Things That Don’t Suck: Vara Safety Reach 2 Biometric Gun Lock

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Courtesy Vara Safety

Let’s get this out of the way up front. When it comes to firearms, biometric locks aren’t for everyone. Whether it’s used on a safe, a security box or a gun lock, some people just don’t want to rely on electronics when it’s time to get to their guns.

At the same time, plenty of people like the ease of use of a biometric lock. They’re usually familiar with them — most people have a phone or other device that has one — and speed and ability to avoid using a key or remembering a combination are big pluses.

If you’re on the ever-increasing pro-biometric side, the Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock should definitely intrigue you. The US-made Reach 2 is an attractively (some would say elegantly) designed gun lock that you can mount just about anywhere to keep a handgun both secure from unauthorized access and available at a moment’s notice.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z for TTAG

The Reach 2 comes with the main lock unit and a holster insert of your choice, a charging mount, AC cord, keys, mounting screws and a well-written instruction book. Vara makes Reach holster inserts for dozens of guns. If you have a semi-automatic pistol, Vara probably has a holster insert to fit.

The Reach 2 is an upgrade over their original model in a number of ways. First, Vara has increased the speed of their electronics opening the unit much faster than before. They’ve also added an RFID unlocking option and significantly increased the battery life as well. Where the original Reach had a batter life of about 10 hours, the Reach 2’s battery will keep the unit working for six months on a full charge.

You can attach the charging mount almost anywhere; to a nightstand, under a desk, in a car (there’s a car mount adapter available)…virtually to any flat surface. An electric cord plugs into the charging mount and keeps the lock unit charged when it’s inserted.

 

Vara also offers a “security attachment” that they say will withstand over 200 pounds of force to prevent someone from ripping the unit off its mount.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z. for TTAG

The Reach 2 has, of course, a key lock backup system. You also use the key to unlock a sprung cylinder that holds the holster insert, letting you swap them out for use with different guns if you want.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z. for TTAG

Changing them out is simple. Just unlock the unit, slide the cylinder down and off and swap inserts.

For the biometric skeptics out there, the technology has come a very long way over the years since they first started to appear on consumer devices. They’ve become extremely reliable…much more so than the first iPhones, which many people still compare fingerprint ID pads to. Recognition takes less than half a second.

 

It’s easy to register multiple fingers for a user…or fingers for a number of authorized users in the unit. The unit has literally never failed to open and open quickly through hundreds — maybe over 1000 — test cycles.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z. for TTAG

I also wanted to see how well the fingerprint recognition worked with dirt and moisture. I dipped my thumb in flour, then tried the pad.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z. for TTAG

It worked perfectly with no additional delay. I had to literally cake my thumb in flour and completely obscure my fingerprint to get the pad to fail.

As for moisture, a sweaty or damp finger works just fine. However if your finger is fully wet (dipped in water, then put on the pad), it won’t recognize your print. In that case a quick swipe of your finger on your shirt dries your digit enough for the Reach 2 to recognize you and open.

Vara Safety Reach 2 gun lock

Dan Z. for TTAG

Additional holster inserts for different model guns are available for $24.99.

Vara also offers an RFID kit for the Reach 2 which includes a bracelet, a key fob and a couple of RFID-enabled stickers. You can register the RFID items with the base unit and hold them near the lower portion of the top of the unit to unlock it.

I’m less of a fan of that. You will always have your finger(s) with you. Well, you should. If you don’t, you probably already have problems that your gun won’t solve…and how would you pull the trigger anyway?

Obviously you can keep an RFID bracelet, fob or item with a sticker on it locked up somewhere, but that seems to defeat the purpose. RFID-enabled items around the house present a much more likely opportunity for an unauthorized person to get access to your handgun. But you’ll have to make that decision for yourself. The RFID kit is $19.99.

RFID doodads aside, the Reach 2 is an excellent solution for a lot of people who want to keep a handgun close and quickly available, but ensure that kids and others can’t access it. It’s beautifully designed and works extremely well. And given its price, it should. The American-made Reach 2 sells for $274.99. That’s a pretty penny, but plenty of people will be willing to pay that much for something that’s as attractive and functional as the Reach 2. Vara Safety certainly is betting on that, anyway.

