A rather odd if entirely cute handgun choice by the LockPickingLawyer for his demonstration, but point taken. Anyone with basic lock picking skills can pick a Beretta-branded cable lock in no time flat. Or any similar lock from any other manufacturer. And? I mean, who cares that . . .

the standard sort of lock that accompanies new gun purchases can be defeated with a couple of basic tools, five minutes of YouTube instruction and a bit of practice? In reality, a single snip from even a small set of bolt cutters will git ‘er done, too.

In other words, the only person who can’t defeat these standard-issue gun locks is someone who’s either too young or too lazy to obtain and use bolt cutters. They sure wouldn’t stop a thief from stealing a gun so encumbered.

At the same time, finding the wafer thin keys and unlocking a gun secured with one of these “Keep China Great Again” locks during an adrenaline dump is a bit . . . fiddly.

So what’s the point? Surely it’s best to keep your firearm in a safe and teach your kids gun safety ASAP rather than rely on this, what should we call it? Security theater. I mean, do you now or have you ever used these locks? Or do you toss them as soon as you get home?

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71 Responses to Question of the Day: Are Cable Gun Locks a Bad Idea?

  1. Work at a gun shop and I’ve had quite a few customers bringing rifles they inherited with the trigger guard locks on with no keys and these were older gentleman that gave id4 copy and everything and I simply drilled out the lock it took less than 30 seconds each trigger lock and they fell apart and came right off without any damage to the rifle. So I think if you’re going for security you need to actually purchase something to put the weapon into like a safe.

  2. Gun locks have nothing to do with security. The entire idea is to make securing a gun so expensive and onerous (a gun in a vault or safe is entirely useless during a home invasion) that people just stop buying guns….and get rid of the ones they have. No one “safety” measure put forth by “gun sense” people is intended to make guns and their use “safe”. It is the constant attack, everywhere, all the time, that is key. One expected outcome is that people without guns, and those with, will just tire of hearing about gun safety, support legislation banning guns, and getting on with their lives. Making guns a nuisance for everyone (pro-gun people must constantly contend with all the attacks) is the tactic. Gun elimination is the grand strategy.

  3. I never use them, but keep them in a drawer for some strange reason….maybe I think I can use them one day for an actually useful task…but I have yet to come up with one.

    • Ditto… in fact I generally keep it with the original packaging in case I trade or sell the gun later, especially if it’s branded.

    • Same…I always hold on to them for some reason. I guess I think they may come in handy for some non-gun securing reason. And Like Eric in Oregon, I figure if I ever sell the gun, it may sound good to someone to get the complete package.

    • (Raises hand)
      I had a valid use for one once!
      When my kid was but a wee tot we locked up the kitchen cabinets with them!
      Yeah, otherwise pretty useless.

    • I used one to – more or less – secure the back gate for a while when my new dog was a puppy. Lost the key somehow, so had to cut it off. Then I threw the rest of the silly locks away. The dog is now all the security needed.

      Use it on a gun? Absolutely never.

  4. I’ve cut quite a few of them with handheld wire cutters. It’s real easy. You crush the outer shell and cut the inner cable.

    One of my friends takes the locks that come with his guns, breaks or bends the key at a sharp angle, and hands it back to the store for them to trash.

    • I had one on a shotgun and was driving up a few hours to a friend’s dove hunt — I then realized I forgot my key!
      He had a cutter in his garage and it was amazing how easy it was to cut the cable. Like butter…

  5. I use the trigger lock when visiting my parents or the in-laws (usually coinciding with visits by other siblings). They don’t have room in the safe for everything so I’ll usually keep the trigger lock on since it is sitting on the floor in a house that has a lot of young grandkids running around.

    I have a brother-in-law in CA that uses them all the time, when transporting to range, BLM, or out of state, as a show of good faith to the all powerful state.

    • It’s only a matter of time before they require everyone carrying to have a cable lock inserted whilst doing so in CA…

      • “It’s only a matter of time before they require everyone carrying to have a cable lock inserted whilst doing so in CA…”

        There ya’ go. That’s the spirit !

