Gun Safes Locking Device–Mechanical Dial vs. Digital Locks
Recommendation: UL Group II mechanical dial lock or commercial-grade electronic.
For gun safes, we prefer rotary-combination dial locks, although commercial-grade electronic locks are now very good. While less convenient, and slower to open than electronic locks, combination locks are still more durable and trouble-free than the digital locks found on many low- to medium-cost gun safes. Among the combination locks, the Sargent & Greenleaf model 6730 (UL Group II) remains an industry standard. The director of Sturdy Safes noted: “An S&G 6730 will be working fine when your grandchildren have grandchildren.” For home use, we also recommend the standard, high-visibility “front-read” white on black dial. There are “Spyproof” dials which shield the index marks from frontal view. This may be useful for a retail safe placed behind the counter, but at home, it just makes the dial much more difficult to see (you have to look down at an angle).
Avoid the cheap, imported electronic locks. These are known for failing relatively quickly–the keypad internals just wear out. With some of these designs, if the lock fails while the door is closed, you’ll have to employ a professional gunsmith to drill your safe and replace the locking assembly and keypad. With any electronic lock, re-program your combination now and then so that keypad wear patterns don’t reveal the numbers you push to open the safe. But when you change the combination, be sure to record the new setting.
With a dial lock, choose a design that meets UL Group II (or better) certification. If you choose a digital lock, we strongly recommend that you select a UL Type I, Commercial Grade lock from LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, or Kaba Mas. Commercial-grade locks, such as the S&G Comptronic” 6120 or LaGard “SafeGard” are much more robust and are designed to be used 20 times a day or more in retail and banking environments. A good commercial digital keypad lock should give 10 years or more of continuous use before replacement is required. With any digital lock, however, you should replace the battery at least once a year. Normally this can be done without professional assistance.
What do the experts say? We polled a half-dozen safe manufacturers and most of them leaned toward digital locks–but primarily because that’s what customers prefer. However, Mark Zanotti of Zanotti Armor tells us “10% of the safes I sell have digital locks, but they represent 90% of the problems down the road. Anything electronic is prone to failure at some point.” With digital locks you have to replace the batteries regularly. The keypads can and do fail. Safemakers tell us one common problem with digital locks stems from the ease with which the combination can be re-programmed. Customers reprogram their locks and then forget the combination.
What is the major problem with conventional dial locks? User error–owners forget to relock their safe after opening it. When you shut the door on a digitally-equipped safe, the door locks automatically. However, with a manual combination lock, you need to spin the dial after shutting the door and working the handle. Closing the handle moves the locking bolts, but does NOT re-activate the lock. So all a thief needs to do is turn the handle and he’s in the safe. So, if you choose a manual lock, be sure to spin the dial every time you close the safe.<
Please any questions -
Feel free to contact me at: 510.397.1151
Thank you – Chris
article courtesy of – 6mmbr
Filed Under: Gun Safes