Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe : The Good & The Bad

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 Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe.

Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe
Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe

AmmoLand Gun News

United States -(AmmoLand.com)- In my ongoing effort to find a handgun safe (or “lockbox” or “pistol box”) that I might feel comfortable recommending, guardedly, I decided to look at one of the most popular handgun safes currently available, Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe, model QAP1E.

Next to Stack-On products, this safe is the most widely sold handgun safe I’ve seen in stores. I’ve found it being sold by retailers as diverse as Cabelas, Fred Meyer, Home Depot, and Walmart. It’s an Amazon bestseller. I’ve also read hundreds of reviews on websites marketing gun safes, and buyers are nearly unanimous in their approval of this handgun safe: This is a reliable, sturdy, secure little safe.

A part of me would like to let this particular device go, to let those who’ve purchased it go on about their lives without knowing what they should know about the safe. But I cannot ignore how little time I needed to open it.

I cannot ignore the simplicity of the attack and how common the tools are that I used, a tiny screwdriver and scrap of metal shim. I also feel the need to inform those who own one of these devices that the method of attack I used on this safe is only effective if the device is not properly bolted down.

Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe : The Good

To be fair, this device has many of the features I look for in a handgun safe and few of the design weaknesses I’ve found in others. It has no extraneous holes in its sides or in the top of it. The safe has no rubber of plastic keypad that can be pulled or pried up. The reset button for entering new access codes is hidden inside the battery compartment, behind the battery holder. The door is designed to make prying at it extremely difficult.

I appreciate that the electronics generate no unnecessary beeping noises. I also like that the door pops open quickly with no electronic musical fanfare. (I’ll never understand why some designers feel the need to incorporate this sort of thing into the electronics for safes.) I’m pleased to see that Sentry Safe gave this device a high quality, dense foam padding very much unlike the cheap foam smelling of recycled tires found in other handgun safes. I also like that the buttons are backlit, though not so brightly as to ruin one’s night vision should the safe need to be accessed in the dark.

Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe : The Bad

But the safe has a couple of design problems I’ve seen too many times before, enough times that the mistakes are no longer excusable. No manufacturer or engineer gets any sympathy from me on these points. I will exploit these weaknesses when I find them. What did I find?

The housing of the locking mechanism has a gap in it that allows access to the mechanical components of the mechanism, and those mechanical components have no shielding to protect them. With very little effort, I was able to insert a piece of metal shim and knock the spring from the latch. Now the latch can be thrown from the door by picking the safe up and giving it a gentle shake.

If you own one of these safes, bolt it down. If you know someone who owns one of these, tell them to bolt it down—or just show them the video and save yourself arguing about it.

We found the best price on the Sentry Safe’s Quick Access Pistol Safe online on Amazon. ~ AmmoLand

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

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    FloridaWild BillDave GoetzingerDGHipshot Percussion Recent comment authors
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    Florida
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    Florida

    Dave Goetzinger
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    Dave Goetzinger

    On the possibility this article is still being read, I wanted to bring people up to date. I decided to re-examine this safe to see whether any improvements had been made in the year since I wrote this. I obtained a new QAP1E, recorded a demonstration on May 16, 2017, and posted the video on my Vimeo channel, Handgun Safe Research. What I found is that no significant improvements had been made. Worse, I found that if I was a little less forceful while inserting a metal shim into the housing of the locking mechanism, I could push the release… Read more »

    Wild Bill
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    Wild Bill

    @Dave G, It is so seldom that someone says that they are wrong, and it would be so easy to just let time go by. You are to congratulated on your honesty and integrity. My hat is off to you, sir.

    DG
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    DG

    As the owner of this, I would like to know if the mechanics are accessible if the plastic pieces on the end were to be pried off. I am hoping the manufacturer would not leave a “hole” to the locking mechanism being only plastic, but have not wanted to break the lock box to find out.

    Hipshot Percussion
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    Hipshot Percussion

    I do own this lock box and it is bolted to the wall (against manufacturers manual). It is up high at the ceiling on a wall that is blind unless you are really looking. That being said… I love this safe. As far as breaking into it, with special tools or stuff like that, I don’t doubt it. This isn’t a $3000.000 floor mounted 800 lb safe and it isn’t meant to be. This is my night time safe when I’m in bed. Why would you have a lock box and not bolt it down? What would be the point… Read more »

    Chuck M
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    Chuck M

    For one, I would never keep a loaded, or empty pistol in a box\safe\or so called vault like these, as if your a thief and break in a house and find this box not bolted down, your going to grab it with whatever else of value, and break in it down the road somewhere, not caring if you destroy it or not, and if no one is home, and said box is found bolted down, it seems it would make it easier, as you can use the curved cover to work for you, as a bigger screw driver, or prying… Read more »