Gun Safe Corrosion – Should you be concerned

Gun safe corrosion is a real threat

Why there are so many products on the market designed to slow or stop corrosion in a gun safe?

Most armorers will tell you if a gun is properly cleaned and oiled it should not rust.

Yet in safes, corrosion is a hot topic and they sell millions of dollars in products to stop it.

Excerpt from SHOT Show presentation.

Gun safes and rust

why do guns rust so fast in gun safes?

Modern gun safes are built with a thin steel shell, lined with gypsum board (drywall) and then carpeted. To understand the corrosion issues you have to look at the chemicals contained in these materials and how they react.

Formaldehyde: CH2O

Formaldehyde is used in drywall manufacturing. It is a dispersing agent used in drywall slurry. These dispersing agents are called sulfonated naphthalene-formaldehyde condensates. As the term implies, these formulations involve a combination of formaldehyde and naphthalene. The agents vaporize in your safe, creating a potentially caustic environment for metal and wood. Museums ban the use of formaldehyde in areas where artifacts are stored. Formaldehyde is also in the adhesive used to attach the carpet interior in most safes.

Sandvik laboratory test results for CH2O (formaldehyde) and carbon steel: corrosion rate over 1.0 mm/year. ~ Serious corrosion. The material is not usable.

Elemental Sulfur: S

Sulfur is found in drywall particularly from China. Sulfur reacts with trace amounts of water (humidity) to form hydrogen sulfide and sulfuric acid.

gun safe rust

Pyrite:

Pyrite (iron sulfide) also known as “fool’s gold” is a very common mineral. It is present in the gypsum mined to make drywall. There are small amounts in gypsum in the U.S. and much larger amounts in gypsum mined in China. The pyrite ends up in the drywall. While this is not a big deal when it comes to home construction, you do not want it in your gun safe. Pyrite (Iron sulfide) reacts with oxygen and water to form iron and sulfur in the forms of iron oxide-hydroxide (rust) and sulfuric acids.

formual2

Sulfuric acid is particularly aggressive when it comes to corroding metal.

Ferrooxidans – Bacteria

This is a type of bacteria that eats metal. It lives on the pyrite in the drywall. It is this bacterium that breaks down pyrite into iron hydroxide and sulfur-based acids. However, it doesn’t stop there. Ferrooxidans will consume many other metals. Ferrooxidan bacterium is used in mining operations to strip metals in low-grade ore.

Does your gun safes every smell lick sulfur?
Next time you open a safe, see if you detect a slight earthy or sulfur smell. It’s there and gets stronger the longer the door has been closed. I have noticed it, particularly in cheap safes on the sales floor in some big-box sport discount stores. That smell is the above processes in action and it will cause gun rust very quickly.

As you can see, there is very good reason for all the corrosion control products in the safe industry. Modern gypsum (drywall) based gun safes are corrosive.

Why use drywall? It is cheap, easy to use and heavy. The weight is important. The gun safe industry wants their safes to be heavy. People think that heavy safes are “safer”. However, it’s smoke and mirrors designed to hide the fact that the industry has moved away from traditional safe designs. Modern gun safes are built to the UL Class RSC standard and are not, according to UL, a true safe.

So how did we get here?

How did the gun safe industry end up producing a product that can destroy the very item it is designed to protect?

It started in the late 1970s. Up until then, gun safes were based on the original design of Silas Herring. He used a sandwich design of thick outer steel, thin inner steel, and plaster or cement in the middle. This has been the standard fireproof safe design for over 100 years. In the 1980s the gun safe market started growing and as demand for safes grew, a bunch of new companies entered the market. To reduce costs and speed production, these new producers dropped the original Silas Herring design in favor of cheaper, lighter materials.

They eliminated the thick outer steel. They eliminated the plaster or cement filler. The thin inner steel cabinet became the outside steel box. They lined this thin walled box with drywall then carpeted over it. This is the modern gun safe.

When these changes occurred UL (Underwriters Laboratories) created a new classification. Class RSC–Residential Security Container. The RSC is the standard gun safe sold in most stores throughout America.

