Gun safes are large, heavy objects, which makes them potentially dangerous to move by yourself.
Some are so large in fact that even two people can’t pick them up! And, being so heavy and without handholds, these safes are easy to drop and could break furniture, the floor, or your foot.
Unfortunately, shipping a safe to your door typically only gets it onto the street in front of your house; it’s up to you to move it inside.
Specialized safe-moving companies do exist, but are quite expensive.
To move a heavy gun safe in your home, first measure hallways and doorways for clearances and choose the shortest passable path to where you want it. Cover delicate floors or walls with blankets or cardboard for both protection and to reduce friction as you move the safe. Next, empty the safe, cover it in blankets, and strap it down to a heavy-duty dolly, or use lifting straps for smaller safes. Wear gloves, work with a partner, bend your knees, and ease the safe into place.
Before You Move the Safe
So where do you start to safely move a heavy rifle vault to a new location in your home?
The first thing you have to do before moving a safe (or even ordering one for that matter) is to figure out of it’s even possible to get the safe where you want it.
A safe takes up a certain amount of space, then add several more inches in front for the handle. And remember that the door swings open as well, which requires even more space.
You want to make sure the safe can fit in your closet before you have it in your bedroom!
Another important consideration that some people forget is that you need to make sure the safe can fit through your doorways.
Too many gun safes have been delivered to a house, have a spot picked out for them, and can’t make it in the doorway. They typically end up in the garage. This is a less-than-ideal location due to humidity and how easy it is for a thief to get through your garage door.
It’s also a good idea to protect the walls and doorways where you’ll be maneuvering the safe around. Moving blankets can be taped in position to provide protection from scratches and scrapes.
Next, remove all furniture and other objects from your path.
Finally, put any pets in a safe place so they can’t sneak under you or the safe. You don’t want to step on a cat while shoving around a giant hunk of metal!
Note: If you are going to be mounting the safe in place then drill the holes before moving the safe. And be sure to double check the safe manual for the correct drill hole placement and measurements!
Get Helpful Tools
You can make things easier by getting a good selection of items with which you can move the safe.
Use grippy gloves to protect your hands. You should also wear closed-toe footwear with a good grip. Any slip can cause a disaster, so no flip flops!
A blanket can serve as a lower-friction foundation that protects your flooring.
Heavy-duty hand trucks, moving dollies, and pallet jacks can all be used to safely move your gun vault. If you don’t own any, they can typically be rented at your local hardware store or borrowed from a neighbor.
If you need to move the safe up or down stairs, a stair-climbing dolly will be a wise investment. Make sure both it and the stairs are rated to hold the weight of the safe!
Finally, get some beer, pizza, or ammo. Moving a safe with friends is much easier than doing it alone and you’ll need to reward them after it’s securely in place!
The ammo is for a range trip, by the way. This is a gun safe, after all.
Three friends are good; one person for each side; any more and they start getting in each other’s way. Unless you have a particularly enormous vault.
Prepare the Safe
Now that you have the tools and the help necessary to move the safe, it’s time to prepare it for the arduous journey ahead.
The first thing to do is to measure it and measure your intended path. Yes, again. And measure clearances at the most narrow point, such as between the baseboards in a hallway. You really don’t want to find out that it can’t get the safe where it needs to go when you’re halfway to your destination and stuck between a door!
Next, open the safe and remove everything. Even if the safe is new. You want it to be as light as possible.
If at all possible, remove the door from the safe as well. The door can be half of its total weight!
Then you can lift the safe onto the tool you’re using to move the safe. This is where the lifting straps can help. If it’s a small safe, just putting it onto a blanket can help.
Do this by tilting the safe. One of your friends pushes the top of the safe and the other holds up its weight so it doesn’t fall all the way over.
Putting your fingers under the safe’s bottom edge is a bad idea. Your friends can slip and then you’ll lose those fingers!
If you have the safe on a dolly then strap it to the tool so it won’t fall off. It needs to be secure enough that it won’t slide around on the dolly.
You can also wrap the safe in moving blankets to offer more protection against accidental scrapes.
Try to position the safe so its front is facing the back of the dolly. This is to help minimize how much you’ll need to move the safe when you reach the destination.
Moving the Safe
Now that the safe is on a dolly, it’ll be easier to move.
Your friends should stay with you for support. They can have hands on the safe to hold it steady as you move it.
If the safe is light enough for a moving blanket then have a friend on each corner, squat down, pull up, and slide it across the floor.
Remember to lift with your legs and not your back. Squat down for this, don’t bend down!
You can also use lifting straps so you can stay standing.
If the safe is on a dolly then tilt it back toward you (with friends holding the safe steady) and push it toward its destination.
It can be helpful to have a friend guiding the front of the dolly, because seeing over the safe may be difficult. The person in front should give verbal commands about when to stop and go and they should tell you when to turn.
You may have to transfer the safe onto a stair climbing tool to get it up the stairs. This is a similar tipping operation to getting the safe onto a dolly in the first place.
When the safe is close to its destination, you want to approach the location so you get the safe as close to its final resting place as possible.
Put the safe where it needs to go, have your friends tip it backward, then pull the moving tool out from underneath it.
Chances are high that you didn’t plop it exactly where you want it. Have several people holding the top steady while the rest of you push the bottom until the safe is exactly where it needs to be.
Now reward your friends you conned into doing labor with some food and drink!
Bonus: Tools to Avoid
The Internet is full of advice about how to move gun safes, and a fair bit of it is bad advice, such as using golf balls.
The ancient Egyptians moved large rock slabs by rolling them on top of logs. You can do something similar with high-quality PVC pipes or metal bars, but using a dolly is safer and easier.
Golf balls, though, are a horrible idea. DO NOT USE GOLF BALLS!
They make it easy to roll the safe, true. However, they concentrate the safe’s weight onto a few, small areas. You’ll likely damage your floor this way and maybe even your feet!
And the golf balls will sink into carpet, making it harder to move a safe.
It’s best to avoid them altogether.
If you get overwhelmed while moving a gun safe, then stop, take a step back, and reconsider the situation.
The cost of paying a professional mover is going to be much less than the cost of a hospital visit because a safe crushed your leg.
When in doubt, err on the side of safety, even if it is seemingly more expensive.
On the other hand, moving a heavy gun safe into its permanent home is a cause for celebration.
A word of advice, load the guns into the safe before you break into the six pack!