Though the forcible entry of safes is a major cause of concern when purchasing a gun safe, a safe without Fire Rating is not recommended, since your safe also represents insurance for the stuff inside.
In this review, we're going to highlight some of the top fireproof guns safes and explain why they made our list.
Comparison of the Best Fireproof Gun Safes
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Underwriters Laboratories Established Four Basic Tests for Their Fire Resistance:
Gun safes manufactured for fire hazard situations undergo different types of tests for fire protection conducted by some independent laboratories and organizations.
Along with various European fire-rating standards, the most recognized and respected fire testing and ratings in the USA are conducted by the U.L. (Underwriters Laboratory) agency and K.I.S. (Korean Industrial Standard).
Tests for Fire Protection
- Fire Endurance Test
- Explosion Hazard Test
- Fire Impact Test
- Combined Explosion and Fire Impact Test
The Fire Endurance Test measures how long the safe, when exposed to average temperatures of house fires (1,200-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) could maintain a temperature at or below 350 degrees. The importance of the 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177°C) is that paper (or money) is destroyed around 451° F (233°C).
While some safes maintain this temperature for one, two, or three hours, then the fire ratings are one hour, two hours, and so on, but general recommendation for gun safes is to opt for those fire ratings with maximum minutes.
The Explosion Hazard Test is an indicator of product quality and is applied to check if the safe construction is faulty. The safe is inserted into the oven pre-heated to 2,000 degrees F (1,093°C) for 30 minutes and the sample has to endure that period without explosion and visible rupture of the insulation.
The Fire Impact Test is a continuation of later testing and the sample safe is dropped from 30 feet onto concrete rubble (it replicates the fall of a safe three floors to the basement of a burning building).
Finally, the product should pass the combined explosion and impact test to be rated. After impact and checking, the safe is placed back into a 2,000 degree F (1,093°C) preheated furnace and after cooling it is examined for deformation, damaged insulation, or any other openings into the interior of the sample.
Fireproof Ratings for Safes
The Underwriters Laboratories or U.L.for short, has established the fireproof ratings for the safes through the standardized examination. By the UL 72 testing standards for paper rated products, the temperature in the testing products shouldn’t exceed 350°F (177 °C) in order to pass UL rating Class 350.
The second rating is called Class 150, because for tapes, cartridges, and microfilm the limit for the inside temperature must be below 150°F (65°C). The third UL rating is called Class 125 since in the safe designed to protect flexible computer disks and diskettes the temperature cannot exceed 125°F (52°C) (with an 80% humidity restriction).·
A burglary rating by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is known as a TL Rating and encompasses the product with tested resistance to burglary for a varying amount of time.
Although the violent entry of safes can be done using portable plasma cutters as we see in Hollywood movies, a common way to rob a safe is using combinations of picking tools, mechanical, electrical, and cutting tools and pressure applying devices. There are two-burglary classifications called TL-15 and TL-30 rates.
The safes marked with a U.L. TL-15 and TL-30 labels have to resist entry for a net working time of 15 minutes and 30 minutes respectively.·
The most common construction classifications range from B-Rate to C-Rate. The burglary classification called B-Rating depicts the safe with at least a 1/4-inch steel body and doors that are less than 1" inch thick.·
The C-classification is considered to be better protection since these safes have steel walls that are at least 1/2" thick matched with a 1-inch thick door with a lock on it.
What Makes a Gun Safe Fireproof?
While some authors classify home safes as those which protect against theft, and those that shield contents from fire damage, the best gun safes protect against both theft and fire. The different gun safes can be theft and fireproof for various time periods depending on construction and used materials, but the best-proved design is a composite safe specifically made to meet both threats.
In fact, big names in the industry offer their fireproof solutions for gun storage with a design that resembles the battle tanks "sandwich" armor. A top-notch gun safe uses heavily welded interior and exterior steel plates that come with concrete amalgamated fire-proofing in the middle to minimize heat transmission and maximize the protection and durability.
Steel construction can delay heat damage to some degree but only when combined with additional fireproofing lining does it provide full protection of contents in your safe. Many manufacturers use sheetrock as fireproofing material but it does not work well enough since it tends to disintegrate when it is overheated.
A much better solution is a layer of ceramic wool that offers fire and heat protection up to 2,300 degrees F (1,260°C). If the gunmetal can warp when heated above 1,500 degrees (815°C) and knowing that the residential fire is around 1,300° F (704°C), then you can understand the protection your contents could be afforded by ceramic wool.
If you are on a budget, you can fireproof the interior of a gun safe by adding additional fireproof protection liners for the gun, documents, or valuables inside. A good safe has to have at least 30 minutes (minimum) of fire-resistance to ensure ample protection, but some experts recommend a safe that has a minimum of 60 minutes of fire protection capability.
