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I dabble in lockpicking. It gives me something to do with my hands on long conference calls or short flights, and it’s a pretty useful skill to have at times. Thanks to this pastime I’ve come to understand exactly how crappy locks are, and how insanely easy it is to break into just about anything I want (like that time I picked my way into a Top Secret level secure facility… because I left my badge on my desk). Turns out some of the more common handgun locks aren’t much better — I wasn’t expecting Fort Knox level security, but I figured it would take more than a half diamond and ten seconds. Guess not. Moral of the story: BUY A GUN SAFE.

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  1. Being home all the time and having big gaurd dogs is almost as good as keeping your fully loaded weapon on you at all times.

    • He’s talking about spending 10 to 20,000 on his safes though correct? A market that most of us normal folks can’t touch.

    • That’s why we bolt the safe to the floor with the door flush to the wall. No leverage.

    • You bolt the safe to the ground, in a place where you can’t get lever action on the door. Notice that any time you see these videos, the guys have free rein to tip it over, lay it on its back, and work on it from the position of maximum leverage.

      • You dont have to lay it on its back, it just makes things slightly easier. If you need more leverage, just put a pipe over your pry bar.

        Where is a place where you can’t use a pry bar on the door? Are you going to build a hallway dedicated solely to your safe? Fine, then go to home depot, buy a Bernzomatic propylene/oxygen torch for $60, and cut the lock out. Or buy a angle grinder and cut the lock out. Either way isnt going to take a long time. Take the back off the door on your safe, it is rather disappointing how thin the metal is, and how simple the mechanism is.

        • Where is a place where you can’t use a pry bar on the door?

          You’re standing in front of the safe. The door opens toward you, hinges on the left. The safe is against the wall behind it and the wall to your right. If you want a little more room to work, you can even move the safe off that right-hand wall by a foot or 18 inches. Even at 18 inches off that right wall, there’s not room for any respectable pry bar, much less those six foot monsters used by the guys in the video.

          If your safe happens to hinge on the right, just reverse this image.

        • Posting on my phone lost this paragraph somehow:

          Fine, then go to home depot, buy a Bernzomatic propylene/oxygen torch for $60, and cut the lock out. Or buy a angle grinder and cut the lock out.

          OK, but first, your average burglar isn’t likely to come equipped with either of those, and second, even if they do, because they know you have a gun safe, at that point we’re WAY past the “under 2 minutes” that you stated in your first comment. Not only that, but a torch is probably going to set off the smoke/fire alarm, and an angle grinder is noisier than a stray cat orgy.

        • Get a pry bar with a adjustable head like this or a crow bar and you’ve defeated your whole wall in the way idea

          It isnt hard to pull the battery on a smoke detector. Who cares how loud a angle grinder is, no one is going to call the cops over one. Torches and grinders can cut sheet metal fairly quick, worst case scenario is 5 minutes. The 2 minutes I mentioned was for the video above, although I wouldnt be surprised if you could cut one open in 2 minutes. We are talking about cutting a line less than 24″ long out of 12 – 16 gauge steel.

        • Here is a video of cutting aprox 16″-18″ peice of sheet metal in less than a minute with a angle grinder.

        • I know my neighbors, and I know their cars. If I heard that sound coming from a neighboring apartment (and believe me, I would hear it through these crappy walls), I would look for their car, and if I didn’t see it, I would at least be knocking on their door, and I’d hope they’d do the same for me.

          Clearly this is going to be another one of those subjects that you will argue to death. Like virtually every other conversation with you. It’s like arguing with a 9/11 conspiracist who can give you 12 reasons why it was an inside job, and you can disprove 11 of them, but if you can’t disprove the 12th one they say, “A ha! I told you so!” So I’m done. You can say you won this one, if that makes you happy. Gun safes are dumb, or something.

          My last comment: Someone once told me you should never bring up a problem without bringing along a potential solution. So I put it to you, then, if gun locks are demonstrably stupid, and a gun safe isn’t good enough for you, what is your solution?

          As they say on the radio, I’ll hang up and listen to your response.

        • I would at least be knocking on their door, and I’d hope they’d do the same for me.

          Good luck with that hope.