        Hopefully Gov. Moonbeam is listening/watching.

        • Christ I hope not. If so there are going to be quite a few gun owners in CA that will be moderately upset with me

        • California has yet to require long guns to be locked during transport. They have to be cased or you may scare the mugels. Pistols and anything registered as an Assault Rifle or 50 BMG have to be in a locked case. There are no requirements on the case or lock or locking mechanism. I have a couple of soft cases with plastic d-rings, satisfy the states requirements perfectly.

    • California mandates that a gun cannot be delivered to a buyer unless accompanied by an approved locking device purchased within the last 30 days. The purpose is not to deter theft, but for the protection of children. California law further provides criminal penalties of a child gets ahold of a firearm and someone is injured or killed, so they have their uses–if you have kids. This applies to long guns and handguns. The whole thing gets really silly when you buy a lever gun, since you have to wrap the cable around the wrist and through the lever, and even sillier when you buy a stripped lower and have to buy a lock too. I have a number of locks, The branded ones I keep in the cases the guns came in, and I can assure any buyer that the lock is entirely unused. Funny story, when I bought a Kahr, it came with a trigger locking device, and the salesman at the store couldn’t figure out how to install it. At least the mandate does not apply to cap and ball pistols, since you couldn’t lock them with a cable anyway.

      • Actually you don’t have to buy a lock if you own a safe. So I own a TSA approved travel safe that now “stores” of of my firearms.

  6. Is that what those things are? I never knew. I keep them in the original box just in case I sell the gun. Wanna get top dollar you know, gotta have that box and everything that came with it to be honest selling as LNIB.

    In reality, they’re like that label that says “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”. Government stupidity at it’s best.

  7. I used the locks that came with my guns for a while. They did the job I needed them to do, which was to deter idle and curious hands (especially those attached to children) and reassure nervous relatives that my firearms weren’t going to jump up and attack someone.

    I don’t use ’em at home now that I have a fire-resistant residential security container (“gun safe” is the technical term, I believe), but I do take them with me when I travel with my guns, for the aforementioned reasons.

    No lock or security system is going to stop someone with sufficient time and determination — but if it’s enough of an obstacle to deter the 99.5% who are merely opportunists, then it’s worthwhile.

    • There are several videos that show most big, expensive safes can be broken into in about 30 minutes…

      It stuns me at the number of gun owners I’ve seen on FB post things like “Going to [insert place/location_here] for vacation! It’ll be a blast!!!”

      Its tempting fate…

  8. “LockPickingLawyer”, eh?

    Does he have another name, like “PocketPickingLawyer”?

    (Truth in advertising, etc…)

  9. The only time I’ve used one in the last decade was actually to attach my pelican case to the inside of my luggage when I was flying. It would have been relatively straightforward to defeat. However, it gave me that much more “evidence” should the pelican case have disappeared from the inside of my luggage, that it didn’t accidentally come out.
    I can’t see myself ever using one to actually secure/disable a gun, unless it was to provide peace of mind to a gunsmith when i enter his shop.

  10. It’s all Fing bullsh_t, and they got too many people to buy into it, instead of those people giving the Peacenik Safety Turds a wet flip-flop beating.

    It’s “window dressing” except it’s not even out of the container, and when you open the container you find that someone has replaced the contents with food wrappers.

  11. I don’t know if it’s a “bad” idea but it’s certainly a stupid one. I’ve broken one with my bare hands. Cutting them with tree loppers or pruning shears is a piece of cake. Real bolt cutters are no match. Just wiggling one back and forth quickly for a period of time will cause it fail.

  12. I wouldn’t have bothered picking it. Just use some wire snippers/cutters. Cheaper than picks and faster.

  13. Got ’em and have never used them. Hey I have a Taurus with a integral lock. Never activated it. No little kids either.

  14. Yeah, It really works. the misconception among the people nowadays that why they’ll use gun safes?
    Gun is not for violence after all, its for safety as I think. if you don’t wanna use a gun safety lock or gun safe boxes, then don’t use it but you’re risking other lives too.

    you can also use portable gun safes if you don’t trust those safety locks.

