old safe
Safe with Andrews Patent Combination Lock, American Bank Lock Co., New York, NY, 1841. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
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old office safe
Safe with Andrews Patent Combination Lock, American Bank Lock Co., New York, NY, 1841. National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 

By Tom Kubiniec

Safes in one form or another have been around since the days of Julius Cesar. While sometimes disputed, Jesse Delano is credited with the first fireproof safe design patented in 1826. The modern gun safe has its roots in the 1850s designs of Silas Herring. He used plaster and steel to create a fire rated gun storage safe.

What’s interesting and disappointing is that the gun safes of today are not built to standards anywhere near Herring’s 1850 design. Price and profit pressures have caused the industry to move away from true fire rated safes. The majority of what are commonly called and sold as “gun safes” are actually UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) listed as “RSC” or “residential security containers” and are not actual safes. This includes the “safes” available at all the big chains with popular brand names including “Liberty,” “Winchester”, “Browning,” etc.

Yes, you may have guessed it. The industry did not want to build to the UL Safe classification standard so they created a new standard, RSC – “Residential Security Container.”

(Learn more: Gun Safe: Understanding Ratings and Certifications)

What is an RSC (Residential Security Container)?

An RSC-rated container (gun cabinet) will resist forced opening for up to five minutes by an attacker using simple, non-powered hand tools. We’re talking screwdrivers, hammers (must be less than 3 lbs.), and pry bars (must be less than 18″ long). RSC containers are not rated against any attack by power tools of any kind, or any attack lasting longer than five minutes. This is security designed for an 1850’s threat level.

Mosler Safe Company
NMAH Archives Center, 0060 Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Trade card for Mosler Safe Company, undated, Series: Safes and Vaults, Box 2, Folder Mosler Safe Company (courtesy Smithsonian Institution)

Today, a high powered battery operated grinder with a cutoff wheel can cut a “gun safe” (residential security container) in half in less than 15 minutes. A small portable plasma cutter will do the job in under 3 minutes. People assume that because it weighs 1,000 lbs it must be secure.

Fire Ratings: RSC Certified gun safes are not fireproof

The only consistent, reliable and independent fire rating is the UL fireproof safe class rating. The lowest rating is “Class 350 1-hour” The ratings go up to 4 hours (Class 350-4). Unfortunately, there are no RSC gun safes that meet this rating as the materials and construction required to offer this kind of protection are deemed too expensive by the gun safe industry.

The fire rating or “fire certified” sticker on the door of an RSC means very little as each gun safe (RSC) manufacturer creates their own standards and fire tests. If a safe does not have a UL class 350 fire rating then it is not a fire safe. It is a thin steel box lined with drywall and covered with some carpeting. The drywall makes the safe heavy and “feel” secure. It is not. Talk to firefighters. “Gun safes” (RCSs) rarely ever survive a real fire.

(Learn more: Gun Safe: Understanding Ratings and Certifications)

Guns Safes and Corrosion

There are a lot of products on the market designed to slow the process of your guns rusting in a “gun safe”. There is a good reason for these products. Drywall or gypsum board used in RSCs contain several chemicals that are highly corrosive to your guns. Formaldehyde is used as a dispersing agent in drywall production and is highly corrosive to steel.

(Learn more: https://www.pharosproject.net/blog/show/44/formaldehyde-additives-drywall)

Safes imported from China use drywall that contains additional threats to your guns. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and other agencies have found high levels of pyrite (FeS2) which gives off carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide — all of which are corrosive to firearms.

One hundred percent of the problem drywall coming from China also tested positive for the bacteria Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, which lives in pyrite deposits. These bacteria consume iron and sulfur producing highly corrosive sulfuric acid. Have you ever noticed a mild sulfur smell when you open a Chinese import safe? There are many concerns about drywall from China.

Other Disadvantages of Gun Safes

They are very big, very heavy and once in place cannot be easily moved. They are also big and heavy. Did I mention that they are heavy? You get the picture. In our modern, mobile society where people move on average every 6.6 years (US Census Bureau) does it make sense to own a 1,200 lb metal box full of drywall?

If you live in a condominium or town-home, owning a heavy old safe may not be allowed by your HOA.

Gun Safe Capacity: The Industry’s “Little White Lie”

Gun safe capacity is a lie. When a safe manufacturer offers a gun safe (RSC) and claims a capacity of 30 guns, what are they telling you? I’ve seen gun safes rated for 29 guns that can not efficiently store 11 modern rifles. Either safe companies are not very bright or they think their customers aren’t very bright. The VP of national sales for one of America’s largest safe manufacturers told me it was the “industry’s little white lie”.

It seems all safe manufacturers state their capacity based on how many gun slots they can fit in the safe, regardless of how many guns actually fit. In our product testing, using safes from several different manufacturers, we found the actual capacity for traditional guns is about half of what the manufacturers claim. When you add in modern sporting rifles, that capacity drops even further. Gun safe capacity is a sham.

Gun Safes Are Too Deep

Manufacturers all focus on making heavy, complex doors and lock systems in an effort to make you think the cabinet is secure. These doors are so heavy that the cabinet has to be deep…deep enough to offset the weight of the door so when it is opened the cabinet doesn’t tip over.

