Friday, February 24, 2017

Snapsafe Titan XL Modular Safe Review

After putting it off for way too long, I finally bought a proper safe.  After much research and a few calculations, I finally decided that a large modular safe is what I wanted.  I believe that there are currently only two options for that - Zanotti Armor, and Snapsafe.  Zanotti doesn't offer much in the way of fire protection, and Snapsafe seem to offer decent fire protection, so I placed an order for a Snapsafe Super Titan XL.  Price was a buck under $2000 shipped, but it may be different when you read this.  There are smaller, less expensive safes available if you don't need, or can't afford, a safe that will hold 30-something firearms.

I guess I should also note at this point that Zanotti is, and has been, several months behind on filling orders, and Snapsafe keeps stock.

I ordered mine with the mechanical lock, because the keypad for the electronic lock simply lifts off, and the housing is made of plastic.  I have a smaller quick-access safe.  I don't mind if it takes a couple minutes to dial the mechanical lock on the big safe.  The mechanical lock seems fine.  No regrets.

The safe was delivered in a honeycomb cardboard crate on a pallet.  The driver put it in my garage.  Usually if you buy a safe, they won't take it beyond the curb, unless you pay to have it installed.

Getting the top, bottom, and sides of the safe into the basement was cake.  Pulling the door off the front of the safe, and getting that down wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  The door is smaller than what Zanotti uses, but the Snapsafe door is easier to manage.  I can live with the smaller door.

Now, it was time to move the back of the safe from my garage, up the stairs to the front door, and down the stairs to the basement.  The back panel of the safe weighs about 200 pounds, and measures 38x59", so it's both quite heavy and bulky.  Can't slide it down the stairs, because it will threaten to run away and crush whoever is on the downhill side against the wall at the bottom of the stairs.  Don't attempt to even move this without a shoulder dolly set, so put that in the budget.  If you have a pair of steel-toe shoes or boots, wear them, and really consider buying a $30 pair at WalMart if you don't have them.  Kinda lost control of it, when getting to the overhang at the bottom of the stairs, and the damn thing threatened to kill me, but at that point, I could let it go, and it couldn't do too much damage to the stairs or walls.

Attempting to assemble the safe, I discovered that the sides of the safe were bowed out, and I couldn't get the holes to line up with the studs attached to the back of the safe.  Thought about slotting the holes, but there are a lot of them, and was afraid that the sides of the safe would still look bowed out after I tightened everything down, which would tip off anyone that it wasn't an ordinary safe.  Redneck ingenuity - put a ratchet strap around the sides, and crank on it until those bastards submit.  SUCCESS!  Holes now lined up and 5 out of 6 sides are now mated.  Add $12-15 to the budget if you don't have a ratchet strap.

The front of the safe, having a big hole cut out of it for the door, was not nearly as hard to manage as the back of the safe.  Grab a(nother) beer, the hard part is over.  Line up the front with the sides and top, thread on a few nuts, remove the ratchet strap, and you're almost done.

I secured the safe to the concrete basement floor with drop-in anchors and 3/8" bolts.  The Snapsafe people recommend 1/4" wedge bolt anchors*, but then I'd have to pick the damn thing up off the studs to move it, or disassemble it.  NUTS TO THAT!  It's back in a corner to make it harder to break into, and that also makes it that much harder to pick up.  The drop-in anchors are seated below the surface of the floor.  Four of the anchors, the tool to set them, and standard 3/8" bolts I think were less than $15 from Lowe's.

None of the panels were drilled for the cord of a dehumidifier or lighting.  You will probably want to at least install a Golden Rod dehumidifier, so have a drill bit ready for cutting an appropriate hole in the safe for that, and a rubber grommet for that hole is highly recommended.  Drill the hole before you start to install the interior.

Last step is to reinstall the fireproofing panels, and maneuver the interior panels into place.  Ran into a snag with the interior panels.  The sticker on the left interior panel was on upside down.  It was obvious that either the sticker on the right or left panel was wrong.  I had a 50/50 chance of guessing which one was right.  So, obviously, I guessed wrong.  Because the side panels have rails for hanging the shelving, I couldn't get the bottom panel in.  The rails were in the way.

With the interior installed properly, I put the big shelf up high, and rifle holders around the outside, but you could install more shelves for pistols, cameras, or whatever if you wanted.  The safe comes with multiple interior options, so that you can configure how you like.

Once you get the interior installed, you need to hang the door.  After dealing with the back panel of the safe, hanging the door on the hinges seemed like a piece of cake.  Although it would probably be easier to do with two people, I managed it on my own.  Remove the inside panel of the door, use the key to change the combination, and I'm finally done.  Took me a couple days altogether, a couple trips to ACE Hardware, and a trip to Lowe's for the anchors, but now it's all done.

Breaking into the safe should be quite difficult, since it's anchored to concrete, and can't be tipped over.  There's a wall in the way, so prying it open where it stands should be quite difficult.  If you could pry it up from the floor, you'd have to get the big, 600 pound safe plus contents down the hall.  The railing at the bottom of the basement stairs is actually a part of the wall, so you'd have to tear that down first, before even considering getting the safe up the stairs.  I'm not sure you could get it out the front door without removing the railing outside, and even then you'd have to try to negotiate the stairs and a small landing that abuts the garage.  You'd have to take down part of the fence, and remove a 7-foot evergreen tree if you took it out the back door.  These are a few of the reasons why I didn't buy a welded safe.  I didn't think it was geometrically possible to get a safe the size that I wanted into the basement where I wanted it, and I surely would have needed more help.  Buying and installing two smaller safes rather than one large one would have been cost prohibitive.  I don't know that the Snapsafe is as secure as a Liberty safe, or similar high-end safe, but I knew going in that I was making a compromise.  "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need."

A modular safe is maybe not the optimal security solution, but is probably adequate in most situations, and almost certainly better than the thin-gage gun lockers (i.e. Homak, Stack-On).


* - I don't think they really meant 1/4".  Perhaps someone made a typo, or had difficulty with metric to SAE conversion.  The holes in the bottom of the safe are about 1/2" in diameter, which is the diameter of a drop-in anchor for a 3/8" bolt.  A wedge bolt anchor really isn't a bolt at all.  A wedge bolt anchor is actually a stud, and they sell them with a nut that drives the wedge, and secures whatever you need attached to the concrete.

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