If you have purchased a gun safe made after 1980 it is most likely a UL Class RSC. It is drywall based and subject to all the corrosion issues above. Your best defense against corrosion is still well-cleaned and well-lubricated firearms. It is important to open the door regularly and let your safe air out. This will reduce the corrosive sulfur compound buildup. Dehumidifiers slow the process by lowering humidity, but they don’t stop it.

Removal of corrosive materials.

The interior of a gun safe can be removed and replaced with safer materials. Products like SBI Micore-300 can be used to replace the drywall. However, this is an extensive modification and will take some time and skill to properly fit and install the new fire board.

How do you avoid all this? Do not buy a gun safe with drywall or carpeting. That eliminates just about every safe sold in America. Otherwise, Ft. Knox, Browning, American Security, and a few boutique producers offer safe models with the Herring double walled steel design. These models do offer some security and modest fire protection, and the inner steel will provide good corrosion protection. These safes start at around $10,000and go up to 20K+.

This brings up the following questions. Why buy a gun safe?

Why buy a gun safe?

The data suggests that common UL Class RSC safes offer little in the way of security or fire protection.

So what do you do? How do you protect your investment?

Shy of spending north of , consider steel cabinets. They are just as secure, and most likely offer the same fire protection of a big heavy drywall based UL – RSC gun safe.

There are other advantages of eliminating the drywall from gun cabinets. Weight, going lighter is better. It is easier and certainly gives you more flexibility in how and where you store and secure your firearms.

Consider SecureIt Tactical Model 52. This gun cabinet that will provide a strong theft deterrent, is lightweight and easily concealable. Perhaps best of all, it won’t corrode and destroy the very things its meant to protect.

The all steel design of our gun cabinets is far safer for your firearms in terms of corrosion. Smaller steel gun cabinets can be located throughout a home, allowing you fast access to locked firearms in a crisis situation.

miodel52guncab

Smaller lighter modular cabinets can be secured anywhere in a home, condo, cabin or RV. Modular cabinets can bolt together and expand to meet growing needs.

agile-weapon-cab

Firearms storage is going to change. The gun safe industry produces and markets a product based on the illusion of security. Their stated gun capacity is outright deception. They are not fireproof and the materials used inside a safe promote gun corrosion. You can fool some of the people some of the time. Eventually, it all catches up. That is what is happening now.

SecureIt is the leading supplier of weapon storage systems to the US Government. We have revolutionized military armory function. We want to do the same for home firearms storage. SecureIt has taken the leadership position in modern firearms storage, and things will change quickly over the next few years.

 
 

Learn More about modern gun storage

Gun safe industry exposed! Fire, Security and Rust

SHOT Show 2017 – Tom takes aim at the gun safe industry exposing it for what it really is. In this presentation from the SHOT show, Tom goes through all the ways the gun safe industry manipulates the facts and distorts the truth about safes and gun storage. When you understand the

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Gun Safe Corrosion – Should you be concerned

Gun safe corrosion is a real threat Why there are so many products on the market designed to slow or stop corrosion in a gun safe? Most armorers will tell you if a gun is properly cleaned and oiled it should not rust. Yet in safes, corrosion is a hot topic and

Read More »

Gun Safes: Ratings and Certifications Are you being bamboozled?

The gun safe industry misleads consumers with deceptive ratings and bogus certifications

In this video, learn about gun safes, the gun safe industry, ratings and UL certifications. Gun safes are marketed and sold on security perceptions, not on hard facts and actual certifications. We try to present accurate and informative material to allow you to make an educated decision based on facts and not on preconception and emotion.

gun safe fail

Breaking down UL Gun Safe Certifications

UL listed

The first thing I want you to look at is UL-listing. Most gun safes are built to UL – RSC Certification. Manufacturers use UL listings as a selling point, but what does the”RSC” rating actually mean? UL-listed RSC also called “8M10” stands for “Residential Security Container”. This does not sound very secure and for good reason. These are not Gun Safes. This rating was created for a family of products that do not meet the minimum standards for a UL Certified Safe. The RSC Standard was designed for inexpensive steel cabinets. The RSC certification requires that they block access for five minutes using a pry bar less than 18 inches long and a hammer weighing less than three pounds. That’s it. This is a 1950’s threat level. Modern thieves are going to come in with high-powered battery operated tools and cut into an RSC certified gun cabinet in less than 5 minutes. In the Video below I just about cut the whole side off of an RSC safe in less than 15 minutes using a tool for Harbor freight.

