A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
When we talk about the most trusted door lock brands we are not talking about the brands that you should trust. These are the brands that people have already trusted. In this article, we will explore whether the public has placed their trust in the hands of the right companies, or if they are being deceived. All of these companies have different lock models with different capabilities. Each lock is going to have different strengths and weaknesses which may not always line up with the brand’s overall track record.
I will, as always, try to stay as objective as possible and accurately represent the facts. What I will not do, is shield the public from the potential vulnerabilities they open themselves up to by using some of these locks. Because my goal is to increase awareness of security, it may seem like I am focusing on the negatives. Please know that this is done in the best interest of the public. It is important to look at these products from a non-sales perspective, and that may come off as overly negative. In trying to balance the scales the weight you place often tips them, but the show must go on. Please enjoy!
Even if you do not know Kwikset by name, you have almost certainly used their product. In the United States, this company’s locks seem to be on every home’s door. The standard Kwikset is pretty much the cheapest name brand lock you can purchase, and in security, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, that is bad news for the frugal buyer. Your standard Kwikset lock is going to be very easy to pick and bump open. If you are hoping to make up for the standard model’s lack of security by purchasing the more expensive “SmartKey” cylinder, I would advise you to save your money. Though SmartKey cylinders put up a bit of a fight for anyone trying to pick or bump the lock, there are easier ways to get in. And if you are looking at the Kwikset Kevo, be aware that this lock is just as vulnerable as any other that uses the SmartKey system.
If you go into most any home improvement store to buy a lock, you will have access to Schlage locks. They are slightly more expensive than Kwikset, but provide a sturdier physical construction and are harder to pick and bump. The company has a variety of models, but their cheapest is significantly better than the cheapest Kwikset. Cylinders like the Primus and Everest tout a very impressive narrative of anti-bump and pick resistance, but they are pickable and bumpable. The locks that Schlage makes are by far the best low-cost option out there. Much like Kwikset, the amount of people that use this lock is where we see the trust in the brand.
If you are at most home improvement stores, you will probably be able to find a Baldwin door lock. They are the most widely available decent quality lock. Not the best and not the worst. Still, though, people trust this brand immensely. It is a strong lock, with solid construction. Just by holding one you can feel the difference in weight between it and a cheaper lock. The heavier the lock, the more metal was used to make it. The more metal the lock has, the more fight it will put up against certain types of forced entry. Because each of the holes cut in your door create weak points, an easy enough answer is to fill the hole with metal. The lock cylinder itself can be bumped, and it can also be picked easily enough.
When it comes to the reputation of Yale, it would be hard for anyone to say they don’t trust them. The largest reason that you can’t take a shot at Yale is that they are widely considered to be the creators of the modern day pin tumbler lock. That means that all the technically better brands are standing on the shoulders of these giants. No matter if you are using a Kwikset or a Medeco, they all owe their design to the work of Linus Yale, Jr. and Henry R. Towne. This is to say, if you trust the locks you are using on your door, or would trust any brand on this list, you are also trusting the work of Yale. Yale locks themselves are well constructed and often come with two or so spool pins. These locks have become more popular on in the UK in recent years, and eventually, Yale became the colloquial term for household keys and lock, similar to the way that facial tissue is referred to in the States as Kleenex. When a name brand becomes the shorthand for the entire range of products, you can be sure people trust it.
This company is a mixture of some very popular lock brands. First off we have the Corbin company, which began in the late 1840’s making ox balls or horn knobs (a term I do not recommend Googling), which cover the sharp points of ox horns. This company would later move on to make locks. These locks were mainly padlocks and cabinet locks. Russwin then merged with Corbin and became known as American Hardware, until they were acquired and renamed Corbin Russwin. The locks have become very popular for the door locks in schools and other high traffic institutions. I would say that the locks used to guard the future of humanity (ie. children) are some very trusted products. The locks are easy to service and replace, so convenience is at the root of this trust. As far as picking resistance goes, they give many people a mountain of trouble even without security pins. The locks get easier to pick as they age, which is another reason that serving and replacement is so important. These locks are not ideal for every situation, but they do a good job of guarding the doors they are on.
This brand has done a very good job of getting their name out there. Mul-T-Lock is easily recognizable as the company with the key that is morphing into a strong man. Many people trust the strength they perceive from the silhouette’s bicep flex. Their reputation proceeds them. The locks themselves are very secure. Often keys are integrated with an active element that takes a bit more knowledge and experience to pick. They are of course pickable, but they present a challenge. Good cores and solid construction will only get you so far. If you are purchasing a euro profile cylinder from this company, know that you should not install a thumbturn. With a thumbturn on this type of cylinder, the core can be easily bypassed. Even with all of that said, it is a great brand with a trusted reputation.
