15 Myths of Gun Safe Protection
It’s no secret that manufacturers try to make their product look as good as possible, and gun safe makers are no exception. While gun safes do provide a level of protection from theft, it is rarely a guaranteed way to prevent your firearms from being stolen. To help you understand what a gun safe really has to offer in regards to protecting your property, here are 15 myths of gun safe protection and the truth behind the misconception.
1. Even a Cheap Gun Safe is Better than Nothing
While a cheap gun safe may prevent family members and guests from getting their hands on your gun accidentally, it can actually give you a false sense of security when it comes to theft protection. Cheap gun safes are easier to breach, meaning even a moderately prepared (or generally resourceful) thief can likely gain entry.
Additionally, many people store other valuables in their gun safe for convenience.In cases where the safe itself is subpar, you are actually putting more items at risk than if you didn’t have a safe at all. Why? Because you might not group your valuables together if you didn’t have a safe in which to store them.
2. The Most Expensive Gun Safe Offers the Best Protection
Often, better-made gun safes will cost more than their cheaply made counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean the most expensive option on the market actually gives you any more protection than some moderately priced safes.
The construction of the safe does play a part in price, which can cause the price to rise, but many large manufacturers are able to keep costs lower due to the size of their operation. Typically, they can purchase materials in bulk, often at a discount in comparison to smaller orders, and they have the facilities to streamline manufacturing. That means a mid-priced offering from a large producer may meet or exceed the quality of a more expensive model from a company that doesn’t have the same purchasing and production power.
3. Gun Safes with Thicker Doors Offer More Protection
When it comes to the strength of the door, size is not the most important factor. The materials used to create the door contribute much more to the integrity of the door than size does. For example, a solid steel plate offers more security than one constructed of steel sheet metal wrapped around drywall even if the latter is somewhat thicker.
Additionally, other parts of the gun safe also play significant roles regarding the safe’s integrity. The locking bolts and hinges are also factors.And, in cases where their quality is insufficient, the strength of the door may be irrelevant.
4. A Gun Safe is like Any Other Safe
While true safes and gun safes look the same at first glance, they can be constructed very differently. True safes must often meet requirements set forth by insurance companies, including being classified as “B-Rate” or stronger. This classification means the outer shell of the walls is constructed of ¼” A-36 steel, with a ½” plate steel door, based on the minimum requirements. Gun safes are often constructed of weaker steel, such as 12 gauge (0.1046”) sheet steel, making them less strong by comparison.
Additionally, burglary-resistant safes must meet other standards to achieve an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating.For example, the lowest UL rating covers Class TL-15, which essentially requires the door to be made of 1.5” A-36 plate steel; a standard that is well beyond the minimums required to reach a B-Rate as mentioned above.
While gun safes can be made to meet these ratings, it isn’t required to be sold under the description of a gun safe.
5. Heavy Gun Safes Don’t Need to be Bolted into Place
When a safe is particularly heavy, many gun owners assume a thief simply won’t bother trying to move it. However, gun safes that aren’t bolted down are subject to theft, especially if the weight can be managed by more than one person (and the break-in has more than one party participating) or a suitable method of moving the item is available. Additionally, what one person considers heavy may be a comfortable lift for someone who lifts heavy weights or objects on a regular basis.
6. Electronic Locks on Gun Safes Offer More Security than Mechanical Locks
Electronic locks often make a gun safe look more advanced. However, it isn’t actually any safer than a traditional mechanical variant. When a thief breaks into a safe, the type of lock is rarely relevant, especially when the attack is based on brute force used to compromise the structural integrity of the gun safe.
And, in cases of fire or flooding, an electronic lock is more of a liability as it may stop working after being exposed to extreme heat or water.
7. Gun Safes Automatically Deter Thieves
This is another point that relates to the false sense of security a gun safe can provide. While some thieves may pass by a gun safe, especially if it is bolted to the floor, those who find themselves to be resourceful (or that come prepared) won’t be intimidated by a safe. Additionally, if it isn’t securely bolted down, the entire safe can be removed allowing them to access the contents later.
8. If I Have a Gun Safe, Where I Put it Doesn’t Matter
Some gun owners neglect the importance of choosing a proper location for a gun safe, figuring the safe itself is all that matters. However, leaving any safe out in the open makes you more vulnerable. If it can be clearly seen through a window, it may attract thieves who are curious about it contents. Furthermore, people who enter your home for routine matters, such as home repairs, may also be tempted by the presence of a safe.
