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How To Break Into A Sentry Safe | Helpful Legal Hacks

By Maria Paiz February 03, 2024

 How to Break into a Sentry Safe

*This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but it never influences our product selection process.

Table of Contents


As a fellow gun owner, I know how vital a sturdy safe is for our firearms. Sentry Safes are renowned for their robustness, being fireproof and burglar-proof. But what if you're in a jam – locked out with your firearms or important documents inside? I've been there, and it's not fun. But don't worry. I've done the legwork for you and discovered some legal – and surprisingly simple – ways to open a Sentry Safe when you're in a bind. I share these methods with you, assuming that your intentions are noble! (Warning: Breaking into someone's safe even to have fun is against the law - don't do it! )

Sentry Safes are supposed to be fireproof and burglar-proof. So breaking into one should be difficult after all. I was shocked to find there are several popular ways (including some lesser-known ones) that show you how to open a Sentry Safe. 

If you are locked out of your safe, if you've lost the keys or combination to a safe and the door is locked open, or if you just want to know what to do should you ever need to get into your safe in a hurry, the following steps will help.

Six Ways to Break Into a Sentry Safe:

The following are six ways to open a Sentry Safe without the combination or without keys. Pick the ones best suited to the price of the safe and the urgency to get to the contents:

  1. Contact Sentry Safe for assistance or call them at 800-828-1438. (Best for safes over $100.)

  2. Call a local locksmith. Google "locksmith near me" and pick one. (Best for safes over $500.)

  3. Use a high-powered magnet to trip the lock. (Best for safes over $200.)

  4. Use a nail file. (Best for safes: $20 to $50.)

  5. Use a paper clip. (Best for safes: $20 to $50.)

  6. Other destructive means like using a drill. (My favorite! Best for safes under $50.)

Pre-Check Items

Before you attempt to break into the safe, it is always worth ensuring that the simple and obvious steps are not an issue. Here they are:

  • How to find the Sentry Safe combination if you've lost it

  • If the locking bolts are misaligned (you'll hear a scraping sound at the door when you try the handle), smack the safe at various locations around the door.

  • For some models, if the batteries for the lock are dead, replace them (usually AA batteries).

  • If your safe has a time delay feature that got triggered because of repeated attempts with incorrect codes, wait 20 minutes and try again. (If you have a lockout security feature, no amount of waiting will help.)

How to Break into a Sentry Safe:

Contact or Call for Help

Always call the company first if you need to know how to open a Sentry Safe without the combination or if you've misplaced the keys. In preparation for the call, keep the following information handy: where and when you bought the safe, its model number, and its serial number. You will see serial and model numbers on the safe for some models. If you see just one number, here's a helpful tip on how to break down this one number into model and serial numbers.

For gun safe before 2012 models, here are the steps you can follow to unlock a Sentry Safe.

  1. Turn the dial to 0.

  2. Turn the dial three times to the ‘left’ and stop at the first number in the combination.

  3. Turn the dial two times to the ‘right’, stopping on the second number in the combination.

  4. Turn the dial ‘left’, stopping at the last number in the combination.

  5. Turn the handle of the safe to open the door.
  • By turning the dial right clockwise, the number combination decreases from 90, 80, 70, etc.
  • By turning the dial counter-clockwise, the number combination increases from 20, 30, 40, etc.

For gun-safe models made after 2012, follow these steps to crack into a Sentry Safe.

  1. Turn the dial to 0.

  2. Turn the dial three turns to the ‘right’, stopping at the first number in the combination.

  3. Turn the dial two times to the ‘left’, topping on the second number in the combination.

  4. Turn the dial ‘right’, stopping at the last number in the combination.

  5. Pull the door handle to open the safe.
  • By turning the dial right clockwise, the number combination decreases from 90, 80, 70, etc.

  • By turning the dial counter-clockwise, the number combination increases from 20, 30, 40, etc.

Call a Locksmith

Call a Locksmith

Calling a local locksmith can cost you between $50 to $100 per service call, so it probably makes sense only when the safe is expensive, and if replacing it will cost you way more than $200. This could be the case if you safe is installed in a wall for example. Google "locksmith near me" for you closest resource. Note that locksmiths will require proof of ownership to either get the combination, or to pick the lock to open a Sentry Safe (or any other safe!).

Using a High Power Magnet

High power magnet to break into a sentry safe.

There are several videos on YouTube that will show you how a safe can be opened (in a few seconds) by using a powerful neodymium magnet that will cost you under $20 on (Be warned that handling these magnet is a safety hazard and follow all precautions.) By placing the magnet on the safe door in the vicinity of the nickel solenoid of the lock and moving the magnet, you can trip the lock and open the safe.

