Your children’s lives are priceless. Securing your firearm from curious little fingers is necessary for gun owners. In some states, even the law requires it. Picking out the correct gun safe is nearly as important as picking out the right self-defense gun. As soon as you decide to bring a gun into your home, you need to buy a safe that secures the gun from any unauthorized user. A gun safe with a digital lock, such as Winchester’s eVault biometric micro pistol safe, opens quicker than safes with dial locks. With a fail-proof fingerprint reader, only you and 15 other authorized fingerprints have quick access to your firearm.
The safe operates using a 9-volt battery or A/C adaptor with a key override. Constructed of heavy 16-gauge steel, the Winchester Micro Pistol Safe has a separate hard plate protecting the electronics on the inside, providing an extra layer of protection against tampering.
The 3.0 micro pistol safe measures 11 inches long and 8.5 inches high internally. Three small pocket pistols or revolvers—my test gun was a Kel-Tec P3AT—or one, full-sized handgun with an extra magazine, with room to add precious jewelry, safety deposit box key, flash drive or other small valuable. Both the lid and inside of the safe is foam padded, with an extra layer of removable foam.
To set up the safe you will need to open the keyhole cover and manually open the safe to access the “administration button” so the safe can read your fingerprints. On top of the fingerprint reader is a black plastic rectangle cover that slides on and off using two side rails. Slide the cover up to access the keyhole. There are two keys included in a small plastic baggie inside the cardboard box. Also in the baggie is a short, metal threaded Allen wrench. You will use this to push the internal administration button.
You will find access to this button inside the safe on the side of the steel box that houses the electronics. Unscrew the black plastic cap protruding on the side and using the Allen wrench or a straightened paper clip, push the button once to activate the authorizing process. A green light will appear above the fingerprint scanner, indicating the safe is ready to read your fingerprints. After the green light is on, the next light will be yellow, then pushing down with your finger as flat as possible, drag your finger at a steady pace over the sensor until the yellow light blinks once. Repeat this series for each finger five times to let the safe “read” your prints. Set-up takes about 45 seconds per finger.
Once scanned, the eVault securely encrypts the fingerprints. You can reset the device and erase all stored fingerprints by pressing and holding on the administration button until all three lights—green, yellow and red—quickly flash together.
Once I had two of my fingerprints read, I tested the safe. To gain access to your firearm, place your finger on the sensor for a quarter of a second and the green light will come on. Shortly after, the yellow light will come on. This indicators for you to swipe your finger down the sensor. The safe makes a noise when opening the lid. Laying your finger down keeping still or repeatedly tapping will not open the safe. You must slide slowly and calmly for the safe to open.
I had one odd incident of rapidly tapping at the sensor and then rubbing hard back and forth over the sensor and I got a red light—indicating a failure to read, but as soon as I removed my finger, the lid opened.
Those in our office who did not go through the enrollment process were not able to get the lid to open. I feel strongly that any unauthorized user can not open this safe. After one hour of consistent testing, the low battery light came on. The red light will slowly flash to indicate the battery is getting low. Running the safe on the A/C adapter should be the safe’s main power source. Further, it will mean access is quicker than depending solely on the battery.
Made in the U.S.A., the safe weighs eight pounds and includes a tie-down cable to secure the safe to a wall or large piece of furniture. Unlike many budget biometric safes, Winchester’s eVault biometric safe is 99.99% reliable to open when you need quick access to your firearm. With electronic safes, you do get what you pay for. Your children’s safety is no joke. A high-quality safe keeps unauthorized users from accessing your handguns.