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Big Red CDL-3

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MartinHewitt

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Post Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Big Red CDL-3

On Friday my Big Red arrived. I think it is a great lock for learning manipulation. It is a real quality safe lock for a good price and at least mine is very sweet-natured. I had it open free spinning in 25 minutes.
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jharveee

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Post Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Fun to manipulate. Seems they have a strong lever spring which provides solid contact points. Speaking about the 2 Big Reds I've had my hands on. Haven't tried 2m version yet.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Mon Mar 30, 2020 9:48 am

Re: Big Red CDL-3

The LCP if is lock is also very helpful. An LCP-only opening would not be difficult, which is very unusual.
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mk5734

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Post Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:12 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

I have a Big Red CDL-3 mounted cutaway I purchased a few months back from MBA USA. The lock feels very solid to me; much more so than an S&G 6730. However, the only drawback I find with this lock is that the tension is just too high. It's very much tighter than the 6730. When turning all 3 wheels, it's difficult to have it land on the right number as the dial becomes jerky and jumpy as you try to turn it smoothly. It's not like it can't be turned or like a tight bolt I'm trying to unscrew. It's just much more tension than is comfortable. Do any of you observe this with your CDL-3?
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:56 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Mine is also quite stiff. Not so stiff, that it makes problems dialing the number, but I really like it smoother.
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madsamurai

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Post Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:26 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

mk5734 wrote:I have a Big Red CDL-3 mounted cutaway I purchased a few months back from MBA USA. The lock feels very solid to me; much more so than an S&G 6730. However, the only drawback I find with this lock is that the tension is just too high. It's very much tighter than the 6730. When turning all 3 wheels, it's difficult to have it land on the right number as the dial becomes jerky and jumpy as you try to turn it smoothly. It's not like it can't be turned or like a tight bolt I'm trying to unscrew. It's just much more tension than is comfortable. Do any of you observe this with your CDL-3?

Could it simply be mounted too tightly? I imagine they probably don't spend a whole lot of time tweaking those when they mount those at the factory...
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Anarchy_won

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Post Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:15 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

I have installed 6 of these locks and all of them turn very smooth, I found that it was easy to over tighten the Dial when installing.
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mk5734

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Post Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:00 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

madsamurai wrote:
mk5734 wrote:I have a Big Red CDL-3 mounted cutaway I purchased a few months back from MBA USA. The lock feels very solid to me; much more so than an S&G 6730. However, the only drawback I find with this lock is that the tension is just too high. It's very much tighter than the 6730. When turning all 3 wheels, it's difficult to have it land on the right number as the dial becomes jerky and jumpy as you try to turn it smoothly. It's not like it can't be turned or like a tight bolt I'm trying to unscrew. It's just much more tension than is comfortable. Do any of you observe this with your CDL-3?

Could it simply be mounted too tightly? I imagine they probably don't spend a whole lot of time tweaking those when they mount those at the factory...


Nope. I backed out the dial really far, put in the spline key just to hand tension and it was still terribly tight.

So, I got a new CDL-3 which is MUCH smoother. Very nice lock. The new one's tension when turning the entire wheel-pack is almost exactly the same as the old one with just W3 turning.

Now that I see that the Big Red safe locks can be not as tight, I ordered the CDL-4, but with an S&G D300 and R211. You can't beat the quality of S&G dials.
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madsamurai

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 2:28 am

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Just got a CDL-3, not as impressed with the overall quality as I hoped... especially the dial. It looks so much like the LaGard dial in pictures that I thought maybe they were the same, just branded differently, but that is not the case. It touches the uneven plastic rim insert in the dial ring and scrapes as it turns, which is annoying, and is going to take a good amount of sanding to get rid of. The lock and the dial both look pretty cheap... will have it mounted tomorrow and we'll see how it functions. I'll wait to get a CDL-4 when they go on sale...

