Paperclip Defeats Handgun Safes

Handgun Safe Research looks at some popular handgun safes out on the market. They show that they can be defeated rather easily with just a paperclip. So check to see if you might have one of these models and decide if the risk of unauthorized access is acceptable to you.

Here is Hornady’s RAPiD Safe


GunVault Biometric Handgun Safe.


Those are just two examples. There are 20 videos on their Vimeo Channel. Go check them out to see if you have one of the 20 susceptible safes.

Thanks to Alex Cardone for sending this to us.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Major Tom

    You know what they say, the security on something is only as good as its locks. Or hinges.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Looks like they hired the D students from the mechanical design class. Is there a list anywhere of strong boxes that are not stupid easy to get into?

    • John Yossarian

      Fort Knox with the 10 ga steel and Simplex lock

  • 2wheels

    Meh. “Security” is often much less secure than we assume.
    Safes like this are primarily meant to give you quick access to your gun while stopping people who aren’t very determined to get at your gun (like say, your children) from just picking up your loaded gun sitting in a drawer or wherever. Although that doesn’t really excuse the ease in which these safes are bypassed.

    • Division Charlemange

      Absolutely agreed, these ‘safes’ are inexcusably rubbish.

      There is a solution to curious children being injured- it’s called having kids with someone from a population with an average IQ of at least 100, and inducting them into the gun culture at an appropriate age (per Unintended Consequences).

      There is a solution to stopping thieves getting your guns- have them on you, or in a REAL safe, or properly hidden (plastic pipe in the insulation in your roof should protect against most people violating your rights, be they common criminals or 3 letter agents violating the constitution).

    • DNH

      All I really ask of a Residential Security Container (RSC) like this is that it be tamper-evident. It doesn’t need to be able to forever resist attempts to smash it open, but it should be immediately apparent on visual inspection that the container has been breached.

      And due to cost-saving shortcuts and design flaws, these “vaults” fail at that criteria.

  • Hudson

    A point that needs to be made is that he had full access to the “safes”, he was able to examine them internally and figure out their vulnerabilities. Going at one cold with no knowledge as how they worked would not be so fast. That said a #1 tire iron would be just about as fast.

    • Jwedel1231

      The point is that if he figured it out, someone else has too. You think criminals and thieves don’t share information like we do?

      • Moneymun

        Good point. I first heard about this issue with safes on a thieving blog I stumbled onto last week while looking up recipes jenkem.

    • Mister Thomas

      Yeah? Well it’s too late now, thanks to this guy. And thanks to the hole they allowed to be in the safe at that place near the battery compartment.

    • Aurek Besh

      The safes are commercially available. Dave has the same access to information about them as someone who walks into a Dicks or Cabelas and picks one up off the shelf.

  • Roy G Bunting

    I’ve always thought of these as protection from liability. They won’t stop a smart, planning adversary or a forceful adversary, but they prevent drunk friends, children, rude guests and other low intensity threats.

    They are fast enough, cheap enough and small enough that a gun owner has no excuse to not own or use one.

    • kevinp2

      Yep, this is exactly my use for it. I keep my bedroom pistol in such a lockbox and close the door of the lockbox when we have visitors. A determined thief will be able to get in. A casual visitor or child won’t.

      I have a heavy duty safe for the rest of the guns. It’s bolted to a concrete floor. A determined safe cracker will be able to eventually get into that too. However, I have a home security alarm that will give him only about 5 minutes to do the job before police show up.

      Everyone needs to think through having layers of security.

      • John

        Not to rain on your parade, but burglary alarm calls are really low priority. It is likely that they’ll take take hours to get there.

        • Not our PD we tried for 4 minutes after dispatch.Of course NY or Chicago is probably much longer.

          • John

            I probably should have elaborated. There is also the delay between the alarm and when LE is called. Monitored alarm systems (video/audio) are usually assigned a higher priority, resulting in a better average response time. Smaller towns also seem to have better response times. I still stand by my statement that it may take hours before anyone arrives. The vulnerability of the typical hard-line system doesn’t help matters.
            Imo, the best system would be cameras that feed into a monitoring system, with cellular back-up, located in a fortified room that will make the call itself if motion is detected.

        • jerry young

          that all depends on how busy they are and where you live, if you’re lucky you get a fast response time but actual time will be longer, I’ve called the police over gunshots it took 45 minutes for them to arrive by that time all was over and quiet

          • RobertM

            Different situation. I have responded to reports of “gunshots” quckly also. 99% of the time there is nothing going on.

          • jerry young

            ok let me explain, the time I was talking about there were two biker gangs running up and down our street shooting at each other, the fight started in the bar on the corner and moved to the street when I said it depends on where you live I meant neighborhood, another one that happened was shots were fired and reported but no police showed up till morning after the paperboy found a dead man face down in the ditch these happened many years ago but still happen today sometimes they respond fast and sometimes not, these are just a couple of examples, since then I’ve moved my family away from what at one time was a good neighborhood but sadly where I live most are turning bad

        • RobertM

          No way. Every home alarm called was responded to very quickly when I was a cop.

