Fort Knox Gun Safe question


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Steve H
May 11, 2007, 10:45 PM
My neighbor has a Frot Knox safe with the electronic lock. Yesterday the safe decided that it was no longer going to open. He changed thabatteries but it still won't open. Anyone hae this problem also? Is there a fix short of having a locksmith drive 70 miles round trip?

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Steve H
May 11, 2007, 11:52 PM
got it open...............cleaned the contacts on the 4 wire plug and BINGO!!!!

Lupinus
May 11, 2007, 11:52 PM
test the durability of it and see first hand what it takes to crack that puppy?

J/K glad you got it open

Steve H
May 12, 2007, 12:31 AM
It opened once..................Monday I guess the locksmith gets to drive up here, he only charges $165.00 to make the trip!!!!!

Aguila Blanca
May 12, 2007, 01:40 AM
There isn't an override key for the keypad?

I knew I didn't trust them new-fangled eelectronical thing-a-ma-jiggies. I think I'll stick to dials, thank you.

a1abdj
May 12, 2007, 02:31 AM
If you're experiencing problems with the lock and you can get the safe open, then leave it open and stop using it. Make sure the replacement battery is a good, strong battery, and try opening it again. Make sure that there is no back pressure on the lock when you're doing this. Put pressure on the safe's handle towards the locking position (like you're throwing the bolts to lock the safe) before entering the combo.

Have the locksmith come out and replace the lock. Electronic locks have a limited lifespan, and are not servicable. You replace the whole thing the second there's a problem, or you may end up locked out. If your locksmith is charging $165 just to come out, you better plan on a $500 or better bill for drilling the safe open. I'd also make sure he's experienced with safes, and not just a "locksmith" (if you need a certified safe tech, I'd be happy to refer you to one. Fort Knox customer service should also have a list of those they have used before)

Quality electronic locks do not have key overrides. The lock on the Fort Knox will be a UL rated Group 1 electronic lock.

I know you probably meant well when cleaning the contacts, but these little simple safe locks are very fussy. I have probably made more money from people who have serviced or attempted to service their safe lock, than any other lock out situation.

Valkman
May 12, 2007, 02:57 AM
a1abdj, after reading that I'll also stay with my dial. Dang!

snowtigger
May 12, 2007, 05:26 AM
I got lucky. When my electronic lock quit, it was open. Browning told me the safe was out of warranty.
Luckily, Sargent & Greenleaf, the maker of the lock, took a different approach, they replaced the lock with a more expensive model.

Steve H
May 12, 2007, 09:11 AM
After seeing what my neighbor is going thru and reading the posts above I'll also stick with my old fashioned dial!

Cacique500
May 12, 2007, 09:18 AM
Great - we've got a safe coming today with an electronic lock so the wife can open it...

What's the normal "lifespan" on an electronic lock?

Steve H
May 12, 2007, 09:25 AM
for what ever it's worth my neighbors safe is about 12 years old. maybe there was some maintance he missed............I was surprised that he did not have a way to go around the electronic lock.

Notch
May 12, 2007, 10:11 AM
A very close friend of mine, as in family, is a locksmith. He has seen several instances where some idiot has thought that whacking away on an keypad with a big hammer would open the lock. In none of these instances had they tried to pry open the door or peal a side, just your 99.99 percent of the time small time thief who came accross a safe and gave it 15 seconde of his time. End result is a costly call to the smith. On the other hand he has not seen this assumption made with a dial. I stick with dials myself!

a1abdj
May 12, 2007, 11:21 AM
After seeing what my neighbor is going thru and reading the posts above I'll also stick with my old fashioned dial!

Each has their advantages:

A mechanical (dial) lock is slower to operate, but often more reliable. These locks are servicable, and last the longest with periodic maintenance. The combination should be changed by a locksmith.

Electronic locks are faster to operate, but have a higher failure rate than mechanical locks. These locks are not servicable, and are simply replaced when needed. The combinations are easily changed by the consumer.

Great - we've got a safe coming today with an electronic lock so the wife can open it...

My girlfriend has electronic locks on all of her safes, and we've had zero problems with them. They are however, like anything else electronic. They will eventually fail, and usually very inconveniently.

What's the normal "lifespan" on an electronic lock?

This can depend on the lock, as some are better than others. In a commercial setting, 5 years tends to be a good run. I've seen locks 10 to 12 years old in residential settings that are still functioning.

The problem with the electronics is the complexity. There are literally a million things that can go wrong inside the lock.


for what ever it's worth my neighbors safe is about 12 years old. maybe there was some maintance he missed............I was surprised that he did not have a way to go around the electronic lock

He's had a good run with that lock. If he replaces it with the same model and get's another 12 years, I wouldn't complain at all.

These locks do not have key overrides because that would make the lock much less secure.


A very close friend of mine, as in family, is a locksmith. He has seen several instances where some idiot has thought that whacking away on an keypad with a big hammer would open the lock. In none of these instances had they tried to pry open the door or peal a side, just your 99.99 percent of the time small time thief who came across a safe and gave it 15 seconde of his time. End result is a costly call to the smith. On the other hand he has not seen this assumption made with a dial. I stick with dials myself!

I've seen both smashed, and on a regular basis. The good thing about the electronic locks, is that you can usually sister a new keypad to the wiring and coax it to open. Hitting a mechanical lock's dial can instantly set off relockers that wouldn't have been fired on the electronic lock. This can create a much nastier situation to deal with.

If you're going to replace the electronic lock anyways, I'd suggest you look at the Lagards, or Globalocks. The Lagards tend to be more reliable than the S&G's, and cost about the same. Globalocks are a little more money, but are much more reliable. They also have a built in back up for every part of the lock. If one side fails, the other side will still open the lock, then code you that the lock is failing.

Deanimator
May 12, 2007, 01:03 PM
a1abdj, after reading that I'll also stay with my dial. Dang!
+1.

When I bought my Sentry, I never even considered anything but a dial. As a computer consultant, I like to think that I have a fairly good appreciation for the reliability of electronic mechanisms, especially ones that run on firmware instead of software.

Cacique500
May 12, 2007, 02:51 PM
a1abdj, thanks for the additional info. The safe is now here and I got the code changed and will just try to keep an eye on it. It's not going to get high use (and it's an S&G by the way).

What is an approximate cost to have somebody come out and install a new one when it's time? (including one of the upgraded locks you mentioned?)

a1abdj
May 13, 2007, 05:03 PM
What is an approximate cost to have somebody come out and install a new one when it's time? (including one of the upgraded locks you mentioned?)


The cost of the lock, plus service call & labor. In my neck of the woods, the service call with labor will start at around $100 for simple lock swap, and could go up to a few hundred if it was something fancy.

The basic locks start at around $125. You can easily spend $300 to $400 for something that's complex and not really needed. Some of the electronic locks the government uses can run $1,000 +, just for the lock.

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