Best Gun Safe

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The old saying “you get what you pay for” does apply to gun safes, but not how you might think.  With most gun safes what you pay for is nice paint, chrome, decorative items, and interior features.

In other words, most gun safes sell the appearance of protection in a security container that can be broken into in a couple minutes with pry bars or an ax.

If money was no object we’d all store our guns in a bank-quality vault.  Of course the reality is that we all have a budget.  Below, recommendations for top rated gun safes are broken into 3 different protection categories:

Their prices range from inexpensive gun safes to high security true safes, but they all maximize the actual protection per dollar.

You don’t have to buy new though.  You can often find a used true safe for less than the new cost of a cheap gun safe.

Best Cheap Gun Safe (RSC)

If you’ve decided you want a traditional-style cheap gun safe, you’ll be looking at models with and without Underwriters Laboratories 1037 Residential Security Container (RSC) ratings.  A RSC rating means that the gun safe was independently tested at UL to take 5 minutes for one person to break into it with basic hand tools.  Larger tools, two guys, or power tools will get inside most RSC in less than a couple minutes.

Tool Storage Chest used as a Cheap Gun Safe

Sometimes the best cheap gun safe is a job box.  A happy reader took my advice and bought this one at Home Depot for $250.

Without a minimum rating of UL RSC, a cheap gun safe is basically an overpriced gym locker with an unreliable lock.  In that case you’re better off buying a toolbox, gun cabinet, building a closet gun safehidden gun safe, or one of the many other gun safe alternatives.

RSC is the highest rating that 99% of gun safes meet.  But gun safe prices range from the hundreds to the tens of thousands of dollars.  Despite the huge range in prices, they all have the exact same RSC security rating.

Safe technicians who drill open locked safes for a living disagree about a lot of things.  They do all agree on one thing though.  That is, that despite the premium price tags of high-end RSCs, there is not much difference in real security between them and a cheap RSC.

With the exception of the *Exceptional Gun Safes (RSC) in the next category, expensive RSCs add features which cost a lot when you consider the actual amount of additional protection they give.

For this reason, if you’re looking for the best cheap gun safe, buy the cheapest RSC that has the features you want. Ideally, that cheap RSC would meet the previously detailed recommendations:

  • UL 768 Rated Group 1 or 2 Combination Lock – Not all cheap RSCs come with UL rated locks. This is a very bad area to save a buck.  Unrated locks have lots of issues.
  • Continuous Welds – not all RSCs come with continuously welded body seams.  Those that don’t are much weaker and can be opened with just a hammer.  Continuous welds are required for true safes, but not for RSCs.
  • Country of Manufacture – gun safes made in USA are preferred.  The cheapest American RSCs are a couple hundred dollars more expensive than ones made in other countries.  But keep in mind the issues with Chinese gun safes, including that their RSC rating stickers and locks may be fake.

Best Value Gun Safes (RSC)

Liberty Revere RV23, One of the best cheap gun safe

Liberty Revere RV23

Liberty is the largest manufacturer of gun safes.  They are aggressive marketers and make some misleading claims, but they are pretty good at customer service.  They stand behind their products better than most.  Compared to many of their competitors, they give you less aggravation and usually respond faster.

Liberty is now advertising that their new non-RSC Centurion 12, 18, and 24 gun gun safes made in the USA.  The old Liberty Centurion models were RSCs.  RV17 and RV20 models were made in China and sold at big box stores.  Liberty hasn’t always been straightforward about where their overseas products were made.  Previously they made a Chinese-made Centurion and an American-made Revere, both named RV20, but sold through different stores.

The current “American made” Centurions are priced from $500 to $750 for 12, 18, and 24 models.  Based on the specs, these actually may be made domestically, as the steel is only 14 gauge thick.  Unfortunately 14 gauge doesn’t meet the RSC construction requirements, which specify 12 gauge thick body steel.  14 gauge is thinner than your average $25jobbox toolbox.  Because these are not RSCs, you’re better off stepping up to the Revere or with a gun safe alternative than one of these Centurions.  

Liberty’s Revere RV23 and RV30 models are made in the USA from 12 gauge steel.  These have always been American-made gun safes.   The confusing American Revere RV20 was discontinued.

American-made Revere models, including curbside delivery, start at around $1,200 for the RV23 up to around $1,350 for the RV30.  These Liberty Revere models are a best value gun safe.

Liberty has a wide dealer network.  Support your local gun shop by buying one locally.  You can also buy online (click here for RV23 and RV30).

Browning, Dakota, and American Security (AMSEC) also have some good budget gun safes.

Keep in mind that RSCs do not provide much protection, so in this category you’re just looking for the lowest price RSC with the options you want.

The models in the next category start at $1,650 without fireproofing and are much much stronger.  Typical fireproof gun safes have little fire protection anyway, and for most people burglary risk is about 5X higher than fire.  So, skipping fireproofing to get burglary protection often makes more sense than getting minimal protection for both.  

You can also improvise your own fire protection yourself.

Or, if you don’t have that cash right now, consider buying a $250 toolbox or other option for now.  Then save up for an *Exceptional Gun Safe (RSC) with fireproofing.

Back to the Top


Best Gun Safe for the Money – *Exceptional Gun Safe (RSC)

Although there isn’t much difference in the security of RSCs compared to a true safe, there are a few that are worth your consideration.

These gun safes cost as much as other units which offer far less protection.  All are American made gun safes.  If you are looking in this price range, you should definitely take a look at these models.

Readers email me periodically about this or that brand of gun safes.  Before emailing me about a particular model, compare it to the specs in the table below first.  You probably won’t get past the 2nd or 3rd row before realizing that the gun safes below give you more bang for your buck.  In another article is a full list of gun safe evaluation criteria.

Sturdy Gun Safe vs. American Security (AMSEC) BF Gun Safe Review

Below is a gun safe comparison table.  Each category and my scoring are explained in detail under the table.

SpecificationSturdyAMSEC BFWinner
Security RatingExceeds but not Tested
UL 1037 Residential Security Container
UL 1037 Residential Security ContainerAMSEC BF / Tie
Standard Steel, Door Outer Sheet5/16" (0.3125") (Standard)
3/8" (0.3750") + 3/16" (0.1875") Steel/Stainless Reinforcement (Optional)
1/2" (0.5000") (except below models)
3/8" (0.3750") (BF6024, BF7250)
Standard Steel, Walls Thickest Sheet7 gauge (0.1793") (Standard)
4 gauge (0.2242") + 3/16" (0.1875") Steel/Stainless Reinforcement (Optional)
11 gauge (0.1196") (Standard)
4 gauge (0.2242") Inner Liner (HD Models)
Sturdy / Tie
Body WeldsContinuousContinuousTie
Anchor Holes(2) 5/8" with Tubing Guides (Standard)
Additional $25/Ea.
(4) Anchor HolesAMSEC BF (Standard)
Tie (Optional)
Door HingesExterior, Right or LeftExterior, Right or LeftTie
Door Seal3M intumescent caulk and fiberglass boiler gasket, Full LengthPalusol intumescent seal and silicone seal, Full LengthAMSEC BF
Lock TypesDial (Standard)
Electronic Keypad, Dual Dial & Dial, Dual Dial & Keypad (Optional)
Dial (Standard)
Electronic Keypad or Key Lock (Optional)
Lock Rating, Mechanical DialUL 768 Group 2
UL 768 Group 2
Lock Rating, Electronic KeypadUL 768 Group 1
UL 768 Group 1
Combination Lock ManufacturersS&G 6730 (Standard)
S&G D-Drive and Dual Locks (Optional)
AMSEC (Standard)
S&G, La Gard, Kaba Mas (Optional)
Sturdy (Standard)
AMSEC (Optional)
Bolt WorkBar Steel with Sheet MetalSheet MetalSturdy
Shear Pins or Clutch MechanismNoNoSturdy / Tie
Fire RatingNo Recognized Rating
(Fire Protection is Optional)
No Recognized Rating
(Based on UL 72 Class 350 1 Hour design)
Fire Insulation Type(Optional)
2.5" Ceramic Wool
+1~2" Fiberglass (door, top, floor)
Poured "DryLight" Concrete AmalgamateAMSEC BF
Fire Insulation Thickness(Optional)
2.5" to 4.5", slightly compressed
1" door, 2" wallsSturdy / Tie
Steel Inner Fire Liner16 gauge (0.0598")16 gauge (0.0598") (Standard)
4 gauge (0.2242") (HD Models)
Made InUSAUSATie / Sturdy
Cosmetic FeaturesFew, utilitarianChrome/brass/black nickel 5 spoke bolt wheel, pull handle, and logo. Polished interior back wallAMSEC BF
Interior Electrical ConnectionHole Only (Optional)StandardAMSEC BF

