Mechanical vs. Electronic: Which Lock is Best For My Gun Safe

One thing that every responsible firearm owner has in common is our knowledge and understanding concerning the importance of keeping our guns locked up. The lock to a gun safe has two different primary functions:

  • Providing protection for your guns and other valuables within the safe.
  • Ensuring the protection and safety of your family against unnecessary accidents resulting in harm or death.

In general, any combination lock will have either one, if not both options for operating the locking system. They will typically have either a mechanical mechanism with a dial that must be turned or an electronic system that operates once a combination has been entered into a keypad.


There really is no right or wrong answer to the question of which one is best, it basically comes down to the style of your taste. Yes, mechanical locks have been effective for as long as gun safes have been needed. But, with all the advances that happen within technology, there is much that can be said when it comes to both the safety and simplicity of electronic locks. Before you rush into making a decision, here are a few facts you may want to consider about both.

Mechanical Locks

There are generally three different ways to operate a mechanical lock:

  1. After the door has been opened by using your combination, you will want to turn the dial for entering the combo back to zero. By doing this, you will reset the lock which requires the combination to be entered again in order to access the contents that are inside the safe. This method provides the most protection when using a safe with a mechanical lock.
  2. Once the door has been opened, the key can be used in order to lock the dial into position. This will allow you access to the inside of your safe by with a simple turn of the handle. This is ideal for anyone needing to access their safe on a constant basis, without the door to the safe being left wide open.
  3. Leave the dial locked in place, but lock the handle with the key to the safe. This method will make it possible to allow anyone with a key access to the inside of the safe without providing them with the lock’s combination. However, there is some risk involved here. Remember, anyone with the key now has access to your safe, as long as the lock remains locked in position. Keep in mind, providing someone with a key doesn’t automatically allow them to open the safe. The key will only lock or unlock the dial with the combination.

Once you have used the combination to unlock your safe, it’s important for you to remember to reset the dial past zero. By giving this extra turn, you will reset the combination, unless of course, you are wanting the key to the safe as the only protection against your weapons that are inside.

By waiting until after the safe door has been closed before resetting the dial past zero, you will also need to re-enter the combination in order to use the key before the safe can be opened again.

Electronic Locks

Gun safes operated with an electronic lock are provided with a keyboard and an internal circuit which are used in order to operate the locking mechanism. You are not given access to the inside of the safe until you use the keypad to enter your numeric code, which is then verified by the circuit.

One of the key benefits of owning a gun safe with an electronic lock is the ability to unlock and open the safe within a matter of seconds. Once the door has been closed, an automatic relocking feature will make sure the safe has been secured. No dial to turn, combinations to reset, or keys that need to be used, simply close the door and the safe is locked up tight.

You will also have the option of having more than one combination for the lock and the combinations can easily be changed. The only set back to this is if you have entered the wrong combination several times in a row, you’ll be locked out by the internal locking system. While there isn’t any significant maintenance needed, the lock will need to be replaced on an average of every ten years.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, there really isn’t a right or wrong choice when it comes down to the type of lock you purchase. It all boils down to your personal taste and the style you prefer. Both mechanical and electronic locks are reliable and can be trusted on to protect your weapons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *