Q: large gun safes - key lock, or digital combination lock?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by ATCclears, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. ATCclears

    ATCclears Well-Known Member

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    I'm starting to investigate a larger gun safe. One vendor has the option for a key lock, or a digital-combination lock. I can think of pros and cons for each. My preference is for the digital-combination lock but I wonder if I would have no access to the safe after an EMP or solar flare.

    Any input from those who may own a "heavy duty" safe?
  2. Grunwald

    Grunwald Well-Known Member

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    what about an old fashioned mechanical (tumbler?) combo lock?

    I would never get a safe with a key. There is a video on youtube where someone called the cops on some guy and they came as he was sitting outside in his side yard cleaning his rifle. This was not in the city but out in the country. They went into his house - over his objections (he kept telling them "I do not give you permission to enter my house") and found his gun safe. They took the keys off his belt and then took all his guns. Had he had a combo lock he could have told them to pound sand and he's not opening it for them.
    Some guns are just not meant to be thrown into the trunk of a car like a bunch of old junk. As I recall it all ended with no charges being filed, but he had a hard time getting his guns back and when he did get them back they were in a lot worse shape than when they were taken out of his safe.
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  3. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay Active Member

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    I have a Ft Knox and a Liberty. Both have digital Combo locks. Digitals are convenient and quick. Both Safes weigh over 600 lbs empty. If EMP Hits (Which evidence has shown won't harm most of what alarmists say) you got bigger things to worry about.

    Dials are cheaper. Digitals are convenient. Go with that.
  4. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Well-Known Member

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    I can only address tumbler lock vs. digital lock. I bought a large gun safe a few years back and was originally convinced that I didn't want a digital lock as the digital locks might be more prone to failure than the traditional tumbler lock.

    The dealer I bought my safe from convinced me to go digital based on the fact that the way most all tumbler locks work, if you dial the wrong combo three times in a row, they tumblers lock up and you can't open the safe short of calling a locksmith. He explained to me how with my digital lock, even if someone tries to open my safe with the wrong combo and it locks up, I can still get into my safe. With the safe I bought, I can remove the digital lock from the face of the safe and there is an opening for a key (which I have hidden in a very safe location) that will unlock the tumblers and allow me to open the safe. At that point I can reset my combo on the digital lock after reinstalling it on the face of the safe door.

    Bought my safe from Charlie with Mountain View Safe in Boring, OR.

    http://www.mountainviewsafeco.com/

    He sells off the back of the truck or at some of the gun shows.

    My $.02 worth.
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  5. Burt Gummer

    Burt Gummer Completely Out of Ammo Gold Supporter

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    I like the digital keypad locks myself. With an LED light above the dial pad. May not be as secure as the combos, but 'cooler' - I always like entering the code and imaging I'm cool lol.

    As for safes ...

    I have been happy with the Canon safe I got delivered from Costco for $800(?). Gray, 44" wide I believe. When you add the pistol/velcro thing inside the door it adds a lot of pockets also. It is no Ft Knox or Liberty - some of those $3500 safes are pure works of art. Some are really over the top though. Rich velvet, etc.

    Might as well buy new since people on Craigslist/other are deluded into believing their used/scratched/undelivered safe is worth new/retail.

    For $800, you get what you pay for; the interior for instance is pretty cheap. I reworked the fabric/shelves/supports and made it better. It has AC inside, so humidifier and lots of lights were easy to put in - used white LED Xmas lights around forward border/frame, works great. Lighting covers top to bottom, on all the time, about 3 watts.

    The ScanSnap modular snap is nice for small quarters, although it took months for it to stop smelling badly (fireproofing material).

    This is the Canon - it frequently goes on sale for $799. http://www.costco.com/Browse/Produc...=2&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1

    Mine was delivered with a small scratch on the backside which I noted with the delivery guy. They took $100 off as opposed to me having them pick it up and delivering a new one so the net cost on the safe itself was $700, delivered.
  6. ATCclears

    ATCclears Well-Known Member

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    All, thanks!

    mikeli, any preference for the Ft Knox or Liberty? They are both brands that I've been seriously looking at so far.
  7. swoop

    swoop Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Bought one of these 3 yrs. ago for 800.00 delivered. A lot of safe for the money IMO.
  8. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay Active Member

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    My 9 gun Ft Knox was $1400 Delivered (Of coarse that was 1999) My 14 gun Liberty was $1350 in 2009 (I didn't get a second Ft Knox cause of the price)
  9. timac

    timac Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    I prefer tumbler locks, less to go wrong.
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  10. Ironbar

    Ironbar Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I did a lot of research when buying my safe. I eventually went with this model from Costco:

    Costco - Bighorn B6039EL Heavy Duty Safe

    It's larger than most of the high end safes, costs less, and the digital lock provides VERY quick access. Trust me, you will REALLY appreciate that after having to do a dial combo even a few times.