Sturdy Safe Models

Sturdy 2419 Gun Safe with Alyssa

Sturdy 2419 with Alyssa

Sturdy takes a no-nonsense approach to its gun safes.  Their products are pretty much perpendicular to the rest of the RSC gun safe industry.  Sturdy does not have many cosmetic options.  Instead, their products emphasize thick steel and simple robust bolt work and construction.  This makes them much stronger than the vast majority of RSC gun safes.

Sturdy prides itself on manufacturing as much as possible in the United States, and even sourcing only American materials where they can.  Sturdy is a small family owned business, owned by Terry, his wife Toni, and daughter Alyssa.  Terry is in many of the videos on Sturdy’s website and YouTube and sometimes even answers the phone.  Alyssa is the webmaster and frequently responds to questions and comments on gun forums.

Sturdy safes are sold factory direct to keep costs low. Sturdy’s safes are available in nine different standard sizes, in addition to custom sizes and options.  

One unique feature is that Sturdy’s gun safes are available with or without fireproofing.  More on this below.  This can save you money that you can use to implement fireproofing alternatives.

Starting Weight,
w/ Fireproofing
Starting Weight,
No Fireproofing

Sturdy’s smallest standard model 2419 starts at $2,000 with fireproofing, or $1,650 without. Sturdy’s largest standard model is the 6028-6.  It starts at $4,850 with fireproofing, or $5,050 without. Click on the part numbers in the table above to see pricing for each model.

American Security Gun Safes, BF Models

AMSEC BF6032 Gun Safe


American Security or AMSEC is a much larger company with around 1,000 employees.  A significant portion of their product offerings are cheaply made and sourced from China.  However, their higher end products are made in the USA, including a range of true safes and even the only off-the-shelf UL 687 TL-30 rated gun safe available.

The BF (Burglary & Fire) line split into two segments, which can be confusing.  The smaller BF true safes (BF1512BF1716BF2116, and BF3416) have both B-Rate construction and a UL 72 Class 350 Fire Endurance Rating  The BF1512, BF1716, and BF2116 are all listed for 1 hour, while the largest BF3416 is listed for 30 minutes.  The safe walls have 2-3/8″ thick poured concrete amalgamate fireproofing.  

These BF true safes are similar, but shouldn’t be confused with AMSEC’s BF gun safes.

The larger BF Gun Safe line (BF6024BF6032, BF6030BF6636BF7240, and BF7250) do not carry the same ratings as smaller BF true safes.  These larger BF gun safes have thinner steel and fireproofing, probably to save weight.

Even though the BF gun safes have reduced steel and fireproofing compared to the BF true safe versions, they’re no slouches.  In fact, the AMSEC BF gun safes are the only current RSC gun safes constructed using the same materials and techniques as the vast majority of commercial fireproof true safes.  More information about this can be found below.

w/ Fireproofing

AMSEC’s smallest standard model BF6024 starts at around $2,700. AMSEC’s largest standard model is the BF7250.  It starts at $5,600. Click on the part numbers in the table above to see online pricing for each model. There have been a few changes to BF gun safe line over the years:

  • Until 2010, the BF gun safe poured fireproofing was formulated to offer mostly fire protection and the walls had 10 gauge outer and 14 gauge inner steel shells.  Starting in 2010, AMSEC’s proprietary “DryLight” concrete amalgamate mixture was changed, making it stronger and heavier.  It’s not clear whether this change was made to standardize the BF gun safe with the rest of the AMSEC line, to reduce sensitivity to volatile steel prices, or for other purposes.
  • 2010 and later BF gun safes have thinner steel in the walls but stronger concrete mixtures.
  • Older BF gun safes also don’t have top locking bolts.
  • In 2015, AMSEC introduced the HD option for BF gun safes.  This option replaces the 16 gauge (0.0598″) inner fire liner with 3.7X thicker 4 gauge (0.2242″) steel.  The inner fire liner is then the thickest layer.  More on this below.

Security Rating

Sturdy safes easily exceed the UL 1037 Residential Security Container construction specifications, but aren’t actually tested.  Sturdy explains that they do this to pass on as much savings to their customers as possible.

AMSEC BF gun safes are tested to UL 1037 Residential Security, and UL Listed for that rating. AMSEC BF gun safes of course wins this one, but the RSC rating is a pretty low bar.

Standard Steel, Door Outer Sheet

Sturdy safes have standard 5/16″ (0.3125″) steel in the outer door sheet.  This is much thicker than the vast majority of RSC gun safes.

Sturdy has increased their upgrade options for door steel.  These include different configurations of stainless steel, which is more tool and torch resistant:

  • 3/8″ (0.3750″) steel for the door outer sheet continues to be one option.
  • Along with 3/8″ door steel, a new option welds another 3/16″ (0.1875″) steel sheet inside the door.
  • The 3/16″ inner reinforcing sheet can be upgraded to stainless steel.
  • Another option on top of the others welds a 8″ x 12″ sandwich of two sheets of 3/16″ (0.1875″) stainless to the lock area.

The AMSEC BF gun safes have 1/2″ (0.5000″) outer steel plate in the door, except for two models.  The smallest BF6024 and largest BF7250 models have 3/8″ (0.3750″) steel plate in the door.  This is probably to save cost and weight, respectively.  In addition, the BF’s 1″ concrete amalgamate poured into the door behind the steel offers some additional protection against burglary.

In terms of base option steel, AMSEC BF wins.  With all the options things get more complicated.

For Sturdy’s 3/8″ + 3/16″ steel option, the combined thickness is 9/16″ (0.5625″).  One thick sheet of steel is stronger than a sandwich of two of the same combined thickness.  However, these two sheets wind up thicker than the standard BF’s 1/2″ (0.5000″) plate.  Also, unlike most gun safes, there isn’t a weak layer of drywall between the sheets.

Also, given the option of adding stainless steel reinforcement to the lock and/or door, the optional door steel match-up gives the edge to Sturdy.

Standard Steel, Walls Outer Sheet

Sturdy Gun Safe Reinforcement Options

Sturdy gun safe standard steel reinforcement options. White areas are available in 7 or 4 gauge (except the door, which is thicker). Orange areas are reinforced with 3/16″ steel sheet. Blue areas are reinforced with one or more layers of 3/16″ stainless steel.

Sturdy’s standard 7 gauge (0.1793″) steel outer body walls are thicker than the majority of RSC doors.  4 gauge (0.2242″) steel is optional on the body.  In the diagram shown here, the outside steel thickness shown in white is 7 or 4 gauge.

Augmenting one side or area of a Sturdy has long been an option.  Sturdy has since standardized some of their most popular reinforcement configuration.  Since these options add steel to only part of the gun safe, they are attractive for those with corresponding weight or cost budgets.

Two options involve welding 3/16″ sheet to both the side walls and door jamb, made of either steel or stainless steel.  These are commonly attacked areas, so if you’re going to have more metal, they’re good places to have it.  Of course, if you don’t bolt your gun safe down, your extra money could be wasted.

The Magnum Steel Package similarly adds steel to the sides and jamb, and then also to the top and back.  The Sturdy Signature Package does the same as the Magnum, but the side reinforcement is upgraded to stainless.  Another option reinforces the sides, jamb, and door with stainless.

