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Choosing the right safe for you takes more thought than just a glance at the firearms you have in hand and buying a safe with an identical capacity. In this article, I’ll be talking through everything you should be thinking about before deciding on the dimensions and capacity of the safe you are looking to buy.
You should always buy a gun safe that is at least one size larger than what you think you will need. Collections of firearms, valuables, and other gear will grow over time, and you don’t want to be caught with a smaller safe than you thought you needed.
With that said, let’s dig into finding the right size safe for you! However, before that happens, we need to talk about gun capacities.
How do gun safe capacities work?
Every gun safe on the market today tends to advertise a gun capacity. This capacity is determined by how many notches are on the safe’s interior, and the distance between these notches is determined by the smallest firearms, making the safe seem more significant than it is.
If you have any larger firearms, thicker firearms, or firearms with scopes, you will want to consider that as two firearms when considering the capacity of the safe you are looking to purchase. This means that if you have twenty-five firearms, you will want a safe that at least holds fifty guns to ensure that you have enough notches as space for them without them knocking up against each other and causing damage.
You will notice that most of my articles on this site refer specifically to the dimensions of the safe, and I do not refer to the advertised capacity of the safe, as these are generally misleading.
Do gun capacities include shelving?
Most gun safes on the market have included shelving; however, the advertised capacity does not take this into account and instead refers to the capacity of the safe if the interior is wholly utilized for firearms.
If you purchase a gun safe to keep both firearms and valuables, you will want to double your capacity again, as you will likely use the other half for non-firearm-related storage.
Between larger guns (or firearms with scopes) and taking shelving into account, you may need a 50-gun capacity safe only to handle 10-15 firearms.
With that all said, and now that you understand advertised gun capacities, here are the steps you should take to get the right-sized safe!
1. Take an inventory of all items you hope to store in the safe.
Before you start anything or shopping, find out precisely what you will put into that gun safe. Ask yourself the following questions:
- “What firearms do I need to put into the safe?”
- “Who else in my family needs to put something into this safe other than me?”
- “Do I have any priceless valuables that need to be put in here?”
- “Am I discontinuing my safety deposit box and putting those items in the safe?”
Once you have thought through these questions, take a close look at these items and consider how much space these will take up in the interior. You will want to look at images of the interior of your safe to see how shelves are arranged or if the shelves can be optimized to store your specific items.
On the firearm side of things, if you are trying to optimize the interior of your safe, you should think about using these Gun Storage Solutions rods. These rods allow you to remove the u-shaped racks, stand the firearms upright inside the safe (instead of leaning on a rack), and easily optimize and sort your firearms.
2. Figure out how much space you have to put the safe
Decide where you want to put your safe, and look for safes that fit those dimensions.
Suppose you are worried about getting the safe through hallways and flights of stairs. In that case, I highly recommend cutting out a piece of cardboard with the exact dimensions of the safe you are considering (make sure to include the hinges and handle in those dimensions).
From there, slide the piece of cardboard through the pathway you will take to the safe. This will give you a great idea of whether the safe can reach its final resting spot.
If you need a larger safe than your hallways can handle, consider a modular gun safe (here are my favorite options), which can be built up in pieces where you want the safe.
3. Can your floor handle the weight of your safe?
You should always consult an engineer whenever you are buying a safe! If you are worried about the weight of the safe damaging your flooring (not just the carpeting), then you should talk to a professional about this. You don’t want to risk damaging your home or hurting someone.
If the safe cannot be placed where you want it (maybe because it is upstairs), you should talk to your engineer and contractor to see if you can modify your home to accommodate this.
4. What is your budget?
Before you do any actual shopping for a gun safe, set your budget! This is one of the constricting factors for a gun safe. You might have to make do with a smaller safe if you can’t afford the larger version. Always set a budget, and stay within it.
If price is no concern to you, you will want to ensure you don’t overspend on your safe! Generally speaking, buy a safe that is 10-20% of the value held within the safe. The last thing you want is to spend more on the safe than the items inside it.
5. Are you able to move the safe?
Now that you have thought through most of the aspects that go into the size of the gun safe you need, you should consider moving the gun safe from one place to another. A common way to receive a safe is curbside, a liftgate truck that will drop the safe at the end of your driveway.
You can either bring it from the curbside yourself or hire a professional moving company to do it yourself. If you want to know more about this, we have a complete article about different options for moving safes.
Get a giant safe that fits all of your criteria.
Now that you have thought through all the aspects of what size safe works for you, you should buy the biggest one that fits within those criteria of the budget, hallway and home restrictions, and the items you own and will be putting inside of it. You will quickly find that running out of space in your gun safe happens within days or months of owning the safe.
Ultimately, ensure you get a bigger safe than you think you need. You will always want to put more things in there; no matter how big of a safe you get, it will fill up. However, make sure to think ahead and buy a safe that fits all of your needs.