You might have a dog, or a home alarm, or a keypad. But having the best home safe you can find is still a worthy investment. This is where you’re storing your most valuable items. Be it documents, or cash, or insurance policies, or even some worthy collector’s items, you’ll want them to be safe. And not only safe from theft, but safe from the elements as well. That’s why the best home safes tend to be a bit pricier, but well worth the price.
But you don’t always have to spring out so much money on a safe. And you don’t need to have a separate safe for everything. For example, the best gun safe under 500 might also be the best small safe, or the best fireproof document safe. Your goal is to find the best safe for home usage within your budget. And that’s where we come in.
With the sheer amount of options on the market nowadays, it’s easy to make a mistake. So, we have assembled a list of the best home safe reviews. You’ll find everything from budget options, to high end safes. They are all different from each other, and serve a different “main” purpose. But what they all have in common is that you can use them for just about anything. And as a small bonus, we’ve also included a buying guide which should help you choose the appropriate safe for your usage, and your budget. Without wasting any more time, let’s dive in and see what your best safes for home usage look like, and which one to get!
Stack On Gun Safe Fire Resistant – the crème de la crème
If you’re looking for a safe that stores plenty of firearms, as well as other items and accessories, the Stack On Gun Safe Elite is a great option. And it won’t make a dent in your wallet either! This model can hold 24 firearms, which can be up to 54” tall. Or, it can hold 12 firearms, and some other personal belongings. Or, you can make it completely for storage. This makes it very versatile, and useful for just about anyone. The Stack On Elite 24 gun safe comes in at 415 pounds, which is pretty respectable. It’s meant to stay where you put it, regardless of what any thief has to say. Let’s see what our Stack On gun safe review has to say.
When you first look at it from the outside, you’ll find a black epoxy finish. There are chrome accents and a silk screen on the door. As far as the interior, as we mentioned, it’s very versatile. You can choose between all guns, guns and personal items, or all personal items. This makes it excellent for a gun owner, but it’s equally as good for the regular Joe. The entire interior is also fully carpeted. You won’t have to worry about your guns getting scratched inside.
But, before you get inside, there’s the lock. It’s an electronic combination lock, which is very good (more on that later). This lock comes with operational lights, which let you know when its open, as well as when you’ve entered the wrong combination, and when the batteries are low. It’s much safer than a mechanical lock, but still less expensive than a biometric one.
Why is this our top pick?
It’s actually simple. First of all, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. A safe is usually a very expensive item to purchase (even though commonly worth it), but not the Stack On gun safe. Next, you can customize it to your liking, making it a good option for just about anyone – not just gun owners. And last but not least, the required Stack On gun safe combination sequence is much safer than those old mechanical locks – making this a very safe place to keep your items. There’s no reason not to get it!
• Budget friendly, yet not cheaply built
• Electronic lock is much safer than a mechanical one
• Carpeted interior makes sure your items don’t get banged up
• It’s not exactly the cheapest safe out there
• Looks a bit cheap, even though it’s built like a tank
• The Stack On customer service leaves a lot to be desired
American Security Safe – The mechanical lock runner-up
If electronic locks aren’t your thing, and you prefer to trust the old mechanical one, do give this American Security safe a shot. As far as safe prices go, this one is a bit more expensive than our top pick. However, as it comes from Amsec, those few extra dollars might very well be worth it. Read on through our full American Security safe review, and see whether that is the case.
The American Security safe combination instructions are pretty simple to follow. As far as security goes, you’ll find a three-way boltwork, with 5 locking bolts. Those locking bolts are actually active 1-1/4” diameter chrome-plated steel locking bolts. You will also find four pre-cut anchor holes, and their respective mounting hardware.
The door is recessed, somewhat hiding the hinges, and is made from a ¼” solid steel plate, as well as a fire insulating material. This is crucial with a safe, and the drill-resistant hard plate on the combination lock is a good bonus too. It’s safe to say this is a safe safe (pun intended). Inside, you have a velour interior with a back cover, as well as firewalls. This safe looks very good, both inside and out.
• Made by Amsec, you can be sure that this safe will last
• The mechanical lock is as secure as possible, and made from high-quality, durable materials
• The safe is fire resistant at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 minutes
• The mechanical lock might not be as secure as an electronic lock
• The price is a bit high for an all-mechanical lock
Barska Safe Biometric – An extremely secure, yet budget friendly solution
If you want the best in terms of protection, biometrics are the right answer for you. And the Barska safe is one of the best biometric gun safe options you can get. Well, not just guns, really. You can use it for any other small items too. Biometric security will let you save up to 120 fingerprints – more than you would ever need. This lets you, and your family members use the safe, but not anyone else. Regardless of the conditions, the lock will give you access in two seconds.