This depth is counterproductive to proper gun storage. You end up with guns packed in and you have to dig through them to get to the rifles or shotguns stored in the back.

Please note: a thief ignores the door and just cuts through the thin steel on the side or back of the RSC.

Gun Safe Interior Design Hasn’t Changed

American gun ownership has changed dramatically and the safe industry refuses to address it. The number one rifle sold in America is the AR-15 and most shooters now have some sort of scope or optic on every rifle and shotgun. The gun safe industry not only failed to anticipate these market changes, they appear to have buried their heads in the sand and refuse to even acknowledge that there has been any type of change. Gun safes simply do not have the ability to properly store modern sporting rifles.

“They’ve buried their heads in the sand”

Why does a whole industry fail to address a big market change? It almost appears like all gun safe manufacturers are in a big game of chicken. They all produce basically the same product and are all afraid of being the first one to be different. In most industries manufacturers actively look for points of difference. But not with “gun safes” (RSC containers). It is very unusual and not in the best interest of the consumer. These manufacturers and products are dinosaurs and perhaps, soon be extinct.

We see this as a complete lack of respect for the firearms they store, and their customers who shell out big money expecting secure fireproof storage yet really only have a steel box with some drywall and fancy paint. The only advances in gun safe manufacturing in the last 100 years has been the move to cheaper materials, lower standards, and misleading certifications.

Do you need a so-called “gun safe” or RSC?

If you think you will sleep better knowing that your rifles and stored in a big 1200 lb. gorilla in your basement, then that may be the right product for you. You have to understand, however, that the security against both theft and fire is really smoke and mirrors. The whole industry is built around a false perception that because these things weigh 1200 lbs, it must be safe and secure.

When you consider that these so-called “gun safes” (RSC) are no more secure than a simple steel cabinet and fire ratings (which do not meet even the most basic UL Certification) are simply made up by manufacturers, you have to really question the decision.

  • They are very difficult and expensive to move.

  • They can be corrosive to your guns by design.

  • They do not properly store precision rifles.

  • Older homes may not support the weight and you certainly would not put a safe in an upstairs location.

So what do you do? Knowledge is Power

There are several very inexpensive steel gun cabinets on the market that will keep your firearms secure. Take the time to learn as much as you can before you spend your money.

Tom Kubiniec is President and CEO of SecureIt Tactical which specializes in civilian gun storage and education for gun owners across the nation with the goal to improve lives through safety and better preparation. The company is also the largest supplier of weapons storage units to the U.S. military. More information at https://www.secureittactical.com/.

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  1. Storage is great when you use rifle rods from gun storage solutions…they are AWESOME!
    double or triple your storage…keeps them neat…easy to access…keeps rifles spaced apart
    need more door panel options from companies…molle…full velcro doors

  2. Hmmm….I do not have a large collection of firearms, so security by obscurity works well. I know how to find, so I know how to hide.

  3. Some times all it takes is a lock to discourage thieves
    your car is covered in easily broken glass…right?
    your home windows are probably not bullet-proof either…
    but…you probably lock your doors and windows…and don’t leave them wide open…right?
    and…keeps the little kiddos out …the MOST important feature…

    • First thing I did when I got my “Gun Safe” was to replace their dial combination lock with one from my collection. I installed an S&G 8500. I also welded 1/2″ ball bearings along the tamper points where someone with a little knowledge could drill into the “safe.” I was certified to repair GSA security containers. If you have access to some carbide plates that were previously used to protect locking mechanisms, those are great to weld at access points. Many folks never anchor their gun containers. I just saw a wall gun container that fits between 16″ apart studs. A large mirror or framed poster would conceal it. You have to be smarter than the bad guys – always.

  4. Really liked this article. However….

    There should have been a promotion tag at the top. Don’t really comment on that, but the article is so comparative that a promotion tag would have explained why there was no comparison detail to true “safes”. That is, which type safes are better at: fire resistance; tamper resistance; destruction, etc.

    Evention with a “promo” tag, I would have read the posting.

    • Agreed. I got a few paragraphs in, but when he started going on with the usual nonsense about Safes Aren’t Really Safes I figured he was a shill of some kind. Scrolled to the bottom and lo and behold – he sells OTHER safes that are Totally Better.
      What a garbage piece of content.

      • His are not better, that’s why he explains why you don’t gain anything by buying a traditional “safe”. I remember seeing this commercial here couple years ago.

      • “What a garbage piece of content.”

        That’s kinda harsh.

        The article was interesting, as far as it went. Might have been more informative/persuasive if the state-of-the art RSCs were compared directly to actual “safes”, point-by-point. I don’t mind someone trying to sell me something, but just be upfront about it.

      • Well, it is a true statement. A device holding firearms should not be allowed to be called a safe unless it actually meets the UL definition of a safe. That should be easy enough to figure out. How is that an agenda? I don’t like it when companies essentially lie about what they want to sell you. And putting materials in the “safe” that corrode your firearms is absurd. I would never buy one.

  5. I’m not rich or have kids around.
    I use a 48″ tool job-box bolted to the floor in a closet in my bedroom.
    Works well enough.
    At work we’ve tried to break into these with forklifts.
    Not happening.
    I don’t think anyone could get a forklift into my bedroom anyway.
    …and yes there are 2 recessed bump-proof locks on it.

