May 12th, 2019

Gun Safe Great Debate — Electronic Vs. Dial Locks

Cannon EMP dual lok
Dual-Lock Technology: Cannon offers an innovative combined digital/mechanical lock system. This dual-access lock provides the rapid access of an electronic lock backed up by the assurance of a manual (rotary dial) combination lock.

Electronic (Keypad) Lock vs. Manual (Rotary) Lock

Smart gun owners know they need a good, solid gun safe. But when choosing a gun safe, what kind of lock should you select — electronic or mechanical? Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. This article will help you make the right choice for your needs and also get the most reliable performance from either type.

gunsafe gun safeGunsafes can be fitted with either an electronic keypad-style lock, or a conventional dial lock. In our Gunsafe Buyer’s Guide, we explain the important features of both dial and electronic lock systems. Many safe-makers will tell you that consumers prefer electronic locks for convenience. On the other hand, most of the locksmiths we’ve polled believe that the “old-fashioned” dial locks, such as the Sargent & Greenleaf model 6730, will be more reliable in the long run.

Here is the opinion of RFB from Michigan. He is a professional locksmith with over two decades of experience servicing locks and safes of all brands and types:

What a Professional Locksmith Says:
For the convenience of quick opening, the electronic locks can’t be beat. However, for endurance and years of trouble-free use, the electronics can’t compare with the dial lock.

I’ve earned my living, the past 22 years, servicing locks of all types. This includes opening safes that can’t otherwise be opened. I do warranty work for several safe manufacturers (including Liberty). What I’ve learned in all those years is that manual dial locks have very few problems. The most common is a loose dial ring which can shift either left or right, which will result in the index point being in the wrong place for proper tumbler alignment. This is simple to fix.

Electronic locks, however, can have all kinds of issues, and none (except bad key-pad) are easy to fix, and when one goes bad, it must be drilled into to open it. IMO, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ an electronic lock will ultimately fail, but a matter of ‘when’ it will fail. Over the past 10 years or so, since electronics have become more and more prevalent, I’ve had to drill open bad electronic locks vs. bad manual dial locks on a ratio of about 20-1.

My professional opinion is to get the manual dial lock, unless you’ve got a good friend who is a locksmith/safecracker.

How Secure is Your Lock?
RFB tells us that both dial and electronic locks offer good security, provided it’s a good quality lock made by LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, Amsec, or Kaba/Ilco. However, RFB warns that “Some of the ‘cheaper’ locks (both manual and electronic) however, are very simple to bypass.

An electronic lock that’s glued or ‘stuck’ to the door with double-sided tape, and has its ‘brain’ on the outside of the lock in the same housing as the keypad, and merely sends power to an inner solenoid via a pair of wires through the door, is a thief’s best friend. The good ones have the brain inside the safe, inaccessible from the outside.

No amateur can ‘manipulate’ either a good manual or electronic lock. Both give you a theoretical one million possible combinations. I say ‘theoretical’ because there are many combinations that cannot, or should not, be used. You wouldn’t set your combo on a dial lock to 01-01-01 etc., nor would you set an electronic to 1-1-1-1-1-1, or 1-2-3-4-5-6.”

Tips for Dial Locks
RFB notes that “The speed, and ease of use, of a manual dial lock can be improved upon, simply by having your combo reset using certain guidelines. Avoid high numbers above 50. Having a 1st number in the 40s, 2nd number anywhere from 0-25, and 3rd number between 25 and 35 will cut dialing time in half, without compromising security. (For mechanical reasons I won’t get into here, the 3rd number of a good manual dial lock cannot — or should not — be set to any number between 95 & 20).”

Tips for Electronic Locks
Electronic locks can have the combination changed by the user much more easily than dial locks. But, RFB explains: “That can be a double-edged sword. More than a few times I’ve had to drill open a safe with an electronic lock that has had the combo changed incorrectly by the user, resulting in an unknown number that nobody can determine. Also, don’t forget that electronic locks have a ‘wrong-number lock-out’. I would NOT rely on the normal quickness of an electronic 6-number combo in an emergency situation. If for any reason (panic etc.) you punch in the wrong number several times, the lock will shut down for a 5-minute ‘penalty’.

Replace Electronic Lock Batteries Every Year
To get the most life out of any electronic (keypad Lock), you should change the battery at least once a year, whether it needs it or not. Low voltage won’t necessarily shut down the lock, but using it in a low voltage situation is bad for the electronics, and eventually will cause lock failure. So, If you do nothing else to maintain your digital-lock safe, replace the battery every year. And get a fresh battery (with a release date) from the store — don’t just pull a battery out of a storage bin, even if it’s never been used. Old batteries can degrade, even when in storage.

Permalink - Articles, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
April 27th, 2019

Cannon 72-Gun Safe for $749.99 Delivered

Cannon CS72 Executive 72-gun safe vault delivered sale $749.99

We know many of our readers have large firearms collections. If you’ve been collecting guns for a decade or more, chances are you’re running out of room in your gun safe. For guys who need a bigger safe, we’ve found a REALLY BIG GUN SAFE at a great price.

Right now CostCo is offering the Cannon CS72 Executive Series 72-Gun Safe for just $749.99 DELIVERED! That’s a great price for a HUGE safe with 43.8 cubic feet of internal space. This 649-pound behemoth measures 59″H x 45″W x 28″D and weight 696 pounds (over 1/3 of a ton!). This is built strong with 1″ thick composite door, six 1″-diameter locking bolts, and 60-minute fire rating (dual expandable fire seal).

Cannon CS72 Executive 72-gun safe vault delivered sale $749.99

Shipping Included in $749.99 Price!
This $749.99 price includes “Standard shipping via common carrier” to the lower 48 states. The estimated delivery time will be approximately 7 – 10 business days from the time of order. NOTE: This is a great value. You could easily pay $1600 or more for a safe this size from a typical local vendor.

