You’ve heard the term simplex lock, but what does this really mean?

We have chosen to review Simplex style combination locks for a good reason, they offer the highest security with the fastest opening time and no electronic complications. We know there are many people out there who have an issue with the security capabilities of lockboxes such as these.

We’ll talk about some issues with many small safes, then we’ll go in depth to explain what a simplex lock really is. Afterward, I’ll talk about the top 5 models and why each has made in on the list.

To view the simplex gun safe we rate as #1 head over to Amazon to view its current price. Otherwise, please read on for a more in-depth review.

 NameCapacitySteel Gauge ThicknessNotable FeatureSee on AmazonPrice
Fort Knox PB12 pistols10 gaugePerfect for installing in vehicleSee Current Price$$$
V-Line Brute Safe2 pistols10 gaugeUnbreakableSee Current Price$$$
V-Line Top Draw Security Safe3 pistols14 gaugeLight and portableSee Current Price$$
American Security AMSEC Gun Safe1-2 pistols10 gaugeMade in USASee Current Price$$$
Stealth Portable Handgun Safe14 gaugeGood car safeSee Current Price$$$$

Alright, now let’s answer the big question.

What is a simplex lock?

A Simplex lock is a mechanical, pushbutton combination lock. Think of pushing a combination on a keypad, but instead of electronics, it’s mechanical.

Typically Simplex locks on gun safes have five buttons laid out vertically or horizontally. Each of which may be used once in any given combination. But in most cases, you can push multiple at a time for enhanced security. Meaning that a simplex lock has a total of 1,084 possible combinations.

These types of locks are often used to lock equipment rooms, labs, no trespassing areas or other doors were using keys would be logistically infeasible.

They have gained popularity in the gun safe world for a few reasons. Mainly because of their level of security, their fast opening speed, and their reliability. Which in our case is perfect.

Combination (Simplex) lock VS. other locks

When purchasing a handgun safe, the two things we figured most were looking for is the ability to quickly access your firearm and for that firearm to be secure. There are a number of different locking mechanisms on the market that suit this purpose. But each has pros and cons.

Below I will outline the benefit of a Simplex style lock as compared to other common methods of locking.

No keys – While standard key locks do provide you fast access to the lock box. Keys are lost, duplicated, broken or left in another part of the household which defeats the purpose of accessing a safe’s contents quickly. Also if there’s a key, there’s a chance someone else can stumble upon the key.

With a combination lock, there is no key required. This cuts down on the amount of thought you need to put into open the safe. It also prevents others from opening the safe unless they know the combination.

Can’t be picked – The availability of lock picks on the internet is high, with only a few hours of practice any thief can learn to pick a lock in a timely fashion. Combination locks cannot be picked, and as such provide an extra layer of security.

No battery – A lot of electronic combination or biometric locks can be opened quickly and do not require a key, but do require a battery, which can die. A risk we don’t believe is worth taking. With a simplex lock, it’s reliable because you aren’t relying on a battery’s lifespan. Also, there are no beeps or noises that it will make when you open the safe. This cuts down on noise when you might be trying to access your safe quietly.

Magnets – Touching upon electronic locks once more, the majority of electronic locks function by using a magnet to lock or unlock the mechanism. In large safes, the magnetic force required to do that is in the hundreds of pounds. On a smaller lockbox it is much less, as such, a thief equipped with a magnet larger than 1 inch in diameter can manually force open an electronic lock without leaving signs of forced entry. A Simplex lock won’t allow that to happen.

We have chosen to review a number of safes so that no matter your needs you will be able to find one that is suitable for you. All of these feature the previously mentioned Simplex style locking mechanism.

Fort Knox PB1

The dimensions of this safe are 4.25” x 12.50” x 10.25”, the body is 10 gauge thick steel and it has a wrap around lid that makes forced entry with pry bars almost impossible.

The heavy duty tamper-resistant hinge is placed within the box to protect it from attempts at access, and gas assisted struts to make it easy to lift the heavy lid and have it hold itself open for access. This is useful when arranging things inside the safe, or trying to get your gun out with just one hand.

