Biggest Gun Safe Buying Mistakes

Gun Safe Broken Into

Gun Safes Not As Secure As Advertised

Safes are being aggressively marketed as burglar-proof, child-proof, water-proof, EMP-proof, and fire-proof, but all of those are false, misleading, and unregulated marketing claims. While some cheap, imported safe manufacturers do cut corners, you don’t have to fall for it, there are excellent safe manufacturers who stand behind their products. Some even offer lifetime warranties! News of defective products, recalls, dangerous installations, cheap materials, and marketing gimmicks have savvy gun safe buyers like you on the hunt for a quality safe they can trust in the event of a disaster or attempted break-in. You can learn about the regrets gun safe buyers often face and how to make sure you purchase the best safe for your space, security needs, and budget. 

Defective and Dangerous Safe Locks

In 2024, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered the recall of hundreds of thousands of gun safes sold at big box stores. These defective and dangerous products have resulted in the death of at least one child. The CPSC investigators found that 61,000 biometric safes could be opened with anyone’s fingerprint, even the fingerprint of a three year old. The recalled safes were sold under various brand names including Fortress, Cabela’s, Gettysburg, and Legend Range & Field.  In addition 120,000 Awesafe, Bulldog, Machir, and MouTec safes had similar issues with their biometric locks and were recalled. A Consumer Products Safety Commission commissioner referred to other safes sold at Walmart, Amazon, and Bass Pro Shops as “ticking time bombs” due to their safety risks. The CPSC urged customers to “immediately stop” using the big box stores’ safes and “remove the batteries”.

What to Look For – When looking at safes, do a little digging on the lock that is included and find one that is UL Listed, the gold standard for locks in North America. UL, in their science labs actually torture test locks for performance under skilled burglar attacks and makes sure they meet a high standard of quality, safety, and reliability. Some UL Listed safe lock brands we recommend include S&G, American Security, La Gard, and SecuRam.

Buying a Cheap Safe

In the locksmith world, there are quite a few safe brands that are notorious for being among the easiest to break into. Sentry Safes have had a known defect for years where they can be unlocked with nothing more than a magnet. We open safes using locksmith tools on a daily basis in our stores, although we can oftentimes gain entry in less than one minute, our record is 18 seconds of working time to open a cheap big box store safe. There’s a reason we call those cheap little safes “gift boxes for burglars”.

What to Look For – The brand of your safe matters, do they offer a lifetime warranty? Have they been subject to recalls? Are there entire YouTube channels dedicated to showing burglars how easy the brand is to break into? You can always ask a skilled safe-opening locksmith how they would go about getting into the brand of safe you are considering. If they start talking about flathead screwdrivers, paperclips, banging it with a hammer a few times, or using magnets, you know you are looking at a very cheap, ineffective, safe. If they start talking about advanced James Bond style safe-cracking tools, squeezing by multiple glass relockers, scopes, precision-drilling techniques, or if all else fails blowtorches you probably have a pretty tough safe!

Not Bolting Down Your Safe

Just think, your safe got into your home somehow.  As professional safe movers, we can painlessly move safes that are hundreds or even thousands of pounds, even up and down stairs. Burglars these days might come prepared. They can go buy the very same equipment we use to move safes out of their victim’s homes. They can then trailer your safe to their hideout where they can spend hours or days breaking into it. Big-box stores won’t install your safe (you are lucky if they’ll deliver it to the end of your driveway!) and like gift boxes, some safes don’t even have pre-drilled anchor holes.

What to Look For – When you buy a gun safe, even a very good quality heavy gun safe, you absolutely need to bolt it down! This not only increases the security of your safe, it prevents the safe from tipping over onto you when you open that heavy safe door. Your safe should come with anchor bolts and be pre-drilled for proper installation. When your safe is bolted down, a burglar can’t pick up the safe and move it, you will also force a burglar to attack an upright safe from a fixed position. This decreases the amount of physical leverage the burglar has for prying and dramatically increases the amount of time the burglar will need to spend on your safe, upping the chances that they will get caught or will give up as they race the clock. For more info about where to install your safe, click here!

