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Ranking the Best Home Safes of 2020

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A home safe is a reasonable precaution every serious prepper should take. It keeps your most important documents and valuables safe from things like fire, flood, or theft.

We checked out some of the most popular home safes on the market to find the ten best home safes for a variety of different need cases. Keep reading to find out which ones made the cut.

Rankings 

1. SentrySafe SFW205GQC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe

SentrySafe SFW205GQC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe

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The SentrySafe SFW205GQC is one of those rare safes that actually provides dual protection. It’s a highly rated fire safe, yet also includes at least entry level burglar safe protections. 

Why we like it: The SFW205GQC is rated to withstand a full hour of 1700 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and up to 24 hours submergence in eight inches of water without damage to the contents. This level of heat protection is exceptional, and can even protect sensitive items like flash drives and CDs.

Flaws: While the SFW205QC can work as both a fire safe and burglar safe, it doesn’t do either perfectly. It’s a good all around safe option but there are better fire safes and better burglar safes.

2. Honeywell Safes & Door Locks 1104 1-Hour Fire Safe

Honeywell Safes & Door Locks 1104 1-Hour Fire Safe

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The Honeywell Safes & Door Locks 1104 is a fireproof safe box built to protect your most important items from fire and water. Its fireproofing is great, but where it really shines is in water resistance. It can be submerged as much as 39 inches below the surface yet still keep your documents bone dry for 100 hours.

Why we like it: The 1104 is compact, easy to carry, and offers some of the best fire and water protection for a safe of its size. It’s just right to keep things like documents, cash, and IDs safe from environmental hazards in your home.

Flaws: As an environmental focus fireproof and waterproof safe the 1104 provides only limited theft protection. It’s relatively easy to breach and is light enough for most burglars to easily carry off besides.

3. Viking Security Safe VS-25BL

Viking Security Safe VS-25BL

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The Viking Security Safe VS-25BL is a compact and affordable burglar safe. It includes some pretty good entry level security features, especially for its affordable price. These include anti-pry measures, an access beep, and reinforced bolts.

Why we like it: The programmable biometric lock allows you to assign up to 32 permitted fingerprints. This makes it easy to provide family members with access while still offering a pin number if you need to give temporary access.

Flaws: The VS-25BL is a good entry into the burglar safe market, but it isn’t the best possible option. If you’re looking to protect some cash, jewelry, and a firearm or two it can be acceptable.

4. AmazonBasics Home Keypad Safe

AmazonBasics Home Keypad Safe

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The AmazonBasics Home Keypad Safe is the equivalent of a generic brand burglar safe. Despite its lack of branding or pedigree, it offers pretty reasonable security, especially for its price.

Why we like it: The Home Keypad Safe provides inexpensive and acceptable security from basic burglary threats. It’s made from heavy duty steel and includes basic entry level security for a very affordable price.

Flaws: We mean it when we say basic. The steel is thinner, the bolts are less reinforced, and the keypad itself offers less security. It’s a viable option if you’re protecting fewer than a few thousand dollars worth of valuables but otherwise, you should look for a more heavy duty safe.

5. SentrySafe SFW123GDC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe

SentrySafe SFW123GDC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe

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The SentrySafe SFW123GDC is a good middle ground between the smaller box style document safes and the larger multi purpose safes. It gives you the protection you need for document and photo storage plus the basics of theft protection.

Why we like it: A smaller and slightly less protective version of the larger SentrySafe SFW205GQC, it provides a good mix of fire/water protection alongside burglar defense. It can withstand an hour of high temps, provides 24 hours of waterproofing, and includes several reasonable burglar protections. 

Flaws: At 1.23 cubic feet the SFW205QC is too large for basic document storage but not quite large enough for full scale security storage. You may also be tempted to store too many valuables inside for the level of security it provides.

6. Viking Security Safe VS-50BLX

Viking Security Safe VS-50BLX

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The Viking Security Safe VS-50BLX is a standing burglar safe built to protect your valuables at home. It incorporates some really nice security and convenience features such as pry resistant bolt slots, a programmable biometric sensor, and a laser cut backup key.

