Over the past two months, I’ve been studying safes. What makes them secure? What type of fireproofing works best? Where’s the best place to buy a safe? Once you get a safe, though, there are other things to consider.
I’m an exceptionally messy person. To the casual observer, I would appear close to catastrophe. I see it differently. I know exactly where everything is. Or I did before I got married. Now my things move. But I have started from scratch with the gun safe. Organization there is a bit more important. It can be dark and cramped. And when I can’t find something in the safe, I can only blame myself.
The interior is a series of rectangles. The objects we store in safes are rarely perfect rectangles. The rifles are the hardest to accommodate. But handguns should be easy to store. In an ideal world, each gun could remain in its box, or in a zippered pouch. But if you have any kind of collection, this isn’t practical.
So I store all of the extra stuff, the boxes and manuals, on reasonably organized shelves in the basement. And the pistols share shelf space in the safe.
A good rack will clean up this mess nicely. Two, or three, depending on the size of the safe. There are two main types. The 6 Gun Handgun Rack, $26.99 from Lockdown, holds the guns up a bit, which allows for the a bit of extra space below the rack. This is a great way to keep things lined up. The full depth of the safe can be used.
The other type of pistol or revolver holders are a bit different. Hangers, bent metal (coated with plastic) rods, hang below the shelf. Guns slide onto the rods, barrel first. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d go for the rack. The hangers make use of the under-shelf space, but only the front part. The back is still empty. The best combination would be a rack below, and hangers above. This would turn a small rectangular shelf space into truly useful storage. The ones pictured below are sold by Dean Safe. A four-pack runs $19.99.
If you really want to maximize the use of the space beneath shelves, try a hanging drawer. Lockdown makes one that’s very convenient (pictured above). The frame of this slides onto the shelf and the drawer fits into the frame. While they are shallow, they allow for a lot of flat objects to be accessed easily. Magazines, for example. For $27.99, a simple drawer can save a good bit of space.
Origination allows for easy access. That’s a no-brainer. But there’s more to consider.
Monitoring the humidity is a great place to start. A good humidity gauge will serve you well. Lockdown makes a hygrometer (the round dial in the photo of the rack, above) that sells for $11.99. While this isn’t a must, it can be important.
Humidity should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 percent and 40 percent on the low end. Maybe 60 percent on the high end, for short periods of time. If you lower the humidity too much, any wood on your guns will shrink. This can, in extreme cases, cause wood to crack. Bad news. Too much humidity and ferrous metals rust.
And humidity will change with temperature. If you reside in an area of the country where temperatures fluctuate wildly, and the rains come and go, than monitoring the humidity will help you keep a balance.
And there are many ways to attack the humidity that will attack guns. While you could surface coat metal, there is a simpler approach. I’m talking about eliminating the water in the air before it reaches the guns.
Some folks do it by hanging socks full of rice in their safes. If you’d rather take a more high-tech approach, there are various types of silica gel that will absorb water. These are handy and easy to use. Lockdown makes a large round can, which sells for $26.99. A smaller flat tin, just bigger than a deck of cards, sells for $9.99. As the silica absorbs water, the granules change color and rattle less in the can. Pop the can in the oven to dry the silica and it is ready to go again.
Others prefer to regulate the temperature, also. A good way to do this is with a basic heating rod. Like most of the extras you’ll find for safes, this isn’t terribly high-tech. Plug it in. The rod will heat up an enclosed space just enough. If I have my science right, the warmer air keeps the moisture from condensing on the metal surfaces.
Again, lots of folks make them. Lockdown’s 18 inch rod runs $29.99. I prefer to keep a rod on the floor of the safe, which allows the warmed air to rise. I keep a big can of silica gel in the top (where all of that warm air is going. I also keep a couple of the tins in smaller spaces in the safe. Just to be safe. And those are great for travel, too. I usually have one in a sealed pistol case and one in my camera case.
Most of the major safe companies see the potential in the extras. Browning ProSteel Safes, the focus of the other articles, has even made great use of their safes’ doors.
Pockets. Hooks. Rifle racks with cut out sections for scopes. Every little bit helps. But remember that this is a safe. Do you need to store ammunition in it, or is there a better solution for that? I’ve gone to a locked steel box in the basement. Are you keeping gear in the safe, just to keep it with the guns? There may be a better place for that, too.
As I was digging deeper into safes, I kept hearing a common theme: get as much safe as you can, because you will find a way to fill it.
But plan ahead. Companies like Lockdown can help keep all of your valuables dry and organized.