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How safe is your safe

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Old September 23rd, 2016, 08:37 PM   #1
 
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How safe is your safe

To the moderator:

I don't know exactly where this thread belongs. If here is fine,,, then good... but I really think this is something everyone needs to see and understand.

To all:

This is going to be a work in progress. Some of this is going to be based on fact and proof,,, while some of it will be based on opinion and experience.

Maybe some of this has been discussed before. I will attempt to go into more detail and ideas,,, than has already beeen covered.

Most of us have seen the internet video where 2 guys break into a gun safe in very little time.



This was a decent safe, (that appears to be under the same name as a lever action company), with a formed door and fixed bolts on the hinge side.

Give me 30 seconds with a Homak, (or other metal "footlocker), and I could be in and out of the house or apartment in under 5 minutes. "Plane Jane" car with "borrowed" plates... and most likely a person would never see their guns again.

First point... RECORD all of your guns!!! Make model and serial number,,, and description!!! Make a paper record... cell phone record... computer record,,, and best of all DVD record. It will help you with insurance recovery... but most of all save your a$$ if a crime is commited with a gun that was registered in YOUR name!!!

Second point is... be careful who you let know you have guns. Some of those "friends" of yours... may not actually be your friend,,, but a "wolf in sheeps clothing". Even then,,, the friends with best intentions may accidentally run their mouth... and give you "free advertising"... which can bring the interest of the "dregs of society.

Third... just because you live in an apartment,,, doesn't mean your guns are any safer. Someone might see or hear something unusual... but may not have the mindsight to understand there is a break in. This even goes for neighborhoods where the homes are in close proximity. There is no gaurantee anybody will see or hear, or notice anything.

So when it comes to guns... treat you own dwelling as an "island unto itself". As if you lived in the country,,, with no-one in site of your home to watch out for you!!!

So what makes a gun safe,,, actually safe??? For most of us,,, the ultimate is something that can't be forced open,,, or cut into. Thing is... being a mechanic and carpenter,,, and metalworker... ,,, ... I have most tools, or can rent them,,, to where I could get into any safe given enough time. All it takes is it knowing a persons patter n,,, and concealment of a persons own actions.

I am NOT a professional theif... but given the right tools,,, I could be through the side of a 1/4" plate steel safe in about an hour,,, and clean out whatever was in there.

So the best action by a gun owner to protect their guns,,, is to keep their mouth shut... and hide them in a container that is more fire proof than secure.

The best way to hide hide your guns,,, is to put the fire safe container, (RSC) in a spot where a wall could be built around the safe... that doesn't seem to irregular or out of the ordinary.

For those in an apartment,,, take a chance on eating your security depost... and buy a safe that is shallow but wide,,, that you can hide in a closet. Build a "fake wall" in front of the safe,,, that has the same "hollow wall" sound as those walls around it. To most,,, the closet may seem odd... but most will miss the effect. Especially if there is a water heater next to it with pipes that disappear into the wall hiding the safe.

There are concealed type latches,,, that work with a "push release" action that also latch the same way. All it takes is a wooden frame of some sort,,, with a hidden latch on one side... and hinges on the other so the wood and drywall "panel" swings open to give you access to your safe.

Leave one gun available for "home defense"... that is readily accessible,,, and hide the rest. I'd rather explain one gun to the police or insurance company,,, than a dozen.

My point is... most people can find a creative way to hide their guns to protect them from being stolen. Nothing says "rob me" more than a nice shiny safe out in the open. I saw one safe builder,,, that built a vault room for a guy. The door to the vault room was hidden behind a wall of bookcases. IF you found the latch... you found the vault door to the room. Vault doors are a little bit harder to get into... because you only have one side to work with,,, unless you have a jackhammer and know the vault layout.

Next,,, I will be talking about how to make a decent RSC, (like the one above in the video)... more fire resistant. since most of us can only hide our safes behind a layer or 2 of drywall, (to keep from prying eyes).



