ORA President Mark Vaughan met with Beau Gastineau, part owner and manager of Bear Safes in Oklahoma City. Being in operation for over 50 years, they are the only manufacturer of firearm safes in the state.
One question gun owners face at some point is, where am I going to store my firearms? Not only are guns valuable for home defense, but the firearm itself is a financial investment and one that retains its value over the years when kept in good condition. Also, with ownership of a firearm, controlling access to it is also important for reasons of safety and liability. That is why many gun owners look to safes for storage, protection, and control of access. The exciting news for Oklahoma gun owners is that there is a manufacturer in our own backyard building safes for storage of guns and other valuables, building them to store and protect from the extremes of fire, tornado, and theft.
Recently the Sharpshooter team accompanied ORA president Mark Vaughan to meet with Beau Gastineau, one of the three owners of Bear Safes in Oklahoma City. After Bear Safes changed ownership, Beau was approached with the idea to run the business in June of 2020, and with that Beau does a little bit of everything. He’s supported by a fabrication team composed of 2 welders, a person that handles the interiors, and 2 truck drivers. However, you’ll often see Beau on delivery runs as it takes two strong individuals to make a delivery as a Bear Safe can be double the weight of a standard safe.
For over 40 years, Bear Safes has been manufacturing high quality safes at their factory in Oklahoma City. In the past 3 ½ years, the company changed ownership, but the sturdy design and signature lock is still alive and well with some minor improvements. Only when you see a Bear Safe in person and see the thickness of the metal and feel the heaviness of the door do you realize that these stand heads above the typical safe found at larger retailers. This is because the team at Bear Safes focus on what matters.
There are some features in particular that make a Bear Safe unique. First is the key system. Many times safes come with an electronic keypad or even biometrics, however as Beau said, in the case of fire, these keypads melt off and the electronics are destroyed. Also, most keypad and traditional locks are vulnerable to break and breach by thieves. Beau said the security of these other safes is like locking your valuables in a car trunk. This is why Bear Safes stays with the original and proprietary key design. The lock is in a recessed area on the safe and it takes a little learning on how to use it. However, when it comes to security and fire-protection, this is one of the best options on the market.
Fire protection is another key feature of a Bear Safe. This comes from the steel thickness, which even as steel prices have risen since the pandemic, has not been reduced in the manufacturing process. The fire-resistant lining that is used in a Bear Safe is double what is found in standard safes. This leads them to have some of the highest fire ratings on the market: 2 hours at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit – substantially better than the typical fire rating of 1 hour at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
One particular concern of Oklahomans is tornadoes. This is where the weight and strength of a Bear Safe gives a little more advantage. In fact, Bear Safes also builds safe rooms, usually installed in new construction. Beau recommends that when installing a larger safe or safe room, you should do it in the construction stage before flooring is installed. It is far easier to finish around a large and heavy safe, especially one that would not fit through standard entry ways.
For many gun-owners after hearing about the questionable privacy practices of Liberty safes, we had to ask Beau, is there a back door with Bear Safes, and what about customer privacy? Beau told us most customers want that back-up option in case a key is lost or they can’t get into the safe. The critical difference is that Bear Safes does not disclose any sensitive information. This gives that reassurance for those who are concerned about the implications of Liberty Safe’s policies and their constitutional rights.
Oklahomans and others in surrounding states can rely once again on local manufacturers to produce a level of quality and safety and support their Second Amendment rights. We are proud that Oklahoma is once again setting the standard high in the nation for the firearm community with local manufacturers like Bear Safes that focus on what matters: proper storage for firearms, protection from theft, fire, and other natural elements, and most of all, our civil liberties.
In upcoming legislation, the ORA team is working with lawmakers on future tax credits for gun safe purchases. The intention is to encourage more proactive gun safety for Oklahomans to make the decision to buy a safe an easy one. However with an Oklahoma manufacturer like Bear Safes with their well-built safe, the added benefit is the incredible protection of investment that gun-owners make with their firearms.
Stay up-to-date with the 2024 Legislative Session with the ORA to know more about the tax incentive for gun safes and other critical bills pertaining to our Second Amendment rights.