Over 40 million guns were sold in 2020. Of those, five million were likely purchased by first-time gun buyers, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.
Stands to reason that millions of people are looking for a place to safely store their newly purchased hardware. Because as the Peter Parker principle remains us, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility” or as comedians Key and Peele say, “With great power comes great responsitrilitrance.”
Put bluntly, it is one’s duty as a responsible gun owner to properly secure his or her firearms.
Obviously, there are plenty of options out there, everything from trigger locks to gun cases to strong boxes and cabinets to, of course, gun safes. One’s preferences, needs, and homelife will ultimately dictate which route one pursues.
For me, I recently decided it was time for a major upgrade. Enter Steelhead Outdoors, the Minnesota-based manufacturer of the Nomad series of modular, easy-to-assemble, AND disassemble, gun safes.
The Elephant in the Room
Before we talk about the Nomad 32, lemme go ahead and address the elephant in the room. Price. Steelhead Outdoors’ gun safes cost a pretty penny.
My Nomad 32, the medium-sized base model, runs $2,995 BEFORE add-ons and any additional customization.
You should also figure in around $250-$450 for shipping costs.
Total package, again for the medium Nomad 32 (there is a smaller size available, the Nomad 26, which is cheaper, and a larger one, the Nomad 38, which is more expensive), is going to cost at the very least $3,250. Not everyone has that kind of money to spend on a gun safe. I understand that, which is why I’m saying this at the outset.
And yes, I know you can purchase a welded gun safe on Amazon with similar dimensions for about a third of the price (shipping not included). You don’t need to point that out in the comments section.
Last word about sticker shock and then I’ll move on. You can’t talk about pricing in 2021 without talking about inflation. The cost of steel, along with just about everything else, has spiked since the Wuhan virus hit our shores. Steel is up 219 percent since Jan. 1, 2020, according to Forbes. Buying anything these days, it seems, is going to be hard on the wallet. Steelhead told me they had to adjust their prices to remain profitable.
Nomad 32’s Modularity
Okay, now if you’re still reading this you probably want to know what you get for your money. The short answer is a lot (see the feature list below). But the key difference between the Nomad and the majority of safes on the market is, in a word, mobility. As the name implies, the “Nomad” can go anywhere!
I should note that this is not a novel concept. Other companies offer modular safes like the Snap Safe Paul reviewed years back. But I’m not sure any of the competitors in the marketplace match Steelhead’s quality and aesthetic. Apart from being the real deal, they look awesome to boot!
Why do you want a mobile safe? Seems counterintuitive at first blush. If it’s mobile in the literal sense, couldn’t thieves just run off with it?
The short answer to that question: Not when it’s fully assembled as it weighs just as much as a conventional safe.
What makes the safe “mobile,” in a sense, is its modularity. Because you can take it apart and easily put it back together, you can place it anywhere in your house. I put mine in a spare bedroom on the second floor. Try that with a 500-pound welded safe.
And, if you ever sell your house or move from your apartment, the same principle applies. Given that the average person moves about 11.7 times in their lifetime, according to 2007 U.S. Census Data, it’s nice to have a safe that you can take with you with minimal effort. No need to hire professional movers or rent special equipment.
Think of the money you might save. Quick story to illustrate this point. I thought I bought my “forever home” in 2017. It was a beautiful Cape Cod-style house with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in a nice quaint village in Western, NY.
But “forever” only lasted a few short years. My ex ended up with the house after our break-up and I’ve moved three times since then. Had I had invested in a traditional safe back in ’18, I would’ve had to pay who knows how much to move it over the years.
- Double wall construction with 12 gauge welded, powder coated exterior panels and 20 gauge interior panels, 7 gauge plate door (3/16”)
- Assembly bolts are only accessible from the inside, so the door must be open to assemble or disassemble
- Patent pending panel construction featuring dual stage fire protection with 2300 deg insulation and radiation-reflecting panels contains no trapped moisture and eliminates corrosion concerns with traditional gun safe fire insulation
- Visible carriage bolts on outside of safe attach our unique braces that hold the interior panels in place until final assembly and provide shelving system reinforcement
- After final assembly all interior panels are fully captured by the main assembly bolts; this patent-pending system creates rigid, insulated, double wall panels to make assembly a breeze
- Steel panel interior features a bright and protective, textured powder coated finish that is non-flammable, non-marring and provides additional protection over wood or carpet
- Fully modular interior racking system offers infinite possibilities of shelving and gun rack configurations
- Standard interior options are single horseshoe gun holder, double horseshoe gun holder and multi-row maximum gun racking. These interior options give the Nomad 26 a 6, 12 and 15 gun capacity; the Nomad 32 an 8, 16 or 19 gun capacity; the Nomad 38 having a 10, 20 and 34 gun capacity, depending on choice
- Ships in 5 boxes and easily assembled in place with two included hex key wrenches
- Available with group II S&G Titan direct drive electronic key pad for no compromise access speed and reliability or group II mechanical dial lock for battery-less dependability
- Slip clutch in handle to protect entire lock mechanism from attacks
- Cam-Over-Center direct drive lock mechanism with metal bearings at every moving point
- Ball bearing, drill resistant hard plate features 78 captured, hardened ball bearings to destroy attacking drill bits
- Large 1/2 inch locking plates engage 1/2 inch thick door jamb
- Full length hinge side locking bar provides 100% contact to lock door solidly in place, even with hinges removed
- Large door recess to prevent pry attacks
- Model 32: 32 in x 21 in x 60 in assembled dimensions
- Custom colors options and configurations available
Assembly was truly a breeze. How easy?