Cannon CS72 Safe Features:

72 Gun capacity — 43.8 Cubic Feet
Exterior dimensions: 59″H x 45″W x 28″D
696-pound weight (0.348 Tons)
60 minute fire rating
UL-Listed Digital lock
Triple hard plate protect lock mechanism
Six 1″-diameter active locking bolts, 14-gauge Steel Body
Dual expandable fire seal — seal expands up 12 times its size
Warranty: Free repair/replacement after Fire, Burglary, or Natural Flood

Comment About Safe Weight:
At 696 pounds, this Cannon CS72 is a HEAVY Safe. That can be a one-time negative when you are moving the safe into your house or shop. However, Big and Heavy is a big plus when it comes to security. Thieves prefer to target safes that can be moved quickly with a dolly or hand cart. Bolt this safe to your floor and it isn’t going anywhere.

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
December 13th, 2018

Smart Tip for Winter Storage in Gun Safes — Bag Your Guns

gun storage bag silicone fleece anti-corrosion safe protection

Wintertime is here, the season of cold and damp… and RUST. There’s snow on the ground in many parts of the country. If you want your fine firearms to remain pristine and rust-free through the winter months, it’s wise to protect then while they are stored in a safe. You should protect blued surfaces with a rust-blocker. In addition, we recommend storing guns in protective sleeves. Our take on Bore-Store Gun sleeves is simple: They work great, so buy them and use them — for ALL your valuable firearms.

These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coating with corrosion inhibitors. I personally use Bore-Stores for in-safe storage with all my guns, and I have never had one of my guns rust inside a Bore-Store, even when I lived a stone’s throw from the ocean.

Bore-Store Gun Sacks
Photo from Pistoleer.com, a Bore-Store vendor.

Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $13.00 – $21.00 from Brownells. For long F-Class or tactical rifles, we recommend the 10″x52″ Scoped Shotgun Bag, Brownells item 132-000-003WB. You can also order direct from the Bore-Store manufacturer, Big Spring Enterprises, www.BoreStores.com. Big Spring will also craft custom sizes on request.

Consider Military-Style, Triple-Layer Bags for Long-Term Storage
While we prefer Bore-Stores for regularly-used guns, if you have heirloom firearms that will be kept in storage for very long periods without seeing any use, you may want to grease them up and place them in the thin, but rugged three-layer storage bags sold by Brownells. The bags are made from a three-layer laminate of polyester, aluminum, and polyethylene film, with a shiny silver exterior. Though the laminate is thin, the Brownells storage bags are puncture-resistant, and have a 0% moisture transmission rating so moisture can’t get inside. These bags are also resistant to petroleum-based chemicals and they won’t break down even in contact with soil or moisture.

3-layer Brownells storage bagHere’s one VITAL bit of advice for using these bags. Be absolutely sure, before you seal up the bags, that your guns are DRY and that all metal surfaces have been coated with an effective anti-corrosive, such as BoeShield T9 or Eezox. Brownells’ storage bags are inexpensive. A three-pak of 12″x 60″ rifle sacks (item 083-055-003WB) costs just $22.99 — under eight bucks a gun. That’s cheap insurance for rifles and shotguns that may cost thousands of dollars.

Get Your Guns Out of Foam-lined Cases — They Are Rust Magnets
Just about the worst thing you can do in the winter (short of leaving your rifle outside in the rain) is to store firearms in tight, foam-padded cases. The foam in these cases actually collects and retains moisture from the air, acting as the perfect breeding ground for rust.

Foam-lined hard caseRemember, those plastic-shelled cases with foam interiors are for transport, not for long-term storage. Don’t repeat the mistake of a wealthy gun collector I know. He stored four valuable Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers in individual foam-padded cases, and locked these away in his gun safe. A year later, every one of his precious SAAs had rusted, some badly.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip No Comments »
November 14th, 2018

Winter Reminder: Check the Batteries in Your GunSafe Keypad

If the battery on your safe’s electronic lock is
more than a year old, or if it is not giving you the
right voltage, replace it today!

safe battery gunsafe sargent greenleaf

Gunsafe safe keypad control battery batteriesThis time of year, many of our readers are putting their guns away in a safe for the winter. It’s easy to just tuck the guns away and forget about them. But there’s something you should do before you shut the safe door. If you have a safe with an electronic keypad, you should replace the battery every year as a precautionary measure. Trust us, you don’t want to come back in a few months and find that the keypad memory is kaput, and you’re locked out. That can lead to frustration and an expensive locksmith visit.

Here’s a true story. I have one safe with a Sargent & Greenleaf (S&G) keypad. A couple years back, in early December, I went to get into the safe. I punched in the correct combination, but all I got was a rapid “beep, beep, beep, beep” after I finished the last combination entry. I tried again to ensure I entered the combination correctly (I did). But again, the locking system responded with multiple rapid beeps indicating something was wrong. And the safe would not open. Now I was worried….

I popped out the battery holder (which slides in from the bottom of the keypad housing on the door). I removed the battery and tested it with a volt-meter. The 12-month-old Duracell 9-volt battery only registered 6.1 volts.

Low voltage was the problem. I went down to the store and got a couple new 9V batteries. I tested the new batteries and both measured 9.4 volts output. I slipped one of the new 9V batteries into the keypad housing, punched in the combination and everything worked OK again. Eureka.

Most electronic locks for safes WILL “remember” the combination for a period of time even when the battery is low (and the keypad’s “brain” should retain the combination when you remove the battery for replacement). However, a dead battery, or extended periods of low voltage can give you problems. Don’t rely on wishful thinking…

Permalink News, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 18th, 2018

Buffalo Horizontal Gun Safe — Under Bed or in Vehicle

buffalo under bed vault gun safe horizontal
Now on SALE for $279.00 (20% Off), this horizontal safe normally retails for $346.93.

We like innovative security solutions. The standard “big box” gun safe is not ideal for all situations. Here’s a new gun vault primarily designed for under-bed placement in a house, but it can also be installed in a vehicle. Bolt it to the bed of a pick-up truck or the back of an SUV. The full width is 48″ so it will fit most trucks and many sport/utility vehicles.*

buffalo under bed vault gun safe horizontal

This Buffalo Horizontal Gun Safe offers three cubic feet of storage though it is just 7 inches high. The 46″ W x 26″ D x 5″ H slide-out drawer is secured with a digital lock with back-up key. Under-bed installation keeps your firearms “out of sight but close at hand”. The felt-lined sliding horizontal compartment holds up to 100 pounds of firearms and valuables. This won’t hold a long target rifle, but it’s plenty big enough to hold an AR15 or Shotgun and multiple pistols.

