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What Types of Steel Are Used for Safes?

  • 2 min read

The materials used to make today’s safes have come a long way since the first recorded safe installation in Ancient Egypt 13BC. That safe was constructed from wood but had a locking system similar to the pin and tumbler system that is still in use today. Safes continued to be made from wood until around 1830 when the first iron safe was invented. These safes featured inner walls that were made from ceramic, stone, brick and other materials to help protect their contents from fire.

The Arrival of the Modern Steel Safe

It was not until almost the mid-1800s when steel became the main material for safe construction. This metal was more durable, resisted cracking, resisted fire and stood up to challenging environmental conditions. Safe construction continued to evolve during the early 20th century as the introduction of testing led to new technologies and construction materials being used in safe manufacturing, including various types of steel alloys being used for gun safe metal.

Steel in Today’s Gun Safes

Today, most gun safes are constructed from steel. The most commonly used is a steel alloy of iron and carbon. Iron is very strong on its own, but it lacks tensile strength. By adding carbon to iron to create steel, the metal resists cracking under pressure because it is then capable of slightly bending as it resists force. This type of steel is strong and budget-friendly.

Depending on the manufacturer, the type of gun safe steel used can vary. Mass-produced, imported gun safes may be constructed with lesser quality steel. This is because the required standards in some countries, like China, are not as strict as the standards for steel in the United States. For instance, some Chinese steel producers add boron to their steel alloy mixture. They are supposed to report the amounts of boron in their steel. This is not always done, and there is very little oversight to address that.

Higher quality safes often use gun safe metal that is a chromium steel alloy. By adding chromium to the iron and carbon mix, the metal’s strength is enhanced. The appearance of the steel is also enhanced by the chromium, because it changes the steel to stainless steel. It resists corrosion and can be polished to a shiny finish. Adding tungsten to the steel alloy used in gun safe metal helps increase its melting point. This increases the safe’s level of fire protection.

Liberty Uses Hardplate Protectors, Too

Liberty gun safes feature hardplate steel plates that are used to protect our safes’ locks from drilling. This gun safe steel has been specially heat-treated to increase its hardness. We use two types of steel hardplates: Triple-layered hardplate that chews up drill bits, and ball-bearing hardplate that snaps drill bits or leaves them spinning on ball bearings embedded in the steel.