11 Myths about Gun Safe Theft Protection

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This article is continued from the previous page… Click here to jump Back to the Beginning.

Myth:  Most thieves break in through a window.

The majority of marketing pictures show a guy dressed all in black breaking a window with a crowbar.  Most thieves don’t actually break anything.  For those that do, kicking in a door is the most popular, but let’s look at the numbers.

It’s illegal to enter a house to commit theft whether the house is locked or not.  Here are the classifications for a break in:

Burglary Type of Entry

Burglary Entry Type

  • Attempted Unlawful Entry – checking a door or window to see if it’s locked, etc..  There’s no way to tell how often this occurs and no statistics are collected.
  • Attempted Forcible Entry – unsuccessfully using force to gain entry through a door, window, etc..
  • Completed Unlawful Entry – using an unlocked door, open window, etc. to gain illegal entry.  If there’s no evidence of a forcible break in (about 1 in 13 burglaries) police will consider a burglary a completed unlawful entry, even if you swear it was locked.
  • Completed Forcible Entry – using force to gain entry through a locked door, window, etc..

Unlawful Entry

Over half of burglaries occur without the thief having to break anything to get in.  Most of these burglaries occur in the warmer months when doors and windows are open.  How do they get in?

  • Unlocked door or window (36%)
  • Open door or window (22%)
  • Someone let the offender in (15%)
  • Offender pushed way inside (11%)
  • Had key (7%)
  • Unknown means through locked door or window (5%)
  • Picked lock or window (3.7%)
  • Don’t know (2.5%)
  • By other means (19%)

Forcible Entry

Burglars generally don’t want to spend more than a minute breaking into a house.

Of the remaining burglaries where a thief decides to break something to get in, about a third of those attempts end when the burglar fails to gain entry.  In many cases the thief will try a couple different methods before giving up.

When thieves do break in (completed forcible entry), the most common ways are:

  • Front door* (34%)
  • First Floor Window (23%)
  • Back Door* (22%)
  • Garage (9%)
  • Storage Areas (6%)
  • Basement (4%)
  • Second Floor Window (2%)

*On houses with a front and a back door, reports say the back door is more common.  The statistics for the front door may be higher due to burglaries at apartments, condos, and other homes that don’t have a back door.

Doors and Windows

During successful break-ins through a door, 60% of thieves kick it in or attack the door and 34% attack the lock.

In successful break-ins through a window, 61% break or remove the glass, 19% damage or remove the screen (open window), and 15% break the window lock.

Back to the Beginning

Myth:  Most burglaries happen at night.

This used to be true, but has changed steadily over the decades now that in most households, both parents are at work during the day.  Most burglaries of residential homes, which accounts for 66% of all burglaries, happen on weekdays between 10 AM and 3 PM.  Commercial properties and construction sites have the opposite pattern with most burglaries occurring on weekdays between 11 PM and 4 AM or on weekends.  August has the most burglaries and February the least.  Holidays are a popular time for burglaries; my mom’s last burglary was during the afternoon of the 4th of July while she was at a friend’s BBQ.

Part of the reason for the daytime trend is the way burglary is defined.  Burglary is breaking into a place with the intent of committing a crime, when the victim is not present.  In 72% of break-ins, no one is home.  Residents are less likely to be home during the day, which makes these break-ins more likely to be classified as burglaries.  In another 21% of break-ins, someone is home but no crime is committed other than theft (e.g. the homeowner is sleeping or the burglar gets scared away).  These cases are usually at night.

Robbery is committing theft by using the threat of violence against the victim.  The victim must be present at the time.  In 7% of break-ins, someone is home and becomes the victim of a rape/sexual assault, robbery, and/or assault.  These instances, generally called “home invasions”, aren’t counted as burglaries statistically.  Most home robberies happen at night, a reason why many gun owners want to have quick access to a home protection firearm.

If you want to learn from actual home robberies and how people defend themselves, you can find many accounts in the news articles gathered by NRA Armed Citizen.

In general, all sources show that the majority of thieves would rather break-in when you’re not there. There seems to be a percentage of thieves who don’t care if someone is home as long as that person doesn’t pose a danger to the thief.  For example, the most common category of household to experience a break-in while people are home is a single female with children.  This represents 6% of the total number of break-ins; most thieves would rather you’re not there, especially if they think you might be armed.

Back to the Beginning

Myth:  The odds are low that I’ll be burglarized.

