Best Fireproof Gun Safe for the Money in 2022
While owning a safe can help protect your firearms from theft, a standard gun safe doesn’t offer much (if anything) in the way of fire protection. For that, you need a rated fireproof safe.
Commonly, your first step will be finding a suitably sized safe with a listed UL rating, which often means bypassing traditional gun safes in favor of true safes.
True safes with a fire rating often feature forms of insulation designed to help protect the contents from damage due to heat and smoke by preventing the fire from reaching the compartment for a specific amount of time.
They also feature fire seals around the safe door that expand when exposed to a high enough temperature, providing a stronger seal and added protection.
It is important to note that no safe is truly fireproof, but fire resistant. The amount of time the safe is rated for is based on Fire Endurance requirements as set forth in the UL 72 Class 350 rating scheme.
To help you narrow down your choices more quickly if you are in the market for a fire safe, here are some of the best options currently available.
- Best Fireproof Gun Safe for the Money in 2022
- SentrySafe SFW123GDC Electronic Fire Safe
- Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E Electronic Lock Burglary and Fire Safe
- Winchester Safes Legacy 44
- Knowing Their Limits
SentrySafe SFW123GDC Electronic Fire Safe
The SentrySafe SFW123GDC provides advanced fire-protection along with a level of security traditionally not found in safes of its size. It offers a UL certified fire endurance rating of one hour for temperatures up to 1700 degrees F (927 degrees C), often considered to be the minimum recommended amount of fire resistance for most household use.
Unlike some fire safes, it is also ETL verified as suitable for protecting digital media including USB drives, portable hard drives, and CDs or DVDs.
To achieve the fire rating, this safe uses a special form of concrete within its construction. The material resists thermal transfer, keeping the interior temperature lower when the exterior is exposed to a fire. Additionally, the concrete expands slightly when exposed to heat, providing a stronger barrier.
As a bonus, the SentrySafe SKW123GDC also provides ETL verified protection for water. It can sit in standing water of up to 8 inches in depth for a total of 24 hours before water damage is likely to occur. This means you get both forms of natural disaster protection from a single unit and, if a fire were to occur, the contents are protected from the water the fire department will use to extinguish the flames.
ETL also verified the integrity of the safe would remain during a fall of up to 15 feet. While this might not seem necessary to every potential buyer, it does mean that safes kept on a second story can survive a fall should the floor give way during a fire or another type of natural disaster. This can also apply to apartment dwellers who don’t live on the first floor.
Featuring a solid steel exterior and a pry-resistant hinge bar, this safe is designed to withstand many basic attempts at brute force entry. The door fits snugly into the safe, providing only a small gap and making it more challenging to pry the door open. The four one-inch live-locking bolts are also notably larger than many traditional safe offerings, increasing the total level of security provided by the safe.
This safe uses an electronic keypad lock combined with a key lock for alternate access. This means that the contents can be accessed quickly, making it ideal for gun owners who want fast access to a firearm for home protection or other purposes. If the batteries die or the keypad is damaged during a fire or some other natural disaster, the door can be opened with the provided key, so you don’t lose access simply because the keypad isn’t working properly.
Another nice feature is the fact that the keypad is backlit. This means you can still easily read the keypad even if the safe is stored in a dark location, like an unlit closet, or if you want to access the safe without having to turn on any lights.
Inside, the SentrySafe SFW123GDC measures 13.8 x 12.6 x 11.9 inches in size and offers 1.23 cubic feet of space with an adjustable shelf. This makes it a suitable option for individuals looking to store no more than two handguns and other items like important documents and jewelry.
The adjustable shelf features a locking door that requires a separate key, creating an additional barrier to entry. The interior of the door also includes key hooks and pockets asother options for organizing the interior.
Along with the various shelf, drawer, key rack, and storage pockets designed to ease organization, the SentrySafe SFW123GDC also has an interior light to make accessing the contents in otherwise poorly lit conditions simpler. For those concerned about grabbing a firearm during a break in, this means you can clearly see the orientation of the contents without the need for other lighting.
The total weight is 101 pounds, making it substantial but not immovable. However, it does come with a bolt-down kit for a more secure installation, but some of the fire and water protection may be compromised if the process is not completed properly.
Unlike some other models, the SentrySafe SFW123GDC does not come with pre-drilled bolt holes. It comes with instructions regarding the location and proper drilling of the spaces, but failing to complete the process precisely can lower the level of fire protection offered.
In cases where fire protection is the primary concern, and the risk of the entire safe being stolen is low, some may opt to skip the bolting process. If you choose to take that route, understand that the safe is light enough to be carried away by thieves should they opt to do so.
Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E Electronic Lock Burglary and Fire Safe
For those who require more space or additional fire protection, the Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E offers a two hour fire rating at temperatures reaching up to 1830 degrees F.
The body of the safe is made of 1 ¾ inch thick steel plating, lined with fire resistant material, while the door is 4 ½ inches of solid steel lined with fire insulation and features a heat-activated seal for additional protection.
