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Mark Patoka
08-30-2010, 11:41 AM
My wife and I are looking at purchasing a safe for our home, most likely something in the 20-25 cubic foot range. I'm not a gun owner but we were looking at gun safes at our local Gander Mountain (specifically the Timber Ridge line by Liberty Safe). Are gun safes a good option for safekeeping papers, photos, electronic media?

Most sales literature point out the fire rating and temp thresholds and how the safe becomes waterproof if there is a fire and the heat-activated door seals. What about water/flood damage caused by broken pipes when there is no fire?

Does anyone have any recommendations or experiences with home safes? I understand you can't eliminate access by a determined thief but our primary need is to protect important papers, irreplaceable photos, electronic media, cash and any valuables. Flooding seems to be the one issue that is least protected against.

We just started looking and haven't spoken with or looked at any dedicated safe or locksmith dealers. It looks like I'll have to spend approx $1K but am looking for any recommendations or experiences.

Dan Hintz
08-30-2010, 12:05 PM
You don't need a safe to be flood-safe... purchase a $30 food sealer from Target or Wal-Mart. I guarantee those things will keep whatever you put in the plastic sleeves watertight for months submerged in water (I tested it)... and the lack of air also cuts down on degradation (assuming you use acid-free paper). I'm a stamp collector (philatelist), so I triple check anything that supposedly saves vital paperwork.

Lori Kleinberg
08-30-2010, 12:08 PM
To be honest this is my husbands area,:eek: but I found the gun safes to be a very economical and versatile storage option.
There is a huge selection out there, so you should be able to find just what you need.

Ken Garlock
08-30-2010, 12:16 PM
Greetings Mark.

About 6 years ago I briefly looked into purchasing a home safe, but decided to use the local bank instead.

There are two important ratings to be aware of. How long it will stand up to fire, and how long it takes to crack it. The better the ratings, the better the safe. I found that a safe may have a good fire rating, but a mediocre cracking rating,and vise a versa. Your job is to find one that has the best of both. Also look for the UL approval, given it, the brand is secondary, IMO.

I would also steer clear of the electronic locks. I know how long I can turn a knob, but I don't know how long a battery will last.

If your home sets on a slab, get a safe that has a ground anchor option that bolts the safe to the slab. The bolt is in the bottom center of the safe where it can't be accessed by a crook.

Just my thoughts. I am sure others will have more detail and options.

The best cost more, so be prepared to pay more than you have allocated.

Steven DeMars
08-30-2010, 12:18 PM
I would look at a "real" fire safe . . .
A commercial fire safe is the way to go. Locate it near an exterior wall with at little potential "fuel" around it.
A gun safe is worthless now days for burglary protection. A $500.00 120VAC plasma cutter will cut an opening quicker than the Wiley Coyote . . . .
Consider placing a quality fire box inside your fire safe with what is really important. Remember, paper will brown, blacken way before it burns . . .
Also quiz your local fire department as to best placement based on normal construction for your area.
Also, keep any purchase of any type of safe somewhat to yourself. There are a lot of stupid people out there. Safe = $$$$$$$$

Steve:)

Mitchell Andrus
08-30-2010, 12:28 PM
+1 on the plasma cutter. If it was welded together, it can be cut apart.

You wanna fool with their heads. Buy a show safe... a decoy. Let'em burn into that and then leave.

Hide your valuables in a false wall, floor boards, hollowed out dehumidifier in the basement, THEN inside a fire box rated for 2 hours. If they can't find it they can't take it. Lg quantities of paper money, stocks, wills, etc., should be kept at a bank. Even a 2 hr box may allow paper inside to char to dust if the fire's hot enough.

Forget the fake soda can in the fridge, first place I ... er, THEY look.
.

Joe Chritz
08-30-2010, 12:34 PM
Any quality safe will generally keep a burglar out. It needs to either be heavy (600+ pounds heavy) or solidly attached to the floor.

Generally in residential break ins the suspects don't want to stay inside for any longer than needed. That keeps them from working on the safe on site. A dedicated safe breaking crew will bring their own tools and you won't stop them.

For fire protection for documents any small fire safe can be put inside the large safe for double protection and would likely be very safe from fire.

Of almost as much importance as a good safe is to have very specific and detailed records of any items of value, especially high probability targets. A photo of the items and a description of it is generally sufficient. Make/model/serial/value for each item. I can't stress that part enough. When a crew is finally arrested there may be hundreds of items recovered and it is often very hard if not impossible to get it all back to the correct owners.

www.crimedoctor.com has some good tips on hardening you home against break ins. Remember crooks choose victims like the big cats in Africa. If you look like trouble they will go somewhere else.

