4 Houses a Minute: The Home Security Blog

All you need to know to protect your home from burglaries

Schlage vs. Kwikset

If you are reading this article, you’ve probably done some research. You probably already know that when it comes to buying locks for your home, there are mainly 2 players in the field – Kwikset and Schlage. Although they are certainly not the only ones, combined they dominate over 95 percent of the market for residential locks. You can find them, and hardly any lock but them, in every single hardware store in America, which leaves us with a very obvious question.

In this article I will try to answer one of the ultimate, most basic questions of the home security world: Which locks are better – Schlage or Kwikset? This question has a direct effect on the most basic way we secure our home, and as you are about to learn – the answer is very clear.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not affiliated with any company other than my own: Front Range Locksmith. No one has paid me to write this article. The information you’re about to read is a result of independent testing that I’ve done using my own tools. In this article I’m presenting my opinions, based on the research that I’ve done and my years of experience as a locksmith. I accept no liability for any consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

If you want to jump straight to the conclusion – Click here.

A Little background

Before we dive into the comparison, it’s important to understand that Schlage and Kwikset are just brand names and not specific lock models. Both companies, Schlage and Kwikset make many different types of locks, such as residential doorknobs, deadbolts and keypads. Schlage also has a vast line of commercial products, including some heavy duty and high-security locks, whereas Kwikset has a more modest line of “light commercial” locks. In this article I will be focusing on residential locks only. Comparing commercial products is a much more complicated task and I wouldn’t necessarily choose any of two companies in question for my commercial needs.

To keep things simple, I will compare between the standard deadbolt lock of each company. The standard deadbolt is the most common lock being sold by both companies, however, the rest of the locks of each company go through a similar manufacturing process, share the same materials (sometimes even the same parts) and are held to the same quality standards. So by comparing their deadbolts we can easily determine which company makes better locks.

Kwikset and Schlage Deadbolts

Deadbolts: Kwikset (Left), Schlage (Right)

Forced entry vs. non-forced entry

Throughout the comparison I will be mentioning 2 different ways by which burglars break into houses: forced entry and non-forced entry.
Forced Entry – As the name suggests, forced entry means gaining entry by using force in a way that will allow us to open the door, like drilling the lock or using tools to pry the door open. Forced entry methods will almost always destroy the lock and leave visible signs someone broke in.
Non Forced Entry – non-forced entry is a way in which an intruder breaks in by manipulating the way the lock works to gain entry in a non-destructive way, using tools such as pick tools or bump keys. Non-forced entry methods require skill and practice and they usually leave no sign of break in.
It is important to keep in mind that burglars use forced entry much more often than non-forced entry to break in, so the lock that gives better protection from forced entry may have an advantage over locks that are harder to pick but provide no protection from forced entry methods of breaking in.

Lock Housing

The lock housing is the metal part that surrounds the cylinder of the lock. One of the most common ways that burglars break in is by drilling through the lock housing and engaging directly with the interior mechanism. Although this method is destructive and messy, it is considered by burglars to be a quick and simple way to gain entry. Naturally, the stronger and sturdier the housing, the harder it is to drill through it and reach the interior mechanism.
Schlage deadbolts have a thick, solid housing that protects the cylinder all around, leaving no hollow areas, in contrast, the housing of the Kwikset deadbolt is much lighter and somewhat hollow, making it much easier to drill through. The Schlage housing is significantly heavier than its Kwikset counterpart making it sturdier and more resistant to forced entry methods.
Schlage: 1, Kwikset: 0

Bolt Size

The bolt is the part that keeps the door from opening when the lock is locked and therefore it plays a main role in securing the door. When trying to kick the door open or forcing it using a crowbar, the bolt is the part that holds the door from opening. Needless to say – the stronger and longer the bolt is – the harder it is to kick or pry the door open.
When comparing the Schlage bolt with the Kwikset one, it is easy to notice that the Schlage bolt is bigger and stronger than the bolt made by Kwikset. Its size makes it sit snugger in its plate on the frame of the door, giving less room for the door to jiggle.
Schlage: 2, Kwikset: 0

Bolt size Kwikset and Schlage

Bolt Size: Kwikset (Left), Schlage (Right)

