Guide to Picking the Top Rated Padlocks
You want to protect your belongings so you decide to purchase a padlock. Suddenly you are overwhelmed with the wide range of shapes, sizes and designs available. There a so many different materials and the prices range from a few dollars to several hundred. Where do you start?
The most important aspects to consider are the value of the item or items you are protecting, the environment in which it is and the material the padlock will attach to (i.e. A chain, a hasp, etc.).
Given all the options and variations, it can be a difficult choice. Have no fear. We will take you through the various types of locks available, what features to look for, what materials are best and what size you need. After reading this you will have a much better understanding of padlocks and will be able to select the correct padlock for various applications with ease.
Padlocks have a long and interesting history and have evolved and developed over the years. There is now a dizzying array of options and choices. As always, it really pays to do your homework.
Padlocks are used to secure a wide variety of goods and places, from bicycles, motorcycles and boats, to sheds, garages, shops and storage containers. Always remember that the padlock is only one aspect of the security of these settings. One also needs to look at the rest of the security measures in place, be it a chain, a hasp or whatever it is that the padlock attaches to.
The most common methods of compromising a padlock are lock picking, cutting the shackle with bolt-cutters or a hacksaw, drilling into the mechanism or simply smashing with a heavy object.
We will discuss the various materials, options and security options available to you and you will be better informed when making your padlock choices.
ABUS 20/70 KD B
Working long hours mean leaving your home and other belongings vulnerable to thieves. With ABUS 20/70 KD, you can be sure that your important possessions are absolutely protected. The shackles are made from hard durable steel and are double bolted for better protection against attacks and tampering. The shackle guard restricts access while the built in drill protection guards against tools such as drills.
- Great for securing trailers and storage units
- Protected from drilling and requires a power tool to destroy
- Has a highly secure lock mechanism that has been trusted by many for a century
- Not prone to bumping due to the disk detainer cylinders
- Does not rust even when exposed to the elements 24/7
- The lock becomes difficult to turn after a month of use
- The key’s bow is made of thin brittle plastic
- Can be difficult to unlock
Stanley Hardware 828160
Worried about leaving your things in storage while you work? Stop fretting and get a lock that you can trust. Stanley Hardware 828160 is tested security grade 5 by the American Society for Testing and Materials. It has a full shrouded steel body and dual stainless steel ball bearings that resistant to prying. The 6-pin cylinder has anti-pick pins for added security. Thieves won’t be able to drill into the lock, thanks to the patented keyway cover.
- Value for money
- Spool pins help deter picking and bumping
- Locking action is buttery smooth
- The revolving keyway cover resists drilling
- Hardened steel body and alloy steel shackle resists cutting and sawing
- Defective product that can be opened using one hand
- Is difficult to rekey the lock
A good quality lock is a great investment if you are planning to store high- value items in your trailer. Trimax THPXL is a universal fit lock that can be used for your trailer or shed. These hockey puck locks are made of thick solid steel and comes with a 3/8 diameter internal shackle, so it’s resistant to cutting. The design does not include springs that can cause jamming or rusting.
- Made of heavy duty materials
- Easy to install
- Reasonably priced compared to others in the market
- Fits most shed shackles without any adjustment
- Susceptible to rusting
- Does not fit some heavy duty trailer hasps
Mindy Heavy Duty Padlock with Keys
It takes really good quality locks to keep burglars away. Mindy Heavy Duty Padlock is one of the best burglar- proof locks in the market. This padlock is great for securing schools, gym lockers, cases, chain, cabinets, hasps and storages. It looks great with a bright metallic luster and is corrosion resistant. It comes with four keys, so you don’t have to spend extra on duplicates.
