Imagine this scenario: your firearms and ammunition are securely stowed away in your electronic gun safe when without warning, all of the power in your area goes out and all electronic devices – including the keypad on your gun safe – are completely inoperable. Sound far-fetched? With the growing threat of a devastating electromagnetic pulse occurring, do you know whether your gun safe is EMP-proof?
Generally speaking, a gun safe may protect its contents against an EMP if it has walls and doors made from solid metal. But the electronic keypad and locking mechanism of a digital gun safe may become inoperable unless they are EMP-proof or the gun safe is protected by a Faraday cage.
There was a time when the threat of an EMP wreaking havoc on modern society by rendering all electronics useless was the stuff of lore circulating among doomsday preppers. But the risk is growing and an EMP can even originate from natural causes like a massive solar flare. Keep reading to learn how to safeguard your gun safe from an EMP and which models offer the most protection.
Gun Safe Protects Against EMP? Gun Safe Faraday Cage
An EMP, short for electromagnetic pulse, is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can render anything with a microchip or everything that relies on electricity completely useless. In today’s world where so many things are digital or electronic to some degree, a widespread EMP event could have devastating effects on everyday life.
As far as gun owners are concerned, the threat of an EMP occurring is of particular concern for those who rely on electronic gun safes (those with digital keypads or electromechanical locking systems) to safeguard their firearms, ammunition, and other valuables.
It would not take a very powerful electromagnetic pulse to lock an owner out of a gun safe and given the potential for chaos and lawlessness in the period following an EMP blast, losing access to firearms, ammunition, cash, and other essentials could have serious consequences.
Does a Gun Safe Act as a Faraday Cage?
Developed by a British scientist named Michael Faraday, a Faraday cage is any type of container that shields its contents from the damaging effects of electromagnetic energy.
Faraday cages are made from conductive material and the basic concept behind them is that waves of electromagnetic radiation are absorbed by the outer surface, leaving the internal space protected.
On a basic level, a gun safe has the basic structure to serve as a makeshift Faraday cage so long as its walls, base, and door are all constructed from solid metal.
For guns and ammunition, this level of protection is more than sufficient because these types of objects would not be impacted by an electromagnetic pulse.
If, however, you also keep digital scopes and other types of electronics inside the safe, then additional steps must be taken to modify your gun safe so that potentially damaging wavelengths are kept out of the safe and away from your valuables.
In order to function as a true Faraday cage, a gun safe would need to be completely sealed, including the hinges and the areas around the edges of the door.
If you have an electromechanical locking system (source) including a digital keypad (as is quite common with current models) then there is the additional matter of protecting these mechanisms as electronic locking features will be particularly vulnerable to an EMP and would certainly not survive direct exposure.
Here’s a good video with an expert opinion on the topic:
How To Make a Gun Safe Protected Against EMP
Taking a gun safe to the next level and making it protected against an EMP blast is possible to do yourself if you know which areas need modifying.
When it comes to EMP-proofing a gun safe, there are three primary areas of concern:
- The electronic locking components of modern gun safes are especially vulnerable to an EMP and do not stand much chance of surviving even a moderate wave of electromagnetic energy. The solution is to cover the digital keypad area with a piece of conductive material like a piece of aluminum foil or conductive fabric.
- The gap between the door and the body of a safe is another area of vulnerability when it comes to EMPs. Well-built gun safes have doors that close snugly against the body, but it is not an airtight seal and this is where electromagnetic energy could sneak in and damage electronic devices stored inside the safe. Lining this gap with a conductive gasket should do the trick.
- Some gun safes feature interior lighting or a dehumidifier requiring electricity to run and the safe’s power cord can serve as a gateway for electromagnetic energy to get inside a gun safe and wreak havoc on its electronic contents. Placing a conductive device such as a broadband ferrite around the cord can safely disperse electromagnetic waves before they cause harm.
With a few modifications, an ordinary gun safe can be transformed into an effective Faraday cage, able to withstand an EMP and provide a robust measure of protection for sensitive electronic contents.
Are Liberty Gun Safes EMP Proof?
One gun safe manufacturer that has taken the threat of a widespread EMP event seriously is Liberty Safe based in Payson, Utah. Although EMPs are commonly associated with nuclear weapons they can also occur naturally as the result of major solar activity.
To protect against the threat of electromagnetic bursts rendering digital gun safe locks inoperable, Liberty Safe has developed a line of gun safes (Source: Liberty’s SecuRam series) featuring locking technology that has been thoroughly tested and lab-certified to be EMP-proof.
However remote the possibility of a major EMP event occurring may seem, it is a threat that is increasingly becoming all too real. Recent world events have seemingly demonstrated the willingness of members of the global community to utilize technology capable of generating EMPs. There have also been documented occurrences of major solar activity that are capable of disrupting electronics.
If you are a gun safe owner concerned about the possible effects of an EMP on your electronic safe, there are steps you can take to protect the contents of the safe while safeguarding the electromechanical locking mechanism to ensure that an EMP blast does not lock you out.