Choosing a safe can be difficult and confusing! The purpose of this guide is to help our customers make sense of the broad spectrum of available sizes, security measures, and options.
Step 1: Size
First things first! Determining the right size safe for your needs will start you out on the right foot. A safe is protected real estate in your home – designed to outlast burglary and fire. Make sure that you take into account what your safe can store for you. Many customers initially purchase a small safe for a couple of items, but find it overfilled in a short amount of time once they realize the value of its protection. We recommend taking time to make a list or an organized pile of belongings that you will want to store in your safe. Don’t wait until after you have purchased your safe to decide what you are going to store.
**Note: Customers increase what they lock up when they are vacationing away from their home. This may be to protect items in a vacant home, or from a house sitter. We suggest purchasing a safe large enough to accommodate your usual items, as well as laptops, computer back-ups, sentimental items, additional identity information, sensitive documents, and any other items that you may not want to leave unsecured during a few days out of the house.
Gun & Home Storage
- Safes shorter than 58” will not effectively store Rifles or Shotguns. You should never plan to store a long gun diagonally in a shorter safe. Door panels mate to the shelving when you close your door and will not close with a long gun stored diagonally.
- Safes 58” tall will hold most long guns, but will typically store only two to four guns longer than 45” in length before the top shelf must be removed to accommodate additional long barrel models. This typically comes into play with 28” barrel shotguns, trap/skeet guns, muzzle loaders, historic rifles, etc
- 64”-67” tall safes were built to take the same foot print as their shorter counterparts, but retain a second top shelf should several guns 45” and longer be stored.
- 72” tall safes will typically retain two upper shelves regardless of length of long gun. They are typically 43” and wider.
- Home Safes (42” and shorter) Will not accommodate long guns, will kneel down to access
- Closet size Upright (60”H x 24”-28”W). These will typically be 20” Deep and limited in storage. These are sized to fit in most closets with standard doors.
- 25 Cubic Upright: 60”H x 30”-32”W, 25”-27”D. This is our most common size, and our most common size to outgrow.
- 30 Cubic Wide 60”H x 36”-39”W. This size is intended to offer about 35% more interior room than the 25 Cubic at the same 60” height.
- 30 Cubic Tall 64”-67”H x 30”-32”W This size is intended to have the same footprint as a 25 Cubic, but offer an extra top shelf unencumbered by long barrel models.
- 40 Cubic Wide 60”H x 40”-44”W This size is intended to offer about 50% more interior room than the 25 Cubic at the same 60” height.
- 40 Cubic Tall 64”-67”H x 36”-40”W This size is intended to have the same footprint as a 30 Cubic Tall, but offer an extra top shelf unencumbered by long barrel models.
- 50 Cubic Wide 60”H x 55”W These extra wide safes double your interior room over a 25 Cubic at the same 60” height
- 50 Cubic Tall 72”H x 41”-44”W this is the smallest 6-Foot-Tall size, and these safes have two top shelves that are not encumbered by long barrel models.
- 60-75 Cubic These safes are extra tall and wide at 72” Tall and as wide as 61”
Step 2: Security & The Eastern Security Rating System
Once you have determined a size range that fits your current and future needs, it’s time to determine what protection is right for you. Safes are not all created equal. Every manufacturer produces different levels of safes, spanning from their entry level to their most secure. That’s not to say that one manufacturer’s top-of-the-line is equivalent to another manufacturer’s, nor that their entry level models are the same security. There are drastically different standards on thickness of steel, door construction, weld quality, and locking system quality. To help the consumer with this convolution, we created the Eastern Security Rating System.
The Eastern Security Rating System has been developed over several years and several revisions to help offer an apple to apple comparison of security and features across manufacturers. Body Steel (type and thickness), Door Steel (type and thickness), Door and Door Frame Design, Boltwork Design and Quality, Lock Protection, Relockers, Amount of Fire Retardant, and overall quality of construction are all taken into consideration and graded. These grades are then averaged into a 1 to 10 score that we then assign to each model.
What does this mean for you?
- You can easily see how different two safes are in their security value.
- You can determine what security range is appropriate for you and shop by security level.
- You can quickly weed out the models that are irrelevant to your shopping
Eastern Security Rating Quick-Guide (From Highest Rating to Lowest):
Levels 10+: Occupied by safes with UL TL ratings at 15 or higher. These safe manufacturers have paid to have their TL models tested by Underwriters Laboratories. TL 15-30, x 3, x 6, TRTL, etc are high security for residential and commercial use.
Most models in Levels 10-1 all carry the broad UL “RSC” rating.
