18 August 2013

Gun safe selection

On previous posts I went about the process of Selecting a gun safe and then Narrowing gun safe selection, which gave my criteria for what a safe must have, should have and be nice to have.  What I wound up with is fromVault-Pro-Logo-4

and is their Marksman II safe at 72" x 40" x 28" which I was able to get a few minor features added on to meet my minimum specs.  I didn't go for any of the major upgrade features for thicker steel on the exterior or interior since I knew that it would have to be on a non-concrete floor.  Home interior stair steps are rated at approx. 1200 lbs. per tread, which is not a minor consideration for safe procurement.  For the square footage the floor is rated for dead weight at 2500 lbs,

Delivery I had done by a local firm that specializes in safe moving and it took a total of three crewman and their boss along with a stair climber to get the safe into the house.  It was larger than the standard gun safes they deliver from the well known, big box companies and much heavier as well.  There was no way that a less experienced crew could get it in.  As there is no way for me to know where the major support members are for the floor under carpeting without doing some major exploratory work in the basement, I had to go with the basic measurements and knowledge of where those members are in relationship to the basement ceiling and transpose those to the main level floor.

As delivered, here it is:

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This is the matte black color scheme and I asked for them to kill the gloss as much as possible for it as I don't need a spare mirror in which to comb my hair.  The exterior details are good, although the manufacturer's logo appears to be a decal, as does the pin striping.  That lock is a S&G type and it is one where you have to basically get the number dead-on with the lowest variance from it in either direction.  During delivery I, somehow, got it open the first time with ease, almost like I knew what I was doing.  Re-opening it after locking it... that was another thing, entirely.  If I had known that it would be a bit of a pain to operate I would have gone with one with a bit more slop for getting the numbers, as it is patience and concentration are necessary to get it right.  A lot of patience.  A whole lot.

Now onto the interior:

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This is one of three standard configurations with the other two being all long shelves (basically a huge handgun safe or standard safe for collectibles/valuables) and a tri-divided bottom.  I was very tempted with the triple arrangement, but decided on this for various reasons, with the primary one being that I have more long guns than would fit in 1/3 of the bottom.  Also a couple of those are Mosin-Nagants at 48 1/2 long.  As you can see this is a full carpet interior that is hook & loop (i.e. Velcro) compatible, so that if you have pouches or anything else that you can get hook material on (you know the stiff fibers that grab, not the soft loop side) then you can just stick them onto the carpeting.  VaultPro uses Fossshield which is added to the fibers to help prevent mold, mildew and other organic growth on them.  A handy feature, that.  The interior is adjustable using Knape &Vogt pilaster standards and #256 supports.  The carpeting is attached to the smaller shelves using an adhesive of some sort, to the larger boards with small staples and to the interior it appears to be mostly adhesive, save for the sides which must have wood backing to support the pilasters, which appears to be the staples again.

A word on the adhesive used and this goes with any safe interior: if you are allergic to new car smell, or have any problems with the VOCs used to attach carpeting via adhesives then it would be wise to ask for a low VOC adhesive to be used.  In fact if you can get the safe manufacturer to air out the carpeting in sunlight for a week, that would be even better.  This has been the single major problem of purchasing a new safe and makes the refurb/used market very appealing as an older safe will have gone through all of that stuff within a few months after delivery when it was new.  For me the safe delivery came when I was already getting an upper respiratory tract infection and, a few days into that getting treated, I got food poisoning which has killed all of JUL 2013 and the first part of AUG 2013 for me.  Dealing with the off-gassing of the safe interior (the exterior is great, no fumes at all) has been a major hassle and has delayed getting it finally anchored and migrating equipment into it during this period.

How I've dealt with the off-gassing... first airing out the interior boards on the back deck for a week.  Fresh air and sunshine help a lot, but do nothing for the safe interior as there is no way to move that sucker so as to vent fresh air into it nor to get sunlight into it.  Because of that it has been 'better living through chemistry' time.  Oh, joy.  Oh, rapture.

After sunshine and fresh air here are products I've used to varying degrees of success:

1) Baking soda!  Get a cheap, old fashioned dusting plant sprayer... you know the type that is part bicycle pump and part hvlp paint sprayer?  The kind with the bottle by the nozzle.  Get one new, that hasn't been used for anything else and fill the bottle portion about half full with baking soda.  It is hard to get an even, fine dusting out and I would end up with major amounts coming out now and again, but I was able to get every surface covered with fine to small heaps of baking soda.  Let stand one hour and sweep up with vacuum cleaner.  It works, to a degree, and was one of my last resorts.