It depends on where you live.  Also, low risk to one person is high risk for another, and most risks seem low until it happens to you.  I didn’t think much about burglary myself until my mother’s house started getting burglarized, 3 times in 5 years.

I put links to my sources for these statistics at the bottom of the page, along with a description of how I came up with my numbers.

As a trend, property crimes have been dropping slowly and steadily for the last few decades.  Nationwide in 2011 there were 3,394,700 total burglaries including attempted break-ins, or 27.6 per 1,000 households.  That works out to a national average odds of only 1:36 per year that your house will be burglarized.

Regional Crime Rates, FBI 201

Regional Crime Rates, FBI 2011

You can compare where you live to the national average by looking at the Burglary FBI Crime Statistics (Burglary makes up the largest proportion of property crimes.).

Statistically the South has the highest rate of burglary.  In 2011 Flint, Michigan had the highest number of completed, reported burglaries per resident.  If you live in Flint your odds are only about 1:8 of having a reported burglary this year.

Gun Theft

  • Guns are stolen in 1 in 25 burglaries.  This 4% figure has varied but remained relatively constant since 1994.
  • Over 83% of stolen guns are never recovered.
  • An average of 172,000 guns are stolen per year, totaling $27 million annually.
  • Handguns are the most common type of firearm stolen.  At least one handgun is stolen in 63% of burglaries involving gun theft.
  • The highest risk of gun theft occurs in Rural areas, which only represent 17% of the households in the US, but represent 34% of the burglaries where firearms are stolen.
    • The highest total number of burglaries involving firearms occur in Suburban areas (43%), followed by Rural (34%) and Urban (23%) areas.
  • The majority of burglaries involving a firearm occur in the South at 56%, followed by the West at 21%, the Midwest at 19%, and the Northeast at 4%.
  • When only 1 gun was stolen, the average value of the gun stolen was $500 in 2010.
  • In 39% of burglaries involving gun theft, more than one gun is stolen–on average 3 guns.  The average value of stolen guns in multiple gun burglaries was $2,900 in 2010.
  • 86% of burglaries involving the theft of a gun were reported to the police.
  • About 1% of cases where guns are stolen involve vehicles, either stealing a vehicle that has a gun in it or breaking into a vehicle to steal a gun.

Home Burglary Risk Factors

Here are factors which make a home burglary more likely:

  • Lower income – are you thinking “I’m not rich, there’s nothing to steal here.  I don’t have to worry”?  For all income brackets, the lower your income the more likely your household is to have a burglary.  Burglary rates for households in the under $15,000 income category are 3.6X times higher than households earning $75,000 or more.
  • Renting – the risk of burglary is almost twice as high for renters as it is for homeowners.
  • Mobile home – residents living in mobile homes are more likely to be burglarized than those living in any other type except hotels, motels, and rooming houses.  For this site I’ll assume that few people who are living in a motel are installing a gun safe in their room.
  • Large household – Households with six or more people are about 3 times more likely to be victims of property crime than single person households.
  • Young head of household – The older the head of household, the less likely a burglary is.
  • Near a pool of offenders – including youths, drug addicts, shopping centers, sports arenas, transit stations, and high-crime areas.  My mother’s neighborhood’s burglary problems started when they put a rural bus stop nearby.
  • Near major roads or pedestrian paths – more vehicle traffic brings outsiders into your area that become familiar with potential targets. More vehicle and pedestrian traffic makes it harder for residents to recognize strangers.
  • On the borders of neighborhoods – like houses near major roads, houses on the border between neighborhoods have greater exposure to strangers.  Within the confines of a neighborhood, strangers are more likely to be noticed by other residents, especially on dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs.
  • On corners – with access to two sides of the house, it’s easier for a burglar to see if anyone is home.  Corner houses also have fewer immediate neighbors, and can be scoped out inconspicuously while stopping at corner traffic lights or stop signs.
  • Next to alleys – alleys provide both limited visibility access and an escape for burglars.
  • Previously burglarized – houses that have been broken into once have up to 4X higher risk of being burglarized again than a house that’s never had a burglary.  This is partly because
    • Factors that put a house at risk are difficult to change, like location or occupancy
    • Burglars have verified that the house offers easy access or a good payoff
    • Burglars return to steal property the owner replaced with insurance money
    • Burglars may return for property they didn’t get during the initial burglary (like the contents of gun safes)
    • Burglars brag to others about good payoffs and desirable houses
  • Near burglarized houses – if your neighbor’s home is burglarized and they harden their house to make it more difficult to break in, the burglars may come to your house instead.
  • Vacant for extended periods – vacation and weekend homes, and houses where the residents are away for a holiday or vacation are at high risk.  Burglars look for signs of vacancy like accumulated mail or newspapers, empty garages, and even social media like Facebook to see people posting about going away on vacation.
  • Vacant during the day – houses that appear occupied with a vehicle in the driveway, lights on, and audible or visible activity have lower risk of burglary, and this also reduces the risk of their neighbors.
  • New residents – neighborhoods with more turnover and shorter-term residents have higher burglary rates.  Also, a surprising amount of gun safe burglaries I’ve seen happened when the owner was moving but the gun safe was still at his old home.
  • Without dogs – most burglars avoid houses with dogs as the dog may bark and attract attention, and large dogs may pose a physical threat.  Dogs have been fed meat or killed during some burglaries, but statistically more homes without dogs are burglarized.
  • With cover – trees and shrubs near doors and windows, walls and fences, and architectural features which obscure the doors increase risk.
  • Secluded – set back from the road, isolated from view, on large lots, or next to parks and non-residential land.
  • Poor lighting – for nighttime burglaries, which are becoming less and less common.
Concealed Windows