 

comments

  1. avatar Sam I Am says:

    I am opposed to anything that seems to make “smart guns” possible. Meanwhile, if “action beats reaction”, I want no intervening movement to stand between me and drawing my firearm quickly.

    I grew up with firearms in the house, just placed on a high shelf, or a night stand drawer. Never heard of an accidental death due to children playing with fireharms. There must have been some, somewhere, but so few as to make no impression. This harmful obsession with “safety” at all costs is creating a whole society that cannot cope with any obstacle in their lives.

    1. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Sam I Am,

      Good point, but the technology will continue to advance.

      With you on fighting any requirement to require it in any way, shape, or form.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        I am “fighting” these new-fangled gizmos by refusing to purchase one. Been told that in a “free” market, sales success determines which products become profitable, and which do not.

        (“A good idea can stand on it’s own; a really bad idea requires government assistance.”)

      2. avatar Mercury says:

        Great. When the technology for smart guns makes it the obvious, no-brainer that never fails to fire when you pick it up, no matter what, and when your (inexplicably untrained, but who am I to tell you how to parent your) kid picks it up and it never succeeds in firing no matter what, I will never buy a “dumb” gun again. But until that exists, the only market in which “smart guns” of lesser technological advancement can succeed is that of a government granted monopoly.

        So, are you in favor of crony capitalist monopolies? No? I didn’t think so. Smart guns will dominate, when they actually exist. So far we have “dumb guns, that are dumber when you need them not to be.” Not exactly a killer app, is it?

    2. avatar Ron says:

      Your a couple decades too late on that issue.

      The nanny state is already in full effect.

      mAsK uP!!!11!!!1!!1’qnhn derp!

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Your a couple decades too late on that issue. ”

        Never too late to resist a product, to refuse to spend money.

    3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      Sam, part of that is the phenomena of information spreading farther and faster since the 1990s than it did prior to that.

      Child abductions are the usual context this gets discussed in, but it applies to everything. Stranger child abductions are exceedingly rare, and in fact are rarer today than in the past. But if you talk to people, everyone thinks that stranger child abductions are common. Why? In the 1970s, as an example, if a child was abducted it made the local news and maybe the news in a few nearby towns. Today if a child is abducted it’s all over the cable news networks, all over the internet news sites, and people for hundreds of miles around get alerts on their phones. It only takes 52 abductions a year, a fraction of a percent in a nation of 330 million people, to have one in the headlines every week. But one in the news every week makes it seem like it’s happening all over the place all the time.

      Same thing with kids getting their parents gun and shooting a friend. It’s rare. Rarer now than it has ever been. 40 years ago it would only make the local news. Today it will be all over cable news and the internet. It will seem like it is much more common.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Agree. The “accidental shootings” between “children” are exceedingly rare (as a statistic), but the number of such deaths seems to hover around 500 each year. I don’t have stats for the number in the bad old days before 24/7 news cycle. Still, ~500 is not something to ignore. But maybe it is a cultural thing. Once upon a time, Americans knew life was hard, and there were all sorts of fatal dangers. In the last two generations, the culture has move to zero risk as the “norm” mankind somehow deviated from for milennia, and only restablished by “woke” elites. We’ve gone from “teach your children well”, to “teach your children to rebel at discomfort”.

      2. avatar George says:

        Rare, sure. But just like most CCW holders carry for that .001% chance of needing it, having a gun safe of some kind to avoid the .001% chance of your kid getting ahold of the gun is worth it in my opinion. Even “good” kids that know gun safety make mistakes and lapses in judgement. Just my .02.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “But just like most CCW holders carry for that .001% chance of needing it, having a gun safe of some kind to avoid the .001% chance of your kid getting ahold of the gun is worth it in my opinion.”

          You bring up an uncomfortable compairson…on the surface. The matter is not so superficial.

