Gun safes aren’t absolute solutions to your firearm security. At some point, the locking mechanism will fail due to low battery and other reasons. After all, it’s a piece of equipment subject to regular servicing to retain its quality. You might experience a gun safe not opening, but there’s no reason to ditch it right away. There are things you can do to have it fixed or working for the meantime.
Don’t get the prybar yet. There are ways to crack the safe open without damaging or forcing it.
Failing locking mechanisms can be caused by a variety of reasons. The type of locks used on the safe will play an important role. Most of the time, electronic locks will stop working when the battery is low in juice. This can easily be fixed by changing the batteries and accessing the safe using the override key.
- 1 Why you get locked out of your safe
- 2 Things you can do
- 3 How to prevent this from happening
Why you get locked out of your safe
1. Failing locking mechanisms
The number one and common reason why your safe won’t open is a failing lock mechanism. Like what I said earlier, electronic locks are more prone to this problem. The program might start to bog down or the keypad is overused and needs to be replaced or serviced. Usually, this can happen in one or two years’ time to most safes that are used frequently.
Manual locking mechanisms could be tricky to diagnose. Some parts might be jammed or broken that causes the door to be stuck. Like the electronic lock, this will need servicing to fix the gun safe not opening. Anyway, issues on manual locks don’t occur frequently as compared to the other type.
2. Lock timeout
Locked out of your safe? There might not be an actual problem; it might be your lock timeout engaging. Some safes with a higher technology will be programmed with a lock timeout feature. Once you entered a wrong password multiple times, the timeout feature will work. Sometimes, it will only take a few minutes, but larger safes would take about half an hour. It depends on what’s indicated in the model.
So far, this is the easiest issue to fix. You just have to wait until the timeout period passes. However, this is a bit of a hassle during emergency situations. Lock timeouts can be disadvantageous but a security feature, nonetheless.
3. Unoiled bolts
If you own the safe for a couple of years now, one possible reason is that the bolts or door hinges are jamming. This is due to the grime and rust build up around the bolts, especially if it’s not cleaned regularly. Trying to squish some oil on the door hinge might fix the problem and loosen up the stuck parts.
However, if the problem is on the jammed electronic parts, you might need help from the experts to fix the gun safe not opening. Kicking it could do the job, but make sure to spare the keypad or dial from the brute force. Once you opened it, oil the bolts and hinges right away.
4. Faulty wiring
An electronically locked safe would likely experience broken or disconnected wirings. You can easily diagnose the problem by carefully removing the electronic lock and checking for broken wires. If there are disconnected lines, you should call a technician or connect it yourself. There are cases when you just have to straighten out the kinked wires to restore its functions.
Check if the battery is running low. This might be the issue.
Check if the wirings connected to the batteries are intact. This part is the usual cause of a malfunctioning keypad. Anyway, it’s best to contact a technician if you’re not sure of the reason for the lockout. Make sure to tell them what type of keypad is used on your safe.
5. Wrong passcode
If you have a bad memory, chances are you forgot the right combination for your passcode. If you have registered multiple passkeys in the past, try each one and see if any will work. Remember that some gun safes have a timeout feature and the trial-and-error phase would be tiring.
Your password might also be deactivated for some reason. If this is the case on a gun safe not opening, you can use someone else’s code in case your share the safe with another person. If this doesn’t work as well, you might need to reset the locking program of the safe. You should contact the manufacturer of the safe for more information.
6. Loose dial
Some safes use a dial lock instead of an electronic keypad. Dial locks can get worn out after some time. The dial ring will get loose and even if you dial the right password, it won’t open the safe. The numbers may shift to either direction by about two or three numbers. On how you’ll know about this, you have to do a trial and error phase.
You’ll need a locksmith to fix this issue since the dial ring will keep shifting to the point that it will no longer accept any password adjustments. But if you just want to open the safe at the moment, there’s a fix I’ll discuss later on.
Things you can do
1. Use the manual key
Most gun safes with an internal battery will come with a manual key just in case it runs out of juice to power the electronic lock. If you have one, there’s no reason you can’t open the safe, unless the door is also jamming. There would be a key slot beside the electronic lock or somewhere hidden in the body of the safe.
At any cost, don’t store the manual keys inside the safe. If you always experience a gun safe not opening, it’s best to keep it with you all the time. You might have access issues, but you’ll need the key when the electronic lock stops working. Of course, you try picking it with a pin, but your luck is only as good as your ability to trick the mechanism inside.
