Safes in one form or another have been around since the days of Julius Cesar. While sometimes disputed, Jesse Delano is credited with the first fireproof safe design patented in 1826. The modern gun safe has its roots in the 1850s designs of Silas Herring. He used plaster and steel to create a fire rated gun storage safe.
What’s interesting and disappointing is that the gun safes of today are not built to standards anywhere near Herring’s 1850 design. Price and profit pressures have caused the whole industry to move away from true fire rated safes. The majority of what are commonly called and sold as “Gun Safes” are actually UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) listed as “RSC” or “Residential Security Containers” and are not actual safes. This includes the “safes” available at all the big chains with popular brand names including “Liberty,” “Winchester”, “Browning,” etc.
Yes, you may have guessed it. The industry did not want to build to the UL Safe classification standard so they created a new standard, RSC – “Residential Security Container.”
(Learn more: Gun Safe: Understanding Ratings and Certifications)
What is an RSC (Residential Security Container)?
An RSC rated container (gun cabinet) will resist forced opening for up to five minutes by an attacker using simple, non-powered hand tools. We’re talking screwdrivers, hammers (must be less than 3lbs), and pry bars (must be less than 18″ long). RSC containers are not rated against any attack by power tools of any kind, or any attack lasting longer than five minutes. This is security designed for 1850’s threat level.
Today, a high powered battery operated grinder with a cutoff wheel can cut a “gun safe” (Residential Security Container) in half in less than 15 minutes. A small portable plasma cutter will do the job in under 3 minutes. People assume that because it weighs 1,000 lbs it must be secure.
RSC Certified gun safes are not fireproof.
The only consistent, reliable and independent fire rating is the UL fireproof safe class rating. The lowest rating is “Class 350 1-hour” The ratings go up to 4 hours (Class 350-4). Unfortunately, there are no RSC gun safes that meet this rating as the materials and construction required to offer this kind of protection are deemed too expensive by the gun safe industry.
The fire rating or “fire certified” sticker on the door of an RSC means very little as each gun safe (RSC) manufacturer creates their own standards and fire tests. If a safe does not have a UL class 350 fire rating then it is not a fire safe. It is a thin steel box lined with drywall and covered with some carpeting. The Drywall makes the safe heavy and “feel” secure. It is not. Talk to firefighters. “Gun safes” (RCSs) rarely ever survive a real fire.
(Learn more: Gun Safe: Understanding Ratings and Certifications)
Guns Safes and Corrosion
There are a lot of products on the market designed to slow the process of your guns rusting in a “gun safe”. There is a good reason for these products. Drywall or gypsum board used in RSCs contain several chemicals that are highly corrosive to your guns. Formaldehyde is used as a dispersing agent in drywall production and is highly corrosive to steel.
Safes imported from China use drywall that contains additional threats to your guns. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and other agencies have found high levels of pyrite (FeS2) which gives off carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide — all of which are corrosive to firearms.
100 percent of the problem drywall coming from China also tested positive for the bacteria Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, which lives in pyrite deposits. These bacteria consume iron and sulfur producing highly corrosive sulfuric acid. Have you ever noticed a mild sulfur smell when you open a Chinese import safe? There are many concerns about drywall from China.
(Learn more: Chinese Drywall)
Other Disadvantages of Gun Safes.
They are very big, very heavy and once in place cannot be easily moved. They are also big and heavy. Did I tell you they were heavy? …You get the picture. In our modern, mobile society where people move on average every 6.6 years (US Census Bureau) does it make sense to own a 1,200 lb metal box full of drywall?
If you live in a condominium or town-home owning a heavy old safe is probably not allowed by your HOA.
Gun Safe Capacity
The Industries “Little White Lie”.
This gun safe, rated for 29 guns can not efficiently store 11 modern rifles; Gun safe capacity is a lie. When a safe manufacturer offers a gun safe (RSC) and claims a capacity of 30 guns what are they telling you. Keep in mind the RSC will not hold 30 guns, not even close. Either they are not very bright or they think their customers aren’t very bright. The VP of national sales for one of America’s largest safe manufacturers told me it was the “industry’s little white lie”.
DEAD FOOT ARMS
It seems all safe manufacturers state their capacity based on how many gun slots they can fit in the safe, regardless of how many guns actually fit. In our product testing, using safes from several different manufacturers, we found the actual capacity for traditional guns is about half of what the manufacturers claim. When you add in modern sporting rifles that capacity drops even further. We purchased a 29 gun Steelwater gun safe and were only able to fit 11 modern rifles and at that point, they were packed in and hitting each other. Gun safe capacity is a sham.
Gun Safe Are Too Deep
Manufacturers all focus on making real heavy complex doors and lock systems in an effort to make you think the cabinet is secure. These doors are so heavy that the cabinet has to be deep. Deep enough to offset the weight of the door so when it is opened the cabinet does not tip over. This depth is counterproductive to proper gun storage. You end up with guns packed in and you have to dig through to get to the rifles stored way in the back.
Please note: a thief ignores the door and just cuts through the thin steel on the side or back of the RSC.
Gun Safe Interiors
Gun safe interior design has never changed.
