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CB900F View Drop Down
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Honor, Integrity

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    Posted: 19 February 2008 at 14:02

Fella’s;

 

There is a great dividing line in the home safe industry.  On one side lies what the mass marketers call a safe, which U.L. calls an RSC.  On the other are the true safes.  RSC is an Underwriter’s Laboratory rating for Residential Security Containers.  It’s their polite way of saying “tin box”.  There is no national construction standard for protective containers.  I could scotch tape six of my business cards together, put a pin across a corner & sell it to the public as a “safe”, if I so cared to do so.  My business card “safe” would be an unrated unit.

 

A step up from no rating is the U.L. RSC rating.  It certifies that one individual cannot forcibly enter the test container by using common hand tools for a five minute period.  Common hand tools are meant to be a hammer and a heavy screwdriver, the lever length not to exceed 18 inches.  When you stop & think about it, you shouldn’t feel good relying on the level of construction that produces the RSC rating.

 

The next step up is a B level safe.  To be rated as a safe, all six sides have to be ¼” steel plate as a minimum.  A U.L. group II lock must also be used.  In all quality B level safes, the door is ½” plate.  Beyond that are C level safes, and the single construction criteria that must be met is that the thickness of the steel is doubled.  Beyond the C, there are E, and F ratings.  There is also another rating system that rates TL15, TL30, TL30X6, TLTR15, etc.  That rating system is not directly comparable with the B, C, system.  There’s nothing wrong with that system.  However, the safe line that’s my primary seller is not rated that way.  I’d be glad to explain the TL specs if someone needs to know, but the information is readily available on the net.

 

There are a vast number of companies marketing “gunsafes” these days.  Of  all of them, I know of only three that are producing true safes for the home market.  They are:  AMSEC, Brown, and Graffunder.  I sell AMSEC and Graffunder.  All the others; Liberty, Fort Knox, Champion, Browning, Heritage, etc, etc, are invariably RSC’s.  Typical construction of an RSC involves using gauge sheet metal to form the body of the container.  The door may, or may not, contain plate steel.  If the body is made of sheet metal, frequently the frame that the door bolts lock up behind, is nothing more than that sheet metal folded three or four times.  We all know what folding sheet metal does to it’s strength, and it isn’t a good thing.  If you want to see a graphic example of the worth of an RSC with this type of frame go to Youtube and bring up the two minute video “Security On Sale”.  Graffunder uses a three quarter inch thick solid plate steel frame.

 

Many RSC’s offer what seems to be impressive fire protection.  Omega Laboratories, and Pyro 3000 ratings, tests in furnaces with a public audience, and so forth.  The only fire certification worth paying attention to is the U.L. 1 hour or above.  The Great Falls Fire Department tells me that a typical severe home fire can hit temperature’s of 1600 degrees f to above 2000 f, depending on the fuel source(s) and conditions.   The U.L. test requires the safe to be placed in the furnace, the gas lit, and the temperature to be brought up to 1700 f, before the 1 hour timer starts.  At the end of the hour, the internal transponder is read, and anything that passes, including our competitors, is going to read in the 270 – 280 f, range.  Cap is 350 f, on any meaningful test.  However, the end of the hour is not the end of the U.L. test.  At the end of the hour, the gas is shut off, but the safe remains in the sealed furnace until the furnace temperature drops to laboratory ambient, 68 f.  At no time during the entire ramp-up, burn, or cool-down cycle can the internal temperature of the test container exceed 350 f.  And that’s what is takes for the contents of  a safe to survive a totally involved, burn it to the ground, house fire.  Just ask the folks in the San Diego area if that can’t happen.

 

Speaking of which, where’s the pictures from Liberty, et al, of the contents of their “safes” that went through the San Diego fires of 2007?  There were many million plus dollar homes that burned.  You know that there were home safes involved.  Quite the advertising coup if you can show pictures of a “MasterIron” safe’s unharmed contents & the house is a total ruin.  Go to:  www.graffundersafes.com site, there are pictures there of total loss house fires, and the conditions of the contents of the safes.  The Graffunder’s now being built offer superior protection to the one’s in the website pictures.  Graffunder has improved their protection in a running production change that affects all their product line.

 

Thermal protection is not rocket science.  If you put thicker and denser material between the heat source and the contents to be protected, you will get better protection.  Graffunder uses A36 tool steel and a proprietary concrete mixture to build their safes.  The minimum being quarter inch plate steel, and an inch and a half of concrete, and then an inner layer of 16 gauge steel. Juxtapose that against the sheet metal exterior skin and layers of sheet rock.  With high-security shag carpet for the inner layer.  Take the paper off the insulation & call it “fire rock”, it’s gypsum wallboard by any name.  Sheet rock is a good flame barrier, but it’s not dense enough to be a good heat sink.  If you put enough layers of it together to get a decent thermal rating, you’ve seriously shrunk the interior volume of the container.  You can’t win.  Beware other advertising claims that rate the insulation, but don’t give you a time/temp specification, as does U.L., for the test procedure.  You can’t make a meaningful comparison of fire ratings until and unless you know the exact test procedures for all cases being compared.  Funny thing, it’s very hard to get those test procedures from anybody but U.L.