High azalea bushes give burglars cover in front of these windows.

  • Concealing architectural designs – houses that are designed so that their windows and doors are less visible to neighbors and passersby offer more privacy, but also more risk of burglary.
  • Easily entered through side or back doors and windows – side or back entries are the most popular for houses that have them.
  • Weakened entry points – older houses may have worn out easily compromised locks, or decayed window and door frames.  New “McMansion” style houses may also be built with cheap entry-level materials.
  • Residents aren’t concerned with security – most burglaries occur through open windows and doors.
  • Few or no security measures – burglaries are less likely on houses with an alarm combined with one or more security devices like deadbolts, door jamb reinforcement, window locks, window film, sliding door bars, security lights, etc..  I cover these in detail in 100 Money-Saving Ways to Protect Your Guns.  By some accounts, once experienced burglars have decided to attack a specific house they will proceed with the burglary even if they encounter security features.  However, the devices will slow them down making them more likely to get caught or have to leave before getting your good stuff.
  • Potential rewards – when selecting houses, burglars look at the size and condition of a house, the type of cars, and may look in the windows to estimate the value of the house’s contents.
    • Displaying signs of wealth – puts you at higher risk.  However, the most expensive homes are usually avoided.  Presumably this is because burglars assume these houses will be occupied or have high security.
    • Burglars have advance knowledge about valuables – for example, guns.  In a number of towns there have been strings of burglaries specifically targeting gun safes and using the same method to roll them out.  In other cases a home experienced its first burglary and they came prepared to take a 1500 lbs gun safe.  Some gun forum members found thieves talking about how to target gun owners by learning about their collection on forum posts.

Back to the Beginning

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

Now that you’re familiar with the limitations of gun safes in stopping theft, let’s look at their surprising shortcomings protecting you from fire.

9 Myths about Gun Safe Fire Ratings is next in the series.


Crime Statistics

42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. – comedian Steven Wright

Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. – Aaron Levenstein.

There are many misleading ways to use statistics.  For example,

  • It was widely reported that in 2012 Houston, TX had the most completed reported burglaries, 26,630.  Sounds scary, but Houston is the 4th largest city in the US.  By itself the number of burglaries is useless for our purposes.
  • Burglaries per resident would give you a better number to compare to other cities.  But people aren’t burglarized, their houses are.  In a burglary multiple people are often affected, and different cities have different household and family sizes.
  • If you calculate the number of burglaries per household, you’re getting closer to the information you want.  But the number assumes that each house won’t be broken into more than once per year.  Houses that have been burglarized are often hit more than once.
  • The number of households which experienced one or more burglaries divided by the total number of households will give you the odds that your house, which has never been burglarized, will be burglarized this year.  But this number too has assumptions built into it.  You may be a single mother with children, the household type most likely to have a home invasion.
  • Home invasions are not counted as a burglary.  They’re counted as robberies, assaults, rapes, etc..  So maybe you want the total number of attempted and completed forcible entries whether or not the resident is home…  You get the idea.

