Choosing the Right Gun Safe: The Definitive Guide

What is a Gun Safe?

You’d think that a gun safe is a perfectly normal safe in a shape that you can fit guns into.

Seems obvious really!

But, this is not normally the case.

A gun safe is defined by some very poorly written Legislation that is interpreted by each State or Territory independently. For example, what’s legal to store pistols in Victoria is not legal in New South Wales.

A safe that is classed as a firearm safe according to current Legislation has no bearing on security at all.

Most of these safes can be accessed illegally very, very quickly with no damage to your firearms.

These firearm safes are not SAFE at all!

They just happen to meet the minimum legal requirements for the storage of firearms. But at no point in time can they keep your firearms secure.

A proper safe has extensive security devices and protocols within the structure of the safe that, if someone tries to compromise the safe or the locks, its door can never be opened again. Ergo, the thief never gains access to your firearms.

A proper safe has a concrete core within its structure that aids the security of the safe. It also makes the safe fireproof.

If you happen to keep gunpowder or ammunition inside of an ‘inferior’ firearm safe that is NOT fireproof, and your house catches fire, there’s a very good chance you could end up accidentally killing or maiming the nice firemen who are on-site to douse the fire.

This seems obvious and really, really simple but it is not covered in the Legislation at all.

Furthermore, gun owners are not required to ensure proper signage is visible that you store dangerous explosives inside your house, or on your property.

Once again, seems obvious, but not included in the Legislation requirements in any shape or form.

On the subject of Legislation, if ever you read it, firstly you’re going to get a headache! Secondly, you’re probably going to think this was written by thirty or forty lawyers who all hate each other’s guts at 3am in the morning after a very long weekend!

So, at this point, you realise what you don’t want in terms of a gun safe and ammunition storage.

About now, you’d be pondering what are our guidelines when choosing the right firearms safe.

As a leader in the Security Industry for 20 plus years, CAPTAIN SAFE will always recommend a fire-proof safe for storage of your firearms and ammunition.

A good firearm safe will have:

  • relockers inside
  • concrete lining / core
  • a good quality lock
  • a thick steel shell
  • a robust opening mechanism
  • security bolt work
  • needs to be heavy, and bolted down to the premises


What are relockers?

Relockers are mechanical devices built inside the safe door that, if compromised, will permanently lock your safe.

For example, a relocker is normally a spring-loaded bolt that fires into the opening mechanism or frame of the safe when someone tries to break-in, or compromise the lock.


What is a concrete core?

A safe is normally made like a sandwich. Steel on the outside, a concrete core, and steel on the inside.

There are all sorts of things inside the concrete core that prohibit drilling or cutting into your safe.

If someone, for example, tried to cut into the safe with an oxy-acetylene torch they would cut straight through the outer steel skin, and then be faced with a lot of exploding concrete. Generally speaking, this is when people stop what they were attempting to do – break into your safe – and go home!

Concrete is a wonderful insulator and renders the safe fireproof AND rigid.


What is a thick steel shell?

A lot of ‘firearm safe manufacturers/retailers’ make a big fuss about having a 3mm wall thickness. If the steel is not high quality (which it invariably isn’t), it can easily be bent with a standard crowbar and is normally so incredibly inferior, the wall will frequently bend back to its original shape after the safe has been broken into.

This just goes to prove how poor quality and craftsmanship some of these firearm and ammunition safes are.

A safe that is built correctly will have a thick, high-quality steel wall that will not bend at all.

With the aid of the concrete core, your safe is completely rigid and is impervious to a leveraged attack.


What is a good quality lock?

Let’s start with a definition of a ‘poor’ quality lock!

  • A thief can bash the workings of the lock straight out of the frame of the safe’s door with nothing more than a hole-punch.
  • A lot of solenoid-driven locks can be opened with no more than a magnet in under five minutes with no damage to the safe or the lock.
  • Your inferior safe has no relockers or mechanical safeguards, such as a hardened steel housing of the lock.

A ‘good’ quality lock will normally be mounted on a hardened steel plate, with a steel enclosure around the lock.

There will be mechanical relockers fixed to the frame or chassis of the lock and it is never solenoid-driven.

For firearm storage and security, the optimal locking will always involve a mechanical combination lock.

A high-quality mechanical combination lock can never be accessed by someone who is edgy, elevated, nervous, busy, frustrated, distracted, angry, basically anyone who finds themselves under pressure. If you are not level-headed and centred within yourself, you cannot open the lock.

The most common lock is a digital keypad lock. Nothing wrong with these; they work perfectly. As with anything electronic, they will break, sooner or later. Low-quality digital keypad locks break sooner.


What is a robust opening mechanism?

Exactly what it sounds like!

Good quality safes are well made, with high-quality components, that are installed by competent professionals who know what they are doing.

Not all, but a lot of imported safes have very low-quality opening mechanisms and bolt work.

I’ve seen some firearm safes where the components were only secured ‘finger-tight’, with no thread locking solutions on the bolt threads. So consequently, I was called in to open the safe when it turns out the safe had literally fallen apart internally.

Quite often, when talking about inferior safes, the mechanical parts that hold it shut are considerably weaker than the parts that open the safe. Ergo, if you try and force it, an inferior safe will open.


What is security bolt work?

