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Thread: Gun Safes

  1. #11
    Chuck, I've been getting the impression that there's something people seem to be hiding about locks. First, I called one safe manufacturer to find out about the safes available for sale at my local "lock shop", and we talked about lots of things including locks. He didn't really offer any advice, but when I told him I preferred mechanical locks to electronic, he then chimed in saying that was certainly the better choice.

    Then, when I was looking over some of the warranties on the better safes, while they guarantee the safe almost forever, not so for electronic locks. There was a big notice on one of the sites under "warranty" that while they offer a full warranty on the safe, after two years the warranty on electronic locks expires.

    Another site went on and on about the potential problems with electronic locks. It seems like people nowadays like them because of convenience, and that they look more modern.

    Let me quote just one excerpt from the online guide I found. This is probably the most complete information I've yet found on safes anywhere - it is excellent reading. The full article can be found at these web sites: (older web page) (newer web page)

    (I highlighted in red the two things that I found most important to me)


    Locking Device--Mechanical Dial vs. Digital Locks
    Recommendation: UL Group II mechanical dial lock or commercial-grade electronic.
    For gun safes, we prefer rotary-combination dial locks, although commercial-grade electronic locks are now very good. While less convenient, and slower to open than electronic locks, combination locks are still more durable and trouble-free than the digital locks found on many low- to medium-cost gun safes. Among the combination locks, the Sargent & Greenleaf model 6730 (UL Group II) remains an industry standard. The director of Sturdy Safes noted: "An S&G 6730 will be working fine when your grandchildren have grandchildren." For home use, we also recommend the standard, high-visibility "front-read" white on black dial. There are "Spyproof" dials which shield the index marks from frontal view. This may be useful for a retail safe placed behind the counter, but at home, it just makes the dial much more difficult to see (you have to look down at an angle).

    Avoid the cheap, imported electronic locks. These are known for failing relatively quickly--the keypad internals just wear out. With some of these designs, if the lock fails while the door is closed, you'll have to employ a professional gunsmith to drill your safe and replace the locking assembly and keypad. With any electronic lock, re-program your combination now and then so that keypad wear patterns don't reveal the numbers you push to open the safe. But when you change the combination, be sure to record the new setting.

    With a dial lock, choose a design that meets UL Group II (or better) certification. If you choose a digital lock, we strongly recommend that you select a UL Type I, Commercial Grade lock from LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, or Kaba Mas. Commercial-grade locks, such as the S&G Comptronic" 6120 or LaGard "SafeGard" are much more robust and are designed to be used 20 times a day or more in retail and banking environments. A good commercial digital keypad lock should give 10 years or more of continuous use before replacement is required. With any digital lock, however, you should replace the battery at least once a year. Normally this can be done without professional assistance.
    What do the experts say? We polled a half-dozen safe manufacturers and most of them leaned toward digital locks--but primarily because that's what customers prefer. However, Mark Zanotti of Zanotti Armor tells us "10% of the safes I sell have digital locks, but they represent 90% of the problems down the road. Anything electronic is prone to failure at some point." With digital locks you have to replace the batteries regularly. The keypads can and do fail. Safemakers tell us one common problem with digital locks stems from the ease with which the combination can be re-programmed. Customers reprogram their locks and then forget the combination.

    What is the major problem with conventional dial locks? User error--owners forget to relock their safe after opening it. When you shut the door on a digitally-equipped safe, the door locks automatically. However, with a manual combination lock, you need to spin the dial after shutting the door and working the handle. Closing the handle moves the locking bolts, but does NOT re-activate the lock. So all a thief needs to do is turn the handle and he's in the safe. So, if you choose a manual lock, be sure to spin the dial every time you close the safe.


    (The above text is typical of the full article - I think this article (and the others at the same site) are a great source of information.)

  2. #12
    Bob Malphurs
    I got mine from a local safe dealer, $550 and I hauled it myself. It's 30x24x59 - 11 gauge body and door. The door is made in two pieces with insulation sandwiched between them then the frame with the locking bolts welded to it. Three layers of gypsum in the door and two layers in the body. The lock is Lagard behind 3 1/4inch hard plates. Some low-end safes are a single piece of steel making the entire door!

    Exterior hinges are the best way to go. It allows the door to open 180 degrees and door can be removed making the safe lighter, a big plus for moving the safe around! The Canon safe has internal hinges, which only allow the door to open 90 degrees and cannot be removed, makes a big difference getting things out from the hinge side of the safe. One thing to remember is when the specs say "22 guns capacity" that's with the shelves out and guns on both sides. Don't forget to allow for the thickness of the door and insulation, look for the interior dimensions. It's always best to get the bigger safe than you think you actually need!