This gun vault features a pry resistant steel door and 14 gauge (2mm thick) steel body. NOTE: This vault is NOT fire rated — it is intended for secure storage and theft prevention only. For added security, we recommend bolting this Buffalo vault to the floor.

Overall External dimensions: 48″ W x 28″ D x 7″ H
Inside Vault dimensions: 46″ W x 26″ D x 5″ H, three cubic feet
Weight as Assembled: 130 pounds


* Vehicle Installation: You need at least 48″ side-to-side clearance and 28″ front-to-back space to fit this vault in a vehicle. While you can lock an SUV, this vault give you an added measure of protection and secures items from view. This vault also ensures compliance with states requiring fireams to be in separate, locked compartments during transport.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
July 22nd, 2018

Hang Your Handguns to Conserve Safe Space

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wire

If you’re looking for a space-saving handgun storage system, consider the Easy Use Gun Hangers from USA GunClub. These vinyl-coated, wire hangers organize handguns below the shelves in your gunsafe, freeing up storage space above the shelves. To use the handgun hangers, simply slide each hanger on the shelf and then slip your pistol’s barrel over the lower rod. Handgun Hangers are intended for guns with an overall length of 10 inches or shorter. They will fit shelves that are at least 11 inches deep and 5/8-1 inch in thickness. Handgun Hangers will hold handguns .22 caliber and up, though the fit is a bit snug on .22s. A four-pack of Handgun Hangers costs $8.99. This product is now Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among handgun storage accessories.

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wire

WARNING — Always Make Sure Handgun is UNLOADED when using Handgun Hangers!!

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wireUSA GunClub also offers an Over-Under Hanger that holds two handguns — one above the shelf, and one below. A two-pack of Over-Under Hangers (capable of holding four handguns) costs $7.99. This may be a good solution for you. This Editor personally prefers the standard Handgun Hanger, so I can use the upper surface of the shelf to hold odd-shaped items such as cameras, binoculars, and miscellaneous valuables.

Permalink Handguns, New Product 2 Comments »
May 27th, 2018

Smart Safe Light Turns On and Off Automatically

Sensor Lockcown Battenfeld Vault Safe LED Light motion sensor

Wouldn’t it be great if the lamp in your safe would switch ON as you open the vault door, then shut itself off automatically when you close the safe? Well, that is now possible with the new Automatic Cordless Vault Light from Lockdown (a Battenfeld Technologies brand). This unit features 25 LEDs to provide bright illumination in your gunsafe. A sophisticated, automatic light/motion sensor turns the vault light ON when you open the vault, and then turns the unit OFF after you close the safe. This nice bit of technology retails for $40.99. That’s a bit pricey, but the convenience factor may justify the investment for folks who access their safes frequently.

Product Description

  • Automatic ON/OFF operation triggered by light and motion sensor
  • Two 25 LED lights with 70 Lumens output each
  • Uses 3 ‘AAA’ batteries each (not included)
  • Strong magnet or screw attachment
  • 6 hours continuous runtime per light
  • Standby time 8,700 hours
  • Sensor range 5 meters

There is also a smaller, less expensive 5-LED dome model with a light-sensing mode that turns the unit on as you open the vault door. The 5-LED Automatic Cordless Vault Light can be set to automatically turn on as the vault door is opened and ambient light is detected. A selectable, manual on/off mode is incorporated as well. MSRP is $14.99, product number 222809.

Lockdown Vault Safe Automatic light lamp LED motion sensor

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
December 15th, 2015

Modular Gunsafes — the Bolt-Together Zanotti Safe

Zanotti take-down gunsafes

We bolt together bridges and pre-fab houses, so why not gunsafes? It fact there is a modular safe the ships in pieces and bolts together on site. Modular design allows a big, full-size safe to be transported much more easily than a conventional safe (that might weigh 1200 pounds or more). The Zanotti modular safe arrives in sections, none weighing more than 170 pounds. It is assembled in place, then can be dis-assembled when you need to move. The Zanotti is also well-suited for a gun-owner who lives in an apartment up many flights of stairs.

Zanotti Gun safeZanotti Armor safes are ideal for gun owners who need to move frequently or who live in a location where it is difficult to position a conventional safe. Zanotti safes arrive in three or four discrete shipping boxes. The safe is assembled by the owner, on site, in six steps. The heaviest component is the door, weighing 110 pounds in the 16-gun ZAI safe, and 175 pounds in the largest 52-gun ZAIII model. Five safe models are offered, ranging from 350 to 925 pounds assembled weight, without interior. Zanotti safes are popular with military personnel and others whose jobs force them to re-locate often. The safe can be assembled in under 30 minutes with no tools other than a hammer, and all you need is a hand dolly to move any component.

Guns Magazine reports: “The panels are interlocked by 3/8 inch, nickel-plated steel “L” shaped pins that slip into steel tubing sections welded to the interior surfaces of the panels. The slip fit is held to a tolerance of .003 inch, and the safes are completely assembled and hand-fitted at the factory to insure the panels will align properly. The body is made from 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch steel; the door from 3/16 inch steel; the locking bolts are 3/4 inch steel.” This is heavier gauge steel than you’ll find on most conventional gun safes.

Zanotti offers many deluxe interiors including a system of roll-out sliding drawers in the bottom of the safe. We think the sliding drawers are ideal for storing handguns and expensive items such as cameras and binoculars that you want to keep out of plain view. Mark Zanotti, the innovative creator of these modular safes, can also customize any interior to suit the customer’s particular needs.

Editor’s Note: For most applications, a conventional safe is still the best choice. Bolted in place, a conventional safe with welded walls will provide the best security and a conventional safe can provide increased fire protection. Zanotti safes do not employ a separate layer of sheet-rock or ceramic fire lining. The Zanotti is a special product for gun-owners with special needs. The units are well-made and Zanotti offers many nice custom interior features that you won’t find even on much more expensive conventional safes.

