Types of Safe Locks

When you shop for a safe, you are likely to have questions about what type of safe lock is best. You are probably wondering how reliable safe locks are and what happens if yours breaks or you lose your combination. And finally, whatever safe lock you choose, you want to be sure that if something goes wrong with it, it's covered by a warranty.

This guide will help answer any questions you might have about safe locks and help you make an informed decision.

Mechanical vs. Electronic Locks

The type of lock you choose should be based on how you will use your safe and your personal preference.

Mechanical locks are great and probably the type of lock that first comes to mind when you think about safes. To open a mechanical safe lock, you turn the dial to the right to the first number of the combination, then to the left for the second number and then back to the right for the final number, just like opening your locker in high school. This type of lock is tried and true and normally has a long lifespan. In fact, this type of lock has been around since the 1800s.

The problem with mechanical locks? There have been few changes in their technology since the 1800s, which means they're easier for an experienced thief to crack the combination - sometimes they can crack it in 15 minutes or less. The other issue comes with entering your combination; if you make a mistake, you need to start all over again. And if you ever need to change your combination, you have to hire a locksmith to do it for you.

Many people opt for electronic safe lock instead. There are numerous reasons for this:

  • Electronic safe locks are rated as a Group 1 lock with high manipulation resistance, which means it has 999,999 possible full combinations.
  • You can choose your own combination and change it any time you want.
  • You have the ability to program in multiple combinations for more than one user.
  • They offer fast and easy access, even in the dark.
  • Your safe remains secure even if keypad is removed.
  • The lock’s memory retains your combination when you change its battery, or the battery fails.

The benefits of an electronic safe lock clearly outweigh its minimal downsides, such as being temporarily locked out of your safe if your batteries die.

Are Electronic Safe Locks Reliable?

When it comes to electronic safe locks, there are poor-quality locks and high-quality locks. Choosing a high-quality electronic lock is always your best option for having the most reliable lock possible, because it's made with heavy-duty components. When speed counts, an electronic safe lock is more reliable than a mechanical lock in an emergency.

An electronic safe lock requires very little maintenance, if any, except for changing its 9-volt battery every 6 to 12 months. Plus you can simply change your code and create or delete codes as needed without having to call a locksmith to do it for you.

Is a Biometric Lock Worth the Extra Money? 

Biometric safe locks are gaining in popularity among gun safe owners. This type of lock can be a little bit more expensive than typical mechanical or electronic safe locks. The advantage of having a biometric safe lock is that you only need to swipe your finger over the lock’s sensor to open your safe instead of keying or dialing a combination code. A finger swipe can be a faster way to get your gun safe open in an emergency. So, if speed is an issue, a biometric lock might be something to consider.

 However, biometric technology, unless it is military grade, is not fool proof, especially if the lock does not have a high-quality sensor. The biometric safe locks Liberty Safe uses feature the ScanLogic Swipe Safe Lock system using semiconductor swipe fingerprint authentication technology. Liberty Safe also sells biometric smart vaults that have been rated as the #1 most reliable biometric smart vault.

What Common Problems Do Electronic Safe Locks Have? 

One of the best things about an electronic safe lock is that almost any problem can be resolved by its owner without the need to hire a locksmith. While electronic safe locks are reliable, it is possible that you might encounter one or more of these four common problems:

  1. Low or dead battery. If the nine-volt battery is running out of juice, your lock may not operate as it normally should. If the battery is completely dead, the lock might not operate at all. Replacing the battery should restore the full function of your lock.
  2. Being temporarily locked out. If you incorrectly enter your code several times in a row, your electronic lock will temporarily lock you out. You will need to wait several minutes before re-entering your code to open your safe. While this might seem like an annoyance, it is a protective feature.
  3. Safe relocks before you open it. If you do not turn the handle of your safe within a few seconds of keying in your code, your electronic lock will relock itself. All you need to do is re-enter your code and immediately turn the handle to open your safe.
  4. Handle is jammed. If the handle has been moved too far in either direction, it might seem that it is jammed. This problem can be resolved by jiggling the handle to find some play in the handle, re-entering the code and then attempting to turn the handle again.

Will I Be Able to Change My Lock Combination? 

It is possible to change your lock combination whether it is a mechanical or electronic safe lock. If you have an electronic safe lock, it is very easy to change your lock combination without the need for a locksmith.

However, if you have a mechanical safe lock, the process to change your combination is trickier. You will need to have the lock’s change key that initially came with it. But even still, it is a good idea to have a locksmith change your manual lock’s combination.

What if I Lose My Combination or Key?

It is important to register your safe after accepting delivery of your safe.

This ensures that if you lose your combination or key that Liberty Safe will be able to verify who you say you are.

If you have done this, you will need to go through the process of filling out a Combination/Duplicate Key Request Form.

Will My Lock Work During or After an EMP Attack? 

An electromagnetic pulse event could be a nuclear attack or a solar flare that could disable and/or damage electronic equipment.

A concern that some safe owners have is whether they will be able to open their safe if an EMP event were to happen if they have an electronic safe lock. In such an emergency, you want to be able to get to your firearms or cash quickly, if needed. 

Liberty Safe’s SecuRam Xtreme electronic lock is designed to stand up against EMP. However, all the SecuRam locks sold by Liberty Safe have been tested and certified for being EMP-resistant by Dayton T. Brown Laboratories.

What Kind of Warranty will My Safe Lock Have? 

It is important to read the fine print of your safe lock warranty.

Some lock manufacturers start their warranties at the moment the lock leaves their factory. By the time a safe sells, that lock warranty could almost be over. Liberty Safe covers the locks they sell with an extra five years to protect their customers.

Liberty has recently introduced an option to purchase an extended warranty for locks.

You can purchase an additional 10 years ($49) (total of 15 years) or a lifetime warranty ($99) on the lock. You can purchase this extended warranty when you register your safe.