Each of these figures I mentioned above will give you a different number.  Gun safe companies often choose the most convenient statistics for their purposes.  One site I saw listed the number of burglaries and then the total dollar amount stolen in all crimes in the US (including car theft, commercial burglaries, robberies, bank robberies, embezzlement, identity theft, etc.) to make the amount stolen per burglary look bigger.  They cited the FBI crime statistics for credibility but used misleading figures from a credible source.

There are significant differences in reporting from different agencies.  The FBI Crime Statistics only include completed burglaries reported by law enforcement agencies.  It also uses the Uniform Crime Report definition of burglary which requires that the police determine the intent of the offender before counting a crime as a burglary.  Their figures are 2,110,000 completed, reported burglaries in 2012.  But determining intent can be difficult since so few burglaries ever result in an arrest.  Also, do you really care to split hairs about intent if someone broke into your house?

The US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has a National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) which includes both law enforcement data and also information from their crime survey.  Because determining the intent of the offender can be difficult, their definition of burglary is based on a test to determine whether the offender has a legal right to enter the property.  It also includes attempted break-ins.  The BJS NCVS estimate 3,395,000 attempted and completed burglaries in 2011.  Many of the crime victims which completed the BJS survey didn’t report their crimes to police, and those numbers don’t show up in the FBI statistics.

Reporting rates vary depending on the type and size of burglary, but over 40% of burglaries are never reported.

Why would someone not report a crime?  The NCVS survey also asked that question; here are a few of the 18 different types of answers:

  • Could not identify the offender/lack of proof (17%)
  • Private or personal matter (10%)
  • Police would not bother (14%)
  • Police ineffective (6%)
  • No insurance, or the loss was less than the deductible (4%)
  • Crime was discovered too late (9%)
  • Inconvenient (5%)
  • Offender was a child (2%)
  • Afraid of reprisal from the offender (2%)

Those responses reflect the reality of real life, which is what I’m trying to capture when I use statistics.

For this site, I’ve chosen the figures which I think most honestly represent the risk to gun owners.  The NCVS data includes attempted break-ins as well as unreported burglaries, so I chose that for a few reasons.

For one, attempted break-ins should be included because it gives you a better idea of how often someone may try to break in.  Including unreported burglaries is useful because anyone who breaks in and sees your gun safe will know you own guns, even if they only steal $499 and you don’t report it.  Once broken into, your house is 4X more likely to be broken into again than non-burglarized houses; so if your gun safe wasn’t attacked during an unreported burglary, it may get hit next time.

Also in a large number of break-ins, the thief gets in through an unlocked entrance, and a large percentage of these are unreported.  Many electronic and fingerprint (biometric) handgun safes can be broken into without doing any permanent damage to the safe.  If there’s no proof that the safe was locked, the police assume that you left it unlocked, like they did to a detective who go fired for improper storage of his backup firearm after a his toddler’s fatal tragedy.  So I wanted to include all statistical cases where it was possible a thief would get access to a firearm without leaving evidence.

Many studies separate statistics for burglaries committed when the people are home and not home; I generally combined them for my numbers.  About 5% of the burglaries reported by all sources occur at a vacation home, hotel, or motel.  You may have a gun safe at a vacation home, but you probably don’t at a hotel or motel.  This makes all burglary numbers a little high for gun safe purposes but I had no way to separate them.

Back to the Beginning

Now that you’re familiar with the limitations of gun safes in stopping theft, let’s look at their surprising shortcomings protecting you from fire.

9 Myths about Gun Safe Fire Ratings is next in the series.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

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


  1. Thank you so much for this information. I have a decent off-brand safe, one thought to be a high quality safe. Now that I better understand the construction requirements, I realize that my safe is very vulnerable to attack and will be sure to bolt it down in the next 10 days! While I think a 7 – 10 ga plate safe can be constructed to be very strong, I now know that size does matter in wall thickness and construction. Thanks for the education!

  2. Juan Carlos says

    Very informative web site. Haven’t taken it all in yet, but here’s an important point: you can have the best safe in your state, but if you’ve got family (especially kids) – it’ll be easy for the bad guys to get in. You’ll open it for them. Have heard some very disturbing trends that cartel/gang folks are using. Even if you’re willing to die for the contents – if your kids are there you *will* open it for the crooks.

    Loose lips sink ships is one of the most important parts of this whole website!