- Includes four keys so there is no need to pay for duplicates
- Well made with good quality materials
- Has a thick steel shackle that is difficult to cut through
- Features an original key cylinder design that keeps the lock secure
- Has a nice vintage look
- (All reviews are 5 star)
Cargis TSA Approved Luggage Locks
Travelling for work could be daunting, especially when you are carrying important documents or valuable equipment. Have a worry-free trip when you use Cargis TSA Approved Luggage Locks. The lock is made of high strength zinc alloy and features a dial tumbler that is easy to set in any personal 3-digit combination. A unique lock-open indicator allows you to readily recognize if the lock has been opened by a TSA key during a random security check.
- TSA Certified so the lock won’t get cut off it the luggage is randomly selected for a search
- The lock-open indicator is activated when it is left open by a TSA key
- Setting a personal combination is easy and takes only seconds
- The lock feels solid and heavy duty
- Has a beautiful vibrant finish
- Some units broke open with a little bit of force
- The lock becomes inoperable once opened by the TSA
- The numbers on the lock are difficult to read
- One of the two locks are reported to be defective
- The lock-open indicator fails to pop up when the luggage has been opened by TSA
Keep your important work tools safe and secure with K440. Its solid brass body and internal mechanisms are made for superior security and durability. You can set your own 4-digit combination with 10,000 possible options, so you need not worry about other people guessing your code.
- Sturdy and well-crafted
- Easy to read numbers
- A security feature requires one to scramble the combination before the lock will engage
- Unable to change the combination
- Resetting the numeric combination requires too many steps
- The latch feels poorly secured
ABUS 37RK/80 KD
Securing high- value items and expensive equipment can be an intimidating task. ABUS 37RK/80 KD’s 65 Rockwell hardened lock body and shackle can be trusted to do the job. It has a key-retaining feature that adds security and a hardened steel bottom plate for additional protection from physical attacks.
- One of the strongest locks in the world, high quality and well-made
- Very hard to pick, even for someone with knowledge and tools to pick it
- Guaranteed to last 40 years in a marine environment
- Has a very well protected shackle
- The bottom plate is thick and not easy to compromise
- The shank is too big for most applications
Don’t let your hard work get to the hands of scheming thieves. Stanley’s 24/7 Professional Grade Hardened Steel Security Lock offers the best quality and protection for your valuables. The hardened steel body provides protection from physical attacks, while the removable cylinders let you key alike or rekey.
- Has a durable hardened steel body
- Comes with security features extra security features such as the anti-drill plate and the rotating plate over the key entry
- Can be rekeyed
- Resistant to picking and bumping
- Great for use with bicycle chains
- Can be pulled open using one hand and without using the key
- Rekeying this lock requires drilling a hex screw out and replacing it
The Parts of a padlock:
Before we start learning about what makes a good padlock, let’s first look at what they are typically made up of.
The body is essentially the outside of the padlock that covers the locking mechanism. It is made of different materials and comes in different shapes and sizes which we discuss later. Often the cover will cover as much of the shackle as possible as a security feature.
This is the moving part that closes the padlock around the object it is supposed to lock, like a chain or a hasp. It is often the most vulnerable part of the padlock and if exposed, could be cut with bolt cutters. It is usually made of hardened steel. Remember, not all hardened steel is equal so it is important to check what is used. A hardened alloy or torrent carbide shackles will be the best options. Again, size matters so generally, the thicker the shackle, the stronger it will be. More about shackles later.
The shroud is an extension of the casing or housing of the padlock. This is designed to cover as much of the shackle as possible to prevent exposure to bolt cutters or pry bars. Some shrouds can cover the shackle completely.
The locking mechanism
This keeps the lock closed but not allowing the shackle to move, or open, unless the correct key or combination is used. There are a variety of locking mechanisms that are used.
The key locked padlock is one of the oldest options and still the most common. There are a wide variety of designs and technologies used in this locking method. Here are some of the more common:
One of the earliest locks, the warded lock has obstructions that respond to the notches in a key to open. They do not offer great security and can easily be compromised. They are therefore not used very often any more.
Pin tumbler lock
The pin tumbler lock makes use of a variety of pins of different lengths. When the correct key is inserted and turned, it aligns the pins and opens the lock.