    • Spend under $20 at Harbor Freight on a 4″ angle grinder. Spend 15 minutes cutting out the side, front, back or top of your tool box, and get back to me on whether it works well.

      • The premise of the article is 5 min.
        Granted, my instructions are:
        Kill my dog.
        Break into my shed.
        Find my angle grinder.
        Break into my house.
        Use angle grinder.
        If I’m not home, you MIGHT get past part one.

        • I don’t know of many gang bangers or neighborhood dipshits that carry around angle grinders with them.
          I’m just saying that’s what I use now.
          It’s better than keeping everything in the attic like some ppl I know.

        • Your jacked up pickup doesn’t have “Follow me; I’ll show you where my guns live” stickers all over it;
          Your dog never comes outside, thrives on bear spray, and wears a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket;
          You’ve spent heavily on 20ft electrified concertina wire fences;
          All your windows are military grade Lexan;
          Your exterior walls are multi-inch AR500 lined;
          House has backup power and multiple Wi-Fi alarm systems…two Ring door bells each entry point;
          Your grinder is the only one in the world;
          You and house mates never leave together;
          You’ve got Chris Kyle and Carlos Hathcock ghosts on overwatch;
          Yep…your guns might be safe.
          Seriously, anything beyond hiding guns under a bed is better than nothing. One does what one can.
          We all think we’ve taken adequate security precautions. We don’t want to think it can happen to us. But, it happens to someone all the time. In reality, “locks only keep honest and stupid people out.” Maybe, frustrates/foils the junky or slows down the slightly smarter crooks. In lieu of the above “tongue-in-cheek, pull your chain” measures, that’s why maybe good to explore the hidden RSC and a dummy tin can. Hope no one ever feels the invasion of a burglary. Several friends….and my dad over Christmas in 1978 while visiting me out of state….have experienced gun theft break ins, even in spite of clever hidy holes and RSC storage. Forget about the replaceable thingys. If one doesn’t have much, insurance will cover it. If one is blessed and has a lot, they understand money is a renewable resource, and will replace what they miss. But, it takes a really long time to feel comfortable in your own home again. That feeling of lost security is not easily replaced. That’s what really matters. Be vigilant; be smart; be safe; be secure.

  6. “Safes imported from China use drywall that contains additional threats to your guns. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and other agencies have found high levels of pyrite (FeS2) which gives off carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide — all of which are corrosive to firearms.”

    Drywall made in China has made its way into new structure construction, houses and buildings. the drywall is made with a waste product of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing, phospho-gypsum. When the fertilizer is manufactured, they first dissolve the phosphate out of a ground rock ‘mud’ with sulpheric acid. What doesn’t dissolve is the gypsum matrix, which now has some supheric acid in it.

    That de-gasses from the drywall and is very corrosive. It attacks copper house wiring, corroding it. That leads to hotspots developing in wall switches and light fixtures. It’s a *huge* mess, and the only way to correct it is to tear out all the drywall and wiring and replace it.

    Yeah, you really want to avoid China drywall in gun safes and in your home’s construction, if at all possible…

      • …In addition, China runs the “solution by dillution” game.
        They sneak a little bit of all of their toxic waste into EVERYTHING they make.
        Thats how they get rid of it.

  7. The fort knox safes cost to much but I’ve been looking for a “good” no thrills safe without paying for fancy finishes and other non essential materials. I’m still looking.

  8. First, the fire rating is one thing. The physical security is something else. After working thousands of burglaries I never saw a gun safe breached. Except those cheap Homack things Wal-Mart used to sell. Shortly after my discharge I was working for the local Anhauser Busch distributor. I came home to find my house burglarized. Missing were 1/2 dozen pistols and revolvers, jewelry and cash. They were walking or I would have lost my long arms and electronics too. If I had the Liberty and Browing then that I have now I’d have everything else too. Most burglars are punks looking for a target of opportunity. Not the cast from Ocean’s 11. In my case they were walking by on the street and saw my wife leave. They said they knew they had at least 15 minutes.

    • Gadsden Flag,

      You beat me to it! I purchased my Residential Security Container to stop smash-and-grab thieves from easily/quickly walking away with my firearms. I fully understand that a really motivated/determined thief can defeat my Residential Security Container within 20 minutes or so if — and that is a HUGE “if” — they brought the right power tools.

      My container also prevents guests (whether children or otherwise) from accessing my firearms.

      Those are their intended purposes.

      Oh, I should also say that I do not expect my container to protect my firearms from a whole home fire.

      • Rule #1 If the house catches on fire. RUN very fast and as far as possible. DO Not Allow anyone near until the ammo finishes cooking off. That most likely will take several minutes. No safe just a well built room with a very strong steel door and frame.

        • Darkman,

          Ammunition cooking off can only produce extremely minor injuries as long as it is not in the chamber of a firearm.

          The Physics are really simple with respect to cartridges and shotshells which are not in a chamber. First, they are unsupported and will tend to yield (bulge and/or crack) when they ignite. Second, there is no chamber to contain the expanding gases and propel the bullet or shot with any significant velocity. Third, the cartridges and shotshells are not resting against any significant mass so any resultant expansive force of the expanding gases cannot generate any significant reaction force to propel the bullet/shot forward.

