Gun safe manufacturers are quickly adopting these new technologies
Does it make you safer? The short answer is no.
In many cases the technology can put you at greater risk.
Gun safe companies are working quickly to adopt new technologies in their safes. Biometrics (fingerprint scanners), Wi-Fi, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and others are being incorporated into almost every safe made. The marketing and sales brochures tout this new technology as the best and most convenient way to secure and access firearms. This is not unique to the gun safe industry.
As new technologies are developed, they are incorporated into many products we use. In many cases the new technology improves the product and user experience. However, in others it is simply a gimmick to add sizzle to otherwise boring products. Their hope is they can entice you to buy, based on the new tech.
In the case of safe manufacturers these new technologies can be problematic and sometimes dangerous.
So how does technology impact your firearm safety and security?
If you have a big heavy safe in a basement or den where you store a bunch of guns and do not really care about fast access, then the technology is of little impact. It may look cool or impress people, but at the end of the day whether you use bio-metric (finger print), RFID or an old school dial lock, you unlock it, open it, then close and lock it. But what about home defense? What about faster access?
Promoting these new technologies as faster, safer and better for home defense is problematic. When you consider what needs to happen to access a secured firearm in a crisis situation, the technology sales pitch falls apart and the use of many of these products puts you at greater risk.
During a break-in or home invasion, the environment is intense, stressful, and can be very loud and confusing. Your adrenaline level will spike, you may be nervous, scared, injured and just play mad. When evaluating fast access gun storage I considering 3 primary characteristics that are critical to your chances for a successful outcome.
1. Always be fast,
2. Always be easy
3. Never fail.
Let’s take a look at how these new technologies fare in real world home defense applications.
This is the most popular “innovation” in gun safe locks. You are told you simply swipe your finger and the safe opens.
Although this method is relatively simple, the fingerprint scanners only allow for quick and easy access in nearly perfect conditions: If your fingers are dirty you will not get a good read and the safe will not open. If they are wet, it could take many swipes. If you have dry skin, the same thing can happen and should you be wearing gloves, it will not open
Most of these locks have you program several fingers. There is a reason. They want to give you many chances to open the safe should the first finger fail. Keep in mind that this technology is designed to “say no”. What I mean is, while all fingerprints are different, many are very similar. These readers are designed to stay locked unless the scan exactly matches what you have programmed. . Almost anything will cause these locks to decline to open. In a crisis, the privilege of time does not exist.
Always be fast: Fail Always be easy: Yes Never fail: Fail
WIFI gun safe locks
Wi-Fi enabled safes allow control of the lock with a cell phone or computer. Using a device, in most cases a smartphone, to open a safe via Wi-Fi is very slow and fails the quick access test.
Ease of access depends on the particular application and the device. Users will have to access the app to open the safe. Depending on the type of app and type of phone, this may be more or less complicated.
Wi-Fi fails all the time. Ask anyone trying to stream a movie, or video conference with others. There are way too many variables failure points to rely on this technology in a true crisis situation.
Always be fast: Fail Always be easy: FAIL Never fail: Fail
RFID gun safe locks
Allows you to open a safe by waving a tag in from of it. Similar to many modern hotel door locks. The tag has a small chip with a unique code in it that is read by a transmitter in the lock.
Provided you have the tag, access can be relatively quick and easy.
Most locks come with 4-6 different tags. These tags allow any holder to open your safe. This means that you have to organize and secure your RFID tags and make sure you have one with you at all times. Additionally you need to make sure all tags are secure. Remember, anyone with a tag can open you safe. This adds a lot of complexity to your overall home security plan.
Note: We have seen several companies with these locks, include tags to go on you keys. The tags have the manufacturers name, logo and model printed on them. If an intruder sees your keys, they will know you have this safe and they have the tag to open it.
RFID tags fail. If you travel a lot, you know what it is like to check into a hotel late at night when you are tired, get all the way to your room, only to find out the key does not work. Now you must go back to the lobby with all your bags and get it resolved. For a fast access gun safe in break-in situation, this is not a good solution.
RFID introduce other challenges. To compensate for RFID inconsistencies and lost tags, they all have push button backup locking. People with these locks will initially use a tag to open their safe. Over time they open it less and eventually the tag ends up in the top drawer of a dresser, or on a key chain hanging from a hook near your garage. In the event of a crisis, with no tag, you must now quickly open the lock using the keypad. It this scenario, it’s been a long time since this has been done and the code may be forgotten, and it will certainly take more time to key it in. If it is dark you may need a light to see the keypad. All of this is putting you at much great risk.
Always be fast: FAIL (not without a tag) Always be easy: FAIL Never fail: Fail
The Bottom line
All these new technologies are being added by safe manufacturers to spice up otherwise boring products. There has not been any real innovative change in the gun safe industry in almost 100 years. Simply adopting these technologies into old safes to make it appear better demonstrates a lack of understanding of the basic fundamentals of home defense. As it pertains to fast access and home defense, the new technologies incorporated work against the core function of the product.
A fast access gun safe with a simple push butting lock is consistently the fastest and safest way to secure and access your firearms.
We recommend programming a 4-6 button code. Then practice every day for at least 35 days. After that, practice once a week.
You should have a fast access safe near or under your bed. Every night before you go to sleep. Reach down (in the dark) and enter the code, open the safe, then close it. Doing this every night builds muscle memory and makes it almost an automatic thing. In the event of a break-in, when things seem out of control, you will calmly and quickly enter the code, arm yourself and be in a position to best deal with the threat.