Why we like it: A larger and higher capacity version of the popular VS-25BL, the VS-50BLX has the same features but with more storage space. It’s a good choice if you’ve got larger or more valuables to protect from theft.

Flaws: The steel is a bit thinner than we’d like to see. It offers a number of important security features but wouldn’t pose more than a short term impediment to determined thieves.

7. Stalwart Digital Safe

Stalwart Digital Safe

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The Stalwart Digital Safe is an entry level burglar safe for home and small business use. It’s made to look intimidating and does include some of the most important features of security. These include a built-in alarm, programmable LED keypad lock, and bolt down points.

Why we like it: It’s large, inexpensive, and it gets the job done. It gives you a hardened space to store valuables to keep them away from opportunistic thieves and provide peace of mind that your passport, cash, or jewelry won’t just walk off unnoticed.

Flaws: When they say basic, they mean basic. The walls are barely 1/16 of an inch thick and won’t resist any concerted effort to break in. It’s intended purely to discourage thieves of opportunity to look elsewhere, and does a good job at it. 

8. SentrySafe CHW20221 Fireproof and Waterproof Box

SentrySafe CHW20221 Fireproof and Waterproof Box

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The SentrySafe CHW20221 is a fireproof and waterproof box designed to protect basic items like cash and currency. It’s built to be as portable and storable as possible so you can keep the essentials safe and move them around easily.

Why we like it: The CHW20221 offers adequate fire protection and exceptional water protection. It’s sized just right to hold essentials such as passports, photos, and documents and is light enough to be easily carried off in the event of an emergency.

Flaws: At just .28 cubic feet this is more of a box than a true safe. It’s also not resistant at all to burglars or others who might wish to steal from it.

9. BARSKA AX11620 Biometric Home Safe

BARSKA AX11620 Biometric Home Safe

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The BARSKA AX11620 is a compact burglar resistant lock box designed with a fast access biometric locking mechanism. It includes several key security features such as pry resistant deadbolts but is mostly focused on keeping the contents secure but easy to access when needed.

Why we like it: If you like to keep a locked and loaded handgun at the ready, this is a great option for doing so. It’s small enough to easily stow by your bedside yet sturdy enough to resist accidental opening by kids and other unauthorized users

Flaws: It’s pretty expensive for its size. You can get larger burglar resistant safes that offer similar levels of protection and access methods for a cheaper price.

10. AmazonBasics Fire Resistant Box Safe

AmazonBasics Fire Resistant Box Safe

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The AmazonBasics Fire Resistant Box Safe is another generic branded safe, this time with a focus on fire resistance. It includes all the basic features a fireproof safe needs to have and will work reasonably well for the needs of many people.

Why we like it: The Fire Resistant Box Safe is just enough protection at a discount price. It’s reasonably fireproof and offers a level of theft resistance that will deter casual thieves looking for a quick score.

Flaws: We meant it when we said just enough protection. At only 20 minutes of fire resistance it’s a bit of a toss up as to whether it will protect documents and cash from a common house fire. Jewelry and other physical goods will fare better.

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Who should buy a Home Safe?

If you keep documents, cash, or any kind of valuables at your home you can benefit from a home safe. The groups below have an even more pressing reason to invest in a quality model.

Gunowners – Most preppers in the U.S. own at least one firearm for self defense purposes. We definitely encourage this, but it’s important you take common sense precautions to protect your firearms from theft or accidental use.

We aren’t specifically covering gun safes in this review but there is some overlap with standard home safes. If you don’t plan to carry your handgun on a regular basis and just want it for home defense or for a disaster situation, you should absolutely store it inside a safe.

Firearms are great for protecting your family but are also an enticing item for theft. They’re one of the most commonly stolen valuable items in burglaries.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimates that more than 1.4 million firearms were stolen in the U.S. between 2005 and 2010. The last thing you want is for the weapon you purchased to protect your family to end up in the hands of criminals (1).

Then there’s the specter of accidental discharge. Children are naturally attracted to guns. In 2018 alone it’s believed 73 kids under the age of 12 accidentally killed themselves or another child when they found and played with loaded firearms.

Keeping your firearm safely stored in a home safe is a sure fire way to prevent anyone from getting unauthorized access to them (2).

