Gun Safe Buyers Guide

We just launched a new section of our website called the Gun Safe Buyers Guide. This is a great place to do some research before your next gun safe purchase.  You’ll find a Q&A section with great answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.  Whether you have a question about a lock type, a fire rating, or you’resimply looking for a glossary of terms, this is a section of GunSafesBlogger.com that you have to check out.  As always, feel free to post a comment or ask a question.  You can find the gun safe buyers guide link located in the yellow bar at the top of this page.

Gun Safe Buyers Guide, Part 3 : DELIVERY & INSTALLATION

In this section of the gun safe buyers guide, I’ll focus on the delivery and installation for gun safes.

Q: How are gun safes typically shipped?

A:  Due to their weight, gun safes are shipped via a truck freight carrier.  This is typically a semi-truck (18 wheeler), but it can sometimes come on a smaller box truck (UPS type truck).  The safes are packaged with corner protectors and cardboard and they are bolted down to a wood pallet so the driver can easily move the safe with a pallet jack.  Most curbside deliveries that are over 150 lbs come with a liftgate.  A liftgate is a mechanical lift on the back of the truck that lowers the safe down to the ground level.  If a safe is shipped “curbside”, that means it is left at the curb.  On occasion, if the truck is able to do so, they will lower the safe on the driveway a little closer to the home.  This depends a lot on the driver, the truck, and the slope of the driveway.  Sometimes a large semi-truck just cannot back down a particular driveway.  In that case it will be left at the curb.

Q: How do you move a gun safe into your home?

 A:  There are several methods and I think I’ve heard just about all of them.  I’ll start with the easiest:  Hiring a company to move it in for you.  This service is called “White Glove” and there are usually several levels of service available.  The first level (Bronze) is where the delivery company will wheel the safe into your garage for you.  They drop it off inside your garage which is ideal if that’s where you plan to keep it.  Keep in mind, the pallet will still be attached to the bottom of the safe.  The next level of service (Gold) involves the company bringing the safe inside your home into a room of your choice.  They will also remove the pallet that is bolted to the bottom of the safe.  If the safe is under 900 lbs they can also move the safe up or down two flights of stairs.  Once the gun safe is in place, the movers will take away all the packing debris and leave the it ready to use.  If the delivery is out-of-the-ordinary or requires a lot of assembly time, a Platinum white glove service is also available. 

The next method of delivery is for the “Do-It-Yourself-er”.  By arranging some helpers or friends to move it from the curb into your home, you’ll avoid paying any additional delivery fees.  I’ve heard all kinds of stories about rolling a safe on ping-pong balls or other various methods, but the most popular is to use a pallet jack or furniture dolly.  The pallet jack is a great tool because the safe is already attached to a pallet so the jack easily rolls right under.  The hydraulic lift on the pallet jack can make the move from the curb to your threshold very easy.  Once it’s at your front door (the threshold), you’ll probably want a crew of 3-4 people there to help lift it inside.  A furniture dolly would be helpful here as well. 

A new product that I’m really impressed with is the Shoulder Dolly.  This simple piece of equipment makes it easier and safer to lift heavy objects.  It doesn’t give you “superpowers”, but it can make large and awkward items easier to handle so you can use all your strength without losing your grip.  Keep in mind the weight limit is 800 lbs and you’ll need two capable lifters to move a heavy safe.  The nice thing about this product is that a one-time purchase can be used over and over for several different objects.  I highly recommend using the ShoulderDolly not only for gun safes, but for all your furniture or appliance moving needs.

Shoulder Dolly

Q: Can a safe be mounted to the floor?

 A:  Most of the time, yes!  In fact most manufacturers pre-drill the mounting holes and recommend that you bolt the safe into the floor.  Sometimes the mounting hardware is included as well.  If not, the bolts can be picked up at your local hardware store.  Even if you are mounting the safe in the garage or basement and you have a concrete floor there are lag bolts that you can use.  The advantage to mounting your safe is that it won’t tip over and it adds another level of security by making it harder for someone to break-in.  The best way to pry into a safe is by tipping it on its side, so eliminating that method of entry is ideal.

Q: What do I need to know about the delivery before ordering a safe?

A:  First of all, you’ll want to take good measurements of all the doors that the safe will be going through.  Compare those measurements to the dimensions of the safe.  The most important specification of the safe is probably the depth because a safe can be tipped on it’s side which makes the depth the widest measurement when going through a door.  You also want to check if the specification given includes the handle and hinge.  Most of the time the safe is shipped with the handle inside the safe to keep it from getting damaged, but you’ll still want to account for the hinge that protrudes from the safe body.

You’ll also want to plan the best route for the safe to go through your home to its final destination.  Is it easier to go through the front door, around the back, or through the garage?  Make sure to mention at the time of the order if you have a steep or gravel driveway, a section of grass to roll over, a fence, or any other obstacles.  This way the delivery company will make sure to bring the appropriate equipment the first time.  It’s also a good idea to think of a possible “backup plan” in case they’re not able to get the safe where you wish.  If the safe won’t fit or is too hard to maneuver into the location you choose, give them a secondary location to put the safe.

Q: I live in a rural area or have a long or unusual driveway.  What are my options?

A:  These deliveries are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on several factors.  It would be best to contact a gun safe account rep to talk to them about your particular situation before ordering the safe.  They can determine the best way to get the safe delivered.  If it’s not suitable for a truck to drive down your driveway, you may need to pick it up at the end of the driveway or at a delivery terminal in your city.  You can reach a GunSafes.com rep to talk about the different options at 800-540-1695 ext 401.

