Electronic Safe Locks vs Mechanical Gun Safe Buying Guide

Are you confused about which option to choose in terms of electronic safe locks vs mechanical models? The truth is you are not alone.

Your gun safe is as good as the quality of the lock integrated into it. There’s no point owning a security safe constructed with the strongest body if its lock can be easily broken into.

Overview: Electronic Safe Locks vs Mechanical Models

Electronic and mechanical safe locks are two of the most popular type of locking systems integrated safes for pistols and rifles. Each lock has it owns benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to be well-informed about them.

That is the smartest way to ensure you can make the best choice to secure your firearms.

Remember, you are obliged by law to keep your firearms safely stored to prevent it from getting into the hands of minors and other unauthorized people.

Which is lock type is the best? Firstly, let’s take a look at what each one has to offer. Hopefully you will able to decide the best locking system to look out for when shopping for your firearm safe.

Electronic Gun Safe Locks

electronic lock on a gun safe with keypadsElectronic locking systems basically operate through electric current. Majority of the electronic safes available for storing guns require you to enter a key code or pass code for authentication.

Therefore, a keypad is typically provided on the outer part of the safe so a user can quickly type the pre-programmed pass code or password to gain entry to the safe’s contents.

While some operate silently, others make audible sounds as you type in your codes. Other models enable you to choose between keypad sound mode and silent mode.

Biometric gun safes are another type of electronic safe locks that require a user to place his or her programmed finger into a scanner to authenticate and allow entry. These safes are becoming very popular due to the level of security and convenience they have to offer.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the latest technology to hit the electronic safe locks market. It typically allows a gun owner to wave his RFID card even from several meters away for the security safe to open.

If you have never used one of these, it is likely you will still be on the fence in terms of which one to choose.

Advantages of Electronic Gun Safe Lock

Some gun owners swear by electronic locks which typically come in the form of a digital dial for access. The truth is there are several advantages of electronic locks which make them attractive to gun owners. A few of them include:

#1. Speed

Electronic safe locks give you quick access to your pistols or other weapons in the event of an emergency. Whether it’s a traditional electronic keypad safe, biometric or RFID, the speed with which you can access your firearms is unrivaled.

Even the slowest electronic safe locks open within a few seconds which can be all the time you need to bring precarious situations under control with the help of your firearm.

#2. Convenience

What do you think will happen when you need to open your safe in an emergency and realize that you can’t’ find your keys? This is why fans of electronic gun safes swear by this particular locking system.

No need to look for your keys in dire times!

No need to fumble to open your safe with an intruder quickly approaching from a few meters away!

#3. Security From Theft

Unlike mechanical locks, electronic safe locks are great because there are no keys to steal. So the possibility of someone targeting your keys in order to rob you of your security safe’s contents is eliminated.

#4. Easy to Program

Electronic safe locks are easy to program even if you aren’t tech savvy. Most handgun and rifle safes that employ this locking system come with manuals that give you clear cut instructions on how to go about it.

#5. Penalty Mode

Almost every electronic gun safe on the market today incorporates some form of penalty mode that kicks in once wrong pass codes are keyed in continuously for a specific number of times. This feature prevents an intruder from trying to guess your pass code repeatedly until he or she gets it right.

In the penalty mode, loud beeps typically sound off for a specific number of minutes. This can be intimidating enough for many burglars to leave.

In fact, this feature alone can sway a consumer’s mind towards electronic powered firearm safes.


Here are a couple of disadvantages of these types of locks:

#1. Malfunction

From failure of an electronic component in its circuit board to breakage of a battery connector or lead wire, several kinds of malfunction can occur over time in your electronic safe lock.

The build of these locks means your firearm safe may have to be drilled open for repairs to be conducted when some of the most common forms of malfunction occur.

#2. Powered By Batteries

Electronic safe locks are usually powered by 2 to 4 AA batteries. When your battery dies, access becomes impossible and will require you to get new ones.

Thankfully, some of the most rated gun safes with electronic keypads come with backup keys. This gives you access to your safe even in the event of a dead battery.