While there is no perfect location for a gun safe, it is generally smart to keep it out of sight. But, if you have a basement, don’t assume that is the best choice either. While it may be hidden from prying eyes there, the chance of damage is greater due to flooding.
9. Thieves Aren’t Looking for Gun Safes
Most burglars know that many households keep safes, so they may keep a lookout for one. If you live in a state or city with specific requirements regarding the storage of firearms, and it is known that you own guns, a thief may break into your home with the intention of locating a gun safe. Some signs that a home may contain guns, aside from seeing people leaving or entering the property with firearms in tow, include receiving certain magazines, publications, or newsletters that indicate potential gun ownership, political signage related to gun legislation, or warning signs that suggest firearms are on the premise.
10. Since I Have a Burglar Alarm, I Don’t Need a Gun Safe. Thieves Won’t Have Time to Access My Gun Safe Anyway
Just as a gun safe isn’t a foolproof way to keep your guns out of the hands of thieves, your security system isn’t either. Depending on the installation, a thief may need to simply cut your phone line to deactivate the system. Additionally, issues with the installation or the aging of components can cause the system to fail unexpectedly.
The response time for an alarm trigger isn’t immediate unless someone happens to be in the immediate area. Oftentimes, thieves have a few minutes before authorities will arrive, giving them ample time to access or take a gun safe before the authorities arrive. This is even more relevant in cases where the location of your gun safe is known by the thief.
While having a home security system is great, especially if it doesn’t rely on landlines, it can’t be your only point of defense. By adding a gun safe to the equation, you increase the difficulty associated with getting to your firearms in the first place.
11. Gun Safes Offer Guaranteed Protection from Disasters
Even the most well-made gun safes aren’t immune from being crushed in cases where an earthquake or fire damages the building and causes it to fall (hence why a basement isn’t necessarily the best location for a safe). While they will resist damage, once enough force or pressure is applied, the structure of the safe will give way.
Additionally, in events like floods, waterproofing is only confirmed within certain limits. So, if the gun safe remains submerged longer than the test shows it can withstand, or other factors like fluctuating temperatures are in play, water may eventually make it inside.
12. My Gun Safe is Completely Fireproof
Gun safes that are considered fireproof are often so within specific parameters, most often related to the temperature of the fire. If a fire exceeds the temperature at which the safe is rated as fireproof, it may be compromised.
It is also important to note that even if a gun safe is fire-rated, that doesn’t mean the interior temperature doesn’t increase. While the safe may maintain its integrity, the increased temperature inside the safe can damage items contained therein.
13. Gun Safes Also Protect Ammunition from Fires
Just as mentioned above, a fireproof gun safe doesn’t ensure the internal temperature will remain at a level that makes it safe for ammunition. The average house fire reaches a temperature of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than the few hundred degrees it takes for ammunition to detonate. If the internal temperature of the gun safe reaches the required temperature, the ammo will simply detonate inside the safe.
Typically, it is recommended to store ammunition and firearms separately. However, in cases where the guns are intended as a method of home protection, it should at least not be loaded into the gun. Having the gun loaded during a fire actually creates a more significant safety risk than when it is just in a clip outside of the gun. And, since a firefighter may already be risking their lives fighting the fire, it is best not to have a loaded gun become an unexpected point of danger as they do their job.
14. Since I Have a Gun Safe, I Can Store My Guns Loaded
Storing a loaded gun creates an unnecessary risk. If the gun is accessed, whether by a person who has access or due to a break-in, there is a higher chance of accidental injury if the gun is already loaded. You may forget that you left the gun loaded or the person who grabs the gun may be simply unaware. And, in cases of burglary, the thief then has a loaded gun in their hands that they could use to harm you or your family if you are home.
Further, if there is a house fire, there is a risk of the ammunition detonating while inside the gun. While the ammunition detonation may not be avoidable, having it turn your gun into a grenade is.
15. If a Gun Safe Isn’t Foolproof, I Don’t Need One
While a gun safe can’t prevent every theft or incident of damage, they do provide benefits that make them worthwhile. They can prevent children, inexperienced family members, or visitors to your home from getting their hands on a firearm and harming themselves or someone else. They also might be required by law, such as in states with gun storage laws, or by your homeowner’s insurance company.
Gun safes definitely make it more difficult for thieves to gain access to your guns. Additionally, they will protect your guns from certain disasters or damage due to improper storage.