The interior is lined with an “egg-crate” style foam padding that means your firearms and ammunition are safe from jostling and scratching.

Four pre-drilled holes in the bottom allow it to be mounted to any solid surface. Many people install this in their car in case they need to stash their everyday carry pistol away when running errands or going to work.

This pistol box is also made in the USA and surpasses the California Department of Justice firearm safety device requirements.

All around a very excellent choice.

Not convinced yet?
Go here to read my in-depth review of this Fort Knox safe.

Check out the Fort Knox PB1 on Amazon for current prices and any discounts.

V-Line Brute Safe

The dimensions of the Brute are 12.5” x 9.5” x 3.6” and it is a proudly American made case. It features 10 gauge thick steel plating and weighs in at close to 22 pounds (empty).

This case is not to be messed with. Like the other option this case features pre-drilled mounting holes on the bottom. As well as an overlapping top that extends downwards for almost the entirety of the case. So you essentially have two layers of protection, which is something you don’t see in very many cases.

Hidden hinges and a gas-assisted lid making it easier to access your firearm. And the lid won’t slam it down on your fingers.

A further word on this safe. Despite its price this safe is probably one of the most secure I’ve ever come across considering its size and intended use.

There a numerous videos of people attempting to break in, none of which was successful. Check out the video below for yourself.

Find more information and current prices for the V-Line Brute at Amazon here.

V-Line Top Draw Security Safe

Dimensions: 12″x9″x2 1/2″

For any of you interested in the security and unique construction of the V-line but a little worried about the size, or wanting to keep something in your car or desk drawer.

They do make a slightly less ‘brute’, more shallow model. It does not have gas assisted struts and is equipped with thinner foam. But offers very similar protection capabilities.

It is V-Lines best selling gun safe and for good reason. Coming in at just 4.3 pounds, it’s more portable than the brute option above, yet it’s still able to be mounted to the floor if need be.

The only downside that I can see is that V-Line makes it’s handgun safes in China instead of the US like Fort Knox above.

If this is the safe for you, head over to Amazon to check out the latest prices on V-Line Top Draw Security Safe.

American Security AMSEC Gun Safe

This 10.25″ x 12.5″ x 4.25” safe is classic American made strong.

Made from 10 gauge steel and featuring a unibody solid steel door that is gas bar assisted and features two solid steel dead bars for extra security. Be careful, though, the lid extremely heavy as most of the weight is in the lid. So when you open the safe, it may feel as though it will tip backward.

The Amsec features an interior welded, continuous hinge which can resist even the most dedicated attempts at prying.

While weighing it as close to 20 pounds what really sets this lockbox apart from the others is its portability, it has a securely welded handle on it, as well as a high-density pluck foam liner which will fit the shape of your firearm, meaning nothing will move when being carried.

Unfortunately, this model does not come with pre-drilled mounting holes, as it is more of a portable design.

It comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty.

Check out this AMSEC safe’s latest price on Amazon here.

Stealth Portable Handgun Safe PS1210EZ

This is a 10.09″ x 12.26″ x 4.13” diameter safe. It sets itself apart from the pack by being hands down the most portable.

Ever wanted to safely take a handgun to the range? And still be able to have something to keep your firearm protected in the car? Then this is the choice for you.

The makers have reduced the weight of the unit to 14 pounds by making the box out of slightly thinner 14 gauge steel. They did away with the gas assisted hinge mechanism too.

But it still features an overlapping top, continuous hidden hinge and a high-density foam interior. Meaning it is very secure despite the thinner gauge of steel used in its construction.

There’s a huge benefit of such a mobile safe is that at times. You could be carrying a handgun to an establishment that is legally off-limits for firearms.

Since it’s obviously unsafe to leave your handgun in the glove compartment, console or loose under the seat, this safe fits the bill. Even if you lock the glove compartment or console, these locations are easily defeated by a determined thief and a good crowbar.

Handguns left loose under a car seat are extreme hazards when children are involved, even momentarily. Little eyes watch your every move. You can’t afford to be complacent about securing your handgun in your vehicle.

If you’re getting this for portability, this is a good option. But if you plan on keeping your safe in the same location, here’s my suggestion. Get something like the Fort Knox and bolt it down.

