The latest installment of Dear Kenny…

From the emails:

Kenny – I’m looking for a gun safe. Wondering if you might pose that question to your readers as to what they have and what they might recommend. Need a safe, not just a cabinet. 24 long guns or more. Thank you sir.

Advice on types of locking mechanisms would be helpful too.

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46 Responses to The latest installment of Dear Kenny…

  1. John Matus says:

    I didn’t do what you are doing-asking advice. I bought a Liberty safe from Cabelas and I like it, BUT it has an electric lock and if the power goes out I’m screwed. I have kludged together a backup, but it would have been better not to.

  2. Winston Smith says:

    The internet is wonderful, but for a safe you need to shop local.
    Try Tractor Supply for the best prices.

    Other than that, rem that an EMP may keep you from immediate access to your electronically protected firearms, so always keep one out if you buy that kind of lock.

  3. Kimberwarrior45 says:

    I have a previous version of the large Sportsman Steel Series with mechanical tumbler and dual lock\ that I am very happy with, A few things to consider beyond construction: I cannot transport this safe and have to hire a company to do this (so should a thief then). I reinforced the floor to support the safe and can bolt the safe to the floor to make it even harder to move. Buy a safe for the number of firearms you want not that you have. Check the overall length of the long guns you want and make sure these will fit in the safe. A door feature for pistols is very nice but pocket types will hold oil and dirt in the fabric. You will need a light inside the safe. Firearms will develop rust inside a safe without precautions. Oil will obey gravity and slide down the metal then into the wood butt stock. Many safes advertise the number of long arms they hold but this figure is without any optics installed or, for some, even with the rifle bolts installed. Even with easy out designs you will bang into other stored long guns if you try to take one from the back without removing the ones in front or between. Keep a copy of the combination and spin directions somewhere away from the safe just in case your kids spin the dial and it has been a while since you fully locked and opened your safe.

    • Sarthurk says:

      I store my long guns barrel down. No oil getting into stock (about half the guns I lost in that tragic canoe accident were military firearms anyway, so soaked already). I try to put ones I don’t use much, into gun socks, and alternate, between guns in said safe. It’s also a quick way to locate ones you might need to grab quickly.
      I’m bad. Mine aren’t nailed down. I need to do that.
      I live on the coast, where rust never sleeps, however, a monthly inventory with a rag that smells wonderfully like Hoppe’s No. 9, keeps that issue at “bay” (no pun intended).

  4. RocketmanKarl says:

    I have a Liberty Fatboy. The features that attracted me were the 75 minute fire rating, the large 4-sided locking bolts, and the 64-long-gun capacity. But be warned, that capacity rating is bs. I’ve configured mine with one side for long guns, the other for shelving, and I wouldn’t want to put more than 12-15 long guns in there. More than that and you’d need to remove optics and other accessories. The other problem with packing it full is lack of access, it could take 20 minutes to get at the gun in the back. I thought I’d never fill the 64-gun Fatboy, but I’ve had to reorganize it a few times to get it useful. You will never regret getting a safe that’s too big.

    Bear in mind that any safe under $7000 can be brute-forced open or cut through in no more than 45 minutes, usually much less. So a safe is fire and stupid thief protection, but a pro will get it open when nobody is home.

    My advise is to get the biggest safe you can afford, and don’t forget to bolt it to the floor (preferably a slab, it’s heavy).

  5. Jared says:

    I’m going with a Rhino safe next time. Vet owned and some wicked cool evil looking safes.

    Rhino metals is about freedom.

  6. Pigpen says:

    I own two Liberty safes with a one hour fire rating. A 25 gun and a 30 gun. Look into Rifle Rods to store your long guns. They increase the number of guns you can store by at least 50%. I replaced the electronic locks with S&G mechanical locks. Did it myself and saved $400. Watch the S&G video and it is not hard to do.

  7. Terry says:

    Not at all happy with the electronic lock,on my Cannon safe.Thinking of replacing it with a mechanical lock.

  8. bogsidebunny says:

    Got me a Liberty safe with the old fashioned rotary mechanical lock. It works great and because it takes a minute to spin the dial I keep one loaded pistola by my bedside to buy some time. I memorized the combo, so now the only problem will be if I get a sudden onset of Alzheimers.

  9. I have a safe from Sturdy Safe Co in Calif. Its family owned, lots of videos, and you can customize lots of features. Recommend the Sargent &Greenleaf combo lock. Its manual, so no risk of power loss or batteries failing.

  10. J. Farmer says:

    The reality is that safes hold about half of what they’re advertised to hold, unless you have just double armloads of nekkid 1022®s. Scopes–pretty much any optics–along with lever guns, these eat up room. Think “lazy susan” on the floor of the safe…some racks, along with honker magnets (neodymium-types) help keep long guns where you stand ’em. (Even stainless bbls.)
    After-market door “bags” for loose handguns ‘n’ such are good. They usually don’t challenge you for more space inside.
    Inside is probably carpet-covered drywall. Pushpin, nail, screw for hanging a small LED lite.
    Goldenrod™ keeps humidity at bay, need a hole in the back or bottom of safe for power cord.
    If you’re (ahem) mature, get things closer to eye-level by raising the safe. Set it on a frame of metal purlins 8″ tall. There’s no end to “wish-I-hadda…”

  11. DennisinIowa says:

    Fort Knox

    Fort Knox Inc. will replace any vault, free of charge, broken into by forced entry or damaged due to an unlawful attempt during the lifetime of the original purchaser.