Aside from the all steel construction, the Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E also features additional security features designed to prevent brute force entry attempts. One inch solid steel live-locking bolts secure the door, preventing entry even if the exterior hinges are removed by potential thieves. The hinges are also made of solid steel, helping them withstand damage during forced entry attempts or through wear and tear.
The Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E can be considered a large safe, with interior measurements of approximately 36 x 19 x 16 inches, creating 6.4 cubic feet of interior space. It also weighs 300 pounds, making it challenging for thieves to remove from the property by hand.
To make removal even more challenging, the safe includes four pre-drilled anchor holes allowing it to be bolted into place during installation.And, since the holes are drilled by the manufacturer, completing the installation has no negative impact on the fire rating.
Along with being fire rated, the Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E is also resistant to damage resulting from falls. The design was factory tested to ensure it would withstand the impact of a two-story fall. This means, should the floor below the safe be compromised during a fire, it will maintain its integrity within the test limits.
To help the owner organize the interior more effectively, the safe includes two adjustable shelves and a fully upholstered interior. This makes the safe ideal for individuals that own three to six handguns they would like to store. This also leaves suitable space to store other items a person may want to protect from fire and theft, such as personal documents and jewelry.
The battery-operated electronic lock allows for quick entry by authorized users. This can be ideal for those concerned about home protection and would like to be able to efficiently access the interior of the safe during an emergency.
Owners of the Mesa Gun Safe Company MBF3820E can select their own PIN by following the included instructions from the manufacturer, ensuring you can have a PIN that is easy to remember even during an emergency. The keypad displays a low battery warning when the required 9V battery drains to a specific point. Additionally, there is a wrong code penalty, lowering the chance of unauthorized entries based on guessing the PIN.
There is also a concealed backup key lock, providing an alternate entry method should the keypad become damaged or if the batteries operating the lock die. The lock also has an internal spring loaded relocking device for added protection. The relocking system is punch-activated, and the rear plate is drill-resistant as well.
A unique feature of the Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E is the included interior outlet strip. This provides access to three standard electrical sockets and two USB ports to charge items within the safe.For those interested in storing various electronics, this set up can be ideal as your devices can remain charged while still being secured within the safe. The required power source cord is included with the safe, so no additional purchase is required to take advantage of this feature.And, since it is part of the design, the power has been installed without compromising the fire resistant nature of the safe.
The Mesa Safe Company MBF3820E can be mounted in larger closets, allowing for additional discretion in the case of attempted burglaries, though the design is also suitable for display. The exterior features a classic matte gray finish with silver-toned detailing, making it suitable for many home offices, dens or similar locations.
It is important to note that the weight of the safe should be considered when placing it within the home.In some cases, additional reinforcements to the home’s floor structure may be required, especially if it is not being placed on flooring directly supported by a full concrete foundation.
Winchester Safes Legacy 44
If you are interested in exceptional storage capacity and industry leading fire protection, the Winchester Safes Legacy 44 is rated for 2.5 hours at temperatures reaching up to 1400 degrees F. The door features dual layers of Palusol Heat door sealant which expands to over 6x its starting size when exposed to excess heat.
The UL rated fireboard is located within the walls, ceiling, and door, ensuring full protection regardless of where the fire contacts the structure. The fire resistant structure is also supported by the external location of the hinges, eliminating holes and potential weak points to ensure solid fireboard protection.
For additional fire protection, the door includes a ¼ inch heat-treated steel outer plate along with the fireboard.
Items like documents receive even more protection against fire damage thanks to the thermal-protective lining used in the zippered door pockets. The company also offers a lifetime free replacement guarantee should a fire occur.
The Winchester Safes Legacy 44 also provides exceptional protection from burglary thanks to its 10 gauge solid steel body and use of robotic continuous welds.
The design is especially pry-resistant thanks to the recessed door placement and reinforced steel return jambs.16 two-inch solid steel locking bolts, including five dead locking and 11 active locking, ensure the door is always well secured. The dead lockingbolts on the hinged side of the door ensure the door cannot be opened even when the hinges are removed.
Pre-drilled bolt holes are included in the design, ensuring they do not compromise the fire protection while also making the safe difficult to remove from the home in the event of a burglary. However, the safe also weighs in at over 1,400 pounds, making it a challenge to move, period. Before installation, the floor beneath the safe will likely need to be reinforced to manage the weight.
Up to 51 long guns can be stored in the Winchester Safes Legacy 44 thanks to its interior dimensions of 54.5 x 36 x 17 inches and total interior volume of 43.8 cubic feet. Multiple adjustable shelves and included easy access barrel racks allow for a customizable storage solution, giving gun owners options for storing rifles, shotguns, and handguns along with a variety of other valuables.
The upgraded welded pindot interior can be illuminated with the included motion-sensing LED light kit, allowing the contents to be easily examined even when other light sources are unavailable. The interior door storage also features options for handguns along with spaces for accessories, documents, and more.
For those interested in storing electronics within the Winchester Safes Legacy 44, the safe includes a power docking system that features two standard electrical outlets and two USB pass-throughs.
