Review: The Gun Box

gun-box

I’ve been using The Gun Box for a few months now and finally have some good usage with it so I can share my experience. Some quick background is available in my write-up from a year ago covering their Indiegogo campaign. Overall, the safe has been nice to have around, although it has what some may consider a fatal flaw which I’ll get to.

One of the immediate things that stand out are its looks. I dare use the word sexy. I just did. I compare The Gun Box to a sleek Apple product where you actually want to use it and show it off. Here’s a short vid highlighting this point, along with The Gun Box in action.

The Gun Box has some good heft (4.7 lbs empty), telling the user that the aircraft-strength aluminum alloy can stand some abuse. The Gun Box opens via your fingerprint, RFID bracelet, RFID ring, or RFID sticker which you can put on a card, wallet, or other item of your choosing.

Opening the safe

I sat down and opened the safe 200 times total, using a combination of my fingerprint, RFID bracelet, and RFID ring. I have since opened it numerous times during normal use. The RFID accessories worked really well. I had zero problems using the bracelet and ring to open the safe. The fingerprint scanner is a little more problematic, but no more problematic than other fingerprint scanners I’ve used. Basically, if you don’t position your finger in a way that the reader can ID you, then you’ll need to lift your finger up and re-engage the scanner. Also, a dirty or greasy finger can cause problems, in which case you’ll not only need to wash your hands, but use an alcohol swab to clean the reader. As mentioned, this isn’t a problem specific to The Gun Box, but definitely worth noting.

Other Features

There’s battery backup in the event you need to travel with the safe or a power outage. The two USB ports on the back are nice so you can charge your devices by your bedside, kitchen table, living room, or wherever you have the safe. The base “RF” model at $279 only has RFID capability. The “RF+Biometric” at $299 is self-explanatory. The $475 “Premier” model comes with RFID, biometric, and the fingerprint scanner. There is a $75/year (first year free) subscription security service which will activate the GPS tracker, along with the alert service.

One Major Problem

I ran into one major problem while using The Gun Box in my first pass. I had my Glock 34 with Surefire X300 light, and Crimson Trace LG-617 laser grip, and Taran Tactical magazine base pad as my initial test gun. If you’ve never seen any of the aforementioned accessories, they add “thickness” to the overall dimensions of any gun. When I was closing the lid, I noticed that I had to force the lid closed. The pressure I used was significantly more than what’s needed to just close the lid in a normal fashion. The lid tapers toward the front of the safe, so this reduced clearance butted up against the magazine base pad, which I had to remove.

When I tried to open The Gun Safe, I could hear the motor engaging the unlocking arm but the door was not popping open. The added thickness of my gun was forcing the lid up, which was applying pressure on the locking nub and causing a malfunction. I had a small moment of panic as my gun was well, locked in the box.

I called customer service and was immediately assisted by a helpful employee who walked me through how to override The Gun Box’s lock. I obviously am not going to describe how one does this online, but I do have a concern that some kid could call in pretending he’s the owner and get into his parents’ Gun Box without permission. I don’t recall going through any security challenges over the phone, but I can suggest that The Gun Box put some stringent procedures in place if they haven’t already done so.

After I was able to remove my gun, the company had me send the unit in for repair. The excessive pressure I used to close the lid definitely caused the problem. My recommendation to future Gun Box owners is to be careful of any accessories you add to your pistol that may increase its thickness, and to not force the lid down if you feel resistance when testing your setup.

Conclusion

If you love the lock and key or combination locks, then The Gun Box probably isn’t for you. If you love the aesthetics of boring black safes, then The Gun Box probably isn’t for you. However, if you love RFID and biometrics and want to store your pistol in a sleek looking gun safe, then I would suggest taking a look at The Gun Box.

www.TheGunBox.com.



Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.

www.TopShotChris.com.


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  • flyingburgers

    What’s the difference between fingerprint and biometric? Fingerprints are a form of biometrics.

    Second, the story about a override is highly alarming. Can the override be used when the lock is engaged? If so, this product is completely worthless since eventually the instructions are going to leak online or somebody is going to figure it out themselves.

    • Yes, biometric is a larger category that includes fingerprints, eye scans, palm veins, and others. So fingerprints is just getting very specific.

      The override can be used when the lock is engaged. Many safes have some sort of manual override such as a physical key, I’m not going to go into The Gun Box’s process but I definitely share your concern.

      • Ethan

        Hey Chris – I didn’t know you were writing for TFB! Its really cool to see someone like you still being very connected with the average Joe shooter.

        • Hi Ethan, yup, still writing for TFB and having fun! I’m still learning a lot in the industry and sharing those experiences with readers. Thanks for your comment!

  • I’ve never had much luck with fingerprint readers, they all seem to become less reliable after a year or so of use.

  • Geoffry K

    Safe? No kids here. Just me and the Wife. Pistol within arms reach, loaded. Rifle same. Shotgun same. Don’t need a safe.

    • Freedoooom

      Thanks for the inane comment.

    • Taylor TX

      Its about when youre NOT there.

      • Grindstone50k

        No need for biometric readers or RFID devices, then. A standard gunsafe would suffice.

        But it does look pretty snazzy. Like a roomba and that chick-robot from Wall-E had a baby.

        • Taylor TX

          Agreed, anything more than a digital keypad is overkill for me personally. Glad I didnt have anything to drink when I read your roomba comment haha

          • Ethan

            There should be a disclaimer on the homepage that TFB is not responsible for keyboards ruined by suddenly expelled coffee. I just about lost another one reading Grindstone50k’s comment…

      • Cymond

        If he’s not home, then I doubt this will make much difference. Even if it’s bolted to something, a few minutes with a crowbar will easily separate it. There have been cases of full-size upright safes being stolen despite being bolted down, because they weren’t bolted down properly.