    Fort Knox Inc. warrants to the original purchaser only, that each new vault will be free from defects in material and workmanship for the lifetime of the original purchaser from the date of delivery. Integral units such as locks are subject to this same warranty.

  12. larryw says:

    I’m going to add onto the Liberty Safe pile. Well thought out and built and affordable compared to the competition.

    I ordered mine with the mechanical dial lock. I’ve had electronic locks fail before. The worst one was when the plastic part that unlocks the bolt engagement broke loose and I had to call a locksmith to break open the safe. So it’s not just the electronic bits you need to worry about in the electronic locks, but also the plastic parts.

  13. Exile1981 says:

    Always get one with a tumbler or mechanical lock, avoid ones with electronics like the plague.

  14. Maddog says:

    I second the vote for Fort Knox. Better construction details, IMHO. Fire ratings should all be taken with a grain of salt. Check YouTube for many videos on how bad guys drop the safe on its back, and pry it open in minutes. You can increase their effort by bolting it into a corner, or a closet, so they cannot tip it over and use more leverage. I agree with the estimate that it will hold less then the advertised amount of rifles.

  15. UH1H CE says:

    Without going into details concerning type, I would council two mid-sized safes over one huge one. A locksmith gave me that idea many years ago and I’m glad he did. He pointed out that most of the larger safes need more than a refrigerator dolly to move, can exceed the weight capacity of some lift-gates, loading ramps, and many floors, and take up a lot of space. It was advice I was happy to have followed when I moved from what I had thought would be my last home ever.

  16. Hillbilly says:

    Well you need a good safe, Liberty makes a good one, Get the duel lock, Didg/manual type key-pad with dial on top. Is Charlie a good watch dog? Everyone needs one of those. Our new Rottweiler pup is coming along just fine, easy to train. Smart like tractor & strong like bull. We have watched lots and lots of YouTube vids on training. Titus is 4 1/2 months old and my son can’t get to my safe when he comes to visit. Funny as shit, Wait till his balls drop. I doubt my boy will even get in my house. We have lived here since 2000 and never had a key for the front door.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Not for me, for a reader. I already own a safe – the reason I haven’t chimed in is because it’s not as big as what he’s looking for.

      But yeah, Charlie’s a pretty good watchdog – a guard dog, not so much. That’s my job.

  17. RTinWeimar says:

    Liberty Lincoln model is an excellent bang for the buck and is their best-selling safe. Cabelas sells the Lincoln as the Ambassador. And yes, mechanical combo lock is the way to go.

  18. Orville says:

    Liberty, higher up the scale the better, with an S&G non-electric lock. Exercise care who you buy it from and installs it – bonded locksmith is better than some sports store/gun shop

  19. beaver67 says:

    Liberty Safe. Get a big one. Manual lock. Your local gun store/pawn shop or agricultural feed stores may be able to order one.

  20. Mark says:

    Manual lock

    Bolt it down

    Reinforce the fire rating by using drywall slabs.

    If you can hide it somewhat , even better.

    If you construct a vault around it, make that out of the sheet metal studs and channels and drywall for best fire retardance.

    Add on a metal exterior door.

    Sell it with the house.

  21. BB says:

    Have more than one StackOn and very satisfied. Ditto on the capacity, for 24 actual guns I would get at least a 36 gun advertised capacity. Mechanical lock is first choice, but StackOn electronic ones have a unique key backup to open the door.

  22. Snuffy says:

    If money is no object(ha-ha), look at Graffunder. I can’t speak from personal experience, only from much research. Heavy, solid, thick bastards.

  23. David L. says:

    i’ve got a Graffunder B16 (B6040 in their current model numbering scheme). Graffunder makes actual SAFES not residential security containers. 1/4″ outer wall stell, 14 gauge inner. Outer steel on the door is 1/2″.

    The chief downside is the thing weighs almost a ton, literally. Listed wieght for mine is 1790 pounds. Requires a specialty safe mover to move it.

    I maxed it out for rifles (I collect milsurp rifles) and as long as you don’t have scopes, you can actually make it work. One downside is longer rifles, like my Mosin-Nagant 1891s, don’t fit. I also don’t own any long barrelled shotguns (mine are all for home defense or 3-gun), so I can’t speak to how those fit.

    But if you have any unusual size guns (longer than standard hunting rifles/shotguns), I’d adivse taking them to the showroom and seeing how they fit in the safe.

  24. Andy says:

    First off…none of your business what others have. Secondly, grow up and do your own research.

