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.
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