          Carrying a weapon (firearm) against a 0.001% potential is voluntary, in all cases. Weapons safety containers are voluntary, also. However….

          The issue is not an opposition to containers, so much as opposition to mandated ownership and use of those safety containers. Yes, one can argue that the call for safes is a reasonable substitute for good parenting, but this is where the analogy breaks down.

          Long ago, people did not normally/routinely carry firearms in their day-to-day affairs, yet firearms were not uncommon in the home. There also was no accompanying tsunami of accidental deaths from firearms among the population of children. The focus on keeping children away from firearms by instituting draconian measures involving containers is actually just a facilitation of parents refusing their obligations to train, nurture and generally protect their children through non-mechanical means.

          The underlying thrust of the calmor for introducing safety containers for firearms in the home is that it is impossible to reduce the accidental death rate among children to zero using traditional techniques, and we must therefore look to mechanics to do the job for us.

        2. avatar Jon says:

          100% agreed.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Yeah that’s very naive man’

        The link only underscores the lack of adulthood in the parents of “modern times”. A collossal reduction in the herd IQ. It is not “society’s” responsiblity to accommodate the laziness of poor parents, and accept restrictions that will not improve the sense of responsibility in those parents who already decided it is too difficult to actually raise children properly. If Joe Schmoe doesn’t want to use good sense regarding guns in the house, why should I have to buy a gun safe?

  2. avatar LifeSavor says:

    I’m a Luddite and I’m OK.

    Always, at home, i have a gun with me or within 3 seconds reach.

    So, no need to keep a ready gun in electronic retention. That being said, the fact that this passed the Pillsbury Dough-boy test, seems promising.

    For people interested in this sort of thing, this seems exactly the sort of thing in which they will be interested.

  3. avatar Anymouse says:

    Is the gun secured by something other than plastic that can be cut apart with diagonal cutters, tin snips, stout scissors, or a soldering iron? Also, with a lever, like a crowbar or hammer, it’s pretty easy to apply several hundred pounds of force. I guess it’s ok if your trying to stop a curious kid and not a determined thief.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      The article says it withstands 200 lbs. of force…that ain’t much. I weigh almost 300 lbs, so theoretically all I’d have to do is lean on it. Given a bit of space and a good angle, most people could bring that much force to bear with a couple of forceful kicks.

      But I think the reasoning behind it, as with most things we call safes, is that it’s not meant to withstand a determined assault — just to deter crimes of opportunity and prevent accidents. It’s too spendy for my budget, but I really wouldn’t mind having something like it to mount to the nightstand or bedframe, or maybe in the car.

  4. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

    Step 1 – Pick up flimsy furniture with locked gun on it up, and fling it to the ground, shattering it.

    Step 2- Repeat until secured gun is attached to one panel of the flimsy furniture.

    Step 3 – Exit with the panel of fiberboard with gun on it and return to criminal’s lair.

    Step 4 – Use tools at criminal’s lair to free the weapon.

    Step 5 – Fence stolen weapon…

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Yes, it would be relatively easy to remove a secured firearm from an unoccupied home. However, it seems the designed application is to allow a firearm to be stored handily for use when things go bump in the night, while “protecting” children and invited visitors from hurting themselves with a firearm just stuffed in a drawer, or under a mattress.

    2. avatar VicRattlehead says:

      Yup, only as strong as what its attached to.

      Good furniture can be busted apart by a strong man with a good pair of boots.
      Your typical pressed board nightstand can be destroyed by anyone stronger than a wet noodle.
      Even anchored straight to a wall stud can be torn off by a $10 crowbar.
      This thing is clearly no deterrent to anyone with any degree of determination.

  5. avatar American Patriot says:

    Anything that locks up my security….Sucks

  6. avatar VicRattlehead says:

    Honestly, I don’t see the point.
    Accidents (the type most likely to be prevented by a device such as this) are exceedingly rare. I’d wager accidents in households where all members therein have had at least basic safe handling instruction are statistically insignificant; meaning if I, as a responsible gun owner, do my part these kinds of devices are wholly unnecessary.

