While the primary function of a gun safe is to provide sturdy and secure storage for your firearms, it must also allow quick access to the rightful owner when those firearms are needed for use. Conventional mechanical combination locks and electronic key code locks are fine in situations where urgent access is not needed, but in emergency scenarios where it’s a matter of life or death to have your weapon in your hand, you need something faster and more intuitive.
Biometric identification locks, which work by scanning your fingerprint, offer a secure and very rapid way of accessing a gun safe, but choosing the best biometric gun safe from the myriad that are available today can be a chore for someone who isn’t familiar with them. I’ve created this guide to bring you up to speed on this relatively new kind of weapon storage solution, so you’ll be able to sift through the market to find the product which best matches your needs.
GunVault MicroVault XL MVB1000
8’’ x 5’’ x 12’
BARSKA Biometric Safe
16.5’’ x 7.75’’ x 14.5’’
1/16’’ (3/16’’ door)
Sentry Safe Biometric
3.2’’ x 12’’ x 9.9’’
Viking Security Safe VS-25BL
10’’ x 14’’ x 10’’
2mm ( 5mm door thickness)
Liberty 9G HDX-250 Smart Vault
12.5’’ x 11.25’’ x 7’’
Compare this to a mechanical safe where you’d have to fumble for your keys if a burglar broke into your house in the middle of the night. It would be an even bigger nightmare to dial open a combinational lock in the dark! Even a digital keypad would cause you to waste precious seconds in a contingency.
It will let you save multiple users, who can access the contents of the safe when you’re not physically available. This would be impossible in the case of a mechanical key safe, without sharing a duplicate key with the user, and still, you would be severely limited in the number of users you can give access to.
Electronic key code safes will also grant access to anyone who knows the key code, but that would only be feasible if you had complete trust over the individuals you were sharing it with. If they were to divulge the code to an unauthorized individual (deliberately or unwittingly), it would result in a complete breach in your security.
This is easier said than done – most users end up hiring a professional locksmith to either fix their lock or break into it so they can at least access their firearms.
Traditional mechanical and electronic key code systems require either a physical token (e.g. a key) or specific knowledge (e.g. a key code) to work. These can be lost, forgotten or easily divulged.
A biometric thumbprint scanner relies on a personal trait to identify and validate you. It is impossible to lose or forget ‘who you are’ and quite difficult for someone to forcibly take it from you, so biometrics is free from the pitfalls of ‘what you have’ and ‘what you know’ type systems.
Biometric identification relies on microchips and electronic components to function, and wherever there’s electronics involved, there is a degree of unreliability to anticipate.
The only real way of determining whether a biometric gun safe’s locking mechanism will work as advertised is to scour user ratings and reviews.
Although this isn’t an immutable trend, but in general, the pricier the safe, the better quality electronics it will use and the more dependable its biometric identification.
As mentioned above, electronics always carry a risk of failure. Even if it is a battery running low, you’ll be locked out of the safe until you fix the issue, unless the safe offers a secondary access system e.g. mechanical keys or electronic key code.
Personally, I’ll recommend that you get a safe that has a mechanical backup option, since a digital key code wouldn’t serve as much of a backup if a core electronic component gets fried or the batteries run out.
Most biometric weapons safes allow you to save multiple users into its microchip; these users can access the contents of the safe whenever they want. Depending on the number of people you want to give access to, you should pick a product that allows you to save a corresponding number of thumb scans.
Again, due to the inherent unreliability of electronics, I’ll advise you to get a product with at least 1 year of warranty. Since most biometrically accessible safes are quite small, this is also the industry average for this niche. Generally, a 1 year period is enough to weed out any flaws that may be present in the locking mechanism – anything below this is a gamble, no matter how cheap it is.
With its proprietary no-eyes fingerprint scanner technology that lets you store as many as 120 unique fingerprints for all five fingers of your hand, this safe is a great solution for those who want to give authorized access to a huge number of users.
The safe is made out of 18 gauge steel, which isn’t the strongest build you can get, but it is more than sufficient to meet the average consumer’s pistol storage requirements. A high-strength lock and precise fittings provide decent protection against theft attempts.
The safe can be mounted in almost all orientations, and also comes with a 1500-lb tested security cable with which you can secure it on the go. Thanks to its very compact form factor, you can easily conceal it any nook and cranny of the house – it is one of the best small biometric gun safes when it comes to balancing discretion and structural integrity.
Most of the users have been satisfied with the speedy and consistent manner in which it grants access to the firearm. There have been a few reservations about the biometric scanner’s reliability, but this has likely to do with QC issues, which can be resolved through a warranty claim. In any case, you can always restore access to your weapon by means of the two backup override keys which come with the product.
This product is suitable for gun owners looking for easily accessible secure storage at an affordable price point. It combines an adequately sturdy body with a basic level biometric safe that can save up to 30 fingerprints at one time.
The low cost of this safe means that the biometric lock it incorporates does come with its fair share of problems: several users have had a hard time getting it to open and it isn’t really that surprising - cheap biometrics can have issues identifying fingerprints in normal circumstances, they go haywire when you attempt it with oily or dirty fingers.
In terms of construction strength, this CA DoJ certified safe is pleasantly surprising for its cost: 1/16’’ body thickness and 3/16’’ door thickness, combined with a dual locking bolt system, will keep children (and the odd rookie burglar) out.
