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Basic
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Posted: 7/26/2013 5:40:15 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/3/2013 3:23:15 PM EST by PONCHO69]
I bought a TL-15 safe (and got it pretty cheap)...then I broke into it. Ask me anything.

Disclaimer - I bought this safe, it is my property, I am not a criminal...

FYI - The safe was a Mutual Gemvault 1412. The safe has a UL TL15 rating.

It weighs over 500lbs (online they are advertised at 520lbs) and was a very sturdy unit. I initially thought the bolt work was light duty but it held up just fine. A while back I read some posts on the board by a1a where he commented to some sturdy fanboys that it doesn't take much to keep the door closed and posted some pics of some TL rated boltwork. He was right - it doesn't take much boltwork to keep the door closed - this particular TL rated safes failure had nothing to do with the bolts or by how supported/unsupported they were.

I was originally going to try and drill the safe but after examining it I decided that there wasnt much point as drilling it head on would fire the glass relocker. I then wanted to use a large splitting maul and sledge hammer to wedge the door open but couldn't find a maul at any of my local hardware stores. So I eventually decided on a brute force pry attack. I started with 12 inch Estwing crowbar pictured in one of the photos. I then moved up to an extendable crowbar then a combination of both. The extendable prybar was the tool that did a real number on the safe. It was extendable from 24 to 36 inches. I also had a 51 inch chisel point crowbar but that wasn't very useful as it couldn't get a good bite due to its size and the 'relatively' small door gap.

After prying on the safe for ~5 minutes with the 12inch Estwing I went to work for a few more minutes with the extendable pry bar. The extendable was a great tool because it was thin enough to get a good bite, and long enough to generate a lot of force when prying.

One thing that I noticed was that after prying for a few minutes the handle for opening the bolts (as well as the dial itself) was very hard to turn - they eventually seized up and I noticed the door itself was pulled out a bit from the safe body. I deduced how the safe was failing and decided that the boltwork 'container' was being pried away from the main part of the door but was being held intact by the handle/boltwork combo and lock spindle/dial...so I smashed the handle and dial off with a sledge hammer.The handle took some smashing to actually get it off. I had to smash and use a chisel. When I got the handle off I kept prying and eventually got the safe open...well the door was open but the boltwork container was still sitting in the door...but I popped that out no problem.

Note - the glass relocker didn't fire during any of this - I broke the glass plate for fun after I pried the safe open.

The safe wasn't bolted down but I think in this case it would have made it easier as the biggest trouble was that when I was prying hard the safe would just move. If it was solidly bolted down I think it would have made it easier.

If I had to guess I would say total time expended was approx 20-25 minutes. If I could do it again I could get pretty close to 15 minutes - especially if 15 minutes is just when the tools are touching the safe. The major flaw in this safe was the container that attaches the boltwork to the actual composite door was weakly attached. The little tabs of sheetmetal should have probably been bigger and should have been embedded into the concrete in the door itself. The sheetmetal tabs for the boltwork container were just folded in and interlocked into little slots in the sheetmetal for the main door. When I pried these eventually just separated and the door opened.

This safe was made in Korea but was a bonafide Mutual TL15. I went to a few local safe shops after my little experiment and they stock the exact one that I bought.










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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 5:49:44 PM EST
And you announced to the world how to get into a Gem Vault.

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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 6:05:28 PM EST
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Originally Posted By heeler1:
And you announced to the world how to get into a Gem Vault.
View Quote



Whats that - use a big prybar and go to town? I think the thieves already new that one...


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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 6:43:07 PM EST
Does that safe actually have an attached U.L. TL15 metal tag??
Why would you destroy a good safe??

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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 6:46:30 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/26/2013 6:47:09 PM EST by heeler1]
double post

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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 7:18:52 PM EST
If the bolts were engaged, how did you get the door out?

I am missing something here.
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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 7:43:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/4/2013 6:18:32 PM EST by PONCHO69]
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Originally Posted By heeler1:
Does that safe actually have an attached U.L. TL15 metal tag??
Why would you destroy a good safe??
View Quote


The lock dial was binding sometimes but I could open it using the combo provided (sometimes it took a few trys though).
The Safe techs I called wanted to much money to get it open. To get them to come and try to diagnose the problem was more than the safe cost me... So I went to town.

I am keeping my eyes open for another TL safe but probably wont go composite. I will only buy a thick steel plate / welded TL15. The way the door separated on the composite safe is kinda scary.

