Gun Safe Lock Question


TX expat
December 28, 2012, 02:37 PM
I just purchased a new gun safe and I specifically chose one with the 'old style' dial lock because I've read about so many people having issues with the e-locks after a few years.

Anyway, my safe has a Sargent & Greenleaf dial lock and I can extend the warranty on it from the standard 5 years to 10y, 15y, or a lifetime warranty for $50, 70 or 100. Would it be worth the cash to extend the warranty on the lock?

I'd rather not spend the money if these locks hold up but since even one trip from a locksmith will cost more than any of the extended warranties, I'm wondering if it's worth doing.

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December 28, 2012, 02:43 PM
Since my gun safe also has the dial lock I dont think I would spend the money on the extended warranty if it was offered,which on my Amsec it wasn't.
I gather you bought either a Champion or Heritage gun safe.

TX expat
December 28, 2012, 03:19 PM
Correct, I bought a Champion safe.

December 28, 2012, 03:44 PM
Does the warranty specify that routine maintenance must be done on the lock by a safe tech? If you get it checked after every five years, a long warranty might not be worth it.

For reference, a new S&G Group 1 lock (probably better than what you currently have) is around $250.

TX expat
December 28, 2012, 03:55 PM
No, it mentions nothing about maintenance. It says it covers all adjustments, repair or replacement, but won't cover any damage done by unqualified personnel or abuse.

In fact, nothing that came with the safe says anything about any sort of lock maintenance at all.

December 28, 2012, 04:25 PM
If it covers labor, that sounds like a good deal. I would go with the 10yr or the lifetime. It depends on how long you plan to keep the safe -- less than 10 years or more than 21 years.

TX expat
December 28, 2012, 04:33 PM
It covers travel, parts and labor.

4v50 Gary
December 28, 2012, 04:48 PM
Send a PM to member a1abdj. He is a locksmith who specializes in safes. Please share his response.

December 28, 2012, 04:58 PM
Sargent and Greenleaf mechanical combination locks are very reliable, more reliable than the electronic locks I have seen installed. I have seen a number of electronic locks that had to be drilled off a safe.

I talked to S&G about getting parts for a safe lock which I bought on ebay. People take off the good mechanical locks and replace them with electronic. I was able to get an outstanding S&G lock dirt cheap off ebay because people don't want the mechanical locks. Fools! :neener: S&G told me that this lock, which is on this safe, is a higher grade version of their lock. Brass and metal discs are used in these higher grade locks. I have seen cheaper S&Gs and they have plastic discs. The paint color is how S&G keeps track of their expensive locks, gray means good parts.

This safe I have owned since 1992 and I have done nothing to the lock in terms of maintenance. I have a Browning safe from the early 80s which I have opened at least every day, several times a day, since I have owned it, and the lock is fine. Just be easy during the unlock turn and the thing will last for decades, maybe half centuries, maybe longer.

If you get a change key, you can download the instructions to set the safe combination to something you can remember, or make the combination common between safes. These locks were designed to have the combinations changed, for obvious reasons. Changing a combination is a piece of cake once you read the instructions and go about it very carefully. Don't close the door until you verify that the new combination works!.

TX expat
December 28, 2012, 05:01 PM
Just sent him a PM and I linked this thread. If I receive a response by PM, I'll share his thoughts here.


December 28, 2012, 10:49 PM
On a safe with an electronic lock, I think it may be a good investment. On a mechanical lock, the odds are certainly against you. It's not that mechanical locks do not fail, it's just that it's rare. Not only is it rare, but in many cases they give you warnings. On top of that, some of these failures can be overcome without drilling the safe.

As a general rule, I tell those with mechanical locks to use them up until (if ever) they start to give you trouble. We still service the high end locks, but it's simply not worth it on most of the common locks. It has already been mentioned how inexpensive these locks have become. It cost just as much to replace one as it does to service it.

TX expat
December 28, 2012, 11:05 PM
Excellent. I really appreciate your advice. I'm glad to hear that it's a rare thing and really makes me happy that I stuck with the mechanical lock, even though they are a little less convenient.

2nd 41
December 29, 2012, 07:19 AM
I have a mechanical lock on a safe from 1981. Never had a problem. It has never been serviced.
My .2 on warranties is that they could worthless. The company might be out of business when you need them. There might be shipping or labor charges. Could be a big inconvenience waiting for the part ...etc.

December 29, 2012, 10:13 AM
Great questions and good answers.

Chuck R.
December 29, 2012, 08:34 PM
Ive owned my current safe with mechanical dial since 1987, without an issue and zero servicing. I just received a vault door, for which I specified a S&G mechanical lock. The lock and door linkage came with lifetime warranties, neither mentioned any type of service requirements, other than some oild on the lugs IF it starts getting difficult to open.

This is one of those situations where Id assume some risk and skip an added warranty.


December 30, 2012, 12:26 PM
The important thing is that you do not ignore the warning signs that are often given by mechanical locks starting to have problems. We often go on lockouts where the person then tells us "It's been doing _______ for the last month, and all of a sudden, it wouldn't open today".

Signs of impeding doom:

If you're dialing correctly, but it begins to take you more than one time to get the lock open.

If the lock will open, but the numbers are moving. You need to adjust your combination numbers up or down to get it to work.

If you can move and/or wiggle the dial up/down/left/right/in/out more than normal.

If you hear or feel any grinding or noises that are not normal.

If the dial ever becomes more difficult to turn than normal.

Also, never force the dial. If the dial would ever bind, stop messing with it and call somebody out to look at it.

Chuck R.
December 30, 2012, 01:04 PM
Excellent tips/advice!



January 1, 2013, 05:06 PM

I've got a safe in the shop at this time, and I've had it for many years, that's from 1884. Obviously, it has a mechanical dial lock. Both lock & safe are in fine condition and work well. No, that's not a typo, 1884 is correct.

Now then, not all consumer product safe locks are built alike. There are outstanding examples of both electronic and mechanical dial locks. And there's more than a couple of examples of cheap cwap of both types also. Consider what you paid for the container that the lock's attached to. It's very likely that the lock quality is going to reflect that price point. That being said, also be aware that there is import stuff being sold today whose logo's very closely imitate that of either LaGard or S&G. The locks themselves though do not imitate the quality of either LaGard or S&G.


January 1, 2013, 06:07 PM
Although I have a mechanical lock, I would have to admit that electronic locks are a lot quicker. There are safes out there that are electronic, but have a mechanical backup lock that can be used to lock and unlock the safe in the event of a problem with the electronic lock (e.g. you have been nuked and the EMP destroys your electronic lock, but somehow you are still alive). If I was buying a new safe today, I would probably consider one of those.

TX expat
January 1, 2013, 09:56 PM
Great responses and excellent lock advice! Thanks to all!

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