Readers of this blog know that I am as much of a gun safe aficionado as a gun aficionado.
Over father’s day weekend, my father’s day present to myself was a new gun safe.
I found on Craigslist a used Cannon 24 gun safe for $300. Usual MSRP is $850.
I immediately bought it, brought it home, and with some help and a heavy duty hand truck from Costco, got it into my master bedroom closet. It only weights, according to the factory spec, 485 lbs.
Now, if I can get it in that way, other men can get it out that way, so I had to secure it to the floor.
In terms of load bearing, it was in perfect position directly over an engineered trust floor joist. In terms of security, it was in a bad position as the holes in the bottom to mount the safe were sitting above hardwood and OSB subfloor.
The safe came with four 1-1/2×3/8 in lag screws. I drilled pilot holes and screwed them into the floor.
I didn’t feel confident about that and looked up the pullout strength for lag bolts. That information is available, especially if you work for a company that does forensic engineering.
A little math later and a 3/8 in lag screw has about 300 lbs pullout strength in 23/32 in OSB.
That’s not enough.
I didn’t want to cut the trim so the safe has about 1/2 in gap between the back and side and the drywall in the corner of the closet. Enough for some burly guys to get their fingers or a strap behind it and pull it forward.
With the leverage of 59 inches of safe body, that would be enough to pull the lag screws out of the OSB.
I wasn’t going to worry about the front screws, since tipping the safe backwards against the wall would accomplish nothing. I just needed to increase the pullout strength on the back screws.
I drilled two 3/8 in holes through the hardwood and OSB. I shoved dowels through the holes to locate them in them in the basement.
Once I did, I hammered 2-1/2×3/8 in lag bolts through the holes, set a 1/2×2 in fender washer, then a 1-1/2×3/8 in fender washer, then a 3/8 in nut with red Loctite, and torqued it down with an impact driver while my beautiful wife held the bolt head with a ratchet in the safe upstairs.
The 2 in fender washer was against the OSB, so to pull it out, someone would have to apply enough force to pull a 2 in steel disk through the subfloor. I calculated that at about two tons. It might actually rip the bold head and washer through the bottom of the safe first.
I then tucked the insulation back and replaced the drop ceiling panels in the basement camouflaged the nuts.
Yes, nuts are vulnerable from attack from underneath, but a thief would have to know that’s how I anchored the safe, and know where in the basement to look, and pull down the drop ceiling and insulation to expose the bolts and get a ladder to attack them.
I doubt a thief will go through that much trouble for a closet gun safe when there are TVs to steal. And any thief with the tools to attack the bolts would probably just attack the safe in place. While the alarm went off and the dogs went nuts.
I don’t keep much in that safe anyway. Most of my stuff is in my two Fort Knox safes in the basement. Those are almost a ton each, with 1/4 in bodies, double lined, and are anchored to the slab with 5/8 in Red Head expanding anchors. Those you could hook a truck to and couldn’t pull them out.
The upstairs safe holds a home defense shotgun, two of my most used CCW pistols, some cash, and jewelry. Just things that I wanted secured but was tired of having to go into the basement to get every time I needed them.
I tried to maintain a reasonable balance between cost of security (a light duty safe anchored to the OSB) and what I stored in it.
Since proper mounting of a safe is as important as the safe itself, I thought I’d share with you my engineering solution for upstairs above OSB if you can’t place the mounting holes over a joist.
Yes, anyone could rip open a safe with an angle grinder or metal blade on a Sawzall.
Every time I post about safes someone comes along and tells me how they would go all Ocean’s 11 and steal my shit with the tools they have in their garage.
I don’t care and I’m tired of those comments. Feel free to keep them to yourself.
I keep saying, and clearly some people are not listening, that the vast, vast majority of home burglaries are junkies and/or teenagers looking for stuff to steal that is easily sold for cash, e.g., electronics, guns, jewelry, etc.
They want in and out fast and they don’t want to fuck around while they are in your house.
They will tug on a safe a few times. If they can’t budge it they will leave it alone and rip your TV off the wall.
My safes are not impenetrable. No safe is. The highest rated safes are TL60, which means engineers from UL couldn’t break in within an hour.
I wanted to express a cost effective way of increasing the security of a low cost safe with better mounting hardware.
So if you don’t understand the situation and you don’t understand the threat, your fantasy of cracking open my safe with a carbide tip tool is unwarranted.
What 99.99% of you, you suburban gun owners in middle-class neighborhoods, need to be worried about is two junkies in your house for 10 minutes max, trying to get as much value out if your home as they can. A simple safe or job box, anchored firmly enough to keep them from putting it on a hand truck, will make them leave your safe alone and take your TVs, computers, and the other shit lying around. They’d rather spend those 10 min filling their car with your electronics than wasting them trying to crack a safe and driving off with nothing.
That and keeping your kids from touching your guns.
Be reasonable, not a dick.