Hugh and James:
It’s often mentioned at Survival Blog that firearm magazines are a critical component. As Tamara K. of the View From the Porch blog has written: “The correct number of magazines to have is: ‘more.'”
So, some of us buy magazines, especially lots of them when we find a very good price.
But…as valuable as magazines are to us they’re just as valuable to anyone else, which is why we buy way more than we need, even considering that they are “wear items” that will eventually require replacement. Magazines have substantial value as trade or barter items. They’re also among the first targets of gun-banning politicians, making it imperative to possess more than a minimum quantity.
The desirability of magazines makes them potential high theft items. I use cardboard boxes 12″L X 9″H X 9″W as “food unit” boxes: 24 standard 16 ounce (actually, 15.5 oz now) cans fit perfectly, with space between them to drop in plastic knives, spoons and forks. Tape a few P-38 or P-51 folding compact can openers under the top, and it’s a 27 lb “grab and go” food unit with 8 cans of protein, 8 of veggies and 8 of fruit. Those same boxes hold will 44 PMAG 30-round AR-15 magazines, more than three dozen 20-round AR-10 or M1A magazines, and more Glock magazines than I’ll ever have.
Whatever we paid for them on super-duper sale, those 44 PMAGs carry a retail cost of $792. They may be covered by insurance, so the theft of two of those boxes – if you can document them to the satisfaction of your insurance company – will get you a hefty check in a couple weeks. (Minus your deductible, of course). The dollar value, however, is peanuts compared to “really, really needing magazines right now” and not having them. An insurance check will be worthless if Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and their comrades make them illegal and impossible to buy replacements. (Can’t happen? Look at Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Seattle, Connecticut, etc.). The same holds true for those cases of 5.56×45, 9MM and .22LR that you’ve been stockpiling.
I’m suggesting that you consider security storage methods for those items, like magazines and ammunition, that are high value to thieves and especially high value to us who buy them as prep supplies with our hard-earned dollars. It’s certainly not “gun safe security level” or very fire resistant. However, standard steel job site tool chests aren’t very expensive. A 48″ X 24″ X 24″ steel chest retails for a little over $300. They are available at places like Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc., and often show up on sale for even less. They’re also frequently available in used condition for much less on websites like Craigslist. As long as the metal is intact, the hinges in good shape and the lid closes securely, then it’ll work for reducing the possibility of critical–and potentially irreplaceable–prep supplies being stolen. The boxes weigh around 130-150 pounds, and adding several hundred pounds of ammo underneath the boxes of magazines makes them effectively non-portable. Needless to say, buy your own new locks for them–even if the seller throws them in.
A Proviso: Make sure your floor structure can hold those several hundred pounds without damage. I know someone who has one in their living room, attractively covered with a painting tarp cut, sewn and fitted, and used as a coffee table. It’s full of ammunition and magazines, and weighs over 600 pounds; some horizontal bracing for the floor joists and a couple vertical posts in the basement were required to make sure the floor adequately supported it. I have two of the 36″L X 19″H X 18″W versions in my concrete-floored basement rec room, encased in sanded and stained plywood and in use as end tables at each end of the couch. No visitor has ever discovered that either of the tables where they’re setting their drinks is a plywood box covering a steel box holding about 350 lbs of “lead products.”
One more tip: Some amount of fire protection can be added by installing a layer, or two, of drywall panels inside the steel chest. Fire code rated drywall is commonly found in 5/8″ thickness, and 3/4″ is available, and most house construction codes accept two layers of properly installed (meaning the panel joints don’t line up) 1/2″ drywall as a 1-hour fire rating. Regards, – Edwin X.
JWR Replies: That is some good advice. But I would add four important points:
1.) A gun storage “locker” or a job site box is no substitute for a proper gun vault. If you can afford to buy an extra vault (or two, or three), then do so!
2.) Edwin’s advice on camouflaging a storage container is quite worthy. But if you are handy with tools, then you should take it a step further: Build false walls or panels to completely conceal your gun safes and storage chests. Burglars can’t defeat what they don’t know exists.
2.) Be sure to buy tool chests that are constructed of steel that is at least 16 gauge (1/16th-inch) thickness. The 22 gauge (1/32nd-inch) steel ones are just too flimsy. You see, a 22 gauge chest can quickly be sledge-hammered or even forcefully kicked out of shape (bowed inward) to the point that the locking mechanism is no longer engaged.
3.) DO NOT underestimate the ability of a gang of house burglars to haul away something quite heavy and bulky. I recommend that you use lag bolts and BOLT DOWN your gun vaults and storage chests!