Every year around this time, our friends at Sparrow Lockpicks (previously) come out with a incredibly clever, giftable addition to your locksport arsenal; I always buy a few of these for Christmas gifts (often for younger people on my list) and they're universally well received.
This year, Sparrow's seasonal offering is the Challenge Vault, a safecracking practice box that is both a gorgeous artifact in its own right and a superb mechanical puzzle that can be made progressively harder by adding wheels that you access by opening the safe, which arrives set to the easiest setting.
The box is also useful as a safe! That is, to the extent that any safe is useful — and as with all locksport items, this doesn't just confer a better, deeper understanding of the mechanical principles behind locks (nor merely an improvement in fine motor skills and spatial reasoning): it also armors your intuition about whether the security measures you take in your own life are worthwhile, and thus whether the companies that make them are honest about the efficacy of their products.
I played with a Challenge Vault prototype at the Atlseccon conference in Halifax last spring, and my thoughts have returned to it often since. It's a fiendishly clever little gadget, well-made and well thought-through, and I know I'll be buying some for the future lockpickers in my life this year.
This is more than a puzzle box … this is safe cracking.
Get ready to learn a new skill with this challenge. The Vault is a professional three wheel lock and safe dial that is mounted onto a desk top presentation case. Spin the dial, listen and feel the clicks of the wheels as you manipulate the Vault open. Once completed for the first time the vault will open to reveal a collection of tools and parts that will allow you to alter the safe into a progressively harder challenge. It also includes a special key for changeing the combination. The Vault is much more than a onetime puzzle.
SPARROWS Challenge Vault [Sparrows Lockpicks]