I was contacted by Stealth Tactical recently with questions about my process for evaluating handgun safes, and in our exchange I revealed that I’ve grown reluctant to recommend electronic safes. I asked Stealth if I might examine one of their handgun safes featuring a mechanical pushbutton lock. Stealth sent me their Original Handgun Safe to look at. After giving it the once over, I replaced my old Fort Knox Original Pistol Box right then and there.
I first want go over some of the features that make this the first handgun safe I feel comfortable recommending. Then I’ll try to correct some of the confusion floating around regarding the KABA Simplex lock.
One of the first things I noticed about the Stealth Original Handgun Safe is that it has a tough scratch-resistant finish that is quite different from the finish on the two Fort Knox pistol boxes I’ve examined. The Fort Knox boxes have a metallic finish, and the process of producing the finish results in a fine grit being deposited inside the boxes.
Rather than cleaning the grit out, Fort Knox assembled both boxes and left the grit inside. Because of this, the Simplex locks in both boxes had buttons that stuck. I had to remove the locks to knock the grit out of them. The Simplex lock installed in the Stealth Original Handgun Safe works just fine, no disassembly required.
Anther feature I like about this safe is that, inside the lid where the hinge is, a heavy steal bar has been welded in place to grab against the frame of the box when it’s closed. If someone were to somehow wedge a large screwdriver or pry bar into the hinge at the back, there would be no prying the lid open from behind. In fact, there is no way to gain purchase with a pry bar on the lid, period.
The safe also has a handle that allows for portability. If someone were industrious enough to try removing the handle to open a couple of holes into the safe, that person would accomplish nothing. The KABA Simplex lock is encased in a housing made of the same 10-gauge steel the rest of the box is made of. No one is going to attack the lock with a drill by removing the handle.
The safe has another feature worth mentioning, a small matter of refinement that shows an attention to detail. The top layer of padding in the box is a “pluck and pull” piece of foam with a pre-cut grid that can be removed in pieces to accommodate items a person wants nestled inside foam. If the owner doesn’t want to use this feature, that person can simply swap the bottom and top layers of foam. Given that some people are going to mess up their initial attempt to use this foam, Stealth might consider selling foam layers separately. But that’s a minor issue.
Now, about the KABA Simplex lock: A couple of years ago I posted a video pointing out that with enough time a person could eventually stumble upon the combination of a Simplex lock. What I failed to explain is how difficult that is.
Look around online for a video—just one—where someone has recorded himself banging through all 1,082 possible combinations in one long, sustained attack. You will find no such video. No one is going to record the attack for a number of reasons. It’s hard to do. It’s easy to get lost in the sequence of combinations to work through. And it hurts.
When I tried banging through the combinations, I had to go for 30 seconds at a time and then add all the time up. The truth is, I probably added wrong and it took longer to get through the combinations than I estimated.
The point is this: the Simplex lock is more than enough deterrent to stop an opportunist who tries breaking into your safe.
Stealth, OriginalHandgunSafe from Handgun Safe Research on Vimeo.
The Stealth Original Handgun Safe has the distinction of being the first handgun safe I feel I can recommend without qualifying remarks. I’ve made it my own handgun safe. Therefore, I decided the time had come for me to design a Handgun Safe Research seal of approval, which I’ve given to this safe.
Specifications: Stealth Tactical Original Handgun Safe
Exterior Dimensions: 4-1/4″ H x 12-9/16″ W x 10-1/4″ D
Interior Dimensions: 3″ H x 10-1/2″ W x 9″ D
Lock Mechanism: Simplex lock
Mounting: Four pre-drilled mounting holes on the bottom
Material: 10-gauge steel
Weight: 24 lbs
Made in USA
Rating (five out of five stars):
Overall: * * * * *
The Stealth Original Handgun safe is a secure, solidly constructed case that’s more than tough enough to deter the average intruder. Highly recommended.
Three hundred dollars?
Say it ain’t so?
The company must really like the smell of its own farts. Even if 10 gauge steel and scratch resistant.
“tough enough to deter then a average intruder” Not exactly bombproof. Average is, well, average.
It all comes down to how much you value what you put inside, dontcha think?
$300 to safeguard a firearm that cost me several times that, and with the assurance that I can open it quickly and reliably when needed, seems like a reasonable price to pay, imo. But if you wanna go with a cheap option that is easily broken into, with an electronic lock dependent on a battery, go for it. Just think of all the money you saved…
What method would you use to attach this safe to something and what you recommend attaching it to?
Dr. Michael S. Brown,
If you want to mount this onto something wood, I guess I would suggest big lag bolts with washers. You might pre-drill holes and then thread the bolts down with a socket wrench.
Some time ago I bought a couple of inexpensive handgun safes, both with top lids that open up. For where I wanted to put one of them (in a cubby hole), it was a bad choice. The lid needed to be at least half way open to retrieve a weapon. I suppose a small female, with dainty hands do it with the lid a third of the way up. but that’s not me.
