You are here:

Antique Safes/Gary safe key


QUESTION: I bought a used Gary safe (paid $200). The seller told me it came out of a pharmacy. It looks like the one in this URL:

I have the combination but not the key (day use key?). Is there a way to obtain a key from  FireKing? Should I even bother?

ANSWER: Chris,

While FireKing currently owns the "Gary" label, it is NOT "the" Gary Safe Company.   The Gary Safe Company began business in the Los Angeles area, eventually merging with Allied-Security in Seattle.   It eventually became Allied-Gary International, moving to the east coast.  In the mid 1990's it was acquired by NKL Industries and around 1999, NKL was acquired by FireKing International, along with its subsidiaries which included the Gary name.

Bottom line - chances are FireKing will not have a key or any information about your safe, unless it is a current model made under their logo "Gary by FireKing".

The lock in the dial is NOT a day lock, it was designed for dual custody use.   One person would have the key, and the second the combination.   Locking the safe using ONLY the dial lock DOES NOT secure your safe!!!!   The main lock is still in the unlocked position, meaning that turning or forcing the dial can and will fully retract the lock bolt allowing access to the safe.
While I do understand that everyone uses the lock in this manner, it doesn't change the fact that this is NOT what this lock was intended for, and basically you are only fooling yourself with a "false sense of security".

If you need a day lock function, either buy a safe with a true secondary lock designed for this purpose, or have your safe upgraded for this purpose, or simply have the combination lock replaced with a high security key lock, so that you have ease of access, yet the safe is fully locked when the key is removed.
You could also have the mechanical lock replaced with a digital lock which again, will give you full locking capability, plus ease of access.

While you can check with FireKing for your key, if it is an older Gary Safe, chances are they won't be able to help you.   This leaves you with two options, you can have a locksmith from a local safe company, or a safe technician from a local safe company, either fit a key to the lock, or replace the lock plug with a new unit with two keys.

As far as "should you even bother"???   The dial lock is extremely low security.   The plug ONLY locks the dial, and NOT the safe lock or even the safe.   Unless you actually need a dual custody function (requires two people to open the safe), then the lock is a waste.   While it can serve a useful purpose by locking the dial in place WHEN the combination lock is locked correctly - the purpose basically just prohibits someone from dialing combinations to try to open your safe.   Again as this is a VERY LOW level of security, which can easily be bypassed or forced open, it tends to allow the safe owner a false sense of security by thinking that they are "MORE" secure with the dial locked.

Hope I either answered the question, or gave you some food for thought.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: So you are saying that I really need the key to have full 100% protection.
If I get nowhere with the manufacturer or the companies that bought them, how much will a safe tech charge to fit a key or plug in a new unit?


That's not what I indicated at all.   The dial key is a very low level of security, which basically provides "NO" additional overall security - UNLESS you require dual custody.   Dual custody is basically a way to keep honest people honest, by requiring TWO people to open the safe - ONE with the combination, and ONE with the key.   If you do not have a requirement to have two people open the safe every time, then it adds little extra security.

If you only use single user access to open the safe (same person has the combination AND the key), the only thing that locking the dial does (again to keep honest people honest), is to remove the ability to "play with the dial", by spinning it back and forth.   While the chances of someone spinning the dial back and forth, and actually opening the safe are extremely slim, it can happen - hence locking the dial.   

AGAIN, locking the dial provides NO additional overall security, as a dedicated criminal can bypass this lock or force it open relatively easily.   While forcing or breaking this lock will not open the safe, this small lock is NOT designed as a security device against a burglar, it is only a means of keeping honest people honest by removing temptations by locking the dial or requiring dual custody access, so that TWO people are always present when the safe is open.

As far as the cost to have the dial plug replaced and/or a key fitted to it - this WILL depend on where you are at, and what company you call.   While one company may charge $50 an hour, a second company may charge $100 per hour.   Cost for mobile service can also vary depending on where the service company is coming from and/or going to.
In general you would be looking at a minimum of an hour labor, a mobile service fee (trip charge), and material (either a new dial plug with keys, or new keys for your dial plug).    Somewhere in the $100 to $250 range is reasonable.

Hope this helps,

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2013 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

©2016 All rights reserved.