          What ends up happening, instead, is that the bullet or shot (which is relatively heavy compared to casings and shells) doesn’t go hardly anywhere and the casing or shell ends up flying away — at fairly low velocity.

          The only risk that I can imagine is a possible eye injury if a flying piece of something hits your eye. And I suppose you could potentially incur hearing damage if the rounds keep cooking off and happen to be loud enough to damage your hearing. (And my intuition tells me that rounds cooking off would not generate much sound since there is nothing to contain expanding gases and generate the high pressure levels necessary to generate a loud report.)

        • Darkman,

          In light of my comment above, that argues against keeping firearms at home with cartridges/shells in the chamber (unless you are wearing those firearms on your body of course). If a house fire occurs and burns long/hot enough to cook off the cartridge/shell in your firearm’s chamber, that projectile will exit with lethal velocity into an uncontrolled direction.

          Want to keep at firearm at home with an empty chamber and full magazine for rapid self-defense in case of a home invasion? No problem. Want to keep a round/shell in the chamber? That IS a problem if your home ever catches on fire.

          Now, I suppose someone could argue that the odds of your home catching on fire, that loaded firearm cooking off, and that firearm discharging in a direction that injures/kills someone is extremely low. I agree that the odds are extremely low. Now what? Classic risk management simply compels us to implement a mitigation measure if that mitigation measure does not itself increase risk. Obviously, keeping a firearm with a full magazine and nothing chambered absolutely eliminates the risk of a home fire cooking off ammunition and injuring/killing someone.

          The final question, therefore, is whether storing a firearm with a full magazine and without a cartridge/shell in the chamber increases risk to people some other way beyond the risk of a home fire cooking off a cartridge/shell. That is a good question. It does require someone to charge their firearm (rack slide, pump, operate bolt, etc.) before they can deploy that firearm for self-defense if there is a home-invasion. Will that be the difference between no injury and significant injury/death in a home invasion? Maybe. Will the number of significant injuries/death which that causes exceed the number of significant injuries/deaths that home fires and firearms with chambered rounds will cause? I am thinking probably not.

          I have not heard of a single instance where a loaded firearm cooked off in a home fire and injured/killed someone and I do not imagine that event has ever happened. I have also not heard of someone being significantly injured/killed in a home-invasion only because they could not charge their firearm in time. And I am having a really hard time imagining that happening as well, although I suppose it could happen.

          What do the rest of the Armed Intelligentsia think?

        • “ What do the rest of the Armed Intelligentsia think?”

          For me, it is simple. Has to be. If there is a magazine in a handgun there is a round in the chamber. And if there isn’t a magazine in the gun, there is not a round in the chamber. Test of course. And treat the gun as loaded until you can prove that it isn’t. But I don’t want to take a chance that a gun isn’t ready to shoot, if it looks like it is ready and visa versa, that a gun isn’t safe that looks safe.

          The only, unavoidable, exceptions are guns with internal magazines, like my shotgun. If they are the type (like the shotgun) that might be needed on short notice, they are stored with a full magazine of SD ammo (e.g. buckshot), no round in the chamber and for that gun, the short barrel. The rest of my long guns are always stored completely empty. Even the AR by the bed.

  9. I have enough long guns now that I have been looking for a reasonably storage solution that is not the closet in my home office. But looking at the small safes, I cannot believe that any would hold scoped rifles, including but not limited to MSRs. Plus I’d need one big enough to stash a “few” handguns on shelves. It doesn’t take long to exceed a grand. Then you read stuff like this and you don’t want to believe any manufacturer’s advertisements.

  10. Sorry but you’re not getting into my safe with a pry bar. However, the guy that wrote this article that sells the secure it gun cabinets, can be gotten into quite easy with a pry bar. You also aren’t picking up my safe and walking away with it, the secure it cabinets, can be picked up and moved.

    • Other than a brain addled junky, no one would waste time and effort attacking you RSC door. They would cut through the side/top/back in 15 minutes. Invite me over, and I’ll demonstrate for you.

  11. Reading this article I’m left with the impression I need to buy a bank building for use as a gun safe.

    Here’s an idea: get an alarm, a big dog, and hide the safe from view. Now see if someone is going to go in your house with sirens blaring, deal with the dog, find your safe and cut it open in 3 minutes before cops arrive.

    That only happens in movies and it takes longer even on screen.

    • Actually 5 friends did buy a decommissioned bank building for the unusually large vault. Removed most of the safe deposit boxes, installed racks, updated security with multiple cameras and three separate alarms systems. Built enclosed “sally port” to conceal load/unload of gear from local prying eyes. Added signage for a non-interesting business activity. Although not even that is completely burglar proof. Made a great guy’s place in the remaining areas.

      • “Actually 5 friends did buy a decommissioned bank building for the unusually large vault.”

        I remember a restaurant in downtown Denver that was in an old bank. Dining was available inside the vault. Don’t remember the name. Had dinner in the vault, once, just to be able to have the memory. Very similar to dinner in the “wine cellar” at Solara in San Diego, on the grounds of the old Navy Training Center. Both were rather cool experiences to have.