          • Dual sport

            Out of five years there was exactly one call in which officers I worked with answered a real call that was generated by an alarm. This despite our receiving dozens every week.

            None were answered quickly. Vandals were caught at one true call because they were too stupid to realize there was an alarm.

            Your comment made me laugh out loud. You can read into that all you like.

      • DaveK

        You’re lucky… typical response time where I live is around 45 minutes. It sometimes takes much longer. There’s almost no point in having the alarm company contact police for an intrusion alarm.

    • Joseph Smith

      Can drunk friends/children use a paperclip? Then we have a problem.

      • Roy G Bunting

        I apologize for the confusion, I used those terms as examples of unpremeditated attackers. The idea being that these lock boxes exist to keep firearms from casual handling or spur of the moment theft.

        In order for an attacker to successfully use a picking attack, they need to know the lock box exists, that it can be picked and how to pick it. There needs to be intention to gain unauthorized access. These lock boxes are not designed for that threat.

        If premeditated theft is a threat that you foresee, it is unlikely that any lock box will suffice, and that you need to use a safe bolted to the foundation.

        For most people, a lockbox screwed into a shelf or other furniture, possibily concealed from view is good enough. And it’s always better than a simple cable lock, trigger lock or nothing at all.

        • Joseph Smith

          I agree with you. My expectation is that these safes prevent unintentional “casual” access to a firearm not theft.

          But if a casual person can watch a vid on the internet and use a paperclip then not only is the safe defeated but far worse, the manufacturer has given me a false sense of security.


    The points have been made as for the use of these types of safes. They aren’t meant to prevent theft because most people don’t mount them securely. I bought one of these for next to my bed so I would have quick access to the handgun I kept in a bedside drawer before my now 5 year old was moving around. I think this would also work as a deterrent for older kids (and their nosey friends) and service providers (cleaning person, baby sitter, etc…) who may pick up a loose gun (good or bad intentions). So my question is this? What service does this video provide other than to get this person some hits (and TFB) and possibly cost these companies some business. This shouldn’t be 20/20 worthy but now these companies who provide a relatively low cost solution have to go on the defence. I’ve yet to see a bedside safe that couldn’t be quickly be breached by a 30 seconds with an angle grinder. Now there is a video showing kids and thieves how to quickly open a safe that probably would have intimidated them due to lack of knowledge/access. I feel that these types of videos do far more harm than good.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    JBWeld the Gunvault holes?

  • Jason

    I’m not sure if this is the same person or not, but there was another outfit posting similar videos to this a couple of years ago, and that person was a licensed locksmith that had access to all of the schematics of the safes he was opening (makes it a little easier than it would be for the average Joe without this video). He states in his video that these safes are California DOJ approved. That means that a person without specialized lock picking knowledge has basically been given 15 minutes and common household tools to break into these, and couldn’t. Ultimately that is all these safes are trying to do. The are intended to make it too inconvenient to make anyone other than a determined aggressor to gain entry. As with anything this size, it would be virtually impossible to prevent a determined person from taking this with them, and spending the time necessary to break into it. All this video does is provide would be ne’er do wells an easier path to break into these safes. It really is pretty shameful. If you are relying on these for security beyond non-determined openers, that is pretty shameful too.

  • Blake

    Two quick vids on how to get into a typical hotel safe. Really, really easily:

    If you’re shopping for a gun safe, make sure you can’t get into it this way unless you really want an easy “backdoor” for some reason…

  • Blake

    Instruction like this is the best way for consumers to learn to avoid cheap low-quality products…
    The alternative looks like this:

    • SirOliverHumperdink

      $186 for the hornady, that’s not cheap to me.

      • Aurek Besh

        A shoddy product is still shoddy, no matter the price.

  • RICH

    A great video to show….. teach criminals more criminal ways to circumvent locks ! Oh well, locks are only made to keep ‘honest people’ out of things anyway ! ! !

    • Aurek Besh

      And a great video to call out the manufacturer on design flaws to fix and avoid, and to show consumers what junk to not buy?

  • Aurek Besh

    Just like trying trying to cork plans and ideas on how to homebrew firearms, the genie is long out of the bottle on lockpicking and safecracking. The horses are gone. The barn has rotted, crumbled, and collapsed.

  • Edeco

    Can’t stop the signal. I don’t want to stop the signal.

  • Joseph Smith

    I have the older GunVault with no holes in the side (no alarm). Guess I won’t be upgrading.

    Hugely disappointing that these manufacturers aren’t building better products. I don’t look at these mini safes as being a huge amount of protection from theft, but it shouldn’t take 10 seconds to defeat one.

  • datimes

    This is not a ‘safe’ or ‘vault’. It is a sheet metal box.

  • nice to see that some folk still enjoy this old DEF CON talk of mine. 😀