The bolt work is a security mechanism that holds the door shut.

A high-quality safe will have bolts protruding from its door in at least two directions, eg. bolts from the inside of the door into the safe’s frame on the hinge side, and bolts coming from the inside of the door into the opening side of the safe’s frame.

The reason being is that if someone attacks the safe’s hinges, they still cannot enter the safe.

The safe’s hinges should not offer any security value whatsoever. They are purely designed to support the door when the safe is open.

Hinges on inferior safes can provide an entry point to illegally enter the safe.


Why does my safe need to be heavy, and bolted down?

As a rule of thumb, with safes, the heavier it is, the better it is.

Two men with a trolley can remove a 1,000kg safe from a premises in ten minutes. We do it regularly … it’s not hard.

Thieves would probably grab your safe in less time.

When bolted down into the concrete, that all changes. It now turns into an absolute nightmare to get it out, because the bolt has been fastened from inside the locked safe, into the concrete floor. In order to force the bolt, you’ve got to physically lift the safe up … which is very, very difficult and potentially extremely hazardous … and takes a long time.


What are the types of gun safes?


Category A & B – long arms

These are the most common kind of gun safes, for shotguns, most rifles, air-guns, that sort of thing.

Most States and Territories have lax requirements regarding the storage of these firearms. And most will insist on nothing more than a “sturdy box that is hard to break into”, which is a completely ambiguous statement that means anything to anyone reading it.


Category C & D – long arms

Category C & D are restricted firearms that most States and Territories take seriously.

The storage requirements become tougher but no less ambiguous to the consumer.

Many imported firearm safes are now just not good enough, nor do they offer a relevant level of security.

All ‘proper safes’ are fine for the storage of Category C & D.


Category H – handguns

Handguns are worth an absolute fortune on the black market.

Serious handgun collectors tend to want a proper safe at this point.

Most firearm safes that offer handgun storage certification as per State Legislation still offer no meaningful security for the handguns. Most of which we can break into very quickly!

Once again, this is not the case for a proper safe.


What are the different brands of gun safes available in Australia?

We stock in our warehouse in Geelong, Victoria a comprehensive range of new and re-purposed gun, rifle, pistol, and ammunition storage units.


New firearm safes:


Second-hand, bank-grade Australian firearm safes:

  • Australian Safe Co.
  • Chubb
  • CMI
  • Lord
  • Kumahira
  • Victoria Safe Co.
  • Wormald


What are the best gun safes for sale in Australia?

The best gun safe for you will come down to a personal choice based on:

  • where you intend to store your safe?
  • the weight restrictions of the floor you are putting the safe on?
  • how many firearms you need to store?
  • the size of firearms inside the safe (ie. muzzle breaks)?
  • are you planning to store ammunition?
  • what sort of locking mechanism you are comfortable with?
  • a preference for second-hand or a new safe?
  • your budget?
  • are you planning to store your brand new gunsafe in your amazingly well-equipped garage that’s got all the tools needed to break into your gunsafe?

It is a simple, undisputed fact that Australian-made safes are of much higher quality than imported safes.

That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a well-made, imported safe. It’s just that the general trend of imported safes is low-quality, poor craftsmanship, and poor security protocols.


We custom-build bespoke vaults for gun collectors and firearm dealers

Every job is different. And every customer has his/her specific criteria.

We build these vaults normally into the structure of your building or a shipping container.

This niche market can get super expensive very quickly.

As you can imagine, the owners of these vaults are somewhat security conscious and understandably do not want us taking photos of their new vault to show you on our CAPTAIN SAFE website!


Are you after an Australian-made customised gun safe?

If your preference is for an Australian made impenetrable gun, rifle, or pistol safe, our team here at CAPTAIN SAFE can help you.

CAPTAIN SAFE is an independent Australian owned and operated business based in Geelong, Victoria, and we’ve been leaders in the security industry for 20 years.

We offer delivery and installation, nationwide sales, and exceptional service for high-quality safes and vaults.

When you order from us, we do not consider your purchase complete until your safe is installed and you’re satisfied with it.

Our onsite experts can refit to your specifications an old bank safe to create a one-of-a-kind, customised, bank-grade gun/rifle/pistol/ammunition storage unit purpose-built to meet and surpass Legislative requirements in the Safekeeping of Firearms and Ammunition in Australia across Category A, B, C, D and H.

We can fully recondition safe locks, hinges, and security mechanisms for the highest standards in the Security Industry.

CAPTAIN SAFE can give you peace of mind with our large selection of HIGH-QUALITY new and second-hand customised firearm safes and vaults.


Visit Our Online Showroom TODAY!

Pre-Used Second-Hand SafesClick HERE to view our PRE-USED Gun safes

New SafesClick HERE to view our NEW Firearm safes


Speak to One of Our Experts

If you’d like to learn more about how we can customise a quality firearm safe for you, speak with one of our Security Industry experts on:

1300 648 182 or you may contact us via email: contact us.

We look forward to your call.


Nigel Hemming - Managing Director, Captain Safe

~ Nigel Henning, Managing Director, CAPTAIN SAFE
Nigel Henning is the business owner, director, and driving force behind the success of Captain Safe, based in Geelong, Victoria. A security expert since 2000, Nigel has been a leader in the Australia Safe Industry since 2016.

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