LaGard dials are my personal favorite (of what I've seen) aside from the plastic ring that came with the black & white one I purchased. I like their cleaner numbers and lines. The S&G dials are built well, but the way they paint them makes them look a little sloppy to me.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 11:18 am

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Konnichiwa, Samurai-san! What do you not like at the lock ithself?
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mk5734

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 1:49 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

madsamurai wrote:Just got a CDL-3, not as impressed with the overall quality as I hoped... especially the dial. It looks so much like the LaGard dial in pictures that I thought maybe they were the same, just branded differently, but that is not the case. It touches the uneven plastic rim insert in the dial ring and scrapes as it turns, which is annoying, and is going to take a good amount of sanding to get rid of. The lock and the dial both look pretty cheap... will have it mounted tomorrow and we'll see how it functions. I'll wait to get a CDL-4 when they go on sale...

LaGard dials are my personal favorite (of what I've seen) aside from the plastic ring that came with the black & white one I purchased. I like their cleaner numbers and lines. The S&G dials are built well, but the way they paint them makes them look a little sloppy to me.


I can agree with you about the dial, a bit. I'm not a fan of their dials. (I only ever tried one type.) However, if the lock isn't tight, then it's truly a superb lock.

So, here's an update. I got my new CDL-4 (Big Red 4-wheel Group 2). As soon as I hand inserted the spline key to quickly try it out, I was disappointed because it wasn't just tight like the first CDL-3 I had, it was WAY tighter. :-( Rather than asking MBA to replace it, I decided to call Big Red Safe Locks and I wound up speaking with the man himself, Michael Walsh. As soon as I told him it was tight, he understood and told me that he'd replace the lock, which he did. He said that there had been a customer who wanted very tight locks, but the factory made too many and shipped them out to other customers. The second lock I received was as perfect as, I believe, one could hope for a group 2 lock to be. (The only exception is that, like most locks, there's an offset to dial if you were to dial the combination starting from the opposite direction. The S&G 6730 and some cheap, nameless Chinese lock I have can be dialed in either direction.) With the S&G dial I put on it, it's just smooooooth. It's probably my favorite lock.

For me, the jury was out for quite sometime about the quality of the Big Red locks until I got that replacement CDL-4. madsamurai, after you install the CDL-3, push on the bolt when it's completely locked up and then do the same to a 6730.
You'll begin to notice quality differences. The CDL-3 is rock solid and doesn't give at all, whereas the 6730 does. Now, I don't necessarily think that in of itself is a measure of quality, but you begin feeling and noticing things about it that are much more solid about that lock.

madsamurai, please do let us know how you like it after it's mounted. I hope you enjoy it!
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madsamurai

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 3:53 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

MartinHewitt wrote:Konnichiwa, Samurai-san! What do you not like at the lock ithself?

Well, I'm holding off judgment until I get it all mounted... I'm working on the plastic insert in the dial ring, trying to glue it down flat so it doesn't rub the dial and it's taking a little time. I think this should fix the rubbing, tho, and hopefully I can give it a spin in an hour or so...

The lock itself feels very solid, as mk5734 said... the bolt doesn't wiggle at all, the wheels have very little lateral movement, the clearance holes for the mounting screws are perfect; it feels very well made... it just looks cheap to me... I think maybe it's the shiny nickel plating on the body, which accentuates all of the surface flaws and edges.
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mk5734

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 4:06 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Hmmmm....maybe you have a problem with your ring. I have two dials with that rubber gasket-like insert near the perimeter of the ring but I don't have that rubbing issue. LaGard has that as well, that's why I like the S&G dials since it's just metal on metal which is much smoother.
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madsamurai

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 9:13 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

well, I think normally it doesn't matter... the dial typically doesn't touch that outer ring so plastic or metal doesn't make much difference. In this case that plastic ring was warped some... dunno if that's typical of their rings or if this one is just bad. I put some superglue in it and clamped it so it's all flat now, and it turns much better. Still not super-smooth, but it's not making scraping noises so it'll do.

Something I noticed with this lock that I'm curious if it's just mine or if yours also do this... there seems to be a sort of 'hump' in the turning resistance just between the two contact points, in the lock itself... I can't see anything in there that would make that happen, and I don't think it's the dial, but would be a good design feature to make manipulation a little harder. Do you guys see that in yours?
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MartinHewitt

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Post Mon May 18, 2020 10:13 pm

Re: Big Red CDL-3

Don't remember a hump.
In case you wonder ... Martin Hewitt is a fictional detective in stories by Arthur Morrison:
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