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Old September 23rd, 2016, 09:13 PM   #2
 
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So let's take a look at a couple different safes. First would be my 16 year old Browing Prosteel Whitetail. It has 2 or 3 layers of drywall on all sides... and has 14 active bolts. The door is 1/4" plate,,, and the door frame is formed... but has reinforced "box" tubing around the door frame for rigidity on the door frame. IIRC... the "body" is 10 gauge. It has what I would consider to be a "true" fire rating of 1200 degrees for 1/2 hour.

It's major drawback is that there is no fire resistance at the front door frame,,, and the bottom is hollow except for 1 layer of drywall. My remedy would be to ad layers to the bottom and the back sides of the door frame. The door frame will mean some creativity and measurement,,, after fire caulking 3-4 layers of drywall together and boring holes for the active bolts.

Some... but not much improvement here,,, except for hiding it behind another 2 hour firesafe barrier, (which I am working on).
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 10:08 PM   #3
 
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So with some careful planning,,, I might be able to make the Browning 1400 degree rated for 45 minutes... but then add the 2 hour firewall to that.

Next... I'm sure you saw the "Redhead" label on the safe next to the Browning. This is the typical Bass PS safe,,, and is nothing more than a "rebadged" Winchester ,,, possibly to BPS specs... similar to the break in video. It has a supposed 1400 degree rating for 45 minutes, with 3 active bolts and 3 fixed bolts. This safe actually came with NO palusol around the door,,, and I went round with Winchester safes for a couple weeks before they mailed me the Paulsol to "self install". No big deal... they made it right.

However... the Red head, (Bass PS Winchester version) only comes with 1 layer of drywall in a "formed" door,,, so there is not much strength in the door. There is only 1 layer of drywall in the body,,, with an extra layer on the inside of the door. This is the typical 9/10 gun safe... and what I would consider the bare minimum to be built upon for fire resistance,,, and minmal security.

I since added 4 more drywall layers to the door... and will be adding more to the body of the safe. Yes... you lose room,,, but what good does room do... if everything burns up??? This was meant to be an ammo safe... but I quickly outgrew it. So now it is an accessory safe. After all layers of drywall are in the "box",,, I will go back and add some mineral wool insulation to the door where the moving parts are... to further insulate it. The "fixed" bolts seem to be held in place by grade 8 allen head bolts... through 14 gauge steel. I'll be adding at least 1/8" steel to that all the way around the door box... and getting longer grade 8 bolts.

The active bolts move on 1/8" angle steel. That will also be upgraded to 1/4". I'll have some time,,, and a little bit of money into this... but unlike the chinese who figure out how to copy a product and sell a cheaper version... I'll be making an upgrade for much less money than one built to MY specs.

I might even try to figure out how to add one top and bottom active bolt. I don't care about voiding the warranty. Most safes in this range only warranty the safe anyway... not the contents. Do you really want to trust your guns to a "footlocker"?????
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 10:34 PM   #4
 
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So after outgrowing the small BPS/Winchester safe for ammo... I bought the next size up,,, which I think was 18 gun. It is rated at 1400 for 45 minutes with 3 layers of drywall in the top,,, one in all sides,,, and one in the door and one on the door.

((Correction... the small 9/10 gun is only rated at 1200 degrees due to only one layer in all sides but the door, (at least for now). I can honestly say that the door on the 9/10 gun safe is much heavier that the 18 gun at the moment.))

This is still typical BPS/Winchester with room for improvement... but not beyond improvement. Here's a pic of the hollow door in the 18 gun. It starts out better with the drywall,,, but the hardware holding the bolts only appears to be grade 2. Not to mention that the nuts holding the sliding mechaism are typical nyloc nuts, (typical BPS/Winchester),,, instead of grade 8 triangular lock nuts... and they are wayyy loose to the point they might walk off in a fire. I have before and aft pics of the nuts after running them down a bit. I may do a hardware upgrade on both of them.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 10:41 PM   #5
 
