The basics of choosing the right lock for your gun safe are pretty simple. The first rule is that your gun safe should not have a lock that uses a key. Typically, when you find a key lock on a gun safe if you really are not looking at a gun safe but a gun cabinet. Your gun safe is going to have a more secure locking mechanism than a key lock.
The main types of locks for gun safes are combination locks and electronic locks. Biometric locks are showing up some. There are also locks that combine standard combination locks and electronic locks.
This video discusses digital locks vs mechanical combination locks.
Combination locks provide tried and tested security. The combination locks have been around for years and have not changed that much because they just work. If you choose a good combination lock you can be assured your safe lock will be secure.
One of the main practices you need to follow with a combination lock it to be sure to spin the dial after closing the door. This way your lock mechanism actually locks. If you do not spin the dial the lock will not actually be engaged and the door can be opened.
UL provides ratings on lock mechanisms. Their ratings provide a good outline of the security of locks available. When picking your safe make sure the lock is UL rated.
UL Rating for Combination Locks
Group 1: Combination locks are extremely resistant to expert or professional manipulation. In conventional design not offers features like closed cameras, notched tumblers, extra levers or other advanced features. Group 1 locks are considered suitable for use on burglary-resisting safes and chests such as Class TRTL-15X6, -30, -30X6, -60, TXTL-60×6 and on vaults.
Group 1R: This type of locks is best for them to use safes, security files, and vaults where the highest degree of protection is needed. This lock includes resistance against radiological attacks.
Group 2 locks are used to protect or resistant to semiskilled manipulation. Group 2 combination locks are considered to be suitable for use on Unlisted safes, insulated record containers, residential security containers, and similar security containers.
Group 2M combination locks are moderately resistant to skilled manipulation. Group 2M combination locks are considered suitable for use on tool-resistant safes, Class TL-15, TL-15×6, TL-30 and TL-30×6, insulated record containers and light vault doors.
A large number of the gun safes on the market use Group 2 or 2M locks. If you want more security then select a Group 1 or 1R lock.
Digital locks are now becoming more popular for a few reasons.
- Quicker to open.
- Easy to change the combination
- Easy to use.
- Availability has increased.
- They are more reliable than in the past
Digital locks also have a few issues:
- They are electric so batteries must be replaced.
- Using different combinations regularly can make it harder to remember the combination.
- The keypad can fail over time.
- When a digital lock fails it normally fails without warning.
The quality of the digital locks is improving each year so the issues with them are becoming less of a mechanical issue. It seems the benefits for many people now outweigh the negatives for digital locks.
Watch this video on how to change the combination and batteries for a digital safe.
One of the largest issues but strengths of the digital lock is the ease of changing the combination. Changing the combination regularly provides much more security but the owner must then remember the changed combination. Be sure not to keep the combination in the house close to the safe.
The UL provides ratings for digital locks as well. It is important to get a UL rated digital lock for your security.