Yes it had a real UL tag. I can take a picture of it.

I was kinda proud I got it open, but a little disappointed in Mutual as I didn't think you should be able to pry open a TL rated safe. I figured a maul/wedge and a big hammer would be required and only reluctantly started my pry attack. However, within a few minutes I knew I was going to be able to get it open.

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Link Posted: 7/26/2013 7:50:20 PM EST
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Originally Posted By theblaze:
If the bolts were engaged, how did you get the door out?

I am missing something here.
View Quote


Once the 'door' (the thick main part of the door filled with concrete) was pried open the door pan / bolt 'container' was still blocking the doorway.

However now the door pan / bolt 'container' wasn't attached to the main door it could be moved side-to-side. When it was moved all the way to one side (i.e. the live bolt side) the deadbolts were barely engaged, and I just pried the door pan/boltwork container right out (it literally popped right out).

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 4:42:08 AM EST
Thanks for posting that.

Very eye opening!

I guess the lesson here is buyer beware.

Because at the end of the day that little .25 oz aluminum TL-15 tag didn't keep anything secure.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 5:25:05 AM EST
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Originally Posted By theblaze:
Thanks for posting that.

Very eye opening!

I guess the lesson here is buyer beware.

Because at the end of the day that little .25 oz aluminum TL-15 tag didn't keep anything secure.

View Quote

You realize that TL-15 just means that the safe is rated to last 15 minutes against an attack with tools. 15 minutes! That's nothing. That's why in addition to my safe, I have an alarm with cellular monitoring and a bigass dog to chew on their ass for those 15 minutes.
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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 5:27:01 AM EST
Seeing the deconstruction of that TL door is really illuminating, and alarming. Consumers rely on UL certifications as assurance that standards have been met, and in the case of safes, the standards define resistance to intrusion.

The mechanical attachment of that boltwork frame to the poured door via those small metal tabs "interlocking" only in the sheet metal skin of the cast door is clearly structurally inadequate, and really begs the question, how did the design engineers conceive such a weak design? Furthermore, since the UL testers have all of the design/construction drawings for the safe, why didn't they exploit that obvious weakness and pop off a door minutes (and fail the safe)?

It is quite apparent that there should have been a substantial method of attaching the boltwork frame to the outer,cast door, and common sense would seem to suggest that it should have involved integral legs from the boltwork frame being deeply embedded in the pour of the cast door, which would prevent deconstruction/separation of those two, brake metal structures.

Hopefully TheSafeGuy will give us a detailed analysis of this.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 5:54:14 AM EST
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Originally Posted By Col_B:
Seeing the deconstruction of that TL door is really illuminating, and alarming. Consumers rely on UL certifications as assurance that standards have been met, and in the case of safes, the standards define resistance to intrusion.

The mechanical attachment of that boltwork frame to the poured door via those small metal tabs "interlocking" only in the sheet metal skin of the cast door is clearly structurally inadequate, and really begs the question, how did the design engineers conceive such a weak design? Furthermore, since the UL testers have all of the design/construction drawings for the safe, why didn't they exploit that obvious weakness and pop off a door minutes (and fail the safe)?

It is quite apparent that there should have been a substantial method of attaching the boltwork frame to the outer,cast door, and common sense would seem to suggest that it should have involved integral legs from the boltwork frame being deeply embedded in the pour of the cast door, which would prevent deconstruction/separation of those two, brake metal structures.

Hopefully TheSafeGuy will give us a detailed analysis of this.
View Quote


You are quite right. If I got in in ~20 minutes, and I am definitely sure I could beat that next time, the TL guys should have just shredded this safe.


Pics of TL15 tag...





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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 6:14:47 AM EST
I have mentioned it before, but a UL rating is a minimum standard. On the 15 minute test, it doesn't matter if it lasts 15 minutes and 1 second, or 45 minutes. There are also huge differences found in the qualities of the build, and that will reflect in the price. And let's face it, as it's seen on a regular basis right here on the forum: There are two safes of similar size with similar ratings. One costs X, and one costs 3X. Which one are most people buying?

Mutual did not build this safe. This is an Asian safe, and I am not a huge fan of many of the Asian safes with TL ratings. Mutual would have imported this safe and put their name on it. Mutual does build safes, in South Africa, which are of much higher quality.

