Tag Archives: Amsec gun safes

New U.L. Security Rating for Gun Safes

Something new has come to the safe industry which is especially important in relation to gun safes.  Underwriters Laboratories has come out with a new security rating.

Many years ago U.L. created a rating system, primarily for commercial insurance purposes.  Initially, ratings started out with TL-15, “TL” being short for “tool”.  To get TL-15 rating a manufacturer’s safe had to keep two of U.L.’s expert safe crackers from breaking in for at least fifteen minutes.  That 15 minutes means “time when a tool is in contact with the safe”, so actual elapsed time of the test is much longer, maybe several hours.  The testers have access to an extensive array of manual and power tools.

The ratings then go up in time to TL-30 and TL-60. “TRTL” ratings mean the testers also can use torches.   An “X6” designation means that the safe cannot be penetrated in any of the six sides.  So “TRTL30X6” means that U.L. could not break into the safe with torches and tools, through any part of the safe within 30 minutes.  TRTL30X6 vaults are large and extremely heavy.

Some years ago a Residential Security Container (RSC) rating was introduced.  The test is significantly less vigorous – it is a five minute test by only one person, who has access to a smaller array of tools.

Some RSC rated gun safes are actually quite easy for two people to forcibly open, while some are very difficult.  Because of the huge jump in security level from RSC to TL-15, U.L. has just introduced the RSCII rating to fill this gap.  The test for RSCII is a 10 minute test where two men can use all the tools available in the TL test.  Basically it is a “TL-10”, however that is not what they call it.

To my knowledge, the only manufacturer that makes RSCII rated gun safes is American Security (Amsec).  To make this higher rating they had to add more steel to their BF safe and put in a different boltworks.  The price of a new Amsec “BFII” is about half way between their standard BF and their least expensive TL-30 gun safe.

No doubt most Graffunder Safes and some Fort Knox vaults would also pass the new test.  A few “non-gun” fire/burglary safes would also probably pass.  The problem is that U.L. testing is very expensive, which will keep many companies from ever offering RSCII rated gun safes.

If you deal with a knowledgeable safe dealer you can learn enough to determine what level of security is right for you, and how to get the most security for your money.  In Michigan you would come to Hoogerhyde Safe.

TL Rated High Security Gun Safes

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

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

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

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


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

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

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!!

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.

Gun Safes and Fire: Seals, part 2

Below is a smaller portion of the test curve which was shown in the previous blog.  Note how with the three inferior safes the inside temp shoots almost straight up at the beginning of the test.  Then at about four minutes the curve turns back down slightly before shooting up again.  This momentary reversal happens when the expanding heat seals get hot enough to expand.  It does help, but it is clearly inadequate.

Fire Test Chart

If there is a large gap between the door and the door frame, or the door does not close snugly, then heat and smoke will just pour in. In theory when the insulation gets hot enough to release moisture it provides a degree of cooling. And the resulting water vapor should create a positive pressure to keep really hot air from coming into the safe.  But these affects are not enough to overcome poorly designed doors which do not seal.

Gun Safe Seals 006

So why did the American Security safe perform so well?  First, these safes have plate steel doors that have tight tolerances so the doors fit properly.  Second, these units have two types of seals.  They have an expanding seal like other safes (top edge of door in photo above). But they also have a cold seal (in door frame) that keep out heat and smoke even before the expanding seal gets hot enough to work.  Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  None of the test safes were by Fort Knox, but most Fort Knox gun safes also use double seals.  The inner seal (see photo below) expands, while the outer seal is a fin-type which is very air tight all the time.  Graffunder gun safes use double seals, too — see earlier post.

Gun Safe Seals 001

Why don’t other safe manufacturers use double seals?  Some choose to sacrifice real protection in favor of lower costs.  When buying a gun safe, make sure the door fits properly and make sure it has both hot and cold seals

Gun Safes and Fire: Seals Are Important

Just as important (maybe more important) as the insulation used in gun safes, is the type and number of seals used around the door.  Some manufacturers claim to have terrific fire ratings – numbers made up based on the amount of drywall they use – but then poor fitting doors and inadequate seals allow heat and smoke to rush to in during a fire.


This portion of a fire test graph illustrates my point perfectly.  It comes from Intertek ETL Laboratories, an independent testing lab.  Results were released this January for fire tests done on four gun safes in December, 2013.  Temperature is shown on the vertical axis, time on the horizontal.  During the test the furnace temperature was raised to 1200F in 8 minutes, then held steady until the end.  Temperature sensors were located inside each unit 7” from the top.  A safe is considered to fail when it’s inside temp hits 350F.