Joe

Scott T Smith
08-30-2010, 11:52 PM
Let me start off by stating that I've had a gun safe go through a fire. In my instance, the safe was a Canon brand, and it did a fine job of protecting the items that were inside it.

There was some moisture damage (minor), from water that seeped past the door seal. Also, it took about a week to get it opened after the fire; (electronic lock - had to wait for replacement parts.

My thoughts? First, Canon is a well respected brand, and they were great to deal with in the aftermath of the fire.

Second, it's not waterproof.

Third - spend the extra bucks to get an increased fire rating.

Fourth - good points by others re the plasma cutter. I can personally attest that the armor plating that Canon uses inside their doors is top quality. I have some machinist grade carbide bits and the safe laughed at them! I did not want to use a plasma cutter on it as I did not want the slag to damage my firearms.

Fifth - the manufacturers tend to play games re the fire ratings. It's worthwhile to spend time to see who offers what.

Sixth - most of the fire rating is due to sheetrock panels inside the safe. These would not be that hard to add...

Cliff Rohrabacher
08-31-2010, 10:17 AM
20-25 cubic foot range.

Sounds about the size of a small appliance interior.
Cozy?

It is the rare and bizarre home burglar who carries plasma cutters (sufficient to crack a good safe) on his back into a home. I suppose that a determined team could get the truck and load the safe but the exposure and time needed will serve as a serious deterrant.

Home burglars are mostly smash and grab in and out.

Steven DeMars
08-31-2010, 10:42 AM
Sounds about the size of a small appliance interior.
Cozy?

It is the rare and bizarre home burglar who carries plasma cutters (sufficient to crack a good safe) on his back into a home. I suppose that a determined team could get the truck and load the safe but the exposure and time needed will serve as a serious deterrant.

Home burglars are mostly smash and grab in and out.

Not necessarily correct in this area. . . They are carrying plasma cutters to steal catalytic converters. . . . cut door locks out of metal buildings, etc . . . :)

Sam Layton
08-31-2010, 12:19 PM
Mark,

Gun safes are very good. Some things to consider: Get a safe with the steel sides and door with steel as thick as you can find. Make sure the door has bolts that go into both sides, top, and bottom of the frame when locked. Get a good fire rating. I am thinking that you may add some weather stripping for increased water security. Make sure you bolt it to the floor.

Buy a good quality safe. You may have to spend a little more that 1K. In addition, install an alarm system in your residence. You will be well protected.

The only thing I have to say about plasma cutters is, don't store your plasma cutter next to your safe. Residential burglars do not carry plasma cutters to a residential burglary. The most tools they carry may be channel lock pliers, and/or a small pry tool. They want in and out. That is what the alarm system is for, to scare they away. Some one will say that they know of a burglar that entered while an alarm was going off... Every now and then they will. However, they will be in and out fast.

I like the idea that Joe had about putting a small fire safe inside your gun safe, great idea. Buy a large gun safe, they fill fast.

Sam

Steven DeMars
08-31-2010, 12:47 PM
If you do bolt to the floor, do not use the same lenght bolts for all four positions. Have one where when trying to pry you end up with 4" to 6" of space between the bottom of the safe and the top of the concrete. It makes for a great surprise. Now they have to try finding something in the house to make up the space to continue prying up on the safe. This long bolt has to be the type that totally penetrates the slab and spring spreads once it goes through. Sort of like a very large toggle bolt. Tighten just enough. . . . I hope this makes sense . . .

Steve

Mitchell Andrus
08-31-2010, 1:10 PM
Not necessarily correct in this area. . . They are carrying plasma cutters to steal catalytic converters. . . . cut door locks out of metal buildings, etc . . . :)

18v Sawzalls too. Metal buildings... right through the wall.
.

Joe Chritz
08-31-2010, 1:26 PM
Sam hit the nail. Not sure how I forgot to mention that but an audible alarm will save your stuff.

Even if they are bold enough to go in anyway they will limit the time to a few minutes max. Not enough time to work on a safe they can't carry.

Coming from the enforcement side I much prefer monitored silent alarms. If I can catch one inside we likely solve many many cases and stop many more. I know people who have done over 300 breakin's before getting caught.

From a "save my stuff and make them go away" side a monitored audible is the better bet.

I have seen a fair number of safes cracked on site but they were usually businesses and they used tools found on site.

Joe

John Coloccia
08-31-2010, 3:22 PM
www.sturdysafe.com

It's what I have and it's probably the best you'll do you security and fire protection until you get into the really serious safes that are way more than you want to spend. Don't let the simple paint jobs and no frills fool you. This is a VERY serious safe considering it's a "consumer" safe, not a rated safe for insurance purposes. It's significantly better than most of the other gun safes out there, IMHO.

