Electronic Gun safes and EMP

Rwjeter

Space Force General Freeze.
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 16, 2016
10,059
11,910
113
Temple
Zip code
30179
I've been wanting another Gun Safe. All the ones I've had in the past were the classic turn dial combination. I've always had this fear of EMP disabling the lock. I recently saw a Steelwater EMP Proof safe. It has a keyed mechanical back up (from what I understand it's more than just inserting a key and turning to prevent lockpicking) if the electronics fail. What are your thoughts?
 

Laufen

Ammosexual
Site Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 23, 2015
26,912
21,328
113
I85
Zip code
30030
That's how the electronic locked safes work. They'll typically come with two physical keys to use in the event the lock is disabled. I have an electronic lock on mine, but I'd prefer a Sargeant and Greenleaf lock.

Just to be trite, I'll repeat some of age old saying about safes:

Buy bigger than you think you'll need
Bolt it down
Not all fire ratings are conducted the same way, so you can't compare apples to apples
Most damage done to contents is from water via the fire department, so get one with a good heat activated seal.

That's all I got.
 
Last edited:

Jake

All gun laws are an infringement!
Super Moderator
Lifetime Supporter
Aug 11, 2015
14,150
18,178
113
Southern Gwinnett/Northern Rockdale
Zip code
30039
That's one of the few complaints I have about my little cheap Tractor Supply Winchester 51 Gun Safe is a lack of a key backup. I'd never be able to get into it in the event of an EMP. On the Tractor Supply website it says...

SmartSelect_20180726-083603_Samsung Internet.jpg

Also, I have the older model with the weird ass keypad that doesn't have the numbers in the typical location like on most things with a number keypad.
Mine looks like this...
SmartSelect_20180726-084027_Samsung Internet.jpg
As opposed to a tradition number keypad...
SmartSelect_20180726-084118_Samsung Internet.jpg

I've entered the wrong combination several times in the dark, or just not paying attention in a hurry and got locked out of it for over an hour. It's really frustrating when it happens, which has only been a few times and luckily I didn't really need anything out of it at the time but if I did I would have been fucked.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rwjeter

dial1911

Mouse hunter
Jul 15, 2015
12,575
14,050
113
Central Hades
Zip code
31210
I've done some studying on EMPs before and I think the mass effects are over exaggerated. It makes for a good book, but I'm not sure how realistic it is to say that every single microprocessor will definitely be fried.

Power lines will collect huge voltages that, I believe, will destroy/damage distribution networks and likely cause heavy damage at power generation stations. I do not believe that *most* vehicles will be seriously damaged (i.e. inoperable). I read something on this, maybe opinion, but it was convincing enough. I have also seen pictures of the wooden test structures that were built in the desert (in the 1960s/1970s) where aircraft were tested in a simulated EMP. They were not damaged. Yes, "chips" were more heavy-duty then... but also much larger.

This is all contingent on the strength of the pulse. I think it's measured in watts/meter^2 on the ground. The basic idea is a neutron rich nuclear device is detonated above the ionosphere and those neutrons knock ionosphere electrons out of place and sending them raining down on us poor people below (like a damn blanket of static electricity). Us (non-metallic) people will be fine. But metal things that cover a crap ton of square meters (power lines, water pipes, railroad rails, etc) will be hit by, and conduct lots of that electron rain.

I think the crux of most arguments is that a microprocessor has such a tiny area, it's not going to absorb much of the static. I'll have to try to find some field density estimates later (watts/meter^2). You can figure the area of the chip vs. the watts/area and get an idea of how much power it would absorb. That also assumes that the chip is 100% exposed to the pulse. That's not really the case. Anything made of metal (even metal roof panels, like on most commercial buildings) will provide some protection from the "electron rain".

Now for anything plugged into the wall (i.e. connected to those super-charged power lines), all bets are off.
 

