A lock is the last line of defense to protect unattended valuables, so it should be taken seriously. It's easy to believe the saying that “locks keep honest people honest” by creating a high barrier of entry and discouraging opportunistic criminals. While there's truth to that statement, the physical security of the lock you buy does matter.

When your key looks like this, it's a safe bet nobody is going to be picking your lock with a paperclip.

Not all locks are created equal — there's a reason Fort Knox isn't securing its gold with $10 locks from Walmart. We've previously addressed this subject when we showed that a MasterLock padlock can be opened by simply tapping it with a hard object. This goes to show that buying quality locks is important, since it can mean the difference between a skilled criminal bypassing it in seconds or risking capture as he struggles with its complex mechanism.

Lock security lockpicking BosnianBill padlock key 1

Even inexpensive locks can be secure, if you know what features to look for.

YouTube lock expert BosnianBill summarizes how to choose a high-security lock in the video below. Here are some of the key factors he recommends considering:

  • Number of pins — a 7-pin lock is much harder to pick than a 4-pin lock.
  • Pin style — Serrated or dimple pins can throw off criminals who are unfamiliar with these less common mechanisms.
  • Body — Solid steel is preferable to the stacked-washer style or brass bodies used on cheaper locks.
  • Shackle — Thick shackle, preferably with rounded ball bearing detent and shielding around the base.
  • Replaceable cores — If one of your keys is lost or stolen, you can easily swap the lock core for a different key without replacing the entire lock.
  • Uncommon features — Rotating discs and reactive keys can make even the most advanced criminals give up on picking your lock.
  • Price — Consider the value of the item you're securing. A more valuable item may necessitate a more expensive lock.

Note: the video starts with a satirical portion to demonstrate the weakness of MasterLock padlocks. Watch the whole video before you jump to conclusions.

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