Gun Safe Buyers Guide, part 5 : Gauge of Steel

One question we get asked quite frequently is “What gauge of steel should my gun safe have?”   This is a tough one to answer because some are looking for more protection than others.  In my opinion, a gun safe with less than 12 gauge steel is more of a “gun cabinet” than a gun safe.  12 gauge is a good starting point, but for something that is more resistant to torches, saws, and axes, I would look at 10 gauge or thicker.  For those looking for one of the thickest solid steel safes available, I would point them towards the Pendleton King Series gun safe.  Not only does it have a 1/4″ of solid steel throughout the safe, but it is also unique in that it has a circular design with a rotary gun rack for quick access to your guns and valuables.  Combine this was LED lighting, moisture management system, and a completely adjustable interior, and you have a top of the line safe.  Any thicker than that and you’re talking about bank type safes and vaults.  In fact, Pendleton Safes are made in the same factory that produces many of our countries bank vaults.  That means that they’re MADE IN THE USA!

When you start explaining the steel thickness in inches and not by gauge, you’re talking about some pretty thick metal.  Pendleton Safes offer a minimum of 3/16″ solid steel on their gun safes.  That’s equivalent to a 7 gauge steel.  You’ll also find this thickness of steel in Browning’s Platinum Plus gun safes.

Another thing to keep in mind when buying a gun safe is how the body and doors are measured.  If a manufacturer is claiming a 1″ door, is that a solid 1″ piece of steel?  Probably not.  In most cases it is a thin layer of steel, then fire insulation, and then another piece of steel.  These composite doors can mislead some people, so keep that in mind and feel free to ask questions.  To many smash and dash burglars, just the site of a steel gun safe is enough to keep them from even trying to break in.  It’s the more sophisticated burglars that are going to have the tools and time to break into a safe.  In many cases though, a 10 or 12 gauge steel safe may be all you need for your particular situation.

Below is a guide to show you the thickness (in inches) for a certain gauge of steel.

Gauge  /  Inches

16           0.0625

15           0.0703

14           0.0781

13           0.0938

12           0.1094

11           0.1250

10           0.1406

9              0.1563

8              0.1719

7              0.1875

6              0.2031

5              0.2188

4              0.2344

3              0.2500

2              0.2656

1              0.2813