How to Open a Safe With the Combination

Safe dials work just like a combination pad lock.
Safe dials work just like a combination pad lock. (Image: combination lock image by jimcox40 from

Personal safes help protect valuables from disasters and unwanted intruders. Most safes are constructed from heavy steel and can be opened in a variety of ways. One way to open a safe is with a combination dial. The dial moves tumblers inside the locking mechanism to align them in the correct pattern to open the safe. Dials on safes can have a “slip” of one or two numbers depending on how the lock was made. The slip means that the numbers may not have to match exactly and can make the process of opening easier than being exact each time.

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Three digit combinations

Reset the lock by turning the dial counterclockwise three times.

On the third rotation, stop on the first number.

Turn the dial clockwise past the second number in the combination.

Stop on the second number on the second rotation.

Turn the dial counterclockwise and stop on the third number right away. Do not pass the third number.

Open the safe door. Turn the handle or use the key, whichever is required for your specific safe model.

Four digit combinations

Starting from zero, turn the dial counterclockwise and pass the first number three times. Stop on the first number on the fourth turn.

Turn the dial clockwise to pass the second number two times, landing on the second number of the combination on the third pass.

Turn the dial counterclockwise and pass the third number of the combination once and stop on the number the second time.

Turn the dial clockwise and stop on the last number without passing the forth number in the combination.

Pull the handle and tug on the door to open.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the combination is done incorrectly, just start over by resetting the lock, as in Step 1.


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