what is the best material for a gun safe

What is the Best Material for a Gun Safe? 2-Minute Guide

When it comes to ensuring the safety and security of your firearms, the material of your gun safe plays a pivotal role. Whether you’re a casual gun owner or an avid collector, you understand the importance of protecting your investment, not just from theft but also from fire and moisture.

The market is flooded with a myriad of options, making it crucial to cut through the noise and understand what truly constitutes the “best material” for a gun safe.

This article aims to help you make an informed decision, covering aspects like steel thickness, fire resistance, and corrosion prevention.

Steel: The Industry Standard

So, what is the best material for a gun safe? Well, unsurprisingly, steel is the best and most common material used in gun safes. It’s known for its strength and resistance to tampering. However, not all steel safes are created equal.

Gauge Thickness Matters

The thickness of the steel is measured in gauges, and it’s counterintuitive—the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel. Most household gun safes will range between 12-gauge and 16-gauge steel. For higher security, commercial-grade safes often employ 10-gauge or even 8-gauge steel.


  • Extremely durable and robust
  • Resistant to drilling and cutting
  • Cost-effective


  • Heavier, making installation more challenging
  • May corrode if not well-maintained

Stainless Steel: An Upgrade

Stainless steel is essentially an alloy that contains a mixture of steel and chromium. The inclusion of chromium provides an additional layer of corrosion resistance.

The Stainless Steel Elite vault door is our top-end door with unparalleled security. This vault door sets itself apart with a 1-1/4″ thick solid stainless steel door plate paired with a solid stainless steel frame. This door weighs around 3000 lbs.Source: smithsecuritysafes.com


  • Better corrosion resistance
  • Improved aesthetics with a shiny finish


  • More expensive than standard steel
  • Still susceptible to advanced drilling techniques

Composite Materials: The New Frontier

Composite materials often combine layers of steel with other substances like ceramic or even ballistic material to create a more resilient safe.


  • Superior fire and impact resistance
  • Resistant to advanced cutting or drilling techniques


  • Often significantly more expensive
  • Heavier, requiring professional installation

There are even companies like SafesRUs based out of Houston that offer bulletproof upgrades on select Fort Knox models. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“Upgrade your safe to the Ultimate Ballistic Protection!”

The ArmaKnox steel is placed on all 6 sides of the safe as well as in the door for complete ballistics coverage. ArmaKnox has a unique combination of consistent and high hardness, high strength, and excellent toughness. The properties are the result of an appropriate composition of the steel and an optimized manufacturing process.”

“The high hardness of ArmaKnox steel is acquired thanks to heat treatment in a continuous process. ArmaKnox has three times the tensile strength of regular mild steel and by placing a heavy 7 gauge plate throughout your Fort Knox safe in addition to the existing steel in the safe, your safe is now virtually impenetrable.”

“A bulletproof safe? A safe more resistant to cutting, drilling, or prolonged attack? More steel than any other safe on the market today and is the only one that is ballistics-rated. ArmaKnox and Fort Knox are now the only security standard you should strive for.”

“Fort Knox Level 3 Ballistic Protection: three times harder than regular steel, the heavy 7 gauge ArmaKnox AR 500 steel gives the safe the ability to withstand 3 shots from a .44 magnum pistol!”

Fire-Resistant Materials

Fire resistance is another important consideration. Many gun safes add layers of fire-resistant materials like gypsum or concrete amalgamate. These layers are sandwiched between steel walls to provide fire insulation.

In this Liberty Safe cutaway, you can see the multiple layers of gypsum fireboard sandwiched in between the empty space between the folded steel door.


  • Effective in insulating against high temperatures
  • Adds an extra layer of protection


  • Makes the safe heavier
  • Can be expensive

Additional Considerations

Corrosion Resistance

If you live in a humid area, look for safes with rust-resistant coating or dehumidifying features.

Weight and Portability

The material used also affects the weight. If you need a portable solution, be prepared to compromise on material thickness.


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the best material for a gun safe. Steel remains a robust and cost-effective solution, while upgraded materials like stainless steel and composite options offer specialized advantages at a higher cost.

Additionally, consider fire-resistant features and corrosion resistance based on your specific needs. The ultimate choice should align with your requirements, be it high-security, fire resistance, or moisture protection.

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