    Consider this as well- the price you see at Costco INCLUDES shipping. With other companies and stores, you need to factor in an additional $200.00 to $350.00 to the total price to cover shipping.
  11. SB1027

    SB1027 New Member

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    I too bought one at costco 3 weeks ago, it was a Winchester brand 24 gun digital keypad safe for $499. boxed 502 lbs unboxed and empty 485lbs . A forklift and 3 people to load it into the jeep, Myself and some creative manipulation and my wifes moral support to get it into the house "I won". The only drawback is the arrangement for the guns and shelves, no shelves I might be able to get that many guns in, but very cramped, with shelves Id say 8-10 due to the alignment of the barrel guides. That is if you don't want to bump them against one another, I prefer not to. Good luck!!
  12. Grunwald

    Grunwald Well-Known Member

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    This has already been covered before, but depending on how much your guns are worth and how badly you want to protect them, do a little research and you will learn that those great looking safes from Costco and other retailers will not protect your guns from a pro thief. The sides are thin sheet metal that can be defeated pretty easily.
  13. Hardwood floor guy

    Hardwood floor guy Active Member

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    i just have a sentury safe it's digital but also has key's that will unlock if the keypad goes out or an emp hits.
  14. Straight Shooter

    Straight Shooter Active Member

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    I am impressed with the digital lock on my Fort Knox. It allows super fast entry. 8 years old. We access it 1-10 times a day and it's only on it second set of externally changable batteries. It is never left open or unlocked as many of my friends do due to the tumbler locks being such a pain to operate. 5 wrong entries and it freezes up for 20 to 30 minutes and then you get 5 tries again. I can set it up for anti holdup with a delay. You enter the correct combo and then it waits a programable amount of time where it must be undisturbed before it gives the all clear signal and then you enter the combo again to get it open. I can make up to 10 combo's and give them out as needed for access and then delete them when they no longer need access. It's a Fort Knox Titan and weighs over 1900 pounds empty before we bolted it to the slab. You will need a tow truck to get it out of here. That is once you defeat the monitored video security system, the pit bull and me. We take our security seriously.

    [​IMG]
  15. Hardwood floor guy

    Hardwood floor guy Active Member

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    im not helping you move:)
  16. Straight Shooter

    Straight Shooter Active Member

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    I hear that. Actually the guy I bought it from said he would move it for us anytime we want for free. I highly recommend him. Fort Knox Northwest in Canby, OR.
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  17. Sun195

    Sun195 Well-Known Member

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    I've had a LaGard commercial-grade digital lock on my safe for the past 5+ years. No problems (yet) and very fast to open.

    I bought my safe from a shop that does mostly commercial work. They put it to me this way: look at most any grocery store safe next time you go shopping. Those folks are in-and-out of their safes multiple times per day. Most of them have digital locks on them. If they didn't work, and they weren't able to get in, there'd be heck to pay. But, they do work.

    In regard to EMP problems (or whatever), if something like that happened, you could always just break into your own safe. They're not impenetrable. Most "safes" are just Residential Security Containers, and are only rated to ward off an attack for five minutes.

    More here or here:

  18. Burt Gummer

    Burt Gummer Completely Out of Ammo Gold Supporter

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    For people who take delivery of safes from Costco and most others, be aware that most use a powered dolly flat cart (forgetting the term) with the safe bolted to a solid pallett.

    So if you are putting your safe in your garage, even if you have a very steep driveway to get there, it is a piece of cake. If left my large safe on the pallett which was painted gray and actuallly looked like it belonged there. It will come in handy when I move and I doubt thieves will be showing up with a way to wheel it down my very steep driveway in front of all my neighbors.
  19. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone here ever looked at the YouTube videos on how easy it is to open many of the "Digital Safes"? In many it's merely a matter of removing the keypad, fishing for the motor/solenoid wires, and using a 9v Battery with jumpers, open the safe. No sledge hammer, torch, or diamond coated drills needed.

    For the Combo/Key safes, check to see if the safe of your dreams has a "Re-Lock" feature where any attempt with impact tools locks the bolts in place, period.

    As for me, a key lock safe isn't much more than a "Lock Box". Key locks can be manipulated far easier than a combination lock, even those fancy "tubular" locks.
  20. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Well-Known Member

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    And this is just for the beer!