Looking at the test curves from right to left, the curve furthest to the right is for an American Security BF gun safe.  This safe lasted for 126 minutes before the internal temp reached 350F – over two hours!  I cannot name the other manufacturers here, but they are very well known.  The next curve to the left is a top-of-the-line unit with a 2.5 hour “fire rating”.  Few companies claim to have a fire rating that high, but when this safe was tested by ETL it failed in only 69 minutes – less than half what the manufacturer claims.  The next safe has a 60 minute rating but it lasted only 47.5 minutes.  The final unit is said to have a two hour rating but, incredibly, it failed in just 9 minutes!!  That’s some kind of great fire protection, isn’t it?

Next time:  Explanation for the successful test and the failures.

Vault Doors for Secure Rooms

Recently we have been selling vault doors across the country, more than ever before.  This is a reflection of increasing home construction, and also an increase in the number of home owners who want the security of an in-house vault room.



If you dream of having your own vault room, be really careful of what door you buy!  There are a number of companies producing low cost, poor quality products which might disappoint you.  Ask lots of questions and get good, knowledgeable answers.

  • How much steel are you really getting?  (Not how thick the edge of the door is.)
  •  Is the inside emergency release easy to use?  Would your children be able to work it?
  • How many seals does the door have?  (A single heat-expanding seal will allow lots of smoke to enter before the seal expands.)
  • Does the door come with a commercial grade lock or a low cost model?  (Even well-known lock manufacturers make locks that we won’t use.)
  • Can you lock yourself inside quickly if you need to?
  • Does the door have an inside trim flange or will you need to cobble up some kind of trim when the door is installed?
Hot and Cold Door Seals

Hot and Cold Door Seals

I had a recent example where the home owner bought a vault door specifically for emergency protection for his family, only to find later that you cannot lock yourself inside in an emergency.  Was the seller ignorant of this fact or just dishonest?  Some manufacturers (even well-known brands) are also making up numbers, claiming that their doors have 60 or 90 minute fire ratings, when they have never been tested.  All of the vault doors we sell have fire linings to be “fire resistant”, but only one brand has actually been tested and certified.

The point of this post is that if you are going to buy a walk-in vault door, do your homework!  Only buy from a reputable manufacturer and a dealer you trust.

We sell Fort Knox vault doors more than any other. We also sell American Security vault doors, Golden Spike and (when someone needs a certified fire tested door) Sentry/Schwab.

Safe Warranty Cards

Most safes come with a safe warranty card when they are new. Whether you buy your safe from Hoogerhyde or someone else, make it a point to fill out the warranty card and mail it in. Having the card on file with the manufacturer will increase the chance that you will get help if you should have a problem. Read the warranty too, so you know what is supposed to be covered and for how long.

Choose a Safe Manufacturer that Stands Behind their Products

Some companies, like Sentry Safe, Gardall Safe, American Security and Fort Knox are very good at helping a consumer with a problem. Several others, however, are terrible. Buy your safe from Hoogerhyde and if you have a warranty issue, you can expect a good result. We work with great manufacturers who stand behind their products.

No Gun Safe Shortage at Hoogerhyde

National debt levels and problems with our government in Washington have increased fear that our economy may collapse in the future. This made many people start buying silver and gold, and they want solid protection for their metals. Then the tragic Sandy Hook shooting caused talk about gun control, which fueled a tremendous spike in gun sales. These two factors have caused safe sales to skyrocket!

Gun safes, especially quality-built American Made safes, have become scarce. I have spoken to gun safe dealers who simply have no inventory. Hoogerhyde Safe, however, has a huge inventory of about 80 gun safes, and more on the way. From 60” X 24” to 72” X 51”, all MADE IN AMERICA by Fort Knox, American Security and Heritage. Nationwide there is a gun safe shortage, but not at Hoogerhyde!! Buying directly from the factories in large quantities gives us buying power that many dealers just dream of.

P.S. We also have all three models of the best hand gun safes on the market, the hard-to-find Fort Knox Pistol Safes. Fast, quiet, strong.  Most hand gun boxes are quick to use but VERY easy to break into. With thick steel and strong latches, Fort Knox Pistol safes will actually keep out thieves! Real security – what a concept.