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Lastly,

The hinges were dry,,, which under extreme heat could gall and seize. On top of that they had plastic washers that would melt with any kind of heat. So I replaced the plastic washers on the hinges... with 1/2" x 1" bronze thrust washers which are rated at 1800 degrees.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 12:09 AM   #6
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I would never count on a gun safe to fully protect my firearms from theft or fire. Most house fires can reach 1700-2000 degrees in heat and destroy the firearms in the safe.
I caution everyone to check with their home insurance agent and add a rider to their home insurance to cover their firearms with "replacement value". It is not that expensive and you have a list on file with the insurance agency to provide law enforcement in the event of theft so the guns could be entered into the NCIC computer files as a stolen weapon. In my LEO career I recovered numerous stolen firearms because they were entered into the NCIC as stolen and arrested the suspects for burglary or possession of stolen property. You will be surprised how many gun owners can not supply a list of their firearms that have the serial numbers to law enforcement and they can kiss their guns good by forever.
I have done search warrants on drug dealers and found up to 30 more firearms stashed in a closet that I knew were stolen, and if lucky 4-5 will come back listed as stolen and the rest having no history and can not be returned to the rightful owner.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 03:20 AM   #7
 
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I will use my insurance policy for protection from the professional thief. I bought mine to keep the non professionals out.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 03:33 AM   #8
 
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I too have multiple safes for storage of my firearms. However nothing is going to stop a dedicated thief, except for well placed gunfire. However I do rely on my Insurance policy 100% of the time.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 05:34 AM   #9
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I'm not sure that any safe typically sold to consumers will perform at the top of the list against the three main threats: theft, fire, and flood. And if there is one out there, it'd probably cost a small fortune.

With that said, I think it might be best to really look at what risks are highest for each person or situation and then take a layered approach.

I live in a pretty low crime rate area so theft is a lesser concern than fire or flood. I have a burglar alarm and a couple of nosy neighbors who see everything that goes on in the neighborhood. Without a budget for a huge safe, I opted for a solid security cabinet that is bolted to the wall. My insurance covers my current collection against theft, fire, and flooding. (Of course there's always a good chance that my collection will grow )

My goal was to keep my firearms out of easy reach of kids and guests and make it difficult and time consuming for anyone trying to burglarize my home.

In the end, I figure if someone is intent on targeting my home and my firearms, they'll find a way to do it.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 09:37 AM   #10
 
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Dang that was fast time,nothing is safe in a safe if a theif wants to break into it.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 07:22 PM   #11
 
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^^^ That's why you HIDE it.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 07:37 PM   #12
 
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HLG,

I echo your comments, sentiments and ideas. I have the same protection you do. However,,, is your alarm system only hardwired... or does it have battery backup??? I'ts very easy to shut down power to the whole house... from the outside. Even then... response time by law enforcement can be delayed.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 07:52 PM   #13
 
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HBK,

I agree with the idea of an insurance rider. The cash value of firearms can be reimbursed. However,,, that doesn't replace items of sentimental value... or ones that just aren't made anymore.

As far as the NCIC. You may have noticed that many newer firearms now have a "QR Code" engrave on the receiver. For most consumers,,, taking a picture of the QR Code with their cell phone... leads to the manufacturers website.

However,,, there seems now to be a special law enforcement phone "app" that when the picture of the QR Code on the firearm is taken... it leads right to the NCIC, (from what I gather).
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Old September 24th, 2016, 08:00 PM   #14
 
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Something else to consider. Do home owners policies offer a rider on ammunition,,, or do they consider that a liability due to a fire hazard... and would premiums skyrocket???

With the rising costs of ammunition,,, it doesn't take long to stockpile a couple grand worth of ammo. That alone,,, is something else theives would be interested in,,, that may not be able to be reimbursed... and is untraceable. Not to mention if the fire department IS needed,,, they will walk away at the first signs of snap, crackle, and pop... and let the dwelling burn.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 08:03 PM   #15
 
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I guess my point is concealment and fire resistance. No one can steal what they can't find... and nothing will burn if stored preventatively.
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