FORT COLLINS – Rocky Mountain Shooter Supply of Fort Collins is well known throughout Northern Colorado as the go-to place to buy all types of guns. It is stocked with more than 1,000 guns for sale – sporting rifles, handguns, shotguns and tactical rifles.

And, they offer a great opportunity before you buy: you may try out their rental guns at their convenient indoor shooting range, which they dub “the safest shooting environment possible.”

Owner Tim Brough says, “One of our key missions is to promote the safety of our homes and communities through safe storage of firearms. I want to highlight our sales of gun safes that help accomplish that mission.”
The store has been selling safes for 20-plus years, first as Hamblen Sales, and for the 12 ½ years that Brough has owned the business.

“We carry several brands of safes, including Browning, Summit, and Winchester, but our primary brand is Liberty Safe. They have a great website (libertysafe.com) with a lot of good information.”

Brough points out “a couple of primary points that get glossed over when looking at safes. On the outside they all look alike: a metal box with a lock and some insulation for fire protection. But the industry has done the customer a disservice by focusing on the fire ratings. Why? Since insulation is cheap, they can increase the fire resistance for little cost and then raise the selling price. Generally speaking, a fire rating that protects your valuables for an hour or more is sufficient.” He says that making a safe more secure is where the real cost comes in. “This requires thicker steel, better-built locking mechanisms, better construction techniques, and better locks. Thicker steel can require more labor, and is certainly more expensive. So, in a nutshell, the ‘hidden’ real costs of a safe are determined by its ability to deter thieves. Yes, size and finish play into the cost as well, but those are items we can see.”

Most manufacturers make several models of safes—from cheap Chinese import safes to very high-quality USA-made products.

“The import products are almost always the ‘price-point’ safes we see at the box/chain stores. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing guys breaking into these types of ‘safes’ in a matter of minutes.”
So, how can consumers decide which safe is best to store and protect their guns? Brough is clear about his preferences.

“The biggest bang for the buck for the average buyer are the safes that sit in the middle (or just above middle) of a manufacturer’s lineup. For example, Liberty’s safes from bottom to top are Centurion, Colonial, Franklin, Lincoln, and Presidential. The two we sell the most, which seem to be the best fit for the average gun owner, are the Franklin and Lincoln; security levels are the same on these two. The upper-end Lincoln has a better accessory package and a ‘higher class’ look.”

Brough tells people to look at safes they way they look at insurance. First, determine the value (both emotional and monetary) of the products you are putting in the safe, and then that will start to determine how secure you want to keep them.

“If your primary goal is to keep houseguests and kids away from your guns, virtually any safe will do that. But if your gun collection, coin collection, or family heirlooms are worth a lot of money or emotional value, you need to buy something better than an entry-level safe.”

 He observes that the biggest complaint he hears from safe buyers is, ‘I should have bought a bigger one.’ They are like 3-car garages; when you buy it you think, ‘Wow! Look at all that space.’ Two years later you are parking the car on the curb.”

The former owner of Rocky Mountain Shooter Supply, Cliff Hamblen, provides a safe delivery service, Brough says. “So he will set your safe in your home in whatever room you choose. He also will move safes from your old house to your new one.”

Another issue is, where in your house should you put your safe? Should you hide it in a closet or behind a secret panel?

Brough generally says no to those ideas. He has observed that if the thieves can’t find your valuables they often will tear the house apart looking for them, causing some damage. But, “often times, once they encounter a quality safe, they assume your valuables are in the safe and they leave the premises and go to another target that is easier to burglarize.

“Also, if your safe is hard for you to access, then you won’t use it as often as you should. Likewise, if it’s located in a basement, garage or outbuilding and it’s out of your convenient travel pattern, you aren’t as likely to use it.

“Then, you will look around one day and see that you have a lot of valuables lying on your dresser, or in the study on the desk, or in your sock drawer—when they should be in the safe. I recommend locating at least a small safe in an area that you frequently travel, I have a small safe which serves as a night stand next to my bed. We are in and out of it many times a week.”

For more information about guns and the best storage to keep them and the community safe, call Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply at 970.221.5133; visit the store and their indoor gun range at 3507 E. Mulberry St., Unit A, Fort Collins; and see their website, RMSS.com.

You may also want to visit Rocky Mountain Gun Trader, 2115 E. Lincolnway, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 307.632.5133; and Ault Ammo Depot, 225 1st St., Ault, Colorado, 970.834.2305.

By Judy Finman, At Home, Photos by Tim Seibert