American gun ownership has changed dramatically and the safe industry refuses to address it. The number one rifle sold in America is an AR15 and most shooters now have some sort of scope or optic on every rifle and shotgun. The gun safe industry not only failed to anticipate these market changes they appear to have buried their heads in the sand and refuse to even acknowledge that there has been any type of change. Gun safes simply do not have the ability to properly store modern rifles.
This is the typical safe interior. Even with stripped down Henry rifles you will not fit guns in every slot, there simply is not enough room for the stocks. AR platform rifles will not fit well at all and there is no room for optics of any kind.
“They’ve buried their heads in the sand”
Why does a whole industry fail to address a big market change? It almost appears like all gun safe manufacturers are in a big game of chicken. They all produce basically the same product and are all afraid of being the first one to be different. In most industries manufacturers actively look for points of difference. But not with “gun safes” (RSC containers). It is very unusual and not in the best interest of the consumer. These manufacturers and products are dinosaurs and perhaps, soon be extinct.
We see this as a complete lack of respect for the firearms they store, and their customers who shell out big money expecting secure fireproof storage yet really only have a steel box with some drywall and fancy paint. The only advances in gun safe manufacturing in the last 100 years has been the move to cheaper materials, lower standards, and misleading certifications.
Do you need a so-called “gun safe” or RSC?
The answer is probably no.
If you think you will sleep better knowing that your rifles and stored in a big 1200 lb. gorilla in your basement, then it may be the right product. You have to understand, however, that the security against both theft and fire is really smoke and mirrors. The whole industry is built around a false perception that because these things weigh 1200lbs, it must be safe and secure.
When you consider that these so-called “gun safes” (RSC) are no more secure than a simple steel cabinet and fire ratings (which do not meet even the most basic UL Certification) are simply made up by manufacturers, you have to really question the decision.
They are very difficult and expensive to move.
They are corrosive to your guns by design.
They do not properly store precision rifles.
Older homes may not support the weight and you certainly would not put a safe in an upstairs location.
So what do you do?
Knowledge and Education is Power
There are several very inexpensive steel gun cabinets on the market. Take the time to learn as much as you can before you spend your money.
Tom Kubiniec is President and CEO of SecureIt Tactical which specializes in civilian gun storage and education for gun owners across the nation with the goal to improve lives through safety and better preparation. The company is also the largest supplier of weapons storage units to the U.S. military. More information at https://www.secureittactical.com/
Probably you’ve noticed that the industry of firearm safety products is largely an industry
of electronic gadgets. Handgun safes are often little more than toys. So, in response to
complaints I’ve received about unreliable electronic safes, I recently looked at AMSEC’s
Heavy-Duty Pistol Safe, model PS1210HD, which features a mechanical lock.
In one sense, I could summarize my findings and state simply: “It’s great. If you need a
handgun safe, buy this one.”
The safe has outstanding features, including a scratch-resistant finish, a protective
housing for the lock, and reinforcement for the hinge at the back. The entire box is made
of 10-gauge steel. The lock is a KABA Simplex lock, designed to withstand years of
steady use. The safe also has a handle to allow for portability, and it has pre-drilled holes
Now, I need to clear up a misunderstanding I created a couple of years ago regarding the
KABA Simplex lock. In a 2016 video I pointed out that, given enough time, a person
could stumble upon the combination of a Simplex lock. What I failed to explain is how
difficult that is. If you need convincing, look around online for a video showing someone
banging through all 1,082 possible combinations in one long, sustained attack. You won’t
I doubt anyone will ever record such a video. The attack is hard to perform. It’s easy to
get lost in the sequence of combinations. And it hurts. When I tried banging through the
combinations, I had to go for 30 seconds at a time and then added all the time up.
Probably I added wrong and it took longer than I estimated. The point is this: A Simplex
lock is more than enough deterrent to stop an opportunist who tries breaking into your
And now, my only complaint about this safe: The gas strut attached to the lid is the same
gas strut used in the Stealth Tactical Original Handgun Safe and the Fort Knox Original
Pistol Box. When you go to throw the lid open, the strut wants to fight you. Conversely,
when you release the lid, the strut will not catch the lid, allowing it to bag shut on one’s thumb—if one is something of klutz, like me. I would like to see AMSEC replace the gas strut with one that lets you thrown the lid open and that catches the lid to prevent it from banging shut.
If you’ve seen my work online, you know that I test and compromise firearm safety
products. Then I record demonstration video highlighting my findings. Then I post my
video online and hope that I’ve prevented another gun from getting into the wrong hands.
With AMSEC’s Heavy-Duty Pistol Safe, there are no significant design flaws to expose,
which sounds like I’m doing sales—I realize that. But this is not paid advertising. I’m
just trying the share positive findings when I can, and AMSEC’s eavy-Duty Pistol Safe is
only the second safe to receive my HandgunSafeResearch.com seal of approval.
Back in April of 2018, a small import company released a new handgun safe onto the market through Amazon. The company, called Amarey, is no big player in the gun world, but its gun safe rose to #1 New Release status within two weeks, then went on to become Amazon’s bestselling handgun safe.