  3. Good info there my neighbor has his small business safe broken into they used something to widen the box so the door would come off. They only targeted the safe as it held 25k in gold. He suspects it was exterminator company as they were the only ones who went into the room in the year. I have been very concerned I have is 1990’s amsec not very good only 1/4 ” door and 3/16 box. I need to upgrade, but I have installed a camera system and a cellular connected security system which is battery backed so nothing other then a cell jammed could stop it. I still want to upgrade my safe. I think the only thing that will let me sleep at night is a TL-30 safe. We had those in a pawn shop my family owned robbers attempted to pull one over with a tow strap didn’t work just spun their tires as it weighed in over 3800 lbs.

  4. NickyBalls says

    I have a Liberty safe, which the delivered to my door for $2200 total. It has 1/4 plate steel construction, and a very thick plate door. I opted for their fireproofing, which adds 3″ of fire proofing fiberglass, as well as a q4ga inner steel shell.

    Ironically, the Field and Stream “safe” at Dicks (on sale for 799 plus 200 delivery), was made entirely of 14ga steel…LOL!

    In other words, just the inner liner of a Sturdy Safe is equivalent to a Field & Stream from Dick’s. We won’t even get into pry resistance, etc. , as there is NO contest!

    My buddy spent 2900 on a Liberty “top of the line” safe, and after seeing my Sturdy, he is ordering their largest safe!!!!

    • I wouldn’t buy snitching shirt of a graffunder. You will hand that safe down to generations of kids. I sent to a amsec and graffunder dealer and saw for myself the pried open safes and why graffunder is the way to go. It’s $7500 entry fee but I’ll never replace it.and let’s face it, it’s just a bad ass safe.

      • Anything short of a graffunder

        • I wouldn’t be so quick in your assertions. Sturdy safes may not be as pleasing to the eye as some others, but their safes are top quality and should be on anyone’s short list.

    • Kell490 says

      I was going to buy liberty but after seeing how easy it is to cut though them with a gas powered cutting wheel I’m rethinking my decision.

    • What liberty safe is 1/4 plate steel would have to be 3 gauge to be 1/4″? Liberty doesn’t make anything thicker then 4 gauge that is there presidential starts at $4000+. You said you got one delivered for $2200. I would say that is 14 gauge those are very easy to use a rechargeable sawzall on like the jewelry story in this blog they had a liberty safe see how they sawzalled into it. I would get rid of that cheap safe and get a sturdy safe. You probably think it’s 1/4 thick because you see the folded steel door looks thick it really just just folded 14 gauge steel. Those are easy targets for pry attacks.

      • I wondered the same thing
        I know liberty presidential has 7 ga. Walls…that’s the best they have…
        I opted for AmSec BF HD gun safe…11 ga. Outer walls
        4 ga. Inner walls 1/2 in.door
        and still I’m concerned about power tools….!

    • 2900 is not going to buy anything close to top of the line in a Liberty. Dead in the mid line is more like it.

  5. Love all of this information. Even the name brand trusted companies websites are using various terminology that sounds fancy but really doesn’t disclose the doors construction or thickness of steel. While I’m sure some of this is security reasons it doesn’t help the consumer to know if they can trust even the cheaper versions of the real quality name brand companies anymore. This information has clarified alot of what I’ve read online to look for with pictures so I can put hands on safes in showrooms and determine if I’ll be trusting that I’m paying for quality security and not false security. Thank You!

  6. John Bannon says

    I ran across your article while looking for UL and CEN comparison for some UK safes I have purchased. I have printed your article and will use it to educate. I do not sell junk safes. Your article had some great points I had not thought of. I am sometimes at a loss of words when I am trying to educate a client. This info will help, and I will read it many times. Thank You and Warm Regards, John Bannon.

  7. Thanks for showing how the bolt is supposed to work on a gun safe. My dad has a gun safe, and he’s been working on ways to make sure it’s not accessible unless he needs it. I’ll have to show him this article. Thanks for sharing!

  8. To the commentor Kelly who wants a TL-30 safe. This is a fire rating, not a security rating.

    I googled TL-30 safe and seen a guy on the AR15 forum who bought a used one from a jewelry store that went out of business. It had the TL-30 fire rating and he was crowing how good a deal it was at only 250.00.

    He had taken photos of the door inside and it had sliding tabs instead of locking bolts. I noted the tabs only went through 1 thin outer later of steel and then were secured inside via small looking bolts through them. In other words there was scant little protection against a pry-bar attack.

    Those tabs would have folded and allowed the door to be pried open pretty easily if the door was loose fitting enough to allow pry-bars in.

