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Choosing a Gun Safe

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Choosing a Gun Safe © Flickr user MoneyBlogNewz, Creative Commons License
As a gun owner, a good safe is one of the most important investments you will make as it is an essential element of gun safety. There are so many gun safes out there, though, that it can be hard to choose just one. Before you buy a safe, assess your needs and choose the features that are right for you.

Size:

When it comes to gun safes, size definitely matters. You can find safes that are as small as a book or as large as a closet. To pick the right size, consider how many guns are currently in your collection as well as how many you plan to add to your collection in the foreseeable future. Also consider where you plan to store the safe. Do you want to keep a handgun in your bedroom? A small under-the-bed-safe might be what you need. Do you plan to store your entire collection out of sight and mind? A large safe for the garage might be ideal. When in doubt, bigger is better, so you can accommodate a growing collection for a long time to come and because a bigger safe is harder to steal.

Price:

The price for a decent quality gun safe will vary widely depending upon size and features. A small safe for a handgun can be purchased for $50 or less. A large safe for long-guns can run anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars. While more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, more expensive safes are generally heavier and provide more safety features.

Locks:

When choosing a lock, you need to consider who it is you are trying to keep out of the safe. If you are trying to keep children out, any basic lock should do the trick. If, on the other hand, you are worried about a skilled thief accessing your guns, you may want something a bit more sophisticated.

A biometric lock is arguably the most sophisticated lock available. On a gun safe, a biometric lock typically scans fingerprints to unlock and can therefore only be opened by the owner. As you can imagine, such locks can be rather expensive.

Other types of digital locks can be quite effective—unless, of course, the electronics fail.

Key locks are basic but you have to keep the key well hidden for safety while still being able to access the key quickly if the need arises. Combination locks do not pose that problem but you run the risk of forgetting the combination.

For that reason, a good choice for many collectors is a two-in-one combination/key lock. This allows you fast access to your safe without having to fumble for a key, while giving you a backup option if you should forget the combination.

Doors:

There are several considerations when examining doors on a safe. First, where are the hinges located? If they are located on the outside of the safe they can easily be compromised so look for safes with internal hinges.

Doors should also have at least four bolts on each side and at least one bolt on both the top and the bottom. The bolts should be a minimum of 9/16 of an inch and the door, itself, should be made of at least ¼ inch thick steel. Also be sure the door frame is a continuous weld rather than spot welded as spot welds are easier to break into. Finally, avoid composite doors. They look thicker but have less actual steel thickness in them.

Fire/Water Resistance:

A good safe will offer protection against fire and water. An average house fire reaches temperatures of 1200 degrees Fahrenheit so you will want your safe to be able to withstand those temperatures for a minimum of 30 minutes. Similarly, choose a safe that is water resistant in case of flooding.

Accessories:

As you shop for safes you will find that many come with an assortment of accessories. Some safes have built in lights and gun racks. Others have hygrometers to measure the humidity inside the safe while some actually have a dehumidifier built in. If you are trying to keep your costs down, you may find that it is more economical to purchase the accessories separately and install them yourself.
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