$700 Gun Safe — What Can You Expect?

People always point out to me that they can buy a gun safe at box stores for $700. “There can’t be that much difference between the one for $700 and the ones you sell for more than twice the price,” they say.  Well, today we got in another one of those $700 gun safes.  It is the third one brought in to us in the last three months with failed locks.

Note:  Bringing these safes in is not that hard for the customer because they only weigh about 300#.  Lack of steel y’know, makes for light safes.  Note #2: Almost every $700 safe is Chinese made junk.

External Relockers 003JANUARY 2015 004

The picture on the left is from an American made real safe, which offers real security.  You can see the S&G Group 2 lock which has the internal relocker.  You can see the external relocker next to it.  Behind the lock is the heavy steel mounting plate, which holds in place the ball bearing hardplate to keep someone from drilling into the lock.

Now look at the picture on the right showing the electronic locking arrangement on the $700 Chinese made gun safe.  (The all-American name on the front of the safe is a well-known one that you would recognize.)  See the lock body?  No, there isn’t one – just a solenoid with  .305” diameter plunger.  No internal relocker, either.  Or external relocker.  Or mounting plate.  Or hard plate.  Sometimes people accidentally ruin this solenoid mechanism just by putting pressure on the safe’s spoke handle when the safe is closed.

So how did our safe technician open this “safe” when the lock failed?  High powered drills or expensive specialized equipment?  No, he took off the keypad on the front of the safe.  A piece of wire about twice the thickness of a coat hanger was bent in a particular way, then run through the hole which is there for the lock cable.  Without even being able to see through the hole he used the wire to punch in the solenoid plunger.  You don’t need hammers, screwdrivers, drills, scopes or anything except the wire.  By the way, all three of these which have come to our shop in the last two months failed between 12 and 15 months after purchase, so – you guessed it – they are off warranty. And THAT is what you get when you buy a $700 gun safe!  So spend more money and buy your gun safe (or a vault door) from a safe store.