AMSEC BF Gun Safe Construction Cutaway

AMSEC BF Gun Safe Construction Cutaway

AMSEC’s walls have 11 gauge (0.1196″) outer steel shells plus 2″ of concrete amalgamate fireproofing.

In 2015, AMSEC added an option for body steel.  BF gun safe models which end in HD now upgrade the inner fire liner to 4 gauge (0.2242″).  Coincidentally, that is exactly the same thickness Sturdy has been offering as a body steel upgrade.

Normally I would consider the fire liner layer below in that section.  But since the BF HD fire liner is almost twice as thick as the outer shell, it deserves to be covered here.  Thickening the inner steel layer has benefits for security of course, but also for fireproofing which are discussed below.

Sturdy gun safes win the standard wall steel contest.  But the comparative strength of even the standard walls depends on the unpublished specifications of AMSEC’s fireproofing.  Sturdy’s optional fireproofing offers absolutely no structural support.

Sturdy gives the options for 0.4117″ in total body steel, including a stainless layer.  The BF’s HD option gives you 0.3438″ in total body steel, with a 2″ sandwich of concrete amalgamate.

Anchor Holes

Sturdy safes use tubing guides on their 5/8″ diameter anchor holes to prevent crushing of the non-structural fire proofing.  Unfortunately though they only install two anchor holes on their standard gun safes.  They’ll add more for $25/ea.

AMSEC’s BF gun safes come with four pre-cut anchor holes.

AMSEC BF gun safes wins this one in terms of standard configuration, although for $50 you can get four total anchor holes in your Sturdy.

Door Seal

Sturdy Door Fireproof Gun Safe Door Gasket

Sturdy Door Fire Gasket showing construction.  They no longer use 3M products (see text).

For the door seal, Sturdy uses fire barrier intumescent (fire-expanding) caulk covered with a fiberglass boiler gasket.  This choice may have been made to save money over the name brand Palusol door seal.  They claim it’s rated for 4 hours instead of 1 hour for Palusol.

AMSEC BF’s use a Palusol intumescent door seal.  The door jamb also has a high temperature silicone seal. At the request of a reader, here’s a detailed analysis.

Sturdy’s graphic (above) shows a tube of 3M CP 25WP+ fire stop caulk, but that caulk is red in color.  The yellow caulk shown in the same graphic looks more like 3M IC 15WB+.  I confirmed with Sturdy that this is what they used on older models.  However, Sturdy had problems with IC 15WB+ coming out lumpy and not adhering well, so they have since switched to STI LCI300, which is red.

STI LCI300 Intumescent Caulk Installed as a Fire Stop

STI LCI300 Intumescent Caulk Installed as a Fire Stop

These 3M and STI products are intumescent fire barrier caulks.  They are designed to be applied to holes in walls and floors around pipes and wires.  In the event of a fire, they keep flames and smoke from passing through the holes.  This application has a couple differences compared to an intumescent door seal.

Fire barrier caulks are designed to stick to both the inside (pipe/wire) and outside of a hole.  This would glue a gun safe door shut.  The boiler gasket used by Sturdy on top of the caulk is probably intended to keep the door from sticking to the caulk.  On the other hand, intumescent door seals are solids instead of liquids, avoiding this issue.

Fire barrier caulks don’t have to expand as much as intumescent door seals.  By fire code they must be installed so that they take up all of the gap, as you can see in the picture.  Intumescent door seals on the other hand must fill up the entire empty space between the door and jamb.  BASF Palusol and 3M’s similar Expantrol intumescent door seals expand 6X and 10X respectively.  By comparison, 3M fire barrier caulks IC 15WB+ and CP 25WP+ expand only a minimum of 3X.  Sturdy’s latest seal STI LCI300 is better in this regard, expanding a maximum of 8X.

The most important difference between intumescent door seals and caulks is expansion temperature.  Intumescent door seals must expand as quickly as possible to fill the door gap and keep smoke and hot gasses out of your gun safe.  Expansion must happen at lower temperatures because the door seal isn’t exposed to open flame.  Also, the door is much cooler at the bottom.  Palusol starts to expand at only 212 °F, and is fully expanded by 482 °F.  This is in line with the performance required to protect guns.  The downside is that Palusol is sensitive to moisture, which is why it is installed wrapped in plastic.  Expantrol doesn’t have humidity sensitivity but also doesn’t begin expanding until 392 °F; it’s fully expanded by 536 °F.

BASF Palusol Intumescent Door Seal Expansion

BASF Palusol Expansion.  Note temperatures are in Celsius, not Fahrenheit.

Intumescent caulks may directly contact flames and don’t have to expand to fill gaps and block smoke.  So they generally are formulated from materials which expand at higher temperatures.  3M fire barrier caulks IC 15WB+ and CP 25WP+ don’t promise 3X expansion until 1000 °F!  STI LCI300 doesn’t publish its expansion temperature.  Judging by the application, it could be equally high.

To be used in building construction, intumescent caulks must be independently tested to ASTM E814 (UL 1479 Through-Penetration Firestop Systems) and/or ASTM E1966 (UL 2079 Tests for Fire Resistance of Building Joint Systems).  There is no similar test for intumescent door seals. The intumescent caulks are rated to stop fire for 3 or 4 hours when, for example, installed between a copper pipe and concrete hole.  However, this doesn’t mean it will keep smoke and fire out of your gun safe for 4 hours.  While not quite an apples and oranges comparison, it is apples and pears.  I found no 1 hour limit for Palusol’s fire resistance.  It does starts to break down at 1112 °F, regardless of the duration, but doesn’t seem limited to 1 hour.

Sturdy Safe Door Gap

Penny showing typical Sturdy Safe door gap. Tighter gaps help intumescent gaskets seal better at lower expansion.

This one goes to AMSEC BF gun safes.  Palusol is the industry standard because it’s specifically designed to seal fire doors and fire safes.  It starts to expand at the lowest temperature of competing products.    Also the AMSEC BF has an additional high-temp silicone seal to help control gun safe moisture and provide additional protection in a fire.

Like AMSEC, Sturdy maintains tight door gaps which are a big help in sealing.  Sturdy’s intumescent caulk has performed favorably in fires.  However, no testing has been performed to establish whether Palusol would have worked better.  Palusol is sold in strips which are cut to length, so there’s also no variation in caulking bead width which could happen with Sturdy’s gasket.

Lock Types

Sturdy offers a standard mechanical dial combination lock, or an electronic keypad as an option.  They also offer dual locks with either two mechanical dial locks, or a dial and an electronic keypad lock.  It looks like in both dual-lock options require unlocking both locks to open the door.

Personally I would find it useful to have an electronic keypad lock with a mechanical dial as a backup.  Electronic keypad locks have comparatively short lifespans, so if it failed the backup mechanical lock could save the cost of opening it. That would require that either lock open the safe, which is not how Sturdy’s configuration works.  Sturdy’s dual lock configuration increases the odds of lockout by combining the failure rates.

AMSEC offers a standard mechanical dial combination lock.  As options, they offer electronic keypad and key locks.  They may offer a hybrid dual-lock configuration as a special order, but I’ve heard anecdotally that they overcharge for customization.

Sturdy offers dual lock setups, but it may not be that useful.  AMSEC offers a key lock, and hybrid options by special order.  I don’t know how to score this one so I’ll call it a Tie.

Lock Rating, Mechanical Dial

Both models come standard with UL 768 Group 2 mechanical dial combination locks.

Lock Rating, Electronic Keypad

Both models come with optional UL 768 Group 1 electronic keypad combination locks.

Combination Lock Manufacturers

Standard Lock

Sturdy’s standard lock is the S&G 6730 industry workhorse mechanical dial combination lock.

AMSEC’s standard option is an AMSEC brand lock.

Winner for standard locks is Sturdy.

Optional Lock

Sturdy offers an optional S&G D-Drive electronic keypad combination lock.