    • Wirecutter says:

      First off, damned near everybody here comments with a screen name, so he’s not going to find out what So-and-so has.
      Secondly, he IS doing his research – he came to a site of like-minded people and asked a question. He’s going to get honest answers without wondering if a manufacturer/vendor has pulled the bad reviews.

  25. ChuckN says:

    Couch Bunker by BedSafe if you want to keep something less obvious.

    But the best setup I ever saw was a customer bought an old vault door
    from a bank. I laid the reinforced concrete for the room. Two connected
    rooms actually; one for the armory and a separate room for reloading.
    The vault door made it impregnable to all but high explosives.

  26. FL Awt says:

    money is always an issue. make friends with your OLD local locksmith. For all you guys that bitch about your electronic keypad your old dude locksmith can switch it out for you on the cheap & you’ll both be happy. He is also the dude that knows what happens to the safes from defunct business’ & BANKS! them are some good safes but you need somebody that moves them for a living to get them where you want. As was also mentioned about fire rating & wether thats a thing for you or no. if it aint then you can get away with spending a lot less. youtube safe break in’s & you’ll see how scary fast these guys can get in a safe so bolting it down is real important. the fort knox is real good but who has that kind of $$?

  27. jack says:

    I ended up with a Superior Supreme. My wife’s business requires she keep information on clients and the 1865°, 110-minute rating on my safe was a selling point. I have the manual dial lock so I don’t worry about batteries going dead. Safe weighs in at about 1800 lbs. and took two large men and some special “tools” to get it in the garage. Bolted down to help it from walking off. I put aluminum angle under the shelves to help with all the weight and have no problem with them bowing.

  28. Leonard Jones says:

    I would NEVER even consider most of the electronic types. I have seen YouTube
    videos where a guy defeated many of them with a rare earth magnet. The
    problem is that the locking bolts are activated by an electo-magnetic solenoid.
    Moving a magnet in a sock around the door is all that is needed to defeat the
    lock. Go old school and buy one that uses a key or a combination lock.

    I would go with a quality keyed safe. It takes no time to open in an emergency.

  29. Gator says:

    I have a Liberty that I’ve been happy with, but I would like to upgrade it. As others have said, be very wary of the number of long guns they say they will hold. Unless you have a bunch of stock 10/22s, you won’t get close to what it says it will hold. A pistol grip pretty much takes up the space of another rifle, as does a large optic. So if you have, say, an AR with a Strike Eagle on it, you won’t be able to hold near as many guns, esepcially if you have multiple such guns. But, I too have the manual lock on mine, ordered it that way specifically. The finish on the safe is beautiful and durable, and the interior and shelves hold up well. No complaints about it, just need something bigger now. You know the phrase ‘buy once, cry once’? It definitely applies here. I thought the one I bought was big enough to last me a long time, but they fill up quick.

    As far as the ‘cheaper’ safes goes, I wouldn’t go any cheaper than a Liberty. I haven’t gotten something bigger, heavier, and more secure mainly because of the frequency with which I have to move, and will continue to have to move, for the next few years. Once I’m settled, Im going bigger.

  30. singlestack says:

    I have a Liberty with a manual lock. I like it a lot. Get a bigger safe than you think you need.

  31. realspark21 says:

    Multiple Liberty safes…Fats, National Security, and several smaller for closets…all with their traditional, no-power needed locks. I also use dehumidifiers with rechargable moisture absorbers for backup. Bolted to the slab, and floor/studs where needed. All rigged for one combo…they still have different “day keys” …..

  32. RogerS says:

    Got mine here. They will make it to your exact specifications in the USA (near Indianapolis). Plus, when you order a large one, well you finally have a socially acceptable excuse to show off your “Big Johnson”.

  33. Gary says:

    Liberty Fat Boy Jr., with mechanical lock. No regrets. EMP proof, too, unlike the electronic locks.

  34. Aggie says:

    Don’t be fooled by fancy wheel & bolt combinations on doors – they don’t help if the top can be peeled like a sardine can. Stay away from battery powered doodads because sooner or later you are more likely to forget to install fresh batteries than not. My safe is made using the same kind of simple unbeatable locks as ATMs (it’s made by an ATM strong box manufacturer). Recessed keys that cannot be drilled or accessed by lock picks. The case is 1/4″ hardened steel on the door, top, sides, and it uses space shuttle insulation / door gasket for fire protection. Do a little shopping and ask a few gunsmiths.

  35. IndenturedServant says:

    I wrote a rather thorough article about choosing a high security safe if anyone is interested. It includes info on how commercial safes are tested and rated. 99% of gun safes on the market never obtain a UL rating higher than RSC (residential security container). My advice would be to purchase a commercial grade jewelers or pawn safe with your required fire rating in the size you need. You might be surprised how affordable a true high security safe can be. You can even buy used, have it shipped then have a certified safe and vault tech (SAVTA) set it up for you. My article talks about that too.

    When you consider the value of what you are securing vs. what you’re paying for the safe, make sure you get something that is truly up to the job.

    I’ll contact Kenny and ask if he’d post the article on his site.

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