To see the current price and any discounts for the Stealth Portable Handgun Safe, go to Amazon here.

Reasons to own a safe

Legal requirement – Depending on where you live (cough, California), it may be mandated by law that you keep your firearms in a location that isn’t easily accessible. You could be fined or face jail time if it is discovered that you don’t have your firearms locked up.

Insurance – Many insurance companies out there will offer you a discount if you can prove you have and use a reliable safe. So this product may very well be paying for itself.

Children – This is a fairly obvious one, no one watch their child every moment of that day. No matter how well you think you’ve hidden your firearm, it is possible that a loved one may be able to get to it.

It’s best to teach your children about firearm safety and keep your weapons locked up.

Theft – You’ve invested money and time in your hobby, why let a dangerous weapon fall into the hands of someone who can steal it and sell it on an underground market? Or worse, use it to threaten your family?

More than just firearms – A small handgun safe can serve a variety of purposes that something like, a safety deposit box may not. A bank safe deposit box is definitely a good form of protection to have. But it cannot provide you with everything. If you have a homeowner’s policy which provides you with the right kind of coverage, the contents of your home safe may actually be insured. And if you’re storing a lot of things in there we recommend you get a policy with this type of coverage.

The problem with most small safes

These are a few things you should be aware of when purchasing a small gun safe.

Badly designed locks – Oftentimes small gun safes get a bad rap because of the locks used in them. Electronic and biometric locks are often prone to breaking or dying. When you’re relying on batteries, you’re relying on them working when you need them to work.

Biometric fingerprint locks don’t work for everyone. Oftentimes some people’s fingerprints can’t be read. Or they scratch their finger which can change the shape of their print.

Key style locks also aren’t made with double bitted keys or shaped tumblers, which increases the likelihood that they can be picked easily.

Fireproofing – For the most part, no small safe will be fireproof. It would take inches of material to prevent the heat from rising in the safe for a sufficient amount of time to actually save the contents.

Combination reset – While this may seem counter-intuitive, you don’t want a safe in which the ability to reset the combination is made too easy. Like being done with the simple holding of a button. It means someone may be able to thread something into your safe and open the lock from the inside.

Size – This is important for several reasons. The first reason is “will it fit” where you want it to. Some individuals don’t have a problem with a gun safe sitting in their living room. You need to make sure that you are measuring the correct dimensions of your safe before you buy one. Please also keep in mind that the measurements may not include handles or buttons.

The Verdict

The pistol safes we have suggested range in terms of portability but all share one thing in common, their security. As well as allowing easy access in the event of an emergency. And even allowing you to share the combination with your loved ones. So they know that even if you are away from home they still have the ability to protect themselves.

Our favorite pick by far is the Fort Knox pistol safe. It’s a solid safe that is made right here in the USA. It is mountable and trustworthy.  Get it here at Amazon.

For portability, we suggest the AMSEC safe as it’s also made in the states and is a classic design. It has raving reviews on Amazon which you can find here.

Hopefully, you understand a bit more about simplex locks and how their features can trump those of battery operated locks. Now go out and lock up that gun!

If these safes didn’t peak your interest, read the review of the Titan gun safe with simplex lock.

Leave a Comment:

sean says February 7, 2018

thank you for the review and keep up the good work. nice article and got some important facts from your article. thank you.

Don Feltner says January 27, 2020

Own a single-hand–gun safe, mounted in my motor home. The push-buttons and turn knob have failed due to ?age” OR ?cold temps? It is bolted in place by inside-safe-accessible-bolts!!
How can I get it open??

Mary Gaut says February 3, 2020

My husband passed away last year. I came across a Simplex safe we used to use when we traveled, but for the life of me I can’t remember the finger combination to open it. I remember that 2 of the buttons were pressed at the same time and then 3 buttons right after that. Is there anyway to be able to open the safe or is it going to be a very large doorstop? Thank You for any help in this matter..

    Lauren says February 5, 2020

    Sorry for your loss, Mary. I recommend taking it to a locksmith as I don’t know of a way to open it without knowing the code. Best of luck to you.

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