Gun Storage, Arms, Defense, and General Babbling

Tips For a Gun Safe Installation

This post is a collection of general installation tips to consider when setting up your gun safe.  Always consult your manual before you get started – I’m not speaking lightly here – improper installation could not only mean a wasted investment, but a dangerous one as well.  This guide specifically caters to the installation of RSCs.  If you’re looking for tips on installing a handgun unit, my buddy over at PistolSafesGuide.com wrote a comprehensive piece with some solid info, Mounting Your Pistol Safe.

  • First things first, decide where you’re going to place the safe.  I’d suggest doing this before you even begin shopping for one.  There are quite a few factors that you’ll want to consider, and these things are heavy and expensive – you don’t want to have do this twice.  For a little more information on the subject, check out my previous post on where to install your safe.  Most newer homes won’t have any trouble bearing the weight of even the heaviest home safes, however, if you have an older home, make darn sure that not only the floors will hold where you’re placing the safe,  but that the route where you’re moving it through your house will as well (stairs, hallways, tile, rotting wood).  Your best best is to either place the safe in the basement, or near a load bearing wall for extra support.  Don’t take any chances.
  • Secondly, and I mentioned this in the previously referenced post, please consider hiring a moving service to deliver and install the safe for you, especially if it’s heavy and you have to move it up or down the stairs.  A lot of gun safe distributors actually include free shipping and white glove installation service when you purchase from them.  Do your homework, and you may just be able to ignore half the crap in this post.
  • If you do decide to move the steel beast and perform the safe install yourself, get the detailed weight and dimensions of the model ahead of time, and rent an appliance dolly rated appropriately for the weight.  Don’t just use any old hand truck or refrigerator dolly – it can snap, and be all sorts of nasty for you.  If you plan to move the gun safe upstairs or downstairs, look into paying a little extra for a specialized stair climbing dolly like an Escalera or a Powermate.  It may cost you little more, but it will save you a world of trouble.
  • As soon as the box comes off the truck, check it for scratches, dings, and any kind of damage that you know shouldn’t be there.  Many companies will only honor damages done during moving for so long (typically 15 days).  Look for problems and report them ASAP.
  • Don’t move the safe with the door open, with the safe on it’s back, with it upside down, or any way but upright with the door locked shut.  This means that before you even take it off of the pallet, you need to go over your manual, and not only make certain that you know how to lock the safe door, but make double-certain that you can open it again.  Safe doors can weigh upwards 400-500 lbs, you DO NOT want that sucker swinging open at the wrong time.  And please, unless the instructions specifically instruct you to remove the door, leave it alone.
  • I know you wouldn’t be this dumb, but believe it or not, some folks never remove their safes from the pallet.  A pallet might as well be a magic carpet for a thief, and they’ll have no problem taking it off of your hands.  That said, You need to take the safe off of the pallet before moving it, so have a buddy, two, or three steady the safe while you slowly and deliberately scoot it off the pallet one edge at a time.
  • If the safe came in a box, perform one final dry run with the empty box through the route where you plan to move it, just to make certain it will clear the doorways and the width of the staircase.  If it passes, it’s time to move it.  Familiarize yourself with the heavy rated appliance dolly (that I know you rented) before moving it.  You don’t want any last minute surprises.
  • Once you have your new toy moved to its home (that was easy), I recommend laying down some scrap carpet or a mat where the safe will sit to serve as a moisture barrier to prevent any corrosion on the bottom of the safe.
  • Make absolutely certain that the safe is sitting 100% level on the floor before opening the door.  As I mentioned before, those doors are heavy, and you don’t it swinging out of control.  Aside from a runaway door sending you through the wall, it’s a good idea to keep the safe level in case of an earthquake, mudslide, or any other disaster that may shift the foundation of your house.
  • Next, anchor the safe.  You must anchor the safe.  If the safe you’re looking to purchase isn’t built for mounting to the floor, don’t even waste your time.  Safes that aren’t mounted can be easily tipped over and pried open, not to mention removed entirely from the house.  If you don’t think that a thief would be able to pull off such a feat, you’re dead wrong.  Determined burglars are wildly resourceful.  Crooks have been known to use items lying around the house like golf balls and mop handles to convey thousand pound safes right out the door.
  • Not all anchoring systems are created equally.  Though most quality gun safes come equipped with the adequate pieces for the job, you can never be too certain.  Anchoring is one of the final steps of the safe install, so let’s finish strong.  Double check that you have the right bolts for the surface on which you’re installing them.  Don’t install concrete bolts into your wooden floors or vice versa.  It’s also never a bad idea to add heavy washers or backing plates between the gun safe floor and the bolt heads.  In the event that a burglar attempts to pry the safe off of its anchored foundation, you don’t want the bolt heads to rip holes in the safe floor.
  • Optionally, for an additional layer of redundant security, you may want to anchor your safe to the wall as well.  Just check the measurements of your studs.  You’ll also want to make sure that your manufacture endorses wall mounting, as it can potentially interfere with the safe’s fire insulation.
  • Sometimes the safe door needs to be adjusted after delivery.  If your door has any extra play, you’ll need to tighten it so that you feel some slight resistance.  If you tighten it too tight, however, it can wear down the pins and the locking system over time.  A sure sign of an over tightened door is if you notice that the bolts seem to retract by themselves.
  • Well, that’s about all there is on how to install a gun safe (and move the SOB).  Again, strongly consider hiring a moving crew, but if you’re going to do it yourself, study your safe manual, and DON’T TAKE ANY SHORTCUTS – on so many levels, it’s just not worth it.

4 Comments

  1. Jack,

    I found your information very valuable prior to purchasing my Liberty safe/Franklin 35. You included many pointers that anyone considering a safe in their home should know and understand before the purchase.

    Thank you!

    David

  2. Hey David,

    Thanks for the feedback. Glad the information helped you out. It was kinda tricky creating a list of steps that could be universally applicable across most models, but I’m glad you had some success. Enjoy the new safe, my friend.

    Thanks again!

  3. Make sure that you don’t drill into a post tension slab without verifying that you are not going to hit & cut one of the cables.

  4. Very good point, however, I’m very sorry you had to find out through experience. Thanks for the tip, brother.

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