While the Winchester Safes Legacy 44 offers high-quality protection from theft and fire, it does use a mechanical lock as its only point of entry. This means it may be less than ideal for those concerned with home protection, as the full combination must be correctly entered to gain entrance.
However, the locking mechanism is designed to help ensure a higher level of heat resistance and includes drill-resistant plating for additional security.
Based on the safe’s size, installation can be completed in large closets or in open spaces. To help blend with other décor, the Winchester Safes Legacy 44 can be purchased in three colors: gunmetal, black, and saddle brown.
The five-spoke black chrome vault handle and silver-toned combination lock ensure the safe looks sophisticated, making it suitable for placement in home offices, dens, or similar spaces.
The Bottom Line
While no safe is truly fireproof, there are numerous options that provide significant fire resistance to help protect your firearms and other belongings should disaster strike. Depending on the amount of storage required, one of the options above will likely meet the needs of most discerning gun safe buyers.
If you choose a heavier model, it is wise to make sure the floor on which it will be installed can manage the weight to avoid damage to your home. However, if you need a safe of that size, it is often worth the expense to ensure it can be kept safely.
While few people ever expect a fire will happen in their home, it is also wise to plan for the worst. That way, should the unexpected occur, you are as prepared as possible to protect your guns and other property. This limits your losses and makes it easier to move on after the fact.
Knowing Their Limits
It goes without saying that no safe is truly fireproof — each has their limit and with various construction designs, some are better than others. Fireproof gun safes are nothing without a good construction.
It is important to understand that there are no official standards for manufacturers of gun safes, so “fireproof” is an arbitrary statement that manufacturers can use at their discretion, as well as their own ratings that they create.
Some manufacturers offer “fireproof” safes that are mediocre at best at fire protection — for example, you may be surprised to know that to save money, most manufacturers use gypsum drywall (sheetrock) as fire lining and call it “fireproof,” allowing them to charge a premium for it.
The risks to firearms caused by drywall is due to the chemicals and steam that it lets off during a fire, which can make having a fireproof gun safe of this type, counter productive.
This makes it important to ask questions about fireproof safes first, inquiring about their construction, before purchasing.
What to Keep (and not keep) in Your Fireproof Gun Safe
Many gun owners keep not only their guns in a safe, but their ammunition, and often, important valuables. While it is wise to keep your firearm in your safe for obvious reasons, you may want to think twice before stocking your ammo in your fireproof gun safe. This is because it may actually be safer to leave the ammo out of the safe and separate from your guns.
Different ammunitions will burn up at different temperatures in case of a fire. While your ammo’s cartridge is the heaviest part of the bullet, it will not go very far if it burns up in a fire, but the shell casing will still explode and send shrapnel sailing, which can damage valuables and weapons within your safe.
Also, smokeless powders in modern cartridges burn cleanly, but when cooked like so in a fire, the gunpowder will create smoke and chemicals up to 15 times its original volume. This is thousands of degrees Fahrenheit burning near your firearms and valuables in your safe.
In addition, these gasses expand and push the good air out of the safe, while contracting and drawing in hot smoke and gasses from outside of the case back in, further damaging the contents and creating a hot box for your ammo.
Therefore, it is best to keep your firearm and valuables in your fireproof safe, separate from your ammunition, as the ammo itself can be more of a danger inside of the safe than out, even in a fire. The same goes for flammables such as gun cleaners, lubrication, oils, solvents, and other items.
For those who keep their firearms loaded in their gun safe, think of this: while the chambered rounds will be last to cook off during a fire, while within a fire safe, this is still dangerous. Once the fire has destroyed the home, the barrel may very well be heated enough to fire the bullet. Family members and firefighters are most likely to be around the container salvaging belongings or putting out the rest of the fire. Most safes cannot withstand a bullet from a rifle, handgun, or other firearm.
Real Fire Safe Construction
The vast majority of true fire safes use fully welded inner and outer steel with poured concrete amalgamate fireproofing in between. During the construction of the safe, fireproofing is added and baked, and allowed to harden.
For fire safe concrete amalgamates, materials used such as fiberglass, vermiculite, and perlite are mixed into the fireproofing. These materials are made to absorb heat during a fire and reduce the transmission of heat. Sometimes this weakens the concrete mixture (used for security), but manufacturers and buyers of fireproof safes must trade off security vs fireproofing at some point in order to meet their needs.
In conclusion, it is important to choose a fireproof safe that uses quality construction. No universal standard fire ratings exists for the fire and gun safe industry beyond that of the UL 72 rating. Many manufacturers do not have a hope of passing the UL 72 testings, so they do not bother with it.
To find a quality fire safe, make sure that the safe meets UL 72 testing, and that it is a true fire safe, using the construction seen above.
In addition to a quality construction, one must also be proactive in what items they keep in their fireproof gun safe. Keeping ammunition out of the fireproof gun safe is your best bet for keeping the contents and the integrity of valuables intact.