    So the point is a TL-30 safe has a 2 hr fire rating, the TL-30 rating does not mean it is more secure, though it would most certainly be better then a cheap gun safe.

    After reading this article I am going to have a utility room size cement pad poured at my next house that will support a lot of weight and then have a shell of a room built. I’ll then line the walls with 12 inches of re-bar reinforced concrete and build my own door to secure it. I’m a welder-fabricator-machinist so this will end up being bank vault level door and it will be a permanent feature of the house. I plan on it being large enough to use as a panic room as well as a vault and gun safe. It will be hidden behind a false wall in a closet that will not be easy to spot unless you know it is there and then I’ll put a small bait gun safe in a closet but concealed so any labor or delivery guys in my house will not know it is there but burglars will quickly find it.

    Link below to the AR15 post with the great deal on a TL-30 safe. Take a look at the photos of the door and notice how the large locking tabs and poorly supported inside the door. Would I buy this safe for a cheap price, sure but I would then dismantle the door and weld in supports for the tabs so they would not be easily bent. This safe is better then a cheap-o gun safe but still not great just because it is TL-30 rated.


    If this link does not work use the one my sig is linked to, I used the same link as the one above to the AR15 forum article.

    • I love the idea of a concrete room and have thought of the same thing for my next house but wouldn’t a stihl concrete saw and jackhammer make quick work of the concrete wall?

      • GoingBonkers says

        If you’re in the Panic Room with your guns odds are the sawcutter criminal will have sawed his last piece of concrete.

    • Actually, that’s not quite right. TL (tool), TRTL (tool & torch), and TXTL (tool, torch & explosive) are burglary ratings, meaning the safe will withstand an attack against the rated attack ‘tools’ for a specified period of time – 15, 30, or 60 minutes. That’s against the door; the addition of x6 means the rating applies to all sides, not just the door. A TL 30 safe would be a pretty good barrier against theft.

    • Robert,
      The website went over what TL-30 means the safe has withstood 30 minutes of professional safe crackers. He even shows a video of UL doing the test on a TL-30 has to last 30 minutes of brute force attack. Those old TL-30 Jewelry safes with the small bolts are much better then any sheet metal gun safe. It’s not the size of the bolts but the type of steel used if they bolts are made from hardened steel it won’t bend even if they look small. Read the entire website before you commit.

  9. Very good information. I debated back and forth about getting a gun safe for my firearms but in the end I decided against it. If a burglar comes into your house and sees a gun safe he will realize you have firearms and direct his attention to the safe and possibly get into it and steal everything anyways. I personally decided it would be better to just hide all the guns and to anyone entering my house you would have no clue that I am a gun owner. I know it is taking a risk but even my closest friends who know I OWN guns don’t know where I keep them, so a total stranger would have no idea that there are any guns in the house and will move onto other less valuable things like tv/computer/etc…

  10. Bill Lowery says

    It appears to me that one key element to prying the door open is laying the safe on its back, and having ample room to work the pry bars. In a situation where the safe is in a confined area, and bolted down prying open the door would be most difficult as you would not be able to manipulate the bars for leverage. Proper placement of the safe is not really discussed. I believe this is of the most importance.

    • Absolutely right Bill. A confined area and bolting the gun safe down (so it can’t be attacked on its back) are huge factors in protection. They’re covered in detail in Where to Put a Gun Safe. The Ideal Closet Location shown there takes advantage of confining your confined area element to protect the non-hinge side of the door against pry attacks.

    • Exactly! Nobody ever does a real world test. How about taking a Cannon or Winchester safe say a 64 gun safe that you can get at TS and mount it to the floor and against a corner wall and see how easy it would be to pry on with a wall that in the way of a large pry bar. I think the crook would just use a grinder with a cut off wheel. You could just put a sticker that says 100 pounds of black powder inside. Or really store gun powder on the one side that is exposed. Won’t be a good day for him that’s for sure! ????

  11. What about buying a cheap gun safe or a decoy and leaving it empty, or filling it with popcorn foam? The thief will waste all of their time breaking into the decoy and afterwards probably be completely freaked out that they just got punked.

  12. What’s the best safe for $2,000?

    • www vaultandsafe com/tl-30_jewelry_safe.shtml

      • Criminally high prices. This is a liberty safe branded as winchester that was on sale at cabelas last week for $129.99.
        www vaultandsafe com/safes/EV-1200-B.shtml

  13. could you get a medium range safe and add steel to the inside of the jamb so it couldnt be forced open as easily?
    seems like a guy with a welder and some steel bar stock could design it to be alot more pry resistant.

