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Mechanical Locks vs. Electronic Locks: Pros & Cons

When you shop for a safe, you're likely to see two different types of locks, mechanical (spin dial) and electronic (push button or fingerprint). And immediately after that you might ask yourself, "Which one is better?"


Both locks have their pros and their cons. And (almost) every gun safe lock have the same mounting bolt pattern, so you can have either one of them on most safes out there. We'll outline the plus and minuses of both types, so you can make an informed decision.


Mechanical Lock

When most people think of a safe, the image of a mechanical lock comes to mind. It's the type you see on a bank safe in old movies. You open it by spinning the dial back and forth until you've entered all the numbers in the combo.



• Tried and true: Mechanical locks have been the standard since the 1800s. The mechanism has evolved over the years, but the mechanics remain sturdy, reliable and sound.

• No electronics: There are no electronic or electrical components to a mechanical lock. It doesn't require batteries, there are no circuit boards and there's nothing that can short out.

• Long Lifespan: A mechanical lock isn't fail proof, but given normal wear and tear, it's going to have a long lifespan. Decades long.



• Professionally predictable: A mechanical lock is considered a Group Two Lock, which means a professional thief can typically crack it in 15 minutes or less.

• Slow going: Opening a mechanical lock is slow, spinning the dial back and forth several times, and making just one mistake means having to start the process over. This is fine as a storage option, but if you're storing your emergency protection in there, that's several seconds wasted that you can't afford to lose.

Misalignment: The most common issue with a mechanical lock, by far, is misalignment. That's when a combination "slips" by one or two numbers. It's easy to identify the problem, but if you want to get it back to the original combo, it's going to take a locksmith.

• Hard to remember: A mechanical lock combination is usually preset by the factory, which means with all the numbers you have to keep in your head, it's yet another sequence you have to remember.

• Harder to change: The trouble with changing the combination on a mechanical lock is, while it's not terribly complicated, one mistake can mean the entire mechanism needs to be realigned to get it working again. Hiring a locksmith is going to be worth it, but you will have to pay for the service.



Electronic Lock

Nowadays, you see an electronic lock on almost everything. Car doors, home doors, you name it. What once had a simple mechanical lock is now going the way of electronics. And it's easy to see why because they make things easy and convenient.


Electronic locks have gotten a bad reputation over the years due to misinformation. A lot of info on the internet either a) is old and doesn't keep up with the technology, or b) doesn't specify which lock type they're talking about, so the info doesn't apply to the one you're looking at. Here are some pros and cons to the electronic lock types we typically sell.



• Hard to manipulate: Most digital safe locks are a Group 1 lock, meaning its hard to manipulate because you have 999,999 possible lock combinations. That would take a thief 27 years to go through every possible combo. On top of that, most safe e-locks have a lock out mode, which means after 4-5 wrong attempts, it shuts down for around 15 minutes.

• Quick and easy: A simple 6 digit code will get you into the safe quickly. It's convenient, and also much quicker if you have to keep your emergency firearm in the safe.

• User friendly: An electronic safe lock is designed for you to be able to change the existing combo to whatever new combo you want, whenever you want. And most code changing sequences are very easy to understand and follow.

• Power friendly: Most electronic safe locks have the battery outside in the casing that's easy to get to and easy to change. Plus, they have an internal power source that will remember your code even when the battery dies, so all you need to do is change the battery and you're good to go.

• Multiple Users: Some electronic locks allow multiple codes, usually with a manager code that controls the rest. This is a game changer for a lot of businesses, allowing for the revolving door of employees over time.

• Light the Night: A lot of electronic locks come with a light source so you can easily see the keypad.



• Electronics lifespan: Probably the biggest drawback, but also the most misunderstood. Like all electronic devices, an electronic safe lock will eventually fail. However, if its a quality brand you should get 8000 to 10,000 openings out of it. That's a lot of openings.

• Power reliant: Electonic safe locks run off of batteries, so you need to keep up with that.


You can't go wrong with either type of lock, so long as its a quality brand. You just need to figure out which lock most fits what you need the lock to do.