Why do I need a safe?
Most people connect safes with guns and weapons, but a safe can protect so much more.
In the U.S., there is a burglary is committed around every 14 seconds and a house fire occurs nearly every 85 seconds. The biggest advantage to having a safe is protecting your family’s valuables from these events should they occur. Protecting your firearms with a safe can also prevent your family from the potential liability of an unsecured firearm that was used to commit a crime.
What size safe should I look for?
Most safes have a listed capacity which is based on the total number of gun barrel slots. Your particular firearms determine how many you can store. For every scoped rifle, add two slots and don’t forget to account for future accumulation. Take inventory of your valuables. You may want to store things such as documents, taxes, pistols, expensive tools, photos, jewelry, collections, heirlooms, and ammunition. These things take up a lot of space in your safe and you’ll want to make sure you have extra space for things you may have overlooked. Buying one large safe can save you the hassle of having to upgrade later, as moving the safes into and out of your home can become a very expensive and exhausting undertaking.
Is there such thing as a “fire-proof” safe?
There is no truly “fire-proof” safe, but virtually all will offer some level of fire protection. The amount of fire protection provided is determined by the design. The more fire-lining and thicker the steel, the longer they can withstand a fire, though every safe has its limit.
How does a safe provide fire protection? How does it work?
Virtually all gun safes and home safes provide some minimal level of fire protection merely by the fact that they are steel boxes. Most manufacturers of safes add one or more layers of fire-resistant sheetrock that act as an insulator and a heat sink to increase the fire rating of the safe. Some of the other materials used for fire lining may include: ceramic insulation, mineral wool blankets, or a combination of ceramic blanket and sheetrock, or concrete mixed with vermiculite. Another very important feature to fire protection on a safe is having a fire/smoke seal on the door. If smoke from a fire gets into a safe, it can cause a lot of damage to firearms and carries lots of heat into the safe with it. A door seal that begins expanding at temperatures around 200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit can provide much more protection for your valuables than a normal weather seal that does not expand to prevent the flow of hot gases.
What does “fire-rating” mean?
Safe manufacturers use fire ratings to give their customers an idea of how long they can expect their safe to last in a fire before its contents will be ruined. For example, if a safe’s rating is 1200 degrees/45 minutes, the safe was exposed to temperatures up to 1200 degrees. After 45 minutes, the internal temperature of the safe reached a certain “failure” temperature. Most companies use 350 degrees as their “failture” temperature, because this is the temperature at which paper begins to darken.
How do I compare fire ratings/What fire rating should I get?
Fire tests and fire ratings vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and there is no standard or required test in the industry. This makes it impossible for the consumer to use manufacturers’ fire ratings to compare one brand of safes to another. Comparing fire ratings is like comparing apples to oranges. The prudent customer will verify any fire protection ratings by comparing design.
Here are some factors to consider when comparing:
- How much sheetrock is inside the door – The more the better.
- Fire Seal – Make sure there is an intumescent door seal around the entire perimeter of the door. See “What is an intumescent door seal and why is it important?”
- Weight – Generally speaking, the heavier the safe, the more steel and fire lining it would have in its design. A simple comparison is pounds per cubic foot. The heavier the safe, typically the more fire protection you are buying.
- Hinge design – Internal hinged safes are generally inadequately protected against fire around the hinge area.
This is a picture of a very well known gun safe manufacturer’s internal hinge where the internal hinge attatches to the inside body of the safe. Notice the large area of exposed metal. In a house fire, this exposed metal area will be glowing orange, radiating heat directly into the gun safe’s interior. The manufacturer claims a “certified 30 minute/1200 degree fire rating”. Furthermore, internal hinged gun safes frequently have significant gaps in their fire/smoke door seal, where the hinge attatches to the door. For this reason, it is unrealistic to expect more than 20 to 30 minutes of fire protection from any internally hinged gun safe, unless the manufacturer has taken extra steps to remove these deficiencies.
What is an intumescent door seal and why is it important?