To learn more about gunsafe features and fire-proofing, read our Gunsafe Buyers’ Guide.

Permalink Gear Review 4 Comments »
December 11th, 2014

New Pistol Storage Solutions Use Gun Safe Space Efficiently

There are many different systems for storing handguns in a gun safe: coated wire racks (with U-shaped baskets), wood racks, plastic racks, rotary racks, door-mount brackets, door-mount holsters, and vertical shelving units. The rotary racks take up a lot of vertical space (and have a fairly large footprint), while the wire racks use up considerable horizontal space for their capacity.

If you’re looking for the most space-efficient, in-safe handgun storage system, consider the clever Handgun Hangers from Gun Storage Solutions. These vinyl-coated, wire hangers organize handguns below the shelf, freeing up storage space above the shelf. You simply slide each hanger on the shelf and then slip your pistol’s barrel over the lower rod. Handgun Hangers are intended for guns with an overall length of 10 inches or shorter. They will fit shelves that are at least 11 inches deep and 5/8-1 inch in thickness. Handgun Hangers will hold handguns .22 caliber and up, though the fit is a bit snug on .22s. A four-pack of Handgun Hangers costs $15.14.

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wire

WARNING — Always Make Sure Handgun is UNLOADED when using Handgun Hangers!!

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wire

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wireGun Storage Solutions also offers an Over-Under Hanger that holds two handguns — one above the shelf, and one below. A two-pack of Over-Under Hangers (capable of holding four handguns) costs $16.96. This may be a good solution for you. This editor personally prefers the standard model, so I can use the upper surface of the shelve to hold odd-shaped items such as cameras, binoculars, and miscellaneous valuables.

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wire

Magnetic Gun Caddy for Safe Doors or Walls

hand gun storage solution under shelf handgun hanger coated wireMany gun owners like to mount handguns on the inside door panel of their gun safes. If this doesn’t interfere with your long gun storage, this can be a smart solution. Most of the door-mount units require special holsters or a series of peg-board style hangers. That may not work if the exposed inside of your door is bare metal. Here’s a smart solution from Benchmaster. The new two-pistol Magnetic WeaponRAC has four magnetic strips that allow the $24.99 two-gun caddy to mount directly to a metal door surface or the inner side-walls of your safe. If your safe door and walls are carpet-lined, there is also a two-pistol WeaponRAC Caddy with Velcro Mounts. A single-pistol caddy is also offered in both magnetic and Velcro versions.

Editor’s Comment: If you only have 3 or 4 handguns, you may want to avoid racks altogether. Our preferred solution for 3-4 handguns is to place each gun in a synthetic fabric BoreStores sack and then line them up on the end of the top shelf in the safe. The silicone-treated BoreStores sacks wick away moisture and provide vital cushioning for the gun. This works fine for a small collection. If you have lots of wheelguns and pistols, however, look into the Handgun Hangers — they really are a space-saving solution.

Permalink New Product, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 14th, 2014

Wireless Sensor Measures Temp and Humidity Inside Gun Safe

Golden rod hygrometer wireless sensorHere’s a smart new product that monitors the temperature and humidity inside your gun safe — with a convenient LCD display unit located on the outside of the safe. You don’t need to string wires or cut a small hole in your safe — there are two separate components, one inside and one outside. The sensor unit (on the inside) communicates wirelessly with the display unit (on the outside).

The new GoldenRod Wireless Hygrometer was designed to display the temp/humidity in your safe without the need to open the safe. NOTE: the wireless LCD display can show BOTH in-vault AND in-room humidity and temperature levels. You can attach the display to the vault door with its built-in magnet, or simply place the display unit on top of the safe using the handy flip-out kickstand. The unit costs just $20.89 at Amazon.com.

Golden rod hygrometer wireless sensor

Golden rod hygrometer wireless sensor
Golden rod hygrometer wireless sensor

GoldenRod Wireless Hygrometer Specifications and Features:

  • Measures In-Vault and In-Room humidity from 20% to 95%.
  • Measures In-Vault temperature range from 14°F to 122°F.
  • Measures In-Room temperature range from -4°F to 158°F.
  • Records Min/Max temperature and humidity history.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
December 7th, 2013

Electronic vs. Dial Locks on Gunsafes

gunsafe gun safeGunsafes can be fitted with either an electronic keypad-style lock, or a conventional dial lock. In our Gunsafe Buyer’s Guide, we explain the important features of both dial and electronic lock systems. Many safe-makers will tell you that consumers prefer electronic locks for convenience. On the other hand, most of the locksmiths we’ve polled believe that the “old-fashioned” dial locks, such as the Sargent & Greenleaf model 6730, will be more reliable in the long run.

Here is the opinion of RFB from Michigan. He is a professional locksmith with over two decades of experience servicing locks and safes of all brands and types:

What a Professional Locksmith Says:
For the convenience of quick opening, the electronic locks can’t be beat. However, for endurance and years of trouble-free use, the electronics can’t compare with the dial lock.

I’ve earned my living, the past 22 years, servicing locks of all types. This includes opening safes that can’t otherwise be opened. I do warranty work for several safe manufacturers (including Liberty). What I’ve learned in all those years is that manual dial locks have very few problems. The most common is a loose dial ring which can shift either left or right, which will result in the index point being in the wrong place for proper tumbler alignment. This is simple to fix.

Electronic locks, however, can have all kinds of issues, and none (except bad key-pad) are easy to fix, and when one goes bad, it must be drilled into to open it. IMO, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ an electronic lock will ultimately fail, but a matter of ‘when’ it will fail. Over the past 10 years or so, since electronics have become more and more prevalent, I’ve had to drill open bad electronic locks vs. bad manual dial locks on a ratio of about 20-1.

My professional opinion is to get the manual dial lock, unless you’ve got a good friend who is a locksmith/safecracker.

How Secure is Your Lock?
RFB tells us that both dial and electronic locks offer good security, provided it’s a good quality lock made by LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, Amsec, or Kaba/Ilco. However, RFB warns that “Some of the ‘cheaper’ locks (both manual and electronic) however, are very simple to bypass.

