When purchasing a fingerprint gun safe (biometric fingerprint gun safe), there are several elements to consider.  Thickness, capacity, dimensions…these are all characteristics that are pretty easy to grasp.  But when dealing with biometric gun safe locks, terms like ‘minutiae’ and ‘algorithm adjustments’ start to cloud up the water a bit.  Take GunVault for example – they say that their MiniVault safe “has a very low False Reject Rate (FRR) for a given False Accept Rate (FAR)”.  Ok, so what does that mean, fella?  Is this something I should be concerned with, or is it just marketing gibberish?  Well, it’s a little bit of both.

FAR, FRR, and EER, which I’ll define in a moment, are legitimate pattern measurements that biometric engineers consider when designing a fingerprint recognition lock for your gun safe.  However, from a sales perspective, I consider them to be pretty moot.  First of all, I challenge you to visit your local gun dealer and ask the safe salesman to explain identification and verification thresholds to you.  I wouldn’t necessarily fault the guy if he didn’t know what you were talking about, but even if he did, he’s going to be hard pressed to find any objective FAR to FRR ratios in the accompanying sales literature.  He’ll be able to tell you how many fingerprints can be stored, but 9 times out of 10, he’s going to come up short on finding the equal error rate.  This is because, most fingerprint gun safes come with perfectly adequate acceptance/rejection rates, and only dorks like myself care to know their significance.

So what does our previous GunVault fingerprint handgun safe example mean?  A false rejection rate (FRR) refers to the likelihood that the biometric gun safe is going to deny access to the owner.  Whereas, the false acceptance rate refers to the likelihood that a burglar is going to gain access.  No fingerprint reader is perfect, but a good balance between the two patterns is what determines a biometric lock’s accuracy.  So if the MiniVault has a low FRR for the given FAR, it’s really just a fancy way of saying, “we’ve designed our gun safes so that our clients have a better chance of getting into them than burglars”.  Kind of dumb right?  This is why most manufacturers don’t bother with the listings.  Biometric gun safes are built with quick accessibility in mind – if you’re that concerned with accuracy, get a rotary lock.

When it comes down to it, simply measuring the FRR and the FAR is a bit arbitrary.  These pattern rates have no implication on how the fingerprint scores against the biometric template established when the safe owner made the initial calibrations.  The equal error rate (EER) puts this mind-blowing dilemma to rest.  It’s used to report where the FAR and FRR intersect, finding the “perfect” balance.  The lower the EER, the better, but you’re probably not going to find this listed when shopping for a biometric gun safe.

I’m not a math teacher for a reason – I suck at explaining (and understanding) this kind of stuff, so if for some stroke of bad luck, this is the first Gun Safe Haven page you landed on, I promise the rest isn’t so darn dry.