2) The Bad Air Sponge.  This is weird stuff but effective, at least for the stuff in the air.  Basically just open it in a room with bad odors floating around it, let stand until you start to get the smell of stuff from the container (not obnoxious and not a perfume, just chemistry) and let that react out in the air.  When its done you should have a decent smelling room again.  Repeat as necessary with longer openings for places that have really bad fumes... like my workshop.  This baby has done more to get rid of some of the old smells used in finishing woodworking than anything else I can name.  For the gun safe close it up on the inside overnight (8 hours or more) and then open the safe, close the canister and ventilate the room if possible as you now have a concentrate of that stuff in the air.  This has done wonders for the gun safe and is better than waiting a few months for the VOCs to react out, that's for sure.

3) Zero Odor – In the 8 oz. trial size.  This was the first stuff I used to just be able to access the safe and it did a good job getting rid of the stuff in the immediate air, but less of a job with the continuing off-gassing.  For that brute-force, 'must get there within the hour' deal it can't be beat.

4) Expel – Another of the 8 oz. trial size bottles and this one did a basic job of allowing me to actually get the interior out to the sunlight.  A very good job on the immediate surface gasses coming from the carpeting/adhesive and without it who knows how long it would have taken me to get this far.

Each of these products has its place in the removing VOC and other organic chemical smells from carpeting in a gun safe, and they are each role players in that effort.  The baking soda can't be completely removed from the carpeting although another go-around with the vacuum might get more of it out.  As it isn't a salt I'm less worried about it than about, say, some of the chemical moisture removers.

At this point there safe is now far enough along to actually secure it to the floor and I was nearly dead-on with one of the support beams, hitting it square with one lag bolt and just a bit off-center with another, which as put that one in a direction that will resist motion along that long axis.  The other two are in the floorboards.  Lag bolts with washers and lock washers plus a ratchet with a deep socket did the trick after drilling a small pilot hole.  The safe itself is resting across two support beams but the holes can only line up for a single one, which is what I can get without having some major work done to floor and basement ceiling.

Next comes lighting!  It is dark in that safe and you just can't imagine how bad it gets in there, even during daylight hours.  Thus I looked and looked for an all American Made lighting system or at least a lighting integrator from the US and came up with a solution at Inspired LED.  As I believe a safe should have as few holes in it as possible and should have no added features that do fun things like put live voltage inside a safe.  Yes, I do know about MTBF and equipment that shouldn't fail to a short...and those are just nice ways of saying that the odds are on your side for a few years and you guarantee you will swap out equipment that isn't fully up to snuff and before it hits MTBF... I reduced those odds to zero and got a DC battery solution.

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For this I have a battery pack with two sets of 8xAA batteries in parallel along with a normally closed reed switch for the door, plus all the wires that utilize 1.3mm DC coaxial male ends between everything.  Working with Inspired LED I got a basic package together along with battery pack solution to get the safe lit up.  Now this is just a test situation to make sure everything works and to get the safe to where it could at least accept Mosin-Nagant rifles, which is that long rifle in its Browning sleeve on the right.  Because I removed one long shelf, that meant that I had down-lighting for the long gun area and a spare light that I put along the right hand interior to shine into that part of the safe.  This was about two weeks after delivery and in the midst of moving shelves to the outdoors for airing out.  I used the two spray products to allow me to work on the safe and get it this far.

That is a really snazzy lighting system, don't mind the wires drooping all over the place as it is just a test configuration.

That vast expanse of doors loop space cries out for something to make it serve as storage.  Here is where you'll find that on other safes that have things like gun racks on the door you lose some interior space to those racks.  This safe has a small amount of clearance between the door and the interior, which means you have to get creative and arrange door storage to suit the interior.  And if you ever think you might shift the interior around, a modular doors system would be ideal.

Say, I did a few write-ups about this sort of thing for packs and equipment... wouldn't it be great if someone made a huge MOLLE panel for a gun safe?  I mean I could stitch one together, maybe, over 8 or 9 months... and have it look amateur made, and probably need a new sewing machine to boot... but if someone made them...

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Why it's the MOLLE Safe Panel from Wilde Built Tactical!

Geeze, isn't that handy?  And all it really needs is, say, something to hold a couple of long guns so that they would fit into the open space in the safe interior between the other guns...

