Locksmithing/LaGard 3330 issue


I have custom safe (Hall's in Auburn CA) with a LaGard 3330 which is 12 years old and am having problems opening it lately. I dial carefully, and it still won't open...then I "over-dial" the digits by 1 number, and it opens. I don't know if it makes a difference, but as I got more comfortable with doing the combination, I would zip through the sequence very fast - actually "spinning" the dial...then I re-read the instructions and saw that I shouldn't have been doing that. I'd guess I've opened the safe an average of once or twice per day over the years. My question is whether I worn-out or damaged the lock mechanism, or if it might just need some sort of service.

Aside from that, how do the "Big Red" brand of safe locks compare to LaGard and S&G?

Thanks much!



mechanical locks - ALL mechanical locks require maintenance - the more you use them the more regular you have to have maintenance.   Just like watches require resetting occasionally to keep their time accurate, locks require maintenance, cleaning and resetting to maintain their reliability and accuracy.

Bottom line, you are going to pay the same price for service and a trip charge to have a new lock installed on the safe as you are to have your lock serviced (not including the cost of the new lock).


1.  Have your lock cleaned, serviced and reset by a trained safe technician.   If problems are found, THEN have a new lock installed.   If no problems are found, then you are good to go!

2.  if you are going to replace the lock anyway, why not upgrade to a digital lock???

While mechanical locks are more reliable in the long run, there are some really good digital locks available, with very few problems, also some of them are easy enough for you to install yourself.

lastly, quality - Overall, S&G has had some of the best, most reliable mechanical locks on the planet for over 70 years.   This is one of the reason that so many aftermarket locks "copy" them.  The "Big Red" and LaGard locks are examples of this, though they have made enough "MINOR" changes to avoid any Patent infringement lawsuits.  As the quality of the S&G locks has diminished over the past decade - currently I would rate them about even, though LaGard no longer makes the 3330 series lock.   The current version is the 3370, which is not as good as the 3330 was.

Like anything - even the lock manufacturers have been affected by the economy, and a second factor, as people are squeezing their dollars they are substituting cheap for quality.   This means that in order to sell product, the lock manufacturers have had to cheapen the quality of their locks as well.

Note:   I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work, so if you elect to have your lock serviced and reset, contact a SAFE company and NOT a locksmith.

Hope this helps,  


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900'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.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

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 - 2015 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert 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 and Western Nevada)

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