Here is a great post on thehighroad.org: The difference between “Safes” and “RSC’s”

These residential security containers are being sold as safes. They make them big and heavy and spend a lot of time talking about the doors and the locking systems. This is to give you a perceived level of security. Thieves, however, ignore the doors and locks and simply cut a big hole in the side. The hard truth about “gun safes” with the RSC certification is that they offer no better security than a basic gun cabinet and you are paying for a lot of useless weight and marketing.

Fire rated gun safes

Are they really fireproof?

Fire listed

Looking at the stickers on two safes, one says 45-minute fire rating and one says 60 minutes fire certified. What does that actually mean? The answer is somewhat vague and unknown. These types of fire ratings are created by the gun safe manufacturers with no oversight. Each manufacturer has their own system. In the case of the Chinese safe, this is just a sticker and there is no testing done it all. UL Laboratories certifies safes with three standard class ratings. UL Class 350-1, UL Class 350-2 and UL Class 350-3. If your safe does not have a UL class 350 certification then it is not fireproof.

I encourage you to do your own research. There have been several articles written on the subject. The data suggests that whether guns survive a fire in a safe, gun cabinet or wooden box has more to do with how the fire burns than the actual rating of the container that they’re stored in. RSC containers are being sold and advertised as fire-rated gun safes but per UL standards they’re not safes at all. They do not meet the minimum standard to be called a safe and the fire ratings are not independently verified. You’re buying a big, big heavy cabinet with a perception of security.

True fire rated safe.

Fire rated safe

The construction of most traditional gun safes is a container made from 11 to 16 gauge steel lined with drywall and covered with carpeting. To achieve a true fire safe rating, you need a 10GA steel container with a steel inner wall that is filled with a specific material – see image above.

Drywall is used in RSC containers because it’s heavy and cheap.

Despite the low-cost drywall is a poor choice for gun safes. Drywall contains formaldehyde used as a dispersing agent. Formaldehyde is very corrosive to steel, nickel, and copper increasing corrosion in a gun very quickly. You’ve also got bacteria in drywall. Almost all the drywall that comes out of China contains a bacteria called Acidithiobacillus. It doesn’t affect people, it eats iron and produces sulfuric acid. Have you ever noticed a sulfur smell when you open the safe door? That’s from bacteria and formaldehyde eating the metal in your guns.

Gun safe fail

UL Laboratories will not give RSC – Residential Security Containers a fire rating because they don’t meet the basic fireproof standards. These gun cabinets are using materials that are detrimental to the long-term health of firearms. They are sold based on a myth that if you put your guns in a thousand pound gorilla they’re going to be safer than if they were stored in a steel cabinet. The data just doesn’t support their claims on fire rating and security and they use materials that promote corrosion of your firearms.

The excessive weight and special bars and locks on the doors of traditional safes are promoted as a perception of security. The Model 52 is our ultra-light gun safe made of 14-gauge steel with patented Dedlock system. It ships flat and you assemble it with eight bolts. This patented system is as rigid and strong as any welded cabinet.

SecureIt Model 52 – Lightweight gun cabinet

The Model 52 Gun Cabinet is based on years of experience building weapon cabinets and armories for military units all over the world. We make no false or exaggerated claims to fire and security ratings. Our cabinets are as secure as any common gun safe sold in stores across the country but without the ridiculous weight.

Gun safe

The Model 52 gives you a lightweight, secure cabinet that will provide proper storage for 6 rifles, handguns and a lot of gear. You can use multiple units throughout your home, to provide discreet security and fast access in a crisis situation.

The average American moves every seven years. The Model 52 gun cabinet breaks down and moves with you very easily. SecureIt has designed modern cabinets to meet your modern lifestyle. Things are getting lighter, and easier to use, you don’t need to saddle yourself with a huge, heavy safe. Take some time to educate yourself so you can make an intelligent firearm storage decision and perhaps not end up with a thousand pound gorilla in the room.