  15. How about a big red WARNING label instead:

    If you need a cheap government mandated lock for this firearm, maybe you should re-evaluate buying it.

    • Funny you should say that. California mandates a number of “safety” signs be posted in gun stores. Now some dimwitted pol wants essentially the same warnings to be include with the sale of all guns. WARNING! GUNS CAN KILL! YOU ARE AT HIGHER RISK OF DEATH OR INJURY IF YOU HAVE A GUN IN YOUR HOME! I wish I were kidding.

  16. I’ve always thought that trigger locks were better and tougher to break. I’d rather be given those than the stupid cable that you have to loop through the action and compress the recoil spring unnecessarily for long periods of time.

    • Maybe I needed to buy a nicer (and more expensive?) Ruger. The lock that came with my Mark IV was even more puny and flimsy than the chinese junk that get the Beretta-logo blue plastic wrap.

      I figure they’re all lowest-bidder window dressing to appease the entrenched “anti” bunch, included as an in-the-box plausible deniability accessory so the makers’ lawyers can say to any incoming lawyers and regulators, “See?? We give our customers a FREE safety lock!! They’re SUPPOSED to use them!! We put instructions in the manual and everything!! Won’t somebody think of the CHILLLLDRENNNN??!!”

        • Have a large bag full of locks from Rugers; some are cheap worthless trash & some are actually large nice normal locks.

  17. At one point a few years ago I kept one fastened around the seat frame of my car to secure my carry gun while I was volunteering at my daughter’s school. But since she graduated there was no point any longer. The only time I leave the gun in the car now is going in to see the doctor, since it just gets in the way.

  18. In the land of stupid gun laws, they’re handy for securing lever actions (when being stored not in a locking container), as trigger locks don’t quite do the job. Handier still would be a lack of said stupid gun laws, of course.

  19. I used one for approximately 24 hours on the first handgun I ever owned.

    I keep them because they’re stuff and, well, I like stuff.

  20. Cabella’s in CT required that it be in use to lock the gun before they would let me leave the store with my purchase. Then they wrapped the pistol case in tape. So I couldn’t take it out in the store. Even though I didn’t actually buy any ammo that day. And even though, as a a holder of a CT handgun license (which they’d reviewed, obviously) I was legally carrying a loaded, concealed handgun.

    Most other FFLs are satisfied if you just tell them that you’ll be putting the gun into a locked trunk.

  21. this is important for NON – CPL holders.

    Many times we TRANSPORT guns, to the range, to an outdoor hunting camp or to an out of state’s relatives home. In this case, there’s rules about keeping the guns secured, in a locked case, and keeping the ammo in a separate part of the vehicle.

    Still, many LEO’s MAY question your transport of guns, if you happened to be stopped for a broken tail light. This is especially true, if you’ve got say, 3-12 guns secured in your vehicle.

    I think these gun locks may provide an extra level of verification to that cop who stops you for a broke tail light on the way to hunt camp or the range.

    besides that, I think they’re wortless as a safety feature.

  22. “Surely it’s best to keep your firearm in a safe and teach your kids gun safety ASAP rather than rely on this”

    No, damnit. Surely it’s best to do all three.

    Good grief!

    Those cable locks are for children. There is an age range where they’re big enough to pull a trigger but not old enough to understand the danger.

    Sometimes my poorly disciplined grandkids visit. I can’t teach them respect for authority in the few days I have. My guns are in a safe. Not everyone can afford a safe, and these locks will do just fine for preventing a 3-yr-old from blowing his brains out.

    NSSF has given away thousands of these. I have no doubt they have saved lives.

    • Curtis, I completely agree. The reason I lock my concealed carry up in my car when it’s not on me is to keep it out of kids hands. A hardened criminal will eventually get what he wants, but a cable lock with thwart some stupid 8 year old from blowing his head off.

  23. Do NOT discard your cable locks. A cable lock is an excellent substitute for a blackjack.

    I don’t think using a cable lock as an improvised blackjack is what the politicians had in mind, which makes it even better.

