Springfield XD Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What follows is my review of the Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol Vault (a.k.a. Fort Knox PB-1).

Preface:
My little girl has recently reached an age where her hand strength and her dexterity have developed to a point that affords her never before seen access to explore (a.k.a. get into EVERYTHING). She can now open drawers, latches, knobs, reach table tops, etc. I am also fairly sure that her hands are strong enough to pull a trigger. So, I was left with a dilemma. I normally keep a few strategically placed handguns around the house. With the baby's developing capabilities came the need for me to determine a new solution for safe storage of my home defense pistols. I wanted an option that was completely safe, but also readily accessible in the event of an emergency.

I began researching fast access pistol vaults (speed vaults) and, as usual, I started by defining the parameters that any product must meet for me. My parameters were as follows:

1. Fast, reliable and simple access.
2. Strength, quality workmanship & guarantee - Heavy duty construction to ensure security against break in and backed up by a good manufacturer's guarantee. I also wanted a product made in the U.S.A.
3. Size - Ability to accomodate 2 full frame pistols and 2 mags.
4. Anchorable with heavy bolts.
5. Adequate internal protection so that stored firearms do no get damaged.

The Product:
There are a few different pistol vaults on the market that satisfy the above requirements. I chose to purchase 2 of the Fort Knox Model FTK-PB Vault. Fort Knox also offers the PB-1. This model that almost identical to mine and the only differences come from a slightly different Simplex lock finish (brass) and different knob shape. My review of the FTK-PB follows. I will separate the review into sections based on the requirements I have stated above. I purchased my FTK-PB vaults through Amazon for a cost per unit of $195 and free shipping. MSRP is set at $239.

Access:
I consider fast, reliable and simple access to be the most accurate way to describe what I am looking for. I started by ruling out any pistol vaults that utilized biometric locks. The reason for this was reliability. I have used biometrics in the past and they tend to be unreliable in certain situations. For example, what if you eat some lobster for dinner and cut your finger. It is possible that the fresh cut on your finger (or a cut from an attacker) could cause a biometric read to malfunction. In that case you would not be able to access your vault. I have used biometric I.D. systems (fingerprint scanners) at work and have personally had issues with failure from fingertip cuts. For that reason, I am not willing to trust my life to them.

Next I ruled out any electronic lock systems. They are speedy and, under most circumstances, they are also reliable. But, they still lack some performance IMO. With electronic vaults some do not include a low battery warning features. Even among those that do, locks do not always perform correctly when batteries are low. Batteries can fail faster than they are supposed to or fail without warning. Circuits can fail and wires can come loose under daily use. Again I have experienced this first hand with electronic safes and the like. What if, at the moment I need access, my vault doesnt function? Electronic locks are another unknown on which I am not willing to gamble my family's safety.

I deemed that a mechanical mechanism would be the most consisitently reliable option. So, I filtered first by this sort criteria. My Fort Knox FTK-PB features a Simplex 5 button mechanical locking mechanism. This locking mechanism is very reliable and has 1081 different locking combinations.

It doesnt matter if the power is off. There are no batteries to die. My fingers could be cut from a lobster dinner or an attacker and I can still access this vault within seconds after pressing a few buttons and making a quarter clockwise turn of the lock knob. The Simplex buttons are tested to a 1 million push rating. With that rating, even being opened every day to stow my EDC I will never wear out this mechanism in my lifetime.

Closing the vault is also easy. Just close the door and give the locking knob a quarter turn counterclockwise to the right. The locking mechanism functions very smoothly and also very quietly both when it locks and when it unlocks. I hadnt considered this in my initial set of requirements, but I found this quiet operation to be a great feature since you may not want a pistol vault making lots of noise when you open it. Some of the electronic vaults beep as you press the buttons so I appreciate the "stealth" quality of this Fort Knox vault.

Strength, Workmanship & Guarantee:
Why did I rate strength second in this review? Because it is very unlikely that anyone will try to break into it. I decided that reliable and speedy access would be my number 1 requirement. That being said, I do plan to have this pistol box in service at my home for many decades to come.

Strength was important to me because, however unlikely it may be, I needed to make sure that an intruder or other unauthorized individual could not easily access the vault by force. Also, in the event of a house fire, I wanted to be reasonably sure that the vault walls were heavy enough to stop rounds from exiting the box if they do happen to go off inside.