I have also mentioned that some of these Chinese companies have been known to use counterfeit UL tags, and there have been instances of US companies selling these safes. Perhaps that's the case here?


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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 6:29:50 AM EST
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Originally Posted By a1abdj:
I have mentioned it before, but a UL rating is a minimum standard. On the 15 minute test, it doesn't matter if it lasts 15 minutes and 1 second, or 45 minutes. There are also huge differences found in the qualities of the build, and that will reflect in the price. And let's face it, as it's seen on a regular basis right here on the forum: There are two safes of similar size with similar ratings. One costs X, and one costs 3X. Which one are most people buying?

Mutual did not build this safe. This is an Asian safe, and I am not a huge fan of many of the Asian safes with TL ratings. Mutual would have imported this safe and put their name on it. Mutual does build safes, in South Africa, which are of much higher quality.

I have also mentioned that some of these Chinese companies have been known to use counterfeit UL tags, and there have been instances of US companies selling these safes. Perhaps that's the case here?

View Quote


Almost every safe shop in my city sells this exact model (new) and they look identical. The shop/distributor that sold this safe originally had its sticker on the door (I peeled it off before taking the photos). That shop was one of the ones I went to after I pried it open. I had them pull the door pan off of a new one, and they are exactly the same in every way, even 'under the hood'. I think, as you mentioned, it may just have been a 'TL15 plus one second' safe... either way though, it scares me away from composite construction.

The safe was made in Korea (the sticker was on the back of the safe)

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 6:51:13 AM EST
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Originally Posted By a1abdj:
I have mentioned it before, but a UL rating is a minimum standard. On the 15 minute test, it doesn't matter if it lasts 15 minutes and 1 second, or 45 minutes. There are also huge differences found in the qualities of the build, and that will reflect in the price. And let's face it, as it's seen on a regular basis right here on the forum: There are two safes of similar size with similar ratings. One costs X, and one costs 3X. Which one are most people buying?

Mutual did not build this safe. This is an Asian safe, and I am not a huge fan of many of the Asian safes with TL ratings. Mutual would have imported this safe and put their name on it. Mutual does build safes, in South Africa, which are of much higher quality.

I have also mentioned that some of these Chinese companies have been known to use counterfeit UL tags, and there have been instances of US companies selling these safes. Perhaps that's the case here?

View Quote



Agreed, A1, many purchasers (even jewelers) will select the least expensive safe that carries the UL label required by their insurance carrier and the least expensive alarm installation which will meet the requirements.

However, the fundamental problem is that the only objective evaluation / comparison standards which consumers have available to them are the UL tags. Since manufacturers do not disclose how long each tested sample lasted on each test, all we get to see is that UL Tag. TL-30: 30 minutes and it was on the threshold of failure (the 30 minutes + 5 seconds example), or 30 minutes, and no substantial penetration or structural compromise was achieved (and it might have lasted for 90 minutes before being breached). Purchasers do not get to see the design drawings, to compare and evaluate the features and attributes which make all the difference in the potential performance of the safe. If it isn't visible to the naked eye on gross level examination, we don't get to know. The physical construction, the details of the poured fill, the details of any additional metallic or non-metallic reinforcement within the casting, etc. are largely unknowns. Old cut-sheets from manufacturers like Tann used to show photos of interior rebar grids interlaced with ceramic plates, copper plates, etc. There was enough detail to formulate a qualified opinion and judge the safe in addition to the UL tag. Most catalogs and cut-sheets are far more nebulous and often "optimistic", and the buyer is comparing apples, oranges and bricks, and has to rely on the UL tag as the primary assurance. Few purchasers have "trusted, expert friends" in the business who are literally intimately familiar with the construction details of numerous safes, and can provide legitimately valuable recommendations.

So, seeing this UL TL15, it is first, hard to believe that it actually achieved UL rating, and second, a cautionary to purchasers that all TLs are not "the same".

