How much storage space do you need? ConsumerReports.org advises gathering all the items you need to store and then measuring the pile you've created. A 1.2- to 1.3-cubic-foot safe will store a 1-foot-high stack of letter-size papers.
Do you need fire protection? If you're on the fence, consider that households have a one-in-four chance of suffering a fire large enough to warrant calling the fire department, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Where will the safe go? If you're choosing a large safe, make sure it will fit through doorways or on the stairways of your home on its way to the basement, top floor or other room in your home.
What do you plan to store? Electronics and media, like DVDs, need a higher level of heat protection than paper documents.
What kind of lock do you want? Keypads are simple, but they tend to die over time, and key locks can be broken into; combination locks may be the most secure.
Do you intend to store fragile items? If so, a carpeted interior can be a helpful feature.
Will you need to access items frequently? If the answer is yes, look for a model with key racks or other internal organizing features that can help you conveniently retrieve what you need.
Are you concerned about aesthetics? Chrome handles and a glossy paint job are nice for a gun safe, but if you're going to hide the model away, you can save money by opting for a dull-paint version.
About a year and a half ago, Forbes.com published an alarming article by contributor Marc Weber Tobias that included a video showing a 3-year-old easily opening four locked gun safes. Tobias was prompted to write the article by the 2010 death of a toddler in Vancouver, Wash., who was shot by one of his detective father's service weapons, which had been locked in a department-issued safe. Tobias maintains that several gun safes now on the market are not nearly as safe as gun owners -- or retailers, for that matter -- believe, and their locks can easily be breached with paper clips, wire or even a simple bounce of the unit. It's hard to predict what will come of this story, but more awareness on the part of consumers regarding the limitations of gun safes will hopefully prevent more tragedies from occurring.