The interior of this safe is sufficient for storing at least a couple of handguns, and it comes with its own mounting hardware with which you can secure it even further. Also included are a set of backup override keys in case the electronics fail, and a 1 year limited warranty covering any defects / damage.
The biometric variation of the Sentry Safe provides excellent theft protection at an affordable cost, but at the expense of severely restricting the number of users who can access the safe:
Its biometric lock can store just two fingerprint scans at any one time, meaning it is most suitable for securing a firearm at a home or small office rather than a larger commercial establishment. You may also utilize its included electronic keypad as a secondary access, along with an override key that can be used as a last resort when the electronics fail.
The strength of its construction is where the safe really impresses: at a very reasonable pricing, you get 12 gauge thick steel that is normally found on full-sized long gun safes!
The safe incorporates a compression gas strut which ensures that the pry resistant lid can be opened by just one hand, giving you maximum ease of access in the event of an emergency. The locking mechanism is silent as compared to the noisier contraptions found on most other products, giving you an added tactical advantage in the event of a home invasion.
It is worth noting that the majority of complaints for this safe are directed towards the quality of its buttons and the rate at which it drains the battery. Sure you’ll find a user bashing its biometrics here and there, but the overall frequency of an unreliable incident is much lesser than what you’ll find in other products.
This sensibly priced offering packs a robust fingerprint sensor alongside a strong core build to create one of the best fingerprint gun safes in the market right now.
As far as the biometric reader is concerned, it boasts an enhanced 500 DPI Optical Sensor which supports up to 32 simultaneous users, and provides reliable access to your weapon even when your finger is dirty – this is quite surprising given its low cost. Besides the fingerprint scanner, you can also access the safe via a digital keypad. A backup override key is included as a tertiary access option.
The safe is built using a 2mm layer of steel which is beefed up to 5mm for the door, meaning burglars will have a tough time gaining access to its contents. The anti-theft capability is made even better courtesy of the dual anti-pry insertions. If you wish to secure the safe even further, it comes with pre-drilled holes for mounting.
Also worthy of a mention is its LCD display which indicates the operational status and battery level of the safe. This feature isn’t present even in some of its more expensive competitors, and is quite useful in that it gives you a clear indicator of when your battery needs replacing.
The interior of the safe has an LED built into it, but this requires 2 separate AA batteries to operate. While there have be relatively few complaints about this particular product, the company has been very generous with its replacement guarantee in the instances where a problem did occur, if user reviews are anything to go by.
Packing 5th generation scanning technology, this is without a doubt one of the most reliable and rapidly accessible biometric safes you can buy, if you’re willing to pay a little extra.
The 5th gen scanner has the lowest fail rate among the competition and opens in one second when you’re running the safe via the AC adapter and under two seconds when you’re using the 9V DC battery. It can accommodate as many as 15 separate fingerprints at one time, and thanks to its auto-opening door, all you need to do is swipe your finger and let the safe do the rest.
The AC adapter power source lets you use it at home without having to worry about replacing the battery – an issue with almost all other electronic gun safes. The 9V DC battery option lets you take the safe with you on any journey. In case you’re not able to get the biometric mechanism to work, you can use the provided barrel key to override the system.
The body is made out of 14 gauge steel, which is more than sufficient to deter theft attempts made using hand tools. Anti-pry tabs and reinforced latching add to the overall security of the safe. The product comes with a 5 year replacement warranty, but in all likelihood you won’t need to use it: there have been very few complaints about the safe failing in any manner – for the price it asks, this is something to be expected.
When choosing a biometric gun safe, the biggest concern is reliability – this much will be clear to you now that you’ve gone through the guide, as well as the fingerprint gun safe reviews I’ve included above. Build strength and economic pricing are both desirable features, but ultimately, a fingerprint scanning safe is only as useful as the locking mechanism that’s built in to it: if it fails to give you fast access at the time it’s needed most, the product has failed.
With that in mind, both the Viking Security Safe and the Liberty 9G HDX-250 are excellent choices in terms of scanning reliability and structural integrity – the former edging ahead in economy while the latter offering superior access speed and power dependability. Personally, I like to leave nothing to chance, which is why I’d recommend the Liberty 9G HDX-250 as the best biometric gun safe around right now.
The 5th gen sensor and 14 gauge construction is certainly admirable, but what really sets it apart for me is the dual AC adaptor / 9V DC battery power source that makes it a highly reliable plug and forget solution for home use, and a portable storage solution for when you need to take your weapon with you on the go. It might be expensive, but for those who want an uninterrupted fingerprint activated locking system for securing their weapon, it doesn’t get better than this.
Guns and Security provides reviews, guides, news and entertainment for gun and survival enthusiasts.
Celebrities Who Love Guns: #12 Is The Best
What’s the Best Spot in your Home to Put your Gun Safe?
Gun safe or Gun Cabinet – Which is the Right Choice for You?
Electronic or Mechanical Lock – Which is the Right One for You?
What issues may be present in a Winchester gun safe?
The Truth About Gun Safe Fire Ratings
A Take on the Best Small Gun Safes in the Market
The Best Gun Safe Under 1000 in the Market