          Clearly this is going to be another one of those subjects that you will argue to death… You can say you won this one, if that makes you happy. Gun safes are dumb, or something.
          I never said they were dumb, I said there were not that much more secure than the hand gun lock this article is about. They may be better than a gun lock or lock box or gun locker, but they provide a greater false sense of security than real security. And just a reminder, but it was your idea to argue with me, you could have easily ignored my post.

          Someone once told me you should never bring up a problem without bringing along a potential solution.
          That someone has never done a security audit (i’ve done data security audits myself), often there are no feasible solutions, just known vulnerabilities. The closest thing to a solution here would be a good home owners insurance plan if the premiums could be justified.

    • You get what you pay for. Check out the videos at Ft Knox or Liberty. My Liberty Safe wasn’t cheap, but from all I’ve seen in my research it will hold up to prying and drilling for at least 20 minutes (and to fire for 90). I don’t picture with my alarm system blaring, and my dogs barking (not to mention biting), that anyone is going to spend 20 minutes in my house trying to get into my safe.

  2. One of my relatives called me one day saying she lost her key to her micro gun safe, I was able to get into it within ten minutes using a leatherman multi-tool, but look, my locks and gun safe aren’t to keep adults with time out, they are to keep CHILDREN from gaining access.

    • True – of course, a 10 year old could probably watch a lock-picking video on YouTube, and defeat a gun lock.

  3. As we have a few idiots in this state (WA) trying to make safe ownership mandatory for gun owners. I disagree.

    If you want a safe, buy one. If you don’t, well, don’t.

    You already have trigger locks you toss away, and internal locks NOBODY wants (attn: S&W).

    Meanwhile, please cease giving Washington Cease-fire a an issue to latch onto, before every gin owner in the state is forced to buy a state spec gun safe or better. Your lock-picking skills are irrelevant to the issue of children and gun safety, or the average burglar, who just forces entry and pries or breaks things open.

    • …and internal locks NOBODY wants (attn: S&W).

      I was digging through my bag of tricks the other day, and came across a little metal rod about 1″ long with a funny end. Took me a good five minutes to remember that it was the key for the lock for my Sig Mosquito. I remember that when I got the gun several months ago, I fiddled with the lock a couple times, said “Huh…” and then threw the key back in the box and forgot about it.

        • I bought mine with the intention of suppressing it, and I like it a lot. It feels good in the hand, it shoots well, but, and this is a big but, it’s very finicky about ammo.

          It came with a slip of paper that said, “Sig recommends CCI ammo,” and that wasn’t just co-branding. In my experience, Remington Golden Bullet had an FTE about one round in 20, so I’ve been using CCI AR Tactical, and it runs flawlessly. Out of state a couple months ago, couldn’t find any CCI, so I tried a box of Federal Champion Target, and it wouldn’t even cycle the slide. I thought I’d bought subsonic by mistake, but the box said 1200 fps.

          I continue to try new loads just to see if I hit on something else, but so far the CCI is the only thing that’s run perfectly. It’s really fun to shoot, as long as you keep in mind that unlike my 10/22, it definitely will not gobble up whatever random ammo you scrounged up.

  4. My grandfather, who worked as a sign painter back in the day, got locked out of a bank he was updating the window glass sign for, and had to pick the door to get back in. Yes, he was authorized to be there, but it was cool story he could always tell about breaking into a bank.

    I dabble in lock picking too. It’s always fun to see people’s eyebrows rise when you quickly pick a lock they assumed was pretty secure.

  5. I am interested in learning about lockpicking…where would you suggest starting a journey in the hobby of lockpicking? Any suggested books, there seem to be aboutr 10 million out there… or a video? What is a good starter set of lockpicks? Thanks in advance

    • Spend a little time at:

      My first tensioner was a metal clip from a pen cap and my first pick was a hook I made from a part of a hacksaw and a little love from a stone on my dremel. You can find a bunch of profiles for DIY picks on that site above. Print one, cut it out, lay it over your hacksaw blade or other raw material, color the material to remove with a sharpie (or the inverse) then grind away. Don’t let the metal overheat and it won’t temper to much so that it bends when picking.

    • Watching that video left me with a few questions. I do realize the importance of the message about locks, but…
      1. Was that gun in an actual SAFE and EMPTY state? There was no safety check, AND someone was operating that camera.
      2. Was the gun modified?
      3. Were the locks modified?
      4. Did he honestly test the locked state of the locks?

