What is better for a safe, Locking Bars or Traditional Round Bolts?

1776 Series Liberty Safe with Locking BarsLiberty Safe has taken a bold step in changing over their high-end gun safe models to their new Military-Style Locking Bar system opening up the debate about which is more secure, locking bars or round bolts? Both are designed with the intent to ward off a variety of sophisticated burglary attacks in which someone would attempt to force the door open. The effectiveness of locking bars vs. rounded bolts all boils down to one thing: how much pressure can your bolt or locking bar take?

To compare, you have impressive silver bolts that shoot out from the door of the safe, they are round and shiny and usually constructed of a thick hunk of steel covered by chrome. Alternatively, in Liberty’s newly designed safes, you have thinner but wider tabs or bars that slide from the door into slots or behind the frame of your safe.  At first glance it may seem the big chrome bolts that remind us of something out of a bank vault look like serious business would be more secure than discreet black tabs, but perhaps Liberty is onto something with their new Military Style Locking bar technology. In fact, during Liberty’s own testing, Liberty’s Military-Style Locking Bars withstood 15,300 lbs of pressure, while the competitor’s bolt brackets with round bolts were defeated with just 6,000 lbs of pressure.

Let’s look into the design of Liberty’s next-generation of locking systems a little bit deeper. If your safe’s locking bars are properly constructed, like Liberty’s are, you will see tabs jutting out from it like teeth. Liberty’s locking bars are not welded or screwed together but are constructed out of one solid single piece of steel meaning there are no weak points such as screws or welded joints to exploit. The tabs that are sticking out of your safe’s door are less than a third of the actual steel bar that is behind the door.

With a competitor’s traditional big round silver bolt, the bolts are either tack-welded or screwed onto a separate bolt bracket that runs along the inside of your door. The bolt itself can be as tough as Clint Eastwood’s perpetual scowl, but the truth is you can end up with weak spots where the bolt attaches to the bolt bracket and weak spots are what criminals look for. Many cheap, imported safe brand’s bolts only go as far back as the edge of the door, just enough to look pretty, but not enough to provide true security. So, when a burglar tries to pry the safe, the crowbar’s energy gets focused on bending or snapping the attachment of the bolt bracket.

With the locking bar, the solid steel construction of the bar means you need a tremendous amount of force (over 15,000 lbs) to even get the tabs to budge. When compared to imported gun safes, we think Liberty’s new locking bar system is a slam-dunk. It seems to perform better under the most intense testing. Here are the top three reasons the Military-Style Locking Bar beats out most gun safe’s round bolts.

  1. One solid piece of forged steel means fewer weak points for burglar’s to exploit.
  2. Having a greater amount of steel surface area connecting the door of your safe to the safe’s frame makes a lot of sense and should increase the security of the entire safe.
  3. With bars that extend much deeper into the frame of the safe, Liberty’s Military-Style locking bars make a burglar’s job much more difficult, especially during pry attacks.

That being said, if you are in the market for a top of the line gun safe, we highly recommend the security of the higher-end safes in Liberty’s line-up. We also don’t  think all round bolt systems are seriously at risk for pry attacks, in fact other high quality, especially the American-made brands, make exceptionally secure round bolt systems that have the proper depth, materials, and engineering design to minimize weak points and provide excellent protection from pulling or prying forces. Also, it would be pretty tough for a typical criminal to generate even 6,000 lbs of pull force on the door of a safe, let alone 15,000 lbs, without some serious equipment and ingenuity. It will be interesting to see if other brands take advantage of Liberty’s new technology and begin to implement it, or if they stick to the traditional round bolts.

To see the different types of bolts in action, stop by one of our showrooms in Naples or check out your local Liberty dealer.

Torture Test - Bolts vs. Bars