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 9:12:54 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/27/2013 9:13:32 AM EST by RZR900]
I would bet the rating is not correct. From what I have read a TL-15 safe is constructed with a 1.5" SOLID steel door, and 1" SOLID steel plates for all sides, top and bottom of the body. The door on that safe is not a solid steel 1.5" plate. I sold a TL-15 safe we had at my work...it was about a 30" cube...weighed nearly 2000 lbs! No way a true TL-15 of the size of the one you showed would only come in at 500 lbs.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 9:50:06 AM EST
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Originally Posted By RZR900:
I would bet the rating is not correct. From what I have read a TL-15 safe is constructed with a 1.5" SOLID steel door, and 1" SOLID steel plates for all sides, top and bottom of the body. The door on that safe is not a solid steel 1.5" plate. I sold a TL-15 safe we had at my work...it was about a 30" cube...weighed nearly 2000 lbs! No way a true TL-15 of the size of the one you showed would only come in at 500 lbs.
View Quote


Specifications of 1.5" Steel door and 1" Steel Body corresponds to "E-Rate" Safe Construction Rating.

The UL TL ratings are Performance Ratings which specify the length of time the safe must withstand a tool attack. References to "steel thickness" also include "or equivalent".

All UL TL rated Composite Safes have relatively thin steel skins with high-compression concrete cores, equivalent to the steel plate safes.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 9:52:54 AM EST
Specifications of 1.5" Steel door and 1" Steel Body corresponds to "E-Rate" Safe Construction Rating.

The UL TL ratings are Performance Ratings which specify the length of time the safe must withstand a tool attack. References to "steel thickness" also include "or equivalent".

All UL TL rated Composite Safes have relatively thin steel skins with high-compression concrete cores, equivalent to the steel plate safes.
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I stand corrected sir! Thanks for that info.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 11:32:00 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/27/2013 11:32:29 AM EST by SWODaddy]
This post scared the hell out of me because the construction looked almost identical to my Gardall safe which is also made in Korea.

My door (not even TL-15) has a solid weld at the failure point on your safe. The construction is identical, otherwise.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 11:51:05 AM EST
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Originally Posted By SWODaddy:
This post scared the hell out of me because the construction looked almost identical to my Gardall safe which is also made in Korea.

My door (not even TL-15) has a solid weld at the failure point on your safe. The construction is identical, otherwise.
View Quote



They were probably made in the same factory, but to different OEM specifications. Gardall specified a continuous weld at the seam between the boltwork frame and the cast, outer door, and the other OEM didn't... Probably a BIG difference in performance for very little difference in manufacturing cost.

Still hard to believe that the DOA safe actually passed UL testing when it failed so miserably under assault from a first time "safecracker".

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 12:29:52 PM EST
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Originally Posted By SWODaddy:
This post scared the hell out of me because the construction looked almost identical to my Gardall safe which is also made in Korea.

My door (not even TL-15) has a solid weld at the failure point on your safe. The construction is identical, otherwise.
View Quote


Are you sure its welded? When I bought mine and looked at it I assumed the boltwork frame was welded to, or was a continuous piece of sheetmetal with the rest of the door. There was no gap or visible seam between the concrete door and he boltwork frame (in retrospect the paint and some filler obviously hid the seam) I didn't realize it used the 'interlocking tabs' and some spotwelds until I had it apart.

On a not so visible part of the door, like beside the deadbolts, scratch at the seam or joint with a screw driver and see if its actually weld metal underneath...

Not trying to scare you, just tryin to help.

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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 12:39:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/27/2013 12:40:01 PM EST by Gone-Postal]
Back in the day I witnessed single to double door safes of every brand and type opened via prying and peeling with ease, often with rudimentary toolage, all within an hour.

Safes are meant to delay and often for short periods of time.

Layered security is where it's at friend.


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Link Posted: 7/27/2013 1:30:36 PM EST
After buying a big 1000 pounder and subsequently "learning" about most safe shortcomings, I bought insurance.

For what the safe cost, I could have bought insurance for 20 years and put a deadbolt on a closet. .
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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 7:20:20 AM EST
Bump, hoping Thesafeguy makes a few comments.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 7:39:15 AM EST
Likewise!

I'd be interested in knowing how companies like AMSEC make that same attachment. I doubt that they rely on interlocking a few folded metal tabs and a few spot welds.


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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 9:40:59 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 9:49:48 AM EST by TheSafeGuy]
Sorry I missed this thread.

Hope i can add some value here. First, I am puzzled by the idea that this safe was a Mutual made in Korea. UL does not show that Mutual has a cross-listing with any Korean companies. Maybe the records are wrong, but it has always been assumed that all of the Mutual production came from their factory in Pretoria, South Africa (near Johannesburg). The label saying it was made in Korea is an interesting twist.