AMSEC’s first electronic keypad lock option for the BF gun safe is the AMSEC ESL10XL.  This is one of 14 factory options for electronic keypad locks from AMSEC, S&G, La Gard, and Kaba Mas.  They also have 3 options for UL Listed key locks.

AMSEC BF gun safes offer a far wider variety of optional locks.

Bolt Work

Sturdy Door Locking Bolt

Sturdy Door Locking Bolt

Sturdy prides itself in its simple robust bolt work.  The four locking bolts are 7/8″ (0.875″) round bar steel which slide back and forth in a 3/16″ (0.1875″) thick, 4.75″ wide steel ‘C’ channel.  The second pry attack video in 11 Myths about Gun Safe Theft Protection showed a Sturdy.  This unit had only the middle 2 locking bolts installed.  Yet the video showed it resisting a pry attack that will open most RSCs in less a minute or two.  Hinge side bolts are fixed, and the top and bottom door reinforcement protrudes on the hinge side to function as even stronger fixed locking bolts.

AMSEC BF Gun Safe Door Bolt Work

AMSEC BF Bolt Work

Like Sturdy, AMSEC’s hinge side bolts are fixed.  Their locking bolt carriage however is constructed out of bent and stamped sheet steel.  The bolt work shown in an image in Building an AMSEC BF Gun Safe shows that the bolt carrier is bent sheet metal, although it is much thicker than most RSC’s bolt carrier.

Sturdy’s bolt work wins this one narrowly.  Because the AMSEC’s door has a 1/2″ steel plate outer shell, it will not deform like a typical sheet metal RSC door in a pry attack.  AMSEC makes lots of true safes and knows how to make lock work.  But the simplicity, reliability, and strength of the Sturdy are arguably preferable.  

The warranties show the relative confidence each company has in its bolt work.  AMSEC’s locking mechanism is warrantied for only 1 year, but Sturdy’s is warrantied for a lifetime.

Shear Pins or Clutch Mechanism

Sturdy points out frequently that their bolt work does not have shear pins or clutches.  In this video owner Terry uses a pipe wrench and pipe for leverage to put a tremendous amount of torque on the bolt handle shaft.

AMSEC is less forthcoming about the construction of their BF gun safe bolt work, but it doesn’t look like they have clutches.  AMSEC advertises “slip clutches” as a “feature” in their lower end FV and TF gun safes, but doesn’t mention these clutches for the higher end BF and SV.  Because AMSEC sells low end products with clutches, they probably refrain from mentioning the downside of clutches because that might hurt sales of their low-end products.

Although AMSEC BF gun safes don’t seem to have clutches or shear pins, I’ll give this one to Sturdy who both provides this information openly and publishes video of a handle attack.

Fire Rating

Sturdy’s fire protection is optional.  Owners who want to save money and get more interior space may elect to get a Sturdy without fire protection.  Sturdy has commented on forums that they haven’t attempted UL 72 testing because they work to minimize costs and the testing is expensive.

Because the fire lining of the AMSEC BF is structural, this gun safe is not available without fire protection.

Technically neither model has a recognized (UL 72) fire rating so this is a tie.  AMSEC’s design and construction however is based on the BF true safe which carries a UL 72 Class 350 rating, so it has an edge in this category.

Fire Insulation Type

Sturdy Gun Safe Installing Fireproofing

Sturdy Installing Fireproofing (inner layer)

Sturdy’s fireproofing is an outer layer of 2300 °F rated Ceramic Wool and an inner layer of 1000 °F Fiberglass.  This strategy uses insulation (high thermal resistance) rather than water to steam phase changes as protection.  This type of insulation is typical on high temperature ovens to keep heat in over long periods of time.  

Sturdy’s insulation is much lighter than poured concrete-based fire lining.  This makes moving it easier and cheaper.  If your installation location is sensitive to weight, this is a big benefit. One downside of Sturdy’s insulation is that it offers absolutely no structural support or burglary protection.  So, stronger steel supports are required between the inner and outer shells, which transfer heat.  

Also this method of fireproofing is not very common.  It’s only used in about 1% of UL 72 fire safes.  Typical UL 72 fire safes use a poured outer fire lining to drop the temperature to under 350 °F.  Then there is a steel inner shell to block humidity.  Ceramic wool is used as the inner insulation on UL 72 Class 125 fire safes to keep the temperature under 125 °F at low humidity.

AMSEC Pouring Fireproofing, Fireproof Gun Safe

AMSEC Pouring Fireproofing

AMSEC calls its proprietary poured concrete amalgamate fireproofing “DryLight”.  People who have handled the post-2010 material in cutaways describe it as having the consistency of cured tile grout that fully adheres to the steel walls.  AMSEC used to avoid mentioning that the same DryLight fill is used in the BF gun safe as the UL 72 fire safes, but now advertises it.

AMSEC BF gun safes win this one.  Poured concrete amalgamate is the predominant material used in fireproofing commercial burglary and fire rating safes.  If you’re looking for lightweight fire protection though, the Sturdy has an advantage.

Fire Insulation Thickness

Sturdy Gun Safe Fireproof Gun Safe Cutout

Sturdy Gun Safe Fireproofing Cutout.  Fireproofing thicknesses have been changed.

Sturdy’s fireproofing is layered with different thicknesses in different locations.

The entire Sturdy interior has a 2.5″ thick outer layer of 2300 °F ceramic wool.  For the walls, this is the only layer, and it is compressed to 2.25″.  Compressing insulation reduces some of the R-value, but a quarter inch isn’t the end of the world.

The roof, floor, and door also have another inner layer of fiberglass added.  The roof and floor inner fiberglass layer is 2″ thick.  The door inner fiberglass layer is 1″ thick.

AMSEC’s BF gun safe fireproofing is 2″ thick in the walls, and 1″ in the door.

Sturdy’s insulation is 25% to 100% thicker and layered, so technically it wins this category.  Obviously though, this is an apples to oranges comparison.  

Smaller true safe versions of the BF, with more steel and only 3/8″ thicker fireproofing, pass UL 72 Class 350.  So, 2″ of DryLight offers significant protection.  With that said, to get the larger BF gun safes to pass UL 72 Class 350 would clearly take more than 2-3/8″ of insulation.  The BF3416 is only listed for 30 minutes because of its larger size, and the BF gun safes are much bigger that that.

The newer BF HD gun safe option however throws a curve ball into the fire surviveability equation however.  BF HD’s actually have more total steel in walls (0.3438″) than the BF true safe (0.2500″).  In addition, 65% of the BF HD wall steel is inside the fire liner.  This means that it actually adds fire resistance to the gun safes.

For fire protection, you really want as much thermal mass (steel) inside the insulation as possible.  Then in a fire, the heat not only has to penetrate the fireproofing, but also heat up the heavy steel.  If you think about a pot on the stove, the more water (thermal mass) in the pot, the longer it takes to boil.  So, the HD version of the BF gun safe is even closer to passing UL 72 Class 350.

Steel Inner Fire Liner

Sturdy has reduced its inner steel fire liner from 14 gauge to 16 gauge (0.0598″).  Coincidentally again, they changed to the same thickness as the standard BF inner liner.  Since the Sturdy fireproofing offers no structural support, the inner liner doesn’t either really.  Also, it’s not included if no fireproofing is chosen.  So, this was a wise place for them to cut costs by using thinner material.

The standard AMSEC BF inner steel fire liner is 16 gauge (0.0598″).  The HD option brings it up to 4 gauge (0.2242″).  The approximately 3.7X increase in thermal mass of the HD fire liner actually helps in a fire.  In both cases, the liner is adhered to a poured concrete amalgamate, which structurally supports the gun safe.

AMSEC wins this one.

Country of Manufacture

Sturdy manufacturers all of its safes in Fresno, CA.

AMSEC BF gun safes are made in Fontana, CA. AMSEC has many other product lines made in China.