        • Last weekend, I binged on a cable program “You Live In What”. Featured everything from banks, firehouses, churches, schools, to grain bins, ship superstructure, warehouses, grain mills, manufacturing plants, wineries. Really interesting. My son and D-in-law just retired at 43 and 46 and are looking for their “forever” home. I’m encouraging them to think along those lines…..’cause it would be fun to visit.

        • “My son and D-in-law just retired at 43 and 46 and are looking for their “forever” home. ”

          I think there are still some abandoned ICBM missile silos for conversion.

  12. The author is wrong about old houses not being strong enough to hold the weight. I know a 100yr old house that can hold a safe and a grand piano and 8 tall book shelves. Also, you can’t hammer a nail into the lath to hang a picture….need a drill. That’s old growth trees=strong.

    • “I know one example of an old house being strong, therefore all old houses are strong”

      This kind of stuff drives me nuts

  13. I do wish that Treadlock still made gun safes. I read of one opened with a cutting torch (by LE), but that’s the only story.

    While I still have said Treadlock, I have transitioned to a Liberty Safe (with the internal monitor) for easier access. The monitor tells me if the safe moves, is open, has high humidity, or elevated temperature.

    That and the guard dragon should keep my toys from being pinched.

    People already made valid points regarding this post sounding like an advert.

  14. Between the curious, small hands of chillun’s and the prying, shrewd eyes of the Mrs. an RSC works just fine. There’s a psychological component as well. Wedge that thing in a difficult to access spot and the lazy ones will pass on it every time.

  15. I bought a local company’s safe for several reasons:

    They had two safes they had bought back from customers whose houses burned down on top of them (probably gave them a new safe). One showed a lightly singed front carpet on the top shelf which showed they needed a better grade of that insulation strip which runs around the door. The second had that, but had one singed top corner, where the corner metal had not been thick enough. Mine had both these improvements.

    They also said they do not put holes in the back for power cords, and thus it was rated to keep temperatures below (150F?) for a couple of hours. They said most “fire proof” safes have that power cord hole and are only paper safe, 350F, which is too high for electronics, such as backup disk drives and USB drives.

    It cost several times what a Liberty or Stackon costs. I keep the most important stuff in there — optics, the Garand, etc. I have a Stackon for guns without optics, plus ammo to fill it out, since that makes it nice and heavy. Both are in a separate section of the basement with its own double deadlock doors,and the only other way in would be a sawzall through the side of the house — if you knew where to cut.

    Like everyone says, it is not meant as a stop-all, only an obstacle to convince the bad guys to go away with the easy pickings instead of taking more time.

  16. Three Stack-On steel gun cabinets, not safes. Inside a walk-in closet with a lock on the door. That’s all I got.

    If I had the money I’d buy a vault door. Then down in a sub-basement beneath my personal Fortress of Solitude, I’d build a vault. Carve it out of the bedrock.

    I’d use the same combination as I have on my luggage……

  17. You could have a safe that’s empty as a decoy and a real safe behind a false wall.
    Put nerf guns and water pistols in the obvious safe. Make sure they are unloaded of course.

  18. Regardless of their actual security……really illusions of security…..it is a good idea to have a “strong” RSC for your guns. They do deter some dishonest/stupid people, and they can be seen as liability protection. But, in addition to having a “strong” RSC, it is really good idea to have a “strong” RSC that no one can find. Don’t put your RSC in a family room, bedroom, where it is readily visible.,,,probably with sides/top accessible. Construct a really well hidden room with hidden door that no one will locate. Best if RSC sides, back, top are encapsulated by close walls, metal studs on maybe 6″ centers, to hinder attack. Then, don’t be stupid and show everyone your secret safe!!!! A good follow up would be to place a Stack-On type tin can in a visible place with old beater, demilled guns in it. Smash and grabbers will pop it open, grab the easy fruit, and scram, probably without even trying to locate the real RSC.

  19. @SlutPro, (sry thats how I read it) your demolishing of everyone’s current and wishful storage is at first glance a bit bullying and pompous.
    But I am sure it is your only intent to reveal unseen deficienties and are only on our side.
    Which is a good thing.
    Nothing is perfect short of Fort Knox.
    There is a youtube guy that reveals every flaw in any small electronic gun safe and how to quickly get in.
    Most are defeated with a paper clip or whatever.

  20. Buy an actual TL-15 or TL-30 safe. Every jewelry store in America will be going out of business in the next 2 years and they will be sold on the secondary market for the price of a typical RSC.

    • Good thought. Those would be a hoot to move…weigh 3-5,000+ lbs??? We have two 1500lb capacity UltraLift powered stairclimber dollies (bought second one because accessories were worth twice the total price), home built Chariot style safe trailer, drop bed trailer, industrial machinery skates, Roll-A-Lift style home built 6,000lb dollies, and industrial experience moving really heavy loads. Those safes would be challenging to move into residential setting. Floors/stairs probably wouldn’t safely support.

  21. While it is a commercial, his points are correct. Bought a 14 rifles storage cabinet from Stack On. I know it will hold 8 rifles and some pistols. But, positioning it in the corner of the closet and bolting it into the floor and corner walls, it’s pretty difficult to get the hinge out, the lock is on the side near a wall. Standard Stack On lock, I knew what I was getting except for their lies about the number of guns. All of it is locked in a closet on the second floor, closet door locks appear simple but are complex.
    Course, someone could do a Bruce Willis and break through the drywall to open door.
    BUT, the poster is right. I just bought some color changing beads, made in China, about 2 quart size. A SMALL NUMBER of the beads change color with moisture, 95% DONT. Welcome to China!

