Guns.com has been considering the basic components of gun safe design and manufacture. Those questions are important. But there are other concerns….
Let’s say you have done your homework. You know you need a gun safe. You have already accessed your security risks. You have a reasonable estimation of what sort of danger a house fire might present in your area. Now all you have to do is comparison shop, and pull the trigger.
If you’re reading this article on-line, odds are you also shop online. While gun stores (or shows) are still a necessary step in the purchasing equitation, if only for transfer paperwork, most of us do our research online.
The internet is a great place to begin, but you may want to look at the old fashioned options, too.
Safes are Different
There are several logical places to check out safes. I prefer to go to the source, but unless you have some industry contacts, and a way to get to Utah (where most of the industry is located), then you’ll wind up on the Internet. Browning.com is a great place to begin—though you’ll have to accept Browning’s opinion of the Browning ProSteel product line. I’m inclined to trust a company like Browning more quickly than I am some of the others, frankly. But Caveat Emptor, as they say.
There are other options
I’ve had a really good experience with Gunsafes.com. This statement is wholly unbiased—I’m not receiving any kickbacks or deals from them, or Browning. Gunsafes.com has a good working glossary of safe terminology and a solid reputation. Their customer reviews are a good testament to their service.
While they don’t carry all of the manufacturers, they have a good selection. Their search features offer easy access to a fair amount of information.
Yet there are two distinct drawbacks, as I see it, to buying a safe from an online retailer.
You have to deal with some extra shipping considerations. This can be extremely cumbersome, if you don’t know what you are doing.
You can’t actually put your hands on the safe, which is important for some of us.
Let’s knock this one out first. These are big heavy boxes. A refrigerator might weigh 250 pounds. A Coke machine can weigh in at 900 pounds, fully loaded. A mid-sized Browning safe may weigh in around 900 pounds—sometimes more.
If you buy a safe from the manufacturer, you may have to figure shipping into the cost. If my estimates are right, it would cost me about $350 to have a safe shipped directly from Browning. And then that safe would be delivered curbside, meaning they drop it at the curb.
Only I don’t have a curb. I live on a gravel road, and have a gravel drive. Often safes are delivered on eighteen-wheelers. Not down my driveway. The closest curb is about half a mile away.
And even if they could get the safe to my driveway, I would have to get it inside, up some stairs, and where it needs to be—without tearing up my floors.
Online companies like Gunsafes.com figure shipping into the equation, but still don’t bring it inside. They will subcontract installation on your behalf, but it costs more.
The same is true for some brick and mortar retailers. Gun stores, a logical place to shop for safes, specialize in moving guns—not 1,000 pound boxes. Most will subcontract the installation, and pass the bill to you. But there is another option….
Hands on knowledge.
After poking around town, recently, I drove by Town and Country Furniture, in Kingsville, Virginia. They have a tiny sign out front with a simple advertisement. Their portable marquee says “Browning Gun Safes.”
So I wheeled in, and waded through the mattresses and living room sets and found them, tucked away in the back of the store. They have two on display, a Sporter and a Medallion (both sold and awaiting delivery).
The Sporter line is lighter, 12 gauge steel. The door is thinner. The insulation is a bit thinner.
The Medallion line is 10 gauge steel. Much heavier, for the same size safe.
These two safes are almost identical in size, yet there is no real comparison between how they feel. And this is what I mean by putting your hands on the actual product. Both are safe. Both offer durability and good fire protection. But they feel very different. And you can’t tell that simply by looking at them. The price might imply the difference (close to $1,000 difference), but it helps to see it first hand. But there’s more.
Hands on experience is nice, but it is an abstract intangible. What Town and Country Furniture offers is much more real. They are a furniture retailer. They deliver the furniture they sell, which means they have a vast amount of actual experience moving furniture.
If you buy a safe from Town and Country, they deliver it. And not just to your curb, or into your garage (unless that’s where you want it). They arrive with a crew (usually four guys) and a mechanical beast of a hand-truck.
When Town and Country began working with Browning, they wanted something that would distinguish them from other retailers. They needed a way to offer something the online retailers can’t. Service. As odd as it sounds, the stair stepper is just that.
This beast of a machine may look humble enough, but it isn’t. It is designed to hold extremely heavy objects secure while automatically climbing stairs. The benefit for the movers is obvious enough—but the assurance this provides for the homeowner is equally beneficial.
Once inside, the crew from Town and Country returns to the stone age. They line the path with plywood for protection, and roll the safe on oak dowels. Some of these safes are so big that they can’t be carried pallbearer style. It isn’t uncommon for doors to be removed from their hinges just to squeeze in a safe.
And that is really where this argument is going. Why not have Town and Country, or where ever you buy a safe, take responsibility for the instillation of the safe? That’s their job. They are actually insured.
As with anything else, there are options. You could buy a safe form Costco, or Lowes. You can hit the gun store, or find a great online retailer like gunsafes.com. But the most logical choice may be one of the least obvious—the old fashioned furniture store.
Town and Country includes delivery in their price. They can do this because they buy safes directly from Browning, in large lots, and get a break on shipping. If they order seven or more safes, and the weight is greater than 5,000 pounds, then the driver rolls right in from Utah to their loading dock. The benefits are obvious enough. The driver moves safes. It is not a common carrier with one safe banging around in the back of a truck with everything else. And the truck is designed to handle the size and weight and protect your investment.
And then Town and Country will deliver it the rest of the way, with the right equipment to do so.
Here’s the rub—consider the back end of this equation. It can get sticky. If you don’t live in southern Virginia, or close to a place as conscientious as Town and Country, at least you know they exist. You know what’s possible. And that, if nothing else, might help you negotiate part of the purchase of a safe.