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XDMAN Confessions: Why I Need a Safe Space



What does your safe space look like? (Image by BallofString/wikimedia commons)

Most of us own at least some truly irreplaceable treasures. How about you?

Your original birth certificate, diplomas, and guns can be replaced. But what about things that are irreplaceable? Family heirlooms, Civil War letters from great-great-great Grandpa, and vintage 1987 Garbage Pail Kids cards (No? Just me? Okay.) might not have much monetary value, but to you, they’re priceless. Most of us know what we need is a fire-resistant, burglar-resistant, sturdy safe. But, uh …what next? Let’s get UnPewFessional with it!

Because I Want a Taste of Power

I’m putting this first because you should take care of it first. Once your safe is fully installed, putting in a power outlet will be a pain in the rear to rival your last colonoscopy. Now, depending on your brand of safe, it may come equipped with an electrical outlet. Mine was, but only came with one plug. Trust me when I say this one plug is not enough—ideally, you want two or three.

A search online or at Amazon for “safe electrical outlet kit” will bring up more options than you can count. If your safe does not have provisions an outlet kit, you will have to cut through the safe’s exterior, through the insulation and interior. If you do have to cut a port, remember to cut it a couple inches off the floor just in case the area floods … this is especially important in basements.

Because They Won’t Let Me Store Things in Cheyenne Mountain

The next thing we need to figure out before placement is anchoring. Even if you have a large safe that weighs hundreds of pounds, it is a prudent idea to anchor the thing. You want to make it as hard as possible for crooks to get into the safe, and locking it down makes it harder. Most traditional anchoring comes in the form of concrete anchors that bolt the safe directly into the slab. But what about an apartment, or second story of your home? In my bedroom safe, I anchored the safe through the back into the stud wall in multiple places.

Because Rust Sucks

I can’t count the number of firearms that I have had to restore as a gunsmith for customers who lock up all of their firearms, then forget to follow up. It does not take much for rust to start, and once it does, it can infect everything in the safe like a disease. You need some way of dehumidifying your safe.

Luckily there are plenty of options from plug-in dehumidifiers (see, you DO need multiple plugs!), to “golden rods.” These heated rods just elevate the internal temperature to lower humidity levels. Next are the desiccant containers that absorb moisture in the air. Most of the time they will have a blaze orange color when ready to absorb moisture. As time goes by, the beads will turn blue meaning the canister will need to be dried out.

Unlike the plug-in-and-forget electric dehumidifiers, the desiccant will need to be periodically dried in the oven. Instead of choosing just one of these methods, I use a combination of both, heating up the space as well as absorbing the moisture. Beyond the two traditional gun safe dehumidifiers, I like to have a one-two-three punch approach by also introducing Zerust VC2 rust capsules. Vapor corrosion inhibitors (VCIs) are substances that slowly release a corrosion-preventative compound into a sealed air space, effectively protecting exposed metal surfaces.

Because I’m not too sexy for a hygrometer.

A hygrometer measures the amount of humidity or moisture in the air. The unit of measurement is milliliters per cubic centimeter or the amount of fluid per volume of air. I know a hygrometer is not sexy, but they are crucial for knowing what is happening in your safe. It does not take much moisture for rust to develop. The NRA Museum recommends around 50-55% humidity to keep the rust away without drying out the wood stocks (yes, this is a thing that can happen, and you don’t want it to). Without a hygrometer, you are just guessing.

Because I’m not a bat.

Trust me: Having a light in your safe makes your life so much easier. I have a nice multi-piece system that is motion-activated and plugs in, so I don’t have to worry about batteries. I have used the magnet puck lights in the past, and maybe it is my bad luck, but they always die. Why not LED lights that can change colors, for a funky fun look just like your favorite gun-tubers?

Because paper can char at high temps even if the fire doesn’t touch it.

These fire/water resistant bags are invaluable to protect your most important documents. Bags like the Andyer Fireproof document bag will give that extra protection to delicate paperwork in the event of a fire. Remember that in a house fire your safe is going to turn into a big oven box, and these insulated bags can mean the difference between recoverable documents and charred paper.

Because there’s no such thing as too much molle.

The door, pistol pocket liners that come with most safes, are ok but end up underutilizing valuable real-estate. Instead I like to use molle panels that attach to the inside of the safe door. With a molle panel I can attach things all over the place, from clipping in holsters to different sized bags and pouches. With this modern approach I can customize the door to fit my needs instead of the generic set up.

Because I don’t want it to look like my junk drawer.

A good organizing system can increase the firearm capacity of your safe. Try using rifle rods, which insert into the barrels of rifles so they can stand straight up, allowing more rifles to fit in the same space. With pistol racks not only do the pistols nicely sit side by side, but it keeps them from banging into each other. Use under shelf baskets and hanging rods to use the space that would otherwise be wasted.

Because it’s fun, that’s why!

Who says your safe has to look like a safe? The outside of your safe is just begging to be customized. If you don’t want to ruin your safe’s look, use magnets to attach plexiglass or patch panels to the outside of the safe. Then go to town with your sticker patch collection. Need a great place to start? Try the Magpul 2024 sticker pack.

Buying a quality safe is one of the most important pieces of insurance you can own (and might reduce your insurance premiums—it’s definitely worth a call to find out). What kinds of mods have you done to your safe? Tell us in the comments!

—James the “XDMAN” Nicholas, Mr. Unpewfessional Himself!

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