Preppers who invest in physical gold and silver – Physical gold and silver have long been seen as a safe way to hedge against major financial uncertainty. They’re physical assets with real value that are accepted by just about everyone. Throughout history having gold bars, coins, or even jewelry on hand has been an important way to protect yourself through uncertain times (3). 

Unfortunately, keeping assets with such dense value in your home can be disastrous in the event of a burglary. The theft of just a few ounces of gold can mean thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in losses. For many preppers that would be a major setback to their plans.

Having a home safe rated for use against burglars and other potential bad actors can ensure your family’s financial lifeline stays intact.

People who keep important paper documents at home – Just about everyone has important documents in their home that they would sorely hate to lose. Birth certificates, social security cards, deeds, titles, these kinds of government paper make up our identities and financial holdings. Losing them in a house fire goes past an inconvenience and can enter the realm of disaster.

Think about all the times in your day to day life that you have to prove who you are. Imagine if all your cash, your credit cards, your debit cards, and every form of ID you had were destroyed at once (4).

Would you be able to withdraw money from your bank account?

Would you even be able to pay for dinner for your kids?

Even getting past the immediate needs for cash and other resources, losing all your financial statements, your account information, and your physical forms of ID leave you at a serious disadvantage when dealing with insurers or other financial institutions. Keeping the most important documents in a fire resistant safe is the minimum level of preparation you can afford.

People living in a flood-prone area – Fire and theft aren’t the only things you have to worry about sadly. For people living in a flood plain or those where natural disasters like hurricanes are a real threat, a home safe can offer protection. Many modern home safes include waterproofing in their design.

These will keep floodwater or other sudden deluges from soaking your emergency cash and documents. Paper documents can be irreversibly water damaged a lot faster than you’d think. This is especially true for older documents such as birth certificates and bank statements printed on thinner paper with ink more susceptible to smearing. 

Think too about things like hard drives, firearms, and personal mementos. Water damage can somewhat be repaired, but it’s unlikely your possessions will ever be quite the same again.

By purchasing a high quality water resistant safe you have a window of time where you can pull the safe out without having the contents suffer damage.

How we ranked 

When comparing home safes there were five major factors we considered. These were the level of security, size and weight, safe type, fire and water resistance, and storage capacity.

Level of security – When choosing a safe the first question you should ask yourself is what you’re protecting. If it’s just documents, cash, and a few small valuables you don’t need nearly the level of security as someone with large amounts of cash, high value jewelry, or physical gold or silver bullion/coins. Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not you care about burglar protection.

Any safe is an impediment to theft, especially casual theft, but is unlikely to hold out against a concerted attack. If you just want to protect your documents and valuables against fire or water damage there’s a different metric to look at below.

While there isn’t any widely accepted standard or certifying body for safe security, there is a general set of guidelines based on insurance underwriting. These ratings are based on the thickness and type of materials used plus the included anti-theft device.

Unfortunately, it gets even more confusing as there are differences of opinion whether these ratings should be based on physical features or average time of entry (5).

For the purposes of preppers, we can ignore most of the higher levels. If you’re looking to protect valuables in your home with values in excess of $50,000 it’s in your best interest to speak to a professional. 

B-rate safes are the first level of protectiveness and are rated for protecting items of up to $10,000. The only requirements for a B-rate safe are ¼ inch thick walls and a ½ inch thick door.

There’s nothing in there about locking mechanisms, bolting systems, or anti-theft devices. This is a good entry level safe for protecting the kind of jewelry and cash most people will have in their homes.

B/C-rate safes also have ¼ inch steel walls and ½ inch thick steel doors, but add in a few other twists. They require the inclusion of 10 or 12 gauge metal layers plus fire retardant materials. They’re rated to protect valuables of up to $20,000 in value, including from fire damage. 

RSC and RSC II are other common descriptors we saw. They refer to a safe’s ability to resist entry from the most common attacks for 5 minutes and 10 minutes respectively. They don’t have specific language about materials, anti-theft devices, or anything other than their ability to resist attack.

Size and weight – The stereotype of a safe is a massive steel box that would almost require a crane to move around. The truth is much different. You can find quality safes in almost any size, from a small shoebox all the way up to full size standing or wall mounted safes. 

