New safe. Electronic or combo?


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DanielW
September 22, 2009, 09:27 AM
I realize that the electronic lock is easier to open in a stressful situation. But assuming you keep you HD weapons out of it and put them in when you leave the house, is one of the locks safer then the other? The price on the safes is the same. Thanks.

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lebowski
September 22, 2009, 09:52 AM
I doubt there is a difference in security, but the combo is more reliable. The combo should last as long or longer than you do, my understanding is with electronic locks it's almost inevitable that at some point it'll fail and you'll have to have a locksmith open your safe for you.

bababooey32
September 22, 2009, 10:13 AM
Most electronic locks have a key backup in case of failure (not helpful in an SD situation, but that doesn't sound like what you're after). I think a good quality electronic lock will last a long time (or withstand a lot of use, I should say). Any mechanical or electronic device has the potential to fail or wear down. Depends on usage and how you care for it.

Security wise, i think the internals are probably the same, so security should be the same. The only difference is in how the safe gets unlocked. To the extent an expert thief is attempting to break in, I'm not sure there is much difference. There is alot of documentation on safe-crackers working on mechanical locks and their successes. I haven't seen much on electronic locks.

walker944
September 22, 2009, 11:43 AM
Personally, I find the manual locks to be very annoying, and the digital very pleasing to my senses. So, mine is digital. Get the one that suites you. Of course, the digital are always a little more expensive, but well worth the extra bucks, from my standpoint.

heeler
September 22, 2009, 05:08 PM
My take on this is if you are going with a low priced 12 gauge safe such as one with a composite door then an electronic might not be a bad deal because once it finally fails I would not feel as bad having it drilled as I would my future Amsec BF's half inch thick plate steel door.
Handy and fast to open they are but no way would I have one on a quality safe because I have read just to many horror stories of electronic lock failures on this and other gun/hunting forums and I am just not comfortable with that on an expensive safe.

Fwiw i was at the bank the other day and they had two safes that measured maybe three feet tall by two feet wide behind the teller area and they both had S&G electronic locks.
Personally i think it was more for convenience over function for the employees who just cant get the hang of the spinner lock.

sfc_mark
September 22, 2009, 05:37 PM
The electronic would be convenient, but as an electronic technician I am wary of certain aspects of microprocessor controlled devices.

I read a story on AP a couple of years ago where some kid locked himself in a (electronic locked) gun safe in Wal-Mart. They called the manufacturer, who gave them a back door combo to open the lock.

This is the same reason I don't agree with electronic voting machines. Where there is some sort of computer software/firmware, some clever programmer can tamper with the outcome. Mechanical and electro-mechanical devices don't have this weakness.

There are piezoelectric DIAL locks that are reliable and user friendly (currently used on virtually all DOD security containers and vaults), but they are pricey. I Googled X09 lock and came up with over $1000 ($1500 retail) for the lock assembly.

gym
September 23, 2009, 02:31 PM
Electronic with key back up. You want to be able to get in fast if you need to. I used to work on ATM machines for an ex-partner. Sometimes I could miss that combo by 1 digit and have to spend another 10-30 seconds clearing and re-dialing. In a panic you are going to miss sometimes more than once. The push buttons models are just so much faster and easier to see. After having a dozen different types, I would never go back to a combo lock again, he no longer uses them on over 400 Atm machines. So that should tell you something.

a1abdj
September 23, 2009, 08:04 PM
I doubt there is a difference in security,

As far as UL rated locks found on gun safes, the electronic locks are usually more secure against manipulation attempts than the mechanical locks.

Most electronic locks have a key backup in case of failure

This is only true on most Chinese simple solenoid locks. UL rated locks do not have this type of backup for security reasons. A quick search on You Tube will show you that you don't even need the key to bypass the lock on those using this system. Bouncing the safe (if not bolted), hitting the door with a hammer, or the use of a magnet will also open it.

Security wise, i think the internals are probably the same, so security should be the same.

Both types of locks will be very different. Also keep in mind that a mechanical lock probably has fewer than 20 parts, whereas an electronic lock could have a few hundred.

To the extent an expert thief is attempting to break in, I'm not sure there is much difference.

Probably not much, unless it is a manipulation attempt. Both locks would take the same amount of effort to drill.

They called the manufacturer, who gave them a back door combo to open the lock.


Shhhhhhh! Don't say this too loudly, but it's true.

he no longer uses them on over 400 Atm machines. So that should tell you something.

Electronic locks on ATM machines do a lot of things that mechanical locks simply can't do. Most ATM companies use electronic locks for these reasons alone: Time delays, dual custody, audit trails, time locks, etc...

I can guarantee your friend has to drill open more of his electronic locks than the older mechanical locks he had.

Electronic locks have their place, but they also have their price. You can have the convenience, but that convenience comes at a cost. Most safe companies only warranty the electronic locks for the first year, whereas mechanical locks are warrantied for 5 years.

DanielW
September 23, 2009, 10:39 PM
Thanks for all the great info a1abdj.

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