Gun Safe Fail: GunVault SpeedVault Biometric Opens With a Gum Wrapper

GunVault SpeedVault SVB 500

By Dave Goetzinger

More people have contacted me through HandgunSafeResearch.com to ask about GunVault’s SpeedVault Biometric than any other handgun safe. The SpeedVault is arguably GunVault’s most popular handgun safe, though it has been on the market for roughly 10 years.

If you were to estimate how popular this handgun safe is based on the number of knock-off products produced in China right now, the SpeedVault is absolutely GunVault’s most popular handgun safe.

The SpeedVault is designed to provide ready access to a single handgun, and comes in a standard keypad version (SV 500) and biometric version (SVB 500). Both take a 9V battery for power, and both have keys that allow access should their batteries need replacing. The body of the SpeedVault is made of 18-gauge steel, and its latching mechanism is the same basic spring-release mechanism installed in most of the other GunVault products. Incidentally, this latching mechanism is the single most copied design I come across in my examinations of Chinese-made handgun safes.

Basically, the California-approved SpeedVault Biometric is an uncomplicated device designed to serve a specific, limited function. What I wanted to know, however, and what my correspondents want to know, is whether the SpeedVault Biometric is vulnerable to surreptitious entry.

What I discovered within five minutes of getting it out of its box is that, yes the SpeedVault is quite vulnerable.

My initial approach involved a stick of gum—or the aluminum gum wrapper, to be specific. After folding the wrapper flat, I was able to slide it into a gap above the door and close the circuit on the delete function.

I know. You’re wondering if the non-biometric keypad version has the same vulnerability. Unfortunately it does, though with a little more fiddling required.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that manufacturers can be complacent—sometimes surprisingly so. After my 2016 paperclip opening of GunVault’s GVB 1000, GunVault should have recognized the need to test their remaining product line for security problems. But they didn’t. And they’re by no means the only company selling products with vulnerabilities such as this.

Caveat emptor.

Specifications: GunVault SpeedVault SVB 500

Exterior Dimensions: 13″ x 3.5″ x 6.5″
Interior Dimensions: 8.5″ x 2.6″ x 5.75″
Lock Mechanism: Biometric fingerprint scanner with key backup
User Memory: Holds up to 20 individual fingerprints
Mounting: Multiple options, hardware included
Material: 18-gauge steel
Weight: 6.1 lbs
Power Source: 9v battery
Backup override key included
MSRP: $444.00 biometric version, $279.99 keypad version

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall: *
While the safe constructed of good materials, when all you need is a foil gum wrapper to get it open (if you know the trick), it’s hard to recommend it.

comments

  1. avatar little horn says:

    not surprising

  2. avatar PeterK says:

    Wow.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Yeah.

  3. avatar NM says:

    The bottom line? Remember that these kinds of safes only keep out the honest and (perhaps) very young.

  4. avatar Texan Trapped in FL says:

    I have one (keypad version) so I can keep a handgun next to my bed without my very young children messing with it. It works for me

    1. avatar Bloving says:

      Then you are the intended user of this product.
      I have this discussion with customers from time to time – the safe you choose is a contest of wills: Yours versus Whomever You Are Keeping Out of It. The level of security you pay for will be proportionate to the motivation and expected resourcefulness of the person you are expecting to thwart. Small children do not require a huge investment, older opponents require more.

    2. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      Hopefully your keeps the code properly.

      (for the 4-button box) Myself and a number of others have reported an issue to the company that the box ‘loses’ the combo after a short period. Basically, program the code and it works for a few days, weeks, etc., then it just stops accepting the code and you have to input a new one. Rinse, repeat. A few have reported it losing the code within a few hours of inputting a new code.

      They’ve sent replacements to some, and some have not had the issue rear its head. Some, like myself, have had the replacement unit exhibit the same issue. It has basically become a keyed unit as we cannot rely on the code actually working at any given time.

      Went back to my old V-Line Brute (simplex lock) for the bedside box, as it both stout and reliable.

      1. avatar DaveW says:

        While the following applies to a gun safe with an electronic lock, the same conditions may apply…

        My safe would not open. The keypad lit up properly as I hit each key. But the door would not open.