  22. Store your 15lbs of black powder or your fireworks stash in your gun safe.. Put a warning sticker on the door.

  23. Look around locally, especially if you live in a rural area. I bought a fantastic safe from a guy who went by Helder the Welder. No frills, just a heavy safe that nobody is going to get into without a torch. The local Sheriff’s department bought safes from him. Good enough for me.

  24. Don’t get an RSC because they can be defeated and won’t protect your guns from a match and will also corrode them in to lumps of rust in seconds! Oh and all of them weigh 1200lbs! And your HOA probably bans them too!

    Jesus Christ, what is the author smoking. Yeah, RSCs need to be billed for exactly what they are. They’ll provide some limited protection against a fire. They’ll stop kids from accessing the guns. They’ll likely stop a snatch and grab robber from stealing any guns/valuables out of one. HOA do not regulate what you have IN your house. A condo association pretty much never does either. Maybe a building association in a big city might. Corrosive gases is a very rare issue from the drywall in a safe. Or at least I’ve never heard of that being an issue and I’d think you’d hear more about it if it was this amazing danger the author talks about.

    And unless you’ve got a massive one, an RSC isn’t 1200lbs. Sure, might 12ga RSC isn’t going to resist power tools nor do I think it would. But its rated for 25 guns. Sure the rating on storage capacity is kind of crap, but you’ve gotta use something that is meaningful. I’ve got 11 long guns in mine with room for another few. If I used rifle rods and removed all the dividers I probably could cram in 25. Of course “modern sporting rifles” with optics are going to take up a ton more room than a 10/22 with irons will. Would it be nice if maybe RSC manufacturers gave a range rating like “25 long guns maximum capacity, 10 MSRs with optics and all internal dividers installed”? Sure that’d be nice.

    My 25 gun RSC is rated to 1400F for 90 minutes. Of course I really doubt in a real fire it would last 90 minutes. But it might save them or at least reduce the damage in a real fire if the fire department is onsite fairly quick (I am a mile from my local fire department). A whole lot better than sitting in a closet, where they will certainly be destroyed.

    I rely on my RSC to keep my kids away from my guns when they aren’t supervised. Does that perfectly.

    I hope it’ll deter a snatch and grab robbery, which is what most are. Most burglaries the person/people are inside for no more than a couple minutes grabbing valuable targets of opportunity. They search the bedroom drawers, look under beds and look in bedroom closets. They might search office desks or grab TVs/computers. So jewelry boxes if not well hidden are gone. TVs and computers might be gone depending if they rolled up in a vehicle or were on foot. Probably any cell phones or laptops are gone. Any guns in closets, on shelves in the bedroom or in drawers. A good RSC will absolutely resist a short pry bar and a less than 3# hammer for a lot more than 5 minutes, especially one bolted to the floor. Unless they person breaking in happens to be carrying a long pry bar and an engineers hammer with them, they are going to need power tools, that they also just happen to be carrying with them.

    Or don’t mind spending the extra time to search around, find the home owner’s power tools, carry them to the RSC and then spend the couple minutes cutting in to it. If the burglar is going to bother spending probably 10+ minutes doing all of that, then likely a real safe wasn’t going to stop them anyway. The difference in cutting in to a 3/8″ hardened steel safe and a 14ga mild steel RSC is a matter of minutes, not a matter of one can’t be done and the other just pops open with a sour look. (mine is 12ga, not like it makes that much difference other than it makes it somewhat more pry resistant).

    What will make a different is a security system that is monitored and a police department that will actually respond.

    I personally can’t afford several thousand dollars for a real safe, that might deter a criminal knowing what they are doing for half an hour. My insurance will just have to cover most of the losses.

    On the weight, almost no RSC is 1200lbs. That’s like a 64 gun RSC made out of 3/8″ with a 2.5hr fire rating. My 25 gun 12ga RSC 90 minute is a grand total of 510lbs. 340lbs with the door off. If you have such a large collection that you actually need a BIG RSC and plan to store all of them in one, I suspect you can also afford the professional safe movers every few years to move your RSC.

    My limited 2nd hand experience with burglaries in my area is that they are almost all snatch and grabs. Guy mostly climbs in a window the homeowner left open when they weren’t home. Dude steals a jewelry box, some cash out of a drawer and the moron home owner’s shotgun or handgun left in a closer or drawer. I know several where the homeowner did have an RSC that was left untouched. Sometimes in the master bedroom closet. Sometimes in a garage or basement. The only one I know of where it was broken in to the person was moving and their RSC with guns in it was sitting in the middle of the living room and the guys pushed it over and ripped open the door (probably in minutes). In one of the cases of the climb through the window (or a couple broken window) burglaries, it appeared that the person breaking in did try to pry open the RSC door and gave up. So they certainly did find it.

    3rd hand I am aware of some guys where the burglar just cut right through the side of their RSC and stole some of the guns out of the safe.