I don't know where to start. This is an embarrassment if UL actually did pass a safe of this caliber. However, this is one of the biggest issues with safes made outside of the USA. UL does not have a robust inspection system worldwide, only in the USA. So, when there is a listed product made offshore, they contract with various types of Quality Assurance firms and use them as an "official" UL inspection service. This is a HUGE source of trouble, always has been. Unlike the UL employees working for Follow-up Services that do this in the states, these contracted companies are not invested in the UL mindset. Employees are frequently less than ethical, and they are known to take bribes for favorable treatment. So, the honest truth, anything with a UL rating made outside of the USA is always questionable. We know of many cases of fraudulent listing activities. Cheating runs rampant when the manufacturers are not kept honest by reputable and regular inspection services.

Example: We dissected a TRTL30X6 made by a well known safe maker from the middle east. The safe was supposed to have a 4" thick aluminum body wall with ceramic nuggets, reinforced with a stainless steel wire mesh in the walls. When we cut the back top corner off the safe, we found the aluminum in that area was less than 1" thick, and it one spot there was none. The casting looked like it had been poured in a ditch in the dirt. The rebar was more like thin steel wire, and it was rusted out. The design uses a back-fill of concrete between the aluminum barrier and the outer skin, so you would never know unless you cut one open. We reported this to UL.... nothing ever happened. There have been numerous incidents like this where reputable safe distributors have revealed major shortcomings (because they were fighting competitive issues). In all these years, I have only heard of one company that voluntarily surrendered their certification, UL did suspend them. If we did this anything like this is the USA, we would pay dearly and get shut down in a second. Buyer beware.... that's all I can say.

Regarding this particular safe.... I'll assume this was a legitimate cross-licensed factory (lots of doubt here). With that assumption, it is also assumed that the tested safe was probably full-welded around that frame where the boltwork pan attached to the door panel. This would be adequate to make the UL testing team ignore that joint as a point of vulnerability. Clearly, the Korean subcontractor factory took short-cuts and only plug-welded that joint in a few points every 6-8 inches. Easily something that an uneducated inspector would miss in Korea. Those guys can't read technical drawings, and don't even know how to interpret welding symbols. This is so typical of offshore blunders. In many cases, these kind of problems are not even intentional fraud. They are actually that stupid. You would be shocked to see how little these Asian manufacturers understand about security. Physical security is not part of their culture. Criminals are shot on sight, so the deterrent to crime is substantial. Hence, there is very little crime, particularly safe burglary, so security technology is in the dark ages. I have seen domestic safes for the markets in Korea, China and other Asian countries. They are archaic at best. We make better tool boxes.

The moral of this story is, don't have high expectations from all offshore manufacturers of UL rated products. The system doesn't work outside our boundaries.This holds true of even the light Gunsafes we discuss in these forums. Some of the US suppliers are blind-resellers. They don't engage in the manufacturing or quality control process. They don't make regular visits to their factory(s). They don't care... they order containers, and ship to their customers without ever looking at the products that pass thru their rented warehouse. They are selling a price-point commodity, and could care less if there are security concerns. I could list a dozen name-brand companies that do business that way. AMSEC would not be one of those. Quality comes at a cost. When we find a problem, we correct it immediately. We have un-boxed and repaired countless hundreds of safes that were found to have some deficiency. Evey one of those we have to fix, the profit is lost. Most of these importers don't even have a means to make such corrections, they are passing thru a warehouse, not a factory. That should give you some solid clues about where you can find quality import products.




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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 12:43:09 PM EST
The kicker about this whole thing is that this was a latent defect. There is no way you could tell unless you destroyed it. That's why people rely on things like UL certification,

I guess the larger lesson is that UL certification only means something on US products.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 1:14:36 PM EST
Safeguy, thank you for the detailed write up, a real eye opener!

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 1:19:44 PM EST
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Originally Posted By BGENE:
Safeguy, thank you for the detailed write up, a real eye opener!
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Truely!!

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 1:32:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 1:33:40 PM EST by a1abdj]
The kicker about this whole thing is that this was a latent defect. There is no way you could tell unless you destroyed it. That's why people rely on things like UL certification
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But in your case, it still performed as rated. It kept you out for at least 15 minutes.

I suppose this is a result of people assuming that a safe is a lot safer just because it's a safe. You hear stories of bad guys spending hours on a gun safe, and so people assume a gun safe will keep you out for hours. What you experienced is reality. If you have the proper tools, know how to use them, and are motivated, then you can cause a whole lot of damage in a very short period of time.

