Having finally decided to invest in a bug-out gun, we now need to secure both it and our gun safe. Sadly, the floor in our house is crumbling, so we can’t bolt the safe to the floor.
I’m by no means the first person to tackle this problem. People who rent property are often not be permitted to bolt a safe to the floor and, like me, need to find a secure alternative.
There are 10 potential ways to secure your safe without bolting it to the floor. Many of these are cheaper than paying for a safe installation, which currently runs anywhere between $250 and $800.
Some methods are more suited to small safes but, if you’ve only got a few valuables to secure, a diversion safe will do the trick and save you money.
Small safes are easy to walk off with, and even a tall gun safe can be carried away on a hand truck if the thief’s determined enough. Correctly securing your vault is the only way to protect the contents from theft.
10 Ways To Secure A Safe When You Can’t Bolt it to the Floor
#1 Weigh the Safe Down with Heavy Objects
The average man can easily carry a safe that weighs around 110lb. To make your safe more secure, therefore, you can simply add weight in the form of metal bars or sandbags.
This will make the safe too weighty to lift, or at least heavy enough to make a potential thief think again.
While this is the cheapest way to secure a safe, it isn’t necessarily the most practical. If your safe already holds a couple of handguns, cash, jewelry, and sensitive documents, you may not have space for a bunch of stainless steel bars.
If you choose this approach, first find a suitable location for your safe. A concealed area is ideal, or at least one that isn’t instantly visible to passersby or visitors. Check out this video for more ideas about the best place to put a safe.
Once your safe is in situ, load your weights into the bottom of the safe.
Only add your guns and other valuables once all your weights are in position.
You may need to shift things around a little to fit everything but, once complete, you should have a secure safe that’s heavy enough to deter all but the strongest and most determined of thieves.
#2 Bolt Two Safes Together
If you have two safes of the same make and size, bolting them together provides an extra layer of security.
A thief might be able to get one small safe through the doorway, but two is another matter altogether.
Not only do they weigh twice as much, but the dimensions will be double as well.
Consider these safes on Amazon; bolting them together will give you a single item that measures 33.86 x 29.4 x 21.6. While you can just about squeeze this through an exterior door, getting it through a 30-inch-wide interior doorway will prove challenging.
This method works best if you have two safes that are the same size and, ideally, the same design as this makes it easier to line up the anchor holes correctly.
#3 Safeguard your Vault Using a Security Cable
Attach your safe to a bulky or immovable object, and even the most experienced thieves will think twice about trying to remove it.
Some safes are adapted to make it easier to secure them to a cable or chain. The Titan Gun Safe Pistol Vault, for instance, has a small pin at the back that’s secured inside the safe. The custom-made Titan Cable Lock fits onto this, securely attaching your safe to a 5/16 inch-thick cable.
Wrap the other end of the cable around a beam, pillar, or similarly permanent structure, and your safe will be, well, safe, I guess.
You can use any heavy-duty cable or chain to secure your vault, especially if your safe has mounting holes that can accommodate one.
This approach isn’t as secure as bolting your safe to the floor, but it is better than leaving it free-standing. It’s also ideal for traveling with a small safe that you want to secure in your car or hotel room.
#4 Glue Your Safe to the Floor
This is a simple alternative to using bolts and, if you select the most appropriate type of glue, could be just as effective.
A high-strength polymer is the best, although the exact type will depend on what kind of surface the safe needs to adhere to, a heavy-duty construction adhesive, like the one from Gorilla, will work well with most materials.
Then, follow these steps:
- Measure your safe with a tape measure
- Mark the dimensions of the bottom of your safe on the floor with tape
- Apply glue sparingly to the area you’ve outlined with tape
- Use a scraper to distribute the adhesive evenly across the whole area
- Place the safe carefully onto the glued area
- Leave for a few hours to set.
#5 Fix the Vault to a Piece of Furniture or Wall
If you have fixed or in-built furnishings in your house, you could use these to make your vault more challenging to move. You could, for example, glue your safe to the side of an in-built wardrobe or fixed cabinet.
If you want your safe in a room with a fitted carpet, instead of gluing it to the floor, you could glue it to a wall instead.
#6 Bolt the Safe to a Steel Slab
The approach makes your safe too big and heavy to move, especially if you get the dimensions of the steel slab right. Although other metals can work, steel is the best due to its superior durability, rust, and fire resistance.
Choose a slab that’s at least 1/4-inch thick and wider than your interior doorframes, which are usually around 30” wide.
To set up your safe, you’ll need to drill holes into the steel slab that align with the mounting holes on the safe. Once that’s done, you can start installing.
To install your safe and steel slab:
- Choose a suitable location
- Place the steel slab in position
- Move your safe onto the steel slab, making sure you align the mounting holes with the holes you drilled in the slab
- Put your bolts into position and secure them into place.
#7 Conceal the Safe under a Wooden Floor
If a criminal can’t see a safe, he won’t know that there’s one to steal, making it more secure than the strongest bolts ever could.
A purpose-built floor safe is the easiest to install. These are designed to fit between the joists under the floorboards and lie level with the surrounding surface. Cover it with a rug, and no one but you will know it exists. This video gives detailed instructions on how to install a floor safe.
If you’re a confident DIYer, you can quite easily pry out a few floorboards to make a discreet space for your safe. Just watch out for any underlying pipes or cables that might accidentally damage in the process.
#8 Build a Fake Wall to Hide your Safe
Admittedly, this is a pretty complicated and expensive alternative to bolting your safe to the floor.
It is a good alternative, however, especially if you want to conceal multiple safes.
You’ll probably need to get a professional builder in to assist with a project of this size but, once complete, only you will know there’s a safe in your house, and any potential thieves will leave empty-handed and none the wiser.
#9 Bolt the Safe to Two Wooden Pallets
While a thief could dismantle a couple of wooden pallets, doing so will take time, which is in short supply when you’re robbing a house.
Wooden pallets are strong, durable, and too big to fit through a doorway. While this method isn’t as secure as fixing your safe to a steel plate, it’s much cheaper and should prove effective enough unless the thieves come armed with a complete toolbox.
#10 Hide the Safe Behind a Work of Art
Hollywood movies often have safes hidden behind expensive works of art, so it’s perhaps not going to fool every thief. Hiding your safe under the floorboards or behind a fake wall is liable to be more effective, but if those options aren’t available, this one could prove handy.
If your living room walls are covered with paintings, hiding your safe behind one of them will make it difficult for a thief to locate. If that’s not the case, you could always install a fake cabinet into your kitchen and bolt your safe into one corner of it.
While bolting your vault to the floor is the safest option, these alternative methods will secure your safe and protect it against the most determined and ingenious of thieves.
Also read our guide to fireproof safes.