People use gun safes to protect their guns from several threats: Theft, flood, children’s curious and unknowing hands.
House fires serious enough to cause major damage are rare but they can overwhelm you and your family very quickly. And if your house does catch ablaze, you want to prioritize saving lives, not waste time on gathering your firearm collection.
But firearms are expensive investments and it’s wise to give them their best chance of surviving a house fire when possible.
That’s why you may want to consider a fire-resistant gun safe. Such a safe will give your rifles, shotguns, and pistols a chance to survive until the fire department can put out the fire.
Are there any good fireproof gun safes?
Is there even such a thing as a fireproof gun safe?
Let’s find out by looking at some safes and examine how hot a fire they can handle and for how long they can protect your guns from a blaze. Plus, they have to be good safes, too!
6 Best Fireproof Gun Safes of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- Best Value for the Money: Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe
- Best Under $500: Cabela’s Mechanical Lock 10-Gun Safe
- Best Upgrade Pick: Rhino Metals Thunderbolt RT7242X
- Best for Handguns: SentrySafe SFW123
- Best Upgrade Pick for Pistols: Rhino Metals Ironworks CIWD3022
- Best Portable: SentrySafe CHW30220 Fireproof and Waterproof Box
Check out the table below to compare our top picks at different price points!
|Category||Best Budget Pick||Best for the Money||Best Upgrade Pick|
Cabela's Mechanical Lock 10-Gun Safe
Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe
Rhino Metals Thunderbolt Gun Safe
|Exterior Dimensions||18" x 16" x 56"||24.25" x 20" x 59.25"||42" x 27" x 72"|
|Capacity||10 long guns and 3 handguns||18 long guns and 4 handguns||54 long guns and 8 handguns|
|Fire Rating||30 minutes at 1,200° F||30 minutes at 1,200° F||160 minutes at 1,400° F|
|Entry Methods||Mechanical||Mechanical or electronic||Manual, electronic, or biometric|
|What We Like||Sufficient fire resistance for the price and reliable dial lock||Nice safety ratings and features for the price, good capacity for average gun owners||Customizable interior, super fire resistant, great looks|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Value for the Money Fireproof Gun Safe: Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe
- Exterior Dimensions: 24.25″ x 20″ x 59.25″
- Internal Capacity: 9.7 cu ft (18 long guns)
- Fire Rating: 30 minutes at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Method: Mechanical or electronic lock
The Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe hits a sweet spot for price and features.
First, we’ll look at the fire resistance.
This Centurion is rated to survive a fire burning at 1,200 degrees for half an hour. This is achieved through a double layer of fireboard and Palusol expanding door sealant. The Centurion will protect your guns from up to 62,000 BTUs of heat.
Or even a flamethrower! Check out the video below! 👇
As for physical resistance, Liberty fits a lot of protection without costing you a lot of money. You get a 2-piece 14-gauge steel body that resists prybars. The door is held shut with 10 locking bars, each one 4″ thick, and includes an external relocker to keep the door locked shut even after intensive attacks.
You can fit up to 18 long guns in this safe and they’ll be protected from scratches thanks to the carpeted interior. There’s a shelf to fit handguns, ammo, and accessories as well.
However, that shelf does block particularly long firearms from fitting in most of the spaces. Trap shotguns will have to sit in the few front slots. Also, that shelf may force you to remove all of your rifles to get to that one in the back of the safe.
You can choose between a mechanical lock and an electronic lock, depending on which locking mechanism you find more comfortable to use. Which lock you can buy seems to be dependent on which store you buy the Centurion from, though.
Also, the Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe is a California-approved firearm safety device!
- Flamethrower-proof fire resistance for less money than many other safes
- Safety features surpassing most gun safes at this price point
- The built-in shelf may affect where you have to store certain firearms and can make retrieving some guns difficult
The Liberty Centurion 18-Gun Safe is an excellent safe for when you don’t have a huge budget but you still want a lot of protection for your money.
Compare prices at: Sportsman’s Warehouse
2. Best Fireproof Gun Safe Under $500: Cabela’s Mechanical Lock 10-Gun Safe
- Exterior Dimensions: 18″ x 16″ x 56″
- Internal Capacity: 10 long guns and 3 handguns
- Fire Rating: 30 minutes at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Method: Mechanical lock
There are not too many options for inexpensive fire-resistant long gun safes, but this is definitely our pick for the best fireproof gun safe under $500. Cabela’s, however, meets both of these criteria, and offers a good safe for protecting modest gun collections from a fire.