 

Many a “safe” salesman will tell you that the 1200 f/30 minute rating of their wonderbox is just fine, as the average home fire is 1200 degrees f.  The kicker word is average.  Included are the greasy rag fire in the garage, or the little ‘put the lid on it’ grease fire in the kitchen.  But when you get a serious fire, you can get well above 1200 degrees f.  Forget that at your own risk.

 

If you do a thorough examination of the typical RSC, it’s quite likely you’ll find a rubber plug in the top, or the base.  Production line RSC’s frequently compromise their structural integrity & put that hole in the unit so it can easily be hung from a hook as it goes down the assembly line.  And if the hole’s in the base, it may not be plugged.  The top of the line AMSEC’s and the Graffunder’s will also have a hole in the base.  But it’s there so that the safe can be bolted to the structure it’s sitting on.  In both manufacturer’s cases, the hole has a solid steel plug in it that seals the interior if the customer does not want to bolt the safe down.  That’s a solid steel plug set in thick steel plate, not gauge metal.

 

Hinges:  Interior hinges are not, repeat NOT, a good thing.  Avoid them like the plague.  Interior hinges are found in RSC’s.  The body of an RSC is made of formed sheet metal.  Usually 10 to 16 gauge sheet metal.  Distort that tin box & the hinges don’t line up correctly anymore.  When the hinges don’t line up correctly, the owner of the unit is not, repeat NOT, happy.  You cannot pay enough for me to share your pain.  I will not fix that problem, I will tell you; “You should have done your research before you bought that thing”.

 

Then there’s the issue of capacity.  Always, if at all possible, buy the biggest unit you can afford.  It’s much less expensive in the long run to buy one safe, rather than either buying a second safe, or selling & buying larger.  I know this from personal experience.  Then there’s the slot count.  Never count on getting one gun in every slot – ain’t gonna happen.  As a rule of thumb, don’t expect to get more than 75 to 80 percent usage of slots.  In other words, if you buy a unit with 36 slots for guns, you’re actually only going to get around  27 to 28 guns stored in them.  That’s assuming that desperate measures haven’t been taken; things like storing every other gun muzzle down, things like that.  Then there’s the folk who have gutted their safe, and just put each gun in a sock & stack ‘em in there willy-nilly.  It, sorta, works, but it’s a damn mess to observe and a worse one to get the gun out you want.

 

If you can, realistically project your needs, and buy accordingly.  That most particularly includes the interior layout.  Convertible interiors work well, they allow the gun storage capacity to grow along with the size of your collection.  On the other hand, that also means that the other-than-gun stuff has to find a new home.  Always choose a light color for the interior.  Safes are caves, they suck light in and don’t return it.  Light colored cloth can really help visibility in the interior.  On the same note, if you need lights in the interior, you’re accepting a hole in the safe to run the wire through.  Which means you’re compromising the security and fire protection.  If you do run wire, seal the hole with high-temp RTV goo, it really does help.

 

Safes cost more money than RSC’s.  However, the subject of home safes certainly seems to be an excellent example of the rule of 80/20.  A high-end RSC will cost about 80% as much as a true safe.  It will give about 20% of the protection.  Go price a Liberty Presidential, a triumph of advertising over reality if there ever was one, and figure for about 20% more money you could have gotten the real thing instead of a fancy door decal.

 

The Graffunder company builds every safe as an individual unit.   There is not a standard price sheet for their products.  When I order safes for the shop, every single one is a discrete unit, different from others, even of the same size.  Therefore, every price is also different.  This isn’t unusual when dealing with a custom product.  Speaking of which, if you need a safe built to a particular dimension, Graffunder will be glad to do it for you.  Graffunder builds bank equipment, and that’s what you’re getting when you buy one of their safes.  Every Graffunder has relockers.  Those relockers and their trips are located at random in the safe.  Therefore, it’s not possible to buy a Graffunder & know how to compromise all of them.  All options are open for discussion.  For instance, you can design your own interior layout if nothing the factory offers meets your needs.  Or, you can have the exterior done in flames, which by the way, has been done.

 

Let me know that you’d like to explore the idea of getting a true safe, we’ll discuss what’s available at what price & I’ll quote you a delivered to your driveway price.

 

 

 

I now have a copy of "Security On Sale" on DVD.  I will lend it to interested parties as I see fit.  A very great deal of "seeing fit" will be composed of knowing exactly who you are & where you're at.

 

900F



Edited by CB900F
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 February 2008 at 17:40
 Good info,what about the $$$$$$'s ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Montana Maddnes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 December 2008 at 06:43

Pretty spendy I have been to CB's shop and he took me through the ins and out of the safes. Now I want to sell my Liberty and get one of the Graff's he sells. No comparison. They are incredible safes. Even just the fit and finish is hands down better. But they are not cheep!

But on the other hand what price do you put on your guns and collectibles??

MM

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 December 2008 at 08:06
good info CB thanks for the post.  I'm forwarding it to my brother who is "looking" for a safe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rob1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 December 2008 at 08:55
 One look at the graffunder and it's obvious the difference in quality. You better really save your pennies though. I just couldn't afford one recently and I needed a safe so I bought a Champion. I know it's not in the same league but feel it will fit my needs. It will be on the outside wall of my garage between two windows in a corner. Any fire will likely not be too hot there. It's only eleven hundred pounds but I'll bolt it down. I unloaded it myself and rolled it into place on round solid fiberglass bars. Rolled quite easily.
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