How to open a safe if you forgot the combination?

April 17, 2023

Photo of Safe-Lock

There are a few reasons why you may be searching for answers on how to open a safe if you forgot the combination. You set the combination a while back and just forgot which numbers you used. It’s possible that someone who also had access to the safe accidentally changed the combination or did it out of spite. Or you may have had a relative pass, and they never left the combination for the safe.

Whether you forgot the combination, you acquired a locked safe without the combination, or your safe simply won’t open, you should understand that this is a common problem. The right locksmith will help you gain entry to the safe and will usually be able to reset the safe combination so you can use it again in the future. If you are in or around Brevard County, Beach Locksmith can help you bypass the lock and set you up with a new combination. Call today and tell us as much as you can about the safe you’re working with.

Person Typing In A Combination For A Lock

Why You Should Call a Locksmith

You may think that you can save money by not calling a locksmith. If you’re working with a cheap, insecure safe, or you believe you may eventually be able to remember the combination to your safe or get it from the previous owner, you might be correct. However, using the DIY methods outlined in articles and blog posts for resetting a safe can be time-consuming and are often incorrect. In many cases, the safe owner doesn’t have the necessary tools for the job. If they’re not careful, they could end up not only ruining the safe but also destroying the contents locked inside.

You can avoid the entire ordeal by contacting an experienced locksmith. In many cases, if you have the safe’s serial number, the locksmith can tell you whether they can open it over the phone.   

Determine the Type of Safe You Own

There are several different types of safes. However, since the topic of this article is “How to open a safe if you forgot the combination,” it will focus on these types of safes. 

Mechanical Combination Safes 

There are several UL ratings for mechanical combination safes:

  • Group 2 – These safes have a combination lock that must be accurate to within 1.5 digits or less. For example, if part of the combination is 20, it should only register if someone chooses a number between 18.5 to 21.5. 
  • Group 2M – This is the next higher level of security. 2M locks are more difficult for an attempted safecracker to override. 
  • Group 1 – Most civilians do not require this level of safe mechanism. It is much more secure than Group 2 and Group 2M. These are often used when sensitive documents or information are to be stored inside the safe. 
  • Group 1R – These locks have a high level of security, and are designed to prevent using X-ray technology to crack the safe.

Chances are that you have a Group 2 or a Group 2M safe. In both cases, it’s advisable to have a locksmith open your safe.

Child Trying To Open Door By Typing A Code On Luck

Mechanical Combination Locks

These locks use a dial panel with either a three-wheel or four-wheel configuration. There are a million combinations for a three-wheel mechanical lock with a 0 – 100 dial. If there is a fourth wheel, there are 100 million combinations. Guessing the right combo is simply not possible without having some idea what the old combination is. 

Electronic Combination Locks

Electronic safes have electronic keypads where the owner enters the combination to gain access. Some of these also use a biometric fingerprint instead of a keypad or as an alternative. These combination safes have become increasingly popular in recent decades because it takes most people less time to punch in a four or five-digit code for a digital safe than to meticulously turn the dial to the correct combination of a mechanical safe. While there are fewer possibilities, it is unlikely that you can guess the combination to your safe if you’ve completely forgotten it. 

Mechanical Key Override Locks

Safe manufacturers recognize that many owners need an alternative method to enter their electronic or mechanical dial safe. Some models include a mechanical key override. If the owner forgets the combination, they can use the emergency key to access the safe via the key lock mechanism. 

Naturally, having an emergency keyhole creates extra vulnerability since anyone with the key can bypass the combination. However, many locksmiths keep a collection of replacement keys for popular brands or can order a replacement key from the manufacturer.

Person Opening A Safe By Turning The Combination Lock

Methods for Opening Safes When You Forgot the Combination

The following are some methods that safe owners have found useful when they forget the combination. While some of these tips are relatively risk-free, others can destroy the safe and permanently damage the contents. So whether you have a digital safe, a mechanical safe, a gun safe, etc., if you forgot the combination, the surest way to gain access is to call an experienced locksmith. 

Determine if the Safe Has a Key Override

Using the override key on a safe is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to open a safe. If you aren’t sure whether your particular safe has a key override, start with an online search. If you have the manufacturer’s name and serial number., it will help speed up your research. If you don’t have the serial number or model, you can still narrow your search with just a brand name.