Drill Resistant Plate

A drill resistant plate is a thin metal plate made of steel, located at the very front of the lock. This plate is almost impossible to drill and its purpose is to protect the screws that hold the lock together from any attempt to drill them. Although there are ways to remove the plate, it makes the lock much harder to compromise. The Schlage deadbolt’s housing is completely drill resistant. Not only trying to expose the screws is almost impossible, the face of the cylinder itself is also guarded by a drill resistant plate, which makes the Schlage lock incredibly hard to drill through. The Kwikset deadbolt is not equipped with a drill resistant plate anywhere on its housing and is therefore incredibly easy to drill open, both by drilling its screws and its cylinder.
Schlage: 3, Kwikset: 0

Screw Size

Another important feature to compare is the deadbolts’ screw size. The screws play an important part in the security of the lock. As I previously mentioned, drilling the lock’s screws is an extremely common method intruders use to break in. Once the screws are drilled, the lock simply falls off the door and gives the intruder full access to the bolt itself. As we already saw, the screws on the Schlage locks are protected by a drill resistant plate, however, if that plate would be somehow compromised, an intruder would still have to drill through the screws themselves to gain access. Therefore, the bigger and stronger the screws are – the harder it is to drill or break them. Not only are the screws in a Kwikset lock unprotected by a drill resistant plate, the screws themselves are much thinner than the Schlage ones. It is important to keep in mind that with some persistence the Schlage screws can be drilled too, but there is no doubt they are harder to drill through than the Kwikset ones.
Schlage: 4, Kwikset: 0

Cylinder Tolerance

Another way intruders use to break into houses is by picking the lock. Picking a lock is done by using special tools (called pick tools) to manually imitate the function of a key. It is one of the non-forced entry methods mentioned earlier and therefore doesn’t leave a sign of break in, making this method particularly dangerous. Picking a lock is only possible since the lock manufacturing process is never perfect. The machines that assemble the locks can’t be 100 percent precise and therefore there is always a tiny space left between the cylinder (the part we insert the key in) and the housing (the part that surrounds it). Even when the lock is locked, the cylinder can still be rotated just a tiny bit. This rotation is called “the cylinder tolerance”. The more the cylinder can turn when it’s locked, the bigger the tolerance is and the easier it is to pick. Both Schlage and Kwikset locks can be picked. As a matter of fact there are hardly any locks that cannot be. However, the cylinder tolerance in the Kwikset locks is much greater than the Schlage tolerance, making the Kwikset deadbolt hardly a challenge to pick.
Schlage: 5, Kwikset: 0

Security pins

Security pins are a special type of pins that are inserted into the cylinder of the lock, making it harder to pick. The rule is simple – the more security pins in the lock, the harder it is to compromise in a non-destructive way. As you can see in the picture below, Schlage uses 4 security pins (called “Spool pins), while Kwikset uses only 2. Having 2 more security pins in a cylinder can make it significantly harder to pick, which can definitely be felt when trying to pick a Schlage lock.
Schlage: 6, Kwikset: 0

Security Pins Kwikset and Schlage

Security Pins: Kwikset (Left), Schlage (Right)

Price

Although this category does not refer to the security aspect of the locks, it is worth mentioning.
Since Schlage locks are made of stronger materials, and provide far greater security than Kwikset locks, they also come with a higher price tag. Taking the deadbolt category as an example – the price of a standard Schlage brass deadbolt is X, while the price of the Kwikset brass deadbolt of the same category is X. Only you can put a price on the security of your home, but if you ask me – the difference in price is well worth it.

A word about Kwikset SmartKey

In recent years, Kwikset released another type of lock to the market called “Kwikset SmartKey”. This lock comes in both doorknob and deadbolt forms and although it looks very similar to the regular lock models – it has a completely different type of cylinder (You can recognize it by a tiny hole located left of the keyhole). Since the internal design of the SmartKey cylinder is completely different, it is known to be extremely hard to pick, bump or compromise in any non-destructive method. This may be the only lock made by Kwikset that is harder to pick than the Schlage lock, however, due to the fact that it still uses the same type of housing, screws and bolt as the regular Kwikset deadbolt – it is still relatively easy to compromise using any of the forced entry methods.

