Monthly Archives: August 2015

Fire & Fire/Burglary Safes VS. Gun Safes: Big Differences

The vast majority of fire or fire/burglary safes, are built with an outer steel shell and an inner steel shell. The space between the steel layers is filled with a poured-in composite material similar to concrete. (Note that box stores sell frequently sell safes with plastic inner linings, and even plastic on the outside — don’t waste your money.) Photo on left shows a high quality Gardall fire safe, with steel interior and poured in composite insulation.



Almost all gun safes consist of an outer steel shell lined on the inside with drywall, and no inner steel. Most use Type X drywall which contracts and breaks into pieces during a fire. Drywall is a poor insulator compared to the poured-in composite. That causes manufacturers to misrepresent their fire ratings. Photo on right is a typical gun safe – fabric covered drywall, no inner steel.

Most quality fire safes have an Underwriters Laboratories fire rating of one or two hours. These safes have been tested independently under standard procedures at temperatures up to 1700 and 1800 degrees, respectively. Some have also undergone a 30 foot drop test. Imported units are normally tested according to Korean or Japanese standards, which are similar to U.L.’s. Gun safes will rarely pass U.L. tests so most manufacturers and importers do their own tests, or they make up numbers without testing. They often mislead consumers by mentioning “U.L. Rated”, but the U.L. rating they refer to has nothing to do with fire.

There are all kinds of ways to cheat when you test your own product. I have been told by people who worked there, that one company actually caulks the door shut during their fire test. Another way to fudge is to put the inside temp recorders in the bottom of the test unit where temps are lowest. Putting some kind of thermal barrier in front of the safe during the test also works well. For instance, remember how effectively even a sheet of paper blocks radiant heat coming off a camp fire.

If you want to protect papers or cash in a safe with the very best fire ratings available, you really should not get a gun safe. If a gun safe with inner steel and poured-in composite makes sense to you, look at Graffunder safes or Amsec’s BF series.

A Reason to Keep Cash & Silver in a Home Safe

Want some fascinating reading? Google “Iceland financial crisis”, “Cyprus financial crisis” or “Greek financial crisis”. These are big, complicated, interesting stories where problems at major banks and government mismanagement lead to financial failure.

One common feature in each instance is that citizens and bank depositors (that would be you and me if it were in the U.S.) paid for other people’s mistakes. In particular, with the Cyprus crisis of 2013, if you had deposits of over 100,000 Euros, almost 50% above that level were confiscated from your bank account. With one privately owned bank’s failure 100% of deposits were lost. If you were a non-resident who had over 3,000,000 Euros confiscated you were compensated with the opportunity to get a Cypriot citizenship. That would certainly make everything OK! The family of one of our customers, who is Greek, lost about 200,000 euros in Cyprus. My perspective is that Cyprus set an international precedent, making it OK for governments to steal from bank accounts.

Look at what has been going on in Greece. Banks were closed, withdrawals were limited, people could not get to their own money.

Now Google “U.S. Debt Clock”. Our national debt is over $18,000,000,000,000! That is $124,000 per household. Last year, with record low interest rates, our government paid $430,000,000,000 just in interest. Our government has no plan to address this. They keep spending more. In my opinion our elected leaders in both parties are incompetent, greedy cowards who are more interested in keeping their jobs – living on your money – than in running the country responsibly. YOUR money is at risk. YOUR retirement could be in jeopardy. (The politicians will do fine because they have given themselves a better deal than you and I have.) If our financial system should collapse the whole rest of the world does not have enough money to bail us out.

Here is the point: It is worth keeping some cash, physical silver, maybe some gold at home, out of banks. Buy a safe with an appropriate security rating or a gun safe with lots of steel.  It is entirely possible/probable that we are heading toward our own financial crisis. If that happens YOU will pay and YOU may not have access to your own money. Ask the folks in Greece, Cyprus, etc. My Greek customer would have been cheated out of more, except his family also keeps a good stash of silver and gold in a high security safe.

Naturally, there may be a bias here because I sell safes. But part of why I feel good about my job is the appreciation we receive from folks who were protected from fire, break-in, etc. with our safes. You can bet that if we should have a financial catastrophe in the U.S., many of Hoogerhyde’s customers will survive it better than those who put complete trust our government and banks.