Tag Archives: gun safe construction

Most Gun Safes Do Not Seal Properly in Fires

Earlier posts talked of the problem with gun safes having only one seal.  We have two safes in our shop from different manufacturers that went through fires, and they demonstrate the point perfectly.

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Gun safe manufacturers all talk about having the intumescent seal which is supposed to protect your valuables in a fire.  The theory is that when you have a fire, heat will cause the intumescent seal to swell up and seal the door shut.  But in many fires the gun safe does not get hot enough for the seal to work, allowing heat and smoke to enter between the door and frame.  Pictured is a gun safe with a “60 minute fire rating” which uses only the intumescent seal.  While the safe got coated with sooty smoke it did not get very hot, so the seals did not expand.  The paint will clean up fine; everything inside, however, was damaged by heat, acidic smoke, cinders and ash.  You can see that the seals never expanded.  Pictures of the interior show damage from smoke, ash & cinders.  Ironic:   The “Fire Safe” label is coated with soot and smoke that the “fire safe” did not protect against.

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The plain fact is that for good fire protection gun safes need at least two different seals.  One needs to seal the door ALL THE TIME, whenever the door is closed.  See posts dated 7-6-15 and 7-20-15 for details.  Fort Knox gun safes use an airtight fin-type seal on most of their units and Amsec uses a foam cushion.  In both cases the gap between the door and frame is closed even when the safe is cold.

Seal systems on gun safes and vault doors are not a minor point – they are one of the most critical features.  Yes, you might need to pay a little more for real protection, but there is no point in paying less for a product which does not work!

Gun Safe Destroyed in Fire

It has been a long time since I wrote about the inferior insulation used on most gun safes, and the inferior way it is installed.  The photo below prompted me to comment on the subject again.  The picture shows a gun safe (made by the best-known manufacturer) which went through a fire earlier this year.  As you can see this gun safe failed completely.  The “Type X” drywall is in pieces in the safe, along with the remainders of expensive shotguns.

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Brief refresher:  Type X drywall shrinks and breaks into pieces when heat from a fire cooks out the moisture.  Glue used to install the drywall gets soft and lets go, so the drywall caves in.  That glue probably burns, too.

Do not buy a gun safe that uses Type X drywall installed with glue!  There aren’t many good choices because almost every gun safe manufacturer uses this type of construction.  Try Fort Knox, Graffunder and American Security’s BF line.