Gun Safe Boltworks: Part 2, Bolt Bars

The last post said that the size of the bolts in a gun safe makes no difference in a pry attack, but mentioned that there are other potential weaknesses. Flimsy bolt bars are a major problem in many safes.


The picture on the left shows the bolt bar– the vertical angle iron to which the bolts are attached — from a safe we sell.   The picture on the right shows the bolt bar from a well-known brand of gun safe that we will not sell. The safes are the same size. The bolt bar in the safe on the right is extremely weak compared to the one on the left for four reasons:

  • The one on the left is slightly longer than the one on the right.
  • The one on the left is 23% bigger: 2” x 2” vs. 1.5” x 1.75”.
  • The one on the left is 44% thicker: .1943” VS .1345”.
  • The one on the left is a solid piece of steel, while the other piece has 12 extra holes punched into it, each of which makes the piece weaker.

I believe the extra holes are there so the bolt bar can be used interchangeably in other safe models – good for manufacturing efficiency, bad for security.  Smaller dimensions and thinner steel also keep manufacturing costs down, but they’re bad for security. Take all these things together and there is a huge difference in strength.

Bent Bolts 2

So why is that important? The next picture shows a safe which uses that same flimsy bolt bar. Burglars successfully pried this safe door open.  Pressure from their pry bar caused the bolt bar to bend, which allowed the bolts to fold over enough for the door to open. This manufacturer talks about protecting your valuables, but in reality all they want to do is make more money. They make more money by going cheap on one of the most important pieces in their safes! The same principle applies  to vault doors.  This is why you need to talk with real experts when buying a gun safe, not a box store or a gun dealer who also happens to sell gun safes.