Gun Safe Basics

There are multiple things to consider when shopping for the best gun safe to fit your needs, and just like any other major purchase, you will want to do plenty of research to ensure you make the proper decision. If you are just beginning your search it may seem a little overwhelming at first, but once you understand the basics, your decision making process should be much easier.


An optimally sized gun safe should comfortably be able hold your entire gun collection and gun related accessories without being too cluttered or messy. There are all sorts of sizes to consider, and most gun safes are marked with the maximum number of rifles they can hold, and this can range anywhere from under 10 to over 65.

One of the biggest regrets people have after buying a safe is that they wish they had purchased a larger one. This is because, as you will quickly find out, there are so many non-gun related valuables you can store in your gun safe as well. Luckily, there are several accessories you can use to maximize the space that you do have. For instance, a door organizer can hang on the back of the door and hold many small, loose items, including handguns and ammunition; pistol racks can hold and organize your pistols; and jewelry drawers and cash boxes can help protect your jewelry, cash, and other small valuables that you would like to keep separate.

Large, free-standing, gun safes are great if you have multiple guns, ammo, and other gun related accessories for it to hold. But if you only own a single pistol, or would like to keep a pistol separate from the rest of your collection, you can also consider a pistol or a handgun safe. They are much smaller than normal gun safes and can easily be hidden inside of a closet or under a bed. They are also a lot less expensive than traditional gun safes.


A steel plate encased within the walls of your gun safe is what stops a drill from being able to drill right through it. The thickness of the plate is measured by gauges, and the lower the gauge, the thicker the plate. For instance, 10 gauge equals 9/64 inch and 12 gauge equals 7/64 inch, making the 10 gauge plate slightly thicker, and a little more secure than the 12 gauge plate. 10 gauge and 12 gauge are the two most common you will find, just remember that the lower the gauge, the thicker the plate.

You will also want to consider the different types of safe locks. Combination locks are the most common you will find, and they are tested, tried, and true. Electronic locks, also known as digital locks, are just as secure as combination locks and perhaps a little bit easier to open. They are basically a key pad with the numbers 0 through 9, and can be opened by entering a pre-determined code. A common safety feature associated with digital locks is that they temporarily disable themselves after several wrong code entries, usually for 10 to 15 minutes. Electronic locks require batteries that need to be changed from time to time. Most manufacturers give you the decision between a combination lock and an electronic lock, with the electronic lock being a little more expensive.

A little less common, but just as secure, is the biometric, or fingerprint lock. Biometric safes can store multiple fingerprints and are even quicker and easier to open than digital locks, especially in the dark, since they only require the scanning of the proper fingerprints to be opened. These locks also require batteries.

A couple of other important security features include fire and water resistance. Most gun safes, by their very nature, are at least somewhat fire and water resistant, but the degree to which they are able to withstand the elements varies greatly. To keep manufacturers honest in their claims, an independent agency called Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) tests for different levels of fireproof and waterproof capabilities.

For instance, “waterproof” and “water resistant” mean two different things. Water resistant means that the safe was tested in standing water for a period of time without damage to the contents, while waterproof means that the safe was completely submerged in water.

Certified fireproof safes usually come with a UL rating that labels the amount of time that the safe can withstand a fire without damaging its contents, and this can range anywhere from 30 minutes to up to 2.5 hours.

Another proactive measure you can take is mounting your gun safe to the floor. This prevents burglars from pushing it over to weaken the structure, or simply taking off with the entire safe. Safes often come with pre-drilled holes and the proper mounting equipment to properly secure your gun safe to the ground.

It may be odd to think about, but you will also need to protect your gun safe from itself. Highly secure safes are almost air tight, which creates a humid environment due to the minimal air circulation. This is especially true if you live in a humid region. Metal objects that are exposed to humidity for too long will begin to rust, and this includes your gun collection. Fortunately, you can easily combat humidity with safe dehumidifiers. There are all sorts of dehumidifiers and none of them are very expensive, including electric dehumidifiers, renewable dehumidifiers, and silica packets.


Gun safe prices pretty much run the gambit. A large, free standing gun safe can run anywhere from several hundred dollars to well over $5,000. It usually comes down to a combination of size, looks, security features, accessories, and name recognition, with the median price for a good sized, high quality gun safe running in the $2,500 range. There are many different manufacturers for you to consider and they’ve all got their own features and benefits, and there are all sorts of places for you shop for a gun safe, both online and offline, so with a little bit of leg work you can really find a good deal.

Searching for online gun safe retailers is a good place to start because, through the magic of competition, they tend to offer wide selections at discounted prices, often with no shipping costs or sales tax. This also makes it easier to comparison shop.

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