Identilock: Gear Review + Video
The new fingerprint-reading gun lock represents a shift in design, but does it allow for a pistol to be unlocked quickly and reliably enough?
Our lives today revolve around high-level technology like never before, so it’s no surprise that tech, and its many applications, are increasingly becoming a part of the firearms world. Among the newest entrant into the gun-tech arena is, Identilock, a battery-operated gun locking system that employs fingerprint-identification technology to stop unauthorized people from using your pistol, much like how a smartphone can be unlocked using a fingerprint.
Identilock is available in five different models and fits a variety of pistols, including most Glocks, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield, and a selection of 1911’s.
I recently received the Identilock GLK-A1 unit for testing and evaluation and used it on a Glock 27 chambered in .40 S&W. After a good deal of practice with the unit—at home with the pistol unloaded and at the range doing live-fire exercises—I rate it as an efficient choice to secure a pistol from children and other unauthorized users.
However—and despite what the video from Identilock at the bottom of this story suggests—the product isn’t what I’d select if I needed to grab up my handgun and use it fast. The technology itself, combined with a design that’s less that 100-percent ergonomic, will have you fumbling to access your handgun in a “Need It Now!” situation.
Once I received my Identilock unit, I did the non-guy thing and actually read the six-page instructional brochure cover-to-cover. Twice. Then, using the included USB cable, I plugged the unit into a cell phone charger. Approximately four hours later, the battery status indicator went from red to the “full charge” green light. The video below from the company says a charge will last six months, but the instructions recommend you charge the unit every three months, which makes sense. A charge indicator on the side of the unit lets you know what the battery’s status is at all times.
If the battery, or the fingerprint scanner for that matter, should die or become disabled, the unit can still be opened with the included key if necessary.
Identilock reads your fingerprint and compares it to logged fingerprint IDs. If the print matches, the Identilock unlocks.
A small fingerprint scanner is located about midway down the right side of the unit. To add your print to the Identilock, you insert the enclosed metal key into the lock located at the bottom of the unit, and turn the key clockwise. Next, close the open Identilock around the trigger guard of your unloaded pistol until it clicks securely into place.
Video: Identilock Range Test
Now, press the “Enroll” (+) button and then lay the pad of your finger against the scanner screen eight times to create a finger print profile.
Then, place your finger against the screen at various angles, starting with a full center press of the print, then angle the print to expose the sides to the scanner. Each time you do this, the Identilock Profile Light blinks green for successful scans, and red for scans that don’t quite register and need to be redone. See, just like a smartphone.
In all, the Identilock can hold up to three fingerprint profiles, so multiple users can access the same pistol, if needed.
Once the fingerprint profile has been accepted, that user can open the Identilock by firmly pressing their index finger onto the scanner screen.
Sometimes, my unit fairly popped open, while other times it made a “Click” sound and came apart. Either way, you still need to use your support hand to remove the Identilock from the trigger guard.
You can follow rules and procedures to a T and still be a rotten range neighbor. No worries, we’re here to help.
I created fingerprint profiles of my index and middle fingers on my right hand. Both profiles were easily made, and both prints opened the Identilock reliably once they were programmed. Then, I asked two other people try to open it the unit. No go. The scanner didn’t recognize these prints and the lock would not budge.
The Identilock, however, is not a theft prevention unit. I suspect someone could use a stout screwdriver to pop it open, though doing so would likely damage the pistol. And if your finger pad is dirty, wet or oily, the Identilock won’t recognize your print. If you’ve ever tried to unlock a smartphone with a dirty scanner or a dirty finger, you get it.
At the range, I tested the Identilock going from a locked position, to opening the unit and removing it from the pistol, and then firing an actual shot. In all, I took over 70 shots in this manner.
As you can see in the video above, I used a pistol lane at my local range for the testing.The Glock 27 with the Indentilock installed was laid on its left side, fingerprint scanner up, on table that was about three feet high. I loaded the Glock magazine with five rounds of Remington UMC .40 S&W range ammunition, and chambered a round.
So, how fast could I pick up my Identilock-equipped Glock, remove the locking unit, and fire a round?
If everything worked out just right, it took about 2.5 seconds. But that required exactly the right placement of index finger on the scanner pad, the Identilock popping open immediately (which it didn’t always do), and my support hand cleanly removing the unit from the trigger guard.
I’d say, all those elements came together about half the time. The other half?
My index finger didn’t hit the scanner exactly right. I pressed my finger down, shifted, pressed, adjusted my finger, pressed again. While doing all this, I was also raising the Glock into the firing position, while my support hand was on the Identilock, ready to pull the unit from the pistol.
When that happened, it took five to seven seconds to get off a shot (see video). The Identilock website has a looped video showing a guy picking up the pistol one handed (the Identilock instructions clearly state you need to use two hands), and the Identilock falling away as the guy raises up the pistol. You can see the same procedure depicted in the video below.
He fires off a shot in under two seconds. I couldn’t make that happen, in part for the reasons cited above, but also because the scanner screen is positioned too low and far away for my index finger to reach it easily.
I’d have no problem using the Identilock to secure a handgun away from unauthorized users. But if I was keeping a gun for a self-defense situation, on my night stand, for example—I wouldn’t have an Identilock on that pistol. Considering it would be dark, a high-pressure situation, and I’d be coming awake suddenly—in that scenario, I don’t think I could get the unit off my pistol soon enough to provide reasonable protection.
All in all, if you’d like a high-tech lock that will secure your handgun from those who should not be using your pistol? Identilock will do the job just fine. The price is $239, and can be purchased from the Identilock website.