SentrySafe Quick Access Pistol Safe

Authority Safes contacted me about reviewing one of the gun safes they sell. They wanted to give me a SentrySafe Quick Access Pistol Safe for review. Before I accepted it I told them that if I found something I didn’t like that I wouldn’t hold back in reporting that. They told me they wouldn’t want it any other way. That was a good start. I accepted the safe and played with it quite a bit.

I didn’t follow through with this post as quickly as I should have. I have had the safe since sometime in early February. It has been sitting beside my bed making me feel guilty every time I step over it to get into bed. So today I finally got around to doing the last of the tests I wanted to do and now I’m reporting everything.

First is the worst thing I have to say about the safe. As reported in this video review if you press the buttons too fast it won’t open. You have to try again. And “too fast” isn’t all that fast. I didn’t even have to try to have it fail. I have to deliberately slow down from what feels like a natural speed to me. But I may not be normal in this regard. Since I was in grade school people have commented on how quick I am with my fingers and hands.

The second worst thing I have to say about the safe is about one of its features. That’s right, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature! After not opening the safe for several weeks I tried to open it and it failed even when I did it slow. What? I know that is the combination. Oh! Now I remember. The first button push is just to get its attention and doesn’t count toward the actual combination. It turns on the backlight for the buttons and gives you low level illumination for entering the combination. I understand why they did this. It’s kind of a cool feature but it delayed my entry into the safe by several seconds. If I had just woken up and was in a high stress situation my brain might not have solved the puzzle nearly as quickly as I did this time. I would recommend opening it at least once a week just to keep your fingers and brain up to speed on the proper combination and speed of button pushes.

The third worst thing I have to say about it is that I am a little bit concerned about the back up lock. There have been reports of this type of lock being defeated with the barrel of a Bic pen. I tried some things but couldn’t find a plastic tube of the proper diameter. This concern is going to depend on who you are trying to keep the contents away from. If your threat model is small children then this safe is going to be great. If the threat model is a criminal with tools then the safe is probably susceptible, even if you utilize the supplied lag screws, to crow bar removal from your premises and a metal saw. If the threat model is a smart teenager with lots of time who wants surreptitious access then maybe you need to investigate further.

Now the good things I have to say.

It’s small enough it will slide under the bed and fit in a lot of drawers. It’s large enough I can get everything I can reasonably expect to need, short of body armor, that I might need in a quick access pistol safe.

The safe feels solid. I didn’t even have a temptation to try and pry or force things to gain access. I used to have a gun cabinet that just looking at it gave me the urge to apply a drill and a hacksaw blade to it. This safe did not tempt me in a similar manner.

I trust this safe to keep my grandkids and casual criminals out of it while giving me ready access.

Here are my pictures and further comments:


It’s a nice looking safe. There are no easy pry points. The dark smudges are from me handling it with oily fingers. The surface cleans up easily and I would not expect corrosion even if I were to put it in a moderately abusive environment.


Above you see that I was able to put my loaded, cocked, and locked STI Eagle 5.1 with a 18 round magazine in the safe with room for two more 18 round magazines, in their holsters, a Surefire flashlight, and hearing protection.


In another configuration I removed one magazine and substituted ESS eye protection. I didn’t realize it until after I took the pictures but I can also rearrange things and put the magazine in it’s holster in the position where the eye protection is and move the eye protection to the magazine position in the above picture. It all fits.

I think it’s a good safe for most home applications and recommend people give it serious consideration.

See also reviews by Say Uncle, Robb Allen, and their commenters. I didn’t watch the YouTube video linked to by one but I scanned it without seeing this particular safe.

Boomershoot prep blogging

Linoge posts:

fuzzyKBP posts A journey of a thousand miles.

Phil posts about some of the guns he is bringing to Boomershoot.

There are still some positions open at Boomershoot 2014. Sign up here.

New shooter report

A month ago I went to the range with two new shooters. These are my tweets from then:



They are friends of Gang who I took to the range a few years ago. He contacted me and told me some friends wanted to learn to shoot. We met up at Wades and after they got the paperwork done I spent about 15 minutes going through safety rules, sight alignment, and grip with a plastic gun. Once inside the range we did some dry fire before going to live fire.

I started them out on a Ruger Mark III/45 followed by a S&W .22LR revolver. Then I offered them my STI Eagle in .40 S&W with the caution there was going to be a lot more recoil. They did just fine with the recoil on the .40 but the large grip of the double stack STI was a challenge for their small hands. All the targets were at about eight feet away.