The steel construction will easily resist any tampering or lock picking. There are three deadbolts, which only add to the security, and the tamper-resistant edges help too. In case you forget to change the batteries, you won’t have to look for the safe manual – just get the Barska safe key, and put it in the hidden keyhole. Or, plug in the backup battery pack, and re-activate the biometric lock!
You get 1.45 cubic feet of storage space, and there are two shelves for easier organization. You won’t be storing anything huge here, but for small personal items and firearms, it’s more than enough. To wrap up our Barska Biometric Safe review, if you don’t want to spend a fortune, but really want a biometric lock, this is your best bet.
• Extremely budget friendly
• Biometric lock is as secure as they come and there are two backup options as well
• Very well made, better than the price would suggest
• Barska isn’t the most well known safe brand out there
• No water or fire endurance ratings specified
Sentry Safe review – small, yet extremely secure
If you’ve gone through the list, looked at the ratings for fire resistance, and are looking for some numbers, here is where you’d find them. UL and ETL classified for 1 hour at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, the Sentry Safe gun safe will keep valuables and digital media safe. It will also withstand a 15 foot drop during fire, and stay completely closed. As far as water resistance goes, it’s ETL verified for up to 8 inches of water, and up to 24 hours.
The Sentry Safe lock box is still a mechanical combination safe, with four live locking bolts, as well as bolt down hardware which prevents any unauthorized entry. You won’t be needing a battery pack to use it, or any “how to open” tutorials – it’s very simple. This is the Sentry Safe extra large interior you’re getting. You have space for all valuables, as well as a multi-position shelf. You will also find a key rack for optimal organization. These guys really thought of everything! And in case of a fire, Sentry Safe vouch to replace your fire-resistant safe, which is a neat bonus.
• UL and ETL ratings ensure your safe is extremely durable
• The mechanical combination lock has no electronic security, but is still incredibly safe
• Spacious interior with good organization
• No pre-drilled holes for bolting to the floor
• You can’t change the combination
Steelwater Safe review – expensive, but well worth it
If budget isn’t a problem, this Steelwater safe is a great buy. You get a 2 hour fire rated safe, at 1850 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than any other safe on our list. The 5 1 ¼” active locking bolts will keep it closed, and in case of drilling, there’s a glass re-locking system. In case you don’t want a combination lock, there’s also the option to upgrade to a Kaba digital keypad as well.
We didn’t run into any Steelwater gun safe problems. Quite the contrary – the safe was a pleasure to use. At this price point, it would have to be, but that aside, we really enjoyed it. This is a pretty big safe – 27 ¼” x 15” x 15”, and it weighs 410 lbs. You could store just about anything you want in it! If you don’t mind spending a bit more, and prefer quality and reputation, just go for it – you won’t be disappointed.
• Extremely heavy and well built
• Mechanical lock can be upgraded to an electronic one
• Plenty of security mechanisms make this an extremely tough safe to break into
• Very expensive, especially compared to other options on the list
• Not water resistant enough to be submerged
Liberty Safe review – a small, yet secure handgun safe
If you don’t really have a lot of items, just a handgun, you don’t want a safe that’s too big. You want something small, like the Liberty Safe. With a biometric lock, you’ll need your fingerprint to unlock it. This makes it very difficult for thieves. Most Liberty Safe models, this included, are UL certified too, which is great to know.
You don’t need to have a specific gun for it. Most handgun sizes, even a revolver, will fit inside the Liberty Safe. In terms of dimensions, it comes in at 13” x 9” x 3”. When you’re using the AC adapter, you can unlock the safe in a single second. The Liberty Safe electronic lock can save 15 different fingerprints – ideal if you’re sharing the storage space with someone else. It might not be fitting for a lot of things, but if you only have a handgun, or some small valuables, it’s the best option on our list.
• Biometric lock is as secure as they come
• The Liberty Safe customer service is amazing
• Doesn’t look too trustworthy (but it actually is)
• Won’t fit much more than your handgun
First Alert Safe review – small, yet very resistant to fire and water
The First Alert Safe Box is an interesting product. Regardless of whether you have it bolted down or not, it protects your valuables from fire, water and theft. The fire resistance guarantees one hour at temperatures of up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can be sure that the waterproof seal will keep things dry as well.
