Drilling Open Locked Safes or Gun Safes

The last post talked about using an Auto Dialer, one method of opening locked safes or gun safes without drilling any holes.  More often drilling is required.  There are right ways and wrong ways to drill safes, however, so it is important to hire the right people for this work.

Very often, especially in case of lock failure or lost combo, safes can be drilled in a way that leaves no visible hole.  The photo shows a great way to do this on what happens to be a Liberty gun safe.  The safe tech removes the dial or keypad, along with the dial ring/mounting plate.  The well-equipped technician will have a drill rig similar to the one shown.  It mounts to the front of the safe, screwing into the same holes used for mounting the lock.  The drill rig holds the drill solidly in place and helps control it so that drilling can be done with extreme precision.


The tech’s experience and knowledge tell him what is wrong with the lock and how the lock is situated inside the safe.  Accurate measuring, or use of special drilling templates, allows him to drill a hole to hit one of a number of specific parts of the lock.  Often that means drilling right into the lock body which is tightly packed with lots of parts.  This also needs to be done without damaging anything inside the lock.

Before getting to the lock body it is necessary to drill though the safe’s outside steel; it might be thin or it might be up to 1 ¾” thick.  If it is a composite type safe there is insulation to go through.  There is also normally some kind of hard-plate steel to go through.   Special drill bits are required to penetrate most hard-plate.  If done right, one small hole is usually required to unlock the safe.  Repairs then need to be made, which involve filling the hole with a hardened tapered pins.  That restores the safe to its original level of security.  The lock may or may not need to be replaced.  When the repairs are finished and the dial is re-installed the safe is as good as before, and no one can tell it was drilled.

Last month we were called to open a locked vault.  Someone else had already been there and put four holes into the front of it, without getting it open.  The proper technique would have had the unit open with no visible hole.  So remember, if the lock on your safe or gun safe ever fails, make sure to call skilled safe professionals first.  In West Michigan or Central Michigan that would definitely be Hoogerhyde Safe.