Conclusion

Between Schlage and Kwikset, there is absolutely no doubt that Schlage makes better locks. As we can see in the example of the deadbolt, Schlage wins in every single round. Due to its bigger bolt, stronger housing and drill resistant plate, the Schlage deadbolt provides an excellent protection against most commonly used forced entry methods. Kwikset, lacking all these features, hardly poses a challenge for an intruder trying to break in by using force.
Also in the non-forced entry category, there is no doubt Schlage is better. With a better, more precise manufacturing process and 2 additional security pins than the Kwikset deadbolt, Schlage locks are significantly harder to pick, bump or compromise in non-destructive ways.
Schlage locks are good not only relatively to Kwikset locks, but also on their own – they provide great security to your home for a relatively low price.
Yet, it’s important to remember that just like any other lock, Schlage locks can still be compromised, manipulated and destroyed and although they are great for their price, they are not considered to be “high-security locks” such as high-end brands like “Medeco” and “Mul-T-Lock”.

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For any questions, comments or if you need locksmith service in the Denver metro area, don’t hesitate to contact us at:
Front Range Locksmith, Denver CO
720-439-4081
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by Email:
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Rekey vs. Changing your locks – Front Range Locksmith

If you ever moved into a new place, lost your house keys or had to fire an angry employee, you’ve probably been in a situation where you considered changing your locks. Most people are not aware that instead of changing their locks, there is a much better, and often cheaper solution – re-keying them. In this article I’m going to explain what does it mean to “re-key” a lock, and more importantly – when should you rekey your locks rather than changing them. Why is this important you ask? Because it can save you quite a lot of money every year. Some locksmiths take advantage of the fact that people are not informed about the differences and instead of explaining the different options to the customer, they choose the more expensive option for them.

What is Rekeying a lock?

While “changing a lock” is quite self explanatory, simply referring to changing an old lock with a new one, rekeying requires a bit of explanation to be understood. Rekeying a lock means to change the working key of the lock to a different key, without replacing the lock itself. In simpler words – you keep the same lock but the old key will no longer operate it. This is done by taking the lock apart and replacing some of the parts inside (called “tumblers” or “key pins”). Every series of key pins in your lock correspond to a specific key Key pinsso when you replace those pins with different ones, you essentially set a new key that will now operate the lock. However complicated this may sound, it’s actually an easy procedure that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes given the right tools.

 
In order to rekey a lock, the locksmith has to have its current matching key. Without the matching key, the only way to rekey the lock will be to pick it open, and although it’s usually not a problem for a skilled locksmith, it will often incur additional charges which can make it more expensive than replacing the lock altogether.

 
Rekeying a lock does not hurt the security of the lock, nor does it make it more secure. One of the factors that makes a lock secure is how many pins are inside of it. As long as the locksmith swaps the old 5 pins with 5 new ones, the lock will remain just as secure as it was before. If you’re looking to get better security of your locks, changing them to new, higher security ones will be the way to go.

 
Due to the extremely low price of the key pins in the locks, rekeying is almost always much cheaper than getting your locks changed. When rekeying your locks, you are only being charged for the labor, whereas when you get your locks changed, you’re paying both for labor and parts.

 
One important thing to keep in mind is that all the locks come with a built in option to be rekeyed, so you don’t have to wonder whether your locks are rekeyable or not. However, the way to rekey different locks is not always the Rekeysame and often requires different tools. For example, some high security locks such as “Medeco” and “Mul-T-Lock” require a unique set of tools and key pins to be rekeyed.

 
Rekeying is not only used when you want to retire an old key, but also to match more than one lock for the same key. For example, if your home has several locks and each lock has a different key, which can be inconvenient, you may want to rekey the locks to all match the same key. Keep in mind that in order to match 2 locks or more for one key, the locks has to be of the same brand or to share the same types of keyholes. If your key fits into one lock but won’t go into the other, it means their keyholes (or “keyways”) are different and they cannot be matched.

When should you Rekey?

The 2 most common scenarios to Rekey your locks are:

1. If you are happy with your locks, but want to change the key so that the old key won’t work anymore. For example:

  • If you moved into a new place and don’t know who else has the key.
  • Lost a copy of your key and afraid someone may find it.
  • Want to prevent from someone who has the key to enter.
  • 2. When you have different keys for different locks and you want them all to match one single key. (given that all the locks are of the same brand or keyhole)

    When should you change your locks?

    1. You want your locks to be in a different color or design. For example, if you moved into a new place and your locks are old and rusted, you may want to get a new, nicer looking locks.
    2. When you want to upgrade your security and change your locks to high security locks or electronic locks.
    3. If you have locks of different brands Lock Changeon your house and you want them all to work on the same key, you will need to change some locks so that all your locks will be of the same brand (or have the same type of keyway), only then you can re-key them all to one key.

