How to Mount Your Safe

How to Mount Your Safe

So you just brought home or received via UPS that new pistol safe that you always wanted.  You are taking the first step in securing your handguns and other valuables away from children, thieves and maybe fire.  Regardless of the type and size of safe that you purchased, I hope that you read some of my earlier posts that recommended that you buy one that has mounting holes already pre-drilled.  If you did, then good job.  If not, well….maybe you can drill some holes in the unit, but I am not going to tell you to do that here.

These instructions and tips are going to assume the safe has some type of mounting holes in the bottom or back of the unit.  Here are some major items to think about for placement of the safe.

  • Where this safe is located in your home is very important.  If an intruder is trying to break into your home at 3:00am, you will have just seconds to get your handgun and defend yourself and your family.  Having your handgun in a large gun safe in the basement is probably not going to work!  Alternatively, your spouse may not appreciate the enameled black finish of your 800 pound gun safe in her bedroom like you do.  Plus, your upper floors may not be able to hold the weight of that heavy of a beast (if you install on upper floors, place the safe near a load-bearing wall as a precaution to support the weight).  These instructions are really for a simple 2 gun pistol safe, well then anywhere you can get to it in a hurry is the best place for it.  Spend some time deciding where to locate this unit.
  • If you are mounting a smaller handgun safe in your closet, consider upgrading your closet also!  I have seen many people replace their closet doors with a solid oak door or even a steel door.  They then put a deadbolt on the door for further security.  While this also may not prevent the burglar from getting to the safe, it will again slow them down.  In a townhouse that I recent saw, they had constructed almost a secure room under the stairs.  They had a steel door with a steel frame and 3 deadbolts (one at the top, bottom and middle).  Plus, to prevent someone from simply going through the wall around the door, the interior of this room under the stairs had 3/4″ plywood screwed onto the walls.  Tough little room!
  • Deception can also be used to slow down a thief.  Experts recommend buying a cheap gun cabinet and putting some old junker guns it.  The criminal may see these and think that is all that there is without looking for another safe.  Place a cardboard box over the safe and label it “shoes”.  Place a smoke detector in the same space on the ceiling as the safe.  If the bad guy uses a torch or cutting tool, it will set off the smoke detector, further frustrating him that he is making too much noise and taking too much time.
  • Positioning the safe against the wall and in a corner can reduce its vulnerability to brute force attacks and crowbars.   This will slow down the burglar and make them think twice if this safe is worth the effort.  I have seen a couple installations where the owner pushed the safe into the corner, mounted it, then they built another brick wall on the other side of the safe or put in something immovable next to the safe to make it almost impossible to get at the sides of the safe.  All you are left with is access to the door, which is typically the toughest part of the safe.
  • Before beginning any drilling or anchoring, consult the safe’s owners manual to see what they recommend.
  • Every safe should be anchored in place with heavy-duty fasteners that are as large and long as possible and appropriate for the material it is being mounted to.  Ideally, you should mount to both the bottom and the back of the safe into concrete or another solid surface.  If you can’t mount to the floor, you will want to find the studs behind your safe and bolt the safe to the wall studs (assuming your safe has mounting holes in the back).
  • One technique that thieves use successfully to steal even secured gun vaults is to simply pry them up using a large crowbar.  They will often be able to either break the bolts out of the floor or pull the bolt heads through the bottom of the safe (as many safes have thinner steel in the bottoms to safe on weight).  I recommend that you add a couple large “washers” made of 1/4″ steel about 4″x4″ with correctly sized holes drilled in them.  You can probably buy these for just a couple dollars at a steel shop.  Make sure the holes are drilled no larger than the bolt diameter to prevent pulling the heads through the washers.
  • If you are new to hardware and bolts, consult the guys at Home Depot on best hardware to mount your safe.  It is much easier to install threaded bolts into the floor and then set the bolts through the holes in the safe and then use washers and bolts inside the safe with a socket to secure than to try and use standard hex bolts and hit a hole under the safe.
  • Here is how to mount into different surfaces (remember, always consult the safe’s owner’s manual):
    • When mounting into concrete, don’t spare any expense.  Use a hammer drill to drill the correctly sized holes, vacuum out the holes, use Red-Head concrete anchors with epoxy and hammer in the bolts.  Allow the epoxy to set up overnight.  Those are going nowhere.
    • Wood installation is going to give you mostly one option.  Install using the largest and longest lag bolts that you can find.  Unfortunately, a determined thief will get these bolts out given enough time.  Wood is just not as solid as concrete.
    • Tile can be tricky as it is very easily cracked.  I do not recommend this installation.  If you insist, you will need a tile drill bit that is the size of the bolt (which will be expensive).  You may then need to drill through the thinset (concrete like material used to set tile on).  Then anchor using either wood or concrete anchors depending upon what the tile is set on.
    • Carpet and vinyl is mostly about using a very sharp knife to cut a tiny slit in the material and then installing per the concrete or wood installation above.  If you remove the bolts, a little glue (appropriate for carpet or vinyl) should allow you to hide the cut.
  • Jack over at does a great job of showing all the places you can mount a pistol safe.  Go over and take a look.
Securing your handgun safe is almost as important as buying one.  Just leaving it sitting in your closet unmounted is like leaving the keys in your car in the parking lot.  It makes it much easier for it to be stolen!

2 Responses to “How to Mount Your Safe”

  1. Nicole Clark says:

    I love this post. Basically the dilemma of home owners is to decide on a place where they could easily get hold of the gun in case of emergency, yet maintain it hidden or away from their children. I don’t have any issues with my husband’s passion for guns but finding the place for it at our house is really critical. Thanks for sharing.

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