Both gun safes are made In USA, but Sturdy has an edge with regard to the percentage of products made in the USA, and commitment to sourcing US materials.

Cosmetic Features

Sturdy safes are all business and have a utilitarian appearance.  No cosmetic features like multi-spoke locking handles here.  This appeals to a lot of their customers, and it also makes Sturdy’s easier to camouflage as a storage or electrical cabinet.  There are some paint options, but Sturdy’s are not beauty queens.

AMSEC Gun Safe Cloak

AMSEC Gun Safe Cloak.  Pretend your gun safe is a wooden cabinet after upgrading all the hardware 😉

AMSEC BF’s have a more classical gun safe look.  They’re available in 13 colors.  5 spoke bolt handles are available in chrome, brass, or black nickel.  They also have large pull handles and raised logos in matching finishes.  AMSEC BF gun safes have polished rear walls to help reflect interior light and help with visibility.

AMSEC BF wins this category, although Sturdy’s appearance has its benefits.  Because almost every penny of a Sturdy goes into steel and security, these are a better choice if want to save money on cosmetics, or if you’re going to hide or camouflage it anyway.

As a testament to the value of a utilitarian appearance, AMSEC offers a gun safe cloak.  The cloak can help make your gun safe look like a wood cabinet after you’ve purchased all those chrome trinkets. 🙂

Interior Electrical Connection

Sturdy’s optionally come with a 3/8″ hole drilled for running electricity into your gun safe.  In the website picture it looks like the hole is also grommeted, which is important for safety.  The electrical hole is automatically drilled if you order a Dri-Rod heater type dehumidifier from Sturdy.  You’ll still have to supply your own cord, feed it through the hole, and install a plug or receptacle yourself.

AMSEC Gun Safe Interior Electrical Connection

AMSEC Interior Electrical Connection

AMSEC’s standard electrical connection is at the entire other end of the spectrum.  Not only is an internal receptacle installed inside the gun safe, but the outside extension cord can be disconnect for moving.  The cord can be seen in the images of Building an AMSEC BF Gun Safe.

AMSEC handily wins this contest.  Sturdy’s electrical connection option is a little behind the times.  The only benefit to the Sturdy configuration is if the actual hole drilled into the AMSEC for the electrical connection is bigger.  Bigger holes present more of a fire risk.  If anyone reading this owns a BF gun safe and knows how big the actual electrical hole in the steel is, please leave a comment and tell us.

Burglary Protection

Which unit offers better burglary protection?  Great question.  Both easily exceed the UL 1037 Residential Security Container requirements and so have equal Performance Ratings.

No part of the Sturdy safes meet the B-Rate construction specifications.  However, their design is no slouch and far exceeds most gun safes.  In fact, with upgrades the total door steel thickness (0.5625″) exceeds the B-Rate 0.5000″ requirement, except that B-Rate requires a single plate 1/2″ door.  Combined still thicknesses are allowed in the B-Rate wall specification, if concrete amalgamate is used between them.  Sturdy does not use that filler.  Even so, the 4 gauge (0.2242″) steel option brings the walls close.  Reinforcement can bring it to 0.4117″ total thickness in critical areas.  Stainless steel is yet another variable.

The 1/2″ door plate steel of the AMSEC BF gun safe (excluding the smallest and largest models) do meet the B-Rate true safe specifications.  The standard body steel does not.  However the HD option will turn 1/2″ door models into legitimate B-Rate true safe gun safes.

The 7 gauge (0.1793″) steel shell of Sturdy safes is much thicker than the 11 gauge (0.1196″) outer shell of the AMSEC BF gun safe.  However, Sturdy’s fireproofing offers absolutely no additional security.  For AMSEC BF gun safes, the wall strength of the 2″ composite sandwich of concrete amalgamate and steel is greater than the sum of its parts.  For this reason, combined body steel thicknesses are allowed in B-Rate Construction Ratings.

The exact strength of the AMSEC walls depends on the strength of their concrete mixture, which is not published.  The AMSEC BF gun safes have the same configuration as high security safes, albeit with much less steel and a concrete mixture which is a compromise between strength and fire protection.

Because these safes have different construction architectures, which unit offers better burglary protection will depend on the type of attack. On gun forums this debate has been going on for over a decade.  We don’t have enough information to settle this one here, so I’ll call it a tie.  Both are good choices.

Fire Protection

The design of Sturdy’s fireproofing is relatively unique for a fire safe.  They are constructed more like a high temperature oven than the vast majority of UL 72 Fire Endurance Rated safes.  By all accounts from home fires Sturdy safes seem to offer good protection in home fire, but they have no recognized rating.

AMSEC BF gun safes are constructed the same way as commercial burglary and fire safes.  In fact, the BF true safe version with 39% more wall steel and 19% thicker wall fireproofing has a UL 72 Class 350 Fire Endurance rating.  However, since the BF3416 “jewelry safe” couldn’t meet the 1 hour rating of its smaller brothers, it’s clear that the BF gun safes couldn’t meet UL 72 Class 350 even with the same fireproofing thickness as the BF true safe versions.  The HD option with increased interior steel (thermal mass) actually has more steel than its smaller true safe brothers.  The HD version may actually be close to UL 72 Class 350.

“Back of the envelope” engineering calculations performed by a forum member show that the Sturdy fireproofing has many times higher thermal resistance (more heat insulation) than AMSEC’s.  However AMSEC’s fireproofing is more than just insulation.  Their concrete mixture has a high thermal mass and uses the phase change of water to steam to protect the inside of the gun safe in a fire.  Either type could be more effective, depending on the implementation.

The only way to settle this debate is to do a direct comparison, or to compare the Sturdy to a UL 72 fire rated gun safe of similar size and construction.  Unfortunately there aren’t any similarly constructed UL 72 fire safes of the same size.  The Sturdy may very well offer better fire protection than the AMSEC BF gun safe.  But, because the Sturdy’s fire proofing offers no direct comparison to a UL 72 listed fire safe, the AMSEC BF has the edge in fire protection.  If you’re looking for the best fireproof gun safe without stepping up to a true safe, both are good choices.  But, I’ll give the AMSEC BF the edge, especially the HD option.

Customer Service

Sturdy’s customers are generally happy with their customer service.  They’re a small company that prides itself in satisfied customers.  They are happy to customize your gun safe with whatever options you want.

AMSEC’s customer service is also well regarded.  One safe tech reported that AMSEC had just replaced a vault door because the paint “wasn’t quite right”.  The difference is that AMSEC’s size means if you call you’ll wind up talking to a customer service representative.  These rep’s can give you misleading answers as they are not themselves safe experts.  

Also like AMSEC, most manufacturers of high security safes are not forthcoming about technical specifications of their products.  This is good because a thief can’t just call and ask how a safe he saw in someone’s house is constructed.  However, it means you should probably buy an AMSEC BF gun safe through a dedicated commercial safe dealer who is familiar with the products.  He or she will have proprietary knowledge about its construction that is not released outside the safe industry for security reasons.  Because customization is a distraction from AMSEC’s high volume production, they can charge a premium for customization that a safe technician may be able to do cheaper.

Bottom Line:  Sturdy Gun Safe vs. American Security BF Gun Safe

Both are great choices.  Each has a stable, solid design.  Each offers upgrades which make them more competitive with each other.  The two are so close in many regards that it may come down to a matter of your taste.

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Zanotti Armor Modular Gun Safe Review

Zanotti Armor ZA-3 Modular Gun Safe, Zanotti Safe

Zanotti Armor ZA-3 Modular Gun Safe

If you’re looking for a modular or take-down gun safe, the Zanotti Armor models are the best modular gun safe.

Modular gun safes can be disassembled and reassembled, making them easier and cheaper to move.  This makes them very popular with military personnel and others who relocate often.

Zanotti ships their gun safes in three or four flat boxes.  The heaviest part is the door, which weighs 100 to 175 lbs depending on the size.  Because of the manageable weight, only a hand dolly is needed to move the boxes.

