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Sentry Safe Won't Open? Pro Tips of Simple Things to Try.

By Maria Paiz June 12, 2021

Sentry Safe Won't Open, Pro Simple Tips to Try

*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.

Sentry Safe Won't Open? Pro Tips of Simple Things to Try.


As a gun owner, the reliability of a Sentry Safe to secure firearms and valuables is paramount. Yet, what do you do when your dependable fortress decides not to budge? Facing a Sentry Safe that won’t open is as perplexing as solving a Rubik's cube in the dark. With over 200 models on the market, it's a common dilemma, often leading to a frantic search for quick, legal solutions to avoid locksmith fees. Fear not—I've been there and have compiled straightforward hacks to regain access to your safe. These tips, shared with the best intentions, aim to solve the "Why won't this thing open?" mystery without resorting to a sledgehammer. Remember, these methods are intended for safes that are rightfully yours; tampering with someone else's property is a definite no-no.

Common Reasons Your Sentry Safe Won't Open

Here are the most common reasons a Sentry Safe won't open.

Try these before calling Sentry Safe Customer Service or a safe locksmith.

  • The battery is dead. 

  • The bolts of the safe are jammed or misaligned

  • The safe is in lockout mode, or the time delay is active

  • Sentry safe handle stuck

  • The deactivated code 

  • The wiring is disconnected or damaged

These methods should work for just about any Sentry Safe model, including the ones with keys and combination locks or the electronic and biometric safes.  Before you call your locksmith, safe technician (typical trip charge is around $100), or the safe manufacturer, we recommend doing these.   

Step-by-Step Solutions to Open Your Sentry Safe

Dead Batteries

If you are lucky, dead-safe batteries are the simplest reason your safe won't open.  It sounds silly, but you will be surprised how often this happens. Pop the battery or batteries out of the battery holder, check the terminals, and if you can't check the battery charge, replace the battery with a brand-name battery pack like Duracell or Energizer.  We recommend avoiding off-brand batteries because studies show they lose power much faster than branded types. 

Misaligned or Jammed Bolt Work

The bolt work of a safe can get jammed even for a quality safe. Sometimes, a jarring or dropping or a hard knock on a safe can jam the bolts. Most customers forget that safes are precision equipment, not just expensive metal boxes.  One way to tell if the bolts are jammed is if you hear the motor whirring or trying to retract the bolts, but the safe won't open. Keep trying to open the safe and listen carefully to the sounds from the front of the safe. 

An unconventional but simple solution worth trying is what we call the "mule kick" option. Face away from the safe and kick the door of the safe hard. Do this a few times. This will often loosen and stuck bolt work. Make sure that you do not kick the electronic keypad or the safe handle. 

Tug the handle of the safe in the opposite direction from how you turn it to open it. Enter the combo code if you have an electronic safe, otherwise, try turning the key. This will release some of the pressure on the bolt work and can help the handle come loose.

Safe Lockout Mode or Time Delays

Deactivated Code

It is possible that for some reason, even if you enter the correct combination, your safe won't open.  In this case, it could be that your code is deactivated. Before you phone the safe company, have someone else try their code to see if theirs works. (This assumes that someone else has a code and access to your safe.)

Disconnected and/or Damaged Wiring

All electronic devices have circuit boards and electrical wires.  While troubleshooting an electronic or combination lock is best left to the experts, you can do easy checks to see if the wiring is disconnected and/or damaged. Remove the entire keypad and inspect the wires to see if they are loose, kinked, abraded, or cut.

If the wiring looks good, carefully disconnect the wire from the keypad, open the battery cover, and remove the battery or batteries. Wait at least 20 seconds, reinstall the batteries or replace them, reconnect the wiring, and see if you can operate the lock.

If wiring is damaged or cut, you are out of luck and will need to call a certified locksmith. We recommend you photograph the keypad and look for identifying names and model numbers on the keypad before you call the locksmith.  This ensures that the locksmith brings the right keypad when they come. 


Handle Issues

Here are two things to try for a Sentry Safe with a handle stuck, as suggested by customers who found themselves with this problem:

  • Repeated trying. One customer found that persistent (bit not increasingly forceful) trying to loosen the handle, and it opened after over 10 tries.

  • Don't force the safe handle to the open position because it can strip the plastic (yes, plastic!) gears. Lay the safe on its side, if possible, with the hinge side on the floor. Bang the side of the safe with a hammer (preferably wrapped in a towel to reduce any scratches). The banging and gravity may cause the bolts to unlock.

If this does not work, you'll need to call a locksmith to open the safe. (Type "locksmith near me" in Google search.) At least you'll be sure that you tried the easy methods before paying for professional help.

FAQ Guide (What Readers Want to Know)

How long do batteries typically last?

A brand-name 9V battery or common AA or AAA alkaline battery can last up to 2 years, depending upon usage. If it has been longer than that since you replaced your battery, then your battery is likely dead. (

How do I break into a Sentry Safe? 

There are simple ways to (legally) break into a safe. Try these methods.



In wrapping up, it's clear that while Sentry Safes are bastions of security for our firearms and precious items, they're not immune to the occasional hiccup. Whether it's a dead battery, a stuck handle, or a mysterious lockout, there's often a simple solution at hand. I hope these pro tips provide you with a starting point to troubleshoot and regain access to your safe, saving you both time and the potential cost of a locksmith visit. Remember, the goal is to keep our guns secure but also accessible, especially in times of need. If you've tried all these steps and still find yourself locked out, it may be time to reach out to a professional. 

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