     
    In cases where you have one or more locks installed but don’t have the key to them at all, you will need to compare the price of a new lock versus rekeying them without a key (which requires extra labor) and make an informed decision as to what is more cost effective. Only in cases where picking the lock and rekeying it is more expensive than the price of a new lock, you should change it.

     
    Note that when getting your locks changed, the locksmith should be able to supply you with at least a few locks with a matching key. Most hardware stores also have the option to match your locks for free upon purchase.

    Can you do it yourself?

    Changing a standard residential lock is a fairly simple task that can be done with a phillips screwdriver. I may upload a video to Front Range Locksmith youtube channel showing how to change a simple doorknob and a deadbolt, although if you’re a little handy you can easily figure it out yourself.
    On the other side, rekeying a lock doesn’t only require learning and practice, but also requires you to have the right tools, which are quite expensive. A professional pinning kit to rekey most locks costs around $250, which is well over the prices of 10 new basic locks. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you try to change a lock yourself and fail, there isn’t much damage you can do to the lock, but unsuccessfully trying to rekey a lock will almost always ruin it completely.
     
    Some newer types of locks offer the option to rekey them easily at home without having to take them apart or call a locksmith. These locks, such as the Kwikset smartkey and Schlage SecureKey are becoming more and more popular as the technology improves, however they still have some flaws. So if rekeying a lock isn’t something you do often, I recommend leaving your regular locks on your door for now.
     

    5 things you can do to never get locked out of your house again.

    We’ve all been there before. You’re in a hurry, rushing out, you slam the door behind you and as soon as your hear it shuts you realize – you forgot to take the keys. One second of a lack of attention is now turning into a huge waste of time and money. As a locksmith, unlocking houses for customers who got locked out, is one of the most common things I need to do and it’s never a pleasant situation. So today I want to share with you a few tips about how to avoid getting locked out of your house ever again.

    1. Change your doorknob to a keyless doorknob

    This is in my opinion the most important tip, and people often don’t think about it. The only way to get locked out of your house (unless you lost your key outside), is by locking the doorknob from the inside and leaving your house without a key.Passage doorknob Sometimes we don’t even notice it’s locked when we leave to do something outside for a minute and when we come back we find that we’re locked out. When changing our front door doorknob to a keyless doorknob, the only way we can lock the house is by using a key to lock the deadbolt from the outside, therefore you can never forget it. As for the security aspect, although having 2 locks on the door is better than one, the doorknob hardly adds to the security of our home, compared with the deadbolt, which is the more secure component of the two. If you’re worried about downgrading the security of your home, just add another deadbolt to the door. This way, with 2 deadbolts and a keyless doorknob – you are protected both from burglars and from getting locked out. Needless to say, if you only have a doorknob on your door (and no deadbolts), this solution will not work.

    2. Instead of hiding a key, hide a lock box

    Many people hide a key outside their home to avoid getting locked out. If they ever Lock Boxdo get locked out, the key is readily available somewhere outside. This is a good solution, sort of. It may come to you as a surprise, but most burglaries involve no forced entry. So how does burglars usually break in? That’s right – they find that hidden key. Burglars are well aware of all the Hide-a-key solutions out there, they also know the most common places people use to hide their keys in, after all, they do that for a living. Instead of hiding a key – hide a lockbox and keep a key inside. Make sure anyone living in the house knows the combination, this way there’s always a key outside in case you need it, and it’s well protected from intruders. Some people have the lockbox in plain sight, which also works, but needless to say, a hidden lockbox is more secure than a visible one.

    3. Give a key to a neighbour or a nearby family member

    Have a neighbour you trust? Living close to your parents? Perfect! Use them! A trustworthy neighbour can serve as your living lockbox. Giving a key to your neighbour is a good way to ensure you have another way into your house in case you forgot or lost your key. But remember – doing so is only a good idea when you know the person well and truly trust them. A neighbour with a key is not only good in cases you get locked out, but also if you need their help with something in the house when you’re far away, like a flood or a gas leak. Just make sure to only get locked out when your neighbours are home.

    4. Keep a spare house key in the car

    This will only work if you keep your house and car keys separated. Separating your house and car keys can be a good strategy to avoid getting locked out of either. Keep a spare house key in the car and a spare car key in the house. As long as you’ll have one of the two, you can never be locked out of the other. When you separate your one key chain into two different keys, there’s a smaller chance you’ll forget to take both and as long you have one, you have access to the other. However, there’s a big downside for that method, requiring you to be extra careful if you choose to use it. If someone were to break into your car he will get a potential access to your house as well. Make sure the key is incredibly well hidden inside of the car in a place an intruder won’t be able to find.

