Putting a Safe or Gun Safe in a Garage, Part 2

If you need to put your safe or gun safe in the garage here are the steps you should take:

  • Invest in a heavier, higher quality vault, preferably TL-rated like American Security’s RF series gun safe.
  • Conceal the safe the best you can. Build a cabinet around it or drape a blanket or something over it.  American Security sells what they call a “Safe Cloak” for gun safes which is a fabric cover that makes your safe look like a cheap storage cabinet.  It attaches to you gun safe with a magnet across the top and hangs down to ground level.  If possible, put the safe in a back room or around a corner.
  • Don’t allow service people or delivery personnel to go through your garage.
  • Keep your garage door locked at all times to keep people out.
  • Increase the perceived risk to a burglar — put up a sign stating that the house and garage are monitored. It helps to install a very conspicuous camera, even if it is fake.
  • Anchor your safe to the concrete floor using high grade anchor bolts.   Most fire safes are light enough to be picked up.  If you don’t have the right tools or skills, hire someone who does.
  • Don’t keep pry tools, sledge hammers, torches, etc. in the same area – keep them locked up in the house.

To avoid problems from cold and fluctuating temperatures in northern states:

  • Use a dehumidifier rod (heat bar) inside the safe to keep temps as stable as possible.
  • There can be a problem in those first warm humid days of spring when the ground is still very cold. The cold floor will keep pulling warmth from the safe causing condensation, making the safe sweat, which encourages rust.  Antique safes are especially prone to rust.  It is best, therefore, to have a small amount of contact with the floor.  Thin squares of wood or plastic at the corners will minimize the problem.  We usually use pieces of the plastic shims used to install windows and doors.  Important Note:  Don’t raise the safe too far off the ground; the bigger the gap there is between the floor and the safe, the easier it is for someone to move the unit.  A big gap makes anchoring less effective too.
  • Battery life in electronic locks will be shorter in cold situations. I would guess that electronic locks themselves would have shorter lives, but that is just speculation.  Dial locks are less affected by cold.

Keeping your gun safe in the garage is less than ideal.  Minimize risk by taking proper precautions.

TL Rated High Security Gun Safes

Customers that do research in order to find the best gun safe on the market sometimes decide they need a “TL” rated gun safe.  But while they find all kinds of units with Residential Security Container (RSC) ratings, they cannot find any TL’s.

Very few gun safes qualify to carry TL ratings.  You are basically buying a jeweler quality safe with a gun rack interior.  Here are the reasons most manufacturers do not offer them:  While buyers like the idea of getting a high security unit, few are willing to spend $5000 to $10,000 for that security.  High security gun safes do not hold as many rifles, because thicker walls leave less interior space.  Few homes can accommodate the weight and dimensions of a TL rated gun safe.  Most dealers don’t carry TL rated safes because they cannot move them.  The majority of manufacturers use production techniques than are incapable of producing TL rated safes.  The costs of U.L.’s TL certification tests are too expensive in relation to the low volume of potential sales.

That being said, if you are serious about a high security TL-rated safe, here are some options:

Amsec RF6528, TL-30, Exterior 72h x 35w x 29.5d, 3455#, 24 gun max.
Amsec RF582820X6, TL-30×6, Exterior 64h x 34w x 29.5, 3418#, 24 gun max.
Amsec RF703620x6, TL-30×6, Exterior 76h x 42w x 29.5d, 4578#, 58 gun max.
Fort Knox L Series 5520, TL-30×6, Exterior 63h x 28w x 32d, 3716#, about 20 guns.
Fort Knox L Series 6532, TL-30×6, Exterior 73h x 40w x 32d, 4512#, about 50 guns.
Fort Knox L Series 7240, TL-30×6, Exterior 78h x 44w x 32d, 5460#, about 55 guns.


“TL-30” means the unit has been tested for burglary resistance through the front.  “TL-30×6” means it has been tested for burglary resistance through all six sides. These safes have legitimate two hour fire ratings.  Freight and delivery are expensive on these units.  Pictured is an Amsec RF6528, gun racks covered by shelf pieces.  Note the door is 6″ thick.

