yes, and she’s protective too. Now please just open the door.” That was the end of it. This was a licensed and bonded individual. We considered reporting him, but decided it was best to not piss off a guy who knew where we live and had the tools to get into our home any time he chose.

      But after that incident, I showed her where I keep the guns and how to access them. She still won’t go to the range with me, but she stopped complaining about me having guns in the house. And no, I didn’t hire him to scare her into acceptance 🙂

  7. Cheyenne mountain or Fr. Knox (while incredible) are simply giant safes that any man with enough time and effort could break into. That is if you didn’t have the U.S. armed forces defending them. Home safes protect against smash and grab thieves and other assorted riffraff. On a side note it is a quite funny to see someone with a $4k safe with $2k worth of firearms. Make the safe worth your time and money. Don’t bother getting a decent safe unless you are truly at the “collection” level (like to many of us here at TTAG) or have valuable antiques or family heirlooms.

    • Couple of things.

      One a dog is no substitute for an alarm. A dog can be a deterrent to some crooks. Unless the dog is professionally trained for security ( expect to spend 5k or more on training ) he will be easily drugged or physically intimidated ( kicked the shit out of ) by many crooks. Even a professionally trained dog can’t call the cops and tell them a crime is in progress. Also a barking dog may alert you when home and may alert your neighbors , but not as well as an alarm system. Does this mean a dog is not usefully for home security , no. It just means a dog AND an alarm are better than just a dog. And an alarm is a better choice over a dog. Some crooks target homes with dogs because they feel it means the alarm can’t be on ( at least inside motion detectors ) with the dog there. Modern alarms can overcome this however.

      2. If you have kids in the home , The FIRST job of a gun safe is to keep your kids away from the guns unsupervised. Also they can keep a home intruder from using your gun against you, should he not already have one of his own. Most of the non rated safes (liberty , Winchester , browning , cannon , etc ) are really about all the same and are good for this purpose.

      3. A safe that is over 350 pounds and bolted to the foundation properly is a huge deterrent to theft. Even the low security brands like cannon or liberty provide decent protection that is enough to prevent the typical smash and grab thief from taking off with your guns, provided you have an alarm that will limit his time in the home.

      4. If a home is broken into , the odds increase a second break in will happen. The crooks feel comfortable , hey they didn’t get caught there last time right ? Also they may trade or sell info to other crooks. This is when the creeps will come back for the safe , or tell a buddy who has more know how to crack it.

      5. This means hiding a safe is a good idea. I suggest putting the safe in a closet. Replace the closet door with an exterior door it will look the same , it’s just solid. If possible put the hinges on the inside. Put a DEADBOLT lock on the closet door, even if they have to take the hinges off this will take time. A door knob style lock takes seconds to open with a screwdriver. If the guy doesn’t get into the closet , if he comes back prepared he won’t be prepared for the safe. If he does get into the closet , you’ll at least know and can maybe change things up. Also the closet will slow him down either way.

      6. A UL rated safe is the best way to go BUT pricey. They are rated by the time it takes an EXPERT with the proper tools to break in. 6×15 means 15 minutes to cut into a side on all 6 sides. They go up to 45 minutes a side. The UL rating of RSC is not that good but better than nothing. California DOJ rating is next to useless. The letter ratings are based on the safes construction and are almost as good as UL rating. Get a B or better.

    • “On a side note it is a quite funny to see someone with a $4k safe with $2k worth of firearms”

      I don’t think its funny, I think t shows excellent judgement. People keep many other things in their safes with their firearms. Whether you have $500 or $5000 worth of guns there is no excuse for going cheap on a safe.

    • “Make the safe worth your time and money. Don’t bother getting a decent safe unless you are truly at the “collection” level (like too many of us here at TTAG) or have valuable antiques or family heirlooms.”
      I love my wife, but unfortunately, I can’t stay home all the time to protect her. She’s five foot two, the inside of my safe is five foot even, so she only has to bend over a little when I’m out of town.

  8. I actually kind of like their designs. Light weight, reasonably secure and possible to dissassemble and move by myself if and whenever I want to, without having to supply four friends with pizza and beer (not to mention hernia surgery).

    Just a bit too pricey for what they hold.

  9. Security is an onion, not an egg.

    Many layers. Including locality. Bad guys gonna need a lunch to get to my goodies.

  10. Just put the safe in some small hiding spot that no one would look, and you’re set…..Why’s everyone so bent outta shape????

    • My sentiments exactly.

      B&E is about speed and stealth. Have enough safe to require 15 minutes to penetrate, and put it someplace that takes 30 minutes to find in addition to the time they spend carrying out your flatscreen.

      Most don’t want to hang around your house for an hour or more, unless you HAVE managed to seclude yourself so much that neighbors won’t notice suspicious activity.

  11. I’m really quite sick of the arguments against gun safes. Let’s apply them to the home itself. Anybody with thirty seconds and strong legs can kick right through your door, so there’s no point in having locks. Anybody with a keyhole saw can cut right through your garage door and take whatever they want, so you might as well just leave it open. Porch lights do absolutely nothing to slow down burglars, so why bother? A quality safe doesn’t cost any more than a good dining room set, so there’s nothing wrong with putting in a little money.

