View Full Version : Electronic vs. mechanical locks

03-21-2011, 12:43 PM
Looking into getting my first gun safe. As I look at different safes I notice some have electronic and some have mechanical locks. Anybody have any advice to which one they like better and why?


03-21-2011, 1:11 PM
Looking into getting my first gun safe. As I look at different safes I notice some have electronic and some have mechanical locks. Anybody have any advice to which one they like better and why?


Electronic is quicker to open and easier to see. You can also change the code on an electronic lock whenever you want to.

Dial is mechanical so you know it shouldn't break down on you, like the possibility of an electronic getting fried.

03-21-2011, 1:17 PM

03-21-2011, 1:18 PM
Why not get in on the group buy from sturdy safe?

03-21-2011, 6:06 PM
I like mechanical dial locks. I prefer reliability over speed of access but thats just my opinion. Now if I was going to be in and out of the safe more than 2 or 3 times a day a good quality digital lock might make more sense. I've read the S&G electronic locks are better than the Laguard. Good luck.

03-21-2011, 8:19 PM
i prefer manual.

03-21-2011, 8:22 PM
is the group buy still on? I want in

03-21-2011, 8:38 PM
My safe came with a electronic biometric lock that was so cool..... until it said E-7 and would not open a few days later. They had to come out and drill the safe so I could get my stuff out...... had them bring a new safe with a mechanical lock. No electronic locks for me anymore.

03-21-2011, 9:32 PM
The biometric locks look great on paper but the technology is just not reliable enough at the average consumer price point yet. Maybe someday but certainly not now. I'll stick with the dial.

03-22-2011, 12:20 AM
My safe dealer told me to stay away from biometric locks. So did a commercial security system installer friend of mine. They aren't that secure and they have reliability problems.

That being said, my safe dealer HIGHLY recommends electronic locks. But only ones made by Sargent and Greenleaf or LaGard. In fact, all 5 of his personal safe's he switched out the mechanical locks to electronic.

The only major drawback is you might not be able to get into your safe if an enemy of the US decides to detonate an EMP weapon. But what are the odds of that happening? Even then you can still break into your safe if you know how (I won't post the techniques).

03-22-2011, 9:31 AM
Stay away from the biometric readers; the reliability they have is not what I am comfortable with i.e. you have to present your finger a couple of time before you get a good read. If your finger is dirty you won't get a good read and you will have to clean the sensor.

Old School mechanical has a problem with drift. Lets say your combo is 10-20-30. over time your combo may drift up or down a couple of numbers to open after years of use. so instead of 10-20-30 it may be 12-22-32 to open. Also the speed at which you can get into it is slow. If you are mechanical skills are good you can also learn how to recalibrate and reset you combo at any time, as long as the safe door is already open.

I prefer digital locks for speed and security. I also prefer Laguard over S&G. I was worried about a battery operated device but it really is a non issue as the battery is good for hundreds of openings and good for several years. most of the moderns you can change the battery without even having to open the safe door.

good luck with your search for security.

03-22-2011, 9:30 PM
Also mechanical locks do need maintenance over the years.

03-23-2011, 12:23 AM
What kind of maintenance and how often?

03-23-2011, 6:44 AM
I faced the same choice about a year ago.. Went to Turners with my wife,, tried the both types with and without my glasses ( hate getting old) couldn't even get the freakn dial open with my glasses on ...wife was laughing her a** off.. Went electronic much faster.. and programmed to a number she wont forget.. Go try both...

I also considered the layers of security I have at my house... I do feel the old school would be more secure but between my house alarm and big dogs I felt the speed an ease of use tilted to the electronic..

03-23-2011, 10:50 AM
My wife (an engineer!) just couldn't get comfortable with a mechanical dial lock - when I told her it was possible to swap the lock out for an electronic combination lock and that it was possible to buy a safe/RSC in a color other than black, she immediately warmed up to the idea of buying a nice big safe for my guns and her jewelry + photo albums.

The combination of her feeling like she can get in/out when she needs to + it not being an "ugly" color made a giant difference in her attitude - it went from "something stupid my husband wants to waste money on" to "our nice safe."

03-23-2011, 10:53 AM
Also, the speed/ease of the electronic lock makes it easier to keep the safe locked all of the time - I use my safe (w/ electronic lock) at my office multiple times per day, because I keep my laptop in there when I'm not using it + blank checks + client property + misc valuable things, and I don't feel tempted to just leave it open because it's too tough to unlock. I have known several people who bought nice safes and then leave them unlocked, or not fully locked, because they think the dial lock is "too much trouble" and only for use if they're out of town.

03-23-2011, 12:00 PM
My main safe is manual, I like the comfort of the greater reliability and I don't care how long it takes to get into it.

My handgun safe is push button. Speed is important and if it ever fails, I don't mind taking a crowbar it to open it.


03-23-2011, 9:47 PM
Had a pistol instructor give us advice...he said that when you're up on adrenaline, you will not be able to open a mechanical lock and advised us to get push button electronic locks.

I have 2 safes, both are electronic. One, if the battery dies or it gets EMP'ed or whatever, has a key that can defeat it. The other one, I'm SOL.

If I don't have to get to it fast, or get to it in a high pressure situation, I wouldn't mind a mechanical lock.

03-24-2011, 8:12 AM
I have both- prefer the touch pad. I've heard shoupdawg's comment before and agree. Make sure to change your batteries yearly!!!