We considered what size and especially what weight would be most relevant to the average prepper. For the most part, you’re going to be looking for protection from environmental damage and theft for documents, cash, and maybe a handgun. Smaller and more portable safes are beneficial, but easier to steal.

We looked for a balance between the size and ease of movement of a safe and its overall security.

Safe type – It may surprise many people to learn that there are many different types of safes. The biggest difference is between fire safes and burglar safes. Fire safes are actually pretty bad at providing burglary protection and vice versa. 

The concrete and other fire retardant materials used in fire safes aren’t very resistant against burglary attempts, while the hardened steel and anti-theft devices in burglar safes provide very limited protection from fires. This is the biggest decision you have to make in regards to a safe type.

From there we get into differences such as floor safes, wall safes, jewelry safes, hidden safes, and many more. Each of these safe types provides a trade off of benefits and weaknesses. Our list focused on the safe types most relevant for a prepper plus a few other excellent examples of other safe types.

Storage capacity – Storage capacity refers to the actual internal volume of a safe. Not everyone needs a full size safe capable of holding multiple drawers of documents and other large valuables. If you’re keeping documents, a few small valuables, and some cash then you can probably get by with about a 1.2 to 1.4 cubic foot safe.

That’s large enough to hold a foot tall stack of standard sheets of paper. If you’ve got documents and records for multiple people or you want to keep things like a few firearms you’ll need to go up a size.

We ranked safes in that sweet spot of maximum usability highest. These work well for most people, in most situations.

Fire and water protection – The last thing we looked at was fire protection. In the safe industry, there are two categories of fire safes: Fire resistant safes and fireproof safes. The fire resistant safes provide limited protection against localized fires but likely won’t survive a major house fire. These are less expensive and easier to move around, but otherwise provide no noticeable benefit over a fire proof safe.

Fireproof safes are the real deal. They’re designed with an outer shell of steel or similar fireproof material with inner layers of fire retardant and insulative materials. In the past, a concrete composite was the most commonly used insulator but there are now numerous types of material available with different efficiencies (6).

It may surprise you to know that most house fires only last about 20 to 30 minutes. Theoretically, a safe with a 30 minute rating should suffice, but we prefer to see at minimum a one hour burn time.

A good thing to keep in mind is that digital storage devices usually won’t survive any fire in any fire safe. They’re too sensitive to the change in heat, so if you’re storing backups of documents on flash drives, hard drives, or CD ROMs do so off site.

With water resistance, there were two factors to take into account. If you live in a humid climate the natural humidity can actually accumulate in your safe, especially if it’s stored in an unventilated closet or similar area. Water resistance prevents humidity from entering the safe as well as water from submergence.

Brands we trust – Sentry Safe is one company you can always rely on. They’ve been in the safe industry for close to 100 years and really know their stuff. All their products are built with care and fulfill their intended role with excellence.

Viking Security Safes is another company to look for. Their products are thoughtfully designed and include a full range of excellent home safes, gun safes, and quick access handgun safes.

Things to avoid – This isn’t so much about individual safes as it is managing your expectations. Don’t go looking for a safe that can do it all. Fire safes are better than nothing as far as burglars are concerned, but they don’t provide the kind of security a burglar safe does.

If you need a burglar safe, buy a burglar safe. If you need a fire safe, buy a fire safe.

Unless you’re ready to drop some serious money it’s difficult to find a safe that can do it all.

We used these factors when comparing the very best safes on the market and came up with our list. It covers both burglar safes and fire safes, with excellent examples of each in a variety of sizes.

Benefits 

Home safes keep your valuables safe from theft – For a lot of people, a house burglary doesn’t even cross their minds. After all, that doesn’t happen to people like them, or in neighborhoods like theirs. Statistically, though, the picture isn’t as peachy.

According to the FBI, there were more than 1.4 million burglaries every year. For the average homeowner, a burglar will walk away with nearly $2500 worth of your valuables (7). 

As preppers that’s something we want to avoid. A home safe can make your most valuable possessions harder to access. Most criminals are lazy opportunists. They aren’t looking to spend a lot of time in a home trying to break into a steel safe.