The Cabela’s Mechanical Lock 10-Gun Safe is on the small side when it comes to safes. You can reach the stated capacity if you only have smaller break-open single shots. The door is thick enough to affect the safe’s capacity, so don’t expect to fit too many scoped semi-auto rifles inside!
There are three handgun pockets on the door, which hang higher than the bulk of the long guns so using them doesn’t affect capacity. Each pocket has an open bottom so tiny guns like an NAA mini-revolver will fall through!
This Cabela’s safe is rated for 30 minutes of fire protection and achieves this with fireboard attached to every external surface. The Palusol expanding door sealant blocks gaps when exposed to high temperatures. In fact, it’s more resistant than the rest of the safe!
The UL-listed mechanical lock is old-school but effective and, more importantly, is unlikely to be damaged by a fire.
- Adequate fire resistance with a fireproof door sealant at a price under $500
- Mechanical locks can survive fire better than electronic locks
- Not able to survive extended blazes so not suitable for use in wildfire-prone areas such as rural California
- Small capacity
The Cabela’s Mechanical Lock 10-Gun Safe may not be the fanciest gun safe nor can it hold a dozen guns. However, it does offer a lot of protection against both theft and fire for the under-$500 price tag.
3. Best Fireproof Long Gun Safe Upgrade Pick: Rhino Metals Thunderbolt RT7242X
- Exterior Dimensions: 42″ x 27″ x 72″
- Internal Capacity: 54 long guns and 8 handguns
- Fire Rating: 160 minutes at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Method: Manual, electronic, or biometric
The Rhino Safe Company, also called Rhino Metals, produces some of the best safes on the market. If you want to upgrade your firearm protection then the Rhino Thunderbolt is the best choice for you.
The Thunderbolt gun safe is rated for a whopping 160 minutes of fire resistance! This safe achieves such a rating by using 3, 4, or 5 layers of 5/8″ fireboard. Also, there’s not just one but two layers of heat-activated expanding door seals.
This safe may be the only object left standing amidst a black field of smoldering ashes.
The Thunderbolt can withstand a well-equipped intruder as well. The door is reinforced with a ball bearing drill plate, the lock has an anti-tamper clutch, and there is an automatic relocker as another layer of protection.
Rhino has many options available for customizing your Thunderbolt safe. You can choose heather gray or leatherette brown upholstering. The exterior has 5 glossy options and 3 textured options. You can even choose the color of the metal trim, i.e. the lock and handle. I’m a fan of the black chrome, personally.
You can choose which lock you want to use, too. Each one is UL-listed.
Rhino includes an electronic dehumidifier inside the safe as well as LED lighting. With a motion sensor, naturally. There’s also an electrical outlet complete with a USB port. Oh, and you can customize the shelves.
The safe can hold up to 54 long guns. You can upgrade the Thunderbolt with a swing-out gun rack, though this will cut into the safe’s capacity.
- Many customization options so your safe will be as beautiful as your heirloom shotguns
- Some of the strongest fireproofing you can buy
- Heavy enough (almost 1,500 pounds!) to not be suitable for installing in certain locations
- Long production times
The Rhino Thunderbolt provides a massive amount of protection for a massive number of guns, but is itself a massive investment.
4. Best Fireproof Handgun Safe: SentrySafe SFW123
- Exterior Dimensions: 16.3″ x 19.3″ x 17.8″
- Internal Capacity: 1.23 cu ft
- Fire Rating: 60 minutes at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Methods: Combination dial (SFW123DSB) or keypad (SFW123GDC)
Handgun safes are a lot smaller than rifle safes and are, by far, less expensive.
If you want a fireproof pistol safe that can also hold documents, jewelry, and other important items, then the SentrySafe SFW123 is a great choice.
It’s available with either a combination lock or an electronic keypad, but in either case it can hold 2.05 cubic feet of treasure and handguns and keep them safe from a 1,700-Fahrenheit fire for an hour. The safe maintains this rating even after a 15-foot fall!
That’s in important feature because fires often cause floors to weaken. A weaker safe would bust open after falling through to the ground floor.
And if it drops into water the 24-hours of water resistance will keep your handguns rust-free. Burst pipes and pools of water are surprisingly common in burnt-out homes.
The dial version has a shelf and a drawer. The keypad version adds a file organizer and internal light but requires high-quality AA batteries with a far-off expiration date.