Gun Safe Buyers Guide, Part 2 : FIRE RATINGS

More Q&A with the Gun-Safe-Guru.  This part of the gun safe buyers guide will focus specifically on the fire ratings for gun safes.

Q: Can you explain a gun safe fire rating?

A:  The fire rating is the amount of time a safe can endure a certain temperature while keeping the internal temperature below 350 degrees.  Paper begins to char at a temperature of just 400° F.  For this reason, most manufacturers choose 350° as the maximum internal temperature the contents of a safe can reach for the period of time that they specify for each safe.  During testing, safes are heated to a given temperature, usually between 1200° F – 1400° F, for up to four hours then cooled naturally. In order to pass the fire test, the safe’s contents must at no time during the test go above 350° F. This ensures that important paper documents will not be destroyed by the intense heat of a fire.  Some home and office safes are made specifically to hold media (cd’s, data drives, etc) and so their internal temperature must remain below 125° F because media tends to melt at a much lower temperature.  If you’re planning on storing any kind of media in your gun safe, we recommend putting a separate media safe inside your gun safe. 

Q: What amount of fire protection do I need?

A:  There are many factors that you should consider when choosing a fire rated safe.  Most safes fire ratings start at 30 minutes and as more fire insulation is added, the amount of time a safe can withstand a certain temperature is increased.  Consumer gun safe fire ratings top out at about 2.5 hours.  When deciding how much fire protection you need, ask yourself a few of these common questions:  

  • How far away is my home from a fire department?
  • Am I putting this safe inside the home or in a basement?
  • Do I have a lot of trees, brush, and other natural fuels near my home?
  • Am I in an area of high fire danger?
  • Can insurance replace the items that are in my safe or are they irreplaceable? 

There are many sources of information for this subject on the Internet, but most of what I’ve found points out that the average house fire burns for 27 minutes at 1100° F.   If your particular situation puts you in a better or worse scenario than the “average”, you’re going to want to pick a fire rating based on that information. 

Q: Why do safe manufacturers perform different fire tests?

A:  Unlike the fuel standards we have at gas stations or the electric ratings we have on appliances, there is no governing body when it comes to fire ratings on safes.  Because of this, many safe manufacturers can make bogus claims, but if you ask the tough questions and do your research you can usually sniff out a phony safe.  Some good questions to ask when researching a fire safe:

  • What is being used as the fire insulation?  Fireboard or composite material?
  • How many layers of fire insulation and on how many sides?
  • What is the warranty and does it cover fire damage?
  • Does the safe manufacturer have any BBB complaints? 

Q: What is a Palusol door seal?

A:  A Palusol door seal is a brand of intumescent door seal that is used to prevent smoke and heat from getting inside the safe.  Some manufacturers use Palusol, others use a generic brand, but they all work using the same concept.  When the seal is heated up from a nearby fire, the intumescent seal expands and seals the safe door shut.  This can also keep some water out, but it doesn’t make the safe waterproof. 

Gun Safe Buyers Guide, Part 1 : LOCKS

Time for a little Q & A with the Gun-Safe-Guru.  We’ll break up this gun safe buyers guide into several parts.  Feel free to post questions at the bottom of this article or email me:  josh(at)gunsafesblogger.com

Q: Should I choose an electronic lock or combination dial lock?

A:  This is a personal preference, but I will list the pros and cons for both the electronic lock and the manual dial lock.  Most safe companies offer a choice of a dial or e-lock, but a few manufacturers like Winchester and Mesa only offer the safe with an electronic lock.  As far as security is concerned, often times both the electronic lock and combination lock carry the same Group II or Group I security rating.

Pros for the electronic lock:  Quick and easy access.  Change the combination at any time.  Easier to see under dim light. Door automatically locks when it is closed

Cons:  Possibility of electronic failure (although very rare).  Having to change the batteries (at least once a year).  Shorter life span (typically 10-15 years)

Pros for the combination lock:  No electronic parts, no batteries to replace.  More durable & longer lasting

Cons:  Turning the dial back and forth can be time consuming, especially if don’t land exactly on the right numbers.  Harder to see the numbers under dim light.  Door doesn’t automatically lock when closed, you need to spin the dial.  Be sure to spin the dial every time you close your safe door!

One thing to keep in mind about the e-lock:  Be sure to change your combination every once in a while otherwise the keypad will wear down, showing the numbers that you use most.

Q: If I buy a safe with an electronic lock and the battery dies, how do I get into the safe?

A:  You don’t need to get into the safe to change the battery.  Simply replace the battery located inside the keypad and your safe will be ready to open.  Most electronic locks feature a low battery alert that will notify you that the battery needs to be changed so you can avoid this problem all together. 

Q:  Can I determine the combination on a manual dial lock?

A:  The combination dial locks come with a predetermined code from the factory.  In some instances the combination can be changed, but that will need to be done by a certified locksmith.  This can be one advantage to choosing an electronic lock.

Q:  Can you explain the “lockout” feature on electronic locks?

A:   Most quality electronic locks have an automatic lock-out feature.  This feature disables the lock for a period of time (usually 15 to 20 minutes) if someone enters three or four incorrect combinations consecutively.  This safeguard keeps thiefs from trying several different combinations in a short period of time.

Q:  Do any of these full size gun safes have a key backup?

A:  Surprisingly enough, most full size gun safes do NOT have a key backup.  There are a few exceptions.  Rather than list them all here, just give me a call at 800-540-1695 ext 208 or email me:   josh (at) gunsafesblogger.com