    • ^This.
      Life is full of compromises. Reasonable discretion lies somewhere between a bank vault and leaving them on your porch.

    • Very true. Just because someone can pretty much always get in that doesn’t mean you don’t make a concerted effort to make your home and possessions a bad target and to slow down or deter any such activity.

    • I was told once “Locks only keep honest men out”.

      It holds true. Doesn’t mean I won’t lock my doors- but it does pay dividends to have a reasonable expectation of what your security preparations will actually do- or not do for you.

  12. It depends on what type of thief you’re dealing with.

    Drug addict/teenage smash-and-grab types will be deterred by a quality safe.

    Pros will not.

  13. Funny how bad mouths –“safes” all day long yet does not seem to sell even one himself???

    I would have to guess…he can’t do better himself???

  14. I purchased a large non-Chinese made quality safe with two things in mind: extended fire protection and Meth Monkey proof. After having a number of fireman open safes for me during search warrants I have yet to see a safe take longer than 20 minutes of cutting wheel and Jaws of Life to open the door fully.

    • I have yet to see a safe take longer than 20 minutes of cutting wheel and Jaws of Life to open the door fully.

      That is exactly what safes are designed to deliver: increased access time to determined thieves.

      As others mentioned, safes stop smash-and-grab thieves and home occupants who are not highly motivated. Anyone who is highly motivated and has TIME on their side will access your safe.

      And another thing: determined thieves can potentially remove your safe from your home much faster than they can break into it inside your home. Thus, do everything you can to ensure that thieves cannot remove your safe from your home in short order.

    • All the more reason to put the security box down in a nice trap door access root cellar in the side of a hill somewhere. Provided you live in the country. People can’t open what they can’t find.

      • oops, ran out of time to edit.

        Battery operated power equipment is pretty good these days. Lawn mowers run on 40 volt batteries, a cutoff tool is nothing for a thief to carry around in a discrete laptop bag.

    • That actually sounds like a fantastic reason to keep a large quantity of black powder in the safe, WITHOUT warning labels. Booby traps are almost universally illegal but keeping a large stash of powder in a safe just in case someone tries grinding their way in is a pretty good workaround.

  15. I trust all my safes. And my alarm system.
    The dude is right about one thing, they never hold what they advertise.

  16. Everyone here has covered all the points:

    Your average safe:
    (1) stops smash-and-grab thieves
    (2) stops unmotivated family members
    (3) provides some fire protection
    (4) adds about 15 minutes (versus a simple steel cabinet) for a determined thief to breech the safe

    If you really want to protect your firearms, HIDE THEM WHERE THIEVES WILL NOT FIND THEM … and where unauthorized people will not happen upon them.

  17. Funny story about safes. Many years ago a family friend had a very nice house in a nice neighborhood with a secluded backyard. Among other businesses he owned a towing company. Running late to leave for a weekend away for the family, for convenience and time he parked one of his heavy duty tow trucks he’d been using that day in the secluded back driveway (wasn’t supposed to have commercial vehicles at the house so he put it where it couldn’t be seen by the neighbors or from the street). They came home to find the tow truck stolen and a large hole in the back of the house and destroyed concrete in the basement from the burglars using his own tow truck to literally rip the large, heavy, bolted down safe from the basement through the too small basement window. The house had also been ransacked. When he called his insurance agent the first thing requested was a list of valuables and any pictures of them from the house. He said, “Now if you had a list like that and a big steel safe bolted to your basement floor, where would you put that list?”

    I have a safe anyway, but the biggest deterrent is living in the middle of a subdivision and knowing my neighbors on all sides and having big dogs that are home unless we are out of town, but then we have a neighbor we always mutually tell when out of town with whom we share emergency contact info. We used to always have house sitters but life moves on and has interfered with that for the time being.

    • Ah, house sitting. 🙂 Did a lot of that when I was in college. Lived out in a remote part of the So. Calif. desert where sheriff response time was an hour or so… if you were lucky. We had to be creative and self sufficient. One night when I was “sitting” in a very nice home, I saw a young man climb over the back wall and approach the house. I could have been mean and waited until he got to the door, but when he was about half way I let the dog out. Auggie was a very large, very protective Airedale. He was also old, and a bit lazy, so the kid managed to make it back to the wall and ALMOST over it. Auggie brought back a worn tennis shoe and promptly destroyed it. I had a small revolver in those days, but never had to use it. Auggie was a champ. 🙂

  18. Best gun “Safe” I ever saw was a cabinet built into a window seat in a triple window but you couldn’t tell it opened. Seamless with trick latch. Had Pillows and such on top for Camo. Thing was about 9′ long 20″ deep and 2′ wide, 2 sections w/built in racks. Held tons of stuff, carpeted, LED’s and had a dehumidifier. You’d never suspect it opened, even knocking on it didn’t sound funny or hollow. And yes the owner/builder was a cabinet guy.

    Out of sight out of mind. Fireproof no but you’d have to know it was there and you’d really never know so for safekeeping and a deterrent to curious thieves/kids/family absolutely. Assuming you kept your mouth shut about its existence. Hiding them is the best security option I believe.

