Everyone purchasing a safe to store their long guns should always get the ‘most safe’ for their money, both in strength and size. Strength because many safes are not designed to hold up under aggressive entry attempts, and size because the safe will fill up quickly. There are videos available on the Internet that show how relatively easy it is to break into cheaply made rifle safes by lying them on their back sides and using pry bars. Whatever brand or style of safe that is chosen, it should always be bolted into solid floor and wall framing members as to not be able to be easily moved.
If a person has four rifles and a couple of pistols, it may make sense to only get a safe that would hold five rifles with some leftover room for pistols. Savvier consumers will buy a safe that they will grow into. If consumers plan on adding firearms and ammunition to their cache, it is a good idea to get a safe sized for how it will be used five years from now. If one has four rifles and plans on purchasing one long gun per year, then a safe that will hold nine long guns is conservatively appropriate.
To get the most out of an existing or planned safe, consider the shelving and other storage options available for modern safes. There are attachments and accessories for modern gun safes that will allow handguns to be stored vertically on the door of the safe. This takes advantage of the space between the closed safe door and the rifles and shotguns. There are designs that use hook and loop fasteners. These allow for handgun holsters to be positioned anywhere on the fabric that is be attached to the inside of the safe door. This design is great for being able to position the handguns exactly to avoid internal and door mechanism obstacles.
Other accessories include lighting and dehumidification systems. Humidity is an enemy to firearms and can cause thousands of dollars of damage in a short period of time. Just a tiny bit of moisture can rust metal and ruin wood stocks as well as allow mold to grow on any organic material in the safe. The stench of mold is hard to remove and mold actually will eat away organic material as it feeds and grows.
There are silica gel units that absorb moisture and holds it until the unit is plugged into an electrical outlet. The premise is for the unit to be passive and continually absorb moisture until the silica gel is saturated to the point of being unable to hold any more water. Then the tiny portable unit is removed from the safe and plugged into an electrical outlet. The gel is heated to dissipate water vapor making the silica gel ready to continue its job in the safe. Other units have to be directly connected to an electrical outlet which may be impossible for a fully enclosed safe with no access ports for electrical cords.
There are lighting units for gun safes that make it much easier to find what one is looking for in an overcrowded safe which will inevitably occur. If the safe has a cord access to allow electricity into the interior of the safe, then florescent lights that have shields over the bulbs to prevent breakage are great ways to illuminate the interior of a safe. Kits come with momentary switches that turn on the lights when the safe door is opened. Another good option is a few battery powered LED lights that can be attached to the interior surfaces of a safe. Just be sure to turn them off before closing the door.
Another great way to get the most out of a rifle safe is to have a separate interior cubby hole that has a separate locked door to store important documents such as passports or wills. If the safe does not have a separate compartment, then adding a small fire resistant lockable box will do the trick. Put all of the documents into zippered plastic bags first. Just because something has a fire rating does not mean it has a water resistance rating.
Ammunition can be stacked neatly in its original containers keeping it out of unauthorized hands the same as the guns. Above all, when looking at that new safe that is catching the eye for those hard-earned dollars to be spent on it, always buy bigger than what is thought to be needed. The space in most safes is small and fills up quickly. Other members of the household may ask for jewelry and other small items to be stored in the safe. That is good thinking on their part but bad for the amount of available safe real estate. Get each person his or her own fire-resistant lock box and label it with that family member’s name to keep them out of other family members’ personal items.