This section of our safe buying guide provides you with no-nonsense pros and cons for each safe type, along with quality advice to ensure you buy a safe that best matches your specific needs.
Select any safe or vault type above for a description and buying tips specifically for that safe type.
It is essential that the safe you purchase has both a solid steel door and walls of substantial thickness. Without this base level of steel protection, any safe can be opened within minutes despite the hoopla of any advertised protection features. While the majority of top-selling safes on the market tout a plethora of protection features, virtually all fail miserably in this essential area.
The safe you choose must have at minimum a ½" thick solid steel door and a ¼" thick solid steel body.
Steel is very expensive and heavy, vastly increasing the safe's build cost and the cost of shipping overseas to the reseller. As a result, nearly all oversea manufactured safes (and even many local-built safes) cut these costs by making their safes with thin sheet metal wrapped around various forms of drywall to give the appearance of a robust safe. Click here to learn more.
Be highly suspicious if the safe manufacturer or reseller doesn't state solid steel, or lists "composite" for their wall or door material, as this can be anything from sheet metal wrapped around wood to sheet metal and drywall.
Also be on the lookout for safe sellers that list just "door thickness" rather than the barrier material type and thickness, as this is a recent trick many underhanded safe marketers employ. By listing the total thickness of the safe door including the safe dial, barrier material, airspace, inner bolt work, etc.... the provided figure can sound quite impressive, while actually preventing the buyer from obtaining any solid information on how thick the barrier material actually is or what it's made of.
Click here to learn more about the industry recognized protection rating systems.
Weight is one of the biggest factors when determining the base ability of a safe to protect from both burglary and fire. Steel is heavy; a quality safe with solid steel walls will weigh substantially more than a flimsy safe fabricated by wrapping sheet metal around insulation panels.
High-density concrete based amalgamate is heavy. A concrete amalgamate-based composite fire safe will weigh substantially more than a safe that uses insulation panels.
Steel and high-density concrete amalgamate together are really heavy. A true burglary safe with solid steel walls and concrete amalgamate fire cladding often carries three time the mass of an equivalent size safe constructed from sheet metal and drywall panels. These are the safes to look for.
Be aware: If a safe is heavy, it doesn't necessarily mean the safe carries a lot of solid steel. The weight can come from the concrete amalgamate alone. Be sure to check the actual steel thickness for both the door and walls.
Always check that the safe you plan to purchase has a UL approved Group 2 lock or better. The three dependable lock manufacturers are LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, and Kaba Mas. These are the only lock manufacturers that produce locks guaranteed to provide decades of trouble free operation.
If you decide on a safe without a UL approval, there's a 95% chance the safe's lock comes from China. The vast majority of safe manufacturers who equip their safes with "their own" lock brand also use Chinese locks. While highly affordable, Chinese-built locks are notoriously undependable and are prone to early failure.
We routinely receive calls from agonized safe owners who are permanently locked out of their safe by a malfunctioning Chinese lock. Opening these safes is generally a very costly and time-consuming ordeal as it's nearly impossible for even a licensed locksmith to obtain accurate blueprints to aid in a clean, repairable entry into the safe. Most safe owners in this unfortunate position opt for the faster and less expensive forced entry option. The safe is rendered unusable after a forced entry and the owner is stuck with a hefty bill - and the need to replace it with a reliable and secure safe... many current clients sought out our company after experiencing one or more highly unpleasant lockouts with inferior safes.
Although fire safes constructed with fireboard, drywall, fiberboard, or other panel-based insulation materials make up the majority of safes sold today, they provide inferior fire protection when compared to true composite-clad fire safes.
More importantly, these panel-based safes provide fire protection at the cost of highly reduced burglary protection. The majority of fireboard-style safes provide little to no burglary protection. Click here to learn why.
A safe that is slow to open is a safe that isn't likely to be used. Adding a quality electronic lock can make opening the safe quick and easy, as well as enabling the user to reset the combination when needed without the aid of a locksmith or combination kit. For the ultimate in user convenience and security, a high-grade biometric lock can't be beat.
All quality safes should have relockers to help ensure the safe remains locked in the case of a burglary. Relockers are hardened pins that are triggered in a variety of ways during an attack, and cannot be retracted without hours of drilling. The number of relockers on a safe will range from 2-10+ depending on the size and burglary grade of the safe.