The FTK-PB is constructed from heavy-duty 10 gauge hardened steel and features a 3/16" steel wrap around door. The lock unit utilizes a 1/2" solid hardened steel locking block. The workmanship is excellent. All the welds are seamless, the edges are ground smooth and gaps (like where the lid closes) are engineered to very tight tolerances. The inner front lip of the vault is folded in and the door is folded over to form a very sturdy tamper proof encasement for the locking mechanism. The rear hinge is also concealed and welded inside steel to armor it against forced entry. It is situatated flush beneath the rear lid to further prevent tampering.

A gas assist strut is mounted inside the lid on the right side. The strut is substantial and has no issue holding the weight of the heavy top-opening door. The steel is finished inside and out with a satin finish silver and black mottled powdercoat. To say the the vault is impenetrable would be an exaggeration. However, it would take a prolonged period of very violent slamming with a very, very heavy hammer to even make a dent in this beast.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not torture tested the vault. I buy the products I review with my own money. I am not paid to endorse them and, since they are not given to me, I do not test them to the point of failure. I do feel that it is obvious, based on the quality of the build and the thickness of the steel, that this pistol vault can not be easily forced or cut open.

This vault model is not rated to be firesafe, so the contents could be damaged in a fire. However many metal targets are made from steel of similar or less thickness. Because of that, I am confident that a pistol round will not breech the steel walls should one go off inside the vault.

When it comes to the guarantee, Fort Knox backs all of its vaults with an impressive lifetime warranty. This warranty applies to the original purchaser and guarantees the vault to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the purchaser. The warranty also applies to the locking mechanisms, knobs and all integral components. However, Fort Knox takes it a step further. They also will replace, free of charge, any vault that is broken into by forced entry or a vault that is damaged in an unlawful attempted entry. IMO it doesnt get better than this guarantee.

Size:
When researching this purchase I wanted to make sure that the vault had enough room and the FTK-PB is sized to accomodate up to 2 full frame pistols. As you can see in my photos, I keep one pistol in each vault along with back up mags and other accessories. I only show one of my vaults in my photos but you can see there is still plenty of room left over.

The dimensions are 5-1/4"H (with buttons and knob) x 12-1/2"W x 10-3/8"D. The vault weighs in at a portly 24 pounds. Even with 1 or 2 pistols inside the vault there is still ample room for a few other items such as knives, mags, lights etc.

Anchorable:
This vault comes with pre-drilled ports in the bottom for mounting. From factory, the ports are filled with rubber plugs that also act as semi non-skid feet. The plugs can be removed to expose the pre-drilled mounting holes. This can then be used as a drilling template to anchor the safe. Additionally, the safe could be mounted on its side (although not ideal for this model). Side mounting would most likely void the warranty because it would require that the owner drill holes in the safe. Also, the lid wraps around the sides of the vault, so there would be some shimming required to mount the safe on its side while still allowing unimpeded access for the lid to swing open.

I would recommend only using this vault as a bottom anchored vault. The holes are already there for this type of anchoring. With the way this vault is built it is a much better option. Fort Knox makes a few other vault models that are front opening (like the PB4). These vaults would be better choices if you need a side mount or top mount option. The other Fort Knox pistol vaults are constructed of similar steel and they also feature similar Simplex locking mechanisms and all Fort Knox prodcuts carry the same lifetime warranty.

Internal Protection:
Inside, the FTK-PB is a cushy and secure environment for you pistols and accessories. It features high density egg crate foam. The foam is glued to the top and custom fitted snugly around the locking mechanism on all sides. Both the top and bottom of the vault provide dual layers of foam padding. On the bottom, the foam is not glued in place and this allows easy removal of one layer to accommodate thicker pistols. Both layers can be easily pulled up to allow the owner to access the rubber plugs/bolt holes in the bottom.

The dense foam is high-quality and it runs across the entire top and bottom of the vault. The bottom is completely covered with no edge gap. The lid foam (top) leaves about 1/4" gap around the edges so that the lid can be closed without pinching the foam. The interior sides are not foam covered but side contact is not an issue because, when closed, the foam compresses around and locks the contents into place. I have put many different sized (different thickness) items inside my vault at the same time and then given it the "shake test" when closed. The foam does a good job of securely sandwiching everything and I found that nothing is left loose to bang around inside.

For those of us who like customization, the top layers of glued foam could be peeled away. This would allow removal of all the factory interior foam (top and bottom) if someone wanted to install custom foam with weapon and accessory cut outs.

