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Buying a Gun Safe? How Big Should You Go? 

Having a gun safe is a given for responsible gun owners all over the world. Gun safes keep your guns out of the wrong hands, whether its criminals, kids, or the curious. While safety and security are the main factors when deciding the type of gun safe to get, one of the most common desires for gun owners is a huge safe. Gun safes are much like closets in that they tend to fill up quickly and easily and you always need more room for your growing collection.

Considering the Guns You Have
If you only own one or two handguns, it would be better to invest in a handgun safe. These smaller units are designed to be mounted in a vehicle, drawer, or closet and are also quite portable. They generally have keypad locking mechanisms and are available for $50 to $200. If you want a biometric reader for added security and personalization, add up to $100 to that price.

Handgun safes are great for their affordability and small size. Just remember to consider the gauge of the steel used to create it (more on that later). Ensure that you choose a safe made with an appropriate steel thickness for the dollar amount you are spending. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you have a modest budget, then thinner-gauge steel will work and is certainly better than not having a safe at all. But if you are very serious about the security of your weapons, then spending a little more can get you a lot more security. If you do purchase a handgun safe, you may want to store its contents somewhere else during long trips away from home.

However, most people looking for a gun safe probably want something larger that will fit hunting rifles, shotguns, and other firearms much larger than a pistol.

Size Matters
The size of the safe has a direct impact on its cost, weight, and, of course, storage capacity. Navigating size is all about getting a good balance between the two. You don’t want to spend too much but you don’t want to be left with something too small that won’t fit your complete collection.

If you have even the smallest inkling that you’ll be adding to your collection in the future or expect to store other items in your safe—personal documents, jewelry, money, antiques—you should look at safes that are bigger than your current needs.

Although retailers offer the dimensions of their safes, most gun safe sizes are represented as an estimate of how many guns you can store in that safe, so you may see a gun safe advertised an 11-gun safe or 15-gun safe.

However, the modern retailer often advertises its gun safes loaded with pump action shotguns and traditional lever action hunting rifles with wood stocks instead of modern sporting rifles. Traditional wood stock guns tend to be smaller, allowing a retailer to claim a larger gun capacity that may not be so spacious for more modern weapons. Considering pistol grips, attached optical equipment, and extended magazines, modern hunting equipment will definitely take up more space in a gun safe. As a general rule of thumb, if your collection does consist of more modern pieces, cut the advertised gun capacity in half to determine the size you need.

Thickness
Size and the thickness of the steel go hand in hand. As big as your safe might be, paper thin walls won’t keep anyone out.

Major manufacturers list thickness in terms of gauge. Handgun safes are made of steel ranging from 12-16 gauge. Inexpensive gun safes are made from 14 gauge, while slightly more expensive are made from 7-12 gauge.

Safes can be made with any thickness you like. Of course, the thickness of the steel goes hand in hand with the price—the thicker the steel, the higher the price. An evaluation of the importance and value of the contents of your safe will directly determine the level of security you should consider.

Double Up
Instead of getting a larger safe, some gun owners just purchase more safes as their collections grow. Assuming you have the space in your home, it may not be a bad idea to get two safes. You get even more space and added convenience. You can keep unused guns and long-term storage items in one safe and use a smaller safe for the guns and equipment you use regularly.

Remember that it’s your job as a responsible gun owner to keep unauthorized individuals away from your firearms. Choose a safe that accommodates your collection without sacrificing your security and safety.

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