This means I needed around eight inches or more, for the lid to open enough to retrieve said weapon. Even then, I risked getting the piece, or my hands scratched, with a quick removal.
For my installation requirements I will be getting a model that has a slide out drawer.
I have the Fort Knox safe. There is no grit anywhere. The lock works fine. No idea what you are talking about, other than you are throwing some shade around for a review.
No grit on my Fort Knox safe either. This is a complete rip off of the FK safe and seems like a paid advertiser of this site.
I also have a Ft. Knox safe, the large version in which I can store a PCC and several pistols. Very high quality. No sign of any grit. Excellent finish, and yes, it is expensive. But prior to this I owned several Gun Vaults with electronic locks, all of which failed and Gun Vault would not repair them. I would have been money ahead if I had purchased the Ft. Knox safe first.
No grit on my Fort Knox Handgun safe either. Mine is floor mounted and against 2 walls so prying it from the back is not possible. I’ve had it for 5 years, open it a few times a week and the gas strut and simplex lock works like new. Paid $200 back then.
Johnny two stones,
I am not a paid advertiser for Stealth. I test firearm safety products, primarily for people in the industry–even manufacturers in China. Believe it or not, most Chinese manufacturers want to know how to improve their products.
When I do testing on the side, I am impartial. My initial attack on Stealth’s Hanging Handgun Safe was pretty devastating, and Stealth responded immediately by addressing the problem. I will admit, their quick response to the security problem impressed me, but I intend to keep testing and finding other handgun safes I can recommend.
As for the grit in the two Fort Knox products I have examined, I failed to mention that it was a simple matter to vacuum out the grit. My complaint was that the grit gummed up the Simplex locks, because the locks were not encased in anything. Maybe Fort Knox has changed the production process, but I’ve received complaints from people that the Simplex locks on their Fort Knox products were not working.
Nice! I have an old American Security safe that is similar to this, albeit not quite so strongly built.
“meets all the specifications for California DOJ approval and has passed under the item name: AMSEC PS1210HD”
Sounds like a repainted Amsec for $25’ish cheaper, wonder what else is different?
Go look at vline industries. Same thing, about half the price. I’ve used their products for years, only diff i see is no pluck and pull foam included…but that doesn’t cost $100
But the reviewer did not answer the most important question: can a clever and persistent three year-old child break into the box with minimal time and effort?
I mention this because there is a video showing a three year-old child quite easily opening multiple handgun safes using nothing more than metal strip in one case, a screw driver in another instance, and good old-fashioned smack down (picking up the case and dropping it on a hard floor) in another case to open those other safes.
On the possibility you’re not merely trolling–but more importantly to prevent people from being misled by your comment–I’ll respond to you. I have already debunked the efforts of Marc Tobias and Tobias Bluzmanis to frighten people with the shock video you embedded. From my site:
“Parents have been needlessly terrified by a shock video online showing a three-year old apparently opening handgun safes. The video, “THREE YEAR OLD TOBY OPENS DIFFERENT GUN SAFES,” was put together in 2012 by Marc Tobias and his colleague Tobias Bluzmanis. Parents often don’t realize that the child was coached in order for Tobias and Bluzmanis to capture their “shocking” video.
In one segment, for example, the 3-year old son of Bluzmanis is seated behind a Stack-On QAS-1000 drawer safe. He has a lock pick in hand (his father happens to be a locksmith). He pokes the keyed bypass lock, asking, “¿Aquí, Papí?” He’s speaking Spanish. He’s saying, “Here, Daddy?” (“Papí” is an affectionate form of “Papá.”) Tobias says something unintelligible and removes the rubber fitting from the top of the safe, upon which the boy shoves the pick down the hole he’s been shown to use. The safe pops open. Viewers who know nothing about the safe don’t realize the latch mechanism inside has been compromised already, allowing the safe to be opened easily.”
I have yet to see anyone capture on video a successful, untutored, unrehearsed, forced attack on a KABA Simplex lock performed by a three-year old. Furthermore, if anyone were to argue that such a thing was likely to happen, that person would have to present convincing evidence on video in the form of capturing at least a dozen or so three-year olds successfully opening a KABA Simplex lock by banging through all the combinations in prolonged, sustained attacks.
A tad off the subject, but 30 years ago, or so, I was in a Locksmith shop, and he showed me a key that was triangular in shape, with notches cut an the edges of all three angles. This amounted to quite a few different combinations, as well as making it almost impossible to pick.
Have you ever heard of these?
All you need is a little bit of time and a smartphone to defeat a Kaba simplex lock. Some older versions might be defeated with a rare earth magnet. There are combo lists online to help you go through the ~1k combo possibilities (~2k with half presses, as I understand it) – tedious, but it only takes a few minutes. Certainly beyond the capabilities of a typical toddler or a hurried smash & grab meth head, but I wouldn’t use this lock if I had older, savvier kids in the house.