    5. Change your locks to smart locks

    For those of you who are willing to spend a bit more, there’s another solution that might be the ideal one. A smart lock is a lock that can be unlocked by other means without needing to use a key. Smart locks can come in many different Schlage Keypadforms. Some of the common ones are keypad combination locks, fingerprint locks and even eye-scanning locks. Do some research as to which lock best suit your needs and make sure it is high-quality and secure. Having a smart lock on your door will completely eliminate the need of a key while keeping your house safe from intruders. Although they might come with a higher price tag, keep in mind that many times a one time lock-out fee by a locksmith will cost more than some of the best locks in the market, so buying a smart lock may save you money in the long run. One important thing to remember if you decide to upgrade to a smart lock – be aware of the battery charge in your lock. If the lock runs out of battery, your only option to get in will be to use the manual lock mechanism with a key, which you probably don’t have with you if you didn’t know the lock ran out of battery. Get a lock that beeps or blinks when battery is low and remember to change it as soon as it starts running low.

    The Best Lock For Your Home: Is Your Lock Really Safe?

    Kwikset SmartKey DeadboltBy the time you finish reading this post, about 64 houses will have been broken into in the US alone. This alarming statistic that was recently published by the FBI is a cause for concern, as people increasingly overlook what is essentially the most important line of defense for their home – the lock on their door. In most cases, it doesn’t take James Bond lock-picking skills to break into a house. In fact, in this post I’m going to show you how most house locks can be broken into fairly easily, even by an inexperienced burglar.
    floatingquote1
    My name is Itay, I’m the owner of Front Range Locksmith, Co-founder of the Locksmith Academy, and a professional locksmith with over 6 years of experience. In today’s article, I break down the four most popular residential locks in America today. These locks are installed on over 90% of the doors in the US and I can almost guarantee your lock is one of them. I’ll be covering each lock in detail, its specs, and most importantly – how secure it really is. Each lock was tested against 5 different attacks to check how hard it is to compromise it in a non-destructive as well as a destructive way. Want to know how your lock performed on the tests? Keep reading.
     
    DISCLAIMER: I’m not affiliated with any company. No one has paid me to write this article. The information you’re about to read is a result of independent testing that I’ve done using my own tools. In this article I’m presenting my opinions only, based on the research that I’ve done. I accept no liability for any consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

    The Locks I Tested:

    When it came to choosing which locks to test, there wasn’t too much thinking needed. Working in different cities and states in the US for the past 6 years, I’ve seen tens of thousands of locks installed in customers’ homes. Surprisingly, just a handful of locks dominate the US market and over 90 percent of all residential locks belong to one of two companies: Kwikset or Schlage. Although Kwikset is a newer and smaller company than Schlage, it seems that it holds a much bigger share in the residential lock market, possibly because of a significantly cheaper price tag. 4 out of every 5 locks that I see on doors today is a standard Kwikset lock and therefore it was the first lock that I tested. Around 2008 Kwikset launched a new series of locks called “Kwikset SmartKey”. These locks allowed the owner to easily change the lock’s matching key to a new one, in case of a lost key for example, without calling a locksmith. Even though it was released with some serious security flaws, it grew to be one of the most purchased locks on the market today for residential use. Naturally, Kwikset SmartKey was the second lock I tested. The third lock on the list is the standard Schlage lock which, as I already mentioned, is probably the second most common lock in the US. The last (but certainly not least) on the list is the Defiant deadbolt. Defiant locks are not nearly as common as the Kwikset or Schlage locks, but it seems that they’re becoming more widespread in recent years.
     
    If you want to jump straight to the conclusion – click here.

    Deadbolts vs. Doorknobs:

    Lockset on Door

    Every lockset usually comes in a package of 2: a deadbolt and a matching doorknob. Due to the nature of the mechanism, a deadbolt will always be more secure than a doorknob. If you’re reading this from home I encourage you to do a simple test: If you have a door with both a deadbolt and a doorknob, open it and then lock both locks while the door is open. Now, try to push the bolt back into the door, and then do the same to the latch of the doorknob. As you probably saw, once the bolt is locked, it cannot be pushed in, whereas the latch can. That’s one of the reasons why a doorknob can sometimes be unlocked with a credit card whereas a deadbolt can’t. Since a doorknob and a deadbolt from the same brand go through the same manufacturing line, it’s safe to assume that their flaws will be roughly the same as well. For that reason, all the locks I tested for this article are deadbolts. Throughout the article I will be using the terms ‘lock’ and ‘deadbolt’ interchangeably.

