Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why don’t you provide a list of recommended handgun safes instead of showing only the worst ones out there?
A: I have not been deliberately targeting only the worst safes I can find. I also have no secret list of genuinely secure handgun safes. If you’ve seen my videos looking at the AMSEC Heavy-Duty Pistol Safe, the Fort Knox Auto Pistol Safe and Fort Knox Original Pistol Box, and the Stealth Original Handgun Safe you’ve seen the best of what I’ve found.
Keep in mind, this website and the accompanying Vimeo channel are not consumer reporting services, and I don’t represent myself as having qualifications to test products for consumers. This research began as investigative journalism. I established these online resources to share the results of that investigation, and I continue to do follow up research and add to the database.
Q: Can you send replacement keys? (Or, can you send replacement parts? Or, if I send you pictures, can you tell me what’s wrong with my safe?)
A: No, I don't supply replacement keys. Nor do I perform repair services on safes, or diagnose problems with safes by email. If you're having problems with a safe, the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer, if the company is still in business, and ask if service is available for the product. If the safe is out of production or you can no longer get parts or service for it, it's time to consider buying a new safe.
Q: Can you recommend a biometric
A: I don’t recommend handgun safes with biometric technology. So far in my examinations of these devices, I’ve found that safes with fingerprint readers are unlikely to be any more secure than other devices. I discuss biometric safes on the Handgun safe design page of this site, and I go into the design problems that undermine safes with biometrics on the Findings & discussion page.
Q: Can you recommend a full-sized, floor-standing safe?
A: If you’re in the market for a full-sized safe, I recommend reading through the Gun Safe Reviews Guy website before making any purchases. Jaime Capra has condensed a tremendous amount of information on the manufacture of large safes, and he’s taken the time to demystify the arcane language of UL standards. He’s also done a fair amount of myth busting with regard to the claims that manufacturers make about their products.
Q: Have you contacted the manufacturers, and what are they doing to fix the problems?
A: Nearly all the safes I’ve examined are made in China. So, no, I haven’t bothered contacting the Chinese manufacturers. Nor do I bother contacting the U.S. importers. These companies do not evaluate products they import for how secure the products are. As I discuss in the Firearms Safety Devices section, U.S. importers rely on California Department of Justice (DOJ) approval to tell them whether their products are appropriate for storing firearms. But as I also explain, the process by which California’s DOJ tests and approves these products is grossly inadequate. If the system worked, I wouldn’t have been able to compromise the safes I’ve broken into.
Q: Is it true that children can open many handgun safes on the market, and is there a product that is child safe?
A: Parents have been needlessly terrified by a shock video online showing a three-year old apparently opening handgun safes. The video, “THREE YEAR OLD TOBY OPENS DIFFERENT GUN SAFES,” was put together in 2012 by Marc Tobias and his colleague Tobias Bluzmanis. Parents often don’t realize that the child was coached in order for Tobias and Bluzmanis to capture their “shocking” video.
In one segment, for example, the 3-year old son of Bluzmanis is seated behind a Stack-On QAS-1000 drawer safe. He has a lock pick in hand (his father happens to be a locksmith). He pokes the keyed bypass lock, asking, “¿Aquí, Papí?” He’s speaking Spanish. He’s saying, “Here, Daddy?” (“Papí” is an affectionate form of “Papá.”) Tobias says something unintelligible and removes the rubber fitting from the top of the safe, upon which the boy shoves the pick down the hole he’s been shown to use. The safe pops open. Viewers who know nothing about the safe don’t realize the latch mechanism inside has been compromised already, allowing the safe to be opened easily.
Only one device I've examined has been vulnerable enough that a child could open it. That device was the Amarey handgun safe, model HFGS-089. Not long after I exposed this device, Amarey's website came down. When the site was up and running again, Amarey had abandoned the old product line. Amarey is now in the business of selling automated vacuum cleaners.
Q: Why don’t you have a rating system for handgun safes?
A: Rating systems are misleading. They give the impression that the positive characteristics of a device may somehow offset other more serious design issues. However, as of 2018, I've begun using a seal of approval, which I grant only selectively. The seal is pictured here. In the future, if I examine a handgun safe I feel I can recommend, I will include the seal in the demonstration video.
Q: I have invented a new kind of handgun safe/gun lock/trigger lock/cable lock/etc., etc. Do you know if anyone else has done something like this? If not, I want to get credit for the idea first.
A: If you plan to invent security devices, you need to study the field of security before you dive into becoming an inventor. Also, if you’re interested in firearm safety technology, you need to research the industry of firearm safety products. Finally, even if you have a decent idea for a device, writing an email to HandgunSafeResearch.com will not protect your intellectual-property rights or provide you any form of patent. You will have to go through the patent process.
I get emails all the time from people with wacky ideas. Probably the goofiest idea I’ve come across was a newfangled gun lock designed to chain your gun to your desk—or your belt. The thing required assembling three pieces of hardware inside a gun’s trigger guard. Then a chain was attached, and then a padlock was attached. The arrangement was awkward, required too many parts, and was destined to put scratches in your gun.
Q: Should I forget about handgun safes and use a gun lock?
A: No, a gun owner should never trust the security of a firearm to a gun lock exclusively. As I've shown a three-part series on gun locks, many gun locks on the market are easily compromised with common items like brass paper fasteners, coffee stirrers, and screwdrivers. (See Gun lock industry for more details.) Most of the gun locks included with firearms sales are imported products from China or Taiwan. The locks are of poor quality, and as I explain in the Firearms Safety Devices section the program California has in place for testing gun locks is unable to identify the worst products before they go into circulation.
Q: Why don’t you post video showing people how they can make their handgun safes more secure?
A: The reason I haven’t pursued this is that I don’t want to be responsible for causing people to alter their handgun safes and void their warranties. Also, the safes I’ve examined offer multiple ways of gaining access. I try to show only one or two easy ways into these devices, attacks that can be accomplished using ordinary tools and materials. In order to make these devices secure, a person would be taking on something like a home-improvement project that might involve buying tools and materials and finding the time to do the project. Then there would be the business of actually doing the work myself, recording video to show how to do it, etc., etc., which I don't have time for.