I was surprised they liked the S&W revolver and STI Eagle better than the Ruger Mark III/45. In any case they did very well. I was particularly impressed with Shijing who is cross eye dominate. I suggested she try shooting left handed as well as right handed and she then stayed with left handed to produce awesome groups for a new shooter.

Sharon shooting the STI.
Shijing with the revolver and then the STI.
Shijing had the better groups and the bigger smile.

Afterward they took me to dinner at a place Gang described as the Chinese equivalent of Hooters. I have never been to Hooters before so I can’t confirm that assessment but the waitresses were very nice looking and somewhat scantly dressed. The food was good and I plan to take Barb there sometime soon.

We talked quite a bit about gun laws and why I carry a gun. They seemed to get it and expressed interest in getting their own guns.

Winning the cultural war one (or two) new shooter(s) at a time.

You probably thought Nagant was the first…

…but here’s a revolver (a carbine in this case) patented in 1852, that wedged the cylinder against the barrel, to eliminate the cylinder gap while firing;
It was also a lever action of sorts.

It came to my attention in comments here.

Previously, the Colt’s “Root” model of 1855 was the earliest true revolving carbine I’d known. Although there were repeating flintlock rifles and carbines from much earlier which used a revolving cylinder, the cylinder in those was advanced by grabbing it with the hand and rotating it manually. The flint versions that I’ve seen had multiple priming pans and frizzens, so they would have been a bit dainty in handling.

Another interesting bit of trivia is that Colt’s had a fully enclosed frame revolver (meaning it had a solid top-strap) long before the Remington/Beals, but Colt’s didn’t bother using the idea for their famous Navy and Army models, and they continued making “open top” revolvers right up into the 1870s. To put it another way; there wasn’t really all that much difference in the open top design compared to the enclosed frame designs when using the relatively low pressure black powder charges typical in a handgun of the time.

And let it not be said that the American founders could not have foreseen the repeating rifle or pistol as a fighting weapon. Many veterans of the American Revolution survived well into the 1840s, ’50s and even ’60s, and they didn’t suddenly cry out, “Waaait a minute!– We never expected anything like THIS!!! We’d better re-write that there second amendment thingy, and right now too…!!!” The Colt Patterson revolver came out in 1836 (an “assault weapon” of its day if there ever was one) and I don’t believe anyone in the Supreme Court suddenly re-thought the whole thing about the right to keep and bear arms now that we had concealable, practical, multi-shot firearms. The Colt “Walker” which was far more powerful and fired a bigger and heavier bullet came out in 1847.


Here is a three-barrel revolver. It has three firing pins and a firing pin selector (barrel selector) switch at the back of the frame. You cycle through six (of 18 total) rounds, then select another barrel and fire six more. Thus in three full revolutions of the cylinder you have fired all 18 shots. Open the Smith & Wesson type break action for reloading. Apparently the idea didn’t catch on, as this is reportedly the single example of this gun. For one thing it wouldn’t be cheap, plus even in its small caliber (32 or 380 ACP – I forget) it wouldn’t be convenient to carry due to its bulk and weight. You can look it up if you want more information, but that’s just about it.

Quote of the day—Amy Butcher

My only concept of guns or gun control was of overweight, balding white men with tiny dicks and smaller brains.

Amy Butcher
October 19, 2013
You Miss Until You Make It: Reclaiming Independence At A Firing Range
[It's another Markley’s Law Monday!

H/T Jeff.

It is a little hard to tell but I think she may have revised her opinion of gun owners. This was without doing counting hairs, measuring skin tone, or any length or mass measurement.—Joe]


Via email from Squirrel Hunter:


That looks to be quite handy but I suspect it might “wreck the mood” if the headboard got bumped just right while the activities in the bedroom were more “friendly” than hostile.

NP3 finished

The original finish on my Ruger 10/22 hammer forged barrel was not at all tolerant of moisture. I discovered this the hard way after one Boomershoot when I closed it up in the slightly damp case for a couple of days. I cringed every time I looked at it. I kept telling myself and others that saw the damaged barrel, “I need to get the barrel refinished but I just haven’t got around to it yet.” This went on for several years and I finally got around to it this year.

I sent the barrel to Robar to get their NP3 finish on it. I really liked the NP3 finish on my STI Eagle and figured it would be good for the 10/22 barrel as well.

Except for the pitted surface irregularities it looks good:


I still need to sight it in and see if the accuracy changed any.

More on single action v double action

This is in response to Uncle‘s response to this article.

First, we don’t need the new term “TDA” (Traditional Double Action). That’s the same as DA, which we’ve been using for a long time, as opposed to DAO. So we now have DA, DAO, and TDA. See the problem– So what does DA mean anymore? Do we now have to go back and revise all the old texts, adding the “T” in front of “DA”?