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Why it's the Eberlestock A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier I picked up a couple of years ago!  Amazing!  I'm utilizing ITW GrimLoc carabiners for this, not webbing stuff.

Now on the interior is something that I rigged up out a MOLLE vehicular panel that has been sitting in the closet begging for use:

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It doesn't come with hook material strips on the back, I added those from some that I picked up online and used Beacon Adhesives Fabri-Tac to put on three strips of 2" black hook to the back of the panel.  Apply in thin beads and do it outdoors because the smell of that stuff will knock out a charging rhino.  Sets quickly and the smell disappears rapidly, and within a half-hour your piece is good to go.  I can think of 1,001 uses for that and it is in what would normally be 'dead space' behind barrels of long guns.  Just look at that big pocket begging for cleaning supplies!  And after the first two rows of MOLLE you get something to put documents into, a huge pocket for that sort of thing just sitting there.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a place to put those thin repair manuals?  Look for those in surplus stores... I found that one a few years ago at one for something like $30 and now it is worth all of that and much, much more.  Plus you can always take it out and put it on the back of a car seat, like it is supposed to be used.  Geeze wouldn't that be handy for a 3-Gun event?

Mind you this is still in the interim 'see what fits before it all has to be stripped out again' phase.

Today is the first phase of doing the final install and using foliage green hook (foliage green is a good match for the gray interior) to start hiding all those unsightly wires:

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This may or may not be the final arrangement.

I added in two more LED panels to the under side of the rifle upright shelves and only have a bit of dead space over the top of the half-shelves.  I might get a document drawer or two for that, or just use it for storage of manuals.  VaultPro sent me some touch-up paint for the exterior and I asked them for a strip of interior cloth to finish the top of the half-shelf support (so that you can't see the particle board used for it) and then made a couple of quick placement round covers for the bolt holes and removed those shelves.  I'll probably take some spare foam padding and put it under the long gun side.

And that is the gun safe excursion.

A few more days with The Bad Air Sponge ought to clean up the last of the VOC problems and make it something I can actually keep open for longer periods so I can get the equipment into it.


Unknown said...

I never thought too much about the interior fumes of a new safe, but I will now. That's a great detailed post about which products can help take care of that.

A Jacksonian said...

Yes, buying anything new... even a new carbine or long-gun that comes in a clamshell case with factory padding... means it has to be aired out. I truly hate the VOCs and my last new car I rode around for a few weeks with the windows all down and the air blowing full blast. I seriously looked at a number of used safes, even going back to 19th century models, trying to find something that would fit the bill.

Remember that no single product did the trick, and my lady is even more allergic to VOCs than I am and still gets a reaction to stuff I can't smell.

The battery solution is decent, but I really need a LiON battery back for the thing. I have one that is used to recharge stuff like cellphones, but it isn't a continuous on and no way to rig an on switch to the safe without taking it apart. Since it can push out what the LEDs can handle, it is really bright which means looking for one of those packs that does have something for an external switch... or hacking into the one I got... decisions, decisions...

It is covering the little things that makes a decent review, so that people can know what the pluses and minuses are, and might get some better idea than what I could think up to handle problems. I love that Wilde Built tactical panel! If you already have MOLLE, then why go with anything else?

Jeff said...

Just wanted to drop a comment to thank you for posting information about your gunsafe selection. I ended up going with a 3627-6 model from Sturdy Safe Mfg. I would have considered going with the VaultPro, but for a couple reasons: 1) It was more expensive for virtually the same thing. 2) Some of the answers I got back from the owner I thought were a little strange. It seemed like he was hiding something, whereas, Sturdy has videos and pictures of everything on their safe.

A Jacksonian said...

Jeff - I looked at Sturdy Safe as an alternative and had to do the weight-price-volume dance to see what would fit the budget. And I did have requirements as outlines that they were able to meet.

VaultPro did have a production delay due to opening their new facility, which was about the only unexpected hiccup in the affair. I was able to get a production schedule and had seen pictures of their facility, plus their safes in production. I didn't have any problems dealing with Tony, so no complaints on that.

Keep in mind that my model is a 7240 and sizing does start to make a difference in price, or at least it did when I started on this purchase journey. I'm still working on a decent power solution in the way of a LiON battery pack, which had to be put behind my router table project so that could get finished, a known headache at the start as I didn't want external power going into the safe.

I am glad you got what fit your requirements and hope you enjoy it!