Winchester Gun Safe Reviews – Do NOT buy before reading this!
Last updated: March 16th 2017.
Before we get started, let us share our personal philosophy behind them. We love a good safe just as much as we love our guns. We think of safes as family heirlooms that you can pass down to your kids and grandkids. We’ve also observed over the years that no matter how big the safe, it fills up fast. Apart from guns and ammo, other valuables find their way in there rather quickly. Therefore, our thinking is to get a safe as big as you can possibly get.
The Winners => Best Winchester Gun Safes 2017
Our Top Pick – Winchester Legacy 44 Series
This absolute brute of a safe has everything you could possibly wish for. As tough as a tank, plenty of room and built to last generations. Virtually impenetrable, weighs half a ton and gives you a choice between the ever-reliable S&G mechanical lock and an excellent electronic lock. Inside this spacious unit you get a fabric interior, a bright LED light kit and a power docking system with 2 USB pass-throughs. The hinges for the door are on the outside and that lets you open it 180°. Five layers of fireboard in the ceiling and four layers in the body and door means that this thing comes with 1400°F of fire protection for an insane 2 and a half hours. To put this into perspective, most house fires in the US burn at about 1200 degrees and last an hour.
We’re not done yet. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the amount of burglary protection this thing offers. The entire construction is made out of 10-gauge steel with an additional ¼ inch steel plate in the door, reinforced by a drill resistant hard plate. There’s more; a titanium disk to protect the lock, an auxiliary re-locker that activates as a backup if the main lock is tampered with. 4 way locking with 3 way active bolts, 1 set of dead bolts for a total of 16(!) 2-inch solid steel locking bolts. The safe also has pry-resistance all-round.
Every Legacy series safe features a beveled edge body made with continuous robotic welds and massive vault-style welded cast steel hinges. Lifetime warranty. This is the real Fort Knox!
The Winchester Big Daddy – Everything you want, nothing you don’t
The Big Daddy line of safes offer wide, spacious storage with a great balance between price and specifications. The extra-wide body offers plenty of space and it borrows several key features from its more expensive brethren in the Winchester range.
Features include 12-guage steel construction, a titanium disk for the lock, UL burglary protection, an auxiliary re-locker, fireboard protection, external bolts for a full 180° door swing, solid steel active and dead bolts and pry resistance built into the design.
You really don’t miss out on much of what the flagship safes offer even though you pay a while lot less, let’s say, in comparison to the Legacy series for example. Therefore, this is where the smart money should go.
The Winchester Ranger Deluxe R31 (check for lock/color options) – Sweet spot
30-gun safes offer the most bang for the buck because they offer a respectable amount of storage at a very reasonable price. The Winchester Ranger series is a particularly good proposition since it doesn’t lose a lot of the security features that make the rest of the line-up great.
The Winchester Ranger Deluxe R19 – Low price, small size, high quality
The Ranger Deluxe R19 series is about as low as we’d recommend you go when it comes to both size and price. Believe us when we say this; you won’t have any trouble filling this up. That said, if you’re absolutely certain you’re fine with a smaller safe, these make for good purchases. Safe credibility tends to start going down once you go south of the $1000 price tag and so while we advise you against going much lower, we can confidently recommend these safes.
There is absolutely no way that you could go wrong with one of these but perhaps you’d like to delve a bit deeper into what makes a good safe and what makes it a good choice for you. Let’s get to the meat of the matter:
Things to consider when buying a Winchester Gun safe: –
- Steel gauge
- Storage or safeguard?
- The actual size of your armory
- The combined value of your guns in relation to the price of the safe
- The level of protection you actually require
- Dimensions of the safe and those of your doorway/installation location
- Installation and moving costs
- Type of lock
When it comes to steel gauges, a smaller number means a thicker layer of steel. For example a 12 gauge sheet of steel is actually 1/12th of an inch and therefore 10 gauge steel (which is 1/10th of an inch) is actually thicker. The rule of thumb is that the smaller number is better and not the other way around.
Storage or safeguard
If you simply want something to keep your handgun in by the bedside, check out the Winchester eVault.
