Safe & Sound
- By Pete Moore
- 82 Comments
- Last updated: 19/12/2016
When I first applied for my shotgun and firearms certificates (SGC/ FAC) many, many years ago security at home was more a box you ticked than a mandatory requirement. Equally, the licensing authorities of the time did not seem that concerned either. Obviously things have changed considerably, with ‘government-approved’ cabinets being mandatory and much tougher checks and controls on what people get, as opposed to what they ask for. But if you perhaps consider what you own and it’s cost and potential replacement, then maybe your standard, approved steel box is not all that!
We are not talking cheap here but the generic American-style gun vaults (safes) offer a far superior solution and not just for physical security. These vaults are usually big and capable of storing a lot of guns, which is perhaps better than having a number of smaller boxes. They are also fitted out inside with racks, soft, protective linings and even storage compartments for ammo and the like. Some are even fire-proof; after all if you consider your guns and optics an investment they need protection from any eventuality! Which can also extend to your other property like, jewellery, cameras, watches and documentation.
There are many companies offering these products but one that stands out is Browning with their ProSteel Defender Gun Safes. Their range comes in four options as to size, weight, capacity and features. The outer carcass and door is made up of a 10 gauge (3.404mm) steel outer and 12 gauge (2.769mm) steel on the inside. Between these is a fireproof insulating Gypsum layer (ThermoBlock) of various depths that are certified fire-resistant to 760° C for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the model. All seams are welded for added security and there’s a Palusol, high-temperature expandable door seal for added protection. The safes conform to both European and American standards with the German VDMA 24 992 Level ensuring a strict quality control criteria. The American UL RSC rating means the designs go through a series of tests where they have to resist attacks by the following; hand tools (hammers, screwdrivers, chisels etc), pry attempts using iron bars and forced entry by drilling.
Locking is by nine, 1” bolts; six retractable in the door – one top and bottom and four on the opening side with a further three fixed in the hinge-side frame. These are controlled by a single or multi-spoke handle (depending on model) with an anti-force facility. This will free wheel the handle if too much force is applied when locked. Entry is by an electronic key pad with a memory should the power go down. The finish appears to be a Japanned (Hammerite-type) paint. There are also holes for fixing bolts too. As I said, the different options offer different accessories and specifications; so let’s start at the entry level!
This is the smallest of the series but still holds a generous 10 long guns and measures 140x43x38 cms and weighs 256 lbs and is lined. Opening is by a single handle, with force deflector system and the interior is certified fire-resistant to 760° C for 30 minutes, plus has the Palusol seal. Insulation thickness; 1” (door & ceiling) and 0.5” structure. Price is £987.
Now we start to move up a little; with a higher capacity of 12 long guns, with a locking ammo box top left and also a three-spoke opening handle. All other features remain the same as the Defender 10 with the exception of dimensions at 147x53x43 cms, weight – 351 lbs, price £1299 and some internal gun racks.
This is the top end of capacity, at a whopping 23 guns, with all the same build spec but obviously bigger – dimensions 147x76x51 cms, weight 481 lbs and price £1663. Also included is an ammo box and interior racking, as guns can also be stored on the door’s interior surface.
Browning describes the Prestige Defender 19 (19 gun capacity) as: ‘a luxury safe that is finely fitted out, stylish and supremely fire-resistant.’ It’s not quite as large as the Defender 23 at 147x61x48 cms but includes the lockable ammo box, shelves, racking and a hanging sheet for small items like choke tubes, tools etc and full door storage. The interior is beige-lined and insulation thickness is now; door 1”, ceiling 1.5” and structure 1”, which offers 60 minutes of fire protection. Price is £1871; like the name says this is the top end version.
As with all gun boxes I have tested over the years, the capacity tends to be based around rifles without scopes, moderators or bipods fitted. As can be imagined, these tend to take up more room inside and reduce the payload a bit. So as a rule of thumb I’d deduct one or two guns from the total if they are fully scoped up etc, obviously shotguns and iron sighted rifles are not an issue!
Browning also offers a delivery option for various countries and I asked Browning EU how that works for the UK? They said: ‘Regarding the delivery, we can ship it for free in front of your building in England. For £125, we can bring the safe inside your house, if the conditions are not too bad as to access for the delivery vehicle.’
Overall, an impressive range of gun safes; OK none are cheap when compared to the light gauge, approved, steel boxes most of us use. But they are exceptionally well built with good options on storage capacity and the protection offered in terms of theft and fire is impressive. Plus they are certainly easy on the eye!