Frequently asked questions
Which handgun safes do you recommend?
The best handgun safes I've examined to date are listed on my Recommended Safes page.
Can you send replacement keys? Or, can you send replacement parts?
No, I don’t supply replacement keys. Nor do I supply parts, or 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.
Can you recommend a biometric safe?
I don’t recommend handgun safes with biometric technology. In examining these devices, I’ve found that safes with fingerprint readers are unlikely to be any more secure than safes equipped with simple keypads. More importantly, people often refuse to accept a basic fact of aging, that as we age the skin of our hands starts to dry and our fingerprints become harder for a biometric scanner to "see." Once you've reached the age of 50, this will be an ongoing issue when using a fingerprint scanner. 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.
Can you recommend a full-sized, floor-standing safe?
Have you contacted the manufacturers to ask what are they doing to fix the problems?
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 Firearm 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 approves these products is grossly inadequate. If the system worked, I wouldn’t have been able to compromise the safes I’ve broken into.
Is it true that children can open many handgun safes on the market, and is there a product that is child safe?
Why don’t you have a rating system for handgun safes?
I have invented a new kind of gun-safety device. Do you know if anyone has invented a device similar to mine? Can you help promote my product?
I get regular emails from people trying to break into the gun-safety industry. Unfortunately, these aspiring inventors routinely fail to research the industry. My advice is this: If you plan to invent security devices, you must study the field of security before diving into becoming an inventor. If you’re interested in firearm safety technology, you also need to research the industry of firearm safety products. Begin by reading the contents of this website carefully.
In addition, if you’ve determined that you do have an innovative 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.
As for promoting products, the gun safety devices I currently endorse are listed at the top of this FAQ section.
Should I forget about handgun safes and use a gun lock?
Can you tell me the access code to open a safe I inherited? Or, can you tell me the access code to open a safe I bought at a garage sale?
No, there are no top-secret access codes that will open any random safe.
How many combinations are possible with a Simplex lock?
The 5-button Simplex lock allows for a total of 2,162 possible combinations. To watch a math video on basic combinatorics, and to learn an approach to calculating the total combinations, watch "How Many Combinations Are Possible With a Simplex Lock?" For a detailed tutorial on how to set combinations with this lock, see the Simplex Lock page.
These safes are only intended to keep kids away from guns.
These safes are not intended to permanently store firearms.
These safes are only intended to keep honest people honest.
These safes are only intended to prevent “smash and grab” theft.
“Smash and grab” is a catchphrase that causes people to overlook the many reasons for using a handgun safe. Handgun safes are used to prevent unauthorized access to firearms, which may involve keeping firearms out of the hands of small children, tweens, teens, adults with inadequate firearms training, or adults with mental-health issues or substance abuse problems.
We’re better off teaching young people safe gun handling.
Anybody can break into one of these safes with a pry bar if he really wants to.
The reason we should be concerned about the lack of security in the handgun safes being foisted on gun owners is that one doesn’t need a pry bar to access them. As can be seen in the demonstrations posted on this site, I have accessed these devices using paperclips, plastic zip ties, 7-Eleven Slurpee straws, and other common materials. Many of the safes can be accessed without leaving signs of entry, which means the safes can be opened, the contents can be removed and returned, and the owners of the safes would never know it.