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How Gun Safes Work


Responsible gun owners know the importance of having a reliable, secure gun safe. Keeping your firearms adequately secured helps to prevent accidents or theft, so it is certainly not a factor where you want to skimp on quality. While no safe thus far is 100% uncrackable, the idea is to take every responsible measure possible to provide access to firearms to only specific, intended individuals, and keep everyone else out — especially children.

Varieties of Gun Safes

While general-purpose safes can be effective at locking away valuables, safes that are specifically designed to store firearms offer the most versatility, organization, and value. We’d like to briefly offer a description of the three basic types of gun safes available before going into the different features that can be at your disposal.

Handgun Safe

Most handgun safes are portable and small in size — about the size of a briefcase or small suitcase. This portability is designed for firearm owners that regularly take their guns with them. Slightly larger handgun safes are also available for storing multiple guns and are usually about the size of an apple box.

Long Gun Safe

For rifles and shotguns, a taller safe is required to accommodate their length. A common standard height for long gun safes is about 60”, while their width can vary depending on the gun capacity — allowing for just a handful or dozens of firearms.

Multi-Use Gun Safe

As the name suggests, multi-use gun safes are designed to be able to safely store firearms in addition to other valuables, documents, or other important materials. Interior storage elements of these safes can include drawers, shelving, and other handy compartments.


Gun Safe Features

When you determine how much space you’ll need in your gun safe, you can then determine what sort of additional design and security features you need to be satisfied with the product.


Dial Lock vs. Electronic Lock

A traditional or “dial” combination lock opens when the correct sequence of numbers is selected manually. These types of locks are time-tested and loved by many since they tend to hold up very well over time, and rarely require maintenance. The downside to traditional dial locks is the time they take to engage, making even authorized access a little more difficult and time-consuming than more modern systems. Alternatively, however, electronic locks, which include keypads or biometric locks, allow for quick and easy access and automatic locking. As with all electronics though, they don’t last forever and may need maintenance or replacement every few years.

Steel Strength

The wall and door construction of gun safes are made of varying strengths and thicknesses of steel. Generally, the thicker the steel, the more difficult the safe is to breach through drilling or other means. Steel wall thickness is measured in gauge units — the smaller the steel gauge, the thicker the steel. From a numbers standpoint, a safe with 10-gauge steel walls is more secure than a safe with 14 or higher-gauge walls.

Safe Weight

As you could imagine, gun safes can be incredibly heavy, ranging from several hundred pounds to well over a ton. The sheer mass of a gun safe can be enough to help deter would-be thieves from trying to access your valuables by simply moving the safe. A safe that weighs over 750 pounds isn’t going anywhere in a hurry — even more so if the safe is secured to the floor or the wall.

Fire Protection Rating

Many professionals will reason that the risk of fire damaging your firearms or other valuable possessions is actually higher than the risk of theft. Having a gun safe with an appropriate fire rating, then, is simply sound logic. The typical house fire can reach temperatures in excess of 1200°F in minutes, which is more than hot enough to irreparably damage your firearms. A gun safe with fire resistance has an insulating liner that will provide the minimum protection against prolonged heat exposure. A gun safe that is rated as fireproof is an even safer option, featuring sheetrock or ceramic panels in the construction that can keep the interior temperature of a safe below 350°F for up to several hours.

Overall Safe Effectiveness

As is common with many investments, you typically get what you pay for. Just like any manufactured product, safes are not 100% failsafe for life — but how much you invest in your safe, and what additional features you opt for, can drastically reduce the risk of your firearms and valuables being compromised. As a general rule, we recommend buying a safe with a locking mechanism that makes the most sense for you, has the best fire protection you can afford, and has ample storage room for all of your firearms and valuables. It’s also best practice to keep your safe hidden or out of view, and if you have any children in your home, speak to them clearly about the importance of gun safety.

Dexter’s Best Liberty Safe has a wide range of gun safes available to our customers in the Norwich area. If you’d like to see some of our options in-person or would like to speak to a gun safe expert, contact us today to set up a one-on-one safe walkthrough in our showroom, or stop by and investigate for yourself! Any questions that you may have about which safe is right for you will be answered by one of our friendly, knowledgeable pros. We look forward to serving you and providing for all of your gun storage needs.

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