A quick-access gun safe is a must-have for a home with handguns to:
- have it ready at a moment’s notice
- keep it away from untrained family members and guests
- secure it in the event of a break-in
And, a few good safe accessories to organize and keep your guns in mint condition is a close second.
Today, our focus is how well that safe can keep your guns away from small children, teenagers, guests, and anyone who might attempt to break into a home and think it would be easy to steal your gun.
Turns out, many of those sold do a lousy job of securing your weapon!
In fact, many gun safes have been recalled or pulled from shelves because of vulnerabilities that allow users to open the safes using common household objects, or defects that cause the locking mechanism to function incorrectly.
Did you register your purchase so that you could get spammed . . . er, I mean notified of a recall?
Either way, here are nine popular gun safes that you should avoid if you are looking to purchase one to add to your home security plan.
Capacity: 1 Handgun
Exploit: Using a paperclip to pull the release wire
The GunVault GVB1000 is a handgun safe that relies on biometrics – it uses a fingerprint pad to open the safe. However, when you straighten a paperclip and then curve it in a few spots, you can insert it into the small holes in the side of the safe and pull the release wire, opening the safe. While this does not damage the inside of the safe or the electronic components, it is a major issue.
Think a thief could get that done in the 45 minutes it takes some police departments to respond to a home security system alarm?
Yeah, me too!
Hmm, I wonder if the Gunvault 2000 we reviewed has the same problems.
Capacity: 1 Handgun
Exploit: Lock can be picked with a paperclip
The Bighorn P-20 security is a safe that uses a keypad to open. Unfortunately, you can easily remove the cover on top of the safe to get to the lock underneath and one of the holes that held the cover in place. From there, you can insert a wire, such as a straightened paperclip that has been curved into the shape of a coat hanger hook, to go around the lock cylinder and poke the release. Then, the safe opens.
Share with your friends! Consider it a public service.
Hornady Rapid Safe
Capacity: 1 Handgun
Exploit: Disassembling and Using a Paperclip to Open Safe
The Hornady Rapid Safe is an electronic safe that can be opened using a keypad, yet also has a sensor that allows for other means of opening as well – including a keycard, key fob, and bracelets, and a bypass key. When the panel is removed to access a bypass key lock or to change batteries, there is a hole in the internal framework of the safe. From there, the safe can be opened by using a paperclip bent into an “L” shape inserted into the hole. Turning the paperclip can grab the release, thus opening the safe.
Fort Knox Original Pistol Box
Capacity: 2 Handguns
Exploit: Brute Force Combination Attack
The Fort Knox Original Pistol Box does not have any electronic components, instead having a mechanical push button locking system. In order to open the box, you need to enter your combination successfully. Unlike electronic safes, which will suspend access after repeated wrong code entries, you are free to keep trying with this safe. Although it might take some time to guess the correct code, the possibilities are not endless (there are 1,082 possible combinations to open the safe).
Capacity: 2 Handguns
Exploit: Prying the door joint with screwdriver and opening with wire
The Fortress P2EA handgun safe appears to be all one piece of metal, which provides plenty of security; however, when you pry at the top area of the door with a screwdriver, you can widen the area enough to fit a paperclip bent into the shape of a coat hanger hook into it, which will move the release mechanism away from the door and open to safe.
The safe has a tamper alarm that you might think would prevent that type of problem. Unfortunately, the tamper alarm on the safe only works when the safe or the surface the safe is sitting on is moved – it does not sound if you are prying the door open or if you are inserting a wire inside.
Capacity: 3 handguns
Exploit: Picking cheap bypass lock or resetting access code
The Stack-On PC-900 is a larger handgun safe with an electronic keypad and lock. However, it is easy to open the lock without a key; using a multi-tool letter opener, or other small metal item. Just insert it into the lock and jiggle it slightly to override the electronic lock and open the safe. Also, by using easy to obtain items, such as a plastic fork and knife, you can insert them between the top and bottom of the safe where it opens, and reset the access code.
Check out just how easy it is.
Capacity: 2-4 handguns
Exploit: Incorrect assembly allows for easy prying with screwdriver or picking with a paperclip
The Stack-On QAS-1200 is a larger capacity safe with a lock and electronic keypad. However, due to a design flaw in the safes, the locking mechanism and the door do not fit together properly. By taking a screwdriver and prying off the fitting on top of the safe, you can access the panel underneath. From there, removing one of the screws will allow you to insert a straightened paperclip to press down on the main lock assembly and pop the door. Since the loop inside the door does not latch correctly, it is easy to open.
Capacity: 3-4 handguns
Exploit: Using a screwdriver to pry keypad and inserting paperclip to poke solenoid pin
The Stack-On PS-514-12 personal safe has an electronic keypad to open the safe, as well as a lock. By taking a screwdriver and jamming it behind the plastic keypad housing on the front of the safe, you can locate the hole that the keypad wires move through. That gives you access to the lock. By holding the keypad housing away from the safe and inserting a straightened paperclip into the hole, you can push the solenoid pin away from the lock and open the safe.
Paragon Quarter Master 7650
Capacity: 1 handgun
Exploit: A wire can open the safe via several attack points
The Paragon Quarter Master 7650 has a twelve digit electronic keypad and a bypass lock to open the safe. The safe comes with a mounting plate that can be secured onto a solid object. If the owner of the safe does not secure the safe using the mounting plate, the release can be accessed from the bottom of the safe through a large hole.
Since the safe does not sit directly against the mounting plate, a half-inch of space remains, because the safe has rubber feet. By using a piece of coat hanger wire bent correctly, you can slide it under the safe, up inside the previously mentioned hole, and trigger the release to open the safe.
The safe can also be opened by inserting a piece of coat hanger wire into the bypass lock area, which is very recessed into the safe, allowing wire to slide around it and trigger the release, opening the safe.
Or, a piece of wire can be also be bent at the end and slid under the safe between it and the mounting plate, triggering the release that holds the safe on the mounting plate, allowing it to be lifted off.
The bottom line is that any small, quick-access safe is going to be tough to secure against a sustained attack. And, most of you just want to keep your kids away from your guns anyway.
But, these kind of vulnerabilities really underscore that you need to know when someone has broken into your house with a home security system and get the police rolling quickly if you’re away. Generally, that means video evidence of a burglary in progress and a call from you or your monitoring service to the cops.