    How I tested:

    When trying to compromise a standard deadbolt, there are usually 5 different ways to do it:

    1) Picking it – Although it’s not the most common, it’s definitely the most classic way of breaking in. This is usually what you see in TV shows where they magically break into houses in seconds. It involves 2 small tools: one to apply turning pressure on the cylinder, and another to push each tumbler inside until the lock opens.

    2) Raking it – This way is very similar to the previous one, but instead of pushing each tumbler individually, there’s a special tool that pushes 2 or more tumblers at the same time, making the process much faster and easier.

    3) Bumping it – Bumping a lock is probably the easiest way to compromise a lock. It requires hardly any skill, as long as you have a special kind of key called a bump key. Luckily, these keys are not so easy to get a hold of, but it’s not impossible. These keys can also be made in minutes by altering a regular key. The real danger with bump keys is that anyone can learn how to use them in a few minutes. A set of 2 bump keys, one for Kwikset and one for Schlage, could open 90 percent of the locks in America. Ain’t that scary.

    4) Pick Gun – Pick gun is a manual tool that looks like a small gun with a long tip. This is another tool used very commonly by locksmiths to pick locks. Once you insert the tip of the gun into the cylinder in the right way, all you need to do is pull the trigger repeatedly and the lock will unlock in seconds.

    5) Drilling it – This method doesn’t need much explaining. For locksmiths, drilling a lock is usually a last resort, taken only when all other ways have failed. However, this is the most common method used by burglars. There are few different ways to drill a lock. Done right, it can overcome any lock in minutes. It’s important to remember there is one major difference between drilling a lock and the rest of the methods I mentioned: Drilling a lock is destructive and will always leave visible damage afterwards. The other methods are non-destructive and therefore you won’t have any way of knowing if someone broke in.

    The Test:

    Each one of the 4 locks was tested against each one of these attacks. To make sure I didn’t just get lucky, I repeated each attack 3 times in a row (Except for the drilling, which was only done once). For each attempt I measured the time it took to compromise, and eventually calculated the average time for all 3 attempts. For the drilling test, I measured once how long it took from the moment I started until the lock was open.

    Keep in mind: the fact that I couldn’t compromise a lock in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I don’t consider myself to be the world’s best lockpicker. However, considering that I pick locks for a living, and have been picking 2-5 locks every day for the past 6 years, it seems logical that if I can’t do it in a reasonable amount of time – the average burglar won’t be able to either.

    After testing each deadbolt, and before drilling it, I opened it to see what kind of tumblers are inside. The type of tumblers greatly influences the security of the lock. Some locks are equipped with special type of tumblers called “security pins” and the more of those there are inside of the lock, the harder it is to compromise it in a non-destructive way.

    The Results:

    Kwikset regular deadbolt

    The regular Kwikset deadbolt is the most common lock in America. This, or an older version of it, is currently installed on millions of homes all across the country. The results I’m about to share with you here are, to my opinion, alarming.
    Kwikset Deadbolt
    Price: $12.97

    Avg Pick time: 07:10 seconds. (Videos 1, 2, 3)

    Avg Rake time: 07.70 seconds. (Videos 1, 2, 3)

    Avg Bump time: Bumping was not successful.

    Avg Pick Gun time: 03.80 seconds. (Videos 1, 2, 3)

    Drill time: 02:06:20 Minutes. (It took less than 20 seconds to drill the screws) (Video)

    The lock is not equipped with a drill-resistant plate.

    Drilling both the cylinder and the screws was incredibly easy.

    Security pins: Equipped with 2 security pins. (Spool pins)
     

     
    This lock was far from being a challenge to compromise in almost every method. The security pins did a good job preventing me from bumping it, but they didn’t do much when I tried any other way. Picking, raking and using a pick gun, all took less than 10 seconds on average. Furthermore, this lock is extremely easy to drill, whether drilling the cylinder or the screws, due to the fact it’s not made with drill resistant material. Overall, this lock seems to provide hardly any security and can be compromised easily with the slightest determination.
     