    • Ron,
      They could but it’s about cost of steel now older gun safes going back in the 90’s had thicker steel but the locking system wasn’t good no re-lockers in most case so drill attacks on those safes today with cheap flexable inspection camera it’s easy to see how to open it after a few drill spots using a unibit step drill bit. Those drill bits cut very fast even 4 gauge steel. Now days drill protections and re-lockers are a must. People don’t want to spend $4000-5000 on a safe they want to spend around $2500 or less. My best advice for small collections is use the NRA insurance and get a sturdy safe brand they are the best for the money.

  14. steven marlowe says

    they use the weight of the safe against the strength of the doornot saying it could not be done but bolted to the concrete floor would make a difference

  15. I’ve been going crazy studying these things to find the right one. Weight is a major issue as I have a 1926 wood floor 2 story house. Of course I want the thing in my bedroom on the second floor. At our local gun shows, we have 3 different companies that exhibit. My point, is i practically climbed into a liberty, with my flashlight, and gave it a very thorough inspection. Not only are the bolts pressing against the very thin steel of their safe body in a pry attack, but I found parts without fireboarding. The boarding in the bend of the body to make the area for the door, the fireboard fell off into my hand, it was stapled into place by staple gun, and it barely was enough to keep it in place. They look so solid, but they definetly cut corners. And the video on their website prying the revolution/centarioun model, you can see where it’s right about to pop open , if they only had 5-10 more seconds, ohp! They failed, they couldnt get in, oh what a wonderful safe, they failed to break in! LOL.

  16. Kevin j says

    I learned more in this one article than I have from the days and days of searching the Internet to learn more about safes, trying to make a wise purchase. Thank you so much for your research and links.

  17. Why not Just get a decent safe and a kickass alarm system? Unless you have to evacuate your home the alarm system will get the police and yourself there within a half hour. I think you should have both.

  18. Frank Dolatshahi says

    Thank you so much for this video. Great education for someone like me who is looking to buy a safe and confused by all the marketing gimmicks! It seems like the only real protections these safes can offer is protection from Fire to some degree. I’ll focus on getting a decent safe with Fire protection in my focus now. If the thieves want to break in your house (when you’re not home) really nothing will stop them. Unfortunately you can’t booby trap inside your home either because then the thieves can sue you if they get hurt!! Silly laws! (Ok, I won’t go there… another topic that burns my behind!). Thanks again.

  19. Clyde Z says

    I was doing my due diligence in purchasing a gun safe. After starting my research I quickly found myself looking for commercial safe as most of the “readily available” (meaning price right and local/on shelf) are poorly manufactured. Then I said I better learn more before I make a foolish purchase. Thank you for this article. I will save some more money and make a better purchase.

  20. GoingBonkers says

    Just when I thought I knew which gun safe to buy!! You have seriously educated me on safes and looks like I’ll need a second job to afford the one we need. Dang!! Thank you for the terrific & enlightening information. I now see how most of us are duped into purchasing subpar equipment. Hubby is going to be disappointed without a big box under the Xmas tree this Christmas.

  21. Kevin M. says

    Build a little stage out of wood and place it in the corner of your basement, then put a cheap drum set on top, but build it so the bottom of the stage has a removable, slide-out with your guns.

  22. A Private Person says

    “•An average of 172,000 guns are stolen per year, totaling $27 million annually.”

    That stat doesn’t pass what data scientists call “The Snicker Test.”

    In fact, it may be off by as much as a factor of 10.

    • Hello Private,
      Thanks for your comment. I try to keep the data on the site as accurate as possible, and so appreciate when anyone draws my attention to a potential error.
      Those figures come from the Us Department of Justice Crime Data Brief “Firearms Stolen during Household Burglaries and Other Property Crimes, 2005-2010” NCJ 239434.
      From Table 2 “Average annual burglaries or other household property crimes involving the theft of at least one firearm, by theft characteristic, 2005–2010”, the Number of stolen firearms listed is 172,040. Lower down on that page (page 3) on the left is the bullet “Property crimes involving only stolen firearms resulted in an average annual loss of $27 million.”

      All the sources cited can be found in the Sources section, along with a caveat about statistics.