Paul Ryan
08-31-2010, 8:01 PM
I own a liberty 25 gun safe, that is half full of guns and half full of things of importance to us. I did not purchase it to keep a burgler out. "If there is a will there is a way." If the brugler knows you have a safe they will bring tools to crack it. If they don't know you have one they wont worry about the safe. I bought the safe not to keeps the thieves out, but to keep my young children out, and to protect our valuables in case of a fire. If you have lots of documents, pictures, and other valuables a gun safe is a good deal. They have lots of room, decent fire rating, and are a good price. If you are trying to keep thieves away, safety deposit boxes are much more economical and offer much more protection.

Matt Ellis
08-31-2010, 10:41 PM
www.sturdysafe.com (http://www.sturdysafe.com)

It's what I have and it's probably the best you'll do you security and fire protection until you get into the really serious safes that are way more than you want to spend. Don't let the simple paint jobs and no frills fool you. This is a VERY serious safe considering it's a "consumer" safe, not a rated safe for insurance purposes. It's significantly better than most of the other gun safes out there, IMHO.

i was going to post a link to them. their document safe within the main safe is a very nice touch. i agree that they're about as good as you can get until you step up to a commercial safe. most home safes are actually classified as "residential security containers."

one other reason to bolt down...a loose safe can easily be overturned by putting a prybar between the safe and the wall near the top. the bottoms are usually 12 gauge, which can be cut open with an axe without too much difficulty.

oh, and i hate thieves. :mad: the treatment of thieves is one thing out middle eastern neighbors get right.

Mike Wilkins
09-01-2010, 9:48 AM
Just leave a half empty box of .45 caliber pistol rounds in plain site of your valuables, and any potential crooks should get a clear message.

Joe Chritz
09-01-2010, 1:57 PM
Just leave a half empty box of .45 caliber pistol rounds in plain site of your valuables, and any potential crooks should get a clear message.

A clear message to come back during the day and take the ammo and the gun and sell it to some crack head for $100.

Joe

Dan Mages
09-01-2010, 9:12 PM
I suggest you call local locksmiths about used safes. I looked into it once for my house in IL. The prices were very reasonable, typically at 40% of new safes.

A friend in Indiana took a different approach. He built a room in his basement with rebar reinforced, concrete filled cinderblocks. It looks like a simple closet at first glance. He claims it will withstand a tornado and will make most burglars think twice.

Dan

Larry Browning
09-02-2010, 2:01 PM
Wow! If I lived in a area that required this much security I'd move. Plus, I don't own anything worth the effort you guys are willing go to to protect it. The way I see it, if I have something somebody wants that bad, they can have it. No matter what I do to protect my stuff, if somebody wants it bad enough, they are going to get. Life is too short to worry about such stuff.
Protecting important papers and valuables from fire and flood is one thing, but theft is another thing all together.
Just my opinion.

Cliff Rohrabacher
09-09-2010, 6:51 PM
Not necessarily correct in this area. . . They are carrying plasma cutters to steal catalytic converters. . . . cut door locks out of metal buildings, etc . . . :)

Pheh When I'm out earning my $150-Thousand a year stealing cats off trucks and vans, I just use a little battery powered rotary cutter.
Doesn't make the light show that attracts all the unwanted police attention. I wrap the pipe with a wet rag and it's quiet as you please. I can be in one parking lot loading my van with hot Cats while the guy in the other lot with the plasma cutter is hauled away by the constabulary.


Yes, you can make that much money very easy.
I'm shocked the whole cat recycling industry is not regulated.

Door locks? Hammer~!! A 20 ounce hammer and a fat little hand held punch. one whack. No need to imitate Sugar in No Country carrying around that bottle of gas.

All kidding aside:
Where do they plug the plasma cutters in? Plasma cutters need more than a couple batteries. 220 I believe is the smallest I've seen

Scott Verson
05-31-2018, 4:47 AM
1- what do you want this safe to do? Make it hard to steal, make it hard to burn or both?

2- how many guns to EVENTUALLY plan to have? A safe is a big investment. Make it once.

3- where do you plan to PUT this safe? If you EVER plan to move it, such as if you're in a first home, an interim home or there's a POSSIBILITY that you'd be moving, don't make it unreasonable (such as putting it in an open space and building around it) to get out.

4- whatever your answer to 2 was, DOUBLE IT. then add some.

5- the heavier the safe, the better. Remember that no safe will stop 100% of all burglars. I make a decent living breaking into safes.