      I do agree that one slip, and that kid would have a very good chance of hurting… and bleeding. But question 1’s failure would mean the camera operator, or the kid himself would be in grave danger if that trigger was accidentally pulled. (maybe even more people than we can assume were present.)

  6. The day I brought home my SIG P290 I had the lock on. Then promptly lost the key. To this day I have no idea where it went.

    A hammer, a flathead screwdriver, and a little bit of time fixed that.

  7. I’m not sure how anyone could look at the cable style locks that come with handguns and regard them as anything more than a joke. They literally look like something that would be marked $0.99 at the gun show.

    • Hey watch yourself! Those locks cost us AT LEAST $10 a pop in California–and are required at the time of delivery purchase. No, the lock that comes with the gun will not do, nor one you bring from home, it must be a NEW lock with a dated receipt (or buy one from the gun shop). It’s the law! Stupid law, but the law nonethelss. It’s for the children! At least that’s what the state legislature told us when it enacted this boondoggle.

  8. Three bottom-line takeaways from this:
    1. Nothing is *completely* safe or burglar-proof (or Nick Leghorn proof), and the cheaper and more common these locks and devices are, the less secure they’re likely to be.
    2. The most likely and realistic use of any gun lock or safe is to prevent crimes of opportunity; they’re stopping the curious toddler, the untrained kid, and the grab-and-run thief, not the determined guy with tools and time to use them.
    3. A usable and reasonably convenient safety device is almost always better than no safety device at all (conversely, if it interferes with the function of the thing it’s keeping safe, it’s probably worse than no safety at all).

    • I was going to post something similar to this.

      All safes and locks do is tend to slow people down… how much depends on the knowledge of the lock, the safe, the tools, and how cheaply any of them are made. Hopefully for the owner, the delay is negligible. For everyone else, it’s hopefully enough to deter them, or get them caught in the act.

      If someone wants something bad enough, there isn’t much short of death or dismemberment that will stop them.

  9. Nice vid lol
    I have to say yes they are not going to prevent someone who is really motivated from getting in.
    It will stop a two year old. your 11 year old should be able to recite the four golden rules, and if they haven’t already qualified on half your arms there is an issue, which is you not the gun.
    If you teach your children from the start to respect firearms and also understand their use, and that they are not toys, 90% of the issues are fixed right there.
    And lord forbid your kids are home alone like the one in Arizona, then they can act accordingly to save themselves, and their siblings.

  10. The only security for your gun collection is knowledge of it by others.

    If friends , pals, girlfriends, and cable repairmen don’t know you own guns, there’s no possibility for their criminal friends of a friends to know which home to hit. Any security measure can be defeated. A trigger lock obviously can be picked. A gun safe most people can afford may be bypassed on the spot or wheeled out on a dolly for further work at a crook’s safe house.A lockbox can be carried out, and a car cable attached to a seat isn’t immune from 20 seconds of work with a socket wrench on the tracks.

    Oh, those of you with $30,000 safes aren’t immune either. The crooks won’t need to hack the safe, since you’ll be more than happy to open it for them with a pistol against your head. The best way to win a fight is to not be there for the blow, and thus with gun security the best way to secure your collection is to ensure your home isn’t targeted to begin with. The only person who knows what guns I have or where they’re located is me.

    • Uh, this doesn’t really work either. In the IT world we call it “security through obscurity” and whether your just hiding the guns or hiding the flaws in the security, it doesn’t work. You need to have a layered system of zipped lips and good physical security to really protect something.

      • Good physical security and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Even law enforcement armories suffer burglaries, and they have far more materials at their disposal for physical security than you or I.

        Knowledge is the first line of defense against criminal theft. If the bad guys know what you have and where to get it the rest is preparation , tools, and time. Doesn’t matter if the gun’s in a drawer or inside of a reinforced safe.

  11. @Nick, I used to “dabble in lockpicking” when I was a yoot in the Bronx. The po-po had a slightly different name for it, but what do they know?

  12. my first security device for a firearm was a tool box with a cheap padlock for my one pistol. that was over 30 years ago and the only requirement i had for it was to keep my toddler away from the gun. i have more guns now and 2 safes, but they’re still primarily to keep the ankle biters, grandkids now, safe. a determined thief will get your guns if you ain’t there to stop it. i only worry about the little ones, the rest of it is just gass bagging.

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