    Kwikset SmartKey

    The Kwikset SmartKey is the younger brother of the regular kwikset deadbolt. It came out in 2008 and it works in a completely different technology than any other lock on the market. The purpose of this new technology is to allow the owner to easily change its key to a new key, without the hassle of calling a locksmith. Therefore, its interior structure is completely different, making the classic compromise methods useless. Every locksmith knows that whenever they need to unlock a Kwikset SmartKey, there’s no point in trying to pick, rake or bump it, drilling is the only option. When this lock first came out, it had a major security flaw where it could be unlocked easily with a flat-head screwdriver. As my testing showed – this flaw is long gone. Trying to pry it open with a screwdriver actually broke the head of my screwdriver off.
    kwikset_660_26d_db_smartkey_full
    Price: $32.98

    Avg Pick time: N/A

    Avg Rake time: N/A

    Avg Bump time: N/A

    Avg Pick Gun time: N/A

    Drill time: 11:29:78 Minutes

    Although this lock doesn’t have a drill resistant plate, the cylinder was extremely hard to drill. When I tried drilling the screws, I found out they were even harder to drill.

    Security pins: Since this is not a classic pin-tumbler lock, it doesn’t have pins at all.
     
    The inherent characteristics of this lock make it secure, just by having a completely different interior mechanism than the classic pin-tumbler lock. None of the classic ways to compromise a lock are even relevant when trying to break this lock open. The old flaws this lock used to have are no longer around (in the newer versions of this lock only), and drilling it open, although definitely possible, is quite a nightmare. Another improvement in the new models is that the screws, which were once easy to drill, are now drill-resistant. Overall this lock performed very well on my series of tests.

    Defiant deadbolt

    The Defiant deadbolt has a reputation of being one of the lowest quality locks in stores. It also comes with the lowest price tag of less than $10 a deadbolt. I didn’t have many expectations of this lock, but I was actually slightly surprised by the results.
    Defiant Deadbolt
    Price: $9.97

    Avg Pick time: Picking was not successful.

    Avg Rake time: 1:37:10 Minutes.

    Avg Bump time: 21:93 Seconds.

    Avg Pick Gun time: 33:95 Seconds.

    Drill time: 02:29:36 Minutes. (Video)

    The lock is equipped with a drill resistant plate, but it’s relatively easy to remove.

    Security pins: Equipped with 3 security pins (Spool pins)
     

     
    I was very surprised to see 3 security pins in the Defiant, which is more than the Kwikset. It also performed better than the Kwikset in almost any test. The security pins made it extremely hard for me to pick and even the raking took much longer than I expected. With drill resistant plate and 3 security pins the Defiant is making big improvements, but with average times all under 2 minutes, it still has a long way to go to be considered a secure lock.

    Schlage deadbolt

    While notably more expensive than the regular Kwikset and Defiant deadbolts, Schlage locks have a reputation of being of higher quality as well. I was curious to know how well it will do on these tests and whether its reputation is justified or not.
    Schlage Deadbolt
    Price: $29.98

    Avg Pick time: Picking was not successful.

    Avg Rake time: Raking was not successful.

    Avg Bump time: 05.15 Seconds. (Videos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    It should be mentioned that I tried different bump keys to bump this lock, and I only managed to bump it using one specific key with a particularly big head.

    Avg Pick Gun time: Pick Gun was unsuccessful

    Drill time: This was the first lock ever I couldn’t drill. The new series of this lock currently in stores is now made from an extremely strong material, which prevents drilling out the screws. The cylinder itself is protected by a drill-resistant plate, which I couldn’t remove nor drill through. I tried drilling this lock a few times and after a total of about 20 minutes of consistent drilling, and 3 cobalt drill bits – I gave up. Amazingly, the lock was still in good enough condition to be unlocked with the original key. Unbelievable. (Video)

    Security pins: Equipped with 4 security pins (Spool pins). I speculate that the security pins in this lock have a bigger head than the security pins in the other locks I tested, making it harder to compromise than the others.

    Bolt size: The bolt of this lock is slightly bigger and definitely feels sturdier than the bolts of the other locks I tested. Bigger bolts make it potentially harder to kick a locked door open.
     

     
    After trying for a good couple of hours, the only way I managed to compromise this lock that was quick and consistent, was by using a big head bump key. Schlage definitely did a great job making this lock very secure, especially by protecting it from any sort of destructive attacks in a way I’ve never seen before. However, they failed to protect it from bumping and in fact, even though this lock performed amazingly well on every test, it did worse on the bumping test than any other lock.

