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Introduction to GSA approved Security Containers

GSA-approved security containers are primarily used to store classified documents, components, materials, and small amounts of Risk Category II, III, and IV Arms, Ammunition, and Explosives (AA&E).  They are also used to secure funds, valuables, and weapons.  Classified and non-classified materials should never be stored together.  There are several types and classes of GSA approved containers.  Presently there are two classes of containers being manufactured: Class 5 and Class 6.


For guidance concerning storage of classified information see DoD Manual 5200.01, Volume 3, DoD Information Security Program: Protection of Classified Information.  For guidance concerning storage of arms, ammunition, and explosives (AA&E) and sensitive items see DoD Manual 5100.76, Physical Security of Sensitive Conventional Arms, Ammunition, And Explosives.

Please review ISOO Notice 2021-01 dated 29 June 2021 with the subject of "rescinding approval of pre-1989 GSA-approved containers".  This notice details the phase-out of plan for all GSA-approved security containers and vault doors manufactured prior to 1989 (commonly known as black label containers and vault doors).  Please note that black label containers cannot be recertified or relabeled.

Review this GSA letter dated 20 January 2021 with the subject of "Status of Existing Fedsafes, Inc. GSA-Approved Security Cabinets".  This letter clarifies the status of the Fedsafes, Inc. GSA-approved class 5 security cabinets manufactured under Federal Specification AA-F-358.  Fedsafes, Inc. was removed from the GSA Qualified Products List (by QPL-AA-F-358-16) on 9 September 2017 due to reoccurring inconsistent test results and failure to adequately resolve the issues during periodic re-evaluations of their class 5 cabinet.  Although Fedsafes was removed from the Qualified Products List as an authorized manufacturer, the original GSA approval of the existing class 5 cabinets has not been revoked.  For technical specification questions about GSA-approved security containers call (817) 850-5556 for assistance.

The Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (formerly DSS) issued Industrial Security Letter, ISL 2012-04, dated August 7, 2012, for all cleared Contractors, User Agencies, and DoD Activities.  This letter indicates contractors will not be allowed to use non-GSA approved security containers for storage of classified documents effective October 1, 2012.  There is no requirement to retrofit working locks on GSA-approved security containers with the GSA label still affixed.  However, if the lock becomes unserviceable, the replacement lock must comply with Federal Specification FF-L-2740B.  Please contact Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency at (888) 282-7682 or the DoD Lock Program Hotline at (800) 290-7607 for more information.


GSA-approved security containers must have a GSA label affixed to the front of the door (Map & Plan, IPS), the front of the top drawer or the front of the control drawer.  If the container no longer has the GSA label attached to it, it is no longer an approved container.  If your container is no longer approved, click on the "Recertification" tab for information on how to get it recertified.  GSA-approved security containers manufactured before October 1990 are identified by their GSA label that has black lettering on a silver background (or silver on black), commonly referred to as black label containers.  Please note that black label containers cannot be recertified or relabeled.

Since October 1990 only Class 5, 6, and 7 containers have been manufactured.  GSA approved Class 5 and 6 containers manufactured after October 1990 have a silver label with red lettering (or red with silver lettering), commonly referred to as red label containers.  GSA approved Class 7 containers have a silver label with green lettering.  Class 7 containers were available in filing cabinet style only and are no longer manufactured.  Information Processing System (IPS) containers are GSA-approved security containers for protection of computers.  Their GSA approval labels have blue lettering.

     Container Classes

Class 5 containers are typically used for storage of weapons and sensitive items such as funds, jewels, precious metals, etc.  Class 5 containers may also be used for storage of classified documents, components, materials, and equipment.  They provide the same protection as Class 6 plus ten minutes against forced entry attack.  Class 5 containers come in several types:  filing cabinet, map and plan, weapon storage, and IPS.  There are Class 5W containers used solely for weapons storage.  These containers are not intended to store classified materials.

Class 6 containers are typically used for storage of classified information such as documents, maps, drawings, and plans.  They come in file cabinet and map and plan styles.  There are Class 6-S containers which are specifically designed for installation and use aboard DoD ships to protect classified information.

     Lost Combinations

It is costly and time consuming when a GSA-approved security container cannot be opened because the combination is lost or forgotten.  When a combination is lost or forgotten a container must be neutralized (forced open) in accordance with FED-STD-809E.  Black label containers cannot be repaired after being neutralized.  Once a container or vault has been forcibly opened, the classified material must be safeguarded until the damaged container is repaired.  You can prevent this from happening by using Standard Form (SF) 700 form as required by DoD Manual 5200.01, Volume 3.  Visit our SF 700 page for more information.

1 AA-F-357
Yes No 10 minutes forced entry
30 minutes surreptitious [3]
1 hour fire
2 AA-F-357
Yes No 5 minutes forced entry
20 minutes surreptitious [3]
1 hour fire
3 Class 3 replaced by Class 6 No No No forced entry requirement
20 minutes surreptitious [3]
4 Class 4 replaced by Class 5 No No 5 minutes forced entry
20 minutes surreptitious [3]
5 AA-F-358K  (Filing Cabinet)
AA-F-363D [2]  (Map & Plan)
AA-C-2786A  (IPS)
No Yes 10 minutes forced entry
30 minutes covert entry
20 hours surreptitious [3]
5 AA-C-2859A  (Weapons Storage) No Yes 10 minutes forced entry ONLY
6 AA-F-358K  (Filing Cabinet)
AA-F-363D [2]  (Map & Plan)
Yes No forced entry requirement
30 minutes covert entry
20 hours surreptitious [3]
7 AA-F-2815
No No No forced entry requirement
15 minutes covert entry
20 hours surreptitious [3]
[1] Protection as listed in newest or current version of the specification.
[2] The AA-F-363D specification has one amendment: Amendment 4
[3] "Surreptitious" in products made before 10/1/90 included "covert".

Side 1


Side 2


The DoD Lock Program provides "Open/Secured" two-sided magnetic signs to the DoD community free of charge.  It is good practice to use these signs on containers or vault doors in order to provide a visual status of the equipment to personnel working in the area.  These signs will include the Technical Support Hotline contact information for quick reference in getting support for your security equipment.  To place your order click here or on the magnet images.

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