These modular gun safes break down into six pieces.  Smaller models can be assembled by one person, but you’ll need a buddy for the big ones.  Assembly takes about a half hour and requires only a rubber mallet and maybe a pry bar and a block of wood.

Zanotti Modular Gun Safe Assembly

Zanotti Modular Gun Safe Assembly

To assemble them, you only need access to the inside of the gun safe.  So, you can assemble them in a tight closet with walls against all 3 sides.  This may add an hour or two to assembly.

Security RatingExceeds but not Tested
UL 1037 Residential Security Container
Standard Steel, Door Outer Sheet3/16″ (0.1875″)
Standard Steel, Walls Thickest SheetTop & Bottom: 3/16″ (0.1875″)
Sides: 10 Gauge (0.1345″)
Body WeldsN/A
Anchor Holes4
Door HingesExterior, Right or Left
Door SealNo
Lock TypesMechanical Dial Combination
Lock Rating, Mechanical DialUL 768 Group 2
Lock Rating, Electronic KeypadDiscontinued (see below)
Combination Lock ManufacturersLa Gard 3330
Bolt WorkSimple
Shear Pins or Clutch MechanismShear Pin, 60 to 70 ft-lbs
Fire RatingN/A
Fire Insulation TypeN/A
Fire Insulation ThicknessN/A
Steel Inner Fire LinerN/A
Made InUSA
Cosmetic Features3 Paint Colors
Interior Electrical Connection5/16" Hole

Door Construction

Zanotti gun safes have very respectable 3/16″ (0.1875″) plate steel doors.

These are one of the few gun safes that you can order with a left-swinging door.  Unless you’re left handed and like the convenience, that isn’t the biggest benefit for a modular gun safe. That’s because people that move often buy these.  A left-swinging door may be perfect for your current home, but not for the next five.

No door seal is included. Each of the panels has a seam anyway and there is no fireproofing on these models, so a door seal is less of a benefit.

Body Construction

The top and bottom panels are also 3/16″ (0.1875″) thick steel.  The rest of the body is constructed with 10 gauge (0.1345″) thick steel.

Because Zanotti safes are modular, each panel is bent and formed.  That means there are no full-length weld seams to worry about. The body panels of Zanotti gun safes are held together with 3/8″ (0.3750″) pins that are hand fitted at the factory.  Customers are universally impressed with how tight they fit together, even after a half-dozen moves.


Zanotti no longer offers electronic keypad combination locks from the factory.  They say the reason was due to failures on these units after 6 to 8 years.  The main issue wasn’t the failure, but difficulty in finding qualified safe technicians to do warranty repairs in remote areas of the country.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was the failure of a newer lock in Montana almost 200 miles from the nearest safe tech, who of course charged by the mile.

Now Zanotti offers the La Gard 3330 mechanical dial combination lock standard from the factory.  They previously used the American-made Sargent & Greenleaf models until S&G started using plastic parts internally.  The La Gard 3330 is still all brass.  The 3330 is one of the industry workhorses, and better quality than the standard locks which come with most gun safes.

Bolt Work

Zanotti describes their simple bolt work as “Mauser-like”, after the reliable WW-II K98 bolt-action that has been copied by countless other rifles.  Simple is of course more reliable and therefore better when it comes to bolt work.

The bolt work does have a shear pin, which breaks at a relatively high 60 to 70 ft-lbs.  Since shear pin failure means you’re locked out until a safe technician gets you back in, higher is better.


Due to their modular nature, Zanotti gun safes are not available with fireproofing.  Since gun safe fireproofing is overrated, this isn’t necessarily that much of a disadvantage.

Cosmetic Features

These modular gun safes are all-business with lever handles.  They come in three colors:  black, brown, and green.

Zanotti ZA Models

Gun Safes
No Fireproofing,
No Interior {lbs}
ZA-260 or 723125500 or 600
ZA-360 or 724030750 or 825

ZA-1 models start at around $1,400. The ZA-3 models top out at around $2,200 for the 5′ tall model and $2,700 for the 6′ model.

If you’re looking to save money, you can pick your shipment up yourself from the local freight terminal. For more detailed pricing and availability information, you can call them at 319-232-9650 and they’ll send you a current price sheet and catalog.

Zanotti Armor Company

Zanotti Armor is a small American company in Waterloo, Iowa. They make all of their gun safes in the USA.  They also try to source only American materials from steel to interior carpeting. That is, unless there is a quality advantage — like with an all-brass internals lock.

Zanotti sells directly from their factory.  All of their gun safes are built to order.  A $200 deposit gets your order in the queue but they don’t take credit card.

Back to the Top

Best Gun Safe – True Safe

The Best Gun Safe is a True Safe

Graffunder True Safe. The Best Gun Safe is a True Safe.

Manufactures of commercial safes like Graffunder, American Security (AMSEC), and Brown make true safes specifically designed to store guns.  These companies, as well as others like Mesa, make true safes large enough for guns, but without interior configurations commonly found in gun safes.

Graffunder is an American company founded in 1968 by a German immigrant.  Their weapon safes are very highly regarded and sold at less of a markup than many of their competitors.  Graffunder offers B, C, E, and F-Rate weapons safes, as well as double door safes.

AMSEC HS7943 TL-15 Best Gun Safe

AMSEC HS7943 TL-15 Safe

AMSEC is another American company founded in the 40’s.  AMSEC makes gun safes with both UL 687 TL-30 (RF Series) and TL-15 (HS Series) ratings, as well as the nearly-B-Rate BF gun safes discussed above.

Brown Safe makes weapons-sized safes in B, C, E, and F-Rate, as well as double-door safes and their “M-Rate” ballistic armored safes.  Sometimes the fit and finish isn’t always as good as you would expect based on Brown’s price tag.

There are many small manufacturers of true safes.  These companies may have different relationships with local safe dealers.  If you’re looking for a gun safe you should talk to a true safe dealer.  They’ll be more knowledgeable about these units and the particular benefits of and issues with each.

A safe dealer should be a member of the Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) and/or National Safeman’s Organization (NSO).  You can find these businesses in this online directory, or by looking up “safes” in the yellow pages.

Safe dealers may have a used true safe in inventory that could fit your guns, which may be cheaper than a new RSC gun safe.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below, your thoughts are welcome.

More recommendations:  Best Small Gun Safe and Best Biometric Gun Safe.

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  1. anonymous says:

    Do more reaserch on the fire gasket comparison for Amsec vs. Sturdy. Sturdy should win, because 3m fire stop is good for 4 hours, not 1 hour like Palusol, which Amsec and a lot of other companies use, because it’s easy to install and looks good.
    I’d say not to give the fire rating to Amsec either. I’d tie that if I were you because there are good arguments for both sides. You based giving it to them because of it’s similarities to the UL 72 Class 350 1 Hour design, however, if you actually look at any UL 72 class 350 safe, you will notice they do not use Dry Light as an insulator, they use real cement, which is not a far comparison to Dry Light. For example of one main difference: These UL 72 class 350 safes are not made with thick steel, because they rely on the cement for it’s security and insulating value. Real cement is a great fire insulator, but the problem is, having a safe that large, with real cement, will weigh the safe down too much for most people to be able to handle. Amsecs (with their BF series safes) Dry Light does not add to the security of the safe, so they need to have the thick steel for this.
    There are UL rated fire safes, that actually use ceramic insulators on the market. You can’t say that about Dry Light. Amsec would have UL Fire tested their BF if that was the case.

    • Thanks for bringing these points up. I’ve done more research on the door seal question and included my results above in the article.

      I also spent some time looking into your comments on AMSEC’s fire rating. According to a safe tech/dealer who reps AMSEC, today the BF gun safe concrete amalgamate called “DryLight” is the same the lining in the rest of the AMSEC fire safes. However, in AMSEC’s dealer catalog “DryLight” is only mentioned for the BF gun safes and VD vault doors. This may be left over from years ago when different mixtures were used, or for marketing purposes.