      • Please ignore the naysayers. Your site helped me make a well informed choice. I just had a Sturdy Safe delivered with lots of steel upgrades. Thank you for the hard work you have put into this tutorial.

  23. Great writeup! This is the best summary online anywhere!!!

  24. Jaime,

    Great site and thank you for sharing your detailed and deep knowledge of gun safes. Love the clear, factual presention of the material.
    Have you ever reviewed Brown’s HD Plus TL-30, or TL-15 gun safes? While they are not UL 72 certified (and I’m beginning to wonder more and more what non-UL 72 certified fire proofing is really buying me) Their HD TL line seems to be pretty well constructed and do seem to be UL 687 certified.

  25. Richard Trawick says

    Great articles on Gun safes!

  26. Its a disgrace the false security these safes give. I was a believer so just as this says, put everything valuable we owned in it and slept peacefully, we shouldnt have.

    Lost a lifetime of irreplaceable valuables and keepsakes.

  27. I bought a Liberty Fat Boy because it was pretty much all I could find within a convenient distance while I was having my house built. I did have it bolted into the floor and surrounded by framing and a wall on the non-hinge side and cabinetry on top and on the hinge side. The back of the safe is against a wall, and there’s no way someone would go through it.

    To get into the safe, I think burglars would either have to destroy a whole lot of cabinetry or go straight in through the front door with a crowbar — the gap between the non-hinge side and the framing is about an inch.

    Thus, I don’t think the easy YouTube breakin will happen, but after reading this stuff I’m worried about a straight-in crowbar attack. I kinda-sorta wish, in retrospect, that I’d gotten something different given what I’ve read here. Are there any retrofits I should think about?

    • Sounds like you did a great job. If there’s a wall next to the non-hinge side, that should block longer prying tools.
      Gun Safe Ideal Closet / Built-In Location

      After that good additional steps are to hide the gun safe door somehow, lock up your power tools, and verify the security of your doors and windows (which I’m guessing you did when you spec’d the house). All in all sounds like you’ve got a good setup going without breaking the bank.

  28. There’s a lot of great information on this post and it hits close to home for me. My grandfather was shot and robbed in the middle of the day at his house. Everyone think’s it will never happen to them until it does.

    He was 78 years old and they rang his doorbell. When he opened the door 3 guys were on their knees with one holding a shotgun and they shot him in the face. Most the damage was done to his lower face and jaw.

    He passed in the hospital from it and they stole his guns and other random items from his house.

    It’s always important to have home security cameras and self protection.

    • So sorry for your loss Wesley. I pray for you and your grandfather, and that by relating this story, you may help others protect themselves and their loved ones from such terrible acts.

  29. Thanks 🙂

  30. Hey Jaime, great review of the many irrational thoughts commonly held about securing valuables.

    We were particularly interested in the statistic of a break in. We actually took the BJS source you quoted, and reverse engineered it in to a “at-risk-of-burglary” calculator.

    The calculator is at http://fortifiedestate.com/burglary-calculator/

    Maybe it would be an interesting resource to include?

  31. so basically why bother. I will just leave my doors unlocked, lay my guns and valuables all over the place and not give a rats a$$ is what this article is saying.

  32. This is a great and very informative website. Thank you for all the work and study to produce it. I have been looking for home security for years and found most safes to be as good as you pay for them. I am currently looking at the Steelwater Co., do you have any research on them?

  33. Very informative! I’ve had a Liberty safe for about 14 years and I came across a link to this site in a Ruger Guns FB thread. I was NOT happy that, like others, I had been sold a line of BS when I purchased the Liberty! Looked for a long time but the Liberty is now my ammo safe and I keep guns & documents in a Hamilton Safe I found. It is 60″ tall 36″ wide and 26″ deep. Body is 1″ solid steel, door is 1 1/2″ solid steel with a 1/2 drill stop plate welded in all the way across and about 24″ tall protecting the locking mechanism. This unit weighs about 3500 pounds ( the door is about 1400 ) There is a second compartment with an independent lock inside the main safe the side of the internal box is 3/4″ plate. all continues welded. The guy I purchased it from is a retired vault specialist. ( Calling him a locksmith would be an insult) My house is on a slab so the weight is not a problem but rather an asset, (Getting it into the house was challenging}. This cost me $1500 delivered and installed. (Hamilton website shows this safe at about $9,000 depending on options) Is it overkill? yes, I have don’t enough valuables to justify this level safe, but I consider the safe itself an investment in the house.

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