Bear in mind, relocker pins only prove useful when the safe has a substantially thick steel door and walls. Most safes today are equipped with two or more relocker pins. But on a steel-deficient safe, these pins along with the locking bolts simply tear or bend right through the safe's thin door jamb.
Does the size of your chosen safe make best use of the space it's occupying? Is the interior layout of the safe well-suited to your needs? In many cases there's room for improvement and this is where a custom safe is worth consideration. Brown Safe is one the only safe manufacturers in the world to offer fully customizable safes. Custom sizes, finishes, and interiors are available at a very reasonable price point. We can work with you and/or your interior designer, architect, and carpenter to ensure a quality safe that is built to your exact specifications.
Have a look at just a few examples of our custom safes.
Always bolt your safe down. While you may think there's no way anyone will manage to wrangle the safe out of your house when it takes specialized machines and muscle to perform the installation, never underestimate the resourcefulness of highly determined burglars.
Concrete provides the most secure anchor, so it is the preferred surface for mounting your safe. Remember though, an inaccessible safe receives rare use... so reconsider this if mounting the safe to concrete requires placing it far out of the way.
Always mount using 1/2" concrete bolts or larger, and use more than one bolt. Four mounting bolts are ideal. When anchoring to a wood floor, whenever possible, anchor one or more bolts into a foundation support beam rather than just the plywood floor.
When possible, avoid anchoring the safe near a foundation wall in a way that creates an 8" to 18" gap between the wall and safe. Gaps smaller than 8" are okay. With larger gaps, it is possible to leverage the safe away from the wall using a car jack, ripping the safe's base anchor bolts out from the flooring.
A burglary safe (also known as a strongbox, burglary chest, coffer, freestanding safe, or simply safe) is a freestanding safe that is bolted to the floor. Freestanding safes are the most popular type of safe sold as they are easy to install, can be placed in any location, are roomy, and come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. A true burglary safe has steel walls thick enough to withstand prolonged attacks from both unskilled and skilled criminals.
View our lineup of high-security Burglary Safes
A fire safe (also known as fireproof safe, composite safe, fire liner safe) is a freestanding safe designed to protect the contents from fire for a rated amount of time.
A gun safe (also known as a weapon safe) is a freestanding fire and/or burglary safe with an area of the safe configured specifically to house weapons.
View our line of HD Series Gun Safes
View our line of Estate Series Gun Safes
View our most advanced and modular gun safe the Tactical Series
A luxury safe is a high-grade burglary safe with optional fire protection and extensive upgrades to vastly improve on convenience, appearance, and organization. These highly configurable safes can even include custom jewelry storage with modular drawer insert systems, and watch storage options, including automatic watch-winder panels. Luxury safes commonly offer increased protection levels and come standard with many advanced protection features.
View our lineup of high-security Luxury Safes >
See our selection available jewelry drawer layouts.
We can produce custom interior drawer layouts to accommodate any specialty items within your jewelry collection.
Estate safes are a Brown Safe exclusive. These are luxury-grade safes in high-capacity sizes. They are highly customizable and have a wide variety of sizes and interior layouts for the organization of jewelry, weapons, files, etc.
View our Estate Series of high-security luxury home safes.
Watch safes are designed expressly for the watch enthusiast who requires protection, organization, and convenient storage for their timepieces and other valuables. Quality watch safes are equipped with watch winders to keep automatic watches running in top form. At Brown Safe, we use Orbita® watchwinders exclusively, as they are the recognized leader in advanced watch winding technology. We can accommodate watch collections with both in-drawer units or watch winder panels.
View our line of MAN SAFE luxury watch safes.
View our Chronos Series of luxury watch safes
Just like the name implies, each custom safe is one of a kind, built to suit the exact requirements of its owner. Brown Safe is one of the few remaining custom safe builders in the world. There are very few limits to what we can build.
View a few examples of our previously built Custom Safes.
A vault door is a large secure door used to create custom-built vaults large enough to allow walk-in access.
View our lineup of high-security Vault Doors
It's recommended you use at least ½" diameter carbon steel rebar.
Vault rooms constructed with concrete block should have rebar placed in every cell vertically and horizontally, then filled solid with concrete.
Vault rooms made by poured in place construction should have 1-2 curtains of rebar on staggered 8" centers. This will provide a vault with no hole or opening larger than 4".