Purchasing a safe can be a big investment, but how do you know you’re getting the right safe for your needs? Safe burglary ratings can be very confusing. What do b-rated, c-rated, RSC, TL15, and TL30 burglar ratings mean? Here, I break down the common safe burglary ratings so you know what they are, and you can make a safe purchase with the confidence of understanding what level of security you are buying.
There are a couple systems for safe ratings (at least in the United States). One is developed by insurance companies, and mainly focuses on safe construction, and the other by Underwriters Laboratories (UL Safe Ratings), which offer test performance ratings.
Safes Without Burglar Ratings
Safes with no burglar rating are commonly classified as home safes. They vary wildly in construction, some even have plastic casing or very thin (16 gauge) steel.These safes are intended to protect documents from fire and to keep out kids or house services. Basically, they keep honest people honest. They should not be used to protect anything of true value.
What is a B Rated Safe?
A B-rated safe is a safe constructed with a safe body at least ¼-inch thick steel (total), and a door at least ½-inch thick.
This is an insurance rating. If it has a lock on it (even a padlock!), and meets the material thicknesses specified, it is B-rated. There’s no testing associated with this rating, and only these bare minimums are required.
This are commonly designed for home and business use. A B-rated safe is not necessarily a ‘weak’ safe. Look for features such as the number of active/inactive bolts in the door, the diameter of the bolts, thickness of the steel and re-locker mechanisms; all of which are anti-burglary measures. If you are storing small valuables, a B-rated safe can provide sufficient protection.
What is a C Rated Safe?
A C-rated safe is one which is constructed of steel at least ½-inch thick, with a door at least 1 inch thick, and a lock. Similar to the B-rated safes, this rating has no testing requirements. But a C-Rated safe with a hard plate and re-locking device can be a formidable opponent against a burglary attempt, and can safely store small or large valuables.
What is an E Rated Safe?
This is also an insurance rating. A safe with this rating generally has similar construction features as a TL-15 rated safe (see below), but it hasn’t gone through product testing.
What is an RSC Burglary Rating?
RSC stands for “Residential Security Containers.” This safe rating changed in 2018 to now have 3 levels of testing which determine whether the safe can be rated RSC I, RSC II, or RSC III.
Most often, safes with this rating are what you think of when referring to a ‘gun safe’. These are product tested by expert safe technicians who have access to the blueprints and the safe itself, which they can disassemble, to see how it works.
From there, knowing far more than a typical thief would, they attempt to access the safe. The safe is then given its RSC rating primarily based on how long it takes to get into the safe. This time duration is a bit misleading; only time in which a tool is in contact with the safe is counted, so the actual process can take far longer.
What is an RSC-I Burglary Rating?
RSC I requires the safe to withstand a 5-minute attack by one person using common hand tools like screwdrivers, drills, and hammers. It needs either a UL Group II combination lock or a Type 1 electronic lock. The door construction needs to be equivalent to 3/16-inch hearth steel, and the walls constructed of at least 12-gauge steel (or equivalent). If it meets these requirements, it gets this rating.
But many home safes could far exceed this requirement, which is why it was determined that expanding the testing could help end-users better understand construction quality in an RSC safe. Many RSC I safes currently available far exceed the RSC I standard, but were tested before the higher RSC ratings existed.
An RSC-II Burglary Rating
RSC II requires the safe to withstand a 10-minute attack with two people instead of one, using more robust tools including picks, high-speed drills, and carbide bits. The tool complement is the same as the TL-15 rated safes below, so it is a far more robust test, for twice as long, with twice the people trying to gain access.
A residential safe with an RSC II rating is more like a commercial safe. Since the superior rating is relatively new, and testing happens only once every 7 years, the product line on the market is still limited, but if you see one, you’ll know that’s a good quality safe suitable for your valuables.
An RSC-III Burglary Rating
So far as I know, these are not yet in the marketplace. They are like the RSC-II’s in their testing, but would also include a wider range of tools with which to try to gain access.
What is a TL-Rated Safe?
TL rated safes are those graded by the UL with robust construction exceeding what is common in a home safe, but some end-users want the added security of a commercial-grade safe body. If you are protecting valuables in access of $50,000, these are the safes you want.
The TL rated safes offer more durability and can withstand more robust attacks against them. The locks on them (either manual or electronic) have more strict standards as well. The materials will be thicker, harder, and the construction designed with anti-burglary features.
What Does TL-15 Rated Safe Mean?
Tl-15 rated safes can withstand at least 15 minutes of attack using common hand tools, picking tools, electric tools, and carbide drills. Insurers may refer to this as an “ER”-rated safe. Like the RSC rated safes, tool time is only counted while the tools are in contact with the safe, so the actual testing takes longer than the rating implies. The testing is comparable to the RSC-II testing, above, but is actually 5 minutes less time, as this 15 minutes is for one technician, while the RSC-II is 2 technicians for 10 minutes each.
What doe TL-30 Rated Safe Mean?
TL-30 rated safes can resist these attacks for at least 30 minutes. Insurers may refer to this as an “F”-rated safe. The tool selection is more robust, also. For perspective, jewelry stores are required by their insurance companies to protect their jewelry in a TL30 rated safe, so it is a very highly rated burglary safe.
There are 2 additional parameters that can signify better construction for safes in this category.
The first is a TLX6 (read as “T L by 6”) safe rating. Examples are TL-15X6 and TL30X6 ratings. These mean that the safe has the TL rating specified for the safe on EVERY SIDE of the safe.
Typically, it’s the door that is attempted to be accessed and thus rated. The X6 means ALL 6 sides of the safe were tested. A safe listed as a TL-30X6 is sometimes referred to as a G&A-rated safe by insurers.
Additionally, the TL rating can have a TR-rating in front of it. These safes, in addition to all previous tools, have also had stuff like acetylene cutting torches and even nitroglycerin used in attempts to gain access. TRTL ratings can be as high as TRTL-60X6, which is likely as high a rating as anyone is likely to see.
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