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Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

Thoughts on guns surviving a fire...

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So, there was a fire at the shop where Sassparilla Kid works.

 

As an aside, the boss had a "fire resistant" gun safe in the office, containing important paper documents, the backup drive for the computer... and two shotguns.  Nice Browning O/U's.

 

Not surprising, the electronic lock was gone.  So, the Kid used an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel and opened the safe.  Remarkably, no papers were burned; the plastic case on the backup drive was warped, and the shotguns were "kinda ugly," from soot and water.  They pried the warped plastic cover off the backup drive, plugged it into a computer, and it worked - they recovered all but a few days data that had not yet been backed-up.

 

So... any thoughts on the shotguns?  According to Ray Bradbury, paper ignites at 451 degrees.  None of the paper in the safe ignited.  How hot would a shotgun have to get to affect the steel's temper...?

 

I'd be tempted to do the old "tire and string" proof test.  :rolleyes:

 

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I’d say the should be just fine. 

If the paper isn’t charred you should be okay.

 

I found these:

http://www.superiorgunsafes.com/phone/fire-ratings.html

 

http://www.billjacksons.com/departments/home-security-safes/

 

 

 

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If the paper didn’t burn and the wood isn’t charred, the safe did not get hot enough to change the tempering.  

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Howdy,

So have you contacted the browning folks?

Id value their opinion after the tragedy.

Best

CR

 

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I hate to inject excessive legalities, but if I were counsel to Browning, and my client received a letter asking for its opinions on the safety of a fire damaged gun, I would politely suggest that they either advise against further use or take a pass on the request.  In our current climate, a manufacturer who expresses such an opinion (especially without seeing or testing the gun) could be opening  itself up to liability if the gun subsequently malfunctions and causes harm.  Those are the cold realities of doing business; there is simply no upside.  

 

If it were my gun, I would want a rebuild and a real test by a qualified gunsmith before I would be comfortable using it again

 

LL

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Why don't you get a bunch of pictures and post'em here?

Several real gunsmiths on this site.

OLG

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34 minutes ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Why don't you get a bunch of pictures and post'em here?

Several real gunsmiths on this site.

OLG

True, but pics wouldn’t be enough to make a judgement in my opinion.

Full disclosure: I am not a real gunsmith. But I do have a leather apron and some Brownells screwdrivers. :lol:

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While researching gun safes I discovered the real issue about fires and safes. Firefighters come a put out the fire. Gun safe saves everything sort of. The seal around the door expands in the fire to keep the fire out. But once the fire is out and the safe cools the seal may shrink or retract. As it does the warm safe draws moisture into it. Guns and papers get ruined from water or rust! They mentioned that the owners may not be allowed back after the fire for investigative reasons so guns were saved but maybe ruined!

Ike

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30 minutes ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:

True, but pics wouldn’t be enough to make a judgement in my opinion.

Full disclosure: I am not a real gunsmith. But I do have a leather apron and some Brownells screwdrivers. :lol:

If you have a BFH, and a Dremel, then you are a 'gun plumber'......:lol:

OLG

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There are fires and really hot fires.

In a really hot fire, regardless of the quality of the safe the total contents of the safe will be destroyed. Marshall Jack Murphy lost two safes full of guns, collectibles, and priceless heirlooms due to a wildfire. Made all of us at the opening rethink where to keep our safes and other valuables. Some of the guns were still intact without wood. However, the small parts(springs, pins, screws, sights, etc) had lost their temper and were rendered useless. 

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so I just went through cleaning up about 60 guns that were in a house that burned.  I won't say that this method is foolproof, but it is a start.  Springs lose their temper starting at about 300 degrees.  Receivers and barrels are not damaged by 300 degree heat.  If the wood is not burned off and the springs still have their temper, every one I have cleaned has been fine.  Granted most are .22's shotguns and .30-30's (I ended up with 5 30-30's) but everything tested worked fine, accuracy was as expected. If the stock is burned much more than on the surface, I would be very hesitant.

 

Test fire in a tire for sure, but if you can gently clean them with lots of oil and bronze wool I would be surprised if they didn't test out safely.

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You can increase the fire rating of any safe ensuring it is mounted to a concrete slab and by encasing in a small closet constructed of 4 or more layers of 5/8" sheetrock on all four sides and the top. Adding a couple of inches of rock wool between the safe and the innermost layer of sheetrock is even better.

Build the inner frame out of heavy steel and then attach the sheetrock to this frame. Alternate the corner joints in a herringbone pattern so that if a gap develops it is not a direct path. The access door should be tight fitting and  designed so that it is like a stepped pyramid around the edges to make it harder for heat to make it into the interior.

If possible build a very heavy duty steel frame to get the safe up a couple of inches above the concrete floor to help minimize conduction through the concrete. 

 

Important papers should be in a separate fire resistant box inside the safe.

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18 hours ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:

Full disclosure: I am not a real gunsmith. But I do have a leather apron and some Brownells screwdrivers. :lol:

 

17 hours ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

If you have a BFH, and a Dremel, then you are a 'gun plumber'......:lol:

I don't have a leather apron but got a denim one...

So what do I qualify as with a LFH, a Dremel, a vice and an AR wrench?

A loose nut?

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I once knew a guy who recovered an original longrifle that had burned. All that remained were the iron mountings and the barrel. He cleaned them up, rebored the barrel, reworked the lock and finally built a new stock. He still shoots the rifle to this day. Granted, it is a black powder gun and a rather small caliber.

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FYI, my house burned almost exactly one year ago today.  April 18th.  Electrical fire.  The safe was right next to the brick wall and the fire started on the opposite side of the bricks in an attachment to my house.  The safe was destroyed.  Long story made short, kudos to Browning - ProSteel for replacing the safe.

 

But the guns were mostly affected by water, not by the fire.  A few non-gun items on the top shelf of the safe showed signs of scorching but the guns in the safe were not burned.  Another long story made short, my friends took the guns and cleaned them all up.  The scopes were all water damaged and trashed.  The guns cleaned up fine and while I do plan to sell some of them at "fire discounted prices" (I have a great joke along those lines about Notre Dame but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings) I will be keeping and eventually shooting most of them.  Rifles, shotguns, pistols, revolvers.  Many did not even suffer water damage (just markings from water on the bluing, actually)  if they were far enough back on each shelf.  So, no, I am not concerned about these guns being unsafe to use.

 

My cowboy action guns were not in that safe.  They were all in a gun "cabinet" in another room that the fire didn't reach.  They got wet but not badly and are ready to go - if I was the same way I'd be showing you at a match but I am not ready to go until I replace my knees!  :blink::rolleyes:

 

I did have some guns that were not safely stored -  a variety of home defense guns.  Every one of those were destroyed.  But there were not all that many, maybe five, maybe seven.  Don't ask - my inventory record burned up, too, so I sort of have no clue until I bring them all home!  New house is 50% complete!  B)

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