    I know some will say “but what about kids?”
    If they’re old enough that can’t be stopped by a locked closet or bedroom door they’re plenty old enough to teach proper safety. Got guests or guests with kids? A locked door should be more than enough or else you need better friends.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      I could see using this mounted in a vehicle. If you carry concealed, pistol isn’t readily accessible seated & belted. If you’re in/out of vehicles a lot, draw weapon, insert in mounted holster – only you can access it.

  7. avatar MB (the real MB) says:

    Nope, your gun belongs on your person at all times, if it’s on you nightstand, when you get up, you should pick it up, and only put it down when you are in the shower. This is fine for people will little undisciplined children, who maybe shouldn’t own a gun anyway.

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    No kids or grandkids in the house, therefore no gun locks for my SD pistols. All the other stuff, except for the black powder pistols, is in a safe. And when something goes bump in the night, or in broad daylight, that person will have to deal with two good sized dogs barking aggressively.

  9. avatar Curmudgeon says:

    Lets all stop and consider what these types of products are deigned for. My EDC firearm is on my hip all day every day until I go to bed, then it goes in a drawer for the night. No kids in the house so no issues. “Safe storage” laws are just so much security theatre. However, in the not to distant future I will periodically have grandkids romping around, possibly staying overnight. Mount something like this behind the nightstand or to the bedframe, ideally in a location that makes getting leverage difficult. Out of sight out of mind, first line of defense. Some manipulation required to access firearm, second line of defense. I would not expect this to be a deterrent to a home invader or a determined teenager so I would not use it for that purpose. There are very few cases of children’s accidents with firearms. I don’t have any problem with companies that strive to bring that number to zero.

    Life is about risk mitigation. In some cases I may be willing to accept a bit of risk at getting to my firearm for a bump in the night over some additional safety when a grandchild overreacts to an imaginary monster bump in the night. Many of you commented on the shortcomings of these devices in the past. Sounds like this company listened and improved this product, good for them. If it is not for you don’t buy it. Some of us may accept the risk balance.

  10. avatar Ron says:

    This isn’t designed to stop a burglar. It’s designed to stop kids. Or an idiot friend or family member you know you shouldn’t allow in your house but you do anyway because you don’t want to seem rude to family.

    Hint for the holidays: to hell with being polite. Tell your weirdo or stupid family/friends to never come back and have less stress. I recently did this and have never felt better. Tired of dealing with losers in my house.

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    “they say will withstand over 200 pounds…”

    Not that hard to bring 200lb of force to bear and if you use a lever, forget about it. Not to mention you had better have it on something more secure than a plywood-strength dresser.

    But maybe for some people it’s better than leaving it in the drawer. Personally… I just wouldn’t trust it to be secure or fast enough and would rather lock a handgun in a simple safe that can be opened with four buttons.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      It’s mostly for the kids. Any kid big enough and clever enough to lever the lock open with 200 lb. of force ought to have been instructed by you to know better. If you’ve got a kid who can’t grasp that or has friends who can’t, then obviously this lock isn’t for you.

  12. avatar enuf says:

    Don’t need or want an electronic holster. I sympathize with those who have little kids in the house who are not yet trained properly. Or, who may have their children’s friends come over to play, you never can be sure how other people’s kids were taught.

    As it happens, being older, my Ruger PC Carbine just leans against the desk here, always ready.

    Been thinking of picking up one of those old type of cheap wood gun racks that used to be so common, hanging it on the wall.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      My daughter just got one of those to complement her Glock 19. Nice little rifle!

  13. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    As for moisture, a sweaty or damp finger works just fine. However if your finger is fully wet (dipped in water, then put on the pad), it won’t recognize your print. In that case a quick swipe of your finger on your shirt dries your digit enough for the Reach 2 to recognize you and open.

    So if blood is running down your arm and all over your hand and you need the gun *right now* you might be SOL?

    Pass.

    1. avatar Brian says:

      Lol. That’s such an extreme and unlikely scenario. Sure, if someone started to club you to death and you became COVERED in blood, the sensor may not work.

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