    But in my anecdotal life experiences I know of at least 6 (might be 7?) break-ins with homeowners who had an RSC of some type. One ended up with the guns stolen because the RSC wasn’t secured to the floor (and was also highly visible. Hell, might have been the moving company guys who stole it knowing exactly what they were up against. But that was never proven). One the burglar did try to break in to the RSC and gave up. In the other 4 (or 5) either the burglars found the RSC and didn’t bother trying because they figured they couldn’t break in to it or they never found it (in 2 cases the RSC was in the master bedroom closet and a jewelry box in the master bedroom closet was stolen, so they couldn’t have not seen the RSC).

    In every single instance of a break-in where I know the details where the home owner had an unsecured firearm in a drawer or in a closet, the firearm(s) were stolen. In one instance it was a handgun in a handgun vault and probably the burglar drilled in to it later and got the handgun out. In several it was a handgun or shotgun behind a closet door or up on top of a closet shelf. In one the guy had the few hunting rifles, shotguns and couple handguns he owned that were stored in a closet in his basement all stolen.

    So it seems like an RSC, though not proof against a determined or knowledgeable burglar, they can provide deterrence and some protection against the average burglar (at least the average burglar in my area).

    To add knowing a detective who works burglaries with my local PD and also several other cops, their experience too is that the vast majority of firearm thefts are out of vehicles (in most of those cases, vehicles that weren’t locked) or from homes where the firearm was unsecured. They rarely run in to instances where the burglar broke in to an RSC/safe and stole firearms. It isn’t unheard of, but its uncommon (I texted my buddy to ask and he guessed its maybe 1 in 10 times they get a report of stolen firearms those firearms were stolen out of an RSC or safe). Of course that doesn’t give a break down of how many times the burglar couldn’t get them out of an RSC or declined to try. But my buddy did say when he’s done onsite burglary investigations he often runs in to RSCs in homes that weren’t broken in to.


    Do I think that we should secure our firearms in some sort of locked container? Absolutely, but as this article indicates, breaking into all but the most expensive safes is easy – even with hand tools. With power tools it’s even easier. So, what should a gun owner do?

    IMHO, the first line of defense should be a decent alarm system. Today there are many companies offer easy DIY alarm systems. These can be installed as easily as a WiFi router. Additionally, most have cellular and battery backup – so cutting power and phone lines won’t kill them. Additionally, the alarm protects everyone and everything in the home – not just the guns.

    Assuming you have a sign outside your home, this decreases the chances that burglars will even try to break in. Additionally, if they do try when you are home, you will be alerted and can respond appropriately. If they break in when you are not home, a blaring siren will constantly remind them that cops are on the way. Very few criminals are then going to take time to break into a “residential security cabinet” when they don’t know how rapidly cops may arrive .

    The reality is that if criminals have unlimited time to break into a safe, they will get into nearly all of them. An alarm system limits their time, and will likely scare most of them off before they ever try. That’s why, after a basic cabinet to secure my firearms, I put the rest of my security funds into a good alarm.

  26. I’ve had Liberty gun safe/RSC for 20+ years. No dry wall inside. Just a Golden Rod dehumi. My guns are just fine. I check them all at least once a year. And there is no way in hell you could cut it in half with a big box store battery powered angle grinder with a cut off wheel in 15 mins. Yes its just a big metal box with stubby relocking bars. The mechanism is very crude but the S&G lock is very nice. The door is tensioned with a big set screw which looks and is cheap but works. Wouldnt buy the same thing again but it has served its purpose and served me well. Have a good friend that HAD a wonderful collection of guns stolen TWICE that were in a glass front gun cabinet sold in furniture stores. He wanted to be able to look at his collection and have that type of visual gratification. I believe if he had had a gun safe/RSC he would still have those guns. My pie in the sky ideal gun storage system would be a bank vault type door (which you can buy from several vendors) and a panic room/gun vault built like a bank vault. Concrete and rebar or CMU with rebar and concrete poured in.

  27. This is the second article I have read on TTAG that trashes commercial gun safe. I am sick of reading this shit. What are we supposed to lock up our firearms in a closet, perhaps hide them some where. I will take my chances with my safe. It has a secure lock that keeps kids out and the local shit bag heroin user who is just looking for the quick easy grab to support his habit. I do enjoy most of the content on TTAG, not this shit. Stop telling me how inferior my safe is.

    • “Stop telling me how inferior my safe is.”

      There is no escaping it. Your “safe” is inferior….depending upon your intended use.

      The first piece of useful information in the article is that words can distort meanings. Calling a lockable container (of any kind) a “safe” carries an understanding that said container is superior to a locked drawer, or a locked metal box of no particular characteristics. The word “safe” is received as providing a level of damage resistance above that locked drawer, or tool box. The word “safe” is received as being more fire damage resistance, if not “fireproof”. The word “safe” is received as providing more peace of mind regarding security and damage. A “safe” is not generally received as a superior locked container that boasts materials that may damage the contents.

      Given the distinction between “safe”, and “locked container”, one can then make judgements about how much “safe” to pay for in order to meet the intended need. If the need is simply to prevent easy access to the firearms by children, or guests, a “safe” is not really needed, and the locked container will do the job.

      If the need/intent is to prevent easy access to firearms by children, guests, and theft, a locked container may still provide the needed service: keep casual access at bay, delay/deter thieves who are time-sensitive, and will settle for stuff easy to stuff in pockets or bags. If the intent is not to thwart determined thieves, a “safe” may be overachieving.