2. Tap on the sides
If the combination isn’t the problem, the door might be jammed. You can simply get a hammer and tap on the sides carefully. Don’t smash it if the door doesn’t open right away! The bolts might need a little more wiggling before it starts to get loose from being engaged.
Tap on the hinge too and see if it will loosen up. Try pulling the door open while tapping and see if it will crack it open. Sometimes this trick works, but there’s a chance that it won’t. If this fails, you might need to explore other options or contact a locksmith.
Don’t pry it open, for goodness sake.
3. Pull it out a bit
Your gun safe’s door is jammed and it might only need a little force to open. Try pushing and pulling the door after entering the correct passcode. The bolts could be misaligned and the movement you make at the door could help it land perfectly in its place. Turn the handle and pull it while you press the door inward using your other hand. This might do the trick of realigning the bolts.
Try this step a few times and see if you crack the door of a gun safe not opening. If not, there might be a serious problem in the mechanism of the bolts. A locksmith is needed here.
4. Shift your code
Like what’s mentioned earlier, dial rings may shift its place and correct passwords won’t be accepted. With this, try shifting your code by adding one or two. For example, if your combination is 10-40-60, try entering 11-41-61 or 12-42-62. This is if the ring shifted to the left. If it shifted to the right, you should subtract one or two from the code. In this case, it would be 9-39-59 or 8-39-58.
This will usually work, but you need to have your dial serviced. The ring may continuously shift and cause more problems in the future. Remember, this is just a temporary fix so you can retrieve the stuff inside and send the safe to a locksmith.
5. Warm it up
If the battery is dead and there’s no manual key to override the safe, one option you have is to warm it up a bit. Some batteries may give one last kick when exposed to a little heat. You can try using your room’s heater vent to make the safe warm. Although this is a bit dangerous, you can try exposing the safe to a pre-heated oven with a maximum temperature of 120F. You can also use a blow dryer but avoid leaving hot spots on the safe’s finish.
This would likely ramp up the battery level and give you one more chance to open the safe. By then, recharge the battery to avoid another case of a gun safe not opening.
6. Contact a locksmith
If all of these don’t work, your last and safest bet is contacting a locksmith to fix the problem. A professional locksmith is trained to fix and deal with these kinds of problems without ruining the gun safe. This is important if you have valuables inside that you can’t afford to be damaged.
Even if these temporary tips worked, you should still consider having your safe serviced. A yearly check-up with a locksmith will ensure that your vault is on its top shape.
Soon, the damage will grow bigger and you’ll have to pay more for repairs. This is especially true for shifting dials that will continuously shift if not fixed.
How to prevent this from happening
1. Regular servicing
Even if your safe isn’t showing any signs of damage, bringing it to a locksmith once a year will spare you from being locked out in the future. Usually, locksmith services would cost around $50-$100, but it will be less if you prevent a gun safe not opening in the future.
Remember, gun safes are investments for your family’s security. If it’s not working properly, it will pose a sense of danger. This is true especially if you’re a massive gun collector.
2. Cleaning and maintenance
One of the common reasons for being locked out of a safe stem from the failure of the owner to clean it regularly. Big or small, safes should be cleaned at least once a month to remove dust and possible mildew build-up. You should also oil the hinges and bolts of the safe to prevent it from jamming or being stuck.
If there are evident tears or dents on the keypad, you should have it fixed right away. It could be the cause of more problems in the future.
3. Getting a reliable safe
To start with, you should get a reliable safe if you don’t want to experience being locked out. High-end safes would come with an override key and other means of unlocking. Some high-tech safes like VAULTEK even come with a smartphone app that you can use to open the safe. However, you should keep the battery and program working.
Investing in a technology-advanced safe would cost you more, but it’s worth every cent for security and convenience.
4. Updating your passcode
Make it a habit to change your passcode at least once a month. This will prevent a gun safe not opening due to a worn keypad or the dial caused by pushing the same numbers. However, be mindful of the opening index and change index when you’re using a dial. The passcode might shift and you can’t open the safe when you try entering the combination you just set.
5. Be careful with modifications
Some gun safe owners would perform customization on the interior of the safe that can alter the wiring. Be careful on this part if you’re also performing some DIY changes on the safe. This wouldn’t be a problem if you have a manual key locking system.
A gun safe not opening is a big hassle. Your firearms are imprisoned and you can’t access it right away during emergencies. How’s your safe doing? Do you experience this issue?