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Gun theft is not a minor crime in the country. According to the data provided by the FBI, a gun is stolen every 2 minutes in the U.S. This is very alarming especially if you don’t know how these thieves break into gun safes. But not to worry because today, we would look at the 6 common ways people can break into your gun safe and how to prevent them from happening.

Let’s dive in.

Note: The information in this article should never be used for immoral or illegal acts!

7 Ways People Can Break Into Your Gun Safe

Here are possible ways people can break into your gun safe.

1. By Cutting The Gun Safe With A Saw

People can gain access to your gun safe by cutting a side of the safe with a power saw or disc grinder. This method is commonly used to break into mobile safes and other small gun safes. For this method, the burglar would look for the thinnest part of the gun safe and cut it open using a power saw.

However, burglars rarely use this method because it is time-consuming and can be very noisy. Also, the method can only work on small safes with thin frames. Larger gun safes would prove impossible to cut through as they are made from tough materials like solid steel.

How to prevent this

The best way to stop thieves from cutting through your gun safe is to bolt the safe down to the ground. Usually, burglars wouldn’t attempt to cut through your safe inside your home. Instead, they steal the safe and take it to where they can work on it and cut through it without drawing attention to themselves. But if you bolt the safe down, it becomes impossible to move or steal it.

As a safety measure, ensure to provide a moisture-resistant pad or mat underneath the safe before bolting it down. This helps to prevent water damage to the frame in case of flood or an underground leak.

2. By Guessing Your Combination

If your gun safe has a passcode lock, then burglars can guess your combination. This is why it’s usually a bad idea to use birthdays and significant dates for your number combination as family members who shouldn’t know the code can easily guess them correctly.

Thief wearing black leather gloves trying to open safe combination lock steal, robbery, crime, theft
Thief wearing black leather gloves trying to open safe combination lock steal, robbery, crime, theft

How to prevent this

You can make it impossible for burglars to guess your combination by purchasing safes with a restricted number of tries. For such safes, you only get to type in the code 3 times and if you get it wrong the third time, the gun safe automatically shuts off and the dial pad becomes inactive so the burglar can’t punch in any more numbers. It’s highly unlikely that the burglar will guess your combination in three tries so this step works well.

Also, don’t use obvious numbers like birthdays, and don’t write your codes where anyone can access them or it won’t take much guessing to break into your gun safe.

3. By Drilling The Lock

Experienced thieves can gain access to your gun safe by drilling through the gun safe. What they do is they use a power drill and a drill bit to drill right through the face of the lock. This allows them to reach the lever in the locking mechanism. Then they use punch rods to move or bend the bolts out of place. This will open the lock and allow them to gain access to the safe.

However, you should know that this method doesn’t work on safes with a re-locker. For safes with a re-locker, the re-locker kicks into place immediately after the drill go through the lock.

How to prevent this

The best way to prevent this is to purchase gun safes with re-lockers so when the burglar drills into the face of the lock, the re-locker is activated to shut the burglar out. You can also purchase safes that have a hard plate designed between the lock and the bolts. So even if the thief drills through the face of the lock, the drill will not get to the bolts of the locking mechanism.

4. Taking Off The Hinges

The hinges are small bolts that hold the door to the safe in place. To break into the gun safe, the burglar can break these hinges causing the door to the safe to fall flat. The problem with this method is that it makes noise as door hinges are usually made of metal. So breaking the metal will be noisy.

Also, this method doesn’t work on modern safes because the hinges are hidden. Asides from that, modern safes commonly have double-sided bolts meaning that the door to the safe will not fall even if you break the hinges. This is because the door hangs on the bolts and not the hinges.

How to prevent this

You can prevent this attack by purchasing a safe with hidden hinges. Such safes have hinges inside the safe so it’s impossible for the burglar to break the hinges. You can also purchase safes that use bolts to hold the door rather than hinges. Double-sided bolts are the best option as there is a bolt on each side of the door.

5. By Picking The Lock

This is one of the oldest tricks that burglars use to break into gun safes. All this method requires is a paper clip and some thieves are so experienced that they can use hairclips or needles. You should also know that this method works only on gun safes with a lock and key.

How this works is that the burglar inserts a tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole and applies pressure. Then he or she bends the tip of a paper clip and pushes the paper clip into the keyhole at the top of the wrench. The bent paper clip serves as a hook that moves the pins in the lock till the door opens.


How to prevent this

Sadly, it’s almost impossible to stop a burglar from picking a lock as every lock has a keyhole. The only way to stop this would be to find a way to cover the keyhole or to purchase a safe with a complex lock. However, the best way to prevent this is not to use a gun safe with a lock and key mechanism. There are stronger and more secure gun safes out there than a lock and key safe.

6. By Prying The Safe Open

This step involves brute force and more than one burglar. What they need for this method are crowbars. They all pick a crowbar each and use it to forcefully pull the door open. This method takes a lot of time and effort. Not to mention the noise and number of people involved so it’s not exactly a burglar’s favorite but it works especially on smaller safes. It would be impossible to pry the door of a large safe open.

How to prevent this

You can prevent this by bolting the safe in a confined space like the closet. When you bolt the gun safe to the ground, it would be impossible to move the gun safe out of the closet so the burglars have to work in a confined space. The good news is there is no way you can pry or force the door to the safe open when you are working in a tight space.

7. By Using Plasma or Diamond Cutters

This is a very effective method for breaking into gun safes but this is not a method a regular burglar would use. This is because plasma and diamond cutters are very expensive and difficult to operate. So it would take an experienced and skilled burglar to use this method and such a burglar is sure to attack a larger gun safe like a gun store rather than your handgun safe. This method involves using plasma cutters or lasers to cut through the frame of the gun safe.

How to prevent this

The best way to prevent this would be to purchase a gun safe that is reinforced with a stainless-steel liner. Such safes have stainless steel lined in the inner walls of the gun safe. The stainless steel helps to disperse the heat from the plasma cutter and it also helps to slow down the cutting action. With a strong enough plasma cutter, the burglar can still get through the stainless steel but it would take time.

How To Save Your Safe

There are a few pro-tips that can make your gun safe safer. These tips make it difficult for anyone to break into your gun safe:

  1. Don’t write your combination code or password where anyone can see it
  2. Don’t share the location of the gun safe with other people
  3. Purchase gun safes that have tested and certified locking mechanisms
  4. Purchase gun safes with a very solid and hard frame so it’s impossible to cut through them
  5. Pick safes that are designed with re-lockers.
  6. Keep the gun safe out of sight and out of reach.

Final Words

So there you have it. If you found this article useful, ensure to check out others like it on this website. Have a nice day.

Rell is a network engineer with over 10 years of experience in IT management and network optimization. He has a passion for firearms and previously worked with the US military in California, where he gained knowledge and experience in the gun world. Rell is a firearm instructor and range safety officer who runs a website for gun enthusiasts, where he provides information on gun culture, safety, and maintenance.

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