So when people see a real safe, shredded in 20 minutes, they are shocked at how "weak" it is. People need to step back from the fantasy of safes being safe just because they are safes, and focus in the reality that you proved. A safe with a 15 minute rating means 15 minutes. It may do better, but don't count on it. And if you can open a safe with a 15 minute burglary rating in 20 minutes, imagine how quickly you could open a gun safe with a 5 minute tamper rating.

To expand a bit on the Safeguy's observations, I will add this: Another part of this problem is a dealer network that has no idea what they are selling. I have no problem selling lower end products myself, but they are sold with full disclosure, and even I have my limits. This is getting more and more rare as more people are selling these products who have absolutely no idea how they are supposed to work. Online retailers have made the problem even worse. This is a direct result of manufacturers and importers who do not demand any level of competence from their dealers. It doesn't make any difference how well, or not well, a product is made if the person selling it doesn't know the difference between the two. To them, one is simply cheaper, and the other more expensive. That makes it a pretty easy, but bad choice for the end user.





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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 1:44:56 PM EST
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Originally Posted By a1abdj:

But in your case, it still performed as rated. It kept you out for at least 15 minutes.

I suppose this is a result of people assuming that a safe is a lot safer just because it's a safe. You hear stories of bad guys spending hours on a gun safe, and so people assume a gun safe will keep you out for hours. What you experienced is reality. If you have the proper tools, know how to use them, and are motivated, then you can cause a whole lot of damage in a very short period of time.

So when people see a real safe, shredded in 20 minutes, they are shocked at how "weak" it is. People need to step back from the fantasy of safes being safe just because they are safes, and focus in the reality that you proved. A safe with a 15 minute rating means 15 minutes. It may do better, but don't count on it. And if you can open a safe with a 15 minute burglary rating in 20 minutes, imagine how quickly you could open a gun safe with a 5 minute tamper rating.

To expand a bit on the Safeguy's observations, I will add this: Another part of this problem is a dealer network that has no idea what they are selling. I have no problem selling lower end products myself, but they are sold with full disclosure, and even I have my limits. This is getting more and more rare as more people are selling these products who have absolutely no idea how they are supposed to work. Online retailers have made the problem even worse. This is a direct result of manufacturers and importers who do not demand any level of competence from their dealers. It doesn't make any difference how well, or not well, a product is made if the person selling it doesn't know the difference between the two. To them, one is simply cheaper, and the other more expensive. That makes it a pretty easy, but bad choice for the end user.

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Great response. All good points.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 3:36:14 PM EST
It's true, the dealers today are getting less and less technical. Our product lines reflect that way more than I care to say. We constantly yield to silly demands because it's easier than educating the masses. The online thing is completely out of control. Our dealer and distributor and wholesaler networks are always angry because some dealer goes rogue and starts low-balling safes on the internet. We don't sell residential products to the public, period, unlike many other brand-name manufacturers. Last year we put a pricing fairness program that forces our customers to meet minimum price limits. We try, but it never works 100%. So many of the big internet dealers used to be our customers. Now they import our products from our vendors. There is no loyalties with the Chinese vendors. They will sell to anyone that is willing to buy enough product to fill containers. This program has just pushed the low-ballers to other sources for lower prices and less control.

So, your points about blindly selling based on price is very true. We have always thought we could bring value by providing a better product, and appeal to the informed buyers. Trouble is, the dealers don't much care to be an authority on the technical nuances of safes any more. They sell guns and other high value, high margin sporting goods, and the safes are an incidental like a holster or a gun case. They drive the safe sizes and weights down because they don't want bothered with difficult delivery and installations. They fall prey to the suppliers that make unfounded claims of security or fire resistance. They buy gimmicks and fluff, glitz and eye appeal. They leave little room for a range of quality, because it's all about price. The give the Consumer what they want, the lowest price possible. By doing that they drive big-box retailers to buy in volume to get the best deal and blow out the product at miniscule margins, destroying the "little guy" market. It's all a WalMart model of domination, and there is no vendor that comes out of that better that they were before. This drives quality standards even lower. The race to the bottom is in full steam. We held one of the top three spots in the Gunsafe market for many years. Now, I'm not sure we're in the top ten any more (as measured by unit volume). It all started when Clinton opened the door to China in 1998 with most favored nation status, and the barriers for importing were destroyed. This one single event resulted in the slow death of American manufacturing.




