Gun Safe Dilemma - I Need Help

I am shopping for my first gun safe. I have down selected to three. They are all the same size, fire rating, etc. Where they differ is the method of access:

Safe #1 has a mechanical tumbler lock with a non-resettable factory combination, no backup key (Cabela’s/Liberty Safe)
Safe #2 has an electronic lock with user programable combination, no backup key (Liberty Safe)
Safe #3 has an electronic lock with user programable combination, with override key. Reading the owner’s manual, it appears the override key is actually an override combination programmed at the factory and Serial Number unique. (Winchester Safe)

Any experience or recommendations regarding mechanical vs. electronic with and without combination override?


Personally, I tend to shy away from strictly “electronic” locks. Especially, if there is no means of backup. Electronics fail at the most inopportune times.

Opinions will vary…it is what it is, but I picked up a Winchester safe from Tractor Supply. Definitely not top of the line, but it serves its purpose. Decent fire rating, decent price point, and gives my firearms and other valuables a warm cozy place to sleep other than the back of my closet or in a glass door gun cabinet.

Keypad combination, easy access…quarter turn to remove and access the key.


I have the Liberty electronic for quite some time and never a problem. Liked the interior adjustability. I don’t rely on my safe for quick access (small push button safe boxes for that).


IMO an electronic safe should always have a backup method of access. It could be as simple as the battery ran out, or extravagant like an EMP. So that leaves you with #1 or #3. If you want/need quick access, I would lean towards the electronic lock. Otherwise personal preference between those two.


Vault definitely needs to be very easy accessible. Electronic seems to be perfect… BUT… please do not trust electronics.

Look for mechanical locks which can be unlocked within 1 - 2 seconds. This one is perfect solution for me (unfortunately right handed solution only):




This is for protecting firearms when I am not home, don’t need quick access … should have said that in the beginning.


I agree with others here and would also shy away from safes that are electronic only even if no quick access is required.


Yep, good advice…big gun safe doesn’t require fast access, electronic only not my best recommendation. A electronic with backup key is a better idea and personally I prefer a combination dial.
P.S. You need to know the advertised gun capacity is not accurate ever…expect to only fit 1/2 to 3/4 as many guns as what they tell you!


Check STACK-ON. They make all lock option. For storage, I’d go with electronic numpad with key bypass.


I would seriously recommend a safe with a physical skeleton like key as a backup access .
Electronics fail miserably. Anything especially electrical has been proven to have nowhere near the lifespan of anything mechanical.
Some safes offer power cords to an outlet. Don’t! It’s a trace line back to the source. 9 volt batteries fail constantly. Think about every device including or especially your smoke alarm with that annoying alert for a battery change. What if you’re not hime to hear the warning and it dies out?
Get a key access safe- 9 volt case facing- 45 minute fire safe minimum, and get something you can hide in a closet with a reinforced door.
Make thief work work work / consume time before they can even begin to attack the safe!
Yes…, I’m a mean old SOB !
Denied access!


Generally speaking, yes.

I was somewhat disappointed in the amount of room in mine, so I had to spend a bit of time prioritizing and organizing the layout. Filled it, offloaded everything and reorganized a couple times.

In the end, managed more than advertised capacity, still had room for other stuff. It can be done. :+1:


I have both and they’ve both been working fine for YEARS. Electronic is always faster but I really don’t mind an old style mechanical. There is a way to change the factor combination on the mechanical lock. YouTube it, you can buy a key on eBay or have a locksmith do in for you.

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All my safes have a backup physical key. That is what I would recommed.


I recently replaced my mechanical tumbler with a electronic lock. Even though I prefer the mechanical it was becoming difficult to operate. With further research I found that a mechanical tumbler can become off on the combination plus or minus a number which had happen along with the need to a specific pattern to open it. My wife was also to the point where she couldn’t open it so we changed to a electronic lock and I haven’t regretted it yet.

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I ended up going with the electric with a key backup. If the electriconic should fall, I can remove the keypad and open with the backup key. It is a “26” gun safe that fits everything I need it to fit. Could I get into it with a grinder pretty quickly - yes, but unless you are willing to spend $5k+, that is pretty much what you are going to get.

BTW, we installed a bit larger sized safes on a number of my previous projects. They had 1" steel walls and weighed thousands of pounds, but they cost more than what I am trying to protect. They did have M16’s, M2’s, M240 's, MK19’s, etc. stored in them :smiley:


you might like this it has an alternate way of unlocking using a key and is fairly cheap?

and there are other larger similar types out there…

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Liberty makes excellent safes, combo is very good. If electronic batteries most be accessed from outside also code needs to be changed once in awhile so keys can’t be Figured out by bg. ( easy to see which ones are pressed). Back up key is nice but can be picked. Is any safe safe? No all can be jacked if given enough time just want to stop the fools.

I own a purely mechanical, non changeable combo, and an electronic with physical backup key. I did have the electronic lock die on me once, swapped in a new battery and it was fine. But otherwise, in happy with either system. I did install a small light on a magnet, on the mechanical safe, so I could use it in the dark. The electronic lock is definitely more user friendly in the dark.

If I were shopping now, I’d probably go for the cabelas, simply because it’s the most size for the money. Safes fill up fast. I bought an 18 gun thinking that’s plenty. I added a 24 gun a year later, and I need to look for space for a 3rd.

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I’m looking for a couple of safe options, but I’ll come in with this. Electronics can fail. Worse, in some cases the electronics are the weakness. Keep the following in mind:

  • Lock companies are not always tech companies
  • Bluetooth and other wireless technologies have well known and presumably not yet known vulnerabilities
  • A determined attacker can replicate a physical key from a picture.
  • Physical keys can be stolen, lost, or misplaced.

Basically we all need to assess our own risks and use cases, and make decisions accordingly.

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Just saw on you tube where a guy stripped the combo pad off, removed a 9 volt battery, & used an extremely high powered magnet.
He was in the safe in 30 seconds… yes…, you are reading that correctly…, 30 seconds flat.
Guess who he worked for before retirement… you guessed it the ATF!
Store other hobbies & eliminate known search points for stashing your goods in case they hit you up when you’re not home.
If they have a warrant noone has to be there to receive it. A warrant let’s them do wtfe they want to do.
I regret having a safe in my home now. Waste of money!
After seeing that I’m going to use other options.
Just waiting to see if President Trump is going to tell the ATF to cease & desist their current activity.
If he don’t I don’t hold it against him right now. He’s fighting to keep us free & our rights protected.
Smith & Wesson has initiated a lawsuit against Nj for unconstitutional anti 2A laws, another group in PA has filed multiple lawsuits against various states across the nation.
Now here another one to sink in. SCOTUS ruled that Cali’s high cap mags be banned was ruled unconstitutional. Are they going to let Biden / Harris get away with unconstitutional exec orders?
After seeing the latest ruling on the Texas case I have my doubts.
At this point if Biden gets inaugurated it will honestly be all out war. All of us that have invested legally in all we desired or could scrape up will be deemed listed felons practically overnight. Well…, who in the pro groups is going to help us?
Worse the newest statistics say that firearm owners are only 3% of the nations populace? Wonder if it’s correct.
As far as the you tube video link where I saw the safe job disappeared.
Break em down & stash in ways you never thought you’d have too!
Gonna be a felon ?.., Start thinking like one! Your life depends on it!

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