What Are High Security Locks?

I have discussed high security keys and locks in the past, but what makes a lock and key high security? A lot of manufacturers consider at least some of the locks they manufacture high security. So how do you know that you are getting what you pay for? Because you will pay far more for one of these locks than a regular lock that you can buy at your local big box store.

Here are some of the things to look for in a high security lock:

  • The locks and keys will be precision made, usually with a CNC machine rather than die casting
  • They are usually made out of brass or steel
  • If brass, they will have hardened steel pins embedded into the lock face for drill protection
  • The keyway and key should be protected with U.S. and foreign patents
  • The key blanks should be restricted to Service Centers and Locksmiths that are under contract to the manufacturer for the purpose of key control

The above list is not all inclusive but meant to provide the major points. There are a few items that I will explain further in an effort to give definition to some of the words used above that may not be familiar to all.

Keyway: In the simplest form, a keyway is a design on a key such as key cuts, spacing and angles and the matching design that is manufactured into the lock cylinder. Some manufacturers use a combination of cuts, spacing and angles along with grooves cut into one or both sides of the key. These side grooves will match the grooves in the lock. When applying for a patent these are the items that are usually patented.

Key Control: This is the ability to control not only the key blanks but also the cut keys. To demonstrate this let’s assume that the manufacturer sends 10 key blanks to one of their Service Centers. That service center cuts 10 key blanks to a secure code for one of their customers. That customer receives the 10 cut keys and records to whom they give them to. Throughout this process the keys can be accounted for all the way to the end user.

All of this comes at a price that will be at least 50% higher than a standard lock used for the same purpose. This goes back to that same question; what are you trying to protect and how much is that worth to you.

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