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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 5:25:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 5:55:05 PM EST by PONCHO69]
I decided to see how tough the body was. I realize this isn't a TL-15x6 but I don't know when I will have the next opportunity to smash a TL rated safe, so I went to town. Here are some pictures. It only took a few minutes from start to finish (probably less than 10).

Took a few whacks with a ball peen, got nowhere other than a small divot in the surface, then used an 8lb sledge hammer and got everywhere. Once I had a small hole started in the concrete it was all over...

It appears the safe body is fabricated then infilled with concrete (they pour the concrete in from the back). After the concrete is poured the back cover is spot welded on. I think if this was a TL15x6 they likely would have used rebar of some sort as opposed to reinforcing mesh.

Spot welding the back cover on made it a lot easier to remove. If the back cover was continuously welded to the safe body it would have been harder to remove (same with the door pan I shredded), which would have bought some more time, unless I used a grinder, then I would have had the cover off in a few minutes anyways.

FYI - All of this demo work (the door then the body) was done in my garage. It wasn't noisy enough the anyone cared to come see what I was banging on and I live in the city with lots of nosy neighbors. I pretty much had all of these tools already (hammers and prybars and chisels). This has certainly been a huge eye opener for me. I am a much stronger believer in layered security now.

Anyways, now I have to haul this thing to the dump without people there thinking I am a criminal.

I hope you guys enjoyed my stint as an amateur safecracker.









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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 5:50:29 PM EST
Note to self...Stay away from anything called Mutual Gem Vault for anything worthy of placing in a TL rated safe.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:04:50 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 6:22:06 PM EST by a1abdj]
At this point I'm a bit more skeptical of that safe's rating, and if it's legitimate.

I have torn up a number of safes, and have never seen a TL rated unit have fill material that crumbled like that. In fact, I have seen safes clad with regular concrete that didn't break up as easily as that.

In fact, I may have just noticed a give away. Does that lock body have a model number on it?






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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:19:10 PM EST
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Originally Posted By a1abdj:
At this point I'm a bit more skeptical of that safe's rating, and if it's legitimate.

I have torn up a number of safes, and have never seen a TL rated unit have fill material that crumbled like that. In fact, I have seen safes clad with regular concrete that didn't break up as easily as that.

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I may have overstated how easy it was - I was swinging as hard as I could but the time was correct, definitely less than ten minutes...

Could you or thesafeguy check the UL tag and/or the safes serial number? Someone at the safe factory in Korea needs to get their ass ripped.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:24:47 PM EST
I just edited my post above yours, so you may have missed it.

Does that lock body have a model number on it?

The safe looks very similar to what Eagle/Sun builds. The color is the same. The hinges are the same. However, none of their information shows a TL rated safe, and the regular fire and burglary units that they build don't have the handle shaft in line with the dial shaft. In any case, I can't find any rating for Mutual on that safe, and I can't find any TL rated safes listed for Eagle or Sun.


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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:28:40 PM EST
The lock is a Sargent and Green leaf R6700

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:30:16 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 6:38:39 PM EST by PONCHO69]
and the ULTL15 tag is numbered (stamped in the aluminum) C111836

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:33:52 PM EST
Then it can't be a TL-15, which is required to use a group 2M, 1, or 1R lock.

The 2M would be S&G's 6600 series. The 6700 series is a regular old group 2. The 6730 is the nicer version, and the 6741 is the lesser unit often used on gun safes.


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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 6:39:20 PM EST
I think I will email Mutual tomorrow, with some pics, and see what they say.

I will keep everyone posted.

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Link Posted: 7/28/2013 7:12:00 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/28/2013 7:14:16 PM EST by TheSafeGuy]
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Originally Posted By a1abdj:
I just edited my post above yours, so you may have missed it.

Does that lock body have a model number on it?

The safe looks very similar to what Eagle/Sun builds. The color is the same. The hinges are the same. However, none of their information shows a TL rated safe, and the regular fire and burglary units that they build don't have the handle shaft in line with the dial shaft. In any case, I can't find any rating for Mutual on that safe, and I can't find any TL rated safes listed for Eagle or Sun.

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I told you, this thing doesn't add up. That's not a Sun safe either, I have been in that factory several times. I know their products. BTW, Sun does have TL ratings. They are listed under the owners son's company, Shanghai Baolei. However, they only have a TL15X6 right now, but I think they are working on other listings.

