Today you will learn how to bolt down a gun safe in 9 easy steps. What must you know before buying your gun safe? And how do you decide where to bolt it down?
Before you buy your perfect gun safe, make a checklist of attributes you want your safe to have. Think about how many guns you want to store. Do you only need a small safe to store your handgun? Or do you have multiple firearms that range in size, from rifles or shotguns to pistols? Traditional or biometric?
Will you lock your guns up, so the kids can’t get at them? Or is it strictly for protecting your weapons from theft? Do you know where it will go, how much space it will take up, how heavy it is, and is it protected from adverse conditions, like flooding and fires?
Once you’ve chosen your safe, you need to figure out where you want it permanently situated. Some safes remain free-standing, either because the weight makes it difficult for thieves to lift and carry it out or because there is nowhere to bolt it down.
For example, if you rent a house you may not be allowed to drill holes, etc. This post takes you through the steps on how to bolt down a gun safe and gives you a list of what you need to get the job done.
Let’s get started!
How To Bolt Down A Gun Safe
Why Bolt Your Gun Safe Down?
There are two main reasons for bolting down a gun safe. The first is to prevent theft and the second, to prevent injury. Safes are often heavier on the side with the door (the front side). If the safe is secured with bolts, there is no chance anyone can rock it and perhaps get crushed if the safe tips forward. Not a very likely situation, but children are wily creatures!
A bolted-down safe can’t be carried away to be bust open at a thief’s leisure. And in the event of major natural disasters, a bolted-down safe will be better off! Even heavy safes can be carried away by strong currents during floods.
Best Locations To Bolt Down Your Gun Safe
Where Should I Bolt My Gun Safe Down?
Out of sight, out of mind.
A good place is in the basement, in a closet, or a corner, behind a door, or underneath a shelf where it will remain out of sight. Ideally, you don’t want it to be seen. In the event of a home invasion, the thieves may overlook it.
Don’t secure it down in your garage or garden shed. Not only will it be “hiding in plain sight” but thieves will have tools at their disposal to break in or somehow try to unbolt it using crowbars, drills, or anything else handy.
The most likely places that robbers go to are the areas that can be seen from outside, with easy access, in and out. The basement is good because hauling a long gun safe up the stairs is not the easiest retrieval method. Whereas, hooking a safe up to a tow-strap and driving out of the garage at high speed will do the trick!
If you have a tiny safe, that gets fastened into a drawer, make sure it opens from the top. Other good hiding spots include the laundry room, where you can hide it under the sink or in a cabinet. Remember to check for pre-drilled holes if you are wanting to bolt down your gun safe. Long gun safes and other large safes come with pre-drilled anchor holes, but many smaller safes do not.
What Must I Consider Before Choosing A Location?
Finding a good spot to bolt down a small safe is easy. You can mount it onto the wall at the bottom of a closet (if it’s built-in, see photo below). This location is great because you can’t see the safe if you are standing and looking into the closet.
The closet should be shelved, to be completely hidden. But if secrecy is not essential, any closet will do, as long as there is a concrete surface for the bottom or sides to be bolted down.
You will find places like this in your pantry, in the laundry, as mentioned, and also under the stairwell. Do make sure it’s well hidden, even if it’s bolted down.
The best location for a medium to large gun safe is the basement or a nice big closet. What floor surface are you going to bolt the safe down to? Cement is the best option. Wood is not as durable and may weather or get eaten by termites.
If you do plan to bolt down your safe to a wooden surface, you’ll need anchor bolts suitable for wooden surfaces. They are called lag screws.
If there is carpet, you’ll need to place the safe how you want it and mark the carpeted area out. Move the safe and remove that section of the carpet. Hopefully, the floor will be cement underneath. With wooden floors, you get subfloors and layers. So when bolting to a wooden surface, always make sure your bolts go deep enough to be strongly secured.
Heavy, large safes can be moved using dollies, hand trucks, and sliders. Make sure your safe is level. Use shims to balance it out so that it stands firm. The heavier the safe, the harder to take, but thieves that specialize in stealing safes will be prepared for this. Bolting down the safe makes it that much more unappealing to thieves who are on a tight schedule to get in and out fast.
The photo below shows a large safe bolted onto the concrete wall because the closet floor surface is wooden.