Besides fire resistance, you may be looking for other traits in a gun safe, such as the locking mechanism, bolts, and the essential feature, material thickness. The higher the steel gauge, the greater the safe’s ability to resist high temperatures and pry attacks.
The budget-priced gun safes are commonly made in the 12 to 14-gauge (2.8-2.0mm) range for steel walls. We recommend staying at or above 10-gauge (3.6mm) steel at a minimum, as this level makes the steel almost impenetrable to attacks while also offering maximum fire protection.
Review of the Best Fireproof Gun Safes
Now that we covered a bit of background regard fireproof ratings and what makes a safe fireproof, let's take a look at some models that made our list and dive into what makes them stand out.
1. E.M.P Proof Steelwater Heavy Duty Fireproof Gun Safe
The Steelwater Heavy-Duty 39 Long Gun safe features top-of-the-line defensive capabilities and is made in two UL Listed models with fire protection for 60 and 120 minutes up to 1,875 degrees. The Steelwater provides shielding from fires through three layers of fireboard in the walls, ceiling, floor, and door jams.
Additionally, the composite style built 5 1/8" thick door features a heat activated seal, intended to expand up to eight times its thickness and to seal out smoke and water in the event of a fire.
Beyond fire protection, the Steelwater’s primary anti-theft role is secured by utilizing 12-gauge steel constructed body and drill-proof door with 18 upgraded, 25% longer solid steel locking bolts. The reinforced 1 ½” diameter solid steel chrome plated bolts are featured at all four bottom corners for more security when bolted down.
The safe boasts an improved lock system with electronic-mechanical protection (EMP), but it also comes with a set of bypass keys to ensure your guns are never locked away from your reach.
While the safe stated capacity is 39 guns, its average storage place is enough for around 24-30 firearms. Its LED back-lighting interior has upholstered compartments that will accommodate and protect your long guns, handgun, ammo, and other important valuables from scratches.
With outside dimensions of 59 x 39" x 24", the one-hour Steelwater version weighs 689 pounds and, as a nice bonus, it comes with a free dry pack, 450-gram silica gel rechargeable dehumidifying box.
2. BARSKA New Fireproof Fire Vault
Like many other names from the gun industry, Barska, as a widely known optics manufacturer, also offers a large selection of gun safes. Their long gun safe measures 40-inch x 22-inch x 59 inches and weighs 667 lbs. providing 19.9 cubic feet of space for storing up to 45 rifles.
The Barska`s Fire Vault Rifle Gun safe has an all-steel 1/16" thick construction paired with the solid steel, six-point deadbolt locking mechanism designed for the protection and securing of your firearms, money, and other valuables. Additionally, the Barska Safe Cabinet comes with pre-drilled holes at the bottom of the vault which can be securely fixed to the ground.
The Fire Vault Safe features fireproof construction using the fire retardant gypsum boards to protect the contents inside for a minimum of up to one hour at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
This safe is accessible using the electronic keypad that can retain up to two PIN codes. A digital keypad features a low battery warning and a lockout mode. As a standard, the safe includes backup keys to provide secondary access to the Barska Fire Vault Safe.
3. Browning Ultra 33-Gun Safe
Legendary Browning is another respected name from the firearm industry that offers several series’ of high end and more affordable gun safes intended for all types of gun owners. With dimensions of 58"H x 29"W x 24" D and overall weight of 520 lbs., the Browning Ultra 33-Gun Safe meets the needs of an average gun owner in terms of gun capacity, fire, and theft protection.
The standard size of this safe provides 23 cubic feet, which is sufficient for guarding up to 33 long guns by the manufacturer. However, storing rifles with optics would decrease the declared safe capacity considerably.
The Browning Ultra 33-Gun Safe features 12-gauge steel construction with 1" elevation, formed door, and provides 60 minutes of fire protection at 1,400°F (760°C).An S&G electronic lock is matched by eight two-way, 1" diameter lockbolts covering two sides of the safe door to defend against unwanted entry.
The fine Browning’s DPX interior system features cantilevered modular wood shelves and a nifty door mounted storage panel.
Whereas the Ultra series is the most affordable from Browning, it does not come with a lighting package or dehumidifier.Overall, the Browning Ultra 33-Gun Safe is a good mix of features and a great price coupled with excellent brand recognition.
4. Cabela's Signature Series Premium Gun Safe – Signature 50 - E-Lock
Cabela's Signature Series Premium gun safes are basically the Liberty`s Franklin lineup of mid-line safes. Belonging to the higher end price range, a Cabela's Signature 50 - E-Lock is packed with features and it is considered more vault than safe.
Unlike other counterparts in this overview, Cabela's Premium Signature/ Franklin Series, two-piece, roll form body is built from thicker, 11-gauge plate steel material.
