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10 Things you must know before buying a safe
10 things you must know before buying a safe

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1. Size Matters

It's no joke. Carefully make a list of all of the items you wish to safeguard. Include your firearms, all gun-mounted accessories like scopes, grips, bi-pods, jewelry, coins, precious metals, important documents, meds, cash, and more --- you don't want to find that you did not plan well.. so consider investing in a safe a size or two larger than you would have imagined. Remember, most gun safe owners will acquire more guns within just a few years after buying a gun safe. The #1 complaint voiced after a person invests in a safe is "I wish I would have purchased a bigger safe." So, when it comes right down to it...You don't want to fall into this category of safe owners... "Love my safe, but it's too small." 

2. Body and Door Construction

You should always consider the outer body steel thickness + the fire protection material composition + the inner steel liner thickness (The Safe within a Safe, which one should consider a "Must Have" because it creates a tough additional barrier to an attempted forced entry). Take note of the fire protection material composition. Is it a cement or concrete based material or gypsum board (sheet rock)? Gypsum board does have good insulation qualities, but does not provide any additional protection barrier qualities. It is brittle and easy to break through. Safes constructed with cement or concrete based material have good insulation properties and also creates one more tough, structural barrier to attempted forced entry by an intruder... it slows down the attempted entry process.

Steel thickness is extremely important. Most low-end, inexpensive safes have a steel thickness of 14 gauge (5/64"), 16 gauge (1/16") or even down to 18 gauge. Remember, the higher the steel gauge number, the thinner the steel thickness. Common hand tools, such as a pry bar, screw drivers and hammers can be easily used to break into these poorly constructed metal cabinets.

We feel they should not even be referred to as a safe... they are mere cabinets that may or may not even prevent a child from breaking into a gun cabinet and gaining access to your firearms. This fact should be carefully considered before making a decision.

Properly welded joints are also an important consideration. Thinner steel is more difficult to weld. Avoid safes that are "spot welded" or "tack welded." Having joints that are not continuously welded are weaker joints and allow the joints to be subject to prying attacks.

Hinges: Stick with a gun safe that has heavy-duty surface mounted external hinges. Safes having internal hinges only allow the door to swing open 90 degrees. This usually blocks some access to the items stored in the safe. Externally mounted hinges permit the door to open 180 degrees and enables the door to be removed, making the safe lighter when being moved or in the unlikely event that the door or lock requires service or repair.

3. Weight Matters and Anchoring the Safe Matters

Two intruders can use a common pry bar to pry up a poorly secured gun cabinet and either pick up the gun cabinet or with the use of a hand truck, quickly take it with them and open the safe on their premises where they have tools, the time and a quiet place to work. When shopping for a safe and doing your due diligence take note: If prices are different for similar size safes and ratings... check the weight of each safe. It is probably the best way to make sure you are paying for more or thicker steel and/or better fire protection. We rarely see a quality gun safe that is under 700 pounds. All safes should be properly anchored to a concrete floor with 4 (four) anchor bolts. But remember that gun safes are tall and serve as a fulcrum for applying force to the bolts. Even heavy anchor bolts can be ripped out of thin gauge steel. When installed on a wood floor with floor joists below the finished floor the safe should be anchored with a 2" x 6" (or wider) board or steel angle iron placed below the floor and spanning multiple floor joists, then through-bolted to the 2" x 6" board or angle iron spanning the floor joists, with multiple threaded rods and/or bolts.

4. Thinking of buying an inexpensive safe to keep your firearms out of the reach of your kids?

Are you buying a "Cabinet" or a "Safe"? Like everything else in life we seem to get what we pay for. We urge you to re-think "Low price" vs. "Quality and/or Security."

Low price cabinets are generally quite easy for someone to breach with such common hand tools as a hammer and screwdriver or a pry bar. They often have mechanical key locks that are very easy to bypass. The low cost safes are usually constructed having steel thicknesses of 14 gauge (5/64"), 16 gauge (1/16") or even down to 18 gauge steel. Should you be thinking about making a purchase we urge you consider investing in a "Real Safe" not the "Illusion of Security" that will serve multiple purposes... to keep your firearms safely away from your kid's and from potentially dangerous criminals, and a safe that will provide excellent protection for your other most important possessions.


