In February I moved from Washington to Texas. My 650-pound safe didn’t. The cost and complication just wasn’t worth it. The rental house we would be moving into, sight unseen, has no garage. And I didn’t even know if the safe would make it through the front door. Plus, the idea was renting temporarily while we learn our new stomping grounds and shop for a home to buy. What to do, what to do?
I didn’t want a storage locker — a steel cabinet hardly more “safe” than a lunchbox. I didn’t want a traditional safe, as I wasn’t about to make permanent changes to the house we’re renting and I knew I’d be packing up and moving some time in the near future anyway.
Leaving another safe behind wasn’t an appealing proposition either (and I assume the landlord wouldn’t be pleased). So, in the end, the choice was clear . . .
SnapSafe specializes in “modular” safes, meaning they’re broken down into various components rather than welded together into a monolithic unit, as is the norm. This allows the safe to ship as a flat pack. It also allows the end user to carry each manageable size and weight section to the final assembly area.
Dropped off near my front door, the crate was a bit…daunting. I knew there was a 623-pound safe in there somewhere and the wife and kids were out for the day and unavailable to help.
With the top removed, I was glad to be greeted by an instruction manual. Looking through the assembly process helped me plan out my next moves.
Layer by well-protected layer, I removed components from the packaging and organized them in my office based on their assembly order.
The most difficult part, working by myself, was removing the door from the front wall. For one person these two components are simply too heavy to carry while assembled together. Don’t get me wrong, the actual disassembly is extremely simple, it’s just the weight and logistics make it hard.
Even out of the front wall, the door itself weighs a hefty 92 lbs. I can lift it and carry it, sure, but it was easier to slide it into my office. Basically, I carried it through the front door, set it on a small rug, and slid it the rest of the way.
Likewise, the rear wall — lacking the empty door hole like the front wall and formed from 9-gauge steel as all of the exterior walls are — is a very heavy 140 pounds. This I actually “rolled” carefully, side-bottom-side-top-etc., until it was on that same rug then slid it to the office. Can I pick it up? Yes, though the size and shape make it more difficult than lifting 140 pounds of person or free weights.
With everything in the office, it was time to start assembly. Not only did the SnapSafe include all of the necessary [high-grade] hardware, as you’d certainly expect, but it came with useful tools. Like, a real socket wrench of decent quality.
Will it actually fit into that 23-1/4″ wide (narrow) closet door frame? I had my doubts.
Removing the closet door to provide extra clearance, all components made it through. Though a SnapSafe is easier to assemble laid flat on its back, this wasn’t an option for me in the confines of a small closet so I built it upright.
The process is really quite simple: sides, bottom, and top are supposed to be assembled together then laid on top of the rear wall. Pre-installed bolts in certain walls slot into holes in other walls. Washers and nuts are added by the assembler to hold everything together. Naturally, all of this hardware is completely internal and not visible or accessible from the outside of the safe.
The key was refraining from tightening down any of the nuts until all of the walls were in position — all bolts through all holes.
Next up was inserting the fire protection sheets into all of the walls (the rear was already done). This ceramic fiber material plus the magnesium oxide interior panels help achieve SnapSafe’s claimed 2,300° for one hour “Fire Shield” protection rating. Heat-activated, expanding door seals further protect from heat, smoke, and water.
Next up is installing those interior panels. Follow instructions, as the order and manner in which they’re inserted is crucial if you expect to actually get them in.
Two basic shelf configurations are possible with the included components: a long gun-centric layout or a half long gun, half smaller shelves layout. The heights of the shelves is up to you, except in the half-half configuration where the “T” part must be installed as pictured.
I chose to slide the safe against the left closet wall, providing me with the most door opening space possible. I’d get a couple more inches of door swing by removing two of the three deadbolt handles, which are the first part to contact the closet door frame, but I’m plenty happy as-is.
Done! It took about 90 minutes once I started assembling. It would have taken half that time if I had done it as suggested with the safe laying on the floor. Then again, it couldn’t have pulled a Houdini and magically appeared inside an impossibly small closet.
Seriously, it looks like the safe came first and the house was built around it. It’s instantly obvious to even a casual observer that it would be completely impossible to get the Super Titan XL in there without at least some significant framing and drywall work. From the front at least, there’s zero indication that this is a “modular” safe.
I have also decided not to bolt the safe down. While the safe’s floor has four holes for this purpose, the fact that I’m in a rental house combined with the fact that a burglar would have to do some serious wall demolition work before freeing the 700 lb (with contents) beast makes me comfortable leaving it as-is.
My initial crop of rifles installed just fine. I found the spacing of the rifle rack shelf to be spot-on perfect. Obviously some rifle bolts may have to be removed (mine all fit if strategically left open or closed, depending on bolt design and knob location), and some optics will require additional clearance.
Obviously I still need to organize the top shelf. I simply shoved all my requires-safe-storage crap in there. What I’ll do soon is re-purchase some stands and racks from Gun Storage Solutions (I neglected to move mine from my old safe) and store the pistol cases elsewhere. Additionally, regardless of fire rating, it’s a good idea to store important documents in a fire-resistant container (like this small safe or this file safe) inside of your big safe, which I’ll do.
