Whether you have a single compact handgun, or you’re a proud owner of a large firearms collection, you’ll probably want to invest in a safe. But, what type of safe will you choose? A biometric gun safe or a keypad combination one? What are the pros and cons for each type, and how do they compare to each other.
If these are your burning questions, then stick with us. We will get your questions answered and help you make an informed decision about whats best for you.
Safety and Security
First things first, let’s go over the basics, and that means safety and security. This is, in fact, the main purpose of a safe. It is supposed to be a secure location in which you can place an object and be sure it will not be accessed by somebody unauthorized. So, how do the two locking mechanisms compare?
Both safes are very similar in this respect that they can lock your gun away. Both use an encryption that is really hard to crack.
We must give an edge to biometric safes, as combination safes are more easily cracked. This is due to the biometric safes’ mode of authorization. A person wanting access needs to present their own unique bodily trait – something like a fingerprint, retina or voice. All of these human traits cannot be easily replicated. Combination safes, be they mechanical (with an old-school dial) or digital (with a keypad), use something that can be replicated; a code. A code is something not unique to you as a person, but something created and therefore can be guessed or stolen.
If a Child Lives in Your House…
A Biometric gun safe is clearly the better choice in homes where children live or visit. While a kid can guess your keypad code, they can’t duplicate your fingerprint. That means they cannot physically access the safe without you being present to scan your finger. Biometric gun safes are one of the best methods of ensuring safety and security of your firearm when there are minors living in the house.
Cost of Ownership
This, we must admit, is a little bit arbitrary. Many factors affect the final price tag on a single item. However, the usual pattern is that biometric gun safes are more expensive than combination safes. This is due to the fact that the biometric lock safes offer more protection for your stuff and faster access. It is also due to the fact that the technology is still young and recently commercialized.
Some combination safes are however more expensive than biometric ones. This could be due to them being bigger, offering more space for your weapons, or being manufactured by a well-known brand. It’s important to note that big gun safes that can store a substantial number of fully sized automatic rifles, hunting rifles and shotguns are almost exclusively mechanical combination safes. On the other hand, when it comes to small safes used for handguns, these are predominantly biometric.
This is probably owing to the fact that you will probably reach for the handgun in case of a home invasion, rather than for your M4A1. If you reach for the big guns on a home invasion using such a high caliber fully automatic rifle can result in you being tagged with excessive force, and, thus, a murder charge.
We’ve mentioned that biometric gun safes offer faster access to your weapons than gun vaults with combination locks. The reason for this is that biometric locks use electronic data to recognize your fingerprint, and this recognition process lasts but a few milliseconds. It reads your fingerprint and then you’re in.
The Panic Factor in an Emergency
The important thing here is the panic factor. When you’re faced with a home invasion at night – or any similar threat to your or your family’s life – you will most likely start to panic a little bit. Of course, we’re not all trained soldiers, and even if we are, we are not in a war zone so that we expect the enemy at all times. A burglar may surprise you, and, woken up in the middle of the night, you will become disoriented. Here’s where biometric safes help the most. Because they use only your fingerprint as authorization and authentication happens in milliseconds, you will be ready to repel the attacker instantaneously. That being said, combination safes require a little bit of concentration out of your, the concentration you may not have at the moment.
This is why you commonly see handgun safes with biometric authentication, while bigger safes tend to have a dial or a keypad. Like we said, you are more likely to reach for a handgun, rather than an assault rifle in an emergency.
Mechanical Combination Locks Have One Advantage…
Combination safes do have an edge about one thing, and this edge applies to mechanical locking safes only. Biometric and digital keypad safes need the power to run. Usually, they use batteries, but the batteries do not last forever and need to be changed. Should the batteries die the safe will remain locked until another power source is found. This means that you won’t be able to access your gun in case of an emergency. On the other hand, mechanical safes are eternally at your service, and they will work (almost) all the time. To counter this most biometric gun safes offer an override key in case of power failure due to dead batteries.
So, basically biometric gun safes offer faster access in an emergency and significantly more security from unauthorized access, whereas the combination gun safes (mostly mechanical) are more reliable and have longer service lives.
Winner – Biometric Gun Safes
Now you know a little bit about both types of lucking mechanisms on gun vaults and the benefits they bring. To recap here are the key difference: Combination safes are cheaper, usually larger, more reliable, and have seemingly infinite service life. Biometric safes are usually smaller and more expensive, but offer better protection and offer quicker access to your weapons. Seeing security and quick access are absolutely imperative to gun owners the clear choice is a biometric gun safe.
- Smaller (usually for pistols)
- More Secure
- Faster Access in emergency
- Nearly Impossible to Crack
- Mechanical locks more reliable (no batteries)
Biometric gun safes clearly outperform combination keypad safes. Assess your situation and needs, and then choose accordingly, with a little help from this guide. You can checkout our top 5 best biometric pistol safes here.