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The Key Shop LLC

(904) 751-2778

Trusted since 1978

formally Northside Lock Key and Safe
Jacksonville, Florida Locksmiths
Home of the original
23 1/2 Hour Service

Safe Buyers Guide from The Key Shop, LLC

You will have many things to consider when choosing a new safe. This guide will help you get started.

Table of Contents:
  1. General Safe Info
  2. Safes For Home Use
  3. Types Of Home Safes
  4. Safes For Business Use
  5. Types Of Business Safes
  6. Types Of Safe Locks

General Safe Info

What makes a safe a safe?

A good safe is much more than a six sided metal box with a lock on it. Good safes will have heavy duty hinges, as well as protection against cutting or defeating them in some manner. This is usually accomplished by a locking bar or pins inside the safe.
Some safes may have active bolt work on all sides of the door. We refer to "bolts" as the bolts that extend from the door, into the body of the safe.
Good safes will have a U.L. listed lock. This assures you the lock has passed many tests related to security. See the Safe ratings, and safe locks pages for more info.
Good safes will have one or more relocker devices.
A relocker device, is a mechanism that can activate during a break-in attempt, usually deadlocking the safe, not even the correct combination will open the safe if the relocker has been triggered. An internal relocker, usually means that the lock has a built in relocker. An external relocker, usually means that the safe door has a relocker mechanism. Some safes will have both types of relockers.
Good safes will have "hardplate" protecting the lock.
Hardplate is a specially hardened plate of metal "sandwiched" between the safe door and lock to protect the lock against drill attack. This metal can be very difficult/impossible to penetrate. 
A good safe will have provisions to be fastened in some manner. Most can be bolted to the floor, some are designed to be encased in concrete. A good safe may have various burglary/fire ratings.
See the ratings page for more info.

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Safes For Home Use

You will want to answer a few questions in order to help you pick out a new safe.

  1. Burglary protection, or fire protection, or both.
    Most of our customers want both. Although if your budget is limited, we recommend getting as much burglary protection as your budget will allow. Statistics show you are much more likely to have a burglary, than a fire.
  2. What will you store it the safe?
    Answering this question will help you decide what level or type of protection you will need.
  3. How big will the safe need to be?
    Upon purchase of a new safe, you will most likely think of additional items you need to secure, that you may not have originally considered. Our advise is to gather up everything you will want to put into a safe, put it into a box, and see how much space it takes up.
  4. What type of lock you would like on your new safe?
    In recent years new technology has emerged, that offers great advantages for today's safe buyer. Many of today's safe locks are electronic. The locks offer equal security as their mechanical counterparts, while offering quicker access, and the ability to change the combination yourself.

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Types Of Home Safes

  1. BURGLARY/FIRE SAFE. One of our most popular safes, for home use. 
    These safes are burglary rated, this means the safe has some type of burglary and fire rating.  BURGLARY/FIRE safes are heavy duty, and offer extreme burglary resistance. Click for more on Ratings.
    These safes are installed "in the floor". Floor safes, when properly installed in concrete, offer extreme burglary protection. They also offer a good level of fire protection, due to the fact that heat rises, and the concrete surrounding the safe provides insulation.  It helps to know where pipes or wires run under the floor of your home prior to installation.
    These safes are designed for document storage, have good security, and great fire protection. A good RECORD SAFE will have a U.L. listed lock as well as a relocker device, it may not earn a specific burglar rating, but will still have many security features built in. 
  4. GUN SAFE.
    We offer several small pistol safes, as well as a large variety of GUN SAFES designed for various numbers of rifles or shotguns. GUN SAFES can be purchased with optional interiors, designed for many combinations of pistols, rifles/shotguns. Most are available with a fire liner, for fire protection. We also offer a complete line of gun safes with custom gloss paint, and pin striping, suitable for display in your trophy room.
    These are not quite as popular, but they are great, for something small that can be hidden (just like in the movies), these are also easy to install, and offer good security. Most wall safes are not fire protected.
  6. These are just a few of the various types of home safes. You will need to carefully consider which is right for you, based on what level of security you may need, if unsure ask us, we will be glad to answer all of your questions.

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Safes For Business Use

Purchasing a safe for a business can be a lot different than choosing a safe for home use. You will have more questions to answer.

  1. Will my INSURANCE company require a minimum "burglar rating" in order to cover the contents? 
    This is especially important to businesses that store customers contents, such as a jewelry store or pawn shop.  Check with your agent prior to purchase of a safe.
  2. Will I need to make quick DEPOSITS into the safe?
    See types of business safes for more information.
  3. Will my EMPLOYEES have access to the safe?
    This will help you decide if you need a special lock.
  4. Will I store valuables/cash OVERNIGHT?
    Safe manufacturers have guidelines, showing recommendations for overnight cash storage.
  5. Another thing to consider is the LOCK you will use on your new safe. Several types of safe locks exist. Some locks require 2 people present to open the safe. New "high tech" electronic safe locks store information, allowing an audit trail of data showing "Who" opened the safe, and "When".

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Types Of Business Safes

One of the most common business safes is the DEPOSITORY SAFE. This type of safe can have a rotary hopper (drum) that turns to "deposit" items into the safe without having to open the safe. Another type of DEPOSITORY SAFE will have a pull down door to deposit items into the safe without having to open it. These are great for business that want employees to make deposits into the safe, without giving the employee the combination. If you store jewelry/cash overnight, you will most likely need a safe with a Underwriters Laboratories burglary rating. These safes have been through rigorous testing to ensure extreme burglary resistance. If you have a small business that simply needs to store documents, you will want to read the home safes section above.

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Types Of Safe Locks

We offer various locks for your new safe. The standard for many years, has been the "dial type" combination lock. This lock is extremely reliable, and relatively inexpensive. Although it is lacking in features, and can be time consuming to open. This often results in the safe being left open for periods of time, which can be bad, especially for a business. We offer a variety of digital pushbutton locks that meet or exceed the same U.L. Security ratings of the mechanical locks.

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More Reading:

Links below will guide you through the safe section.
Fact about Safes
Safe and Lock Ratings
Bank Safe Insurance classifications
Mercantile Safe Insurance classifications
View/Download Safe Catalogs