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  1. #1
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    Default Drilling Gun Safe

    I'd like to drill a hole in the top of a Winchester Safe. The hole will be about 5/16 inch. The safe is not movable and access to the sides and back is not possible. Is there any armor in the top of a Winchester Safe or will it be somewhat of an easy drill?
    B

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    I suggest that you contact the company you purchased your gun safe from before you do any drilling on it. The type of drill and bit you use will determine how hard of a job you'll have, but it will not be as easy as you might think.

    JK

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    My guess is it is 10 or 12 gauge mild steel and should drill easy. If there is carpet inside be careful not to wrap it up on the drill. Kenny

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    The top/bottom and sides are mild steel, a drill or holesaw will work.

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    Actually, it will be a lot easier than you think. Commercial gunsafes (with the exception of Brown safes and Graffunder safes which have 1/4" thick minimum bodies) are basically expensive file cabinets. The thickest ones have 10 gauge steel, and it's not hardened or anything. The doors are very thick, the sides and top are not. Use a normal drill to get through the outer layer of metal, then depending on what's inside for fireproofing, you may need to switch to a masonry bit. Some of them use concrete board as part of their fireproofing. Then switch back to a jobber bit for the internal sheet metal.

    And watch out for the carpeting on the inside like Sicero said.

    Think gun safes are tougher than that? Here's what 10 minutes with a fire axe can do...

    [IMG][/IMG]

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    Well, they appear pretty stout and bank vault like.

    Better than storage in a clothing closet for sure.

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    They're basically glorified, re-enforced fire safes. "Real" safes are armored with alternating layers of steel and copper. This is to defeat the use of a cutting torch, as copper can't be burned. I guess these days, they couldn't defeat a plasma cutter.

    That photo reminded me of something I saw, about forty years ago, when still a cop in New York, and at the risk of ridicule, I'll describe it here.!:>)

    I responded to a jewelry store burglary, where the free standing safe, an older one, about 6ft. high, had it's door broken in half vertically, down the middle. The door was about 5" thick, and resembled a piece of metal that had been bent back and forth until it cracked.
    A member of the safe and loft squad, told me that it was done by one man holding a steel pry bar against the door, and his accomplice repeatedly striking it with a sledge hammer. This, supposedly work hardened the area behind the bar, until it became brittle and cracked. This was why they called them "Safe crackers". I laughed, assuming the guy was pulling my leg, until I heard the same thing from another detective, when I asked him why they didn't try to go through the sides.

    I don't expect anyone reading this to believe it, I still can't, and I saw the damage to the safe myself. Any locksmiths out there that could explain how this safe door was cracked open? There was no evidence of any torch or explosives used, just chisel marks on the inside door lining.
    Paul

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    Dave,
    Nice photo! I've heard this argument for quite awhile but I've never seen actual photographs of damage. It is interesting...

    I'd love to have a Brown or Graffunder, but I looked at the prices of the Brown and quickly decided that nothing I have is worth that much. A compromise might be Visalia Safe. They produce an 8 gauge or 7 gauge body, which is significantly better than most of the other safes out there but for roughly the same price.

    The whole issue of fire insulation is also very interesting. I get the feeling that the safe industry has almost zero regulation. It is almost as though people make up stuff about what their safes can or cannot do... I have strong concerns about the drywall approach to prevention... One of the things that has drawn me closer to Visalia Safe is that they use a fiber type (same stuff as is used on ship steam tubes, supposedly). The pour-in place concrete seems OK except for the fact that I'd be worried about cracking. You'd never see the damage but it could allow head transmission...

    Regards,
    Alan

    (no, absolutely zero association with Visalia Safe. I have narrowed down a purchase to them though, I think...)

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    UL (Underwriters Labrotories) rate the better safes. Safes are rated by under various classifications depending on their use. There is a time factor for a given rating, can be 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hr, for fire, manipulation of lock, attack, drilling, burning. No safe is impenetrable if the attacker has enough time. Its purpose is to withstand attack until the alarm system summons help.

    Gun "safes" under UL's definitions are probably considered "Residential Security Containers" which can only withstand 5 minutes of attack.

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    If it's not TL or TRTL rated, then it's not a safe.

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    Having give a lot of thought to this gun safe business. I came to the conclusion that any safe needs to be hidden and never talked about to anyone. The safest against fire are the direct burial that go into the ground. The safe has to be round to prevent the successful use of explosives. The only type that fits all the above is the cannon safe.

    I'm not talking about a brand name here. I'm writing about a cylinder safe that has a round door and is buried in the ground at the same angle as a cannon.