Wafer tumbler lock
Wafer tumbler locks work along the same lines but uses solid wafers as opposed to pins. It is a relatively inexpensive lock to manufacture.
Disk tumbler lock
This works in a similar way but instead of pins, it involves slotted rotating disks. When the slots are aligned with the correct key, the lock will open. The big advantage of this type of mechanism is that it does not rely on springs. This makes it more robust and able to withstand harsh conditions.
Tubular pin tumbler lock/circle pin tumbler lock or radial lock,
This is a variation of the pin tumbler lock where the pins are arranged in a circular pattern, and the key is tubular or cylindrical in shape. These are most commonly used on elevators, computes locks, vending machines and bicycle locks. One of the advantages of this type of lock is that they do not require much depth, making them necessary in a number of applications.
A combination lock can be very convenient as you do not have to carry, or remember to carry keys. It is also handy if multiple people need access to the same lock.
Combination locks are however, one of the easier locks to crack and are often vandalised. Studies have shown that a 3 number combination lock takes roughly 40 minutes to crack, while for numbers takes four to five hours. They are therefore not recommended for securing high value goods.
Over time the wheels and numbers can become worn and are generally not suitable for low light or outdoor environments. Most combination locks allow you to change the combination as often as you wish.
This is a variation of the combination lock discussed above. It makes use of a round dial that requires the correct combination of rotations, corresponding to numbers on the dial, to open the lock.
Push Button lock
Again, another variation of the combination lock. This works with a series of buttons that have to be pushed down in the correct combination in order to open the lock.
A cable lock is simply a high strength cable with an attached lock. The lock itself can use a variety of mechanisms. Cable locks are primarily used for bicycles and laptops.
Electronic locks require no key and work in a number of ways. They can be opened using special disks, magnetic cards, codes, finger prints or retina scans, even cellphones. The finger print readers and retina scans are known as biometric locks and provide a high level of security. Most of the options are quite expensive and used in business and hotels or high security establishments like banks, laboratories and military areas.
When the lock recognises one of the identification methods described above, the bolt is moved to an open position by a powerful electromagnet.
One of the great security features of electronic locks is that they can be monitored remotely and they also have the ability to keep records of entry and exit,
Types of padlocks:
There are a wide variety of padlocks to choose from all with different advantages and disadvantages. Lets look more closely at a few of the available options:
Standard locks come in a solid body, shrouded or laminated design. Shrouded padlocks have an additional casing or shackle cover above the body to protect the shackle against bolt cutters. Laminated locks are generally stronger and are less susceptible to tampering. Any force applied to them is equally distributed over many separate plates and rivets so even if one or two plates break, there are still many others to maintain the strength.
Discus/Round Disk Type
With the disk type padlock, most of the shackle is hidden which makes cutting or prying the lock more difficult. You also get hidden shackle padlocks which hide the shackle completely.
Shutter/Anvil Lock Padlock
Shutter locks, sometimes called Anvil locks, are most often used to lock security shutters on shops and buildings.
One of the most secure padlocks available, these often do not even look like locks at all. They are often used in specially mounted brackets. If you have had padlocks cut in the past, this is the option to go for. They are often used for vehicles containing expensive cargo and sheds or buildings needing high security.
Shack-less padlocks do in fact have a shackle, it is just that it is on the underside and hidden from view. They can be round or rectangular but most often designed to be used with a matching hasp. Due to the enhanced security features, shackle less padlocks have become popular for warehouses and vehicles containing expensive cargo.
Important factors to consider:
Pressed steel is one of the more common materials used to make padlocks. It is typically made from two sides of heavy duty stainless steel that is then welded all round. They offer medium to good all round security.
Brass padlocks are less expensive to manufacture as brass is relatively soft and therefore easier to work with. This makes brass locks less expensive however, this also makes them more vulnerable to tampering, especially from a drill. They do still make good low budget choice if the goods they are to protect is not of huge value.