5. Fire Ratings and Burglar Ratings

According to fire industry statistics the average home fire burns at approximately from 850 to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit on average for about 30 minutes (these temperatures are usually measures at the ceiling)." Safes having less than a 60 minute fire rating may not provide adequate fire protection and probably should not be considered to protect your firearms, currency, cash, important papers, media, photos, thumb drives, hard drives, etc... Additionally, please take note of the safe's door seal. The door seal helps to keep moisture and humidity out of your safe (along with the use of a safe Dehumidifier). Humidity and moisture destroy papers, wood and gun parts quickly. An intumescent door seal will expand during a fire to seal out the fire, smoke and water that may be sprayed on the safe during the course of extinguishing a fire.

Purchasers should not rely on a fire rated safe to protect valuables against a burglary. Do you want to insure your gun collection, jewelry or other valuables? Please consider the following fire ratings and industry guidelines with respect to "Insurable Contents Value" before making a final purchase decision.

You should always ask your insurance broker for guidance on content value and insurability before buying a safe or vault, and for recommendations that may result in reductions in your insurance premiums by having a U.L. Listed TL Safe or TL Vault.

  • RSC Rated Safe: The safe door has passed a 5 minute Tool attack test. Up to $5,000.00 in insurable contents value.
  • U.L. TL-30 Rated Safe: The safe or vault door has passed a 30 minute Tool attack test. From $195,00.00 (without an alarm system) and up to $375,00.00 (with an alarm system) in insurable contents value. This test does not include attack to sides or top of safe.
  • U.L. TL-30x6 Rated Safe: The safe or vault door has passed a 30 minute Tool attack test. From $275,00.00 (without an alarm system) and up to $500,00.00 (with an alarm system) in insurable contents value. This test includes attack to sides or top of safe.

  • U.L. TRTL-30x6 Rated Safe: The safe or vault door and on all sides has passed a 30 minute Torch and Tool test attack. From $500,00.00 (without an alarm system) and up to $1,000,00.00 (with an alarm system) in insurable contents value. This Torch and Tool test includes attack to all 6 sides of the safe or vault.

6. Should I hide my safe or keep it visible and in the open? Where should I place my safe?

The safe and vault industry has often trained dealers, retailers and installers to hide safes and vaults thinking that an intruder will not find the safe or vault. The intruders usually do, but intruders know that they only have 10 to 15 minutes before law enforcement shows up if an alarm is activated. We also feel that an intruder is more likely to compromise a safe when the safe is located in a garage, a closet or in a basement because the safe may be out of sight and those locations restrict the level of noise associated with a tool or drilling and grinding attack and provide visual cover. Additionally, imagine hearing an intruder force open your front or rear door or window. Will a homeowner ask the intruder to wait a few minutes while he or she runs down to a basement or out to a garage to access a firearm to protect his/her family?... of course not. We feel that easy and fast access to firearms has a greater value to the homeowner than hiding a safe or vault. MERIK safes and vaults are designed to be integrated with the homeowners decor to avoid the issue of having to hide a safe.

7. What type of safe lock should I consider for my safe? An Electronic Lock or a Mechanical Dial?

Better quality mechanical safe dials and electronic locks are U.L. Rated and will provide an excellent level of security. Mechanical Dials require little maintenance, while Electronic Locks will require battery replacement at regular intervals. Electronic Locks are up to six times faster to open than Mechanical Dials and  very simple to operate. Electronic Locks will provide easy combination changes at any time required.

Will an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) event/attack render an Electronic Lock inoperable?

There are some Electronic Locks that are not EMP resistant. We provide many EMP Electronic Lock options. Feel free to call us to explain your concerns, needs or requirements and we will guide you to the correct EMP product to suit your needs. What is a Redundant Lock? It is a single locking device that consists of a Mechanical Dial and an Electronic Lock. Should the Electronic Lock fail, the Mechanical Lock will still  provide access to the safe.

8. Budget

... everyone has one. Purchasers often guess as to what they need, often making their decision on size limitations and more often on price. Purchasers often have unrealistic expectations about the cost of protecting their gun collections, important documents, jewelry collection, cash and more. It's relatively easy to accumulate over $25,000 of guns, jewelry and cash over a few years. You can rely on the fact that we will give you the quality and most secure safe or vault at your price point or budget.

9. Don't Guess - Call Us!

We are here and we know safes and vaults! We are experts and are glad to share our knowledge and provide advice in the most patient, transparent, confidential and forthright manner possible.

10. The bitterness or poor quality lingers long past a cheap price is forgotten.

"An Educated Consumer is our Best Customer"