Digital vs. Dial

One of the most common questions when buying a safe is: “Should I get a manual dial or an electronic lock?” The choice of lock is largely personal, and both options have their pros and cons.

Combination Dials

The old-fashioned manual tumbler lock is typically less expensive than an electric lock. A dial will never wear out or need to be replaced, and it will not automatically lock you out from repeated failed efforts to access. Also this option is virtually silent, a big plus if you find yourself in a dangerous situation where you need to access a firearm quickly and quietly. Dial locks, however, are difficult to read in low light situations, and take a little more time to access than electronic locks. You not only have to remember the numbers of the combination, but also the pattern and direction to turn the dial. If you miss the mark, you have to start over; this can be difficult for people with shaky hands or arthritis. Dial locks also require you to spin the dial after closing the safe in order to ensure it locks. If you ever want to change your combination, you will have to contact the manufacturer or a locksmith.

Electronic locks

They offer a quick and simple way of just pressing the correct sequence of buttons which then allows the safe door to be unlocked, you don’t have to do anything extra to lock the safe, just close it. Digital locks are equipped so that the owner of the safe is able to set/change their combinations as many times as needed. Many electronic locks have an automatic lock out feature, so if someone tries three or four incorrect combinations, they will be locked out for 15 to 20 minutes. This can be good or bad depending on your application. Electronic Locks use batteries, in most cases the batteries in a digital lock will need to be replaced every 1-3 years. Batteries are usually located on the outside of the keypad and take only a couple of minutes to replace. You also need to change your combination occasionally on an electronic lock, as the keypad will eventually show wear marks that reveal the numbers in your combination.

As far as security, both locks are equally good. Neither is easy to bypass, and both are going to be inoperable after a major fire. Ultimately, the buyer needs to weigh speed, convenience, and ease of access, and decide which option is right.