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.