An electronic lock that’s glued or ‘stuck’ to the door with double-sided tape, and has its ‘brain’ on the outside of the lock in the same housing as the keypad, and merely sends power to an inner solenoid via a pair of wires through the door, is a thief’s best friend. The good ones have the brain inside the safe, inaccessible from the outside.

No amateur can ‘manipulate’ either a good manual or electronic lock. Both give you a theoretical one million possible combinations. I say ‘theoretical’ because there are many combinations that cannot, or should not, be used. You wouldn’t set your combo on a dial lock to 01-01-01 etc., nor would you set an electronic to 1-1-1-1-1-1, or 1-2-3-4-5-6.”

Tips for Dial Locks
RFB notes that “The speed, and ease of use, of a manual dial lock can be improved upon, simply by having your combo reset using certain guidelines. Avoid high numbers above 50. Having a 1st number in the 40s, 2nd number anywhere from 0-25, and 3rd number between 25 and 35 will cut dialing time in half, without compromisuing security. (For mechanical reasons I won’t get into here, the 3rd number of a good manual dial lock cannot — or should not — be set to any number between 95 & 20).”

Tips for Electronic Locks
Electronic locks can have the combination changed by the user much more easily than dial locks. But, RFB explains: “That can be a double-edged sword. More than a few times I’ve had to drill open a safe with an electronic lock that has had the combo changed incorrectly by the user, resulting in an unknown number that nobody can determine. Also, don’t forget that electronic locks have a ‘wrong-number lock-out’. I would NOT rely on the normal quickness of an electronic 6-number combo in an emergency situation. If for any reason (panic etc.) you punch in the wrong number several times, the lock will shut down for a 5-minute ‘penalty’.

LaGard electronic locks all come from the assembly line set to 1-2-3-4-5-6. Most safe companies (Granite-Winchester is one) leave it at that, and either the retailer or the end user must reset it. My local Walmart store had those same Winchester safes on display, and one day I was in the sporting goods section near the safe display, and another customer asked the Walmart employee if she could open the safe so he could look inside. She said “no, sorry, I don’t have the combination handy”. I walked over, never said a word… just punched in 1-2-3-4-5-6, turned the handle opening the door, and walked away… again not saying a word. They both just looked at me… dumbfounded that I could open it like that.

To get the most life out of that LaGard [or other electronic lock], you should change the battery at least once a year, whether it needs it or not. Low voltage won’t necessarily shut down the lock, but using it in a low voltage situation is bad for the electronics, and eventually will cause lock failure. C’mon, how much does a 9-volt Duracell cost? A few bucks is a good investment.”

IMPORTANT: If you do nothing else to maintain your digital-lock safe, replace the battery every year. And get a fresh battery (with a release date) from the store — don’t just pull a battery out of a storage bin, even if it’s never been used. Old batteries can degrade, even when in storage.

Safe Warranties — What is NOT Covered
RFB cautions that “With most gunsafes the ‘free repair/replacement’ warranty covers the lock only… not the door of the safe, which will have some holes drilled through it to remove that bad lock. The only proper way to repair those holes is to weld them. I don’t know about you, but most of my customers don’t like welding done inside their home, and the safe must be moved outside. Warranties typically won’t cover that moving cost if your safe is in a difficult to move outside location. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that.”

Permalink - Articles, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
November 8th, 2013

Innovative Modular 60" x 22" Gunsafe Latches Together

snapsafe gunsafeGenerally you want the biggest, heaviest gunsafe you can afford. However, for many gun owners, a 1000+ pound behemoth is impractical. For those who relocate frequently for their jobs, or who live up many flights of stairs, it is more practical to have a safe that breaks down into separate pieces for storage. In our Guide to Gunsafes, we reviewed the Zanotti Safe, a quality modular safe that breaks down into smaller, lighter components. Now there is a new type of modular safe that is more affordable than the Zanotti. Snapsafe’s Titan safe ships in three (3) flat boxes. Simply unpack the components and assemble the 330-lb. Titan on-site in about 30 minutes without tools.

Watch video to see how the SnapSafe Titan clamps together with steel latches:

The SnapSafe™ Titan holds 10 rifles, weighs 330 lbs. assembled, and measures 60” H x 22” W x 17.5”. Side panels are 1/8″ steel and the door is 3/16”steel secured by eight 3/4″ live locking bolts. SnapSafe claims that its patented “Latch Wall Assembly” can be stronger than conventional welded construction. The safe does have some nice security features, including a Sargent & Greenleaf® digital lock, and spring-loaded relocker. We are pleased to see the safe comes with fire-sealing gaskets lining the door frame. These gaskets, combined with ceramic wool blankets in the walls provide a claimed one hour of fire protection against temperatures up to 2300ºF.

SnapSafe sells its Titan 10-Gun safe on SnapSafe.com for $899.00 (without shipping). The same safe is currently on sale at Midsouth Shooters Supply for $956.42 as a dropship item. Depending on your location, it may be less expensive to buy the SnapSafe from MidSouth.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review No Comments »
April 15th, 2013

Superior’s Super-Sized Safe — For Really BIG Gun Collections

Bigger is Better?
Yes, size matters — at least when it comes to gun safes. Is your current safe bursting at the seams with your ever-growing firearms collection? Perhaps you need a little more vertical clearance for your Lahti L-39 or favorite Punt Gun? Well Superior Safe Co. has a solution for you — a humongous safe that stands 10-feet tall and weighs more than a pick-up truck. For reference, the young man in the picture, Greg from Pyramyd Air, is an honest 6’3″ tall.

Sized Right — For a 7-Footer
Now if you’re not an NBA center, the lock placement on this jumbo safe is not very practical. We note that the keypad is a good foot above Greg’s head, making access somewhat difficult for the “vertically challenged” customer. We’re not sure what Superior Safe hand in mind there — unless this mega-safe was really created for Shaquille O’Neal or Yao Ming. Still, Americans love big stuff — big cars, big houses, and, of course, big guns. At least if you purchase one of these monsters, you’ll have the peace of mind that a smash-and-grab thief can’t roll it away on a hand dolly. Superior Safe, which displayed this yellow giant at last year’s NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits, explains that this is a “custom model” not on the normal price list — face it, if you need to ask about the price, you can’t afford it. Joking aside, if you really need this kind of capacity for a firearms collection (with a punt gun or Lahti), you’d be wise to consider a custom walk-in vault, built into a room in your house. (Safe photo courtesy Pyramyd Air.)