EugenFJR

Army SDM
Lifetime Supporter
Jul 3, 2015
6,843
8,211
113
Powder Springs, Hiram
Zip code
30127
I've been wanting another Gun Safe. All the ones I've had in the past were the classic turn dial combination. I've always had this fear of EMP disabling the lock. I recently saw a Steelwater EMP Proof safe. It has a keyed mechanical back up (from what I understand it's more than just inserting a key and turning to prevent lockpicking) if the electronics fail. What are your thoughts?
Just leave them under your bed??? :noidea:

I honestly don't think a EMP will take out every single electronic, esp. something as simple as a gun safe lock... I think Dial 1911 is spot on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mac11FA and Rwjeter

Mac11FA

Gunoholic
Super Moderator
Lifetime Supporter
Patriot Lifetime
Mar 26, 2015
12,571
10,671
113
Locust Grove, GA
Zip code
30248
I've done some studying on EMPs before and I think the mass effects are over exaggerated. It makes for a good book, but I'm not sure how realistic it is to say that every single microprocessor will definitely be fried.

Power lines will collect huge voltages that, I believe, will destroy/damage distribution networks and likely cause heavy damage at power generation stations. I do not believe that *most* vehicles will be seriously damaged (i.e. inoperable). I read something on this, maybe opinion, but it was convincing enough. I have also seen pictures of the wooden test structures that were built in the desert (in the 1960s/1970s) where aircraft were tested in a simulated EMP. They were not damaged. Yes, "chips" were more heavy-duty then... but also much larger.

This is all contingent on the strength of the pulse. I think it's measured in watts/meter^2 on the ground. The basic idea is a neutron rich nuclear device is detonated above the ionosphere and those neutrons knock ionosphere electrons out of place and sending them raining down on us poor people below (like a damn blanket of static electricity). Us (non-metallic) people will be fine. But metal things that cover a crap ton of square meters (power lines, water pipes, railroad rails, etc) will be hit by, and conduct lots of that electron rain.

I think the crux of most arguments is that a microprocessor has such a tiny area, it's not going to absorb much of the static. I'll have to try to find some field density estimates later (watts/meter^2). You can figure the area of the chip vs. the watts/area and get an idea of how much power it would absorb. That also assumes that the chip is 100% exposed to the pulse. That's not really the case. Anything made of metal (even metal roof panels, like on most commercial buildings) will provide some protection from the "electron rain".

Now for anything plugged into the wall (i.e. connected to those super-charged power lines), all bets are off.

The surface area of the actual.metal components of the circuitry as well as proximity to the blast will determine as well. It is great for books and movies but maybe not overall as big a deal. I am sure that there are some entrepreneurs out there who will try to make money on selling EMP resistant components but there is no current real world testing to show that modern day components are as susceptible to this.

Static is one way to describe although EMP is a collapsing magnetic field and will induce current in conductors ( wire, rails, circuit traces etc.) If this induced current is greater than the circuit and/or components it is designed for, then that is when the damage occurs. So, for a safe lock, it will be based on the size of the circuit board ( traces and layers) as to how easily it will be damaged.

Remeber that they are designed to run off a 9V battery so not going to handle maybe 100mA total circuit current. A fuse will not protect it. Your better off with a metal cage (Faraday comes to mind) to protect it. Most locks have a lot of chrome trim (plastic yes. but has a metal molecular componet) which will help act as protection. The weakest and largest conductor area will actually be the keypad circuit due to all the traces used.

Worried about an EMP taking out your safe lock? Take some of the tin foil from your hat and cover the lock. LOL.

Seriously, a simple foil shield should protect the lock.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dial1911

NWS

Not a hot midget
Administrator
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 24, 2015
5,504
6,162
113
Georgia
Zip code
30172
Anything strong enough to get electronics would kill me instantly so IDGAF.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mac11FA

dial1911

Mouse hunter
Jul 15, 2015
12,575
14,050
113
Central Hades
Zip code
31210
Go mechanical and be done with it. I don't trust electronic locks to start with.

I think that's a very good point- there's a heck of a lot more to go wrong with a chip/wired/batteried/lock actuator/keypad/etc. than just a very well proven mechanical lock.