Levels 10-8: These levels are occupied by models that use superior materials such as Stainless Steel and/or AR500 ballistic rated steel in their construction. Stainless steel offers heat disbursement not found in normal, mild steel, and prevents torches from localizing enough heat to penetrate the steel, and increases the time that it takes to cut through the steel using cutting tools. AR500 (AR = Abrasion Resistant) Ballistic Rated Steel is three times harder than mild steel, and substantially increases the cutting time necessary to penetrate the safe.
Levels 7-6: These safes are typically secured with ¼” – 3/16” (7 Gauge) mild steel in their safe body, and typically have at least 3/8” of total steel in their door. They are constructed with an excellent quality of build. Their locking systems and door frames are made of a suitable construction that does not bend or flex with tools.
Levels 5-4: These safe are typically secured with 3/16” (7 Gauge) to 10 Gauge mild steel in their safe body, and typically have at least a ¼” of total steel in their door. They are constructed with a high quality of build and their security should offer a strong deterrent to attacks with cutting tools.
Levels 3-2: These safes are typically secured with 11 Gauge to 12 Gauge mild steel in their safe bodies. These safe maintain a good resistance to hand tool attacks and curious hands.
Level 1: These safes will likely provide resistance to curious, casual hands. They typically are constructed of 12 gauge to 14 gauge mild steel, and maintain under 1 hour of fire rating and little or no locking bolt protection on the top and bottom of the door.
**Note It is important to match the correct security around the value you are working to keep out of the wrong hands. Safes are similar to an insurance policy: You hope they are never tested, but it’s important to have adequate protection if they are. We have often helped new customers purchase their second, better safe after their first safe did not provide the protection needed to keep possessions from being taken. Not all safes are created equal, nor are they all made to protect the same valuables. All safes can be breached given the right time and tools, and the level of protection is a deterrent built to outlast the hands that may become determined to breach it.
Step 3: Compare Safes Across Manufacturers
You have now successfully determined the size and security appropriate for your needs. It’s time to look at the safes across several manufacturers and different specifications to find the best deal for you. Areas to evaluate might be the following:
- Color Options Available
- Door Type & Build
- Fire Protection
- Gun Storage & Features
- Hinges: Internal or External
- Lights, Interior Outlets
- Lock Type
- Warranty & Customer Service
- Future options & Accessories
Mechanical Dial Lock or Electronic Keypad Lock?
When choosing a lock, frequency of access, ease of access, and dependability should be weighed. Is the safe accessed twice each day, twice per week, twice per month, or twice per year? Here are some typical scenarios that help customers determine the type of lock best for them.
- Accessed twice each day: Often, if a customer accesses their safe multiple times each day, an electronic keypad lock may be well worth the upgrade as it will save the operator several minutes each day and be well worth the upgrade.
- Accessed twice per week: Either a dial or a keypad. There is not much time here to be saved with a keypad, but the lock is still used at a frequency where potential issues with the keypad should be discovered.
- Accessed twice per month: Dial Lock
- Accessed twice per year: Definitely Dial Lock
- Used by multiple users – Keypad that allows multiple user codes
- Used by visually impaired – Keypads are easier on those who may have problems with their eyesight.
- Environments with humidity and temperature fluctuations – Dial Lock
- Environment with children – Dial Lock with keylocking feature. This is the most child-proof configuration
** An Important Note: At the first signs of an electronic keypad acting abnormal, new batteries with an expiration date of 4 years out should be installed and tested with the door open. If the lock still acts abnormal, service should be scheduled immediately. Electronic locks can become faulty for a number of reasons, but it typically happens gradually and not immediately, and abnormalities should never be ignored. Lock changes and service are easy when the door is open. However, should the lock cease to function when the safe is closed, a safe tech must drill the safe and compromise the lock. This is a much more difficult and expensive endeavor.
Step 4: Accessorize
Here is where you determine the storage options and accessories that will make your safe most useful to you. Here are some examples:
- Lights: No need for a flashlight when you have lights installed in your safe. This makes sorting through paperwork worlds easier. Many safes now come with lights standard.
- Undershelf drawers- Storing cash, passports, cards, licenses, coins, metals, and jewelry? Undershelf drawers have compartments, space above and below the insert, and keep your things organized and your shelf space open for other goods.
- Dehumidifier rod- These heated rods keep moisture from hanging out in one place by using convection heat.
- SafElert – get phone notifications when your safe is opened, rocked, spikes in temperature, or spikes in humidity.
- Rifle Rods – Turn a 20 gun safe into a 40 gun safe using these storage savers
- Mag Mounts – Hang your magazines on the wall of your safe to keep them accessible and keep your shelves clear
- Pistol hangers – hang your handguns beneath your shelves and utilize all that cubic footage.
Here’s a great video created by our friends The Safe Keeper in Las Vegas!