When exposed to heat (in a house fire) the intumescent door seal expands to fill any small gaps between the door and the body of the gun safe, sealing out smoke, gases, and heat. A door seal that activates near 220-240 degrees Fahrenheit will expand early on in the event of house fire and prevent smoke and gases that can be harmful to your valuables from ever reaching the inside of your safe. A standard weather seal or non-intumescent door seal can slow or limit the transfer of smoke into your safe, but will not be as reliable and effective as an intumescent door seal.
How are safes fire tested?
Some gun safe companies choose to send their safes to an independent “lab” to be fire tested, but don’t be fooled; in many cases, the labs allow the manufacturer to define many or all of the test parameters. For instance, if the manufacturer chooses, they might specify to have their gun safe fire tested laying down on its back in the oven. This will lead to a very misleading test. The coolest place in a safe during a fire will always be at the bottom, as heat rises. Similarly, the coolest place in a gas fired test oven will be the bottom. If the safe is tested laying down, the entire temperature reading inside the safe shows a uniform, lower than usual temperature. Additionally, the weight of the door will unrealistically help seal the door. The lab will then give the manufacturer a fire rating of, for example, 1200 degree/60 minute fire rating, when in a real-life situation, the gun safe would fail in a fraction of the time.
A manufacturer can also specify a longer ramp-up time (time it takes for the testing oven to reach the desired temperature used in their fire rating). There are a number of other factors that can skew test results, like thermocouple (temperature sensor) quantity and location, burner placement, safe placement in relationship to burners and oven walls, and of course, failure criteria. As a consumer, it is impossible for you to verify exactly how the test was done. You can ask all the right questions, but you are still assuming that the person you are talking to knows exactly how the test was performed and is also telling you the truth. For this reason, the only way to accurately compare fire protection is to compare how the safe is constructed and fire-protected. It is the only way you can verify whether or not you are getting your money’s worth.
Why use sheetrock for fire protection in a safe?
Sheetrock is relatively inexpensive, yet very effective in a fire because it transfers heat extremely slowly. Moisture that is trapped in the gypsum mixture of the sheetrock turns to steam and escapes when heated to around 220 degrees. This process is called ‘calcination’ and will hold the internal temperature of the safe at approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit until the sheetrock has dried out completely.
What fire rating do I need?
As a consumer, you must decide what level of fire rating is appropriate for your situation. Some determining factors are: fire department response time, type and amount of fuels near the safe, and heat tolerance of the items stored in it. Most house fires can reach temperatures of 1200 to 1500 degrees. Paper documents and wood start to change color at approximately 275 to 300 degrees. The average person may store rifles, photos, jewelry, or documents in their safe which may be located in the garage. What’s in your garage now? Most garages are full of flammable items. If you have a car parked in the garage, the gas tank is a potential source of fuel that you must consider. In such a case, we recommend a safe with a fire rating of 1200 degrees for a period of 60 minutes or more. For other locations in your house with minimal fuel in the vicinity, a 1200 degree for 30 minute fire rating may be adequate, depending on the safe company’s fire rating parameters.
What is a composite door?
Composite doors are a formed steel outer shell generally filled with fire protective sheetrock.
What is a “relocker”?
A relocker is a device or design that “re-locks” the locking mechanism in the event of tampering. Generally, a spring loaded plunger is mounted inside the safe with a trigger mechanism that will fire if the lockbox is damaged. Additionally, U.L. Group 2 manual locks have internal, spring-loaded mechanisms that will relock their deadbolts if the back cover of the lockbox is removed or punched out. All Bighorn, Kodiak and Rhino safes have a spring loaded, plunger-type relocker.
Should I get a safe with an electronic lock or manual lock?
Insist on U.L. Listed locks. Both U.L. Listed lock types offer the same reliability and security. A U.L. Listed electronic lock is simple and convenient to use and utilizes a proven U.L. certified lock design, with greater security and reliability than typical key override solenoid locks. Electric locks with key overrides are not U.L. Listed and should be avoided. With the lock’s brains and memory protected inside the safe, the lock and keypad cannot be hotwired. Also, after several incorrect PINS have been entered, the lock will go into a timed lockout mode disabling all inputs to the keypad and delaying further tampering. With a U.L. electronic lock, you’ll have a combo with a certain number of digits that are pressed on a keypad. Immediately after the last digit in the combo has been pressed, the lock releases and the door can be opened. Another feature of the electronic lock is the ability to see better in a dimly-lit area. If you need to get into the safe quickly, an electronic lock would be faster. Therefore, if you are storing home defense weapons in your safe, you may want to consider an electronic lock. Lastly, the combo on the electronic lock can be changed by the user quickly and easily without using any tools, while the manual lock requires a locksmith.