Cabela's Signature 50 - E-Lock features 16 all-active 1.25" solid steel locking bolts that are 33% longer than others. The new, tough, 5" thick door combined with 1" composite and heat-activated door seal help to keep out heat and smoke.
To provide an additional level of security, the Signature's door sports a UL listed, new D-Drive lock and DX-90 Monster Mech system, which combines the best of mechanical and electric locks.
Signature Series Premium gun safes have total body thickness of 1-3/8" steel and fireboard and 2-5/8" in the ceiling. Built-in four layers of ⅝, it provides the certified fire protection of 75 minutes at 1,200° F in. fireboard in the ceiling, with three layers in the doorjambs and door, plus two layers in all walls.
A Signature 50 model is not a small box store safe as it weighs 1,035 lbs. and measures at 72.5" H x 42" W x 32"D. Those large dimensions result in an interior volume of 30.1 cubic feet to provide the fully upholstered flexible interior space for up to 41 long guns.
Full comfort is assured with interior lights, installed power outlet kit, and door organizer for optimal storage capacity with pistol holsters, mesh pouches, and zippered pockets.
5. Stack-on Products Company - Elite Executive Fireproof Gun Safe
Stack-On offers a pretty extensive product line, and the reasonably priced Elite series is definitely one of the more popular safes. The Elite lineup comes in five sizes and the model Elite 40 has external dimensions like 29.25 x 25.5 x 59″ and weighs 481 lbs.
While the recommended minimum material thickness for gun safes is 12-gauge, the body of the STACK-ON Elite series is made from 13-gauge steel and provides only 30 minutes of fire protection at 1,400°F (760°C) and is not recommended for storing CDs or other electronic storage devices.
On the other hand, the fire-resistant feature is tested and verified by ETL–an independent testing lab to eliminate biases. The Elite series comes with a four-way locking mechanism, which includes eight locking points covering all four sides of the safe’s door. These points include five 1.5” tapered live-action locking bolts, as well as three deadbolts for added protection.
The Elite 40 Gun Safe interior space of 16.87 cu. ft. is highly customizable since it includes five adjustable-position shelves and a factory-installed door storage organizer with sewn-in holsters and zippered pouches to enable storing 36-40 gun.
The Elite series is available with both a mechanical lock and an electronic keypad lock. While more expansive, the electronic lock with a silenced keypad and operational lights offers quicker and easier access to the contents of your safe.
How to Place and Maintain Fireproof Gun Safes?
The good gun safe should provide maximum protection for your firearms, ammunition, and personal valuables, but first, you have to secure this heavy steel box from theft by anchoring it to the solid, concrete floor and/or to the wall.
One more intriguing thing about steel boxes is storing of your ammo caches outside the safe, as well as keeping your firearm unloaded. This can come off as a bit counter-intuitive, but in case of home fire, the high temperature and generated high air pressure will ignite the cartridges' gunpowder stored in safe. Keep your firearms and ammo separate, and if possible, store them in different places.
As for the maintenance, gun safes are not overly demanding and you should clean them periodically to help ensure a lifetime of reliable security.
The dirt and dust on the outside of your safe should be cleaned at least once a month.
To ensure that the locking bolts and the screw chrome locking function effectively lubricate at least once per year to keep the gun-safe from sticking.
In addition, it is a good idea to have the lock inspected and serviced by a certified locksmith once a year.
The optimum moisture in a gun safe is zero, so keeping your firearms in a high-quality safe will prevent corrosion. However, the most important factor is keeping moisture out of the safe. Today you can choose from several types of products to provide a safe environment that is free from humidity. One of the recommended devices is a portable mini dehumidifier that runs on rechargeable batteries and another possibility is a rechargeable desiccant container.
With the overwhelming number of gun safes available on the market, selecting the right steel box could be a difficult task. However, you should not be too optimistic because no single model can fulfill all your requirements. Offering information, such as gun safe features and their benefits, like here in our guide, are primarily designed to help you in choosing a gun safe, which will closely fit your needs.
We have one gripe considering official specification with almost all the safes on the market. In regards to the gun safe’s capacity, meaning how many firearms can fit into a given safe is an absolute overstatement, so you need to take the stated capacity and cut it in half for any gun safe.
With a primary reason for a gun-safe purchase being the protection of your investment, along with your firearms collection, gun steel boxes are usually large enough to store other valuable personal belongings and jewelry.A gun safe is a device that is constructed to be tamper-proof and difficult to break into, but with an ill-considered purchase of gun safe, you are buying an illusion of security.There is a gamut of gun safes and vaults, but to find the most robust safes from top manufacturers and reputable brands you have to do your research and read reviews before purchasing.