Monthly Archives: May 2014

American Made Gun Safes

Does “Made in America” mean anything to you?  It does to us.  We proudly take a stand on this issue.  Of the 45 gun safes we have in our showroom, only one is imported.  We do not sell that model very often, but comparing it with U.S. made safes helps to sell higher quality products.  The differences are huge.

American Made 003

Shopping for cars may be different.  American cars are full of parts from China, Mexico, Korea and who knows where.  Likewise, foreign car brands have significant American content.  But a Chinese made safe is all Chinese.  We as a country are too anxious to sacrifice quality — and American jobs – to save a few dollars.  And then we complain about lack of jobs, low wages, etc.  Do you think that we get a fair “social trade” with China?  Our shop sells American made Fort Knox, Amsec and Graffunder gun safes, for good reason.  But if you don’t like these, then buy a U.S. made Browning, Champion, Heritage or Liberty.  Check closely for country of origin because they all have imported models, too.  Take a stand to help keep jobs in The States – BUY AMERICAN!!

Key-Locking Safe Dials

Key locking dials on combination locks are sold as security upgrades, especially on gun safes.  Safe buyers are rarely informed of their limitations, however, and misinformation sometimes actually jeopardizes the safe buyer’s valuables.

Sargent & Greenleaf combo lock with key-locking dial

Sargent & Greenleaf combo lock with key-locking dial

To use the key feature properly, close the safe, turn the dial several full turns stopping the dial at “0”, then turn the key 180 degrees and remove it.  The dial is now locked so it cannot be turned.  This is supposed to keep unauthorized people from tampering with the lock.   However, anyone who is skilled enough to manipulate open a combination lock by touch and sound, will also be able to pick open that key lock in a few seconds.  The dial lock is also easy to drill open or just force it to turn with a good screw driver.  Now for the surprising part — most safe manufacturers order their key locking dials so that all of them use the same key!

Now this is what puts many safe buyers at risk:  It is somewhat common for workers in box stores to show safe buyers how to lock their safes up for “fast unlock”.  With this procedure you close the safe and lock it by turning the dial clockwise only about 15 numbers to “0”, then turn the key so the dial won’t turn.  Next time, all it takes to unlock the safe is to turn the key back to unlock the dial, turn the dial clockwise 15 numbers, and the safe is unlocked.  Simple and easy!  However . . .

Relatively intelligent burglars know this trick too.  If they find a safe on which the dial has been key-locked, they know there is a pretty good chance that the safe can be opened is just a few seconds.  They can turn the key lock with a pick set, a heavy screw driver, or even a key that came with another safe made by the same manufacturer.  If the owner is using the “fast open” trick the only other thing to do is turn the dial clockwise.  And then empty the safe.  That is exactly what happened to a local guy who bought his safe from a box store.  He did what the store worker told him to do.  The trick cost him over $20,000 that he thought was secure in his safe.  To get properly educated about safes, buy your safe from people who really know them, not from a box store or a gun store!

Vault Doors: Importance of Seals

In my last blog about vault doors I mentioned the ridiculous fire ratings that some manufacturers claim to have, based solely on how much dry wall insulation they use, when their doors have never been tested.  Now consider the seals used between the doors and frames.

To see the importance of seals on vault doors read my last few postings about gun safes.  Look at the test data that shows how poorly most of them (all of which use a single heat expanding seal) perform – how heat and smoke can infiltrate the safe before and after the expanding seal actually expands.  The insulation in gun safes creates a positive steam pressure, because of the small confined interior space, to help push out the really hot air and smoke.  This phenomenon will not occur with a walk-in vault because the interior space is so large.  So an effective cold seal, in addition to an expanding seal, are even more important on a vault door than on a safe.  And yet most vault door manufacturers use a single, expanding type seal.

Expanding seal on door edge, cold seal in door jamb

Expanding seal on door edge, cold seal in door jamb

American Security vault doors are built and sealed the same way as their BF safes, the safes that did so well in the fire test.  It is logical that their vault doors will work the same  way.  I suspect that Fort Knox vault doors would perform in a similar way too, because they have both cold and heat expanding seals.

When you look to buy a vault door, do not trust any claim the manufacturer makes about a “fire rating”, unless it has been tested and certified by U.L.  The best you can do is to get one in which the door fits tight and there are two kids of seals.