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Residential Security Container Standard Revised

, grey, square safe on a white background

August 1, 2017

Residential Security Containers (RSC) serve many purposes. Some are used to store important papers or valuable jewelry, but for many people, they are used to store and secure guns. RSCs specified for security are different from fire resistant containers since they are specifically designed for security. Commonly known by many as gun safes, RSCs are covered by UL 1037, the Standard for Antitheft Alarms and Devices.

The Sixth Edition of the Standard was revised in 2016 to address three tiers of performance criteria to help manufacturers differentiate their products security levels and give a greater choice to consumers. Prior to the change, there was a one-size-fits-all level of performance for RSCs: a five-minute attack test using common hand tools.

The industry recognized a need and collaborated with UL to update the standard to a three-tiered system. The new system enables end users and manufacturers to choose what level of security best suits their product and protection needs.

Graduated Performance Levels

The updated standard maintains the prior performance requirements, now known as attack level one, and adds incremental layers to create a graduated degree of performance protection.

  • Attack level one requires the product to withstand a five-minute attack by one technician using common hand tools such as drills, screwdrivers and hammers. If the product successfully performs to the minimum requirements, it is eligible for certification.
  • Attack level two products must be able to withstand a ten-minute attack by two technicians who use more aggressive tools such as picks, high-speed carbide drills and pressure applying devices. In addition, the technicians will attempt to make a six-square-inch opening in the door or the front face of the gun safe; the product must resist their efforts.
  • Attack level three also gives two technicians a ten-minute window to perform the test, but the range of tools become even more aggressive. Additionally, the size of the maximum attack opening shrinks significantly from six-square-inches to two-square-inches.

Additional Design or Performance Criteria

Compliance with UL 1037 also involves a drop test for products weighing 750 pounds or less. The test simulates attempting to gain entry by forcibly dropping or knocking the safe to the ground. If the product can be reliably and safely mounted to a surface and the manufacturer provides provisions and instructions for installing the product, it does not have to be subjected to the drop test.

A Collaborative Standards Development System

UL developed the three-tier system utilizing UL’s Collaborative Standards Development System in conjunction with a balanced Standard Technical Panel which includes industry representatives to help improve the testing of the containers and allow manufacturers a choice to either meet the minimum requirements or opt for more aggressive test conditions. Consumers benefit as they can now choose the level of security that best fits their protection needs. Email Lou Chavez, Security and Life Safety, Principal Engineer, to learn more about the updated standard.