Buying Guides

Buying a safe in 2020

If you’re looking to buy a security container to store valuables, important documents or firearms, this article might be useful to you.

I’m writing this guide during exceptional times. The world is going through a pandemic (COVID-19), and the economy is uncertain. People have been arming themselves, buying precious metals, and stashing cash. 

Both firearms and valuables need to be stored safely in the home. The goal is to prevent unauthorized access (children, thieves, visitors, etc.). We will talk about fire resistance, but it is not the primary goal of this article. My focus will be on small security containers that would be used for handguns or jewelry, coins, metals, etc.

I will give some recommendations on gun safes (long guns) but it’s not the focus of this article.

My recommendations are based on a few parameters:

  • Steel thickness
  • Lock quality (sturdiness, possible combinations, reliability)
  • Locking mechanism (bolts thickness, length, hardness, bolt work design and robustness)
  • Brand reputation
  • Pry/Tool resistance
  • No easy bypass
  • Bang for your buck

Please note that I own or have owned in the past most of the products I’m recommending in this article. All the links on this page ARE NOT affiliate links and I gain nothing from you buying any of those products.

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND bolting down any safety container that you want to use for burglary protection. When I determine my max storage value, I assume that the safe bolted to the concrete floor.

Burglar Resistant Safes/Containers

Budget below $300

V-Line Brute

V-Line Brute Handgun Safe

Like the name indicates, this thing is a tank. The clamshell design makes it effectively twice the thickness on four sides. I would highly recommend it to store handguns and valuables.

  • 10 Ga steel
  • Simplex Lock
  • 20 lbs
  • Made in the USA
  • Max storage recommended: $5,000

The only downside of Simplex locks is that the number of combinations is limited to a few thousands. So if you have a teenager in the house that would have access to this box for long periods of time, it is vulnerable to brute force (trying out all the combinations).

You can learn more about the Brute in this video from Gun Safe Research.

Fort Know Personal Handgun Safe

Sturdy and reliable little safe. Ideal for storing a handgun, maybe some cash, and credit cards. It is not as sturdy as the Brute.

  • 10 Gauge Body with 3/16″ Plate Door
  • Simplex Lock
  • 20 lbs
  • Made in the USA
  • Max storage recommended: $2,000

Here’s a video from Gun Safe Research about the smaller version of this box.

Budget below $500

Gardall LC1414-G-C w Commercial Light Duty Safe

I highly recommend this small safe to store valuables or firearms. Make sure to bolt it down to something substantial, like concrete.

  • 1/2″ steel door and 1/8″ steel body
  • S&G Mechanical Dial
  • 61 lbs
  • Max storage recommended: $5,000

Budget below $1,000

Gardall B1515

This container is your basic B-Rated Burglary Safe. Solid construction, good lock, no bypass. A solid, good old safe.

  • 1/2″ steel door and 1/4″ steel body
  • S&G Mechanical Dial or S&G UL Listed Electronic Lock
  • 130 lbs
  • Max storage recommended: $20,000

Budget below $1,500

Hollon PM-1014C TL-15 Burglary 2 Hour Fire Safe

TL-15 means this safe is tested to resist multiple attackers with power tools for at least 15 minutes.

This safe is designed to withstand attacks with sledgehammers, pickaxes, crowbars, pry bars, chisels, power saws, drills, and rotating disc cutters.

Along with the high security protection, this line of TL-15’s also offers protection against a fire as well. With the 2 hour factory fire test, the internal temperature never exceeded 350 degrees F for 2 hours with the external temperature reaching up to 1750 degrees F.

  • Fire Protection (2 hours at 1750 degrees F)
  • TL-15 rating
  • UL Listed Group 2M Dial or S&G Titan Drive Electronic Lock
  • 450 lbs
  • Made in China, Assembled in the USA
  • Max storage recommended: $50,000

AMSEC MAX1014 High-Security TL-15 Composite Safe

AMSEC MAX1014

This safe is very similar to the Hollon Safe above. Just click the links and compare the specs by yourself.

Sturdy Gun Safes: The Cube

The Cube by Sturdy

Sturdy Gun Safes are made in the USA, right here in California. They have a no non-sense approach to making safes, and I highly recommend them. You order the product straight from the factory, and there’s no intermediary. The downside is that you have to wait six weeks to get your safe, so if you’re in a hurry, this might not be an option. If you’ve decided to buy from Sturdy, give them a call instead of buying from their website as you can probably get a discount (I did).

  • Fire Lining (Optional, extra cost) – I strongly recommend paying for this.
  • 4 Ga body thickness and 3/8″ steel door
  • S&G UL Rated Mechanical Dial or Electronic Lock
  • 320-365 lbs (+/- fire lining)
  • Guided bolts and reliable bolt work
  • Made in the USA with local materials
  • Max storage recommended: $25,000

Budget at $2,000 and above

Sturdy Safe Long Gun Safes

See the paragraph above about sturdy safes. This is just a larger version of the cube. You can customize pretty much everything when you order your safe, just check it out at sturdysafe.com.

This is the safe I use for storing most of my firearms. I got mine with the “Most Popular Package”, fire lining and electronic lock upgrade.

AMSEC BF6024 Gun & Rifle Safe – 2020 Model

These are high-quality gun safes. American Security has been in the business for over a hundred years and this is one of their high-end product. They have various sizes that should fit your needs.

  • 7 Ga body and 3/8″ steel door
  • 2 Hours Fire Rating
  • UL Rated Mechanical Dial or Electronic Lock
  • 720 lbs
  • Made in the USA

Graffunder

Gloss Black (Metallic)
Gloss Black (Metallic)

Graffunder is the Rolls-Royce of safes. I’m not even sure how you would go about buying one but these safes are absolutely the highest quality safes made in America. The tolerances are extremely tight and the quality of the machining is unparalleled.

Building a Graffunder Safe

Adding basic fire protection

If you buy a safe container that doesn’t have fire protection, you can buy a fire-resistant pouch to protect your documents from fire. Just put your documents inside the pouch, then store your pouch in your safe.

More documentation

I used various sources, over the years, to get up to speed on my physical security knowledge. I like to pick locks as a hobby and physical security containers are an extension of it.

Here are some good resources if you’re interested in learning more:

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