Gun Safe Locking Bolts Explained

What is a lock­ing Bolt?

For a quick & easy expla­na­tion for this ques­tion, a lock­ing bolt is the round metal pins that are built into the gun safe door and retract when open and when closed they engage and lay in place behind the door frame in order to secure the door and make it very dif­fi­cult for any­one to pry it open, or get into to safe at all for the mat­ter. Well now that I have given you a sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion for what a lock­ing bolt is, we should go into the fac­tors that you should look at when ana­lyz­ing the lock­ing bolts on a gun safe.

What Mate­ri­als should be used?  Some peo­ple we have worked with will say the per­fect mate­r­ial that lock­ing bolts should be made of are tita­nium. We agree that it would be nice but we also are real­is­tic and feel that the cost of such a mate­r­ial would place the gun safe price then at around $10,000. I know I would never be able to afford that kind of price tag and not sure any­one one here would either.

Now being real­is­tic and mak­ing sure the strength is going to be of any value for the typ­i­cal break in attempt, we would have to sug­gest that the mate­ri­als of choice be either hard­ened steel or Chro­ma­l­loy steel. Hard­ened steel bolts are very strong and will resist a pry attack just as well as any other high end fancy met­als such as titanium’s. The other metal would be Chro­ma­l­loy and that will add some price to your safe but in some of the higher end safes, it is worth the costs depend­ing upon the needs.

Where should they be?

IN the case of gun lock­ers or gun cab­i­nets, those prod­ucts will usu­ally have an exter­nal lock­ing mech­a­nism and in some cases the lock­ers will have lock­ing bolts in the door but only one row of them, between three and four bolts, on one side of the door.

So I fig­ure the dis­cus­sion here is more towards the real gun safe or secu­rity safe. The bet­ter safes are going to have lock­ing bolts on every side of the door. We at feel that a good gun safe must have at least three bolts on each long side of the gun safe door and also have at least one but prefer­ably two bolts on top and on the bot­tom of the door of the safe. Some of the expen­sive gun safes have bolts on every side, both top and bot­tom and on each cor­ner. There have been ques­tions about the bolts on the cor­ners of the door adding secu­rity, and yes they do but from our tests they do not add so much that they would be worth the much higher price tag.

Now that we have dis­cussed the places on the safe that we would like to see the lock­ing bolts to be, the next con­cern is usu­ally about how many there should be.

How Many?

I lightly touched on this sub­ject in the sec­tion of “where should they be?” If you are look­ing for a gun or secu­rity safe that is going to be very secure and pro­tect from break in, then you would be wise to look into a safe with lock­ing bolts to be no more than six inches apart. Take into account that con­sid­er­ing a safe with lock­ing bolts that close, that you will be in the higher priced range of safe, but it will be well worth it.

We have reviewed many and would have to say that brown­ing is a very good high end safe and so are lib­erty safes and safe com­pany named Pendle­ton safes. You must under­stand that you will be in the price ranges now of any­where from $2500 up to $8000 depend­ing on size and other added fea­tures. Now if you are like me and being price con­scious,

I call myself cheap, but if it is price that is a larger con­cern, then a safe door with three to four bolts on each side and two on the top and bot­tom of the door are per­fectly fine. The price range for some­thing like this is around $899 up to $1300 depend­ing on size. Be very care­ful to look for the amount of bolts on the lower priced safes.  The amount of them on the door is crit­i­cal but it is impor­tant that the size of the bolt is just as important.

What Size How Long should they be?

After we have gone over the mate­ri­als that we think are good and bet­ter, where the lock­ing bolts should be on the door for opti­mum strength and resis­tance, and how many there should be on a door, we fig­ure that the size should be dis­cussed and then you will have a good bench­mark for judg­ing the lock­ing bolts on a safe.

Dif­fer­ent size safes of course will dic­tate the size of the lock­ing bolts accord­ingly. But once you get into the mid to large safes, (14 gun and up to 52 gun safes) then you would be best to look for lock­ing bolts with mea­sure­ments of at least one (1”) inch in diam­e­ter. Any­thing less than this is not really going to be of any resis­tance to a pry bar attack. As for the length of a lock­ing bolt, this is very impor­tant.

Many of the lower priced safes, and espe­cially the Chi­nese man­u­fac­tured safes, come with very incon­sis­tent or under sized lock­ing bolts. Some of the Chi­nese safes do have the bet­ter lock­ing bolts but you will see the prices be higher on those and then all of a sud­den the value for the price sav­ings is no longer there.

All in all, all of us here at feel that if you fol­low these insights and rules of thumb for the lock­ing bolts on a gun or home secu­rity safe, you will get a bet­ter prod­uct for the best price.

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