How to Choose the Right Lock Type for Your Gun Safe

Why do you think a gun owner should take into consideration a type of a locking mechanism when choosing a safe for their firearms? The answer is as clear as day: lock is a part of the safe that highly impacts security. Neither steel thickness nor other features will help prevent your firearms from getting into the wrong hands if the safe is equipped with a low quality lock.
It is also worth noting that thorough picking of safe locks is needed not only to maintain gun safe security but also to have convenience of using it. There are people who find it easier to use the latest digital locks and those who like the traditional mechanical dial locks.

What should one consider to not get lost among many types of gun safe locks?
We`ll try to help you choose the right one by analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of all locks available on the market.

How to Choose the Right Lock Type for Your Gun Safe

Different Types of Safe Locks

To start with let's figure out what types of gun safe locks exist and how they differ from one another. The classic is a key lock. The name is self-descriptive: the lock is closed and opened with a key. It is very rarely used in modern gun safes.

But there is another type of mechanical lock that is quite common nowadays, it is a combination dial safe lock. This one allows the owner to open and close a gun safe by dialing a secret code with an old school dial combination.

Electronic lock works the way as combination one but the former is operated by pressing the digits while the latter by using a dial. And biometric lock is the latest innovation in the gun safe industry which also has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Apparently, when it comes to the best gun safe locks or the worst types, there is no single answer to the question. Because all of them are good in their own way but also have their own downsides.

Key Locks

Key lock safe opens and closes with a key. When the safe is locked, a small metal bar is engaged. When a safe is being opened the bar is withdrawn by turning the key.

Key Locks

Advantages of Key Locks

The main advantage of a key lock is that a person has access to the gun safe as long as they have a key. In comparison, when you need some other people to open your safe with a digital lock or a combination lock only once, you tell them the secret code. Then you have to change it, not to compromise further security.

Another significant benefit of a key lock is that an owner doesn`t need to remember the secret combination.

Disadvantages of Key Locks

However, key locks can be lost, stolen or duplicated that leads to compromised security of the safe.

Combination Locks

A combination lock requires dialing a secret code in a proper sequence. The 3 wheel combination lock has 1 million variations to open it, whereas the one with 4 wheel lock offers more than 100 million combinations.

Combination Locks

Advantages of Combination Locks

High quality mechanical combination locks are strong and reliable. Moreover, they don't need as much maintenance and service as digital locks which require the battery being replaced to work properly.

Disadvantages of Combination Locks

The main problem of a mechanical combination lock is that it requires a lot of accuracy with turning in the correct position. There are also chances that the owner will have to re-dial the code several times to succeed. Additionally, mechanical dial lock combinations are not user changeable. A professional locksmith is required in order to reset a code on a dial lock.

Electronic Locks

Electronic locks have a battery-powered keypad for inputting a 6 digit code. With the correct combo the lock engages the mechanism that enables the handle to turn and the door of the safe to open.

Electronic Locks

Advantages of Electronic Locks

Electronic locks are the most popular in gun safe manufacturing as they provide quick access. They are also much easier to use and offer simpler ways to change a code. Digital locks may be equipped with an alarm system and other additional security options.

Disadvantages of Electronic Locks

The main annoyance with electronic lock is the battery that should be occasionally checked and if low, replaced. Besides, electronic components can be damaged by water and chemicals.

Biometric Locks

Biometric lock or a fingerprint lock scans unique fingerprints of an owner and stores them on a connected electronic device. In order to open a safe with such a lock, one should press it with a finger that has an authorized print.

Biometric Locks

Advantages of Biometric Locks

Biometric locks are the most secure as it is almost impossible to forge a fingerprint. Such locks offer the fastest and easiest safe opening as an owner doesn`t need to have the key or remember the code. The newest biometric locks can be accessed by several people and users can be added, removed, temporarily blocked.

Disadvantages of Biometric Locks

The main issue with a fingerprint lock is that it may fail to open when the fingers are wet or dirty. It also requires being charged and maintained from time to time.

What to Consider When Choosing a Lock Type

As mentioned above all safe locks are good and the choice of the best one depends on your preferences.

But there are also some factors that can influence the choice of the right locking mechanism:

  1. First of all, you need to take into consideration security needs: the higher they are the more quality and sophisticated lock should be. It is not a good idea to buy storage with a poor quality combination lock if you need to store very expensive stuff in it.
  2. Second of all, you need to align the purchase with your budget. If the latter is limited, it makes no sense to buy a safe with an expensive biometric lock.
  3. Size, purpose and location of your safe are also critically important when it comes to what locking mechanism to choose. If you need a compact portable box for a handgun, you would more likely benefit from the one with an electronic or biometric lock.
    And if your future gun safe will be large, rarely used and located in a garage, we`d recommend selecting the one with a combination lock as they require less maintenance.


We hope we made it clear for you what types of safe locks are the most suitable for your future safe and now you know how to pick a safe with the lock that meets your needs and demands. But if you are still not sure about it, visit our gun safe store in Las Vegas and get extensive information about various types of locks from our friendly sales team.

Written by

Kirillo Byelin
General Manager at The Safe Keeper Las Vegas
Security Safe Expert
Kirillo Byelin