The clue is that Made in Korea sticker. That means it's one of three companies, Diplomat, Bumil and Dong Nam. Bumil is the only one with a TL-15 rating.




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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 5:54:39 AM EST
Cool thread, thanks for posting.

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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 8:33:42 AM EST


This is another typical cheat that happens offshore. That little square of expanded metal, which appears to be tack-welded to the liner.... that was probably supposed to be a full sheet in the whole wall, and it should be suspended in the center of the concrete wall thickness to help hold the concrete together and hinder fracture and removal. It looks pretty light too. That was probably tested with a much heavier gauge mesh. That concrete came apart for too easily too, and A1 said. That concrete looks like crap.

http://imageshack.us/a/img43/9162/ri1o.jpg

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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 2:06:52 PM EST
I think it is realistic to presume this is some form of counterfeit based on the comments and how the safe held up to attack (plus the odd labeling). They counterfeit everything else offshore why not this safe. If the normal wholesale on this is say $400 and some "distributor" has a container load "deal" for $200 there would be plenty of buyers none the wiser.

The final outcome will be interesting.

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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 2:28:27 PM EST


The likely scenario here is that MUTUAL Safe is bringing in a private labeled version of the Bumil TL-15. That kind of shell-game business is VERY common. Many of the US Safe suppliers are not manufacturers at all. They have real manufacturers private label for them. We have a dozen major players in the US that buy private labeled safes and pretend to be manufacturers. Just like we buy safes from the same short list of factories in China. When I visit a safe factory over there, at any given time I can see as many as 10 different brand names in the warehouse or assembly lines.



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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 3:19:16 PM EST
Would it be fair to say that it is "safer" to buy a safe based on insurance ratings (b, c, d, e, & f) than to buy it based on UL ratings?
Originally Posted By PhilChordoma:
Only in arfcom will you find people posting on a forum during a firefight.
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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 4:13:32 PM EST
Would it be fair to say that it is "safer" to buy a safe based on insurance ratings (b, c, d, e, & f) than to buy it based on UL ratings?
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I think the best bet is to buy from somebody who actually knows what they are dealing with. I know it's getting more and more difficult, and there are plenty of others who talk the talk, even though they don't walk the walk. Any safe, rated or not, can have these quality issues. It takes somebody who knows what they are looking at to spot them.

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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 5:03:38 PM EST
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Originally Posted By LoadedDrum:
Would it be fair to say that it is "safer" to buy a safe based on insurance ratings (b, c, d, e, & f) than to buy it based on UL ratings?
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Insurance classifications are not adhered to at all, Those standards have not changes in 35 years. The E rating is off-loaded to mean UL TL-15, and the F rating is offloaded to UL TL-30. The B and C ratinging used to mean something, but now they have been violated so much they barely describe a product. Your only real USA rating is UL, anything else is white noise.



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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 7:46:20 PM EST
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Originally Posted By TheSafeGuy:


This is another typical cheat that happens offshore. That little square of expanded metal, which appears to be tack-welded to the liner.... that was probably supposed to be a full sheet in the whole wall, and it should be suspended in the center of the concrete wall thickness to help hold the concrete together and hinder fracture and removal. It looks pretty light too. That was probably tested with a much heavier gauge mesh. That concrete came apart for too easily too, and A1 said. That concrete looks like crap.

http://imageshack.us/a/img43/9162/ri1o.jpg
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I totally agree with you. If that mesh had actually been inside of the concrete, instead of behind it, it would have been a lot stronger and shouldn't have crumbled as bad.

FYI for everyone - I sent an email to Mutual yesterday asking about the "Made in Korea" Gemvault to see what they say regarding its legitimacy. I provided the serial number and UL tag as well as the name of the company whose sticker was on the door. If they respond back I will let everyone know.

The lesson here is buyer beware. Based on what a1a and thesafeguy have said there is now way I would ever consider a TL rated import ever again. I am still struggling if I would ever buy a composite safe again either.

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Link Posted: 7/29/2013 7:54:22 PM EST
I am too tired tonight but I think tomorrow I will continue to shred the safe.

I will go to work on the cast door and the rest of the body as well (it should only take a few more minutes, right.... ).

The container itself is still very heavy, and at this point, it will probably be easier for me to totally destroy the safe and dispose of it in smaller pieces than try to offload this at the dump in its current state.

I will post more pics when its 'done'

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