With a manual lock, you’ll have to remember how to dial a combination of three numbers. If you happen to miss a number on the manual lock or even are slightly off, you’ll have to start over again. The numbers on a dial lock can be hard to read when in a room with low light or if you have a vision problem. If you want to change the combination on a manual lock you will need to hire a locksmith. However, with a manual lock, you don’t ever have to replace batteries.
What do I do if I have forgotten the combination to my safe?
If you have forgotten your code, you will have to have your safe drilled open by a locksmith, which could cost you over $500. Our warranty does not cover dead batteries or lost combinations. Please keep your combination in a secure location – NOT inside your safe. We may have your combination on file; however, we neither guarantee it is available, nor are we responsible for keeping the information. If available, we can give the factory set combination to you with proof of purchase and proper identification.
Can my electronic lock be hot-wired by a burglar to gain entry?
The U.L. Listed electronic locks used on our products cannot be hot-wired. Non U.L. Listed locks especially solenoid driven locks with key override are typically far less secure and some may be hot-wired. These are typically found on the industries cheapest brands. There are crazy stories on the internet about this question. The simple answer is no. U.L. Listed electronic locks are designed to block any attempts at hot-wiring, shorting, and manipulation. The only way to open your lock is with the combination, PERIOD.
What happens if the battery dies?
The single 9 volt battery is mounted within the keypad on the front of the safe and can be changed without having to open the door or unlock the safe. Replace the battery and you’re back in business!
If my battery dies, will my combo go back to the factory default?
No. Your 6 digit PIN code is stored in EPROM memory within the safe door, shielded along with the internal lock by three layers of armor plating, and will remain in memory for years even if the battery or keypad is destroyed or removed.
Is the manual lock or electronic lock better in a fire?
Neither. The manual lock and electronic lock will both be damaged in a fire and would most likely be rendered inoperable.
Is the manual lock or electronic lock better during a break-in attempt?
Each lock will perform the same in a break-in attempt. However, Type 1 electronic locks have an automatic lock-out feature which disables the lock for a period of time (usually 15 minutes) if someone enters three incorrect combinations consecutively.
How do I get into my safe after a fire/break-in attempt?
Often times a locksmith is required to open your safe after a fire/break-in attempt. While this seems inconvenient, think about it… your valuables are still protected! Fire and attempted break-in are covered under our warranty.
Why don’t you sell a key override with your products?
The lock is the foundation of any safe. While some manufacturers rely on less expensive and less secure key override locks, we recommend buying a safe that is equipped with a high quality lock that has passed the Underwriter’s Laboratories(U.L.) certification and testing program. U.L. is the safe industry’s authority for security testing. U.L. certified locks must pass U.L.’s expert break-in testing and then production is monitored for continued compliance. A U.L. certified lock means better security reliability for you and your family.
What do I need to be prepared for when moving my safe into my house?
Safety should be paramount given the weight of most safes. If you’ve never moved something this size, have back problems, stairs are involved, or the safe weighs more than 500 pounds, you should hire a professional. Always keep non-essential persons away from the area.
Moving a safe to a ground-floor location should be possible using two or more men with the proper tools. A moving dolly with pneumatic tires or a heavy-duty appliance dolly should be able to handle up to 700 pounds. These can be inexpensively rented from a local tool rental store. Remember, a heavy weight placed on small diameter wheels may damage floor tiles, wood, or vinyl flooring. Lay sheets of plywood to dissipate the point load and protect door thresholds if necessary. More than three stairs requires specialized equipment, more men, or better yet- a professional. The pro may save you time and money in the long run.
What is the best location in my house for my safe?
Locating your safe in the garage is convenient, but unless the safe is bolted to the floor, it can be an easy target for burglars. It is not uncommon for thieves with a truck to back into a garage and load up a safe in broad daylight. Even with the safe anchored down, it is a good idea to cover it some way to hide it from view. You’ll also want to remember that heat rises, so the first level or basement of your home will best protect it and your belongings in case of fire.