Depending on the quality of your safe, you will be required to change batteries every 2-18 months to keep it functioning well.

#3. Forgetting Your Pass Code

Forgetting your pass code can make it difficult to access the contents of the safe containing your weapons and valuables. Some manufacturers ship their safes with override keys.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where your safe’s battery is dead and those keys are not available then getting access to your security safe could be a real problem.

Mechanical Gun Safe Locks

gun safe combination lock om full displayAny lock that doesn’t require electric current to function is termed as mechanical. These types of locks have been around for nearly 2 centuries and remain some of the best on the market today.

We have compiled the good, the bad and the ugly about mechanical locks so you get enough information to make the best choice for your needs now that you are planning to splash cash on a security safe.

There are two main types of mechanical safe locks and these are:

Combination Lock

Combination locks come in very forms and variations and remain the oldest type of lock. These locks are integrated into a wide range of applications and not just firearm safes.

They operate typically by a user dialing a pre-programmed combination in order to authorize access. Unlike their electronic counterparts, most of these locks don’t allow the owner to program a custom combination.

So you will essentially have to memorize the factory set combination and make sure you don’t forget it.

The good news is that majority of mechanical combination rifle safes come with a single or double backup key. This guarantees access to your valuables should your combination lock fail for any reason.

Keyed Safe Locks

Just like the name suggests, keyed gun safe locks require the insertion of a key into its spindle and turning it in the right direction to authenticate access. The most popular key length in these types of firearm safes is 3 inches.

In rare cases, the key may be longer but this is almost always as a result of a thicker lock.

Advantages of Mechanical Safe Locks

Let us get ready to delve into a few of the positives of choosing a mechanical lock safe over electronic.

#1. Reliability

Combination and keyed locks are some of the most reliable on the market. After over 1 and a half centuries of fine tuning, these safes can give you the level of protection you need to keep your shotguns, rifles, pistols and other weapons under lock and key.

#2. Quality

A high quality mechanical lock gun safe has the potential to last for many decades depending on its environment, frequency of use and the owner.

The same cannot be said for electronic gun safes because electronic wires, circuit boards and other components are not built to last for extremely long periods.

Everyone knows they fail down the line and will require maintenance.

#3. No Need for Batteries

Combination and keyed locks require no batteries to work. Therefore it saves you time and money from having to check and replace dead batteries all the time.

This also prevents the situation where gun owners are locked out of their safes because of a dead battery.

#4. Immunity from Electrical Interference

The mechanical nature of these types of locks makes them safe from electrical interference techniques such as EMP. Many gun owners say this is the reason why they prefer the latter in the electronic safes vs mechanical dispute.


Think mechanical locks are all rosy and don’t have any drawbacks? You’ve got another think coming!

These types of rifle safe locks have their own disadvantages so let us just go ahead and dive into them.

Maybe you will change your mind again in the electronic safe locks vs mechanical debate.

#1 . Easy to Pick

Gun safes with mechanical locks can be notoriously easy to pick. Skilled intruders have perfected the art of picking these locks using a manipulation technique that makes use of dialing techniques to find variations in the dial’s readings.

This technique has made lots of non-electronic safes vulnerable to theft.

#2. Malfunction

Combination and keyed locks also suffer various forms of malfunction that can render access impossible or even make your safe more vulnerable. From an unlocked or shifted tumbler to lose dial rings and lock case screws, combination locks may require fixes from a locksmith from time to time.

#3. Key Lock Failure

In the case of keyed lock gun safes, you may have to call a locksmith when a lock failure happens because they can be very difficult to open.

The Bottom Line

We have outlined the various positives and negatives of electronic safe locks vs mechanical models. You should have adequate information to decide the best gun safe lock for your needs.

Keep in mind that no matter which option you choose, there will always be advantages and disadvantages.

It is up to you to decide which benefits are more important to you during your search and buy accordingly.

After all, there’s no right or wrong choice in the question of whether to choose electronic or mechanical safe locks

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