 

Naples Gun Safe Crossection

Construction of a Quality Safe (Top) vs. a Cheap Big Box Store Safe (Bottom)

Safes Made of… Thin Drywall?

If you’ve ever punched a hole through drywall, you know why you shouldn’t trust it to protect your most valued possessions. Today most gun safe doors are made of nothing more than a very thin sheet of metal glued to weak drywall with big gaps, some very low-end safes are lined with styrofoam and plastic.

What to Look For – Now if you’ve ever tried to punch a hole through solid poured concrete, you’d know the difference! Quality safes that offer a high level of security aren’t filled with drywall, they are filled with an advanced poured concrete amalgamate mixture that offers protection from brute force and torch attacks as well as intense fires. There should be no gaps between the steel and the concrete mix to ensure maximum protection. Gun safes with concrete walls, however, can be very expensive and prohibitively heavy for some homes and condos (over 4,000 lbs), so If a concrete-filled safe won’t work for you, at least get a safe that a UL rating and some heavy duty steel.

The Thick Door Trick

So you shopped around a big-box or sporting goods store and picked a safe with a really thick door, thinking it was made of solid steel. Thirty years ago, this might have been okay, but with cheap imported safes and savvy marketers flooding the market, most of today’s safes are more inferior and less secure than ever before. By designing safes to be lighter and reducing the amount of expensive steel, importers can save on shipping costs. The savings are passed to you with unbelievably low prices, but even the largest gun safes offer just pint-size protection.

What to Look For – Thick doors have no bearing on the security of a safe, what matters is the thickness of the steel and what’s inside of that door. Solid steel is what really protects your valuables from a burglary attack. (Note: the lower the steel gauge number the thicker it is, so 7 gauge steel is better than 14 gauge) Look for a safe with a heavy door and a nice thick layer of solid steel. What’s behind the door matters too, so make sure your lock has a relocker feature and a ball-bearing hardplate to protect the lock from drilling attacks.

Spending Way Too Much on Way Too Little

Cheap imported safe manufacturers are looking for any way to up the perceived value of their safes. Their strategy is to distract buyers with bright, shiny objects instead of putting money into the expensive steel and materials to make your safe as secure as possible. Cool-looking artwork, LED lights, and safe organizers are fun features, but don’t provide any additional security to your valuables.

What to Look For – If you are on a budget, don’t sacrifice your safe’s security for fancy features. Just go with a simple, reliable safe with the thickest steel you can afford. We carry and can recommend quality safes for any budget. If you want all the bells and whistles, we’ve got plenty of those too.

Conclusion

Many gun owners have been dangerously misled into believing their guns are more secure in their gun safes than they really are. Having been in the safe industry for over 50 years, “A” Locksmith has seen it all when it comes to the annoying, disappointing, and sometimes devastating safe-buying regrets. Learn from the mistakes of the past by finding a gun safe that will provide the security you really need.  Here are the top four causes of gun safe owner’s remorse, for safes that won’t cause heartache down the line, shop our curated selection of high quality, torture-tested, American made, insurance approved guns safes.

For more information about how to buy a gun safe, click here.

Naples Gun Safe Showroom

“A” Locksmith Gun Safe Showroom

Why Buy a Safe from “A” Locksmith

  • We deliver and install safes so burglars can’t wheel them out
  • We sell quality safes made of thick steel and some reinforced with advanced concrete
  • We have safe experts that can answer any questions you have
  • We are authorized dealers for top-quality brands
  • We have gun safes in our showroom in all price ranges, we also offer custom tactical and custom luxury gun safes
  • Our large UL rated American made gun safes range start at $1,100
  • We’ve been Keeping Naples Safe for over 50 years!