When I was a kid, my father used to hang his rifle on a wooden mount on the wall. Us kids didn’t touch it, didn’t go anywhere near it in fact, because we had been told not to.
Sadly, the days of that being adequate protection for your guns are long gone. Nowadays, getting a decent gun safe is almost a necessity for the serious gun enthusiast or collector.
The Browning FMJ 23 is an excellent example of a modern gun safe. It offers excellent protection against thieves and fire, and has plenty of space to store even a large selection of short and long weapons.
Whilst it comes in at the ‘premium’ end of the market, being quite expensive and also quite heavy, it represents an excellent investment – you may never need to buy another safe, at least until your collection of weapons expands!
Today, I’ll take you through some of the features of the FMJ 23, and explain what makes it a great safe.
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Things to Consider Before Buying
Gun safes are tricky items to come up with recommendations for, because what works for you is more a product of your gun collection, and the space you have to work with, rather than the properties of the safe itself.
In general, though, there are a couple of principles you should keep in mind before buying any gun safe. First, personally I’ve never been able to fit the number of guns any manufacturer claims into a gun safe, so my advice would be to over-buy on space.
Doing this also means that your guns will not be cramped together in the safe, reducing the possibility that you are going to damage them whilst loading and unloading, and making for a more comfortable experience more generally.
Second, remember what a safe is for – protection. Sure, it is nice to get a safe that will display your weapons to your friends, but ultimately the safe is there to ensure that no-one is able to steal your weapons, and that they are not going to be damaged by fire.
Therefore, I would always recommend prioritizing protection above all else
Features and Benefits of the FMJ 23
The Browning FMJ 23 offers plenty of benefits that allow it to stand out as one of the best serious gun safes available at the moment. It offers a good compromise between size and security, and the steel used here is among the toughest available.
The FMJ 23 would count, I guess, as a mid-sized gun safe.
Browning claims that it will hold up to 23 guns, hence the name, though in reality this will depend on the type of guns you have, and how close you pack them in the safe. In my mind, this is a good safe for 15 guns, but any more and it becomes difficult to load and unload them easily.
The dimensions of the safe are surprisingly small, given this capacity. It stands quite tall in comparison to some other safes, so it makes the most of your wall space rather than taking up the whole floor.
This also means that there is plenty of space to store quite long rifles comfortably.
To my mind, the most important factor to consider when buying any safe is the protection it offers against two dangers – theft, and fire.
This is a complicated area, of course, because the technology needed to protect against each of these threats is different. In addition, there are plenty of articles that claim that any gun safe can be broken into using even small tools.
Whilst this might be true for many standard gun safes, the FMJ 23 is something of a premium item, and as a result it comes with some of the best protection available in a guns safe.
The UL RSC Tool Attack certification is one of the most rigorous ways of testing theft protection there is, and the 12 gauge steel used in this safe is some of the toughest available.
In terms of fire protection, the FMJ 23 is rated to protect your weapons for up to 60 minutes at temperatures up to 1400 degrees. The Palusol fireseal inside the safe expands when exposed to heat, meaning that in general use the safe is smooth and easy to operate, but when there is a fire it locks itself tightly closed to protect your firearms.
As you would expect from a relatively large, serious safe, this safe is pretty heavy. Coming in at almost 500 lbs, you need to make sure that wherever you plan to mount it, the floor can take it.
Personally, I wouldn’t mount a safe like this on wooden floor joists, as when it is loaded up with weapons it will be phenomenally heavy, and even if it looks like your floor can take the weight, you could end up doing damage to your house long-term.
I would recommend mounting the safe on a concrete floor, perhaps in your basement. The predrilled mounting holes make it easy to do this, and as long as your basement doesn’t regularly flood, this is the safest place for your weapons.
One advantage of getting a Browning safe like this is that you are able to take advantage of the wide range of accessories available for Browning safes.
This is especially useful if you own a range of guns of different sizes, because you can customized the shelves and racks inside the safe to take anything from the smallest pistol to the longest rifle.
The range of accessories available for this safe goes far beyond that, however. Browning produce a truly amazing range of fitting for their safes, and so it is possible to add drawers with organizers for ammunition, jewelry, or almost anything else you need to keep safe.
One addition that I find especially useful is the High Capacity Barrel Rack. This is a steel shelf that allows you to maximize the number of long guns the safe will hold.
Whilst the guns stored in this rack are not all that easy to remove quickly, it provides a great way to store weapons that you don’t use that often.
In most respects, this is a great safe that combines an amazing level of protection with a reasonably compact design. However, it does have some features that might not make it suitable for everyone.
These are mainly to do with the size and weight of this safe. If you have a serious collection of guns, of course, it is worth investing in a safe that is large enough to hold them all, and strong enough to protect them.
However, if you only own 5 guns, and have no big plans to expand your collection any time soon, getting a safe like this is perhaps a little too much.
The other minor drawback with this safe is the fact that it has an electronic lock. Some of the people I spoke to for this review said that they preferred a manual locking mechanism, as there is less to go wrong.
I have to admit that I agree with them – call me old-school, but nothing beats the solid feeling of a manual lock!
This is the other major disadvantage of this safe. It is one of the more expensive safes on the market, for its capacity.
However, it is not hard to see why. It offers better theft and fir protection than the vast majority of its competitors, and the thick steel it is made from means that it will last for ever.
And although this is one of the more expensive safes you can get in this class, it’s worth remembering that when buying gun safes you are making an investment.
If you look after it, a safe like this will last a lifetime and longer, so spending a bit more money up front means you are never going to have to replace it.
Final Thoughts on the Browning FMJ 23 Safe
Overall, then, this is a good safe that has all the features you would expect from a premium item. It incorporates professional-level protection against both theft and fire, and is built well enough to resist even the most sustained attack.
That said, it is a large, heavy, and quite expensive item. If you are considering the FMJ 23, make sure that you have a suitable place to mount it, and that your gun collection warrants the kind of capacity it offers.
In short, if you have a relatively large collection of weapons, and if you own a mixture of pistols and long guns, this is a great option.
The adaptability of the internal storage means that you can accommodate everything you need, and the 12 gauge steel used in this safe means that it will last essentially for ever.