Last, and in my professional opinion, the most important: Buy local. If you buy a safe from Costco or Canadian Tire, and something goes wrong, what are you going to do? I would hope that your local locksmith/safe tech can service it for you, but you never know. If you buy it from the same guy that would service it, he will know how to service it. If not, you're kind of hit or miss if it needs to be serviced: hopefully, but probably not as fast as you'd like

Depends on the level of security you are looking for, a simple safe from canadian tire https://secretstorages.com/best-wall-safes/ made by stack on is really all you need (their "safes" not the "cabinet") they're not rated for a fire or anything and they're just shy of 200 pounds but with 3 bolts and interior door hinges will keep your average robber out and you need not worry about anything else.

as for fire rated safes, well depending on the size and what not they're generally more expensive as compared to the one noted above. and really the extreme heat from a fire is going to warp your guns anyways and you should have house insurance in the first place so from a personal stand point I think a stack on is more than sufficient for a persons needs and definitely wait for them to go on sale, when canadian tire starts the sale they usually start from the lowest size safe and cycle up to the larger ones week by week.

Paul F Franklin
05-31-2018, 9:03 AM
One thing I didn't see mentioned so far is that humidity inside many consumer fire rated safes climbs very high, due to the materials they use to achieve the fire rating. Desiccant cans (big ones) help, but anything that can grow mold or mildew (papers, passport, etc) should be inside a true vapor tight envelope or box. (zip lock bags don't work for this, DAMHIKT) And you have to remember to recharge the desiccant cans frequently. There are active dehumidifiers for use inside safes as well that are probably more effective.

I only keep papers and data backups in the safe when they need to be accessed frequently; everything else goes in a safe deposit box.

John M Wilson
05-31-2018, 10:13 AM
Attention! Eight-year old thread. Hope the OP has taken care of his safe needs by now.

Patrick Irish
05-31-2018, 12:30 PM
I'd never buy new especially from a big box store. Look on Craigslist and keep in mind hauling a safe is heavy and usually $300+. That's info sellers don't know and you can usually knock off the cost to haul it.

Heavy the better so it can't be moved. My dad and I like old Mosler safes. Both have 3,000lb double door safes that are 4 hour fire rated. They probably aren't hard to crack into being that are 40+ years old BUT that means some burglar would need know I have it which many don't AND be willing and have the tools to get into it. All unlikely.

Amsec makes good safes too.

Carlos Alvarez
05-31-2018, 2:57 PM
There's another option for important documents. We scanned and shredded everything. Digital is forever, paper is fragile. Most things are going that way anyway, and keeping paper is going to be obsolete very soon. Irreplaceable photos should be scanned NOW. My mom waited too long and so many of them ended up in terrible shape. There's some fixup you can do when you scan them, but not perfect.

We also have a monitored alarm system and cameras that notify us on motion.

Matt Meiser
05-31-2018, 7:00 PM
Digital is forever, paper is fragile.

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Tell that to my mom's thesis circa 1985.

Carlos Alvarez
05-31-2018, 7:53 PM
That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Tell that to my mom's thesis circa 1985.

Hi, Mom's thesis. If you were important, there would be copies of you in many places. But you're not important, apparently.

Also, 1985 tech vs. today...LOL!

Matt Meiser
05-31-2018, 9:57 PM
Also, 1985 tech vs. today...LOL!

Thanks for proving my point.

Carlos Alvarez
06-01-2018, 12:01 PM
Thanks for proving my point.

Sorry, didn't realize your point was that data is forever if you take reasonable care of it.

On the safe question, last night a friend told me he was picking one up at Tractor Supply. He based that on the price relative to the great reviews. I guess they have a killer sale going on.

Matt Meiser
06-01-2018, 1:26 PM
Iím sure the data is fine but good luck finding a way to read the media or open up the file. You are obviously naive to think that couldnít happen with again.

Carlos Alvarez
06-01-2018, 1:36 PM
I have access to all my files from the 80s and 90s. For example, image files all still work just fine. Office Converter and other applications will convert things like word processing files from dead formats. And even without them, you can get the data back out and just lose all the formatting. Etc etc. Going forward from now, we know that today's file formats for the most part will continue to be used "forever" because they are expandable and scalable. It would take work to come up with something from the 2000s at all which won't be supported long term. JPEG will be with us forever, as will open document formats, PDF, and the like. I thought Corel would die and converted all my files, yet here it still is.

Digital is forever. It may take minor effort to back it up and keep it current. Paper is definitely not forever, and the only fix for paper going bad is...digitize it. Making copies just copies the defect.