As far as the First Alert safe models go, this is the 2087F. It gives you 0.94 cubic feet of capacity, which is enough for small valuables and electronics. The hinges are concealed and pry-proof, making them very difficult for thieves to get into. The First Alert safe combination might not be as secure as an electronic, or biometric lock. However, it’s still a great way to protect small, yet valuable items if you’re on a budget.
• Waterproof and fire resistant
• Concealed hinges which are pry-proof
• Very well made combination lock
• Not as safe as an electronic lock
So, which one would we recommend?
As you’ll see in the buyer’s guide below, the one to get is the one that suits your needs best. However, if we had to recommend one, that would absolutely be the Stack On gun safe. Even though the looks and customer support might not be that good, as far as the safe itself goes, it has a lot going for it. It’s a budget-oriented, yet very versatile safe. It tries its best to be the Swiss army knife of safe, and it comes pretty close.
The interior lets you customize the storage options to your liking, and there’s an electronic lock that’s actually really safe. You can keep just about anything here, even larger guns, and you can be sure that everything is absolutely safe. It’s also a pretty heavy and sturdy safe, which means it won’t be going anywhere you don’t want it to. All things considered, if you’re after a Jack-of-all-trades safe, and you don’t want it to cost an arm and a leg, this is the one to get.
A buyer’s guide
Now that you know what the options are for the best home safe, you should know how to pick one for you. Sure, your budget might be a limitation here, but there’s still something for everyone’s pocket in the list above. Let’s take a look at some of the features, how important they are, and which features are worth paying for. There are some things that won’t be worth it, so we won’t be focusing on those. Let’s begin.
Is just about every safe equally secure?
The short answer? No. There are various security degrees when we’re discussing safes. Sure, the basic budget safe might offer security against an average thief. However, thieves have been working out ways to actually beat a safe’s security for quite some time. This is why choosing a reputable brand is important. It’s also important to get the latest security measures and tricks – and the best safe brands often offer these things. And the best home safe, regardless of whether it’s the best fireproof safe, or the best small gun safe, or the best wall safe, should be tried and thoroughly tested. And yes, you should get a “home safe” for home usage. You might think that a shop or office safe is much safer, but the ratings determine the security – not the intended use. However, a home safe will be much easier to install.
In the last decade, there’s been a rapid rise in the market for domestic safes. Homeowners are aware that their personal wealth should be safe against crime and disasters. And manufacturers have made advances in materials and construction, which makes small, lightweight safes really affordable and easily available. All of this combined has resulted in an improvement in the safe standards, overall. However, this has also resulted in a myriad of new manufacturers that make cheap safes that actually work well. Due to this, though, not all safes are made equal. When you’re buying, always go for a reputable brand, one that tests its safes rigorously. The key is to balance a reputable brand, high quality product, and a good price point.
Is every safe fire resistant?
This is an important question with safes as well. A lot of homeowners don’t get safes just for security, but for protection against the elements as well. In case of fire damage, there are often important documents, personal belongings or antiques that you can’t replace by a cash value. This is where a safe comes in, but just like not all of them are equally secure, they aren’t all equally fireproof. Most offer some sort of protection, but many cheaper ones won’t really withstand a true inferno.
The degree of defense against fire usually depends on the construction. A plate safe is far from the best fireproof box, and a double-walled safe will only stay safe for around 10 to 15 minutes, and that’s if temperatures are relatively low. If you really want a shot at fire resistance, you’ll want a properly certified model. Salesmen often try to talk this up, but if you’re ordering online (and you should), you should be aware of the certificates and standards.
There are three basic certificates when it comes to fire resistance. They’re SP (a Swedish lab with quite a reputation), LFS (a European standard) and UL (an American laboratory). These are the standards you should be looking for, accompanied by a number. The number indicates how long the safe can survive in a fire, in minutes.
However, you should also be considerate of what you’re protecting. For example, paper degrades at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, digital media, such as USB drives and DVDs begin to degrade at 125 degrees. Depending on what you want to protect, you should consider these things.
What kind of locking mechanisms can you choose from?
When you’ve figured out how tough and fireproof of a safe you need, consider locking mechanisms. This might not be the primary thing – that’s the defense, but it is still very important. Different mechanisms affect price, convenience and security, and can suit different users. The basic mechanism is a key, but you also have mechanical combinations, or electronic interfaces, as well as the high-end biometric locks. A key safe will often be a budget model, or require a key as one of the methods. Sure, they’re simple and effective, but if you lose the key, that’s going to be a costly replacement.