What is a Punt Gun?
A punt gun is an extremely large shotgun used in the 19th and early 20th centuries for shooting large numbers of waterfowl for commercial harvesting operations and private sport. Punt guns could have bore diameters exceeding 2 inches (51 mm) and fire over a pound of shot at a time. A single shot could kill over 50 waterfowl resting on the water’s surface. Punt guns were too big to hold so they were often mounted directly on the punts (boats) used for hunting, hence their name. Generally the gun was fixed to the punt, requiring the hunter to manuever the entire boat to aim the gun. Firing the gun often propelled the punt backwards from recoil. Sometimes fleets of punt gun-boats were used together. In the United States, this practice depleted stocks of wild waterfowl and by the 1860s most states had banned the practice. In the United Kingdom, a 1995 survey showed fewer than 50 active punt guns still in use. UK law limits punt guns to a bore diameter of 1.75 inches (1 1/8 pounder). Learn more at Wikipedia.com.

Lahti L-39 photo, courtesy Gordon Greene, originally appeared in The Gun Zone.

Permalink New Product, News 2 Comments »
December 15th, 2012

No More Excuses — Get a Safe for Your Guns

In light of the tragic events in Connecticut, we strongly urge all readers to secure their firearms so they cannot be accessed by juveniles or mentally unstable persons in the household. If you don’t have a gun safe, get one. Don’t procrastinate because of cost factors — here is an affordable option you can get from Walmart. The $597.00 24-gun Cannon Safe is big enough to hold a large collection of arms and heavy enough that it would be difficult to remove — particularly if it is bolted down. Yes, there are better-built safes. But this $597.00 Cannon is a viable option if you can’t afford anything of higher quality. You want a safe that is big and heavy enough that it can’t be easily hauled off with a hand truck. For more information on Gun Safes, read our Gun Safe Buyers’ Guide

The Cannon Safari Series 24-Gun Capacity gun safe comes with a built-in door panel organizer, electronic lock, and a 30-minute fire rating. The interior is fully lined with lint-free fabric and the bottom is pre-drilled for bolting the safe to the floor. The electronic lock allows the owner to change the combination and a 9-volt battery is changed from the outside. Its door is locked with steel-active locking bolts on the left side and door wraps around the inside right side.

  • 30-minute fire protection rating
  • Internal hinges and expandable smoke seal
  • Adjustable shelving
  • Dimensions: 59″H x 26″W x 22″D (depth includes handle and lock)
  • Model# 5926BLKEDOK

UPDATE: Bulletin Reader Michael found that TractorSupply.com has a similar 60″ x 26″ x 20″ Cannon TS6026E Challenger Gun Safe on sale for just $449.99 through December 18th, 2012. That’s the web price, but if you need delivery you have to add $100.00 for oversized shipping. If you can get to a local Tractor Supply Co. outlet near you and pick the safe up yourself, this may be an amazing deal if the store honors the web price. Don’t dawdle — Sale ends December 18th!

Cannon Safe Tractor Supply Sale

Permalink Hot Deals 4 Comments »
August 23rd, 2012

Pendleton Safes Offers Free Shipping through October 15

Pendleton round safe

Pendleton round safeIf you live out in the country, far away from a major safe manufacturer or distributor, you know that shipping fees can significantly increase the complete, installed cost of a large gun safe. Here’s an offer that could save you hundreds of dollars on a large, high-capacity safe.

Now through October 15, 2012, Pendleton Safes (of of Loganville, GA) is offering FREE Shipping on all safe orders shipped to the lower 48 United States. This offer is available on any size safe, and is available directly to the public. For complete details, visit www.pendletonsafes.com, email info [at] pendletonsafes.com, or call 770-466-6181.

About Pendleton Safes
Pendleton Safes is an American manufacture of custom-built gun safes. Pendleton has pioneered some noteworthy design features. Pendleton specializes in cylindrical safes with curved walls. This design resists attacks, and it also allows the safe to be fitted with a permanent carousel-style gun storage system (see photo on right). The carousel provides fast access to your firearms — up to 40 long guns and 54 pistols in the largest Pendleton safes. Pendleton can even equip safes with motor-driven carousels. Built-in LED lighting is also available. We strongly recommend equipping any safe you own with interior lighting.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 1 Comment »
July 6th, 2012

Truck-Vaults Provide Secure Storage for Expensive Arms

A custom, high-end Benchrest, F-Class, or High Power rifle can cost upwards of $4000.00. Some of the latest scopes (March, Schmidt & Bender) cost $2000-$2800 by themselves. If you’re transporting three or four “ultimate rifles” with premium scopes to the range, you could be hauling $16,000 worth of firearms. Bring along a rangefinder, Co-Axial rest, spotting scope, and chronograph, and that could push the total closer to $20,000.

How do you safeguard that kind of investment (without driving around in a Brinks armored truck)? One of the best storage systems available is the Truck-Vault, built in Washington state. Truck-vaults are custom-fitted, locking storage cabinets that fit in a Pick-up truck bed, SUV, or station wagon. Various designs are available, including a waterproof “Extreme Series.” Both single-drawer and multi-draw layouts are offered with lengths up to 60″ overall, and top-load capacity of 2000 pounds. A variety of interior configurations are available.

For transporting scoped match rifles, we suggest Truck-Vault’s “Magnum Line”, which has two drawers with 10.5″ of vertical clearance. This offers two primary sliding compartments (on roller casters), plus smaller storage boxes where you can keep valuable gear securely out of sight.