Improvements:
I try to remain objective when I review items. IMO the FTK-PB vault is very good but there are a few minor improvements that could be made as follows:

1. Assisted open - the current assisted open design features a substantial gas strut that is more than capable of holding the lid open. However, to open the vault, the lid has to be physically lifted. In this case "assisted open" means that the assistance is provided by the strut holding the lid up after the user has swung it open. It would be nice if the strut went a step further and raised the lid automatically. I am thinking of something like the GunVault lids that open at a quick, but controlled pace. This would be ideal as it is one less thing to fumble with when accessing the vault under stress. In normal conditions, it would just be a nice addition to an already excellent design. This improvement would be an easy one since it could be accomplished simply by utilizing a slightly different type of tuned gas strut.

2. Simplex button feedback - the Simplex lock mechanism is very sturdy and the buttons are tested/rated well beyond the use they will ever endure in my (or anyone's) lifetime. However, it would be nice to get a little more positive feedback when pressing the buttons. The current design operates smoothly and very quietly, but the first few times I used it I wondered if the buttons were functioning correctly. When they are pressed the "press" is very shallow. The button only drops about 1/8" and there is a very subtle click felt as the locking pins change position. I like the stealthy operation but I feel the stealth could be maintained even with a bit more positive tactile feedback added.

3. Sliding when opening - in the above review I stated that the rubber feet were semi non-skid. This was my observation because they are not non-skid on every surface. I have a wooden nightstand finished with a satin black paint. On this surface and most other surfaces I tested (kitchen counters, dressers, wood floors and concrete garage floor) I found that the vault had a tendency to slide backward as the door was lifted. This was a surprise to me because the vault is heavy and I assumed it would stay put due to its own inertia. However, the lid is also heavy and the rubber feet need to have just a bit more tack. On some surfaces there was a fine line between sliding and not sliding but it was a matter of a few ounces of pressure either way.

Under normal conditions this is more of an incovenience than anything. After a few times opening the lid it is easy to get used to the action and then it isnt an issue. the sliding happens because of a combination of the lid weight and the angle as the lid opens. Under stress it could be easy to forget about the sliding and end up dropping the box off the back of a nightstand or dresser spilling the contents in the process. If the box is bolted down this is a non-issue. However I only have one vault bolted down. The other sits on my nightstand and I am sure others might want to use it the same way.

To fix the sliding issue I installed new feet. It was not hard to find a suitable replacement. I got a set of softer higher tack bolt-on feet at Home Depot for $10. I had to cut the bolt down with my Dremel so it didnt stick up inside the box but it wasnt a big deal to complete the swap (note that my photos show the original feet not the new ones I installed). After swapping the feet, I no longer experience the sliding issue. However, I feel that the vault could have come with better higher quality non-skid feet to start with.

My Final Word:
Over all I am happy with the Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol Vault. This model satisfies all of my requirements. There are a few little things that I felt could be improved in the design, but these things are very minor and I tend to highly scrutinize the items I buy. I am sure that most users will be completely satisfied with this vault exactly as it is delivered from factory.

The FTK-PB's (PB-1) mechanical lock is dependable and easy to access with no keys to fumble or worries about battery or biometric failure. The vault is made in the U.S.A. and it is very heavy-duty. The workmanship is excellent inside and out. The interior is well padded and provides ample room to securely store up to 2 full frame pistols and the usual accessories. This model is not rated to be fire safe. So, in a fire, contents may be damaged but the thick steel would most likely provide containment for any rounds igniting inside the box (however unlikely that may be). The vault can be used free standing or it can be bolted down using the pre-drilled holes. Should any unauthorized individuals try to open the vault by force it would be an incredibly hard nut to crack. The powdercoat finish is attractive so it wont be an eyesore if it sits on a nightstand like one of mine does. Lastly, Fort Knox backs the product fully with an excellent lifetime warranty.

Hopefully this review was helpful. Please comment on this thread and rate my post.

If you enjoyed the reading, "follow me" to stay current with future reviews including the:
Schrade Tactical Pen, Raven Concealment Systems Phantom Holster, MagHolder Mag Carrier, SuperBio Gun Belt, Seibertron Tactical Assault Backpack, VooDoo Tactical and Explorer Range Bags, Shimano Shooting Glasses & Backpacks, Spyderco "Bug" and more!

Also check out my earlier thread for the "Speed Sight by Advanced Design Review".

Thanks for reading! Now for the FTK-PB photos!