This compact biometric case will give you quick access to a gun should the need arise and you have to protect yourself or family. This thing can hold 2 handguns (maybe 3 in a pinch) with magazines and remember multiple fingerprints (handy if you’d like both you and, say your spouse to be able to get access when needed). 9-volt battery backup, super easy to set-up and the same heavy-duty construction all round, just like the larger Winchesters. Of course, this has been designed with the intent of keeping your handgun out of the reach of children, keeping honest people honest. and not as a deterrent to burglary. Basically, it’s a lock box and a damn fine one at that. We just thought we’d list this up-front because the following safes are going to be of the full-sized variety.
The size of your armory
As we’ve stated above, if you have 10 guns, you should be looking at a safe that advertises as being able to stock 20, 20 guns = 40 and so on. The reason for this is that if those guns happen to be on the larger side, all of them may not fit in the safe in an organized manner. This also means taking into account any gun accessories you might want to store with them, such as scopes, attachments, miscellaneous tactical gear and ammo.
Once the weapons are dealt with, you’d also want to account for some space to be taken up by other valuables. It’s a safe, might as well make the most of it. In our experience, you won’t have trouble filling up any empty spaces if you buy a large one. On the other hand, you can’t make room if the safe isn’t big enough. Removing and replacing items or adding a second safe can be an unnecessary hassle (and a costly affair). We’re big proponents of doing it once and doing it right. These things also need to be bolted to the ground for obvious reasons and believe me, it can be a pain to switch them out/replace them with a bigger one. Therefore, buy the biggest one you can that fits in the area of installation you have in mind.
That being said, if you just have a couple of handguns and theft deterrence isn’t so important, maybe look at the eVault lockbox we’ve listed above.
The Winchester Silverado is a safe that offers all the protection and space you’d want but doesn’t go too far into indulgent territory.
The combined value of your guns/valuables
You wouldn’t want $100,000 worth of valuables to be protected by a $600 safe, just as you probably don’t want to spend $6000 on a safe that protects $10,000 worth of goods. A rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend less than 10% on the safe in relation to the value of items its meant to protect. So, if your guns and valuables add up to $10,000, it would be unwise to spend less than $1000 on the safe.
Level of protection
Your safe may have a 2-hour thousand-degree fire protection and redundant locking bolts but is that something you actually need? Don’t get us wrong, we’re big on security (we’re primarily cover safes, after all) but assessing the level of security you actually need is something that can save you a bit of coin when making a purchase. At the same time, it can stop you from wasting your money on something that’s not quite up-to scratch when you could have had something that is by spending just a bit more.
I suppose the important question to answer here is if you’re getting the safe as storage, to ‘keep honest people honest’ or actually have concerns about securing your firearms and other valuables from unauthorized use, being able to rely on the security in times of emergencies and the level of guarantee you’d like for the safety of what’s inside.
Let’s address the financial liability that may come with having your safe or its contents stolen. Miscellaneous valuables aside, if you have suitably comprehensive insurance on your guns, the peace of mind that a big-dollar safe might get you is reduced somewhat. If you have an NRA membership for example, the insurance on your guns, purely financially speaking might actually be a more cost-effective and reliable way of ensuring you’re not out of pocket should they get stolen/damaged.
That being said, some of us have concerns about the firearms landing in the hands of, well, criminals. There are even more of us that have a certain attachment to our guns and their sentimental value may well be worth a lot more than their monetary value. This is what usually causes us to double down on the security and choose the biggest, toughest unit we can get our hands on.
This probably goes without saying, but it’s important enough that we’ll say it anyway; You want to make sure you order a safe that can actually fit in its intended location. Most safes are made to fit through standard doorways but if you’re getting yourself one of the larger-sized monster safes, you had best check all the dimensions to not only make sure that you’ll be able to use it in the location of your choice, but also to ensure you can actually get the thing into your house without re-modelling.
The dimensions will also give you an accurate understanding of your safe’s holding capacity. Another thing to look out for is whether the door hinges are internal or external. External hinges should let you open the door 180°, which is something you definitely want to take advantage of if you have the requisite space to the side of the safe.
Installation and moving costs
Since most safes weigh over 500 pounds, shipping policies from online retailers such as Amazon.com will offer that is known as ‘curbside delivery’. As the name implies, it means that the item will be delivered near the curb in front of your property and you would have to make arrangements to get it moved inside for installation.