As the guy who runs HandgunSafeResearch.com, I decided to look at Amarey’s gun safe.
The handgun safe, model HFGS-089, is supposedly designed to do double-duty as a handgun safe and portable case.
The blurb on the Amazon product page says:
Gun Safe – Pistol Safe Portable Gun Safe with Biometric Sensor Chip, Auto-Open Lid, Qucik Access.
Gun Safe Mountable on Wall. Waterproof Fire Resistant, 100% Safety. 5 Year Warranty.
Buried in the above are a couple over-the-top lies.
The device is not actually watertight, and therefore is not “Waterproof.” Nor is it made of fire-retardant materials, so it isn’t any more “Fire Resistant” than an Altoid tin.
As for the expression “100% Safety,” I can confirm this device offers no safety. I found two ways of opening it covertly—that is, without damaging the safe or leaving clear indications as to how I gained access—and neither method requires the use of lock-picking tools.
One method can be accomplished by a child.
The safe is made of thin, 18-gauge steel, the box weighing a mere 4.4 lbs. (Snapsafe lock boxes, which I’ve spent time exposing online, are made of higher-quality steel than this.)
The safe’s top-opening door fits loosely and the latching mechanism inside is so weak the lid can be pulled open by hand.
A child lacking the hand strength to do this could still open it by prying at the lid with a screwdriver or a table knife.
In addition, the mounting holes in the bottom of the device open right into the latching mechanism, allowing the thing to be opened with a paper clip.
This last detail is bizarre, considering the device is supposed to be appropriate for use as a portable case. The gun owner is supposed to believe it is secure if it is anchored with nothing but the supplied cable.
Amazon’s product page for this device features an overwhelming number of 5-star reviews.
And how did such a flimsy product accumulate 5-star reviews? A flyer inside every safe offers a package of 25 free shooting targets to those customers who write an Amazon review.
This is a violation of Amazon policies.
I try not to sound like an alarmist when making my investigative findings public, but in this case I’m sounding the alarm. If people are trusting their handguns to Amarey’s gun safe, somebody is going to get hurt or killed.
Amazon needs to halt sales of this product, and Amarey needs to recall it.
When you see those big gun safes that people buy, you probably think that its theft-proof.
Gun safe manufacturers offers a variety of safes for the many different users in their market. Such as the inexpensive for the hunters in their cabin to the high-end heavy duty for the more affluent buyer.
No matter how tough it looks to get into these gun safes, you can see how 10 dollars (hand saw) can get you into one of these heavy gun safes.
As you can see it doesn’t take a lot to get into the best ones in the market.
Some excellent advices is if your gun safe have thin sidewalls, consider boxing it into a corner, so that the door is the only exposed area.
For added security bolt the safe to the floor from the interior, this is a huge plus giving you another layer of theft proofing it.
One gun safe company that you might want to check out is Liberty Safe Company. They design their safes with an eye to prevent break-ins, if not then it really slow down the bad guys.
When you spend lots of money on a gun safe, you’d imagine if it was theft proof.
I can’t even begin to count the number of different gun safe brands out on the market right now. From super inexpensive options that are perfect for the hunting cabin, to extremely high-end super heavy duty safes that are a work of art on the outside, there’s a gun safe for every application.
As sad as it is, watch Tom from Secureit Gun Storage using a tool which only cost 10 bucks can get you into some of the heaviest gun safes.
Modular Firearm Storage is the Smart Choice
As the video shows, it doesn’t take a that much to get into even some of the best safes on the market. If your home gun safe has relatively thin sidewalls, you might want to consider boxing it into a corner, so that the door is the only exposed piece. For additional security, be sure to bolt the safe to the floor from the interior, it will definitely make a big difference!
If you’re looking for a new gun safe this year, check out the Lincoln Series from the Liberty Safe Company. It’s a seriously rock-solid piece of equipment that will have no issues protecting your gear this season. Every angle of this safe has been designed to detour thefts, including the sides of this series. With 90 minutes of fire protection, the Lincoln Series has you covered even during the worst disaster.
Sources: SecureIt Gun Storage, Liberty Safe Company, Mike Reeber
One of our past articles showed some flaws with the security of a gun safe and how you can accidentally crack those safes. Those techniques were considered the “soft” method. What about cracking it the old fashion way of “brute force”.
Taofledermaus has just the improvised shotgun shell to try on this tough target.
This test of wax slugs is against an old safe. Can an old safe be penetrated by these wax slugs? Well, a full can of beer is what is being protected inside of this safe.
Watch as a shotgun loaded with wax slugs tries to strong arm it. At first try the rounds went through but missed the beer can inside the gun safe. Second try the rounds went through the safe and destroyed the beer can. The damage is quite impressive to say the least.
Matt the shooter used a Mossberg 590 12 ga shotgun with wax slugs.
Wax slugs are home-improvised shotgun shells with the shot mixed with wax. This causes the shot and wax to hit the target like a slug.
Not much can hold up against the power of a 12 gauge shotgun.
Story by Eric Nestor revised by AmSJ
Source: Youtube, Taofledermaus