If the safe you forgot the combination to comes with an override key, try to locate the key before taking the next step. Either you or someone else may have left the backup key somewhere closeby. If you’re unable to locate the key, contact the manufacturer. Understand that safe manufacturers place a great deal of emphasis on security, so you may not be able to get a replacement override key without additional information, like a serial number. If that’s the case, call a locksmith.

How to Get a Safe’s Combination Retrieve or Override Code

If you never changed your safe combination from when you purchased it, you may be in luck. Most safe manufacturers keep a record of the safe combination for the safes they sell. Furthermore, digital safe manufacturers sometimes include a safe combination override in their products that enables owners or locksmiths to access the unit through the safe’s exterior keypad. In either case, it’s worth your time to contact their customer service to determine what you may be able to do to gain access.

Using a Rare Earth Magnet to Open Your Safe

This is a DIY method that some locksmiths and safe owners have been able to successfully use on Sentry Safes. It involves placing a powerful magnet over the locking mechanism and then manipulating the handle. With some safes, this is all it takes to be able to turn the handle and withdraw the bolts. 

Drilling the Safe Open

This is not a recommended method for gaining access to a safe. It will destroy your safe and can even be dangerous. However, if you’ve tried all other methods, this may be your last resort for entering a sturdy safe. 

The simplest way to drill a safe is by boring into the lock face to reach the lever or drive cam. You can then use a punch rod or similar tool to move them out of the way.   

Mans Hands Trying To Open A Small Lock On A Bag

Find a Locksmith 

Before you try drilling into your safe or some other extreme method, call a locksmith and tell them you forgot the combination to your safe. They’ll want to know the following information:

  • Whether you have a mechanical safe or a digital safe. 
  • The manufacturer and model of your safe. 
  • Your serial number. If it’s a Sentry safe, the model numbers and serial numbers are listed together. 
  • The material the safe is made from. 
  • Whether you have a partial safe combination.
  • If you see any evidence of key overrides or an emergency keyhole in the safe. 
  • Whether or not you have a key for the safe that isn’t working with the key overrides for some reason. 

Even if you don’t have all of this information, a locksmith may still be able to access your safe. At Beach Locksmith of Brevard County, we have excellent relationships with safe manufacturers. We may be able to work with the company to access the combination to your safe.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Open a Safe if You Forgot the Combination

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions about how to open a safe if you forgot the combination. If you have a specific question, contact a safe locksmith to help.

Are electronic safes easier to unlock than mechanical safes?

Not necessarily, but a locksmith can sometimes reset the code externally. If there is a key override on either a mechanical or an electronic safe, a locksmith can sometimes pick that lock without damaging the lock. 

How do I reset the combination of my safe if it’s open?

With digital safes, it’s relatively easy to enter a new code using a reset button. Because the process is different for various safe designs, you should always refer to the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.

Once you reset your lock with a new code, test it with the door opening. See if the bolts extend and retract with the new code. When you’re sure it works, you don’t have to worry about the bolts going into the safe’s bolt openings. 

How do I know my safe is still functional after I bypass the lock?

We understand that safes represent a significant security investment for most owners. Gun safes, for instance, can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Safes are incredibly durable, but the locks are intricate devices.

First, let’s discuss the least harmful methods of opening a safe or changing the combo. If you have a bypass key or are attempting to change the combination with the reset button, you are not likely to damage your safe in any way. 

Some digital safes have a lock-out feature where it only allows you a certain number of attempts. If you hit that number, you will not be able to try anymore. In this case, you’ll have to contact a locksmith to try to open and reset the safe. 

Finally, it is possible to damage your safe. If you are attempting to access your safe by jamming a knife, screwdriver, or uncoiled wire hanger into the bypass key, you could open the safe but destroy that failsafe method. Drilling into the locking mechanism is dangerous and will destroy the safe.

What are some of the most common reasons for a safe lockout?

There are many reasons people lock themselves out of their safes:

  • The owner forgot the combination
  • The owner entered the combination incorrectly too many times, triggering the safe’s lockout function. 
  • The lock is old and not functioning properly
  • The batteries have died
  • The bolts are jammed in the bolt openings, or the operator can’t turn the dial (occurs with older safes)

Combination Safe Experts in Cocoa Beach, FL

Beach Locksmith is the name people trust when it comes to opening their safes in Cocoa Beach, FL. We work on gun safes, fire safes, vaults, and more. Whether you forgot your combination or your safe fails to open with the right combination, Beach Locksmith will take the appropriate measures to get your safe open and functioning again. Call today and talk to a professional locksmith about your safe issue.