      To double check whether there is a difference in the concrete amalgamate I did a calculation to compare the densities of the concrete mixtures. The dimensions of the steel layers and concrete fill are all published, so I first calculated the approximate steel weight. Then I backed out the approximate concrete weight and divided it by the volume to get the density. Since this is a rough calculation, there’s some variation in the results but it seems good enough. According to my numbers, there isn’t a significant difference in the lining density of the BF gun safe models compared to the smaller UL 72 rated BF models. This implies that it’s the same stuff.

      Fire safes with concrete amalgamate firelinings use 3 laws of physics to protect the contents: Thermal Mass – The heavier the lining, the longer it will take to heat up. Unfortunately it also takes longer to cool down and turns into an oven. Thermal Conductivity – The lower thermal conductivity means better insulation. Latent Heat of Vaporization – Chemicals which undergo a phase change by releasing water absorb heat, as discussed in the Fire Myths page. These chemicals include gypsum, vermiculite, perlite, etc..

      The stronger concrete is, the worse of an insulator and heavier it becomes. Lightweight concrete can have a thermal conductivity of only 0.1 W/m-K (lower means better insulator) and density of 1750 kg/m3. High strength concrete can have thermal conductivity of 1.8 W/m-K (1800% worse insulation), with a density above 2400 kg/m3 (40% heavier). Although concrete thermal mass and insulation properties go in opposite direction, the insulation gets better much faster than the mass gets worse.

      Generally the additives added to concrete to make it lighter also make it a better insulator, including Vermiculite 0.058 W/m-K, Perlite 0.031 W/m-K, Fiberglass 0.04 W/m-K, and Sand 0.2 W/m-K. Vermiculite and Perilite add phase change fire protection, which makes them popular with fire safe manufacturers. Portland cement as you mentioned is a decent insulator at 0.29 kg/m3, but it’s also the most expensive component of concrete. Instead of adding more cement, fire safe manufactures generally use other additives to save money and add phase change protection. Fire safe manufacturers all have their own special blends for their concrete amalgamate.

      I believe that AMSEC doesn’t fire test the BF gun safes because it knows they can’t meet UL 72 Class 350. The smaller BF home safes all have that rating, but only the smallest 3 can meet it for 1 hour. The largest BF3416 is only rated for 30 minutes. As the interior size gets bigger, the walls and fire lining thickness need to get bigger too to maintain the same protection. But as you mentioned, this would make the large BF gun safes extremely heavy, heavier than gun owners want at this price point.

      I made a couple changes to the fireproofing description too based on your comments, thanks!

  2. Very very informative

  3. saokat says:

    Your article describes everything articulately. But I cannot understand the deference between mechanical lock and standard lock. Please can you tell me which gun is using laser-ray.

  4. Jeffery says:

    What about safes from sportsman steel safe. They seem to be quite impressive for bang for the buck, in terms of steel thickness, fireproofing, etc. could you provide your thoughts on them?

    • Hi Jeffrey,
      Thanks for the question. Sportsman Steel does emphasize the important gun safe specs, like steel thickness, more than other manufacturers. They looked like a promising candidate for a recommendation. That is, until I heard accounts from customers.

      Pretty consistently Sportsman Steel’s customers and potential customers have complained about high pressure sales tactics and bad customer service. After a couple dozen such stories I stopped researching them. I also found mixed reviews about their quality, but didn’t take the time to get to the bottom of them. There are enough companies out there making good gun safes that I didn’t want to steer anyone towards a vendor that had given a lot of people a bad experience. If you want to check out for yourself what some Sportsman Steel customers have said, start by checking the gun forums.

      • Hi, I want to buy a safe but this is way more information then I expected and all I want is one that can not be opened with a axe or crow bar, what one do you recommend that is the most cost saving as well Im looking for one that will have a few shelves and I do not need to use it for a shot gun or anything like this. I would like it to be fire resistant as this is normally efficient enough. What are your thoughts on Manual and electronic safes and which one safe that is about 3’w x 4′ or 5′ H is what Im looking for in black would be prefect. Thank you for your help. Annie

      • Just like to say that I own a Sportsman Steel safe. There customer service stinks and they do not do quality work. If I could I would post a picture of the inside of my door to my safe to show you.

  5. did you here of SnapSafe bolt together safes rated 2300 deg. 1 hour

  6. Jeff G says:

    First off great articles on your site. Your research and knowledge on the subject matter shows. Because of that I wanted to ask you in regards to the Ironworks AF gun safe line. I was weighing between the AMSEC BF6030 and the Ironworks AF6033 (due to the esthetics) and wanted to see if you would weigh in on them. The one negative I have about the AMSEC is the bolt pattern is only 11 with a single at the top. This seems a bit odd and leaves the safe vulnerable to prying once either side of the doors bolts are cut thru from what I can tell (I could be wrong). Either way I’d love to see a review or comp of the Ironworks AF series safes especially compared to the AMSEC BF Gun safes line.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work on here.

  7. Hi there, jyst wnted to mention, I loved this blog post. It was practical.
    Keep on posting!

  8. This is very needed information, especially in these times. Thanks for the hard work putting this together.

    Costco offers a gun safe named Sports Afield 6033 Executive vault. Do you have an opinio on this safe. After reading the info you provide I am skeptical of the safe.


  9. One other thing would you mind reviewing the safes at

    Thanks again.

  10. Hi there! I am putting some thought in the information you gave on your site. It is outstanding but overwhelming for someone like me. I want to buy a Christmas gift for my husband. I am the more informed buyer at our home and also the one who finds the best buys so my husband would be happy if I did my homework for him and got a decent safe and deal. I thought about the Security Safe Co. checking out what I buy from Craigslist like you mentioned in he article but I found this listing and I am not sure of the name – Can you advise me? I tried to google different names but did not find it.


  11. Here’s the link!

  12. Keith Welch says:

    Bear safes I beleave are one of the best and you did not mention them.
    All USA Made also. Just check out their website.

    Thanks Keith Welch

  13. Andy Smetana says:

    Have you reviewed Stackon gun safes? any thoughts, I know some people who have them but dont really know much about them.
    Merry Christmas!

  14. Great info! There’s a Cannon Safe dealer in my area. They seem to push the fire rating pretty hard and the steel on the best ones is 10 gauge. The rest are 12 or 14 gauge. Not sure how gauge thickness compares to inches but many thanks for your help in my education process.

    Happy holidays 🙂

  15. So glad I came across your site. I’ll recommend this site to others. Start of finish I’ll read every word.

    Thank you

  16. Very good information placed on this website. The only thing I would add is a comparison chart that would list the obvious between all the safes. Such as: price, weight, fire rating, customer service, size, warranty, quality, Consumer Report Rating, etc…

    Thanks for the help.

  17. I really enjoyed the review of the Amsec. My question is on Customer service AFTER you make the purchase. I just bought a Cannon Armory and had it delivered on January 3 of this year. The safe has been defective since delivery and you can’t get customer service or anyone from Cannon to lift a finger to do anything. After nearly 2 months, I’ve had 2 locksmiths sent here from Cannon with either the wrong part or without lock code info to fix the piece of junk.. DON’T BUY A CANNON SAFE…..Go with Amsec or anyone else, just don’t buy Cannon.

  18. Paul Franke says:

    Great website and a treasure trove of information. Thanks for pulling together this information. Very helpful.

  19. Trevor says:

    Thank you so much. All I wanted was some more information on the AMSEC BF safe, and I got way more than I bargained for! I did see the AMSEC BF has a 4 gauge upgrade on the inner liner (which I found odd, why put the thick stuff on the inside until you talked about the inner layer for fire reasons). The one on AMSEC’s website did not work but I found a chart that worked below:

    After reading the information, I actually think I may go with a Sturdy! Thanks again

  20. Travis Simons says:

    It seems like getting a gun safe is an important thing to have. Especially if you have children, having a place to lock up your guns will prevent accidents. Whenever my uncle gets back from a hunting trip the first thing he does is puts his guns away.