Truck-Vault Video Showing Break-In Attempt

Truck-Vaults carry a big price-tag. SUV models start at $1355.00, but expect to pay closer to $2000.00 for a unit with all the bells and whistles. Balance that cost against the value of the all firearms and accessories you are transporting. If you spend much time on the road with a pricey collection of guns, optics, and accessories, a Truck-Vault may be a wise investment. This editor first saw a Truck-Vault on a Chevy Suburban belonging to an Arizona gunsmith who does a lot of work for the military. It was not unusual for him to haul $50,000 worth of Class III weapons. For him, the Truck-Vault was an essential security feature. For more info, visit TruckVault.com or call (800) 967-8107.

Permalink Gear Review 4 Comments »
March 5th, 2012

Modular Zanotti Safes Offer Easy Installation

We’ve received inquiries from readers who are looking for a gunsafe that is big and strong but can be broken down and transported more easily that a typical 800 to 1200-lb safe. One product that fits the bill is the Zanotti modular safe. It arrives in sections, none weighing more than 170 pounds. It is assembled in place, then can be dis-assembled when you need to move. The Zanotti is also well-suited for a gun-owner who lives in an apartment up many flights of stairs.

Zanotti take-down gunsafes

Zanotti Gun safeZanotti Armor safes are ideal for gun owners who need to move frequently or who live in a location where it is difficult to position a conventional safe. Zanotti safes arrive in three or four discrete shipping boxes. The safe is assembled by the owner, on site, in six steps. The heaviest component is the door, weighing 110 pounds in the 16-gun ZAI safe, and 175 pounds in the largest 52-gun ZAIII model. Five safe models are offered, ranging from 350 to 925 pounds assembled weight, without interior. Zanotti safes are popular with military personnel and others whose jobs force them to re-locate often. The safe can be assembled in under 30 minutes with no tools other than a hammer, and all you need is a hand dolly to move any component.

Guns Magazine reports: “The panels are interlocked by 3/8 inch, nickel-plated steel “L” shaped pins that slip into steel tubing sections welded to the interior surfaces of the panels. The slip fit is held to a tolerance of .003 inch, and the safes are completely assembled and hand-fitted at the factory to insure the panels will align properly. The body is made from 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch steel; the door from 3/16 inch steel; the locking bolts are 3/4 inch steel.” This is heavier gauge steel than you’ll find on most conventional gun safes.

Zanotti offers many deluxe interiors including a system of roll-out sliding drawers in the bottom of the safe. We think the sliding drawers are ideal for storing handguns and expensive items such as cameras and binoculars that you want to keep out of plain view. Mark Zanotti, the innovative creator of these modular safes, can also customize any interior to suit the customer’s particular needs.

Editor’s Note: For most applications, a conventional safe is still the best choice. Bolted in place, a conventional safe with welded walls will provide the best security and a conventional safe can provide increased fire protection. Zanotti safes do not employ a separate layer of sheet-rock or ceramic fire lining. The Zanotti is a special product for gun-owners with special needs. The units are well-made and Zanotti offers many nice custom interior features that you won’t find even on much more expensive conventional safes.

To learn more about gunsafe features and fire-proofing, read our Gunsafe Buyers’ Guide.

Permalink Gear Review 2 Comments »
February 13th, 2012

New Rapid-Access Under-Desk Handgun Safe from GunVault

Here’s smart new product for someone who wants to keep a handgun safely secured, but quickly accessible under a desk at home or at a business. The new SpeedVault (from GunVault) is a drop-down safe that can be mounted under a desk or in various concealed locations. The handgun is cradled in a a holster-like protective foam lined interior. The SpeedVault offers a combination of covert placement and fast, reliable access.

The SpeedVault is constructed of tamper-proof, 18-gauge steel and available in digital lock or biometric finger print scanner. An activation button triggers a spring-loaded door that not only has a high-strength lock mechanism, but also performs reliably, time after time. Foolproof security is ensured with an audio and LED low battery indicator to help guard against direct tampering and unexpected power loss. Mounting hardware is included. The SpeedVault comes in two models, the SV 500 (with standard lock) for $199.99, and the SVB 500 (with fingerprint lock system) for $319.99. Dimensions are the same for both units: Width: 3.5″ W x 6.5″ front to back x 13″ top to bottom.

Fingerprint-Reading Biometrics (SVB Model Only)
The higher-priced SpeedVault Bio handgun safe uses biometrics, specifically fingerprint recognition, to access the safe contents rapidly. A high-performance algorithm is used to achieve speedy identification of enrolled fingerprints and at the same time has a very low False Reject Rate (FRR). The self-learning algorithm adds new details to the fingerprint templates each time a user touches the fingerprint sensor, reducing the chance of FRR. The system can handle up to 120 fingerprint templates.

Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
August 14th, 2011

Handgun Storage Options for Your Gunsafe

handgun safe rackThere are many ways to store handguns in gun safe. including hanging your handguns on the inside door panel with Velcro straps or Velcro-equipped sleeves. Some folks try wood pegs for the triggerguards. The problem with these methods is that it’s just too easy for Velcro to work loose, or a peg to come out. End result is a dropped pistol. Also, placing your handguns on a door makes them highly visible. That’s a bad idea if your safe is placed in an open area such as a garage or game room.

Our first choice is to place handguns in lockable, sliding drawers inside the safe. Tucked inside silicon-treated Bore-Store bags, and then laid flat inside a drawer, handguns are safe, secure and out of sight. Unfortunately, few safe-makers offer sliding drawer options. If you have a large-enough safe, you can fit your own lockable drawer unit or small file cabinet with locks. These can be purchased at office supply stores or Home Depot type outlets.