  19. Smart gun owners don’t own “gun safes”.

    They buy $3000 to $10,000 commercial safes on craigslist for pennies on the dollar.
    I recently bought a small American made office sized safe made out of 3/16 steel plate with a 5/16 door and 2 relockers for $350. It was a $3000 safe originally.

    Don

  20. Sadly I don’t “feel” I need a safe-yet. I’m getting there. My favorite lgs is sure marketing safe and ez payment.

    • Bull. A TL-15 or TL-30 safe combined with a monitored alarm will keep out most dishonest people. Even skilled safe crackers if combined with the alarm.

      The safe requires time to get into and the alarm denies them that time.

  21. As I’ve said on here before – bolt work is very critical; it’s often an over-looked portion of gun safe design and construction. Many “big” bolts are nothing more than bolts attached to a 12 ga. angle steel with 1/4″ bolts and nuts. Weak. Properly reinforced and supported bolt work, along with a solid anchor point to rest against when closed, goes a long ways to protecting contents in a safe. Most gun safes, even American made ones, have cheap bolt work that is fairly easily defeated. There is no need for 26 locking bolts if the bolt work is done right. A UL-RSC listed gun safe will likely keep most smash and grab thieves out, unless they brought a crow bar (or grab one from your tool bench), then they’ll be able to likely get in within a few minutes of prying. Most gun safes have too much gap between the frame and the door, allowing a large pry bar to be easily inserted for prying.

    I have an alarm system, and a Class B-rated safe, which has a tight fit around the door and frame. The door is solid 1/2″ steel, and the body is 1/8″ thick (not the best, but that’s the minimum). The bolts are properly supported, and they rest against a solid 3/4″ bar of steel. Not many people can bend a 3/4″ steel bar. Plus there’s no way to get a decent pry bar in because the gap is less than 1/8″ all the way around the door. A normal sized screwdriver will barely fit in the gap, but that is not going to bend the 1/2″ steel door or the 3/4″ solid frame.

    On locks – many locks, particularly electronic locks, are very vulnerable. Get a good UL listed lock and that should help. Some can be defeated with a battery, by actuating the solenoid. A good relocker is also important.

    You’ll notice most gun safes have thin lips as to which the bolts rest against on the inside of the safe frame – those thin lips are easily bent, along with cheap bolt work.

    All this goes without saying that more steel is better. 12 ga. is not thick. 11 ga. body is the minimum, but something thicker would be nice. For the door, 11 ga is not nearly thick enough. Twice that may not even be thick enough.

    A TL-15 or TL-30 rated safe will keep nearly everyone out. So will a large Class C rated safe (1″ thick solid door w/ 1/2″ solid body). A class B rated safe will keep most people out (1/2″ solid steel door and 1/8″ minimum body). A UL-RSC will only keep opportunistic burglars and children out, but if a burglar has a few minutes, he will get in it. Same goes for a teenager. A teenager would be able to defeat a UL-RSC safe if they wanted to.

  22. Alarm systems aren’t a line of defense. They are a deterrent at best and an after-the-fact note at worst. Most are easily defeated with a simple set of wire cutters. I used to sell/install these things people. I was always asked, “Would xyz piece of equipment make me safer”? My answer was always the same, “This is a deterrent and you are buying piece of mind. Does it make you FEEL safer”?

    Dogs are less expensive and more beneficial. Get one that doesn’t cozy up to strangers right away and has a very deep, loud bark. It is very difficult to defeat a large dog with a pair of wire cutters.

  23. That’s why I have an 8 inch shotgun set with a wire to blast whoever opens the safe door without reaching in to unhook it first.

  24. I have two black lab mixes, One is a doberman lab mix, the other a great dane lab mix. Both ~100 each. I can tell you while it’s probably on the order of a hundred times more expensive than an alarm system it’s most definitely an effective deterrent to not just thiefs but also solicitors. Most walk past the front window and don’t even knock/ring.

    On walks my lab dobie mix walks behind my entire family and will physically stop and hunker down if anyone gets left behind. As to being drugged, when their barking and stomping around with their hackles up, they won’t take a piece of steak from me let alone something from a stranger. There’s only one goal and that’s keep posturing until the perceived threat is gone.

    You could try beating them with a bat but there is two and I’ve seen both of them keep right on keeping on after having huge gashes or puncture wounds that required staple and stitches just from running through scrub so they don’t have pain tolerance like humans. Most likely you’re going to end up with some bites to the hands at the very least.

    While I do trust these pups to protect my house and my family unequivocally whether I am home or gone, the best defense I have is that my next door neighbors are home almost all the time and I live in a post war neighborhood where all the homes are modest and close together. We all know each other and help by looking out for each other.

  25. The same goes for home security systems and video surveillance. It just makes the uninformed and mostly unarmed feel warmer and fuzzier. NDN got burgled while out. Alarm went off, video was rolling. NDN has nice footage of the less than 3 minute burglary that wiped out he and his wife’s jewelry. Now if the jewelry had been in a gun safe, it would have been a different story.

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