    • Never thought of that. Here in Texas, blackjacks are illegal, but that’s just a lock I left in my truck/bag/whatever.

      • This^^^^
        Want to have an “improvised weapon” in your bag/backpack that most people wouldn’t look twice at? Especially if you have other “stuff” (sunglasses, magic markers, papers, odd & ends…) in there too.

    • I googled “blackjack” and found nothing but the card game.
      I must be out of touch. Enlighten me?

      • “I googled “blackjack” and found nothing but the card game.
        I must be out of touch. Enlighten me?”

        OMG!

        If Google cannot find the meaning of ‘blackjack’ as a weapon…..some of us are just getting too old.

        • “Ok now I googled “blackjack weapon.”
          Consider me enlightened.”

          Google is run by kids. Those kids could not turn-up “blackjack” as a weapon just using the term “blackjack”. Some of us are very familiar with the meaning in context of weaponry. Some of us are just getting too old.

      • A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (The Bronx circa 1960s), the not-so-improvised weapon of choice was a heavy Master Lock at the end of a short piece of heavy chain.

  24. I’m going to bite. Yes, I have a big fire safe. Actually a couple. I also have a small Hornady handgun “safe” if that’s the correct term for it. I’m not sure how many home robbers bring bolt cutters and lock picks.

    I’ve rigged the cable lock around a metal table then through the cable attached to the Hornady handgun “safe.” I ran it under a carpet and hid it inside the bottom of a couch. I think I saw a concealment bench which gave me the stupid idea.

    But you’d never know anything is there as the whole thing is hidden. Lock, cable and Hornady thing. If a burglar found it and had bolt cutters they could walk off with the Hornady handgun “safe.” But without a lock pick and cutters they would have to drag a large steal table.

    They would have to put time into finding it and figuring it out. Burglars don’t normally spend time. And if I used it, it would be in a pinch like kids are coming over. But thought I’d put it on here so people could pick on me and feel better about themselves. Lol

  25. I use one when I travel, and when I store my shotgun at my university’s public safety building. It doesn’t really provide any security, but we’re supposed to lock our guns for transporting them, and I like the idea of making it slightly more difficult for anybody who works for public safety to play with my gun.

  26. I’ve literally never used a gun lock for anything other than keeping the zippers on my range bag closed when I’m not at the range. I’m under no illusions that it presents an actual challenge to someone who wants to get in–the bag itself could easily be cut open just as easily as the lock could be snipped apart. It just functions as an easy way to make sure no one’s gotten into my things at home.

    But as a theft deterrent? As if.

  27. Oddly enough I have a cable lock that is hard to pick.

    I’d have to go through my box of practice locks to find it and it has no brand name, just the word CHINA stamped on it. It’s hard to pick because it’s so cheap that nothing really lines up and turning the cylinder almost breaks your tension wrench. When you put one of the keys in it and turn the key it’s gritty and prone to not opening because… Nothing lines up. Might take 30 seconds(and a lot of wiggling) to pop open with the key!

    That said, generally gun locks are dumb. False sense of security and all that.

    • Been picking locks for 20 years. As a bonded locksmith these are easy. They are big bro required, not for any security reason. The cheap locks I can open with a bent paperclip. and the gun safes with electronic keypads or fingerprint pads I can open because they all attach from the outside to the inside.

      • I’ll bet you dollars to doughnut crumbs this one will give you trouble.

        Like I said, nothing lines up. Even with a key she’s a bear to open and it’s not corroded or dirty. It’s just a lock that’s not made correctly. You can tell it’s cheap because the cylinder moves around in the housing and binds up if you look at it wrong. The pins are a snap in most cases but the cylinder doesn’t want to move because… well it never wants to move.

        You know that “Wow, this feels like junk” feeling some cheap warded locks give you? This isn’t warded, it’s a tumbler but it gives you that feeling on steroids. It’s just gross.

