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How Thick Should Safes Be?

By USA Safe & Vault September 03, 2021

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If you plan to buy a safe, gun safe thickness is one of the most important considerations because it determines the primary means of defense for an attempt to break into the safe. Many variables come into play when considering how thick your safe needs to be. The quality of the steel and thickness of steel to build a safe determines its strength.  Read on to find out how manufacturers refer to steel thickness and why a lower “gauge” means a thicker safe (surprise!).

How thick should safes be?

For the best protection, a gun safe should have a thickness between 10-gauge to 6-gauge. The lower gauge--which means thicker steel--the better. Steel that is 10-gauge is 0.1345 inches thick, and 6-gauge is 0.1943 inches thick. Thicker safes cost more but they are more likely to make it harder for a burglar to break in.  The strength of sheet metal is more than proportional to its thickness: going from 12 gauge steel to 6 gauge steel does not just double the strength, but it makes the steel sheet 8 times stronger. Furthermore, the doors of a safe are often thicker (¼ inch to ½ inch) than the walls as this is the primary defense against a break in.

Safe steel thickness

Note the gauge of metal used in safes depends on the material.  For example, 10-gauge carbon steel is 0.1345 inch thick, while 10-gauge galvanized steel is 0.1382 inch thick.

Equipping yourself with proper information about gauge ratings of safes is important before buying one so that you can get a safe that meets your demands. 

  • High gauge ratings – a gauge ranging from 14 to 20-gauge belong to this rating and it means that the steel wall is completely thin so it has a lower quality of protection. A gun safe metal in 14- gauge is around 1.6 mm thick while 20-gauge comes in about 0.9 mm thick. This makes a safe cannot stand and drill or pry attack. 

  • Low gauge ratings – 12 gauge steel gun safe to 6 gauge steel safe is included in this rating that makes them have top protection for valuables. 12- gauge is similar to 2.05 mm thick and 6-gauge is about 4.16 mm thick. This low gauge rating safe is worth your money. 

After understanding safe gauge ratings for a better decision, let’s get to know why steel thickness is essential for any safes.

4 reasons why we need to use thick steel safes

  • Provide stronger protection

Using a lower gauge safe increases its strength to protect your guns and valuables inside. The thicker the safe, which ranges from 12-gauge to 6-gauge, the stronger the steel that might reach eight times compared to the standard ones.

  • Thick steel is the best material for safes

When purchasing a safe, make sure to get the one with thick walls because it is made from a good quality of steel. You better avoid a safe from an aluminum alloy as it is not as strong as the ones built from steel.

  • Offer better fire protection

A gun safe with great fire protection mostly comes with thicker steel walls but not all of them are designed for it. You should consider supporting features of fire protection such as many layers of fire-rated sheetrock

  • Give peace of mind

A safe built using thick steel provides you with more peace of mind since your guns collection and valuables are not only secure from burglars but also fire. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What fire rating should gun safes have?

A good safe fire rating is a 90-minute fire rating. A lot of people don't seem to know that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) considers 30 minutes to be an acceptable standard for most documents. In fact, according to NFPA each year between 8 and 20 million dollars in property loss is due to ordinary fires that start in homes. Therefore, fire protection is a very important insurance matter that should be considered by everyone who has an interest in protecting the things they value.

Why do I need a safe?

If you have anything of value you should consider purchasing one for it. The loss of valuables can be due to theft and damage from fires and other disasters. But, the cost of a safe will be covered many times over by what you've got in it when disaster strikes.

What kind of gun safe lock should I buy?

Virtually all fire and burglar safes have either electronic or mechanical locks. We recommend that you purchase a safe with a mechanical dial combination lock, which requires no electricity to operate.


Getting a lower gauge rating such as a 10 gauge steel gun safe can effectively protect your firearms and precious items as the thick steel walls cannot be easily broken by burglars or damaged by fire. So, ensure to buy a 12-gauge safe or lower to get maximum protection for valuables you store inside. 

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