The electronic keypad version comes with a set of keys. These are secondary locking keys and do not unlock the safe but rather allow you to disable the electronics.
Oh, and if your house gets torched by an inferno or swamped by a tsunami, SentrySafe will replace the safe for free!
- Free replacement if your safe survives a fire
- Small, easy to hide, and can be bolted in place
- Will keep out 8 inches of water for a full day
- The electronic version has strong power demands and no backup key so you’ll have to keep up on replacing the batteries
- You have to drill the mounting points yourself
The SentrySafe SFW123 series is a small, tough safe that’s good for storing a modest number of pistols while still maintaining the ability to protect them from fire and water. The manual lock is a better choice for those of us who tend to forget to replace batteries. However, the electronic lock will be faster in a self-defense situation.
5. Best Fireproof Pistol Safe Upgrade Pick: Rhino Metals Ironworks CIWD3022
- Exterior Dimensions: 22″ x 20″ x 30″
- Internal Capacity: Not stated (Best for handguns and ammunition)
- Fire Rating: 85 minutes at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Method: Manual, electronic, or biometric
Small gun safes are tricky to fireproof. They just don’t have much space for adding fireboard while staying effective as a safe.
The Rhino Ironworks CIWD3022 bucks this trend and does so more strongly than many larger safes.
This small safe is on the high-end no matter how you look at it. The fire resistance is outstanding despite the small size thanks to the door sealant and 2 or 3 layers of fireboard.
The physical protection is no less impressive. This Ironworks safe has 12-gauge steel all around and the same anti-tamper features as the larger Rhino Metals safes, such as the anti-tamper clutch and automatic relocker.
As for aesthetics, the Ironworks line leads the pack. This safe looks like a handmade safe from the 19th century. You may want to show it off rather than hide it away!
Don’t let the antique look fool you, though. Even the electronic and biometric Sargent and Greenleaf locks are tough enough to be classified as EMP resistant.
The leatherette and plush interior not only looks fancy but also protects your expensive handguns from being dinged up. You can adjust the shelves to your liking.
However, the Ironworks small safe does not come with dedicated handgun holders. You’ll have to either install your own or be fine with laying your pistols and revolvers on the shelf.
There’s an electrical outlet installed. It also has a USB port. This is great for keeping your self-defense pistol’s light charged.
- As strong as a larger gun safe despite being so small
- Extreme amount of fire protection for a small safe
- Impressive aesthetic appeal for a gun safe
- The lack of dedicated handgun hangers stands out as an odd omission for a safe this expensive
If you want a small safe for storing handguns, ammo, and other valuables from theft and fire, the Rhino Ironworks CIWD3022 stands above the other choices in nearly every respect. It would benefit from coming with handgun hangers, though.
6. Best Portable Fireproof Handgun Safe: SentrySafe CHW30220 Fireproof and Waterproof Box
- Exterior Dimensions: 16.5″ x 14.8″ x 7.6″
- Internal Capacity: 0.36 cu ft
- Fire Rating: 30 minutes at 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit
- Entry Methods: Key
The SentrySafe CHW20220 is a portable lockbox that’s both fireproof and waterproof.
It’s small enough that you’ll only be able to fit a handgun or two. However, this handgun will be able to survive a 1,550-Fahrenheit fire up to half an hour!
Note, though, that SentrySafe doesn’t recommend storing ammunition inside. Gunpowder is much more sensitive to heat than even paper, and exploding cartridges would damage everything inside the safe.
Speaking of which, the inside of the safe is large enough to lay a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ paper flat, but just barely. So, it’s good for document storage, but not perfect for that purpose.
The only locking method available is to use the barrel keys. When closed, this safe can survive being submerged in water for up to three days.
- Able to fit several compact handguns
- Fits 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper (barely)
- Not able to be permanently mounted anywhere (not theft resistant)
- Not recommended for ammunition, even in a magazine
Portable safes give up a lot of functionality to maintain portability. The SentrySafe CHW30220 is small enough to be a portable and fire-resistant handgun safe, but don’t use it to store a loaded gun!
How Important is a Fireproof Gun Safe?
“Fireproof” is one of those qualities that seem extra important in a gun safe.
You’re spending a lot of money on a device that will protect your gun from loss through various means. Why not spend a little more for a gun safe that’s fireproof, too?
Well, adding fire resistance to a gun safe drives up the price. A lot.