We need to have realistic expectations about gun safes and locks.
Biggest concern is young children who can’t be taught gun safety with the level of confidence we seek. A young child who so can’t be taught will also not have the patience or the intellectual capacity to overcome a decent lock or box. Main risk is that he finds an insecure gun while on a play-date in another family’s house.
Older children are a different problem altogether. They DO have the capacity to learn gun safety with the confidence we seek. That said, they also have the capacity to acquire a gun from inside or outside the environment(s) where we have control. By the time I reached that age I had all the tools I would have needed and the ingenuity to apply them. However, I had also figured out (without instruction) how dangerous everything around me was. So, nothing was locked up or otherwise inaccessible to me; including blasting supplies. You can’t stop these kids. If you have guns then someone else in your neighborhood also has guns and you can’t get your neighbors to secure their guns against the ingenuity and preparation of a teenager.
Burglars are either: prepared; or, unprepared. If prepared then your problem is quite different. You need to have thought about avoiding discovery of the fact that you have guns and about placing and hiding your safe so that it won’t likely be found; or, if found, attacked successfully. Alarms, with central station monitoring. Insurance. By the time you cover all of these I think the lowest cost approach is apt to be hiding guns in a secreted compartment in walls or ceilings.
If unprepared, you don’t need much. Just buy a strong box and lag-screw it into something not portable.
The supply of guns in America is so enormous, and the demand from prohibited persons comparatively small that it has never been realistic to stem the flow of stolen guns to the black market. The hole in the dyke is too large for us to plug it with our collective fingers. That said, there is nevertheless a two-fold problem.
First, we ought to desire to protect the members of our families and visitors. What, exactly, am I driving at here? Do I really care if YOUR child or his playmate accesses YOUR gun and kills himself? No more than I care about any OTHER of thousands of contingencies resulting in unfortunate deaths of children. What I care about – and all of us should care about – is the PUBLIC PERCEPTION about news stories on such incidents. Let’s be clear. When the news publishes a story about a child drowning in a back yard pool, there is no clammer for filling in home pools. What happens when the news publishes a story about a young child in a gun accident? Your God-given right to behave foolishly is undermining my right – and the rights of all the rest of us – to be left alone by the legislators on the payroll of the Anti’s.
Second, I suspect that the largest hole in the sieve supplying the black market is guns stolen from cars and homes that were not secured – not at all. News reports of such burglaries are bad PR for private gun ownership. The fewer such reports, the less bad PR. Gun owners need to make themselves be seen as doing as much as we can do – at a practical level – to avoid leakage of guns by simple casual burglaries into the black market.
Quasimofo and MarkPA,
Both of your comments are spot on.
A handgun safe will only stop a toddler with casual interest or an unprepared smash-and-grab thief (assuming that the handgun safe is secured to substantial surface).
Any child with basic Internet search engine skills and a modicum of mechanical inclination will probably be able to find a website that tells them how to defeat any handgun safe. And a prepared thief can simply take a handgun safe elsewhere to defeat it at his/her leisure.
Thank you for the information. I was definitely NOT trying to troll. I am actually quite concerned for the well-being of my fellow man and I wanted people to be aware if handgun safes had serious shortcomings.
My solution to prevent young children from accessing a handgun is to simply store it on a very small shelf as close to the ceiling as possible. Such a solution is far less expensive and far more reliable (both in terms of quickly accessing the handgun in an emergency and preventing children from accessing the handgun) in my opinion.
Note on ceiling shelf storage: by the time your children are old/big/strong enough to create an improvised ladder to access your handgun on a shelf at ceiling level, they are old enough to know that they cannot play with a handgun. Furthermore, if you wear the handgun while you are awake, your children will not access it. Finally, if your children never see you put the handgun up there, they will never know that it is there and never try to access it.
I have this same lock box and it is massively heavy and well built. It is currently $170 with free shipping at deansafe.com
Never liked locking boxes for guns. Batteries die, you can’t find the back up battery pack or the quick open circular key…. you f up the combination at 4:30 in the morning…. your fingerprint finger has a bandaid on it, or you have superglue residue on your hands altering your print or you burned and scarred your finger and you forget that you actually put your other fingers print in the computer. Meanwhile someone gets closer to you.
Dave – what about UL listed electronic locks on large UL RSC listed gun safes? I assume they are acceptable?
I focus on small devices that typically fall within the parameters of what the State of California calls firearms safety devices. If you want to learn about large safes and their locks, I suggest you check out https://gunsafereviewsguy.com.
What’s your recourse when the Simplex lock fails? There doesn’t appear to be a key backup, so how do you get into your safe without breaking out the angle grinder?