Should I anchor my safe to the floor?
Your safe must be bolted down to the floor for security and safety reasons. If it was moved into your house, it can be moved out of your house by burglars unless you bolt it down. Failure to bolt your safe down voids your warranty and creates the potential for the safe to fall over or be pulled over. This could cause serious injury or death.
How do I anchor my safe to the floor?
Bolting Down Your Bighorn Safe:
Safe must be bolted directly to floor. Shipping feet must be removed.
Your safe is predrilled from the factory for anchoring and has either 2 or 4 holes through the floor of your safe.
1. Place safe in exact location desired.
2. Open door, remove black caps to expose anchor holes.
3. Purchase anchor bolts correctly suited for your floor type. We recommend using wedge anchor bolts 3” or longer for concrete floors and 1/2” in diameter. Follow bolt manufacturers installation instructions. Anchoring hardware is not included.
Bolting Down Your Rhino Safe:
Safe must be bolted directly to floor. Shipping feet must be removed.
Refer to the owner’s manual that comes with your safe for exact bolt down instructions.
External vs. Internal Hinges – Are external more vulnerable to an attack than internal hinges?
No. In fact, external hinges are just as, if not more , secure. Our safes have doorbolts on both sides of the door to prevent the door from opening if the hinges are sawed off. Also, in a fire, internal hinged safes are vulnerable to heat transfer as there is a large unprotected area where the hinges are welded to the inside of the body. External hinges help provide you the best fire and theft protection possible.
Is my safe pre-drilled for a dehumidifier?
Yes, depending on the model, your safe may either be pre-drilled or have an internal power outlet. If pre-drilled, you will see a small hole drilled in the steel in one of the lower corners on the backside of the safe. You’ll need to back-drill through the fire lining and upholstery and will be able to feed the wire for your dehumidifier into the hole.
Is there any required maintenance with a gun safe?
Just like your vehicle, your gun safe operates best when it’s cared for. Routine maintenance may prevent costly lockouts. Most locksmiths can perform service on your safe and the lock. We recommend SAVTA certified technicians. Here’s a short list to help you diagnose common problems:
|Stiff Operation of Hub (Handle/wheel difficult to turn)||Lack of lubrication on door bolts||-Extend door bolts
-Wipe all door bolts
-Lubricate with silicone lubricant, or household 4-1 oil
-Call Rhino Support if symptoms continue
|Hinges are stiff or make noises while opening||Lack of lubrication on hinge||Dab a little household 4-1 oil between the upper and lower hinges units, on both hinges. Open door back and forth to work the oil into all parts of the hinge. Wipe off excess oil.|
|Electronic lock will not unlock/lock
|Low battery||Replace old battery with new Duracell or Energizer battery with “use before” date with 5 or more years in the future. (refer to your owner’s manual for replacing the battery)|
|Side pressure on lock tang||Turn hub firmly counter-clockwise, then enter combo.|
|Handle/wheel feels loose or wobbly||Set screw in the hub is not fully tightened||Tighten set screw in hub using a 4mm allen wrench.|
|Handle/wheel turns with minimal force but doesn’t open||May need adjustment or repair||Call Rhino Support 208-454-5545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Handle/wheel retracts the bolts, but door will not open||Possible internal problem||Call Rhino Support 208-454-5545 or email email@example.com|
|Manual Combination Lock will not rotate freely||Lock jammed||Call Rhino Support 208-454-5545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org|
Repairs to your safe covered under your warranty should not be performed without the pre-authorization of a Rhino customer service representative. If there are any issues regarding your safe, please contact Rhino Support 1-208-454-5545 or email email@example.com. The cost of any repairs performed without pre-authorization will be sole responsibility of the owner.
What is your warranty?
With each full-size gun safe we manufacture, we provide our customers a Limited Lifetime Warranty that is the best in the industry! This provides you the peace of mind that we’ll repair or replace your safe after a burglary or fire. Our warranty is backed by friendly and highly trained personnel who are pleased to offer rapid, customer-direct resolution to any of your questions or problems.