      Pointing out the difference in expectations regarding “safes” and locked containers is not equivalent to declaring anyone’s container inferior. The article merely points out the importance of knowing what you are buying, and fitting it to your intentions.

  28. I read a lot of the comments and skimmed through some of the others, but I didn’t see Zanotti Armor safes mentioned by anyone.

    It eliminates the problem of moving since you can take it apart. Their biggest one (Z3 6ft) weighs 825 lbs. That’s all steel. No “fireproof” drywall inside. The nice thing about the modular ones too is that you can put them anywhere you want (including through a small door into a basement room) and since it comes in multiple boxes all your nosey neighbors won’t see a big gun vault being delivered. It’s a pallet of cardboard boxes.

    I realise someone could still cut through it with an angle grinder or a torch, but a lot of the videos I have seen, they flip the safe over first to get to the thinner metal on the sides or back. Mine is bolted to a concrete wall, with a concrete wall on one side and a heavy duty steel shelving unit (also bolted to the wall) on the other side. Prospective thieves are either going to have to attack the thickest part (the door) or they are going to have to do a lot of work to get to the sides.

    As was mentioned by another poster, I also have a security system, so they can try to figure out how to try to get it open as the siren is blaring and decide whether it is worth sticking around.

    I also agree that the best security is not advertising to the whole world that you own guns. Don’t plaster your truck with Glock and Sig stickers.

    I’d highly recommend Zanotti Armor though. They are a bit pricey compared to the Winchesters and Stack-Ons but they are built in Iowa and their customer service was fantastic when I bought mine.

  29. This is obviously a biased editorial in favor of not relying on gun safes. If you read between the lines, this gentleman insinuates that gun safes are not an effective means of securing your guns. Yes, most gun safes can be breached. But at what cost to the thief? I’ve been in the security business for close to thirty years. I have witnessed many who were smart enough to protect their guns with a decent America made gun safe. And have shook my head those who didn’t. And the term residential security container is a misnomer. It’s a safe pure and simple. The term “safe” doesn’t mean that there needs to be two inch thick walls made of solid steel. RSC is simply a different classification of safe.

    Most thieves want quick and easy access. Decent gun safes offer a relative low cost solution to prevent this. Thieves do not carry the tools necessary to breach a safe. They often use your own tools against you. I’ve opened enough safes to know how difficult it can be.

    Buy a decent America made gun safe. Bolt it down. Use a dehumidifier and gun socks. Add a rider to your home insurance in case of theft or damage.

    • “This is obviously a biased editorial in favor of not relying on gun safes.”

      It is a declaration that one should know how the word “safe” is distorted in order to sell products inferior to real safes. It is a caution to know what you are really buying, and even what may be hidden in your purchase.

      The author does sell “safes” as they are popularly known. The author identifies his product as a locked container, not really much different from the popular “safes”…except for true capacity and weight reduction (and the lack of potential harmful chemicals). The locked container also sports a lower price for the same “security” and fire resistance as the popular “safes”.

      The article convinced me that my locked tool box is plenty of “security” for keeping casual visitors away from my plinker, when they are guests. That is the full extent of my “need”. Even with a dozen more guns, my concern would not be preventing theft or fire damage, but slowing things down. If I owned more guns, I would be educated/informed enough to avoid the monster boxes, and the false sense of security.

      • Your reply is just what I expected. People like you are brainwashed by so called experts. But hey, what do I know. I’ve only been doing this for 30 years.

        • Your reply is just what I expected. People like you are brainwashed by so called experts.

          Brainwashed how? I know the difference between a locked metal container and a real “safe”. I was never brainwashed by retailers (or manufacturers) who could not produce a “safe” that met UL standards, yet called their locked containers “safes”.

          My point was that words can be distorted, and common understanding can be manipulated by words.* If a company has a lockable container that will keep out the curious, and that is all that is needed, then a “safe” is not something one buys. I understand that if a locking mechanism can be defeated by less than a trained expert, or massive invasion by powerful tools, whatever it is you have is not a “safe”. I know that electronic locks on consumer “safes” are not so difficult to defeat, and that if there is a back-up key to be used when the electronic combination device fails, that key can be the weak point of the entire “safe”. I also know I do not need a “full up” “safe” as a prevention from invited visitors, and/or their children casually accessing my one peashooter.

          “But hey, what do I know. I’ve only been doing this for 30 years.”

          I hope what you have been doing all those years is not selling lockable containers as “safes”.

          *I was not satisfied with the author making claims about the so-called shortcomings of what is commonly sold as a ”safe”, without direct comparison between lockable containers, and actual “safes” (or what the author considered to be a real “safe”).

  30. My ‘safe’ locks stuff away from the unprofessional thieves and curious kids.
    It mostly protects me from the insurance company not paying off on personal property claim and local politicians arresting me for whatever ‘safe’ storage is called this month.

  31. It’s great that you talked about gun safes and what to look for in one before buying! Recently, my brother said he’s purchasing a gun to keep his family safe. My brother wants to keep the gun at his house, so I’m sure your article will provide key insight to him! Thanks for the advice on checking a gun safe’s corrosion-resistant levels first!


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