How to install a gun safe?

One common question we get asked regularly is how to bolt down a gun safe in Perth?

While each State and Territory has their own requirements for the installation of gun safes, Western Australia requires that all firearms safes are installed in accordance with schedule 4 of the Western Australian Firearms Regulation 1974.

The regulation states that a gun safe installation in Perth must be done using 4 fixings as a minimum, installed through the inside of the safe. 2 of the fixings into one panel and 2 of the fixings into another panel of the safe. This can be a combination of the bottom and one wall panel, or two wall panels.

The fixings must be secured to two "immovable structures" in order to be compliant for safe installation in Western Australia. Typically, the term "immovable structures" refers to concrete floors, or brick walls, especially in Perth where these are the most common building materials used in domestic construction. However, the term also refers to other building elements that are considered permanent structures at a property. These could be structural beams and frames, timber battens and joists, or even another safe that is already installed.

It is also important to ensure the correct type of fixings are used. The regulations for gun safe installations in Western Australia require that each of the 4 fixings are 8mm x 75mm masonry fixings, or coach screws, as appropriate. The material you are securing the safe to will be the biggest factor in determining which fixing is most appropriate. When fixing into concrete and brick surfaces, you will need to use concrete bolts, dynabolts, loxons or masonry wall plugs, ensuring they are at least the size mentioned by the regulations. When fixing into timber, you would use coach screws of at least the 8mm x 75mm size requirement.

Further to the fixing type, the gun safe installation regulations also require you to reinforce the installation with 2mm thick, 40mm diameter steel washers or 40mm x 40mm x 2mm square steel plates/washers for every screw or bolt.

There are a number of important considerations to take into account when planning or conducting an effective gun safe installation. Here are a few of our tips for a smooth and effective gun safe installation:

  • Know your materials. If you are needing to use a 75mm length fixing, what is the thickness of the surface you are bolting into? Internal walls in Western Australia are most commonly constructed with a 90mm thick brick, then up to 10mm of cement render and plaster, however you may have different materials in your property, such as timber wall framing or other less common products, so make sure you know what you are drilling into before you begin.
  • Use the correct tools. There are different drills for different uses. When drilling into concrete, we will use a rotary hammer drill, with SDS masonry drill bits, as these perform the best for our use, but they can be too aggressive for drilling into brick walls and make cause a “blowout” of brick to break off around the hole location. In these instances, we use a cordless hammer drill with a masonry drill bit as the percussion on these drill are much ‘finer’ and will still drill through cement render and bricks comfortably without the risk of damage.
  • Mark and move. The best way to be sure that you are drilling in the correct place is to use the safe itself as the template. Position the safe where you want it to go, mark the holes with a pencil or marker, then move the safe out of the way to drill the holes. This is a sure-fire way to make sure all of the bolts are in the correct location, as opposed to using measurements to determine the hole locations. Also, by positioning the safe in the correct spot first, you can test the opening of the door to make sure it won’t be obstructed by anything once it is installed.
  • Clean the hole. Vacuum the holes before installing the fixings. All fixings need to be installed correctly in order to be effective, and part of this is making sure the holes are clean before inserting the fixing, to create a proper bond between the fixing and the surface.
  • Remember the shape of the safe you are installing. Gun safes, specifically rifle safes are usually very tall and narrow. This means they can tip over during handling, so be very careful until it is installed, especially when opening the door

 It's worth noting that these regulations are intended to be a minimum standard, which means that if you were to have a safe that is considerably more secure than the regulations, you may be able to get it approved without following the exact requirements noted above. For example, if you used a 500kg ex Bank safe, you may be able to get approval without bolting it at all. But best to speak with one of our experts in these instances. 

Hopefully this information proves helpful in gaining understanding around how to correctly bolt down a gun safe. Just remember to always consult the relevant regulations, as these do change from time to time.