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    You know, Al, I had/have the same thought... In fact when I was originally planning on doing my garage, my plans were (construction now on hold) to put a floor safe in. But my goal was a little different. I wanted a data vault. I wanted to put a hard drive and power in there (conduits would go to it, of course). I broached the subject to a safe dealer and he told me flat out that it wouldn't work. He said there is no fire protection at all and the thing would get hot instantly... I'm still a little baffled by that. Yes, the door is definitely pure metal and hence conductive, but it is also below grade. Heat rises Even lthough radiated (infrared) head is extreme, I would still have guessed that the idea would work well. When you add in the fact that I live 3 minutes from a fire station (OK, 5 by the time they put on their boots, etc), the fire wouldn't even be that extreme, I don't think, I would have guessed that I would be fine.

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    I broached the subject to a safe dealer and he told me flat out that it wouldn't work.

    I would consider a safe dealer to be a biased party in this conversation as his business is selling safes, not consulting on safe design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wrench View Post
    You know, Al, I had/have the same thought... In fact when I was originally planning on doing my garage, my plans were (construction now on hold) to put a floor safe in. But my goal was a little different. I wanted a data vault. I wanted to put a hard drive and power in there (conduits would go to it, of course). I broached the subject to a safe dealer and he told me flat out that it wouldn't work. He said there is no fire protection at all and the thing would get hot instantly... I'm still a little baffled by that. Yes, the door is definitely pure metal and hence conductive, but it is also below grade. Heat rises Even lthough radiated (infrared) head is extreme, I would still have guessed that the idea would work well. When you add in the fact that I live 3 minutes from a fire station (OK, 5 by the time they put on their boots, etc), the fire wouldn't even be that extreme, I don't think, I would have guessed that I would be fine.
    I've installed Digital Video Recorders (DVR) in safes without any problems. They typically have 2 harddrives, power supply, and a host of other heat producing electronics. I've also put in routers, battery backups, cable modem, and low voltage camera power supplies in the same safe with no issues. It does get a bit warm in the summer, but no issues for over 2 years.

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    Wrench, With a floor safe, your major concern with a fire, is water damage, not heat. Especially with electronic equipt.
    Paul

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    GGaskill, in this case the safe would have been purchased from the same dealer... Although it is true that floor safes are really not very expensive, compared to a free-standing one. You really are paying for the door only.

    Tony, the concern wasn't excess heat from the equipment, but whether or not the heat of a house fire would be sufficient to damage the electronics inside.

    Paul, yep... I thought about that. There are several ways to mitigate that problem though. And, truthfully, the fist thing that the fire department does when they hit a house fire is to break the band on the meter and to yank it. They don't even bother with breakers... They just kill the power with the meter. So the electronics would be off before they started dumping water on the fire. Given this, even a full submersion in water would still be recoverable (although expensive) as the disk would have been off. But this is a worst case scenario... I would have either added a drain to the safe (concern being that this could actually introduce moisture in the normal operating mode) or seal the door well. You wouldn't be talking about a whole lot of hydrostatic pressure here... At most it would be 6 or 8" worth of head.

    Alan

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    for fire or heat protection, about the best thing is gypsum wall board, and lots of layers of it.

    Once it gets just over 100 C, it starts to boil off the water of crystallization. the process is very endothermic. The paper is also a very good insulator.

    The UK have a "British Standard" for gun safes. that is one area where the "BS" really does mean Bull Shit.

    It was introduced to cause expense and inconvenience to gun owners. I know of one widow who was forced to install one in order to be allowed to keep her late husbands double rifles.

    She was burgled a couple of weeks later, and the door of the cabinet was sprung using a spade from her garden shed.

    Without the cabinet, the scum bag would never have found the guns.

    Chances are, when he found that they weren't 12 bores that he could sell easily for drugs or drink, he'd have thrown them in the river...

    Keith

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    Yep there is a huge amount of water in drywall board. Takes a lot of energy to get it
    out.

    I always worried though, the guns might not catch on fire but they will sure enough
    be steamed to death.



    Jim

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    Anybody have any comments regarding my safecracking story? Any input would be welcome. I REALLY saw the safe in question, and the door resembled nothing so much as it had been folded back and forth until it broke. Is this possible for two men with just a sledge hammer and long pry bar to do? One half was on the floor, and the other hanging from the hinges. How else could it have been done? The detectives from the Safe and Loft Squad said it was the norm, back in the old days. Any metallurgists, locksmiths or safecrackers out there? This thing's been bugging me for fifty years. Sure would like to know before I pass on!:>)
    Paul

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    Yeah, I'm kind of curious about that one too... It kind of makes sense, although it seems as though it is a technique that would have made it out in the news more. Then again, it is amazing how many people seem to think that their little fire safe is actually secure. I have a relative that "locks" her jewelry in a smaller Sentry safe. If someone doesn't walk off with the thing, they could probably break through it in about 3 minutes. The metal on that thing is like tin foil.

    Alan


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