This is one of the few companies that is trusted to make prison locks for the United States. The locks they make are responsible for keeping the most dangerous people securely stored away. When you want a door to keep the wrong people from opening it, RR Brink is the most trusted brand. The type of people that trust this lock forces the general public to have trust the company. Their prison lock is a massive mortise cylinder that could have almost 2 normal sized keys fit in the keyway. But is it secure? The answer is a bit nuanced. Yes, it can be picked, but it is not easy. It is difficult to say if a prison environment would give prisoners access to the time and resources to pick this lock. I would guess that it is possible, but there are easier ways to defeat prison security. Overall it is a very secure lock. People with lots of skill, or lots of luck, are going to defeat any security. Fortunately, we do not live in a Hollywood movie, and most criminals (especially the ones that get caught) don’t know how to pick locks. If the locks are master keyed, they will be easier to defeat, but for these institutions, the added risk is limited due to key control.
Often thought of as the best lock, Medeco rests on the highest pedestal the public offers lock brands. People often ask me about Medeco locks and expect me to say that they are the best. People definitely trust this brand. Is it all hype? It is a bit of a mixed bag. People like to claim that Medeco’s are unpickable, but that is really untrue. I would say that most people would not be able to pick them, and those that could, probably have the skills not to be a burglar. The largest issue with Medeco is that they keep updating their design in order to maintain patents. With each update, the locks became a little less secure, until 2011 where the largest issues were addressed. The methods of picking these locks, even with the old security vulnerabilities, is still not easy. It is a strong lock, but the trust people place in the brand is a little too grand. Temper your expectations a bit, and your trust should be on point. This is by no means a bad lock, it is simply not as perfect as the general public believes it to be. To get the best version, get newer models made after 2011.
Evva is not necessarily a brand that most people know, but it is still unbelievably trusted. The main reason for this trust is the MCS model. This lock is a very complicated magnetic key system that has still not been picked. Though in my time in the community people have made some very bold claims about their experience with this particular model, I have still yet to see any conclusive evidence of realistic and successful attacks. Needless to say, even if it does get picked, bypassed, bumped, etc. it will still be a very difficult lock to open. Other than their most effective product, they deliver all around quality door security. Their use of magnetic pins within the keyway makes them a very unique brand. Within the lock picking community, and the locksmith community, there is a lot of trust in this brand. When the experts trust something, that is a sign of quality. This is not just a company that is trusted, it is a company that makes strong security.
Let me ask you, do you trust Medeco, Abloy, ASSA, Corbin Russwin, Mult-T-Lock, or Yale? Any of them? If you do, then chances are the company you have to thank is ASSA-Abloy. This company owns and manufactures the locks of these brands, all of which have made it onto the list of most trusted lock brands. Really it is just one company who is responsible for all of these successes. Beyond the names they own on this list, other brands they own include: Arrow Lock and Door Hardware, Chubb, Sargent, Emtek, Union, IKON, ENOX, VingCard, HID, Pemco, Fargo Electronics, Traka, FAB, Ameristar, Crawford, Elsafe, Besam, Rixson, Adams Rite, and Lockwood. They have their hand in all kinds of different security pies, but their door lock brands are extremely popular. Popularity equates to trust in the security world. By owning all of these companies, ASSA-Abloy can pretty much build your security to any level you want. They have the distinction of being the most trusted lock brand, because of the real estate their products take up on this list. Without ASSA-Abloy, people would not have as many lock brands to choose from or trust.
What you use to secure your door should not be based on the brands that people trust the most. Security is not a popularity contest. Make sure that you choose the brand that fits your needs. As we have seen, almost half of the most trusted brands are manufactured by one company. For the best security, I would suggest completing a risk assessment for the property. By knowing the types of vulnerabilities to your home, you may find that locks are not even the investment that you should concern yourself with. A good door lock will always help with security, but it may be more practical to strengthen windows or use monitored security cameras. I believe the thing that we have learned from this article is that trust does not always represent quality. In speech, we refer to this as “argumentum ad populum”, which means to appeal to the people. More specifically it is a logical fallacy that argues that what is popular is right because how could so many people be wrong? Don’t be a lemming. Turn away from the cliff, and get better security.