        I just find it amusing that this particular, really cheap lock, is hard to pick specifically because it’s such a POS and nothing lines up with anything. Honestly, it’s so cheap I don’t even think you can really over pick it, it’s cylinder just doesn’t like to move because it’s cheap Chicom crap.

  28. The mere presence of the lock would probably stop small children and airhead adults from making a mistake with the gun. It’s literally better than nothing, I suppose.

    It would never stop anyone with malice in their hearts who knows what they’re doing.

  29. Every time I purchase a firearm, the dealer looks me in the eye and gives me a yellow Youth Handgun Safety Act pamphlet, “By law, I’m required to give this to you…”. I pick up the pamphlet and say, “Thank you!”, then a second later place it back down and leave. Why kill a tree if you don’t have to? Reduce, reuse, recycle!

  30. For thieves and determined criminals, they’re useless.

    For the casual passerby or children or visiting relatives, these certainly have a use.

  31. I’m surprised to see in all these responses nobody addressed the actual reason these locks aren’t state of the art.
    They aren’t meant to be impenetrable fortresses but merely a cost effective way someone who doesn’t have a safe or other stronghold can keep kids from playing with it and functioning it.
    That’s really all they’re for.

    Geeze……

    • I agree, Bob. Ten plus years ago when I had little kids around the house frequently, I used those locks just to be extra sure little hands, if they somehow found a handgun, didn’t use them for harm.

      I also travelled to and through IL frequently back then and I would use them on the gun I travelled with to give extra protection for myself if I got pulled over. Back then, if you had a gun in your car, even locked in a container, IL cops could, and sometimes did, ask you to unlock the case so they could inspect that the firearm was unloaded. A fraternity brother got his pistol seized and received a citation in such a situation. He had been to the range and got pulled over for speeding on the way home. Cop asked if he had guns in the truck, he did, asked him to see it, he got out the case and gave the cop the key for the lock. Cop opened the case, checked the pistol and my fraternity brother when removing the mag hadn’t cleared the chamber. Bye, bye pistol, hello citation for illegal transportation.
      Years later, when I started carrying, I had 2 different IL LEO friends suggest the cable lock on a cased sidearm to me because they had heard of their brothers in blue in the state themselves inserting a mag into a pistol and claiming it was that way they found it. While cops could still ask you to show them the firearm, the cable lock was treated as visual proof that it was unloaded and in a currently non-functioning state. I carried the key to the padlock on the case separate from the cable lock key so if I gave the padlock key to a cop he wouldn’t have the cable lock key too. Never got pulled over so was never an issue. Sounds paranoid in hindsight, but at the time, travelling in IL with even a properly transported firearm was a bit worrisome.

  32. These locks are a tool, just like any other tool. Making the argument “they aren’t 100% effective, so why use them?” is self defeating. People who own and use guns are sometimes victims of criminal violence. People with fire extinguishers sometimes suffer catastrophic home fires. The list goes on.

    What these locks are good for is preventing immediate access to guns. There is a spectrum of age where children are too young to learn gun safety, but also too young to defeat an inexpensive gun lock. As children get older, a lock like this at least serves as a speed bump. Yes, you should have taught them gun safety by then. Do they always listen to what you tell them? Did their friends’ parents teach their children gun safety? These locks still require some knowledge, tools, and a determined effort to defeat. If nothing else, they buy you time to intervene. “Hey buddy, where are you going with daddy’s bolt cutters?”

    If you think any kind of lock is going to defeat criminals, then you are fool. Criminals are known to defeat gun safes, or even steal them so that they can work on them at their leisure. So let’s recognize tools for what they are and not heap unrealistic expectations on them.

  33. One of the shops I frequent has a bowl of the stupid trigger guard locks on the counter:

    They give you one when you buy a gun, then you throw it back in the bowl. They have to give it to you, they can’t make you take it.

  34. Been shooting for 50 years. Grew up in a home full of loaded guns. Raised my sons in a home full of loaded guns. Never had a need for a gun lock of any kind. I was taught how and why to be safe around loaded guns and so were they. A lock on a gun makes it either a rock or a club. Neither preferable to a firearm if the need for one arises.

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