A mechanical combination is pretty much what you see in the movies. You get a numbered dial that you spin, and this system has been around for ages. And while yes, it provides quite a bit of protection, it’s a pretty fiddly system to use. Working on the safe a couple of times a day is a time consuming process, and a professional thief will know their way around one. An alternative would be an electronic lock, which is a more up-to-date method with much less moving parts. You can enter your code in seconds, and it’s easy to remember. However, a cheap electronic lock works via a solenoid, and you can ‘bounce’ it with the right tools.
An electronic lock is worth getting if it’s a high-end brand, and a higher price point. This also introduces advanced features such as multiple user codes, and even a log of who was last logged on. Some even save a full trail with a history of who used the lock. You will also find things such as time delays and remote controls, which are great to have.
Biometric security – the crème de la crème
This is also something you see in the movies, but it’s usually in spy movies. This is the cutting edge of safe locks, and everything from the worst, to the best biometric safe, is still a great pick. This electronic system makes use of some part of the owner’s body. The two most common methods are fingerprint and retinal scan. These are both things that are unique to every individual, and they can be used to identify the owner when he or she is opening the safe.
In their early days, biometric locks were very tricky. However, nowadays they’re more or less everywhere. They aren’t just found on safes, but on electronic devices such as door locks, smartphones and even laptops and tablets. The main benefit of a biometric lock is that only the owner can open the lock, and you don’t have to remember a code, or keep a key that you might lose. Additionally, these locks often have an irrefutable audit trail which lets you have the fingerprints of every individual that tried to open the safe. These fingerprint scanners are very easy to use, and extremely reliable, so the best safes in the world often use such a method.
What about the safe’s rating?
Now, at this point you might be confused. You got a lot of factors, fire resistance, lock mechanism, construction, etc. You might be wondering, what’s the best fireproof gun safe? Or what’s the best budget fun safe, or what’s the best safe for the money? Thankfully, manufacturers have introduced ratings for this. Some reputable brands tend to give a “cash rating” to their safes, which is what’s used to determine how strong a safe’s protection is.
In order to have a good idea of how these work, you should know what a safe’s goal is. It is not to permanently protect your things. Given enough time, and appropriate tools, a criminal can break into pretty much any safe. However, a good one will buy you enough time to make sure the thief can’t get in, and nature’s elements can’t damage what’s inside the safe.
Therefore, insurers can’t really assume whatever is inside the safe is permanently protected. The value and nature of the items needs to be taken into account. Cash ratings are the amount an underwriter would insure whatever is in the safe for. For most jewelry and some valuables, this figure is then multiplied by a factor of 10. For example, a safe that’s cash rated at $60,000, can store $60,000 of cash, or $600,000 in jewelry.
Safes generally get these ratings through testing. And that testing is fairly rigorous, and done in accordance to European attack test standards. This means that a professional has used the appropriate tools, and replicated the amount of time a thief needs to get inside. There are also national testing laboratories that do even more testing. The rating is then obtained according to the tools used, and the time needed.
How should you install a safe?
When it comes to safe installation, there are two main questions to be answered. One, do you want a floor safe, or a wall safe, depending on the layout? And two, is there a suitable structural part that can handle a safe’s weight? It’s important to have the answers because one, they will affect your purchase decision, and two, there are certain standards to be met when you’re installing a safe.
If you don’t adhere to these standards, the first issue will be vulnerabilities. A safe is only as secure as its fixings. There are some budget options that are easily affected by impact and bouncing. If you have a small safe, it might be removed from its fittings. This basically gives the thieves as much time as they want. The other problem is that the fault for a theft can be put at the feet of the owner, thus making any insurance claims invalid.
To avoid this, any safes that are ECB.S certified, and weigh less than a ton, should be fixed to a solid concrete floor. A wall safe should only be installed in a wall that can hide, and handle it well. And when you’re having a safe installed, make sure that the bolts used are the bolts that come with the safe. There’s a good reason why they’re there – they’re tested just as well as the safe itself.
Wrapping things up
All things considered, it is absolutely worth it to invest in a safe. However, you can’t just get any safe. You have to make sure it fits your requirements. It must also fit your budget. And last but not least, it should fit the contents you need it for, and the home you’ll be installing it in. Only when you have all those things settled, can you get one.
Once you know the answers to those things, you can go ahead and pick the most suitable option from our list above. We made sure there’s something for everyone’s taste, and everyone’s pockets, so whichever one you choose, you won’t go wrong!