        What I found it that it’s just like a car that has been setting for a while. The battery loses it’s charge over time. Not totally, but just enough that it lacks sufficient current to start the car, yet the dash lights may illuminate. My safe lock was the same. I swapped out the 9-volt battery with one from a pack I had in a kitchen drawer. Nada. One battery failed to illuminate the keypad at all. I tried the other, and I got the same response as the original battery.

        Off to Lowes. I bought a new 2 pak of 9-volt batters and returned home. Swapped out the battery and YEEEEHAWWWW the door was opened on the first try.

      2. avatar JarcoSpang says:

        I noticed the issue too, but it was related to a low battery (not dead, just low).
        These devices (I have 2) work *very* reliably with relatively new batteries; I have no problem with using them in a household full of kids. It’s a matter of keeping up with the batteries, just like you should keep up with your fire and CO2 alarm batteries as well.

  5. avatar dlj95118 says:

    …wowza! What a fickin’ poor design.

  6. avatar FlamencoD says:

    I’ve watched many of this guy’s videos on his site. They are eye opening to say the least. Nearly every single handgun safe or big box sentry safe style safe has serious design flaws that make them vulnerable. Even the better quality simplex lock device safes, while better built, are extremely limited with the number of combinations and can generally be opened by guessing combos in 5-15 minutes.

    The safest bet is a small B-rated safe with a UL listed digital lock. Truly a safe, and can still be accessed quickly. 1/2″ thick steel doors and quality bolt work.

    Now, I wish he would start demonstrating full size gun safes.

  7. avatar Texican says:

    A steel lockbox with a key is only about $30. Works better and saves over $200! Plus it’s portable.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      I can typically pick most pin tumbler locks in anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and I’m not even good.

      1. avatar 16V says:

        Mini-flatblade for tension, and raking a frakkin’ paperclip will get you 60% of what’s out there.

        Not to mention a hockey puck magnet…

  8. avatar rt66paul says:

    How about a used file cabinet? They have keys and keep honest people honest. They also do not say “GUNS!” with their construction.

  9. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    Not surprising. The hacker convention DefCon has had numerous panels discussing failed home safes and how easy it is to bypass their locks. So it’s easy to believe gun safes have many of the same flaws.

  10. avatar ironicatbest says:

    444 I had one of those once, hell of a fine rifle for deer in the brush. Ammo was to hard to find, and I didn’t reload so I sold it

  11. avatar Ralph says:

    I would never buy that safe. I’d be defenseless if someone broke into my home one night and I was all out of gum wrappers.

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

      When gum is outlawed…. 8>)

      1. avatar Terclinger says:

        Gum control.

  12. avatar Jack T. says:

    Put a dollop of silicone or hot glue over the solder.

    1. avatar Carrucan says:

      I was thinking electrical tape, but yeah, silicone would be better. I have two of these – keypad versions ($60 each from Sams Club – they aren’t selling for anywhere near their MSRP). I never intended for them to prevent anyone from breaking in and stealing them, or anything like that. I bought them to keep my granddaughter from accessing the pistols I keep in convenient places for those not so inclined to carry 24/7. In fact, the keys hang nearby – just out of reach of our toddler. I may apply some silicone, but then again, once my granddaughter reaches an age where she could figure out how to open the safe with a foil wrapper, she would already have been educated on respecting the property of others and gun safety.

  13. avatar whoopie says:

    I just watched a video about a $100 biometric padlock. It looked pretty bombproof but the locksmith who examined it discovered that the back can be unscrewed, then a few phillip’s head screws removed and the locking latch comes right out releasing the shackle. Once he knew the trick it took less than 5 minutes.

  14. avatar John says:

    I have a small safe that I use to only to store ammunition. The guns are hidden in places that thieves would never think of looking but are where I can access in under two seconds if needed.

  15. avatar Mikial says:

    To paraphrase General George Patton’s comment about fixed fortification, ‘gun safes like these are monuments to the stupidity of mankind.’ Yeah, a big gun safe to secure your collection when you’re not at home is a great idea. But these little gun safes are just plain stupid. I’ve heard all the arguments about children, but I grew up in a house with guns and learned to shoot and respect guns at a very young age. Consequently, I managed to grow up through a lot of unsupervised time without killing myself or anyone else. My own kids had the same upbringing with the same results. Your home defense gun should be on your person at all times. Locking it in a safe like this will only result in you and your family dying while you are trying to get to your safe and open it.

  16. avatar American Patriot says:

    I guess that says it all…….California Approved

Write a Comment

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

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email