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High-Security Locks Explained

We do locks for a living. As a matter of fact, we’re obsessed with locks. However, most people aren’t. And when you aren’t obsessed with locks, it’s easy to buy the first lock you see and trust that it will protect what you need it to protect. We are here to tell you that not all locks are created equal and provide you with the information and guidance you need to choose a lock that can adequately protect your loved ones and belongings.

The Everyday Lock

Ordinary everyday locks are very limited when it comes to how much protection they are able to offer. Although they aren’t advertised that way (who would buy them?), regular, everyday locks are essentially low-security locks. In order to fully understand the difference between everyday locks and high-security locks, you must first understand how burglars get past a locked door in the first place. There are three primary routes to take:

  • Picking
  • Bumping
  • Drilling


Picking a lock refers to using a lock-picking set to align the pins within the cylinder and unlock the device. Lock picking takes about 5 minutes on average and usually leaves no evidence behind aside from missing items.


When a burglar bumps your lock, they insert a key that’s been modified for this purpose and tap the lock, causing the pin tumblers to align and the lock to unlock. Like picking, bumping leaves no evidence aside from missing items or entrance.


Using a standard drill that can be purchased at any Home Improvement store, burglars can drill through the cylinder of your lock, effectively securing entry.

There are many other ways to get past a locked door; this list is not meant to be exhaustive but instead describe to you the three most common ways that burglars and criminals secure entry. Many locks are specifically designed to prevent entry even by the most seasoned criminals. You’ll hear them referred to as high-security locks or bump, pick, or drill resistant locks.

High-Security Locks Explained

There are a wide variety of measures manufacturers make to create a high-security lock that’s capable of maintaining security in spite of an attempted break-in:

  • They have a complicated pin system that includes diagonal or horizontal access to make it more difficult to pick or bump the lock.
  • They have features that significantly increase the amount of time or noise it would take to get back the lock, making it intimidating for burglars and increasing their risk of being caught red-handed, so to speak.
  • They prevent duplication of keys by registering them to you and ensuring nobody else is able to make a copy without your permission. Please note that keys marked, “do not duplicate” can be easily duplicated in the machines at your local department store or by covering the lettering. Only registered, protected keys effectively prevent duplication.
  • They may be equipped with reinforcement such as rods and plates that are placed strategically within the cylinder to make a drill attack impossible.
  • They come with reinforced plates that are designed to prevent the door frame from being kicked in, because the lock strength isn’t important if the frame can be easily kicked in.

How to Find True High-Security Locks

Please note that although the locks you see at your local home improvement center, department store, or hardware store may be labeled high-security, true high-security locks usually aren’t sold in these places. High-security is indicated by a UL 437 rating from the Underwriters Laboratory. Most locks with this rating are only available from a locksmith or lockshop. Additionally, locks are generally rated Grade 1, 2, or 3 depending on the number of the times the lock can be locked and unlocked without wearing down, the projection of the deadbolt, and the impact it can withstand.

At Great Valley Lockshop, we stock several high-security locks and are passionate about helping our clients choose the right one to protect what they love most. Call us today at (610) 644-5334 or request a free quote online to explore your options.

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