The photos I am posting are ordered as follows:
1. Full view top
2. Zoom Simplex mechanism top
3. Inside top lid
4. Inside bottom 1
5. Inside bottom 2
6. Inside bottom 3
7. Zoom rear hinge
8. Bottom view
fn top.jpg fn top 2.jpg fn inside top.jpg fn inside 1.jpg fn inside 2.jpg fn inside 3.jpg fn hinge.jpg fn bottom.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,250 Posts
Nice review on a what sounds like a really good option for secure storage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
103 Posts
I purchased 2 of the Ft Knox horizontal pistol boxes for all the same reasons...
Very well made and very happy with them. I also don't trust the biometrics... Heck, when I went to get my fingerprints scanned for my TX CHL, they had to try like 10 times on each finger; the tech said my fingerprints were "damaged"...

Sent from my GT-N8013 using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
437 Posts
I'm in the market. Thanks for the thorough, honest review!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I'm in the market. Thanks for the thorough, honest review!
Sure thing. I glad you found the review to be helpful!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the review. I also have been pondering what to get for quick accessible storage. I think you just solved that for me.
Fort Knox should pay me commission for selling you a box! JK - hope the review was helpful and if you order one I hope you find it satisfactory as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
I agree with all your criteria. I went with vline because the lid fully clamshells the edges. I also have a few shotlocks.

All of which I completely recommend. All in same price range. Did not know of fort Knox at the time, but great review.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Sounds cool - would you be able to post some pics?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I agree with all your criteria. I went with vline because the lid fully clamshells the edges. I also have a few shotlocks.

All of which I completely recommend. All in same price range. Did not know of fort Knox at the time, but great review.
Sounds like you have a nice vault - would you be able to post some pics for the rest of us gear junkies?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts




So here is the shotlock, mounted to the wall in the bedroom, and when the door is open it is hidden behind it. Easily fits the 320c and comparable sized guns. There is a bigger one too that would fit a 1911 or say the beretta 92a1. Bolted into studs, definitely high enough for the little ones, and they aren't getting in anyhow.

I don't know about the fort knox, but I am sure it is similar. You can code the lock for multiple presses, say the combo is 1 then 2 AND 3 simultaneously, then 4 then 5. Leaves a pretty strong access code. This and the vline are the same, so I feel the fort Knox offers this too.

Strong double locking latches, recessed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts






This one has a lot more room and the lock is on top and opens upwards, hence the name v line top draw. Only one locking bar inside, but the sides extend much farther down. This, and the previous are heavy and solid. Thicker and heavier than the gun vaults we replaced them with because of issues similar to what was reported by the op.

This one has a plate that is bolted to a surface. The plate has posts that stick into the interior and you put some nuts basically in to keep it there, and cannot be accessed when locked. I'll take a few photos in a second. This allows you to take the box if you desire, while leaving it's mounting position in tact.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
So not mounted again yet bc we just moved.

But you can mount this plate



Then slide through holes in back


The "top" has 2 "hooks"
And the bottom the threaded holes that secure it in place to the mount. The mount is an accessory, without it you can just bolt it to the wall, floor, furniture, whatever through the existing holes. When attached, there is no play between the plate and the box.






Reinsert foam bottom, and done
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
Is there anything keeping that pistol from falling out or does it just happen to be balanced or leaning to stay put?

Thanks!
It does have enough room to lean against the back and stay put on it's own, never an inkling of it possibly falling out or over. There is a felt like lining that gives it a little friction and keeps it from having metal on metal contact or sliding around.

I suppose if there was something that really shook the whole house, like an earthquake, it could tip over to be leaning against the door when you open and that could be a problem I had not considered. At the same time, it really stays put so well, and probably leans at a 10-15 degree angle that I can't imagine that happening. The box does not move, and is very securely attached. The whole wall would have to move fkr tbw box to. I do have a very strong magnet that would fit behind it and the felt- maybe I'll rig that up for a fun mini project.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
437 Posts
I suppose the proper magnet could make things more secure. Again, appreciated!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
335 Posts
Nice review! All the safes shown above with the mechanical push button lock are a good choice over the electronic versions in my opinion. Features that are important to you and how and where you plan to mount it might make a difference as well on which brand is best for your application.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
I know that vline and shotlock make multiple configurations and sizes.

There is one vline that mounts under a desk or a shelf and opens from an end vs MI e that opens from the top, one that goes in between studs in a wall, etc.

Shotlock also has different sizes, and one is meant to lock over the action of a shotgun, securing it to a fixed object, with the stock and barrel sticking out either end, and other options still.

I am considering adding a few of these around the house we just bought as we get settled in.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top