    Bass Pro has a good selection of safes. Sometimes they'll sell floor models or have "scratch and dents"

    Don't know how that last picture got in there!

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    Last edited by Bob Malphurs; 08-17-2011 at 11:19 AM.

  3. #13
    Would anyone mind if I create a new thread titled "Gun Safes" and move these past few responses there?

    Also, I found one of these at a good price:

    It's from a local dealer, and was used as a demo. Any thoughts on the Cannon C18?

  4. #14
    Bob Malphurs
    No problem from me with the new tread!

    That Cannon looks good. Just remember.... according to the specs you lose at least 3" side to side in and about 7" front to back on the interior.
    I like the double steel on the door (like mine) and the double seals on the door.

  5. #15
    Bob Malphurs
    I saw that Cannon C18 on this site. It has in the dimensions the depth includes "handle, dial and hinges"?

  6. #16

    Gun Safes

    (The above responses were moved to this new thread from the "Welcome Gun Guys" thread.)

  7. #17
    One thing I wish safe manufacturers would integrate into their safes is a high quality lighting system. I stuck a few battery powered LED lights into mine so I could arleast see what I'm looking for! In an emergency situation, ill be able to find a weapon and ammo if the power is out.

  8. #18
    Chuck, it sure sounds like there are many trade-offs involved.

    • First, there's the size (bigger equals more $$$, but smaller means a year later, it might not hold everything you want to put in it.
    • Second is steel thickness - 12 gauge seems to be the minimum thickness that is "reasonable". 1/4" steel would probably be excellent, but the cost of the safe would skyrocket.
    • Locks... I know you said you've got an electronic lock, but the more I read, the more I think manufacturers are providing those because that's what their customers demand. Almost everyone I've spoken to or read what they've written, feels that a high-quality combination lock is better, although digital locks are also available in a higher quality (but then it's more money).
    • Lighting - thanks for mentioning that. I guess two lights are needed, first, to be able to see the buttons or combination, and then to see inside. Do you only have battery lighting, or did you fit any AC lights?
    • Humidity - apparently this is solved by purchasing something that will absorb the moisture, or a de-humidifier. I guess this is an "accessory" in addition to the safe.
    • Bolting the safe to the ground - for most applications, from what I've read, not doing this is contrary to the whole idea of having the safe in the first place. Maybe if the safe is heavy enough, or boxed in so it can't be wheeled out, this is less of a concern.
    • Fire safety - Again, being able to withstand fire for a longer time means more $$.
    • Water resistant - flooding - one more thing to consider.
    • Re-Locking devices - these sound pretty essential to me by now.
    • Burglary protection - buying a cheap safe is really just buying an enclosure to keep your stuff in.

    My conclusion - you get what you pay for.

    All the above sound like pieces of a puzzle, which has many answers. It's not simply the need to find an answer, but to find those answers that are "better". I really like Bob's way of doing this - as I read his words, it's a job of finding something "good", but not getting too fancy or buying something with a well-known name, with the price being higher simply because of the name. Of course, this is only my own opinion. If someone were storing an irreplaceable collection of extremely expensive items, spending $2,000 to $4,000 (or more) might be very reasonable.

    (I've also found that one way to save money is to buy a used safe. That sounds like a potentially excellent way to get the quality you want, without spending full price.)

  9. #19
    Mike...those are all good points. Sounds like you have a good grasp on safes. On the locks....if mine was offered with a mechanical lock, I would have taken it. The safe that was on sale only came with electronic locks. It was too good of a deal to pass up.

    As for the lights...they are battery powered stick on lights from Walmart and a dollar store. I was going to do something with AC light bars and a door activated pressure switch, but the time and money involved was not to my liking.

    I'm putting my safe in the basement at my new house and doubt I will bolt it down. Its going to be a nightmare getting it down there though. Any volunteers? Lol. I may get one of those golden rod dehumidifiers though.

    One ironic thing is, I don't store my target rifles in the safe. I keep them in cases with the muzzle pointing down slightly. This keeps any solvents from entering the action. Delicate triggers don't like solvent, lol.

  10. #20
    Bob Malphurs
    Bolting down the safe has another purpose, prevents the safe from being pushed over on it's back. If you watched the vid I posted earlier that's how the guys were able to get the leverage needed to pop the safe! If it's standing upright it's a different set of psychics!

    Hope the safe going in the basement has a door you can remove, maybe take a couple of hundred pounds off! I wouldn't leave solvents in the gun at all....if anything just a light coat of CLP....probably what you meant!
    Last edited by Bob Malphurs; 08-05-2011 at 10:15 AM.

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