Do yourself a favor and take our advice on this; you would want to get some professional help. This should cost you approximately ~$500 and Is obviously something you want to take into account when gauging the price of the safe. The pros will help you set it up and also ensure that its bolted to the ground at your chosen site of installation. After all, a safe that isn’t bolted down isn’t really a safe at all.
Yeah, it sucks having to pay more but having a half-ton safe fall on you isn’t much fun either. We learned that the hard way. If you’re particularly handy and have some resourceful friends, you might be able to get away with not hiring professional help. Needless to say, we recommend letting the pros sort this one out.
Make sure that the place you want to install the safe in is well thought out and this should be a one-time expense. You really don’t want to have to move these things around anyway.
Type of locking mechanism
This topic is seemingly always up for debate and it mostly comes down to personal preference. There are some clear pros and cons here though and we’ll try to highlight the important ones:
- Electronic locksThese are by far the most ubiquitous locks you’d find on modern safes and for very good reasons, the first of which would be ease of use. A simple numeric keypad lets you easily set, enter and re-set key combinations. A major plus point of these locks is the speed with which they can be unlocked; usually under 10 seconds. This makes them ideal for home protection and emergency situations where you need to get to a weapon as quickly as possible. Most are run and powered with a simple circuit board and a 9-volt battery. The battery can be easily replaced and should last years under typical usage.Now for the cons; being battery powered obviously means that there will come a time when you try to open the safe and the battery has run flat. While most safes provide easy access up-front for replacing the battery, this is a scenario worth consideration when it comes to emergency situations. Next is the chance of the electronics failing over time. This is a concern that has largely been alleviated by advances in design and modern e-safes are eminently reliable, if not as full-proof as mechanical ones. Lastly, there is the relatively minor concern of an electronic lock failing due to an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) burst. This is an event that is triggered by a thermonuclear explosion or a specialized tactical weapon and is hostile to most electronics. The number pad may wear out on some low-end safes due to time/use.All in all, the ease of use and speed of electronic locks have made them the default option on many safes and we’re inclined to believe that despite its caveats, is likely to satisfy the majority of users.
- Mechanical locksTried and true, these locks are our preferred choice for their simplicity, which in-turn means they just work and never go wrong. A mechanical lock has no electronics and therefore does not need a battery. Not only does this mean that you’ll always have access, it also means that there is little to no maintenance required with these locks.
Now for the cons; The obvious one is that these take a lot longer to get into in comparison with electronic locks. Whereas an electronic lock would have you inside in under 10 seconds, mechanical locks can take between 30 seconds to a minute. This is an important consideration especially if you need to open the safe in a panic situation.
All things considered, the surety of a mechanical lock may be preferable to some people over speed and ease of use.
- EMP or hybrid dual-locksThese are basically an electronic lock with a mechanical redundancy/fall back option. This effectively gives you the best of both worlds; an electronic lock for convenience and a mechanical lock for back-up. These locks arose out of concerns of electronic locks failing due to an EMP burst. Considering that the safe effectively needs to have two locks inbuilt, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 for this feature.
- Key locksIf your safe has a key, it’s a cabinet, not a safe. We generally don’t consider keys to be an option when it comes to securing critical items such as firearms. That being said, some safes do offer a key lock as a redundant/secondary back-up.
- Biometric locksWhen it comes to speed and ease of use, nothing trumps a good biometric lock. These are the newest type of locking devices seen on safes and other secure storage units thanks to advancements in fingerprint scanning technology. Earlier units had less than perfect recognition but most of these have been ironed out in current generation locks. The Winchester eVault we’ve recommended at the top of this article features one such system. If you have a choice, we would recommend one with active versus passive tracking. These units typically tend to be faster to access as the scanner is awaiting your input at all times. Most of these can be set to accept more than one fingerprint as well.
Why Winchester Safe?
The Winchester company has been around since 1866 and have created some iconic firearms over its long and distinguished run. Safes made by the company embody the same tradition of reliability and innovation.
But what does that really mean in the here and now?
*All the safes listed above were made at their facility in Fort Worth, Texas
This probably goes without saying but we’re big on supporting local industry/manufacturing. We particularly think that items such as gun safes that have a deep connection with our roots ought to be better made when they’re made right here in the good old USA.
