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DirtyLawyer 11-26-2012 5:41 PM

Safes: Hall's, Sturdy, and Visalia
I am in the market for a quality safe, and have narrowed my search to Sturdy, Hall's and Visalia safes. There seems to be limited info on Hall's and Visalia, while Sturdy has a great website with tons of info. Also, people sing the praises of Sturdy's quality, value, and customer service. I am looking to buy local, American (Northern/Central California) quality. Any feedback from Hall's and/or Visalia safe owners is appreciated!

With that being said, I have two very specific questions concerning the options and construction of the above-referenced safes:

1) Hinges: What is the functional difference between a piano hinge and a traditional external hinge? The locking bolts keep the door secure, so don't think either give more/less security. Visalia uses a piano hinge, whereas Hall's and Sturdy feature external. Pros and cons?

2) Penetrations: Many safes have (or the option to have) holes pre-drilled for power and bolting to floor. I have also been told that such penetrations lead to moisture intrusion and can compromise fire rating protection. Does the potential for moisture/fire outweigh the convenience of holes for power and mounting? I am more concerned with the penetrations for bolt-down security of the safe.

Once again, Thanks.


as_rocketman 11-26-2012 7:10 PM

Amateur responses, please feel free to double check... ;)

The advantage of traditional external hinges over a piano-style hinge is that the door can be removed more easily, and their bearings can be repacked in case the door ever sags. I don't know if repairing a sagging piano-style hinge is practical. This is not the sort of repair you should need to do every year or even every decade, but it does happen eventually.

Bolting to the floor is important for security, period. If you're bolting into concrete, then there's almost no loss of fire protection at all. In general I wouldn't worry about it unless it was an upper floor installation, i.e., there's a good chance of fire below your safe. Otherwise hot gases are unlikely to flow along the floor.

Regarding moisture protection, few safes are watertight until the fire seals heat up and expand. Adding another hole shouldn't make much difference. Address this with a dehumidifier and/or heating rod, and you should be fine.

Stoopy 11-26-2012 7:16 PM

You may also want to look at sun welding. They are in Simi Valley California. They have holiday pricing right now. Mine should be here in a couple weeks.

Rusty Scabbard 11-26-2012 8:12 PM

Traditional hinges may allow for easier door removal. Likely not an issue, but if moving it shorthanded, a couple hundred pounds lighter can make a big difference.
I definitely recommend the pre-drilled holes. If you don't bolt it down, it's just a convenient but heavy box for thieves to roll to their car and take away. You can always seal the holes/bolt downs with caulk when you anchor it.
Back to the mfg question.... can't go wrong with Sturdy.

Flyin Brian 11-26-2012 9:30 PM

I've been a happy Visalia customer for years. I like the piano hinge since it is nearly flush with the side of the safe and doesn't stick out like the other hinges. I can't imagine how it could ever sag, but ok, maybe in 100 years.

The gap around the door is thin enough to almost catch a business card tightly. They are very well made safes. I'm sure all three are good quality.

Casual_Shooter 11-27-2012 8:05 AM

A benefit of external hinges is that they allow the door to open 180 degrees.

DirtyLawyer 11-27-2012 10:34 AM

All very helpful information here. Keep it coming! Decisions, decisions!

dls 11-27-2012 10:36 AM

Lifting the door off of my safe was a great help in moving it,lots of weight on that door 1/4" plus frame and fire proofing.
I used a floor jack to lift it off the hinges,placed it on blocks,then used a heavy duty dolly to move it with another guy into the house. It was a lot easier moving the safe with the extra 300# or so off of it and it was still a pain in the @ ss. that sucker was heavy!

Also,unless your safe is mounted in a corner or something, the advantage of opening the door past 90 degrees is a big plus.

Some Mfg. may offer you the option of hinges on the left or right,depending on what works best for you.

I looked at Sturdy, the only reason I didn't drive down there and pick one up was the fact that they had limited exterior finishes at that time,they look like a great safe though. I went with a Sun Welding optioned how I wanted it.

Mr. Beretta 11-27-2012 1:27 PM

I could own just about any gun safe on this planet but my guns sleep in a Sturdy every night!