Anyway; I’ve never really understood the debate. If you have a DA and want to operate it as a SA, to avoid the “transition” then nothing is stopping you. Load it, put it on safe, and holster it cocked and locked, or ease the hammer down and then cock it before you shoot, just like your trusty, rusty old 1911. You need never encounter a DA pull unless you want to.

And for some reason this subject only comes up in a discussion of auto pistols. With revolvers, I don’t hear anyone complaining about all the double actions out there (and they’re always carried hammer down and have no safety switch). Does the “transition” no longer matter after you’ve thumbed the hammer back as opposed to having it cocked automatically? And you want to talk about light trigger pulls– you won’t find a lighter SA trigger than the one on a good factory-stock DA revolver.

I’ve never understood why SA v DA is this huge f’ng issue when we’re talking pistols, but it never comes up with regard to long guns. The most popular sporting and defense rifle in America is SA, with no de-cock, and no one blinks or ever thinks to consider thinking about it. Same with the Mini-14, 30 Carbine, M-14, M1 Garand, AK, et al, ad infinitum– The hammer’s out of sight, so it’s out of mind, just like the Ruger Mark II/III which we also never discuss as being a SA with no de-cock.

So REALLY this is more of a public perception issue than anything else— If you can SEE the hammer AND it’s on an auto, we’ll argue about it, but if not, “derp”. I guess that’s why Daewoo came up with their goofy action such as on the DP51– It’s cocked and locked, just like your AR-15, but it LOOKS like the hammer’s down. The old Lever action rifles are of course single action, with no de-cock and no safety per se. It’s also a training issue, so make sure you practice with what you have.

One of the coolest designs I’ve owned was the Beretta TomCat. It’s DA and has a de-cocker, but with its tip-up barrel you can load or unload it without cocking the hammer, so I always carried it like a revolver (hammer down, off safe) and to un-load it you just tip the barrel up and drop the cartridge out. The little 32 ACP scared me though, so I traded it away.

At one time I thought it would be cool to have a DA AK or AR. You wouldn’t operate it or carry it any different from the SA versions, but the only difference would be that it would give you a second strike capability. Then I realized that cartridges that actually do fire on a second strike are a sub set of those that fail to fire on the first, and so in many cases you’d be wasting time on the second, or third, or fourth strike compared to chambering a fresh round. On several occasions I’ve hit primers so many times that they were mashed WAY into the primer pocket, or rotated rimfire rounds to hit another part of the rim, and they never did fire.

Quote of the day—Leslie

You definitely have the most interesting hobby of anyone I have ever talked to.

Dental hygienist
February 5, 2014
[She was referring to Boomershoot.

It started out with her asking if I was going to the Seahawks parade in downtown Seattle yesterday. “Involuntarily. I work in the building next to the parade route”, I responded, “I’m not participating. They are a football team, right? Do they use the round balls or the funny oblong ones?”

She then ask what my hobbies were since I don’t have an interest in football. “Guns and explosives.”, I replied. I expected her to speech center to freeze up and then get to work on cleaning my teeth but instead she wanted to know my favorite handgun. Okay. We are going to talk instead of getting my teeth cleaned. At least it is something I like to talk about. So I told her, “STI Eagle. I use it in competition.”

She is looking to buy a gun for carry. And another hygienist in the office is a firearms instructor. She thought Boomershoot sounded really cool and suggested she and her husband should come over to watch. I encouraged it and gave her links to Kathy Jackson’s blog, my blog, and Boomershoot.

And I did get my teeth cleaned.—Joe]

AR-15 lower from a 2×8

We used to say that anyone who knows a little bit of metal shop can build a gun in their garage. Well, it’s easier than that. Here is the lower of an evil “assault weapon” made out of a pine 2×8.


Or maybe it isn’t evil if it is made out of wood and has a natural color finish instead of being black plastic. I never could figure out the rules for good versus evil guns.

Plywood gun

Wood is easier to work with than metal. So why not make a homemade gun out of wood? Yes. It won’t last nearly as long and it will be susceptible to moisture if you don’t treat the wood correctly. But wood stocks have been used on guns for hundreds of years. People are making complete guns out of plastic. Why not make an AR-15 lower made out of wood?

I didn’t come up with idea and I haven’t tried it. But someone else is trying it:

Gun cartoon of the day

H/T to Weer’d Beard for the email pointing me to the image here.


First, there are a lot of people that want to take our guns. Haven’t they ever heard the phrase “assault weapon ban”? Or how about New York’s SAFE act?

Second, invoking Markley’s Law is an automatic fail in the “discussion”.

