An Interesting Idea by Nigel Tolley – Discreet Security Solutions

Sometimes we get jobs where the request is a little out of the ordinary, and you have to find a neat solution.

Most gun cabinets are fitted with two 7 lever safe locks, or with a single double sided 10 lever. There are a few biometric ones about, and a few with a code lock, but those aren’t really very secure (I saw one that was essentially secured by a cheap tubular lock, as that was the solenoid override!)

The potential problem with security involving just keys is that a loved one could easily get access if the keys were left almost anywhere at home, with potentially disastrous results – think how many people may have both legally held firearms and un-trustworthy teens or occasional visitors in the same house! Further, in the event of the keys being stolen, or cloned, it could be a major issue.

For whatever reason, I was tasked with adding a code lock to a gun safe.

Back many years ago, Codelocks brought out their first digital locker lock, and I took a look. One little thing I noticed was that the code buttons were both 1 & 2, combined, and so on, so there were only 5 buttons. 1111 and 2222 were the same button presses, as was 1212, etc. Arguably fine for a locker, but it reduced the codespace from 10^4 = 10,000 differs to 5^4 = 625.

Today, of course, we have their replacement Kitlock KL1000,  which has the full codespace, as well as overrides and time-out penalties. It’s a great lock for £38.50 (direct from, or a little less via the usual trade suppliers), fully digital and running off two AAA batteries, no bouncy solenoid and, essential for this task, it is designed for a thin plate metal door. (Indeed, there are versions that allow one-time codes via SMS, and other sophistication if required, perhaps for a pharmacy or other commercial application.)

My first thought was that I could perhaps mount it sideways, and use the metal latch as a cunning way to prevent the key being inserted. Similar to some higher end safes, you would enter the code and turn the plate out the way so the “real security” of the lever lock was enhanced.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The lever lock is offset in the door and also has a standoff plate so that it can fit behind a rebated full length keep, and it just wasn’t quite possible to do it.

Instead, I decided to fit it centrally, as an additional locking point.

The first step was to check the lock worked. I opened the supplied AAA’s and sure enough, it lit up red until I looked up the default combination in the manual. Next, and by far the most onerous part, was to find the 16mm drill bit. Not required for an upgrade, but this was a fresh fit. You can see the required bits needed in the photo – a 16mm bit, a 6mm bit and a marker pen – measure twice, and all that. Also, a bit of tape for holding the template.

Looking at the safe, the door intersects with the keep in a “curved for strength” way, which could make things difficult to measure, but since the cam arm is really long compared to the bolt throw, it would be hard to be too far to the right on the door. It would however have been easy to be too close to the keep. To avoid this, I looked at the face of the bolt when retracted, and used that for the location. I added a few millimetres and transferred this to the outside of the door. Logically, in the middle of the other two locks was the best vertical location, so it went there. (From the outside, it looks as though the lock barely secures it, but the double rebate is deceptive, and in fact it has over 20mm of steel holding it closed.)

Next I taped the template in position, remembering to allow for the radius of the large hole. A quick holding up of the lock assured me I was in the right place, and a brief blast of the 6mm bit in the middle of the larger hole left a good starter for the massive 16mm.

I removed the template, shut the door and drilled the big hole. (Remember to take anything likely to be hit by a big drillbit out of the gunsafe first – digging a hole into a Grade 5 Browning would set you back quite a lot of money! Also, pull out the felt lining. It loves to hold swarf.)

Once through, you can use a torch to align the template perfectly with your hole,  re-stick the tape, then drill the top 6mm hole. Deburr the inside,  and fit the lock. This bit is pretty self explanatory, and unless you need to swap the spindle about, it will take under a minute to have it bolted and screwed into place. Next configure the cam and screw that into place, as you would on a locker.

Test the operation and you are finished. Now reset the codes and let the customer program in a PIN and master code, and you are done.

This job took a little over half an hour, which leaves plenty of room for profit. It does, of course, open the old can of worms about violating, on this cabinet at least, the British Standard – Bratton Sound are properly accredited – though most of course are not – did changing the frankly rubbish 7 levers (3 minutes to open both locks!) invalidate the cover? Does adding an additional lock? Join the debate yourself, at


Have you ‘Solved a Problem’ and have the pictures, then let us print it for others to learn.



Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.