Keeping your cash, jewelry, firearms, and other high value items inside a safe can make them just hard enough to get to that the average burglar will move on.

Home safes are available in a huge range of sizes – You can find quality safes in just about any size and configuration you want. They start with small lock box style safes and grow to almost any size from there.

For most people, a safe of about two cubic feet is the most they’ll need. That size gives you excellent organizational options and ample space to store lots of jewelry, documents, cash, and several firearms if needed. The next level above that is either a gun safe or a full commercial grade safe.

No matter what kind of valuables you’re looking to keep protected, there’s a fire or burglar safe available that will work for you.

Home safes make it much easier to pick up the pieces after a disaster or burglary – Picking up the pieces after a disaster like a house fire or flood is trying under the best of circumstances. Trying to do so while also dealing with the loss of all your documents, IDs, cash store, and family mementos can be excruciating.

A quality home fireproof and waterproof safe makes it that much easier to get the ball rolling on rebuilding your life. It allows you to keep the most essential financial and personal documents safe.

Think about how much easier it will be to deal with insurance companies and the government if you can prove who you are and have ready access to your financial accounts.

Home safes protect your memories and history – It isn’t just dollar values you should worry about protecting. Some of the most precious things that can be lost in a disaster or burglary are the mementos of family and friends. 

Photos, memory cards, postcards, and all sorts of other items with sentimental value are just as vulnerable as cash and bank statements. If there’s ever a house fire, flood, or other disaster they can be impossible to replace.

A good home safe with adequate fire and waterproofing ensures the most precious memories of your family won’t go up in a puff of smoke.

FAQ 

Q: How secure are home safes?

A: This really depends on what kind of security you’re talking about. Most home safes that the average person is willing to pay for won’t last long under a concerted attack by burglars who mean business. To do so would require security features and physical design that rapidly raises the prices. For the most part, though, they’re enough to slow down and deter a casual criminal looking for a quick score.

Q: How much should a home safe weigh?

A: For fireproof safes weight isn’t a big deal. Lighter safes can actually be better, as they make it a lot easier to carry them off in the event of a disaster. For a burglar safe heavier is always better. You want it to be a serious burden to try and cart off the whole safe. Most home security safes weigh at least 50 to 100 pounds.

Q: What are home safes made out of?

A: This again depends on whether we’re talking fire safes or burglar safes. Fire safes are made with a thin shell of metal and an insulative inner layer of fire resistant material. In the past, this was mostly concrete but a variety of proprietary composites are now often used. Burglar safes have a different role. They’re designed to be difficult to break into with common tools and are made out of thicker plates of hardened steel with sturdy bolts and several anti-theft devices.

Q: Are home safes really fireproof?

A: There are plenty of home safes that are marketed as fireproof but there isn’t one that is totally so. If a fire burns hot enough and long enough eventually any safe will be overwhelmed. What you want to look for is a rating of how long a safe will last and what temperature it can resist.

Q: How are home safes installed?

A: Installing a home safe is an optional part of set up that does however vastly improve security. Burglar safes usually come with predrilled holes designed for heavy duty bolts. These allow you to bolt them into a floor or wall, ideally into concrete or at least a wood stud. You can see the benefit. Your average thief isn’t going to have much luck hauling off a 100 pound safe bolted directly into a concrete floor.

Q: What is the best fireproof safe for home use?

A: Picking out the best fireproof safe for the home is tricky. It depends on what kind of valuables you’re protecting and how much of them you have to keep safe. We recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour of fireproofing to survive the average house fire. Keep in mind especially that most digital devices and storage mediums won’t survive even inside a fireproof safe.

If you just need to store documents and IDs we recommend the Honeywell Safes & Door Locks 1104.

For those looking for a larger fireproof safe to store more valuables, it’s hard to beat the SentrySafe SFW205GQC.

Recap

We highly recommend everyone consider purchasing a home safe. Even if you don’t routinely keep valuable items around you can benefit from the fire and water protection a home safe offers.

They can keep your most essential documents safe from fire, flood, and storm while still offering at least a bit of an impediment to your average burglar.

For Survival At Home’s #1 Home Safe recommendation, click here.

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