We have nothing against Chinese safes that so many other companies tend to use, particularly at the lower end of the price spectrum. Actually, if we’re honest, we do have a lot against some of them. The point is that we like the idea of American-built safes and would go the extra mile to support them. The safes almost always turn out to be better as well!
*These safes are safe and we mean really, really safe!
Every single Winchester safe meets or exceeds burglary standards set by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and are approved by the California DOJ (Department of Justice) as a firearm safety device. Common features include recessed doors, solid steel hinges, anti-pry tabs, large dead locking bolts and reinforced doorjambs. Meaningful fire protection that can actually ensure your valuables stay safe in the event of a home structure fire (one is reported every two minutes across the US) and the safes have been designed from that ground up to have excellent fire protection.
*Unmatched fit, finish and consistency
All Winchester safes from the same series are identical. Everything from the coat of paint to the way the door feels when you open it is carefully measured and always feels the same no matter how many of them you go through (we’ve seen a lot of these!). We’ve also had the pleasure of checking out some of the equipment at their Forth Worth facility and they have some really high end equipment there. Apparently, the facility churns out a unit every 2 minutes! Without doubt, Winchester safes are a market leader in every sense of the word and always slightly ahead of the competition. But don’t take our word for it, look them up and check them out in person to see for yourself.
*Safe warranty and replacement guarantee
Every Winchester safe comes with a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Given the high-quality standards the safes are built to it is unlikely that you’ll ever need to claim it but it’s nice to know that you’re covered either way.
The S & G locks that adorn most Winchester safes carry a warranty of up to two years. For a nominal fee, this warranty can be extended to as many as 11 years. This coverage applies to both mechanical as well as electronic locks.
On top of this, if your safe is ever damaged due to a burglary attack or fire, Winchester will repair or replace your safe at no charge. But that’s not all, they will provide a free locksmith service to open the safe should you need it and ship the new safe to your curb at their expense. In short, this means security and peace of mind is assured when you buy a Winchester safe.
Conclusions and parting notes – Winchester gun safes
If you’ve read through this extensive article, you are a real safe connoisseur just like us! Therefore, it is fitting that we give you just a little bit of extra information that may come handy:
Moisture and humidity
Apart from not being good for the safe itself, moisture inside your storage isn’t great for the health of your guns, or really anything you’d like to keep inside. Now if you want to get real scientific about this you can get a humidity monitor like this one. While it’s wise to keep the number as low as possible, it’s more important that the water doesn’t condense onto your guns and other valuables. We think it’s wise to go straight to the solution though and the best way to do that is by getting yourself a electric heating rod such as the Goldenrod. These are the best solutions to control humidity in your safe and they’re also made in the USA. If you’re so inclined (or if your safe does not have provisions for internal power), you can consider getting a renewable dehumidifier like this one. They don’t seem to work as well though so our first preference would be the rods. You can also throw in a few packets of silica gel if you feel like it. It’s probably important to mention at this point that a low level of humidity might actually be a good thing, especially if your guns have wooden parts as a complete lack of moisture will cause those parts to crack. This is another reason we tend to prefer the heating rods.
If you’re going to store guns in cases inside your safe then it is crucial that you keep the cases open or else the moisture will stay locked inside the guns and cause deterioration over time. It is important that there is some degree of air circulation through your guns.
It’s almost impossible to buy a good quality safe these days without some kind of fire protection. The degree of protection as well as the duration is usually printed on the inner side of the door. Now, a ‘fireboard’ is typically a layer of gypsum that’s sandwiched between the protective plates/composite layers of a typical safe and when heated, it will release steam in order to cool the safe down. As we’ve mentioned above, water is not your friend when it comes to securing your valuables so be sure to give everything a wipe-down if there has been a fire incident.
As we’ve stated at the top of this article, a good safe will last several generations, which in turn means that you’ll be looking at it every day for a long, long time. Therefore, it’s important to take a few extra seconds to make sure the color and finish is to your liking. This is why we’ve linked you to pages that let you pick your preferred color. This Is a tiny bit of advice that’ll make sure you’re proud of your safe every single time you look at it.