EMP aside, I would say that the mechanical lock is way, way ahead in terms of reliability.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cudruln

dial1911

Mouse hunter
Jul 15, 2015
12,575
14,050
113
Central Hades
Zip code
31210
The surface area of the actual.metal components of the circuitry as well as proximity to the blast will determine as well. It is great for books and movies but maybe not overall as big a deal. I am sure that there are some entrepreneurs out there who will try to make money on selling EMP resistant components but there is no current real world testing to show that modern day components are as susceptible to this.

Static is one way to describe although EMP is a collapsing magnetic field and will induce current in conductors ( wire, rails, circuit traces etc.) If this induced current is greater than the circuit and/or components it is designed for, then that is when the damage occurs. So, for a safe lock, it will be based on the size of the circuit board ( traces and layers) as to how easily it will be damaged.

Remeber that they are designed to run off a 9V battery so not going to handle maybe 100mA total circuit current. A fuse will not protect it. Your better off with a metal cage (Faraday comes to mind) to protect it. Most locks have a lot of chrome trim (plastic yes. but has a metal molecular componet) which will help act as protection. The weakest and largest conductor area will actually be the keypad circuit due to all the traces used.

Worried about an EMP taking out your safe lock? Take some of the tin foil from your hat and cover the lock. LOL.

Seriously, a simple foil shield should protect the lock.
I do think that this is the one time that a tin foil hat would actually help the electronic lock ;) You really only need a path/conductor to take charge out of the air and give it a "path of least resistance" to somewhere else.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mac11FA

Cudruln

Turning pennies into dollars.
Lifetime Supporter
Jul 5, 2015
9,701
8,238
113
Rockmart, GA
Zip code
30153
I think that's a very good point- there's a heck of a lot more to go wrong with a chip/wired/batteried/lock actuator/keypad/etc. than just a very well proven mechanical lock.

EMP aside, I would say that the mechanical lock is way, way ahead in terms of reliability.
For sure. Plus if you are looking for quick access to a mechanical safe just run the first 2 numbers and leave it ready to turn to the last number.
 

dial1911

Mouse hunter
Jul 15, 2015
12,575
14,050
113
Central Hades
Zip code
31210
For sure. Plus if you are looking for quick access to a mechanical safe just run the first 2 numbers and leave it ready to turn to the last number.

That is exactly what I did at the old house... dial it around for the first two and have it ready to land on the last number. That safe was anchored to the walls and floor so well that I left it for the new owner.
 

Laufen

Ammosexual
Site Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 23, 2015
26,912
21,328
113
I85
Zip code
30030

Cudruln

Turning pennies into dollars.
Lifetime Supporter
Jul 5, 2015
9,701
8,238
113
Rockmart, GA
Zip code
30153
If you want a good article on emp, here you go.

Boom
 
Last edited:

Willy Leadwell

Purveyor of Polyurethane
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 26, 2015
6,354
6,729
113
Loganville, GA
Zip code
30052
Before I banned myself over on the odt I think I saw thread by that safe moving ginger douche canoe about how he had changed his school of thought on electronic locks. Basically made the case for why he was now in favor of them due to the number of failures he had seen on electronic vs. dial. Electronic is all i use.
 

Jake

All gun laws are an infringement!
Super Moderator
Lifetime Supporter
Aug 11, 2015
14,150
18,178
113
Southern Gwinnett/Northern Rockdale
Zip code
30039
Before I banned myself over on the odt I think I saw thread by that safe moving ginger douche canoe about how he had changed his school of thought on electronic locks. Basically made the case for why he was now in favor of them due to the number of failures he had seen on electronic vs. dial. Electronic is all i use.
I've been locked out of my electronic safe for over 48 hours now. Looking like I'm gonna have to call a locksmith out to drill the bastard out. Thanks cheap ass Tractor Supply Winchester safe. Meanwhile, my Liberty Safe is working just fine.
 

Laufen

Ammosexual
Site Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 23, 2015
26,912
21,328
113
I85
Zip code
30030
My safe with an E-Lock also came with two master keys that have a keyhole access under the E- Lock.