Gun Safe Fire Ratings: What is the right one for you? - SafesRight

Gun Safe Fire Ratings: What is the right one for you?

The fire rating of a safe is incredibly important when shopping for a safe. While most people would probably say the best overall number to price out is one hour. This is only a basic rule, and factors like distance to a fire station or even the presence of sprinkler systems will determine what a good fire rating is for you.

So, with that said, let’s go over all of the things you should be keeping an eye out for when shopping for a gun safe when it comes to fire ratings!

1. Distance to the fire station

So you can see a full-time (non-volunteer) fire station from your front porch, eh? Well, maybe buying a safe with a two-and-a-half-hour fire rating may not be for you.

However, you live outside of city limits, don’t have well-marked roads, and live off the grid? All right, so maybe you should take a look at a 2/hour + fire rating.

2. Volunteer or full-time fire station

Many remote areas tend to have volunteer fire stations. While this is totally awesome, and I highly respect anyone who will volunteer for such a duty, it can cause some delay in response time. Make sure to reach out to your local fire department and see what their response time is to you! Then maybe add a half hour to that.

3. What is in the safe?

Make sure to always account for what is physically going to be in your safe or what you may put into it in the future.

The fire ratings on most safes are determined by the length of time it takes for a safe to get to an internal temperature of 350 degrees. 

Electronics and film will be destroyed much earlier than that. You might either want to look into a longer fire-rated safe (this article is a great place to start) or, better yet, buy another fire-rated safe/box that you can put at the bottom of the safe.

4. Sprinkler Systems

Yes, some people have these in their homes. If you have one, congrats, you may not need as much of a fire rating!

Breaking down fire ratings

Now that you know what to keep in mind when you are trying to decide what fire rating is right for you, let’s quickly talk about how to read fire ratings and if you should believe them. We will be talking about what a fire rating that looks like this is: ** Degrees for ** Minutes.

1. Minute Rating

The minute portion of a fire rating is determined by the amount of time it takes for the interior of a safe to reach the maximum temperature of 350 degrees. This is the point at which paper starts to burn, which is a common item in many people’s gun safes today.

Keep in mind, though, that other items will start to get damaged at this point, so not all of your items will make it to the total timeframe advertised. Things like cameras, hard drives, and other tech equipment are among those things.

2. Temperature Rating

The second part of a fire rating comes down to the heat being used to test the safe. This is going to basically be the heat of the fire on the exterior of the safe.

Didn’t know that different fires burn at different heats? Well, turns out they do! That is why you will see tests running anywhere from 1200 degress, to 2800 degress.

How are safes tested?

Before we dig too far into whether you should believe fire ratings, we should first talk about how tests happen. Unfortunately, there really isn’t an industry standard that is required to display these numbers.

This means that manufacturers can rate it just based on the material included and not test them. Or for the more reputable brands, tests that can take days and hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform.

Let’s just say the higher-end companies tend to do the latter, while the lower-end companies tend to do the former.

So, should you believe fire ratings?

As I have said many times on this site, you get what you pay for. If you are looking at low-end safes on a budget, I would treat the fire rating as a nice-to-have, but it is not something I would count on.

So many things can go wrong in the quality control process on those lower-end safes because they can’t afford to go through them.

Meanwhile, I honestly would trust the fire rating of higher-end companies like Fort Knox, Liberty Safes and more, as they genuinely do test their safes to make sure their ratings stand up to real world use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Gun Safes waterproof?

Something a lot of people think about when buying a fire rated safe, is that they may also want it to be waterproof. Unfortunately not many people know that gun safes are not actually waterproof by nature, and very few manufacturers make them water resistant. However a good manufacturer to take a look at is Stack-On.

Are there gun safes without a fire rating?

There are plenty of gun safes on the market today that don’t have a fire rating. This includes brands like Pendleton Safes, SecureIt Safes and more.

What is the best type of fire-rating material?

What many people don’t know, is that the steel is not what fire rates a safe. Instead it is what is on the inside of the safe that makes it fire rated. This can range from a drywall type material, to cement, to even fire blanketing. Cement is going to be the best of the bunch, however it is incredibly heavy.


While most safes have a fire rating. They really aren’t necessary for every safe. Not everyone does need one! Make sure to think about that when shopping. There are quite a few manufacturers that don’t offer fire ratings that are still really high quality.

Another thought! USA-made gun safes tend to be tested much more and can, in general, be trusted more. You may also find videos about the safe you are considering being burned!

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