For lighting I went simple but effective: a 3-pack of battery-powered, motion sensor-activated, LED lights (these ones via Amazon). I used the included double-sided tape to stick one to the closet door frame, mounting the other two via their built-in magnets to the shelf rails inside the safe. A piece of stick-on “hook” side Velcro could also be used to attach lights like these to the safe’s fabric interior lining.
I got the Super Titan XL with a mechanical lock. Not really due to any specific preference over the digital lock that’s also offered at the same price, but because I don’t have much of a preference and the digital lock versions were backordered. I suppose there are some advantages to the good ol’ mechanical flavor — no batteries, no worries about EMP or lightning strikes or whatever shorting out the circuitry — but speed ain’t one of ’em.
A lot of owners end up pre-staging the combination. Whether this means dialed to the first number in your three-number series or dialed to the second, few would actually admit to the practice. Considering there are 100 numbers to choose from and the process from the second number to unlocked still involves rotating the dial counter-clockwise past the final number once, then stopping on the final number on its second appearance, then rotating the dial clockwise until it stops, the chances of guessing not only the correct number but the correct process is nigh on impossible.
On theft resistance, this is not the industry’s toughest vault but it’s solid for its size-vs-price category. All body panels are made of 9-gauge steel, which is thicker than many safes costing twice as much. A spring-loaded relocker fires in the event of drill, hammer, or punch attacks (possibly torch, too) to the locking mechanism area, and further locks the bolts in place. This is a safety feature that most budget safes lack.
On the front of the door is what SnapSafe calls a piece of steel plate, rather than more body-thickness sheet metal wrapped around drywall as it the norm in this market. That door plate is 3/16″ thick, which is the equivalent of 7-gauge sheet. Typically we don’t call things “plate” steel until it’s at least a quarter inch (3-gauge). This is one part of the safe that I would like to see beefed up even further, if for no other reason than a thicker edge is harder to get under and pry up. I still like this honest construction more than than rolled sheet metal style, though.
Eight, 1-inch, chrome steel, live locking bolts secure the door to the body. At least they do on the opening side of the door. There’s nothing on the top or bottom, while the hinge side has a full-length loop of 3/16″ plate to wrap around the front body panel. For additional theft protection I’d want to beef up the top, bottom, and hinge side locking systems as well. Actually, the locking bolts need to be longer to offer the protection they look like they should, so add them to the beef-up list, too.
Then again, going through the door is usually the least effective way to get into a safe, and a professional thief is more likely to grind or torch through a wall or through the top. The 9-gauge steel (43% thicker than many safes in the price range) is appreciated there even if it’s still vulnerable to a good angle grinder and some spare time.
Of course, most gun “safes” are really just residential storage containers. I know the comments will be full of reminders to this effect. No, the SnapSafe here is no exception, and a professional burglar would get into it just fine. But it fits the level of protection I need when weighed against the value of my firearms and the amount my homeowner’s insurance will pay for them.
Were it not wedged in my closet, it would look something like that. Of course, the security factor goes way up by limiting a burglar’s ability to get leverage on a pry bar. Heck, my Super Titan XL is completely inaccessible on four of its sides (it’s against the wall on the back, left side, and bottom, with only 7-3/4″ of space on the right), too close to the ceiling to do anything but squat on the top, and the closet door frame blocks a pry bar’s ability to move in the most effective direction.
Everything works exactly as it should, and the Titan XL has been suiting my needs perfectly for a few months now. Plus, I’m really digging the big-safe-in-a-small-closet thing.
Specifications: SnapSafe Super Titan XL
Exterior: 59″H x 38″W x 24″D (add 3″ for handle)
Interior: 53.5″H x 33″W x 20.5″D
Door Opening: 52″H x 14.75″W
Weight: 623 lbs.
Capacity: 36+ Long Guns
Lock: Standard with digital or mechanical. Optional EMP lock for an additional cost.
Fire Rating: 2300°F one-hour Fire Shield protection. Heat activated door fire seals.
MSRP: $1,999 ($1,869 with free shipping on GunSafes.com)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish * * * *
Nice powdercoat, clean edges, and very good fit between all of the components. If there’s anything I’d improve, it would be a tighter fit between the door and its frame. A smaller gap would make it even harder to get a pry tool in there.
Utility * * * * *
The average homeowner moves every seven years. I have to assume that figure is lower for renters. Moving a big safe is difficult and expensive, but I can (and will) move this one myself. I transported it and assembled it inside of my tiny office closet by myself, after all. Yet it still offers the fire and theft protection of a typical welded-construction residential gun safe, if not more than most of the competition in its general price range (apologies, I won’t be destructive testing it).
Customize This * * * *
It isn’t the most configurable safe in the world, but it does come out of the box with multiple interior configuration options.
Overall * * * *
The utility is through the roof. It’s exactly what I wanted and needed. I’d give it five stars if the door and door frame were beefed up a little more.