Ever put together a piece of IKEA furniture? It’s basically that easy. An hour, tops, including the time it took me to grab a six-pack from the fridge, set up my computer speakers, and turn Pandora to “Warren Zevon” radio. Crunchy grooves and swing oil make the process all the more enjoyable.
The only hang-up for me was the door. It’s by far the heaviest part of the safe (approx. 135 lbs) and you need two people to move it without risking injury. Every other piece I was able to move and carry up the stairs by myself. My neighbor actually helped me with the door. It cost me a beer or two but that was a small price to pay.
When the safe was initially dropped off at the house, I had the delivery driver put it in my garage. It came in five separate cardboard boxes. I used a dolly to bring the boxes into the house one by one. As far as sections go, in total, there’s a top, a bottom, a back, two sides, and a door. Total weight is about 500 pounds.
Determining what piece goes where is intuitive. But if you need assistance or have questions, the written instructions are helpful. Steelhead also put together a Youtube video of step-by-step construction that is fantastic. I’ve embedded it below so you can see just how easy it goes together:
Set Up & Upgrades
The inside setup of the Nomad 32 is user-configured. Customize as you see fit. I decided to divide it into halves. One side has the shelves, the other side has the horseshoe gun holder. I can get approximately 8-9 long guns in one horseshoe. If I took out the shelves and put in the other horseshoe, I could get as many as 16-19 long guns in the safe.
With any safe you buy from Steelhead, you have options. For example, I opted for two shelves and two horseshoes but I could have gotten one horseshoe and four shelves as an alternative. It’s all up to you and you can also buy any accessories after the fact.
I did buy the “deluxe interior package,” as well, which includes two gear panels and two rechargeable lights. The MOLLE-compatible gear panels attach to the door and allow you to conveniently hang your handguns, and any other MOLLE gear, packs or pouches. I have my Springfield Hellcat and Ronin 1911 in 10mm on the door right now.
The motion-activated lights are magnetic and can be arranged anywhere inside the safe. They emit plenty of light, enough to where I don’t need to turn on the bedroom light to view the contents of the safe when the sun goes down.
The last upgrade I opted for was the electronic lock over the mechanical one. Specifically, the S&G Titan Direct Drive. These locks have been around for years and are used on a variety of safes. They are robust, EMP-resistant, easy to set, and allow you to get into the safe in a flash.
Only downside with the electronic lock is that every so often you have to change the 9-volt battery. It’s not hard at all to switch in a new battery.
What are my concerns about the safe?
Given the premium materials, its double-walled construction, its 2,300-degree fire protection rating, and its ability to eliminate moisture, I don’t have many. Save one. Fire.
In the instance of a house fire on the first floor would the safe crash down from the second and bust open? This is a possibility and a risk I’ve taken with putting the safe upstairs. Had I put set it up in the basement, this wouldn’t have been an issue.
The good news is I have plenty of smoke detectors around the house to give me ample warning if something catches fire. Of course, I have to be home to take action to put out the fire.
Taking off the hinges on the door was another issue that my neighbor actually raised when he saw the design as the bolts to the hinges are exposed. While the hinges to the door can be removed with a hex key while the safe is locked, the door itself will not open because of the way it’s designed. Even with the hinges removed, everything within the safe is secured (check out the video below for more clarification).
Overall, I’m extremely confident that the Nomad offers me the protection I need.
Let me conclude by saying that while the Nomad 32 may be the centerpiece of my home security posture, it’s not the only component. Because the reality is that on a long enough timeline the integrity of every safe drops to zero. With proper tools and enough time, any safe can be cracked.
Outdoor cameras, dependable door and window locks, an alarm system, coordinating with neighbors when leaving town, even having an intimidating pup on the premises, all go a long way to ensuring everyone from would-be thieves to mischievous teens look elsewhere when they’re casing for soft targets.
It goes without saying but hardening your home and protecting your assets is a must. Do your research, make a plan and then execute it! And, if you think Steelhead might be part of the solution, feel free to reach out to our friend Corey directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: www.steelheadoutdoors.com.