  21. Can you please tell me if you have any information on Ft. Knox safes?

  22. I am thinking about purchasing a Cannon Safari 64 series – its on sale – how bad/good are these safes?

  23. I am in need of a good safe and could use a recommendation for 3 ARs and 4 pistols noting I do have kids in the home.

    Water and Fire resistance are higly preferred but based on the article not all required

    Any suggestions?

  24. I own an older amsec 1990’s gun safe after seeing some drill attacks on Youtube I removed the inner door to see what the lock looked like it was very simple one locker from the combo. When I bought the safe in the 90’s I only owned a small collection but now over the years it is worth 20x what I paid for the safe. Now days with the cheap LCD borescope cameras sold at Harbor Fright it would be easy to drill a couple of holes and push the locker back and rotate the handle. What kind of protection on newer safes have been done to stop drill and scope attacks?

  25. You can also increase the capacity of your gun safe with a MOLLE Gun Safe Door Organizer Panel. These are custom made to precisely fit your door.

  26. Thank you for the info I just have one question, I’ve already made the mistake of a Chinese gun safe in the past and know how important USA made is but I’ve heard a lot of good about Steel Water and love what you get for the price. Would you still advise against that safe?

  27. What are your thoughts re: Big Horn, Cannon and Sports Afield safes sold at Costco? Thinking about the 800 or 1000 Big Horn safe or a Liberty RE18 (factory second) for 600 from a local store. Thanks.

  28. Jaime, do you have any opinion of Fort Knox RSCs? To my untrained eye, they appear to be similar to AmSec in quality and construction.

    • andrew says:

      Hello i have been researching safes for my home and along the way i was told the designer of the fort knox safes are the owners of champion safes which have a very similar build. Problem is i am not sure if this but the sales rep seemed to lay it out very well and said he will not say anything bad about any safe company. But it was good information.

  29. Tom Lawrance says:

    Do you have any opinion on Pella Security safes from Pella,Iowa?

  30. My dad is really big into guns, and his birthday is coming up. I know he doesn’t have a good safe to put them in, and that is what I’m wanting to get him. That being said, I really appreciate you giving me some insight about this gun safe, and letting me know how reliable it is. I’ll be sure to check this out and see if it is something my dad would be interested in. Thanks for the help.

  31. HI All,

    I spent 6 months reviewing safes and my ol lady finally decided that I can
    upgrade from my small one that I had for 20 yrs.

    Although I like the Sturdy Brand and enjoyed viewing the break in attempts
    by the owner of SteelWater Safes…I realized two things…
    For the amount of protection I wanted 7 ga min..with fireliner, inside 10 gauge stainless steel liner, hard plate upgrade, bolt down holes, over 6 ft tall…. It was gonna cost me a little over 5 K. And I could not afford a
    Because that safe would exceed the value of my goodies…

    1. Buy Bigger than you need.
    2. Remember RSC gun safes are just that…a container you store all your stuff into they can look pretty and have a cool inside with lights and all kind of nice features but in the end they are rated 5 min for break-ins.

    So this is what I did…
    I think it might of been a little overkill with a 2 hr fireproof rating and
    pretty much Burglar Resistant for 30 min…
    So I ended up with a USED Jeweler/Pawn Shop Safe that was pro
    moved and installed. This is a TL 30×6 safe with two dial combos. That means all 6 sides have the same strength and steel around. (Not Just the door) There are a few of these safes that come to mind, Surrimax ,Mosler, Amsec ,Kaso ,ISM, and Mutual…some like Bernardini are nice but are not made anymore.
    My safe has two group 2 combo dials..They are independent of each other…wish they were group ONE but
    it was too expensive to redo, and just not needed.
    It has glass in the frame which If and when drilled, will set off some relockers.
    The safe weighs 2 tons and I cemented it in. Now to be honest, a safe is to
    deter the common crack head from getting at your stuff. Any Safe can be broken into given time. (Mine is not torch resistant) Please look up any safe TRTL 30×6 for the next model up from mine. A vault at your bank for instance is usually a TRTL 120..with time lock/cameras/Alarms. Just to show you they broke into some vaults in the UK that was holding millions in diamonds over a holiday weekend.for a tuesday Jewelery show. and .the badguys did leave a $5000 drill, to show you what it took to break in.

    Most home break-ins happen within 7 min and
    these people are in and out before your police are dispatched and show up.
    You want to minimize the time these bad guys have breaking into your house.
    So in addition to my ADT system/Motion and a DVR with Cameras all over,
    the best thing you can do is NOT advertise your goodies.

    Good luck and be safe.

  32. The best info on safes I’ve found! Thanks so much!

    I hope I get the math test right!

  33. Hi. I’m at the framing stage of building a house and am considering a true safe (Graffunder or Amsec or just getting a vault door (same companies) and building a room out of cement (like 6″ thick Fox Blocks ICF). The room would have the advantage of size, tornado shelter, panic room, etc, but would 6″ of concrete be even close to a door of a true safe regarding theft protection? If not, how much concrete would you estimate it would take so that the walls were equivalent in theft prevention? Thank you. Great article!

  34. Any reviews/comments/ratings on Summit Safes?

  35. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this informative and fabulous post. Please keep writing.

  36. Jeff Warner says:

    Excellent and informative.
    I would like your opinion on a Liberty Fatboy, not the Jr., but the biggest safe! Compare it to the Amsec and the many other large safes please!
    I have read numerous comments by many manufacturer people as well as dealers, the entire issue has me baffled!
    The Fatboy has 14 locking bolts, two top and bottom and five each side, it has no exposed hinges, and the higher models offer more and larger diameter bolts, longer they claim then competitors, steel gauges shown are also heavier, fire resistance is up to 2.5 hours, but the temperature seems low, anyway, please comment! I live 20 miles from Amsec, will purchase very soon, and have delivered inside and bolted to a concrete floor!
    I have a substantial weapons collection, some top end collector editions, so I Am seeking a high quality, very secure safe. The collection is inherited, but not in my home as yet, so until I get a good quality safe, I will not be a target for criminals seeking my weapons!
    My knife set is actually worth more then the gun set! I will be purchasing four of the same safes, for Long Guns (2) with ammo and other valuables, for handguns (1) with ammo and knives, for knives (1) with other valuables, and for several collectible weapons (1)
    All will be located in several different locations within my home, no two in the same location!
    Both fire and theft are my concerns, since many insurance companies are getting extremely tight on covering guns in California!
    Please let me know your comments!

  37. In the fire protection section, it’s sounds like you are saying the BF3416 has the same type of insulator as the Amsec BF (larger) gun safes, but it doesn’t use DryLight as an insulator at all. It’s a different type of fill from what I gather. If it’s not DryLight, why mention the BF3416 like it’s something to be compared?
    Looks like Sturdy offers thicker doors with some packages now too.
    This article was very informative though. Thank you.

    • Hi,
      Looks like that isn’t your real email so you probably won’t see this, but I wanted to respond.

      AMSEC used to be cagey about admitting that the same DryLight fill was used on the BF true safes and BF gun safes. A couple years ago a reader and I were discussing it. After thinking about it, I actually took two models, calculated the weight of all the steel, and approximated the density of the fills from the total weight. The BF gun safe fill was very close to the same density as the UL 72 rated BF safe I chose. From then on I claimed they were the same. A couple years later AMSEC now advertises that the BF gun safe uses DryLight in promo videos.

      You’re right about the Sturdy options changing. AMSEC also now offers a HD option which coincidentally increases the inner liner up to the same thickness as Sturdy’s optional outer liner. I’ve been updating all the information.

  38. Excellent and complete write up. Thank you! Understanding that AmSec and Sturdy are great, how do you feel about the Champion Crown with the Delta Force doors? 3/16′ bodies, multiple relockers, 3/8″ steel panel on outer door with 10 gauge inner liner. 1900+ lbs for the 65 cu foot model. Seems competitive but you have a keen eye for differences…very interested in your opinion

    All the best,


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