If you have limited space in your safe, we recommended the vinyl-covered metal handgun racks from Versatile Rack Company. The 4-Gun rack has approximately the same footprint as a single handgun laying flat. These racks have a strong, welded-steel frame, vinyl-coated to protect the finish of your pistols. We’ve found these work for virtually all size handguns, both semi-autos and revolvers, even when the guns are placed in Bore-Store bags. In fact the fit is just about perfect if you first place a handgun in a Bore-Store bag, which provides about 1/4″ of padding all around the gun.

handgun safe rack

Versatile now offers multiple models, with capacities from a single handgun up to 10 pistols. These can be purchased directly from Versatile, starting at $69.99, but other vendors sell them for less. MidwayUSAhas Versatile racks at these price: $12.49 (2-gun, item 953403) $19.99 (4-gun, item 953075), $24.49 (6-gun, item 275638), $32.99 (8-gun, item 111468). Click HERE for a 360-degree view of the 4-gun unit. There is also an optional stacking unit, shown below.

handgun safe rack

One of the better “on-door” solutions is “The Holster”, a door-top rack from Rack ‘Em Racks. The top bracket secures to the door edge with self-tapping screws. Handguns are held muzzle-down in a plastic-coated wire frame. The installation is quite secure and this system gives you very fast access to your handguns. However, this unit requires that you adjust the top shelf of your safe to fit below your longest-barreled handgun. And, unless you have a very deep safe, you have to clear off most of the items on one side of the top shelf, to avoid interference when you close the safe door. Still, Rack Em’s vertical door rack is a smart design, one that uses space much more efficiently than a door full of separate wire brackets or pegs. Price is $39.99 at Cabelas.com.

Rack 'Em Holster Pistol Rack

One other interesting design is the rotary handgun rack. Hyskore offers a 9-Gun Rotary Pistol Rack (item IJ-229069) that looks well-built, and is fairly compact. Like a carousel, it spins to allow easy access to your handguns. It features foam-padded cradles, and an oak-verneer finish. The price is $45.99 at MidwayUSA,. Unfortunately, with a compact 12″-diameter base, there is not enough clearance for scoped revolvers or pistols with red-dot sights. And, from a safety standpoint, we’d rather see the pistols stored muzzle-down than muzzle-up. Still it looks like a clever, compact design that will work with most handguns.

Hyskore 9-Gun Rotary Pistol Rack
handgun rotary rack

An even more efficient use of space is achieved with a two-tier “bunkbed-style” pistol rack. This will hold a large collection of pistols in a relatively compact space. Gun-Racks.com offers two-tier pistol racks with 10-gun ($104.00), 12-gun ($115.00), or 16-gun ($125.00) capacities. For five ollars more (per size) you can get an elevated model with mag storage. These racks are crafted from wood, with soft Rayon fabric on the sections contacting your guns. These well-made racks pack a lot of guns in a small space. However, the barrel slots are only 2.5″ apart. So you do get a very compact footprint, but the trade-off is a tight fit on larger handguns.

handgun two-level safe rack

If you have large hunting handguns with top-mounted scopes, or bullseye pistols with fat target grips, consider the Hyskore Modular Rack which holds guns with the barrel on top and level, so there is plenty of clearance for scopes. Hyskore racks are made of soft, closed-cell foam that won’t scratch metal and won’t absorb moisture. Guns are stored in individual foam bins that can be connected together horizontally.The width of each individual bin can be adjusted to fit even very wide target grips. Hyskore racks come in sets of three foam bins. Using 3/16″ threaded crosspins, you can combine the bins into one, long secure unit running the full width of a shelf.

CLICK HERE for Hyskore Rack DEMO VIDEO

handgun safe rack

Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
February 27th, 2011

New Cannon Commander Safe Has the ‘Right Stuff’

Cannon Safe has a new series of gunsafes with many smart features that we wish were found on ALL premium safes. There are many other quality safes out there, but we were pleased to see how Cannon equips its new Commander Series Safes. Whether you end up with a Cannon safe or not, if you are shopping for large gun safes, check to see whether it offers these important features found in the Cannon Commanders:

Reinforced Steel Frame
Cannon Commanders has a 5.75″ double-steel composite door, double-steel reinforced door frame, multiple re-lockers and 1.5″ active-locking bolts on the top, side and bottom of the door. Each safe is predrilled for floor bolting.

High-Quality Lock
Too many gunsafes have cheap digital locks that can fail unpredictably. We recommend that all gunsafes have commercial grade rotary (mechanical), or digital locks. On Cannon’s Commander safes, contents are accessed with a commercial grade Type 1 electronic lock that is backlit and protected with three layers of extra-hard 60+ RC steel hard-plate. You can also order a mechanical lock if you prefer. A good commercial-grade mechanical lock, maintained properly, will last a couple lifetimes.

Door Seal that Expands with Heat
A good door seal is really important in the “real world” ability of a safe to protect its contents during a fire. Many other safes claim fire-protection because they have some sheet rock panels inside, but they lack critical door-sealing. The Commander Series has an Intertek-ETL verified fire rating of 1200° F for 90 minutes and features a triple fin intumescent cold smoke expandable seal and heat-activated door seal that expands when exposed to heat.

Internal Power and Computer Hook-ups
A state-of-the-art internal power supply system with two 110 power outlets, USB port and RJ45 Ethernet connection keep computers and other electronics charged and connected. An electric dehumidifier is available as an option.

Built-In LED Lighting
In our Gun Safe Buyers’ Guide, we recommend the use of efficient LED light clusters. Cannon has gone this one better, with multidirectional LED lights that activate when the door is opened and shut off when closed, providing a bright clear view of the safe’s contents.

Versatile Door Storage System
Many safe owners like to use the door for rapid access to handguns, knives, Maglites, tools, and other security gear. The Cannon Commander Safes ship with a custom door panel organizer that holds dozens of handguns and accessories.

Cannon Commander Safes are offered in two models and six colors (gloss black, matte black, gray, white, tan, dark red, and green). Cannon offers a lifetime, hassle-free, zero-cost warranty. If a Cannon safe is ever damaged due to a fire, natural flood, or burglary Cannon will cover all costs to repair or replace the safe, even if the owner is not the original purchaser. (Contents are not covered).

Model: Commander CO43
Factory-Direct Price: $3,149.21
Weight:1457 lbs.
Dimensions:72”x40”x28” (depth includes dial and handle)
Gun Capacity: 36 (actual capacity can vary depending on gun size)

Model: Commander CO54
Factory-Direct Price: $3,519.81
Weight:1672 lbs.
Dimensions:72”x50”x28” (depth includes dial and handle)
Gun Capacity: 48 (actual capacity can vary depending on gun size)

Permalink New Product No Comments »