Third, advocating for background checks to exercise a specific enumerated right is crazy talk.

Cut lead bar verses round ball

I’d not heard of cut lead bar being used in lieu of ball. The use of “findings” in a fowling piece or a blunderbuss, sure, but not this. Interesting.

If you can melt lead or a similar metal or alloy (and who can’t?) and pour it into a slot between some boards, you have buckshot for your scattergun, or bullets for your “smooth rifle”.

I wouldn’t try it on the line at Boomershoot though. Well OK I might, but I wouldn’t expect any detonations, much less hits, from 400 yards.

New Product

It’s the UltiMAK model M15 optic mount for the Yugo/Serbian M92 (A.K.A. PAP) AK pistol.

There have been a lot of requests for this. The first batch went into anodizing today and should be shipping by next week.

As always; yes it’s slightly shorter than the original piston tube. Yes, it’s supposed to be that way. No, that won’t have any effect on carrier cycling whatsoever. Yes, it’s the very best place for a dot sight on your AK. It’s also the right place to mount a pistol scope. No, it doesn’t need to be removed for cleaning.

I won’t get into the issue of the utility of an AK pistol. Several of the guns I own don’t have much real utility in the strict, modern sense (the reproduction 1861 Colt Navy percussion revolver comes to mind). Then again, some people are SBRing the AK pistols, providing a sub-gun-sized, shouldered shooter with a lot more power (and muzzle blast) than a 9 mm or a 45, plus ammo and magazine compatibility with a regular AK carbine.

1939 LA County sheriff’s revolver club

From an e-mail.

The PC police would of course disapprove of the cigarettes and cigar. OK they’d disapprove of everything.

Also they handle lead with their bare hands at the range, shoot stuff out of other people’s mouths and ears which our litigious society now largely prevents, and they still for some reason thought the human heart was all in the left side of the chest. It appears that the price of their cast lead bullet reloads was a penny per round (presumably with the deposit of your spent brass).

They had someone else to clean your gun for you. That I do not approve– It’s not only elitist, but dumb from the standpoint of being able to understand and monitor the condition your own hardware. You should clean your own gun as an integral part of the craft.

They did have rotary, progressive loading machines.

I understand the desire for efficiency at a range, and of having some kind of standards for evaluating the skills of your deputies, but the highly controlled (and therefore highly limited) nature of the training/practice experience at such a range leaves me somewhat cold. I suppose it makes me something of an outlier, but I think you should to get out and simply “play” at it now and then, making up your own scenarios, picking non-standard targets at un-measured distances and so on. I’ll call this “messin’ around shooting”.

I once had a retired LA cop (which means he should very well know better from more than a little personal experience) tell me that his 45 ACP could “shoot through an engine block”. When I got back into shooting after being a hippie for a while, one of the first things I did, of course, was to try various calibers on an old chainsaw at a friend’s house. A 9 mm Para would break the aluminum fins off the cylinder, a 10 mm would strip the fins down clean, and a 7.62 x 39 would punch through the light aluminum and severely dent or tear the steel parts. There’s no way your 45 is going to “shoot through an engine block”. The messin’ around shooter already knows this from direct experience.

So while the gelatin testers, the organized range shooters and the gun magazine readers are talking about the performance of this or that bullet or load, the hunter who does his own butchering, and the messin’ around shooter, are often scratching their heads laughing at them.

I know people who are far more concerned about keeping the grass at the range looking nice than having year-round access for shooters, and they hate people like me. If it’s your own private club and your dime, fine.

Man; I got a little distracted there, huh?

Tim and Susan Have Matching Handguns

Last week I received an email:

Hey Joe,

I realize you probably get a lot of emails, but this one may be unlike what you’re accustomed to. Bear with me and I’ll give you a little background so you can understand why I’m writing.  I work for a Texas-based company that makes rugged leather gear. We started doing product videos on our website about 3 years ago and it morphed into some pretty cool projects. One of those projects was short profiles on our employees. The first one was about a husband and wife who work here and their desire to have matching guns, so in case there were ever a crisis they could swap magazines.  (Smith&Wesson M&P9s) 

Well, it was submitted to Sundance Film Festival and out of the 8,100 short films, it was selected to be one of the 60 entrants. Then YouTube has told us they selected it to be one of the 10 in the running for their special YouTube award. (Crazy, isn’t it?!) Now we want to put the idea of husband/wife gun ownership in front of as many eyes as possible and thought that reaching out to influencers like yourself may be a good approach.

Please let me know if you’re interested. I’d be happy to show you a sneak peek. 


Sarah Farver

I thought it was a decent video so I agreed to post it. The “sneak peek” time is over and it is public now: