REVIEW – If you are going to keep a handgun in your house, and you have kids, it is essential to keep the gun safely locked away. This is also important to prevent theft. However, many handgun owners have a gun for personal protection, and therefore want to also have quick access in case of emergencies. There are numerous gun safes on the market that provide both secure storage and quick access for personal protection, and most of these use some kind of electronic access. I keep my Glock 22 in a GunVault Mini-Vault safe that has a four button code to open, but the electronic access quit working a while back (my fault …. I let the batteries stay in too long and they corroded and leaked) forcing me to rely on the key. When the Yuema gun safe with biometric fingerprint sensor technology was offered to the Gadgeteer to review, I was eager to see how the fingerprint sensor worked compared to my GunVault safe and if it would be a good replacement and possibly an upgrade.
After using this safe, I think that it is a fairly well made safe with adequate performance. The biometric fingerprint scanner worked in terms of preventing access but was not reliable enough for me to want to use it for quick access (I would use the keypad to enter the code instead). Also, the internal space was constricted due to the electronics in the top so it is important to note that this may not work as well for a larger gun and it was harder to get access to the gun without scraping your knuckles.
What is It?
The Yuema gun safe is a locked steel box designed to safely store and prevent access to handguns or other small valuable items. It provides electronic access using a biometric fingerprint scanner as well as a four button keypad used to enter a four digit code. The electronic access can be set up to allow access with either the fingerprint scanner or the keypad, or it can be set to require both the fingerprint scanner and the keypad.
- External Dimensions: 12″ L x 9″ W x 5.3″ H
- Internal Dimensions: 11″ L x 7.8″ W x 3″ H
- Weight: 9.8 lbs
- Material of Construction: Welded cold rolled steel (Q235A)
- Material Thickness: 16 gauge
- Biometric Fingerprint Scanner
- Four digit code
- Both fingerprint scanner and four digit code
- Manual Key
- Biometric scanner can be programmed for up to 30 different fingerprints
- Power: 4 x 1.5V AA (Mfr does not recommend rechargeable or lithium batteries)
- Spring loaded door
- Interior sides and bottom covered with PPS foam
- Internal LED for illumination
- Six mounting holes for permanent attachment
What’s in the Box
- Yuema Gun Safe Model SZ-01
- Two masonry anchors
- Two coach screws with washers
- Two access keys
- Accessories bag
- Four anti-slip stickers
- Instruction Manual
- Biometric scanner “Attention” card
- Free target offer card
Design and Features
The Yuema SZ-01 safe is quite rugged and is made of coated carbon steel with welded joints, which is typical for any well-made gun safe. The steel used is Q235A (a Chinese specification roughly equivalent to ASTM A36 structural steel – the kind of steel used in bridges and buildings). The electronic access pad is located on the top of the safe and contains a fingerprint scanner, four buttons (numbered 1 through 4) that are used to enter a four-digit access code and to set other options, two LED indicator lights (green and red), and a covered manual lock for key access.
The safe is coated with a black “electrostatic” coating on all exterior surfaces.
The hinged door is spring loaded so it will open with the safe in any orientation.
The interior is lined on the sides and bottom with foam (made from PPS). The top surface is not lined with foam and contains the reset button, an LED for interior illumination, and the battery compartment which holds 4 AA batteries.
One item to note is that with the safe closed, there is a gap between the door and the side, as can be seen in the photo above with the internal LED illuminated. Most safes are designed with a lip inside the safe at the opening to prevent any access to the internal contents with the door closed.
It is necessary to program the safe to choose a four-digit access code and to record fingerprints for any individuals who are to have access to the safe.
Programming fingerprints is quite simple. First, you press and release the reset button inside the safe. The green LED on the top of the safe will flash and a short beep will be heard. You then place your finger on the scanner four times in succession, with a green LED flash and short beep after each press. After the fourth press, the green LED will flash with a long beep, which confirms that the fingerprint has been successfully programmed. Up to 30 fingerprints can be stored.
To open the safe with the fingerprint scanner, all that is required is to touch your finger to the scanner, after which the green LED will flash followed by a short beep to indicate that your fingerprint is being scanned. If the fingerprint scan is successfully registered, after holding your finger there for about 2 seconds, you will then get a long beep and a green LED flash to indicate that it recognized the fingerprint. Otherwise, you will get three short beeps and both green and red LEDs will flash which means that it did not recognize the fingerprint. If it recognizes your fingerprint, the door will automatically spring open. And if it doesn’t, it won’t, obviously. Also, note that the door takes about two seconds to open.
Programming the four-digit code is also very simple. First, you long press the “1” button until the green LED comes on. Then you enter the previous four-digit access code, after which you will get a green LED light and a long beep. Then you enter your chosen new four-digit code twice, after which you get a green LED light and a long beep, indicating the code was successfully changed. The system is only capable of remembering one four-digit code. One minor hitch … when you do this for the first time, you might wonder what the factory original four-digit code is since manual does not tell you this. I played a hunch and used 1-2-3-4, and it worked.
To open the safe using the code, simply enter the code and the safe will give you a green light and long beep and the door will open. If you enter the wrong code, you will get a red LED and five short beeps and the door will not open. Also, the user manual states that the system will lock for one minute after a failed attempt and will not allow you to open the safe. However, I was able to enter the wrong code and then enter the correct code right away and the safe opened. I even tried entering ten incorrect codes in succession, and I was able to still open the safe on the eleventh try with the correct code.
The Yuema safe has two modes of operation. The default mode is to allow the safe to be opened using either a fingerprint sensor or the four-digit code. However, additional security can be provided by setting the safe to double-open mode which requires both a fingerprint and a four-digit code to gain access. Simply pushing the “4” button twice and then short pressing the reset button sets double-open mode. Repeating this turns the mode off and restores operation to the default mode.
It is also possible to mute the beeps by long pressing the “2” button for five seconds. Repeating this will restore the sounds.
When the batteries get low, the red LED will illuminate constantly. This is an indicator that it is time to replace the batteries. If the batteries get too low, it will not be possible to open the safe using either the fingerprint scanner or the four-digit code. It will be necessary to use the manual key access in this case, which is why it is very important not to lose the keys (or store them inside the safe).
If necessary, the factory default settings can be restored and all programmed fingerprints and the access code erased by long pressing the reset button inside the safe until the green light stops flashing and a long beep occurs.
The internal LED will illuminate for approximately 15 seconds after the correct code and/or fingerprint is entered. The LED is actually white, not blue as it appears in the photo above.
For the most part, the electronic access functioned exactly as described in the user manual, with a couple of notable exceptions.
First, it was a common occurrence for the biometric sensor to not recognize the fingerprint. It seemed like this happened more often than not for the first fingerprint I programmed (my right index finger). However, it seemed a little less frequent for other fingers and after I reprogrammed my right index finger. It seemed to depend somewhat on which finger I used and where the safe was located. It was easier to use the biometric sensor if the safe was on a table and I was standing above it. However, if the safe was under our bed (as shown in the photo above), it was much more difficult to find the safe’s biometric sensor, place my finger on it, and then get the sensor to successfully recognize my fingerprint. Is this a bad thing? I guess it depends. I was not able to open the safe with any fingerprint that was not programmed, so this isn’t a security issue. However, if I had to get access to my gun in a hurry while the safe was under the bed, I probably would just enter the code before even trying the biometric sensor.
Secondly, as stated above, the electronics are supposed to lock out (temporarily) if an incorrect code is entered. That might have been a useful safety feature if it worked, but it didn’t. Maybe this wouldn’t be a desirable feature for someone who is more concerned about quick access. However, with a four-digit code and four buttons, there are only 256 possible combinations, so it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility for a persistent youngster to try every code to get it to open.
In terms of space and access, the Yuema has more internal space than the GunVault, which didn’t matter to me because my Glock easily fit in either safe. Of greater concern is the smaller internal height in the Yuema compared to the GunVault. The Yuema specifications state that the internal height is 3″, but you actually have less than that at the opening due to the location of the door hinges (it is more like 2-5/8″). The smaller GunVault safe actually has more height above the door (about 2-13/16″), plus the top is covered with foam. The loss of this 3/16″ and the fact that there isn’t any foam on the top of the Yuema means that you’ll be scraping your knuckles on the top when you put your hand in the safe. I have averaged sized hands which scraped the top of the safe, so if your hands are larger, you’ll have an even more difficult time accessing your gun. And if the gun itself is larger, it would be even worse.
Also, the Yuema has a larger latch on the door than the GunVault. I found that every time I pulled my gun out of the safe, in addition to scraping my knuckles on the top, my thumb would hit the latch. If I was careful and removed the gun slowly, I could avoid this. However, if I was in a hurry, my hand would likely get a little scraped and banged up.
What I like
- Very rugged / all welded steel construction
- Biometric fingerprint access for added security
- Ability to use biometric + keypad access for even more security
What needs to be improved
- Fingerprint access was not reliable enough to rely on for quick access
- Opening was too small and the internal top surface was not padded
- Door latch was too large and it was difficult to maneuver the gun around it
- Gaps on the sides of the door need to be closed up
- Lockout (when incorrect code is entered) didn’t work
The Yuema model SZ-01 Biometric Gun Safe performed well and works as advertised for the most part. It is well built and very rugged and will provide adequate protection for your handgun or other valuables. The electronics worked pretty well and I am convinced that it would provide adequate security to keep valuables safe and prevent access to a handgun. However, compared to other brands on the market, it doesn’t outshine them, especially in the area that is important to many gun owners – quick access. The biometric fingerprint scanner was not reliable enough for me to want to use it if there was an emergency. Also, the opening is too small and the latch is too large meaning that hand scrapes are inevitable.