Owning a biometric gun safe (aka – fingerprint gun safe), definitely has its advantages – that is if your needs fit the bill. A lock equipped with a biometric scanner boasts one characteristic that its dial and electronic keypad counterparts can’t match – that, my friends is speed. Most gun safes protected by fingerprint readers will allow you access to your firearm in a second or less. I don’t care how many times you’ve practiced spinning that dial, you’re never gonna come near those results with a rotary lock. Biometric scanners are ideal for small, bedside and wall-style gun safes. You can have your B&T TP9 (what, you don’t sleep with a TP9 next to your bed?) racked and ready to rip before your wife can say, “did you hear that?”. I personally keep a GunVault biometric safe by my bed for that exact purpose – quick accessibility. These safes are perfect for storing a pistol that you need to reach in a hurry, while still providing plenty of security to keep out your children or a lazy burglar.
On the flip side, however, I have a little bone to pick with biometric gun safes. Not the technology itself, but the way that it’s often marketed. It’s common to see gun safe manufacturers upselling biometric scanners as a security upgrade. If the technology were flawless, and proven impossible to fake, I’d agree with this one hundred percent. Biometric technology continues to grow in both effectiveness and affordability, but it still has its flaws. One feature typically advertised on fingerprint gun safes is low FRR and FAR. For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned acronyms, they stand for False Reject Rate and False Accept Rate. As impressive as some of these rates may be, they’re still essentially telling you that there’s a chance you won’t be able to get into your safe when you need to, or worse, a thief won’t share your dilemma. Biometric scanners have FARs and FRRs as low as a mere fraction of a percent. Nevertheless, if your exclusively concerned with the accuracy of your lock, go old school and go rotary.
This brings me to my next slice of beef. Why put a biometric lock on a full-sized gun safe? I just don’t see the logic in spending $1000 on a steel fortress, and running the risk (as minute as it may be) of having a security breach. Unless a magnet hangs the combination or pass code on your safe, you’re not going to share the same potential issue of someone getting lucky or faking your fingerprints (Mythbusters) with a dial lock or electronic keypad. “Hey, what about all that talk about quick accessibility?”. You can still get into a Liberty FatBoy in a matter of seconds, but for the purposes of my argument, it’s really a moot point. People spend big money on big gun safes because they want the peace of mind in knowing that no matter how long they’re away from their home, their gun collection, photo albums, and jewelry are as safe from burglary, fire, and water damage as they can possibly be. I just don’t see the need for sub-second access on a one ton gun safe – at least not at the sacrifice of security. Sorry for being so anal.
As mentioned before, a biometric handgun gun safe serves its primary purpose beautifully. Short of leaving your pistol out for your kids to get into, there’s no quicker way to gain quick access to a firearm than a fingerprint gun safe. That said, it’s strongly recommended that you consider the time-tested accuracy of a rotary lock, or the precision of an electronic lock for your most precious valuables.