The decision whether to purchase a high security gun safe depends on a number of factors like where you live, security systems in your home, and the value of its contents (I suggest $80,000 and up).  Yes, they are expensive; but if you need the best protection a TL rated gun safe is a great investment.

Buying a Gun Safe: Where’s the Beef?

“Where’s the Beef?”  That famous line sold lots of hamburgers for Wendy’s because it pointed out that their competitors’ burgers had very little meat.  In the same way, when it comes to gun safes sold by big box stores, you could ask “Where’s the Steel?”  Gun safes found in box stores usually have very thin steel in the doors and bodies, in spite of the manufacturers’ claims of security.  The doors appear to be strong because they are up to 1 ½” thick, but that is usually just thin steel wrapped around drywall.  One manufacturer brags that they have “thick 12 gauge” steel.  Really?  12 gauge steel is barely one-tenth of an inch thick!  And that is supposed to protect your guns worth thousands of dollars?  Steel that thin is easily cut by power tools, or pried open with basic tools.

Try this test with a gun safe in a box store:  With the door open, put your knee into the front of the door and then pull hard toward you at the top. You can probably feel the door flex a little.  Imagine how easily it would bend if someone used a pry bar!


The picture on the left is Brand X.  The door looks good because the edge is 15/16”, but the steel is only a roll formed 12 gauge, just .1046 of an inch.  The center picture is Amsec’s BF gun safe.  The edge is only ½” thick, but that is a solid steel plate – 4.7 times thicker steel.  On the right is a Graffunder Castle series door edge:  1” solid steel plate, 9.5 times thicker than Brand X!  If you want to protect your valuables don’t settle for 12 gauge steel.  Gun safes with steel plate all the way up to 1 ½” is available.  You won’t see them at a box store, however; you will need to go to a safe dealer.  Will they cost more?  Of course they will.  But it does not make sense to keep your gun collection (or silver, gold, cash, jewelry, etc.) behind a flimsy safe door that can easily be pried open or cut.

One other thing . . .  Safe manufacturers that do put lots of steel in their doors will tell you that!  They want you to know it.  If a brochure (or salesperson) won’t tell you specifically how much steel is in the door it will be 12 gauge or less.  Visit a knowledgeable, honest safe dealer – not a box store – to be sure you are buying real security.

Relock Devices: Other Types

There are a number of less common types of re-locker devices.  For example, high-security safes sometimes come with ”glass relockers”.  There is typically a piece of tempered glass with two holes in it, and wires under spring tension are hooked into the holes.  If a person pounds on the lock it will shatter the glass, causing the relock pin to snap into place, which blocks the safe boltworks from being forced open.  Hitting the glass with a drill bit will also break the glass.

Thermal relockers are found only on high end, high-security safes.  Normally there is a piece of metal or a soldered piece in a wire arrangement, all under spring pressure.  The metal melts at a very low temperature, maybe 250 degrees.  Heat generated from a torch, or even from extensive grinding, will melt the metal which sets off the relocker.

Relockers, Graffunder 003

Some relockers do not actually block the boltworks from moving.  On some units firing a relocker causes a heavy bolt to shoot out from the door, behind the frame of the safe.  This is great way of keeping the door from being forced open.  The photo shows a unique system:  The relock can be fired either by an attack on the lock, by a torch cutting through the cable, or by melting the soldered thermal joint just above the lock encasement.  When set off this is actually a double relocker.  One part (not shown) blocks the right side boltworks from moving.   The vertical bolt shoots out about an inch — this is accomplished with a heavy spring which can’t be seen here.  It is then behind the door opening of the safe body where it very stubbornly keeps the safe door closed.

Once again, only experienced safe technicians should work on your safe.  Inexperienced technicians may accidentally set off a relocker, perhaps costing you hundreds of dollars.