Fort Knox Original Pistol Box Review

By Dave Goetzinger of Handgun Safe Research
In this ongoing series we highlight the dangers of so call Lock Boxes that may be sold for use a gun storage devices. This article reviews the Fort Knox Original Pistol Box.

Fort Knox Original Pistol Box
Fort Knox Original Pistol Box

United States -(AmmoLand.com)- I owned my Fort Knox Original Pistol Box for approximately one year before the mechanical lock on it broke. I was programming a new combination—practicing the programming sequence, actually. I wanted to have the steps down so that I could demonstrate how easily the lock could be programmed. This was to be part of a demonstration video.

But the lock broke, and I called Fort Knox to ask if they were still installing the lock on their pistol boxes. It was the D900 Series lock, marketed by the Illinois Lock Company and made in China. The woman I spoke with said, “Oh, no. We’re installing the KABA Simplex lock on those now.” I asked for a new lock, which arrived three days later. Replacing the lock was straightforward and required only a standard Phillips-head screwdriver.

Somewhere during the process of replacing the lock, I had a crazy idea. I wanted to find out how long it would take me to work through all the possible combinations.

The lock permits 1,082 possible combinations. I became curious about this because, unlike the electronically actuated locks I’ve examined, this lock doesn’t freeze up and prevent one from entering codes in an attempt to discover the correct access code. The mechanical lock doesn’t care whether I keep poking buttons. So I started banging through the combinations and exhausted them in about fifteen and half minutes.

The finding surprised me. And it got me thinking. I’ve been causally recommending this pistol box to friendly correspondents who wanted recommendations, and I realize now that I shouldn’t have been doing so without knowing a few things about the lock. Therefore, this is my belated caveat for those readers to whom I have recommended the Fort Knox Original Pistol Box. This pistol box is appropriate for specific situations, primarily those situations where one can limit access to it and prevent others from systematically trying combinations.

Can the Fort Knox Original Pistol Box prevent theft?

If the gun owner can prevent people from having regular, unguarded opportunities to systematically enter combinations, then yes. Can this pistol box keep guns out of the hand of children? If parents are keen to their children’s development and recognize when the kids have the capacity to start trying combinations, yes.

What about brute force attack? Can this pistol box withstand an attack with a pry bar? The Original Pistol Box is made of 10-gauge steel and has a wrap-around lid that doesn’t allow easy purchase with a pry bar. It’s the stoutest-made handgun safe I’ve seen. As far as prying it open in a hurry, I don’t see that happening. From what I know about home break-ins, the perpetrator wants two things, 1) to be in and out as fast as possible, and 2) to grab whatever items he can convert into cash. If a pistol box is bolted down, he can’t take it. If he doesn’t have the nerve to spend an additional fifteen minutes in someone’s home—a stupid move for a thief, anyway—he won’t be trying combinations on the pistol box.

About Dave Goetzinger

I began while writing a piece of investigative journalism titled “Safe Cracking Is Too Easy,” published in the September 2015, issue of American Shooting Journal. The piece looked at defectively designed handgun safes, and was first posted online at ASJ on July 21, 2015, under the title “It's Too Easy To Crack Your Gun Safe.”

About Handgun Safe Research

This site exposes the design defects and security vulnerabilities of popular handgun safes. Visit : www.handgunsaferesearch.com

  • 3 thoughts on “Fort Knox Original Pistol Box Review

    1. I don’t know about other states, but, California tests gun safes/boxes and approves or rejects them for use in the state. The state is very strict on such things (probably because they want to be able to hold the gun owner responsible if they use a non-approved storage product and someone gets access…). Your state likely has an office for product testing as well, but here are the ones for CA which may help in purchasing research.

      https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/gunsafe
      https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/tips
      https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/fsdcertlist

    2. The math doesn’t seem to work out here. 15 minutes is 900 seconds to run through 1082 possible multi-button-push combinations. I agree that given enough time cracking the code is possible, but I kinda doubt the 15 minute window. Please provide a little more detail as to that test.

    3. First off, let me just say, calling your box fort knox does not make it safe, or any harder to get into. I will say Kaba is
      one of the most trusted high security lock companies there is, but as I commented on another box, in this situation, it is not the lock that’s the problem. No batteries, fine, no electronics, fine, but in order to keep someone out of the box, the companies need to design a box similar to the larger gun safes that have the bolts coming out the top, and sides, so when you close the lid turn the latch, the bolts go into the holes along the frame edges. I know, more work, more cost, but when the proto type is built, the cost can be justified. Now I’m just saying, that will keep people out, but as the design of this particular lid with that big front outside lip on it, if it is bolted down solid it makes it easier to get in for two reasons.
      A flat shaped small crobar with the lip can get under that lip and force that box lid open, even if its short, they can put a block under the crobar of anything laying around, to get more leverage. And number two would be the inside latch itself that is usually about an inch long or so, and rounded on the end to slide into the frame on the box, that with a little torque of the lid from the outside, will bend it enough to pop the lid. That’s where the bolts coming out of the lid comes into play, when you close the lid, turn the knob that’s connected to linkage that secures the bolts in the frame.
      If the box is not bolted down, pretty much kiss it good by. If people insist on one of these boxes, keep it out of sight, but close enough for a quick retrieve, but still no guarantees. I have my gun safe set up, and door bolts lubed and an
      electronic code setup in a pattern that gets me in it in just under, or sometimes over four seconds, and I practice it on a regular basis, and if these box companies design a door that works the same way on a smaller scale, with practice,
      and a little lube to keep it quiet, you just may keep your pistol. I’m not trying to bash any of these companies, but just
      bringing up opinions on how I might make them safer.

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