Brownings, Cannons are good safes (I've owned both BTW), if you're willing to spend $2,500 and up.

Spend $1,500 to $2,000 on a Sturdy. You won't regret it!

P.S.......There's allot of You Tube vids showing how easy it is to break into gun safes, etc..... Funny....I've never seen a vid where somebody broke into a Sturdy. Wonder why.....................:)

unamused 11-27-2012 7:49 PM

sorry to tag onto your thread.. but how did you guys find reputable safe movers to move them in your house? I understand sturdy provides curbside delivery... but I dont plan on leaving it out there! LOL!

Casual_Shooter 11-27-2012 8:01 PM

Many cities have safe moving companies. There is a member here who also moves safes. User name *might* even be TheSafeMover. Don't think he's in your area, but he might know someone.

bsg 11-27-2012 8:25 PM


Originally Posted by Casual_Shooter (Post 9799356)
A benefit of external hinges is that they allow the door to open 180 degrees.

i wouldn't have it any other way.

as_rocketman 11-27-2012 8:46 PM


Originally Posted by Casual_Shooter (Post 9804030)
Many cities have safe moving companies. There is a member here who also moves safes. User name *might* even be TheSafeMover. Don't think he's in your area, but he might know someone.

Correct, also known as Boswell Safe Movers, a Forum advertiser. They installed mine. Don't know if they operate up by Sacramento but if not, they probably know who does.

Those things are heavy!

DirtyLawyer 12-06-2012 9:49 PM

I think I'm down to Sturdy and Visalia. I am looking at a used 20x30x60 Visalia (model 2030s), supposedly without actual fire lining - although it does have the fire seal around door. The owner called Visalia Safe and, supposedly, they told him even their non-fire lined safes protect contents in complete burn downs.

EDIT: I spoke to Tony at Visalia (now "The Gun Safe Company") directly. He said no liner = no protection, even with the door fire seal that comes standard on all models. Wanted to clear any FUD on that issue. Just FYI.

I will say that they are very helpful and open on the phone, and seem to be a standup company.

Warhawk014 12-07-2012 12:23 AM

Without fire insulation it won't protect anything in a fire. That safe is going to heat up and everything is gone. When I get my sturdy I will review it here

DirtyLawyer 12-07-2012 5:19 AM

That was my thought too, I'm gonna speak to them directly and clarify. I have a feeling there was a misunderstanding about what was said.

WWDHD? 12-07-2012 8:07 AM

I skipped the fire lining on my Sturdy safe as per the owners recomendation (Think his name was Terry) and saved several hundred $$$. From what I've read, if the inside temp of your safe gets over 300 degrees for more than a few minutes all your guns will be ruined anyways. Anyone agree/disagree with this?
I bought my Sturdy for security and for that its very good IMO. Theres a firehouse less than half-a mile from my house so I'll take my chances on that! Good Luck.

Old4eyes 12-07-2012 10:03 PM

Terry tells his Sturdy customers that if they have a fire department nearby that they believe will be having a short response, you can skip on the fire liner. I chose to get it anyway since I might move someday and maybe it will be in the boonies where there might not be a quick fire response.

Terry also claims that if you get the fire liner, the safe will be insulated enough that you won't need an electric de-humidifier. Well, I got the fire liner and did not order it drilled for an electric feed. My bad, I use dessicants that get recharged in the oven and I have to recharge them often, I should have gotten the safe drilled and put in an electric unit. I might have also used the electrical to put in lighting, it would add to the gee whiz but I have overhead lighting close by so it's not a real loss.

Get the hole for the electric feed.

My Sturdy was delivered to the garage. Check the FAQ section of Sturdy's web site and don't be shy about asking them any question, they'll answer.

I ordered a number of options but it didn't delay the safe delivery nearly as long as I anticipated. I may have gotten it at a slow time of the year.

I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. I used some safe movers out of Hayward. Two guys came out and were quick, efficient and knew their stuff.

Casual_Shooter 12-11-2012 12:59 PM

If you don't have the fire insulation and are concerned about fire, store a few large plastic water containers on top of your safe. Fire melts the containers, water runs down and gives you some extra time.

Never known anyone to test that theory, but seems like it would work.

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