These are made of a number of this steel plates that are pre-punched and then riveted together to make the casing or body of the padlock. The number of individual steel sheets gives added security as if one or more are compromised, the others will still keep the lock secure. The rivets are often covered but if they are exposed, this can prove to be a weak spot.
Armour Encased Brass
In order to make the above mentioned brass padlocks more secure, they are often encased in a hardened steel cover. This will make them less susceptible to being broken open by drilling or other means and makes them a lot more secure. Obviously this additional security will add to the cost of the padlock.
Solid Steel Alloy
Solid steel alloy locks are stronger than the brass options as the material is harder. This does make the manufacturing process more expensive and therefore the locks sell at a higher price. The result is a much stronger padlock that is more difficult to drill or break. They are also treated externally to prevent rust.
Yes, size does matter. All other things being equal, bigger is better. Again, it is important to consider the environment in which you are using the padlock, as well as the goods or item you wish to secure. You need to look at the application of the lock and where it is going to attach, it needs to be suitable and able to fit. In other words there is no point putting a huge lock on a small item like a suitcase where as if the lock is too small, it might not be able to close around the chain or hasp you need to secure.
Make sure the lock will look right in the environment in which it will be used. If there are other objects around it or it is in a tricky position, you might need a smaller or larger lock accordingly.
Although size is an important factor, it can not be viewed in isolation. It is vital to consider all other features as well. Remember too that ultimately, you will get what you pay for, so a very large lock at a low price is probably not going to offer much security.
As with lock size, the same generally applies to key size, bigger is better (all other things being equal). The number of cuts or teeth on a key indicates the number pins or disks inside the lock. The higher this number is, the more difficult the lock will be to pick and the safer it will be from other forms of attack. At least five to six pins are necessary on a quality lock.
Generally a new padlock comes with two or three keys. There are however times and applications that require more. Lets look at a few keying options available.
Here all keys fit all locks. These are usually sold in sets for situations where such a solution is required.
In this case, each padlock is unique and does not have a duplicate key.
Again, sold in a set, each padlock has a unique key but a single master key is provided that will open all padlocks. This is often used in companies, factories and hotels.
Build quality looks at how well the padlocked has been machined. Quality engineering, using the best materials and made to accurate tolerance, will make a lock more security. This is often quite easy to determine simply by looking at the lock itself, just look closely at all aspects of it.
The key profile, or shape of the key that fits into the lock, is also very important. Simply put, the more elaborate the profile, the more difficult the lock will be to pick and therefore you will have better security. Common profiles like the universal profile, in the classic S shape, have large spaces that could easily be reached by lock picks.
Conversely more complex profiles with a variety of angles and/or straight lines, make lock picking more challenging. As with most security features, complex profile come at a price. The more complex machining required to manufacture complex profile ass to the cost. Locks made with a universal profile are significantly less expensive, for a reason.
Independent third-parties give their approval to padlocks they have tested and meet their requirements. Sold Secure, Home Office, CEN and Kite Mark are a few of these. This gives the assurance that the padlocks have been through, and passed several stringent quality tests.
Remember the “security ratings” used by many manufacturers are not standardized or controlled in any way so consider them with caution. If you are familiar with the make of padlock, it can give a good guide across their various models, but not when you are comparing against different manufacturers.
If the primary use of your padlock will cause it to be exposed to extremes of weather, consider buying one specifically designed for that purpose. These are known as marine-grade padlocks and are often used on boats, boathouses and storage containers near the sea.
In order to make them able to withstand these extreme weather conditions, such locks are made from stainless steel or other non-corrosive metals. While they do not rust easily, the disadvantage is that these materials are not as tough as other options and therefore more easy to cut or break.
It is important to note that no padlock is foolproof or indestructible. It is however important to be aware of the various security features available and decide what is best for your needs. The greater the number of security features normally means a higher priced padlock, so it is important to consider this in relation to the goods you wish to secure. Greater security, while it might not make the lock fool proof, will certainly slow a would be thief down. If there are a few area to consider, for example storage units gates, etc., the criminal will normally choose the one that will offer the least resistance.
