What Issues May Be Present in a Winchester Gun Safe?

Winchester safes are manufactured by the same enterprise that has been producing firearms that ‘won the west’ since 1866. Even though they went into the safe making business relatively recently (in 1991), that still makes for two and half decades worth of industry experience, so it’s only natural to expect very high standards of quality from them.

For the most part, their safes are extremely robust and dependable – and the manufacturer claims to use cutting edge technologies to ensure the best quality. Best doesn’t mean perfect however: you’ll find that there are certain issues, which, in spite of being largely fixable, can negatively impact the overall experience.

With the intention of helping fellow gun owners, I’ve put together a collection of the most frequently encountered Winchester gun safe problems, along with steps to resolve them where possible. Even if you don’t own a Winchester product, you should still give it a read to find out whether this particular brand is the right investment for you or not!​

Electronic Lock Issues

Several consumers have had problems with Winchester safes utilizing an electronic locking mechanism:

Battery Drainage

This in itself shouldn’t be an issue – since all electronic circuits running on batteries must have them replaced at some point. The problem lies in the fact that the electronic lock fails to inform the user when the battery level gets low.

In fact, it may even mislead you by producing audio feedback and blinking a red LED light as per normal, even when the juice has gone down quite a bit. Consequently, the door won’t open and you’ll be left wondering whether it’s time to call in a professional locksmith.

Rule of thumb with these safes: always try replacing the batteries before doing anything else, when you run into a problem such as this.​

Keypad Problems

Some users have experienced their keypads becoming non-functional just a few weeks after purchasing their Winchester gun safe. Before assuming the worst, know that these products come with a penalty lockout feature that will render the keypad non-responsive after several incorrect access attempts have been made in a row.

The first time you experience a locked keypad, wait for 5 minutes and then re-enter your code, making sure you do it correctly this time. If the problem persists after 2-3 such attempts, you should contact support.

​Luckily, Winchester support is very cooperative (if reviews from existing users can be counted on), so they’ll likely send you a replacement keypad and a locksmith to fix the problem for you.

Solenoid Failure

​The electronic locks in these gun safes are hooked to a solenoid mechanism that engages and disengages the lock. Being an electrical component, the solenoid can fail due to a number of external factors, and once that happens, your Winchester gun safe won’t open, even when everything else appears to be fine.

If you experience something like this, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer and describe the issue in detail. They will send you a replacement for the faulty solenoid that should resolve the problem.​

Solenoid not working due to back pressure:

Even when the solenoid is working correctly, back pressure developed at the coupling of the lock bolt and the safe’s boltwork may prevent the door from being opened.​

The solenoid is simply not strong enough to overcome the excessive pressure, so you’re locked out of your safe even when the LED is blinking correctly! Fortunately, there are a couple of easy ways to fix this:​

  • Turn the handle clockwise, hard, and then turn it counter-clockwise as usual.
  • Apply pressure on the door handle along the locking direction while you’re punching in the key code.

The only permanent solution is to have the electronic lock replaced with a mechanical one; most UL rated locks share a common footprint, which means you can replace them with another model from the same Group (you can even jump from one manufacturer to the other!).

Inaccurately Quoted Long Gun Capacity

While this may well be a problem with several other gun safe brands too, it is nevertheless a major issue for Winchester gun safes: take their Ranger 19 model for instance – it has a quoted long gun capacity of 24, but when you open its interior, you’ll find that it is impossible to fit that many long guns inside.

One can argue that scoped rifles take up more space by virtue of the scope’s girth, but even with that considered, you won’t even be able to fit in 24 standard rifles / shotguns! It seems that Winchester has merely created 24 barrel rests and advertised that as space fit for two dozen rifles. At best, you’ll be able to fit in half the quoted number and that too will be a tight squeeze.

There’s no way to increase the storage capacity of the safe, so I’ll advise you to always purchase a product that is quoted to hold roughly twice as many long guns as the number you own presently. Even if you end up with some excessive space, you’ll be grateful for it if you expand your collection a few years down the line.​

Conclusion

Having gone through the most frequently experienced Winchester gun safe problems, you’ll see that most of them are more inconveniences than serious issues which could compromise the security of your gun collection. You can fix them if you can diagnose them correctly, and have the ability to use simple tools and follow instructions.

Even if you’re not able to do so on your own, you can definitely rely on Winchester’s superb customer support to guide you to a solution. If your product is covered by their warranty, they’ll even send you a technician / locksmith to resolve the issue cleanly.

If you’re not reasonably adept at technical troubleshooting, I’ll advise you to contact support immediately as opposed to fiddling around yourself: you may render the warranty void by doing so, in which case you’ll have to pay for a locksmith to help you out.

If you have any queries / comments pertaining to the information provided above, do leave them in the comments section below, and I’ll try to address them as best I can.​

About the Author Richard Mendez

Guns and Security provides reviews, guides, news and entertainment for gun and survival enthusiasts.

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