Watch and enjoy How to Open a Sentry Safe in 5 Secs by Mr. Locksmith.

Using A Paper Clip

How to break into a Sentry Safe, paper clips

Here's how you can get into a Sentry Safe with the simplest of tools: two paper clips and a needle-nosed plier. This hack is best suited for opening the cheaper Sentry Safe models like the cash and lock boxes.

Here’s how you pick the lock of a Sentry Safe:

  • Your goal is to use the pliers to form the paper clips into a "Picking tool" and a "Tension tool". These tools will be inserted into where you put the key to jimmy open the lock. When you are done, they will look like the following in my napkin sketch below.
  • Bend to the smaller leg of the paper clip to a 90-degree angle. Repeat for the bigger leg tip.

  • You should bend the other leg tip of the paper clip so it will look like a wrench ("Tension Tool").

  • Bend the second paper clip to a 180-degree angle, and bend the other leg 45-degree. The second paper clip will now look like a feeler pick ("Picking Tool").

  • Insert the Tension Tool at the lower part of the lock.

  • Take the Picking Tool nd put it in the upper part of the lock.

  • Carefully press the pins of the lock until you hear a clicking sound, which means you’ve reached the right place.

  • Continue picking the lock three times.

  • Turn the paper clip pins clockwise to open the safe.

Nail file

A nail file can also be used on cheaper Sentry Safes to break in the safe. You can also use a flat-head screwdriver instead of a nail file.

  1. Slide the nail file from the nail clippers.
  2. Insert the nail file tip into the lock.
  3. Jiggle the nail file until you can rotate the lock.
  4. When you hear a clicking sound, continue working on the inside of the lock to ensure you’ve reached the last ‘click’ sound of the safe.
  5. Your gun safe now is open.

Destructive Methods

There is no better way to express your anger and frustration with getting into your safe than by destroying the lock. Once you do so, you can get into the safe, but you'll need to replace the lock, which is best done by a locksmith. So my advice: use this method when you need to get into your safe in a hurry and have no desire to reuse the safe. 

  • Using a power drill, drill open into the lock of the safe. 

  • Make sure you’re drilling directly into the lock instead of the safe body,
    otherwise, you'll damage the safe if your plans are to re-use the safe.

  • If you can drill through the lock, the lock will break open, and you can replace it later.


FAQ Guide (What Readers Want to Know)

Q1: How do I reset the combination code on my Sentry Safe?

A1: If you're looking to reset your combination code, refer to the user manual specific to your model number. Typically, Sentry Safe models equipped with a dial lock require a factory code or a user-defined combination code for resetting.

Q2: Can I use power tools to break into a Sentry Safe if I've lost the key?

A2: While power tools can technically be used to access a locked safe, it's not recommended due to the potential damage to the lock mechanism and the safe itself. Instead, consider contacting Sentry Safe customer support or a professional locksmith for assistance.

Q3: Where can I find the model number and factory code for my Sentry Safe?

A3: The model number and factory code are usually located on a label on the front of the safe, near the lock feature or on the user manual that came with your safe. If you've lost your manual, Sentry Safe’s customer service can help you identify your safe with the model number.

Q4: What should I do if the dial lock on my Sentry Safe is not turning?

A4: If the dial lock on your Sentry Safe is stuck, it could be due to misalignment of the lock mechanism. Try gently rotating the dial in both directions. If the issue persists, consult the user manual for troubleshooting tips or contact Sentry Safe for repair options.

Q5: Is it possible to enhance the lock feature of my Sentry Safe for added security?

A5: Yes, many Sentry Safe models offer the capability to upgrade or add additional lock features for enhanced security. Check your user manual or contact Sentry Safe to explore available options for your specific model.

Q6: Are there any user-friendly alternatives to breaking into my Sentry Safe if I forget the combination code?

A6: Before attempting to break into your safe, consider all non-destructive entry methods. This includes using the override key, if available, or retrieving the combination code from Sentry Safe’s customer service with the model number and proof of ownership.

Q7: What maintenance tips do you recommend for the dial lock and lock mechanism of a Sentry Safe?

A7: Regular maintenance of the dial lock and lock mechanism is crucial. Ensure they are free from dust and debris by gently wiping the area with a dry cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals or lubricants that could damage the locking features.


There you have it, fellow gun enthusiasts – six legal ways to regain access to your Sentry Safe. From contacting Sentry Safe for assistance to using everyday items like paper clips, each method has its place depending on the urgency and the safe's value. Remember, these tips are for those 'just in case' moments when you need access to your safe in a hurry.

And if the thought of how easily some safes can be opened makes you uneasy, check out our more robust options at Whether it's safeguarding your firearms or precious valuables, knowing how to tackle safe lockouts can be a game-changer.

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