How Secure is Your Gun Safe?
The number one reason people buy a gun safe is to secure their valuables and firearms. But just how secure are these hunks of metal? Today we’re going to take a look at the most common strategies thieves use to get into your gun safe, and how a quality safe will defend against them.
With a couple of crowbars, some elbow grease, and an inferior safe design, a thief can easily pry the door off a safe in just a few minutes. Due to their simplicity, pry attacks are the most common technique used, exploiting the weakness of smaller locking bolts, and the rivets that attach them to the steel bar that moves them in and out of the safe.
To counteract this, effective manufacturers will add Z-bars, anti-pry tabs, thicker locking bolts, and smaller door gaps. That stated, though, the best safes protect against pry attacks by using locking bars made from a single piece of steel. Without rivet points in the bars, the safe becomes instantly more pry resistant and takes much more force to open. Our solid steel, military-style locking bars are exclusive to our safes and have made them virtually impossible to pry open.
If a pry attack fails, instead of going for the door, a thief might try to break into your safe by forcing the handle. In inferior models, this might cause the locking gears to slip, releasing the bolts and unlocking the safe. The countermeasure for this is quite common, and though it’s known under many different names, we like to call it a “slip-clutch mechanism.” Similar to the way a ratchet works, this device locks the mechanism in place, keeping the gears from rotating the opposite direction unless it’s properly unlocked. One note here – don’t try to test out this feature on your own safe. It’s designed to keep out thieves and can put your safe into permanent lockout mode, which means YOU won’t be able to get back into your safe, even with the combo. You’ll have to call a locksmith to get it open.
When the body of your safe is welded together from multiple pieces of steel, a sledgehammer and a little extra effort from a thief may make it possible to bust your safe’s seams. And that could result in your safe getting peeled like a banana – thieves bust the seams, grab the metal, and peel it apart. When it comes to preventing this, less is more. Safe bodies constructed from only two or three pieces of metal are going to be the best option for your home security. These safes are much more difficult to peel.
Cutting a Safe Open
If a thief is really determined, they might resort to high-tech methods, like using a grinder or saw to cut through the metal body of your safe. This can be an effective tactic. However, the chances of it actually happening are incredibly rare, due to the simple fact that a ton of work will have to go into this type of attempt. Most burglary attempts are smash and grab, and they usually last 10 minutes or less from start to finish. So, by implementing this kind of tool, the chances of a thief getting caught increase significantly.
For example, if the thief has his own grinder, these tools are clunky, and aren’t exactly inconspicuous. It takes time to find a power source, plus the time it will take to actually cut into the safe. Because of factors like these, there’s only a small possibility of this happening. If you’re worried about, choose a safe that so exceptional safe manufacturers will utilize not only a lower gauge of steel, making it more difficult to cut into the safe, but they may also embed pieces of glass or ceramic into the concrete inside the safe, producing a significant amount of shrapnel upon contact.
For smaller, easier-to-move safes, bouncing (the act of hitting or dropping a safe to get the lock to bounce open) is another efficient technique used by thieves. This works because if you catch it at just the right moment, you can turn the handle of the safe when the lock bounces. Good safes are going to have counterweight mechanisms that prevent the movement of the lock. The best safes will come with at least one relocker: a device that, once triggered, secures the safe’s locking bolts into place so that not even a key or combination can retract them. Yes, you’ll have to enlist the help of a locksmith to get your safe open if the relocker is triggered, but that’s much better than having your valuables stolen.
No Safe Is Burglar-Proof
At the end of the day, no safe is going to be completely burglar-proof or indestructible. With the right tools and enough time, any safe can be opened by any person. And there are even some tactics that no manufacturer can counteract, such as using a plasma cutter or a thermic lance to cut open the safe, using an explosive to blow a safe open, or using machine power to pry the door off.
These methods can be incredibly effective, but they either require special tools, special training or a great deal of time to complete. In other words, this tactic is going to be most commonly used to open bank vaults, not your home or gun safe.
If you’re looking for the most secure home or gun safe, it will have these features:
- Anti-pry designs, or one-piece locking bars
- Robust bolt coverage
- A slip-clutch mechanism
- A thick steel, 2-piece body
- One or more lock hard plates
- Counterweight mechanisms
- And one or more relockers
Obviously, you can expect to pay more as you add on these features. But a safe that features all these security measures will be a “safe bet” for protecting your valuables.