For a padlock to be safe and secure it is important that it is difficult to cut, pry, smash or twist, resistant to drills and not easy to pick. Also important is the lacking mechanism the padlock is attached to. If you have a strong padlock attached to a weak hasp or chain, you are simply wasting your time.
As mentioned above, the shackle is one of the most vulnerable parts of the padlock. It is important is securely locked within the body of the padlock and is resistant to cutting.
You get a variety of shackles and shackle options, depending on your needs:
Open Shackle. This is the most practical and easiest to use. It is especially useful where space is an issue as in the case of securing chains together. As the shackle is completely exposed, this type of padlock will be more vulnerable.
Close Shackle. Close shackle padlocks offer better security as they have built in shoulders that protect the shackle. This may sometimes get tin the way and make it difficult to lock, making them slightly less practical for some applications.
Semi Enclosed Shackle. This is a compromise between the two options above, giving greater security while still being practical.
There will be time where a long shackle is necessary if it to pass through multiple fittings and this is the reason padlocks are available with extended shackles. Remember, however, that this will pose a risk as more shackle is exposed making it vulnerable to cutting.
Shackle material and diameter
As with the padlocks themselves, shackle material and size is vitally important. A diameter of 7 to 9 mm is generally suitable for medium security while 10mm upwards is high security.
In terms of material, the same truths as the locks themselves apply. A cheap shackle of brass or nickel plated mild steel will offer very little resistance and can be cut or broken with ease.
For better security, consider some of the following options:
Hardened Steel shackles are the most common on quality general purpose locks. The mild steel is heat treated to improve strength and make it less vulnerable to cutting or breaking.
Hardened Alloy Steel shackles are exposed to multiple heat treatments, giving them even greater strength.
Stainless Steel shackles are generally designed for outdoor use.
In the past, shackles have always been round in shape. A new development of the hexagonal shackle which has proved to be stronger and more resistant to cutting.
The shroud is metal that covers the shackle as much as possible, some times completely, in order to protect it from attack from hacksaws, pry bars or other means. This will deter would be thieves as it will be much more difficult and time consuming to attack a lock with a decent shroud.
The core, or cylinder, is the part of the lock into which the key is inserted. This is the area vulnerable to lock picking. You need to look at whether it has pins or not, how many pins and what material are the pins made of. Some padlocks have a removable or interchangeable core. This is done by using a control key which will remove the core without disassembling the padlock.
Other security features of the core include side bars, counter milling and active elements. Some padlocks have a core that is rekeyable whereby the cylinder can be removed and replaced. This will save a great amount of time and money if keys are lost or compromised in any way.
Some padlocks feature a non-removable key which is used to prevent people from accidentally leaving a lock in the open position.
Anti Drill Plate:
An anti drill plate is an additional plate of strong metal that protects the lock form people attempting to drill into it. Not only is the drill plate made of stronger material but often it is designed to spin independently from the lock. In this way, the plate only will spin as the drill bit revolves, thereby protecting the rest of the padlock.
Number of pins:
Very simple or early locks, use only one pin. Quite obviously this is not very secure at all. A decent quality lock should have four to six pins.
Ensure there are a large number of key variations for the brand you decide on otherwise it will be easy for someone to have a key or copy the key.
With some padlocks, additional keys can only be obtained from the manufacturer and only if you have proved you are authorised to have that key. The advantages of this is that if keys are lost or out of sight, you know they can not be copied.
Padlocks require little to no maintenance, however it is a good idea to keep them clean and give them lubrication occasionally. It is best to use a recommended “dry”graphite powder for lubrication. This is available at security stores or locksmiths. You do not want to use a normal oil as it will leave a sticky residue on the lock and attract dirt.
Well there you have it folks. Who knew there was so much to know about the humble padlock. Now that you are armed with this knowledge, you will be in a much better position to make an informed and safe padlock choice, suitable to your needs and budget.