Even though there are 8 pre-drilled holes on the floor and back wall of the safe only the top two holes were used to bolt down the gun safe.
You must take the climate into account. Do you live at a high altitude that gets no humidity but where temperatures drop to well below freezing? Or do you live in a high rainfall region that has tropical weather?
If you live near the ocean in a warm climate you may get high humidity during the summer months. The main concern for firearm owners is making sure the safe won’t rust.
And also you must make sure moisture cannot get into the safe from underneath or from behind the walls. If the gaps aren’t sealed properly and you get high humidity your safe will end up looking like the photo below. Some safes come with dehumidifiers. If they don’t pick one up locally or order online. Put one in each medium to large safe.
Acts of God and Accidental Arson
Before you buy a safe, find out if it can withstand fire. The Bighorn, for instance, can withstand 7 hours of fire. A safe like the Steelwater Duty 16 is designed to expand, some models up to 8 times, during extreme heat situations. This specific model can withstand 1 hour of extreme heat from fire.
So now that you have decided where your safe must be bolted down it’s time to learn how to bolt down your gun safe.
9 Steps To Bolting Down A Gun Safe
You will need
- Safety glasses (Better to be safe than sorry, bits of debris can injure and dust can irritate the eyes.)
- Gloves (optional – sometimes gloves just get in the way)
- Respirator mask ( the same kind construction workers wear, again to protect your lungs from breathing in fine cement dust particles.
- Hammer drill
- Masonry drill bit (the drill bit must be the same diameter as the bolt)
- Utility knife, if you need to cut carpets
- Anchor bolt set for concrete (⅜ inch)
- Shop vacuum or can of compressor air
- Socket and ratchet that fits the bolts
1. Decide where to place safe.
2. Prepare the surface – Concrete is preferred. If there is a carpet on top of the cement, remove it using a utility knife. Place the safe down and mark out the area needed. Alternatively, measure the safe’s breadth and width and mark it out. Once the allocated area has been cleared and cleaned of any debris, you can place the safe in position.
3. Mark the anchor holes – Some safes will have two to eight anchor holes on the floor and the sides. This gives the option of securing it to the floor or a wall if the floor surface is not suitable (tiles for instance). You’ll need help lifting and positioning the safe. Use dollies and sliders to maneuver the safe into position if it’s a big one.
Some guys mark the holes, move the safe and drill into the concrete on the marks allocated. Other people prefer to drill with the safe already in position and drill from the inside of the safe, through into the wall or floor. Before you drill make sure the marks are aligned with the anchor holes of the gun safe. And that the safe is leveled out using shims if need be.
4. Use a 3/8inch masonry drill bit and 3/8 inch concrete anchor bolts.
Measure the drill bit against the bolt. You want to drill about ¼ inch deeper than the length of the bolt. Measure and mark the bit with tape. Some drills have self-adjustment settings.
5. Put the hammer drill into hammer mode. Make sure the drill is dead straight before you begin to drill. Start slow with moderate pressure. As you drill deeper, apply more pressure.
6. Once the hole is drilled, use the vacuum to suck up loose debris and dust.
7. Attach a washer below the bolt shoulder. Use a lock washer to increase surface area and strength of hold.
8. Place the anchor bolt into the hole. Using a hammer, knock it into the concrete.
9. Using a socket and ratchet, tighten the bolt. The wedge expands as you do this.
Instead of using a wedge anchor, you can also use a ½ inch threaded bar and 2 part epoxy. In this case, you’d drill 4-6 inches down. Use compressed air, as well as a shop vac, to get out all the dust. Use a quality epoxy to give you 20,000 psi.
Put the threaded bolt into the drilled hole and mark it with tape or a Sharpie. Add ¾-1inch onto the length. Remove and squeeze the epoxy into the holes. Insert the threaded bolt and use both a regular and a lock washer to secure the nut.
And that’s how easy it is to bolt down a gun safe if you have the right tools.
The video below shows you how to carry out these 9 easy steps.
As you have read in this guide it is not very complicated to bolt down a gun safe! With a few tools and the right equipment, anyone can do it. If you need better lighting in your gun safes check here. Consider upgrading your safes today, check out our reviews of all the top biometric, bighorn, Winchester, cannon, under-bed, and inside car options today!