Fireproofing involves adding material inside the safe, typically gypsum board, that works to insulate the inside of the safe from the hot outside flames. This also decreases the usable amount of interior room.
So, when you buy a fireproof gun safe, you pay more for less space.
And what do you get?
Protection against an event that’s extremely unlikely to happen. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are about 350,000 reported house fires annually. Only about one in four house fires will ever be big enough to call the fire department, and even then, it’s rare for the fire to spread enough to put everything at risk.
That’s not to say that fireproof gun safes don’t have their place, though!
While the general gun owner doesn’t need to spend the extra money for fire resistance, it’s well worth the expense for people living in areas with an increased risk of wildfires.
If any of these apply to you then it may be wise to buy a fireproof gun safe:
- You live in a fire-prone area, such as California
- There are a lot of vacant houses around
- Your area is known for arson
- It’s a long way to the closest fire department
- You live in an older house with an older heating system, gas stove, or lots of space heaters
- You live in a low-income area (less money for maintenance means higher chances of faulty equipment catching fire)
There are other risk factors as well. Generally, the higher the risk of house fires in your area, the better an investment it is to buy a fireproof gun safe.
The U.S. Fire Administration publishes data you can check out yourself to see if you are in a high or low-risk area.
How Fireproof is the Average Gun Safe?
The average gun safe without any fireproofing is not fireproof.
Well, it may be technically fireproof because a house fire will not typically get hot enough to melt the steel, but that doesn’t mean that it protects the valuables inside from heat!
In fact, once that steel warms up, it will transfer heat to the air inside the safe and start cooking whatever’s inside. The safe doesn’t have to actively engulfed in flames for this to happen. The residual heat from embers can cause damage to the contents of your safe!
A safe without any fire rating should be considered as not providing any protection against fire damage.
Should I Specifically Look for Gun Safes with the Highest Fireproof Rating?
Generally, the higher the fire rating, the more protective the safe.
However, you may not need to protect against fires at 1,875 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s because the standard house fire may not get that hot.
It’s hard to find data about the average temperature of a house fire for several reasons. For one, firefighters aren’t rushing in there to take measurements. And two, it depends on what’s burning.
Accelerants and fuel such as gasoline, diesel, and gunpowder will raise the temperature of a house fire to 1,700 F and above. Without temperature-raising materials, though, chances are the house fire will be between 1,200 F and 1,400 F.
So, the fire rating you should look for depends on the flammable materials close to where you’ll store your gun safe.
Wildfires can exceed these temperatures, too. So if you live where wildfires are common, get the gun safe rated to survive higher temperatures.
How are Gun Safes Fire Rated and What is the Testing Procedure?
As it turns out, there’s only one standardized test for safes.
It’s performed by the Underwriters Laboratory and is UL 72, the Test for Fire Resistance of Record Protection Equipment.
However, this test costs $60,000 to perform and has extremely high requirements that residential gun safes almost never meet. They would be hilariously expensive if they did!
The test involves putting the safe into a giant oven, which is then cranked up to 1,550, 1,700, 1,850, 1,920, or 2,000 F, depending on how long you want to rate the safe for.
Temperature sensors are placed inside the safe. Exceeding 350 F inside the safe will cause it to fail the test, though even stricter requirements are available.
It can take hours to get the oven up to temperature. And the safe is left in the oven until the temperature inside the safe (not the oven!) starts to fall rapidly.
This can take three days.
If the safe survives and doesn’t exceed the appropriate internal temperature then it becomes UL Listed.
This testing is for commercial equipment, so most residential gun safes are not tested under such strict standards. In fact, there are no other standards.
All fire ratings involve putting the safe inside an oven. However, the oven might be opened when the hour is up, or the rating is actually for how long it takes to hit 350 degrees, or the temperature probe is put at the bottom (also the coolest) part of the safe…
The point is, most “fireproof” gun safes are actually only fire resistant, but this trait is still more than useful if exposed to a small house fire.
However, don’t expect a residential safe to protect everything inside from a raging inferno!
How to Choose a Fireproof Gun Safe
If you’ve decided that you want a safe that will protect your guns from fire then you’ll still need to decide on which one to buy.
If one of the above products doesn’t jump out at you, look at the following criteria for choosing a safe.
The biggest consideration for choosing a fireproof gun safe is the number of firearms you want to store inside.
If you have a dozen rifles then buying a small safe is not a good idea. You won’t be able to store them all!
