We’re talking long guns, of course. The common sense answer would be 48. And that could be true if you owned 48 Winchester lever action rifles. They are very narrow compared to most rifles, don’t have protruding pistol grips or bolt handles and with their top ejection, probably don’t have a scope mounted.
But if you require a decent size gun safe, you most likely have a couple AR’s or AK’s and a few bolt-action guns with scopes. All of these can be real safe hogs.
That was my problem. My 48-gun Cannon safe, using the inserts provided, was just about maxed out at 24 guns, half the advertised capacity. The other problem besides capacity was many of the guns were precariously balanced in their notches and even the slightest touch would start a gun avalanche. Sometimes, to get one gun out required first removing a dozen others.
The factory safe insert had three rows with 16 notches each – 48 total. I found if I skipped every other notch, I could get 12 AR/AK type rifles on one side, four in each row. This kept the pistol grips from interfering with each other. Further experimentation showed if I didn’t use the center roll at all, I could use all of the notches in the front and rear slots giving me 16-gun capacity on one side, 32-gun total. Better than 24.
But I still had the gun avalanche problem. I found a way to rubber band the guns to the insert, but it wasn’t really practical. Also, the front roll of guns was too close to the door, preventing storage of a gun with an optical sight attached.
A custom made insert would be the only way to get maximum use of space. I started with an internet search for information. I went through a couple designs before I settle on one that could work. It would be labor intensive and each slot would be specifically designed and located for a specific gun, so once built, I couldn’t change the arrangement.
But while I was at Home Depot looking at materials, I found this:
The spring loaded clamps slide on the stamped steel rail which would allow adjustable spacing. They appeared to big enough go around most any barrel or flash hider. The clamp springs were definitely strong enough to hold guns in place preventing the gun avalanche. It got me to thinking.
So I bought four of them (to start) and some ¾” x ¾” by 1/8” aluminum angle and aluminum square tubing. I figured the aluminum angles would be plenty strong since nothing sits on top; the guns just lean against it. I made a rectangular frame to sit on the adjustable brackets in the safe. I temporarily put it together using small C-clamps. By trial and error, I located where the front and rear rails needed to be to allow two rows of AR/AK type rifles without interference. And on the front row I could leave optics mounted. In hindsight, sitting in the safe and closing the door to check interference was probably not a good idea.
With the frame finalized, I bolted it together. Then I mounted the rails for the clamps. It took two and a quarter rails for each roll. I ended up buying three more (total of seven) of the spring clamp sets to get enough clamps. I didn’t want the metal clamps against the metal gun barrels. So I bought some thick-wall heat shrink tubing, cut the tubing into one inch lengths, slid it onto the clamps and applied heat from a heat gun resulting in a nice, tight fit.
To get the AR/AK’s high enough to reach the new clamps, I built a box out of ¾” MDF and covered it with a piece of leftover rubber mat. To keep the top from bowing under the weight of 18 rifles, I added an additional support. It’s off-centered to get the best use from the space underneath for storage. I also made another spacer for the right side from some 2” x 6” pieces covered with rubber matting for a few .22 rifles that were too short to reach the clamps.
I thought the weight of the guns on the aluminum frame would hold it in place, but it didn’t. There was some movement. I tried bolting the frame to the metal clips in the safe, but tightening the screws caused the clip to release. I had to add a spacer between the frame and the clip to keep that from happening. Now the frame is very tight with no movement but can still be easily removed.
I have a tendency to over-design so I added a brace between the front and rear rail and a knee brace underneath. The openness of the design lets the interior lights do a better job.
With everything bolted securely in place, I was ready to load it up. I started from the left, placing a gun in the clamp, then slid it to the left until there was ¼” space between guns. By adjusting stock length and carefully selecting the next gun, I could avoid interference’s between protrusions like bolt handles or shell deflectors allowing guns to be closer together, but not touch. It also kept the pistol grips from rear row guns from interfering with the pistol grips from front roll guns.
I was able to get 15 rifles across the back roll. Another one will easily fit on the right side; possibly two with a little tightening up and if they were narrow (like a lever-action). Two of my shorter SBR’s required an additional block under the stocks in order for the barrels to reach the clamps.
You can remove a front row weapon without fear of the gun avalanche. To remove a back row weapon requires only one front row weapon to be removed. Leaving optics on the front roll guns does limit what you can hang on the door without having some interference.
There’s still room for adding a few more rifles on each side. If I decide to just build additional AR uppers instead of complete rifles, I believe I could safely hang the extra uppers from the four clamps next to the knee brace without overloading the frame.
The clamps are big enough to fit around all of my barrels, over-size flash hiders, and both .22LR and 9mm suppressors. Some of the clamps were a little loose on the rail, causing them to want to slide when opening the clamp to remove the gun. I thought about trying to tighten them up but was afraid if I got them too tight, I would lose the adjustability of the design. It may be a non-problem anyway.
I pretty happy with the safe now. I’ve got storage for 32-34 long guns, 22 handguns, all my AR-15 parts, valuables, security system DVR and wireless alarm system base station. And I solved the gun avalanche problem. If I removed all of the AR-15 parts, I would have room for 22 more handguns and still have room to add a shelf for AR-15 uppers.
I really like the HySkore modular pistol racks. The closed cell foam rubber won’t soak up oils and solvents or hold moisture. You can disassemble them and custom fit each one (width-wise) to fit a specific gun saving space. I reassembled mine using threaded rods into one long rack to fit the space. Hyskore Modular Pistol Racks
I also found a use for the leftover stamped metal clamp rails. I ground the sides down a little bit to near the width of a standard handguard rail, then filed them smooth. I painted them black and mounted them in the upper front corners of the safe. Anything that will fit a standard handguard rail will clamp onto these rails. A good way to store anything that clamps to a rail like flashlights, back-up sights, optical sights, lasers, etc.
(Photo to be posted)
Cost of the project:
(7) – Everbilt 17” Spring Clamp Storage Clip Bar $60.00 (2) – Square Aluminum Tubing: ¾” x ¾” x 1/8” Thick x 36” Lg. $25.00 (2) – Aluminum Angle: ¾” x ¾” x 1/8” Thick x 48” Lg. $19.00 (1) – Aluminum Angle: ¾” x ¾” x 1/8” Thick x 36” Lg. $7.00 (4) – 4” Black Heavy Wall Heat Shrink Tubing (3 Pieces) $16.00 $127.00
I already had all of the nuts, bolts, washers and lock washers. The MDF, 2” x 6” pieces and rubber mat were left-overs from other projects.
You could build the frame out of steel angles or probably even wood. The key is the rail-mounted, spring clamps. They keep the guns secure and allow infinitely variable spacing.
My only other firearms related post:
How I Converted a Dedicated 9mm AR Lower Receiver to Accept Sterling SMG Magazines: My 9mm AR15 Project
My Wiselite/Sterling 9mm Carbine SBR Project: SBRing the Wiselite/Sterling 9mm Carbine
Second Amendment posts:
People don’t realize that the Supreme Court has ruled many times that police department have no responsibility for your protection: You Are Responsible
Gun Control laws and regulations have done nothing to make you safer, they just make criminals of law-abiding citizens: Stupid Firearms Regulations
I would like to see anyone explain to me how this woman who was confronted by two men with a baseball bat would have been better off unarmed: The Armed Citizen
If Hillary had her way, we would all be going through the same insane, 21 step process just to keep a gun in your home that they go through in Washington DC which takes four months and cost $498: The Insane Process to Own a Gun in Washington DC