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Gun Safe Terminology


Below is additional information we've gathered to help you better understand the inner workings of a gun safe! You'll find definitions to some of the most commonly used safe terms. Of course if there are any terms left under answered please call one of our experts and they'll be happy to go over any details with you!


Alphabetical Definitions of Common Safe Terms

  • Amalgamate/ Composite
    • Similar in many ways to poured high density concrete, Amalgamate refers to a blend of varying ingredients, often including concrete, that are poured in semi-liquid form to create the protective fire resistant outer casing on high end fire safes. Upon hardening, amalgamate acts as an extremely good fire insulator along with providing a substantial increase in burglary protection. The, PSI rating, and ingredients that comprise the amalgamate vary dramatically from builder to builder as each safe manufacturer attempts to achieve the perfect blend of both fire and burglary protection. This material is often times used in the door of a safe.

  • Anti-Pry Tabs
    • Anti-pry tabs are reinforced brackets installed on the top and bottom of the pin-bar brackets. They increase the security 300% from pry attacks.

  • Biometric Lock
    • Is an electronic lock with finger scan technology. Biometrics is the science and technology of measuring and analyzing biological data for authentication purposes, for example fingerprints. To unlock the safe you simply place your fingerprint over the scanner.

  • Bolt Coverage
    • Refers to how many sides of the safe door have locking bolts. The more bolts on the safe the stronger and tighter the door seal.

  • Bolt Work
    • Bolt work includes the large solid “Locking Bolts” that protrude from a safes door along with all the mechanical components necessary to support the functioning of those bolts, including the safe’s locking mechanism.

      Most safes come with 1 way bolt work, meaning the locking bolts run along a single edge of the safe door. 3 way bolt work doors have locking bolts that run along three sides of the safe door providing increased protection from pry based attacks while 4 way bolt work doors have locking bolts running along, you guessed it, all 4 sides of the door.

      Densely clustered locking bolts only prove useful on a safe door or bolt carriage that is thin enough that it may bend or buckle during a pry based attack. In this instance, the extra bolts do provide some compensation for the insubstantial door. The door of a high security burglary safe (a safe with a half inch thick solid steel door or better) will not bend, nor buckle under the most extreme pry attacks.

  • Dial Lock
    • Just as the name implies, these are locks that open by dialing a combination on a hand turned wheel. Dial locks require no power supply and UL certified dial locks are the most reliable of any lock type. 3 and 4 wheel locks are the most common.

  • Drylight Insulation
    • Drylight insulation is poured between inner and outer steel walls for premier fire protection. It has a concrete texture but is lighter than concrete and extremely fire resistant.

  • Electronic Locks
    • Electronic locks are opened by entering a numeric combination on an electronic keypad. These locks are the most popular lock type as they are faster opening than “Dial Locks” and often offer additional features such as multiple user combinations,.“UL” certified locks are highly reliable. Electronic locks do require a power source, usually a 9 volt battery.On most locks, the battery is conveniently located on the outside of the safe, just behind the keypad. If the batteries go completely flat, the safe will stay locked and will retain the combination. The user simply replaces the batteries and the safe is good to.

  • Firewall
    • Firewall is a fire resistant panel similar in many ways to a common household drywall panel. The majority of fire safes on the market use this paneling to provide fire protection.

  • Fire Rating
    • A fire rating is a claim that the safe can prevent the interior contents from reaching flash point temperatures (350° F) for a specified amount of time while the outside temperature is at a stated fire temperature.

      Some of these claims are backed by a “UL” or other rating system, others aren’t. Safe marketing companies have grossly manipulated their fire claims, and there is talk within the industry of popular fire rating labs falsifying testing results for profit. The best way to determine a safes true ability to resist fire is to understand the processes and materials used to build that safe.

      Standard fire safe rating:
      This fire rating states the safe will to prevent valuables from reaching flash point temperatures of (350° F) for up to 30 minutes with an outside temperature of 1200° F.

  • Gauge
    • Gauge refers to the thickness of protective steel plating used to encase the safe’s body and door.

  • Hardplate
    • A small plate comprised of a variety of extremely dense materials designed to shatter, bind, or otherwise disable drill bits and other cutting tools that attempt to penetrate the plate’s surface. The hardplate is situated between a safe’s inner lock and door shielding the lock from direct penetration attacks.

  • Internal Hinges
    • Are ball-bearing operated and located on the inside of the safe and attached to the safe body.

      There are several benefits of internal hinges in gun safes. They prevent a thief from tampering, cutting, or torching off the hinges; they provide extra resistance against prying or bending of the door; and the smooth sliding ball-bearing hinges add an automatic door stop to protect the safe walls from damage.

  • Locking Bolts
    • These are the thick steel bolts seen protruding from a safe’s door. When turning the locking handle on a safe’s closed door, the bolts slide into position behind the door jamb, anchoring the door firmly shut.

  • Palusol
    • Industry standard expanding door seal. Can expand 5 to 9 times its original size during fire in order to seal out smoke and heat.

  • Re-Locker
    • A re-locker is a mechanical device designed to permanently lock-out a safes bolt work the moment illegal tampering is detected. While re-lockers can take on a variety of forms, the most common re-lockers are small hardened pins placed at critical door bolt work locations.

      The pins are under spring tension to close but are held in the open position by cables. The cables in turn are anchored to the safes internal lock. Should the lock become dislodged, the cables release allowing the attached relocking pins to snap firmly into predrilled locking holes along the bolt work. Once triggered, the safe cannot be opened until all tripped re-locker pins have been located and extracted… a lengthy process best performed by a professional locksmith armed with plans provided by the safes builder.

  • Spring Loaded Re-Lockers
    • Much like re-lockers except the spring load allows for it to lock-up the mechanism when punched or drilled.

      If the lock's back plate is punched off, the re-locker fires like a mouse trap, permanently locking up the safe's mechanism. This keeps the locking bolts from retracting. Even if the lock is completely destroyed the safe is locked tight.

  • UL (Underwriters' Laboratories)
    • This is a highly recognized testing laboratory that tests safes in addition to a wide variety of other products. Any safe bearing a UL label means that safe has passed UL labs stringent requirements to earn the assigned rating.

  • UL Certified Lock
    • This is a lock that has been certified by Underwriters’ Laboratories as a proven high security lock. Group 1 and Group 2 certified locks are the locks of choice.

  • Unibody Construction
    • Fully welded body construction. This means there are no seams in the front or sides of the top, which can be most vulnerable in or attempted break ins.

  • Waterproof Ratings
    • A waterproof rating generally states that the safe can stand in 2 feet of water for 72 hours.