However, if your collection is limited to one rifle, one shotgun, and one pistol, then you won’t need a giant gun vault.
Firearm collections always seem to grow, at least for the people I know, so it’s worthwhile to buy a gun safe that can hold your current collection and then some.
But keep in mind that you’ll generally only be able to fit about two-thirds of the listed capacity of a gun safe.
That’s because pistol grips, scopes, and other projections will cause some long arms to take up more room than others. It’s rare to fill all slots in a safe.
You have your choice between keys, combination dials, and electronic number pads if you’re buying a fireproof gun safe. No fingerprint readers here!
The choice between these depends on how comfortable you are with each method.
Do you trust the electronics to have power when you need to get into the safe?
Do you constantly lose keys or have you kept the same key ring since high school?
Can you remember combinations easily and hit them every time or do you seem unable to consistently open a combination lock?
Where You’ll Install the Safe
If you know where you’ll be hiding the safe, you’ll have an idea of what you can put there.
For example, the massive Second Amendment gun safe is too heavy to install on the third floor of a building.
Measure the area you want to install the safe, as this will help you determine which safe to buy.
If you don’t know where you’ll put the safe, well, maybe you ought to reconsider your priorities.
What Can I Do to Protect My Fireproof Gun Safe?
Half of getting a fireproof gun safe is putting it in a smart position that protects the safe and its contents.
Choosing where you’ll put the safe is a trade-off between convenience and security. Err on the side of security, but don’t make the safe too inconvenient to use.
Here are some factors to help you determine where to put the safe for maximum protection.
Safes work best when they’re out of sight.
A safe in the open is a tempting target. Reduce the temptation by putting the safe in a place that’s out of sight, such as in a closet.
Humidity inside a gun safe kills the guns inside. A non-waterproof safe will gradually equalize with the humidity of the outside air.
This can make some otherwise-obvious location choices, such as a basement or garage, a poor choice. Those particular areas are more subject to moisture in the air and temperature swings, which are problematic for humidity inside a safe.
A safe needs to be installed on a surface that can hold its weight.
For heavier safes, this means a strong, solid surface, such as a concrete pad.
Don’t put a heavy safe on an upper floor! Even if the floor can normally hold the safe, if there’s a fire the floor can weaken, potentially dropping the safe multiple stories!
Non-portable safes should be permanently bolted or anchored to the wall and/or floor.
That way, a thief can’t take the safe with them to open later!
Once you have an area scouted out, check for solid wood that will handle heavy bolts. A concrete pad is great, too, as concrete anchors help hold safes in place.
Safes bolted in place are still vulnerable to being pried out of position.
The safest place for a safe is, generally, with the back to a vertical surface and one or both sides against another vertical surface.
The bottom should be even with the floor, too, with no carpet underneath.
A safe that’s tight against three sides and the floor will prove impenetrable against an attacker trying to pry it loose. Just make sure there’s room to swing the door open!
Also, ensure that the floor is perfectly level. This is so the door can open smoothly without falling open or shut.
A heavy safe door swinging closed could break an arm, so be careful.
Distance from Fire Sources
The best place to put a fireproof gun safe is as far away from any fire sources as possible.
This means that it shouldn’t be near the kitchen, furnace, or fireplace.
Also, avoid storing fuel and other accelerants near the safe.
The longer it takes for the fire to get to the safe, and the cooler the fire is when it surrounds the gun safe, the more likely everything within it will survive.
Protection in the Event of a Fire
Think about what will happen to the safe if a fire levels your house.
This can turn an otherwise good idea, the basement, into a horrible idea.
Because basements are often filled with debris and flooded with toxic water after a fire. You don’t want your gun safe simmering in the embers for days before you can excavate it!
Bringing it All Together
Now that you have all of this in mind, you’re better equipped for figuring out just where to put your fancy new fireproof gun safe.
If you can, I’d recommend installing a big safe on the ground level, in a closet on the other end of the house from the kitchen. Preferably on a concrete pad if you can.
Smaller safes can go on the second floor. Again, the closet works well, with the gun safe against the left corner and facing directly out of the closet.
Remember, a hard floor helps protect the safe from getting pried loose! Carpet compacts and can allow a prybar underneath.
On a final note, make sure to measure all of the door frames that lead to where you want to install the gun safe.
Too many gun safes have been delivered to a house with grand intentions of being put in a secure place, only to be left in the garage when the buyer realized that the safe cannot physically reach their closet!