    High Security Locks:

    For those of you who are looking to take their home security to the next level (as far as locks go), my best suggestion would be to upgrade to high-security locks. High security locks are mechanical locks that have certain modifications in them, making them 100 percent break proof. No one, including the most skilled locksmith can compromise them in any way in a reasonable amount of time. They are pick, rake and bump proof. They are made from much stronger materials and drilling them could take hours. Even the key can only be copied using a special card that comes with the lock. Most people don’t know they even exist, because they are not sold in most hardware stores so you would have to order them through a locksmith store or the internet, and of course, they come with a higher price tag. Such locks, made by companies like Mul-T-Lock and Medeco, can cost $100-$200 per lock. If you ask me – they are well worth it, especially if you own a house, in which case it would probably be a one-time expense. People are often worried that having high security locks on their doors will make burglars think they are trying to secure something especially valuable, motivating the burglars to break in. Statistics show it’s actually the opposite – burglars tend to look for the easiest house to break into. Seeing a high security lock will most likely deter them and make them try a different house.

    A word on Keypads, Biometric and Bluetooth locks:

    As technology progresses, it brings new players to the game of home security. Keypad locks are becoming increasingly more common as well as biometric locks and even bluetooth locks. These locks, cool as they may seem, sometime give a false impression of being more secure than the classic mechanical pin-tumbler locks. If you take a closer look at these smart locks, you will see that almost all of them are also equipped with an old-fashioned keyhole and a key. The key is used to bypass the electronic system in case of a failure or a drained battery. Rather than making the lock more secure, it actually adds another aspect that can be manipulated and compromised. While the keypad or biometric feature is usually very hard to bypass, the lock’s weakest link remains the cylinder. In other words – these locks are only as secure as their weakest link. If the cylinder of the lock is easy to compromise, the whole lock is not secure.
     
    Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think these locks bring great advantages with them, like not needing to carry a key and preventing yourself from getting locked out. However, the last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars on such a lock and find out that it has severe security flaws. If you decide to switch to a smart lock, do it for reasons of convenience rather than security, and always make sure the cylinder is as secure as the electronic feature. I may write another post comparing some of the more common smart locks in the future.

    Conclusion:

    If I have to choose one lock to declare as the winner, I would go with the Kwikset SmartKey. Kwikset’s new technology in this lock is proving itself not only to be the most secure, but also giving an added value by allowing you to re-key the lock easily. Only one year ago I would never have recommended this lock. Its cylinder was easy to drill, the screws were even easier, and sometimes you could simply turn it open with a screwdriver. Kwikset has done a great job fixing all these flaws, making it, in my opinion, the best lock on the market for its class. If you already have this lock on your door, and it’s older than a year or two, I would hurry and buy a new one, to make sure you get a lock without the old flaws.
     
    Kwikset SmartKey Logo
    In a close second place, comes the Schlage deadbolt. The new Schlage locks are excellent. The fact they use the classic pin-tumbler technology, and yet I couldn’t pick, rake of use a pick gun to unlock them is quite incredible, but the fact I couldn’t drill them under any circumstances is really unbelievable. When locksmiths can’t compromise a lock in a non-destructive way like picking or raking, they always resort to drilling it. Schlage has taken that option out of the equation. I was able to bump it, but only using a specific bump key, with a big head. Other than that, Schlage still feels sturdier than the rest of the locks and has a bigger bolt, which makes it harder to kick open. Any one of these two locks will be a good choice in my opinion.
     
    The Defiant lock takes the third place on the list. Defiant is definitely making significant improvements along the years. Just a few years ago, it would have never performed better than a standard Kwikset lock. Adding 3 security pins and a drill resistant plate shows that defiant is going in the right direction, while staying the most inexpensive lock you can buy. Still, I can’t recommend it if what you’re looking for is security. Except of picking it, which was for some reason extremely hard, I managed to compromise it in all the other methods in less than 2 minutes.
     
    My biggest disappointment is of course, the regular Kwikset deadbolt. Although they now have 2 security pins, they performed very poorly on most other tests. I couldn’t bump them at all, which is good, but picking and raking them was not even a challenge. Same goes for the pick gun. I don’t know if Kwikset is planning to retire this lock in the near future since the SmartKey is so much better, but I feel like there is no excuse for the most common lock in America to be that easy to compromise. If you have this kind of lock on your door, I strongly suggest considering an upgrade.
     
    I hope you enjoyed this post. You are welcome to leave any questions or comments below.

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