        This is little more than a fancy lockbox to discourage meddling hands.

  • Taylor TX

    I have always been very wary of smaller safes, even if they are bolted down. Not gonna lie, the decoder ring feature is pretty cool though. Great delivery in the video as always.

  • Blake

    Why does it have a Tesla Motors logo on the top?

    • Zachary marrs

      Because it will catch itself on fire as a fail safe?

      • Blake

        Only if you smack its batteries with a hard object going at least 50mph &ltgrin&gt

  • Grindstone50k

    Getting manual override instructions over the phone is definitely a no-go, especially with little secure identity confirmation in place. It’s way too easy to spoof yourself over the phone. And, as mentioned by flyingburgers, the procedure will be leaked eventually.

    Fatal flaw mentioned and lax security proceedures on the CS part just puts this under another fancy, expensive unecesary gadget.

  • Chase Buchanan

    They have drawbacks that are worth considering, but they also allow you to open the safe VERY quickly.

    • Guest

      Unless they can’t read your fingerprint correctly.

  • Ethan

    Please do not encourage the combination of RFID tags and firearms.
    I know, in this application its harmless; but for every new device it becomes more and more mainstream, and that’s a problem.

    No, its not a problem now, just like cell phones weren’t used for mass surveillance when they first came out, and gun registration technically isn’t a problem on day one; but please heed the lessons of history – this technology WILL BE ABUSED if we allow it into the firearms industry.

    Just like gun registration is abused.
    Just like survaillence technology is abused.
    Just like any power given to man is abused by elitists or radicals given enough time.

    California is already requiring “smartgun” technology that doesn’t exist yet, how long until they push for “sensible gun tracking legislation”?

    • BryanS

      Its already used in the industry for inventory tracking, in almost every sporting goods store for loss prevention. Its no different in this case than having a key card.

      Be worried about a governement that is more willing to toss a flashbang into your house at night and take your property by force than some super secret setup where they scan your home for all the guns you might have tagged.

      • Ethan

        In this case, yes, as I said it really is harmless. But the issue is that RFID tech is not likely to stay contained to its current uses. That’s the danger IMO.

        RFID tech is something of a Trojan horse who’s benefits are far outweighed by the risk of abuse. Again, you are free to your own opinion, but looking back at history – the cell phone, etc I strongly feel that this is a field best left undeveloped in the firearms industry.

  • ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    I’ve had a Gun Box Premier for 6-7 months and have quite a few issues with it.

    1. It came with a GPS but you have no way to access that GPS data. So if it goes missing you can’t just log in somewhere and locate/track it. For a $475 safe that includes a GPS and Cellular service there is no reason for it to lack this functionality. (I had assumed it would do this when I read the specs.)

    2. The fingerprint scanner is next to useless more often then not. Makes sense to completely omit this in V2 and put the money into live GPS development. The RFID works flawlessly though and I was able to purchase more RFID stickers online for a song.

    3. There should be more ‘modes’. Along with GPS tracking I’d like to bolt one of these in my truck and lock away my guns for when I am forced to leave it behind in a ‘gun free zone’. A ‘car’ mode would be nice. The unit would recognize it’s not getting power anymore and warn (text) me if it’s moved or jolted. If the car i stolen the box could be tracked.

    4. The motion sensor is finiky. sometimes I can pick up and move the box and not set it off. Other times I go to put my phone away at night and gently tap the box and the thing goes off. (Insert wife’s cussing here)

    5. Crappy cell reception. Not sure what antenna or service these use but service is spotty. I get about 80% of the texts.

    6. Better solution for override. It’s elegant the way it is but not very practical. Once the word gets out on how it’s done the feature becomes useless. Turing the hex screw around makes it so that you can never use the override. That’s a not go too.

    7. The power switch should never shut off tracking ability. Or maybe move the power switch to the inside and include a high security lock to open/close the safe.

    I wouldn’t mind spending a little more for these added features. And toss the fingerprint scanner. It really is useless.

    • mugwump

      Totally agree with you, this thing is almost useless. I bought one 8 months ago and the fingerprint sensor is very finicky, even if your finger is too dry! Compared to my iPhone which has the finger print sensor, the gunbox sensor is poor. Also, I had sent it in for repair and the problem of the battery backup NOT WORKING was not addressed. If I unplug my gunbox, it will not open unless powered (plugged) back on. Great in the event of an outtage! Very poor service from basically an engineering company, not an experienced retailer.

  • DNH

    What do yo mean when you say “how to override The Gun Box’s lock”?

    Just to confirm, there is a universal bypass that will work on all Gun Boxes, or is there a way to bypass the RFID lock that is unique to each unit, perhaps keyed to the serial number?

    • raz-0

      Given the language used to discuss it, I’m going to assume it amounts to something along the line of: unbend paperclip, lift up this portion of the non aluminum bits on the box, find hole, poke paperclip in hole to disengage flimsy locking bit, retrieve gun.

      It’d be far form unique if that were the case, which is why I suspect it is the case.

      • That is exactly how it is… there is a universal bypass technique that seems to work on every single one of these units. It requires no special tools, does not set off the alarm if done properly, and leaves no traces.

        We’ve done a full write-up and shot video showing all of this. I’ll be tweeting the details tomorrow (Monday) after double-checking things.

        The GunBox is a sleek-looking little number, but it’s among the worst offenders in terms of “bad security” or “false sense of security” that I’ve encountered.

        • Just to confirm, the full write-up is now here… http://deviating.net/words/?p=331 …and you can see all the details of the bypass mechanism and how it works.

          Frankly, ANYONE who owns one of these can see the mechanism, because it’s the first thing that’s visible when the box is opened.

          There is one solution to that problem, however… place two pistols in the GunBox at the same time. it will often block the vulnerable hole.