What Makes a Gun Safe Great - The Key Features To Look For

What Makes a Gun Safe Great: Key Features To Look For

Not all gun safes are the same. Even the ones that have a high price tag can be a disappointment. So what makes a great safe?

A good gun safe combines solid construction, advanced locking mechanisms, reliable security and fireproof ratings, fail-safe relockers and versatile storage options.

Whether you buy a gun safe as a protection against burglars, fires, or just to keep your collection organized and accessible, these key features define what makes a gun safe not just good, but great.

Robust Construction: Steel Thickness

Solid construction is the first line of defense of any safe, including gun safes. And while super thick walls can’t be a solo measurement of protection, if you have thin, weak walls and door – everything else is less effective. The thickness of the steel used in a gun safe’s walls and door is one of its most important features.

Why it matters: Thicker steel offers greater resistance to drilling and cutting. In every gun safe’s description you will see a term “gauge”, it is used to measure steel’s thickness. Remember, a lower gauge number means thicker steel. This means that a 10 Gauge safe is much better than 16 gauge one.

More steal also means more weight. This also increases the effectiveness of the defense. A heavy safe is harder to move, lift, carry away or to tip over. And typing over is one of the main tactics used to break into a safe.

What gauge is best? The lower the better. Aim for a gun safe with steel that’s at least 10 gauge. This is a good standard and you won’t have to worry that it is easy to break into. Check our guide on Best Steel Gauge (Thickness) For Gun Safes.

UL Listed Locks

Not all locks provide the same level of safety. UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification marks a significant difference. UL is a trusted name in safety and security standards. They are a reliable source of fire-resistance rating as well, but we will explain this further. For now, just remember to always check if the Lock used in your gun safe is UL listed.

Amsec ESL10XL - UL listed Lock

When a lock sports a UL listing, it’s passed rigorous testing for tamper resistance and durability. This isn’t just any test. It’s a guarantee that the lock can withstand a variety of break-in attempts without faltering.

And if the safe has a non listed locking mechanism, you can ask the retailer to install a new lock. This is a common feature, widely available in most of the stores.

Security & Burglary Ratings

Gun safes come with various security and burglary ratings, crucial for determining their protection level. These ratings, such as UL RSC (Residential Security Container), TL-15, and TL-30, are not just labels. They directly show what a safe is able to withstand in terms of break-in attempts.

Common Ratings Explained:

  • UL RSC (Residential Security Container): This rating means the safe can resist a break-in attempt with common hand tools for up to five minutes. It’s a basic level of security, suitable for residential use.
  • TL-15: Safes with this rating have been tested to resist a focused attack with hand tools, including drills and devices applying pressure, for at least 15 minutes.
  • TL-30: Offering a higher level of security, these safes withstand similar tests to TL-15 but for a duration of 30 minutes. Ideal for more valuable collections or higher risk areas.

Significance of These Ratings: Each rating gives you a snapshot of what to expect in terms of security. For instance, a TL-30 rated safe is designed to offer robust protection against a determined thief armed with knowledge and tools. Here’s a full guide on TL-15 and TL-30 Safes Ratings if you want to know more.

Such safes cost more naturally. But if the value of you guns and other possessions is high, then it may be worth it. We consider the price of the safe to be reasonable if it’s around 20% of the value of the contents.


What Are Relockers? Relockers are a security feature in gun and regular safes, acting as a second line of defense. They are designed to activate when the safe’s lock is tampered with or subjected to severe impact. Once triggered, re-locker blocks the lock’s mechanism, preventing it from being opened, even with the correct combination or key.

Relocker in a Gun Safe

Types of Relockers: There are mainly two types:

  • Mechanical Relockers: These are activated by physical force, such as drilling or punching. They work independently of the main lock.
  • Glass Plate Relockers: Often used in higher-end safes, these involve a glass plate that, when broken by drill intrusion, triggers one or more relocker pins. This method adds an extra layer of difficulty for burglars attempting to drill through the lock.

High quality safes are almost always equipped with this feature. Relockers in a gun safe can be the difference between security and vulnerability. But they also require careful usage. You don’t want to slam you safe’s door, because this may trigger the mechanism and you may end up with a locked safe.

Versatile Storage System

Good modern gun safes come equipped with adjustable shelves, racks, and compartments. If you safe has none of those, this is a cause for pause. First or all, leading gun safe brands include them by default. And second, your guns will take more space then necessary without this organization system.

Rack System in a gun safe

Common Customization Options:

  • Adjustable Shelves: Easily repositioned to fit items of various sizes, ensuring that every inch of space is utilized efficiently.
  • Door Organizers: Offer additional pockets and slots for smaller items, maximizing the use of available space.
  • Rack Systems: Specifically designed for firearms, racks help keep guns upright and organized, making them easily accessible while preventing damage.

Fireproof Ratings

A fireproof rating tells you how well a gun safe can protect against heat and fire. When outside temperatures rise your safe must be able to keep the interior temperatures under a certain level. Otherwise your firearms may get damaged. A good fireproof rating means your items stay safe, even in extreme heat.

What Fire Rating to look for? Choose a gun safe that has at least 1-Hour UL Class 350 rating. This one means the safe can keep the internal temperature below 350°F for at least one hour in a fire with external temperatures reaching up to 1700°F. Some safes offer even higher protection, such as “2 hours at 1850°F,” providing longer and more intense resistance against heat.

This is a comprehensive guide for UL Fireproof Ratings Explained if you want to know the details.

Size: The bigger Means Better

A larger safe offers multiple benefits. From an ability to accommodate a growing collection of firearms and flexibility for storing various types of valuables, to enhanced security.

Consider Future Needs: As your gun collection expands, whether it’s firearms, ammunition, or valuable items, having extra space ensures you won’t run out of space. So you won’t have to purchase additional safes over time.

Weight and Security: A bigger safe also tends to be heavier, which can enhance its security. The sheer weight makes it more difficult for burglars to move or steal the entire safe. Additionally, larger safes often come with more advanced security features.


In choosing the right gun safe pay attention to details. From the thickness of steel, to UL listed locks that offer reliable security, every feature plays a crucial role.

Security and burglary ratings directly show how secure the safe is. Relockers add an extra layer of defense. The versatility of the storage system ensures your firearms and valuables are organized and protected, and fireproof ratings guard against the fire accidents.

Lastly, size matters – bigger does mean better when it comes to safes and their effectiveness.

FAQ Section

Who makes a good gun safe? Manufacturers who use thick steel, offer UL listed locks, provide high security and burglary ratings, include relockers, versatile storage, and fireproof ratings make good gun safes. Brands like Hollon, American Security, Remington, Browning have models you can explore.

Are cheap gun safes worth it? Cheap gun safes may not offer the best protection. Investing in a safe with key security features like those mentioned is more reliable.

Is it OK to store guns in a soft case? Storing guns in a soft case is fine for short-term or transportation purposes. For long-term storage, a gun safe with proper security features is recommended to protect against damage, theft, and unauthorized access.

Is it worth buying an expensive gun safe? Yes, if it comes with enhanced security features like thicker steel, better locks, higher fireproof ratings, and more versatile storage. These safes offer greater protection for your high valued possessions.

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