If you own any firearms, you probably understand the importance of keeping them locked up when they are not in use. Many people store their guns in a “gun cabinet” which is a simple metal cabinet with a locking mechanism in it, which cost about $100. Gun cabinets are great for keeping out curious children and the simpleton smash-and-grab crackhead thief but are easily broken into with a bolt cutter and crowbar. The next level up from a gun cabinet is an entry-level gun safe.
Gun safes are a fairly large debate because of their purpose and the way they are manufactured. Many enthusiasts believe that an entry-level gun safe is no better than a heavy-duty gun cabinet and that they provide little for burglary and fire protection. These same enthusiasts will recommend that if you want to get a gun safe, get something with 8 gauge steel (or thicker), UL Group II rated locks (or better), UL TL-15 rated theft deterrence (or better), at least 1000 lbs of empty weight, and 2 hr+ fire protection rated by a reliable third party. The safes that meet these requirements are superb and are ‘portable’ vaults all in themselves, but they can cost $5,000 or more. Assuming the average responsible firearms owner isn’t a collector and cannot rationalize spending $5,000+ on a safe, what can they do? They can do as good as their dollar will let them, which is often an “RSC” rated safe and considered inferior. If you’re serious about firearms, or serious about firearm safety, a gun safe will be important regardless of what you can afford.
The bottom line is that something is better than nothing. One side will say that Residential Security Container (UL rating “RSC”) rated safes are inadequate for proper protection, while the other side simply cannot afford safes with higher ratings. If you’re looking at getting a safe in the $800-$1800 price range, you’re going to need to be pretty thrifty and possess a knowledgable foundation about all of the offerings. At that price range, you’re really going to need to squeeze every ounce of weight and protection out of the manufacturer of choice that you can. This shootout is catered to those who cannot afford the more expensive safes, but still need the most protection for their dollar.
Regardless of what safe you get, be sure to bolt it to the floor. It takes more time to open a standing safe than a fallen one.
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