3 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade to High-Security Locks

As a professional Vancouver Locksmith, I get a lot of questions about our High-Security locks. After all, if you Google for the best locks for your home or business, you will eventually end up reading or hearing about High Security locks. 

Regardless of which system you prefer, they are all easily two to three times the cost of the next lower tier of locks. So what is so great about them? Here are 3 reasons why you should consider getting a High-Security lock.

The 3 Most Common High-Security Locks in Vancouver

Before we get into the reasons, The three most common High-Security Locks you will encounter in Vancouver as follows:

  • Medeco – Medeco Keys are most often bright yellow (aka Nickel Silver) with a big square head. They are usually embossed with the brand on one side and the locksmith’s info on the other side.
  • Multilock – Multilock keys are flat dimple keys with what looks like craters drilled into the surface of the key. They sometimes have T-shaped heads. The all-metal versions are embossed like the Medecco, but the plastic head versions will often have no information except the brand logo.
  • Abloy – Abloy keys look unique as their locks are filled with disks versus the usual pin and tumbler system. Their keys have a figure-8 shape to them and are long and narrow.
medeco locks

You probably have seen at least one of them in your everyday life. For example:

  • The front door of most condo buildings uses a high-security lock – if yours doesn’t, you should talk the strata council or property manager
  • Canada Post uses Abloy keys as their master key for building access and mailboxes
  • Fire Departments use either the Multilock or Abloy keys for a building’s FD key boxes
  • Federal buildings are mandated to use Abloy or Abloy Cliq key systems
  • Shopping malls like Metrotown use Medeco

If you start looking around, you will see them in many places where security and longevity are a must. So why are they so popular?

Reason #1: Hardware Quality

High-Security Locks belong to a category of lock hardware classified as Grade 1 or Heavy Duty Commercial. These are generally the best locks you can buy. However, even within the Grade 1 category, there are locks that are better than others.

For example, a Grade 1 lock must survive at least 1,000,000 cycles of opening and closing. However, a higher quality Grade 1 lock like Sargent is tested to last 20,000,000 cycles or 20x the minimum standard.

So even within the Commercial Category, there are locks that barely meet the standard and are cheaper. Then, there are those that clearly exceed the standard by a huge margin and cost more.

Long story short, the quality of the hardware is absolutely superb in High-Security Locks. The springs are bigger, the solid parts are denser and tougher, the mechanism is smooth and powerful, and the parts fit together like a glove. It’s hard to describe just in words, but the difference is enormous once you have these locks in your hands.

In my professional opinion, the gold standard of deadbolts used to be the Schlage B660 Grade 1 Deadbolt – before they changed to the adjustable deadbolt design and cheaper metal alloys. However, even now I consider it the best-value deadbolt in terms of cost versus performance and security. 

However, the old or the new B660 simply cannot be compared to a Medeco, Multilock, or Abloy deadbolt in terms of quality. The latter group was always better than even the old B660, but now they are a world apart. Were we to drop a B660 off a building, it would probably shatter into a hundred pieces. Try the same thing with a Medeco, Multilock, or Abloy deadbolt, and it feels like it would carve a hole into the other side of the planet. It feels that sturdy.

If you want a great lock that will operate as smoothly in 10 years as the day you bought it, high-security locks are your only option these days. I used to say the same thing about the old Schlage B660’s but I’ve shortened my clients’ expectations to about 5 to 7 years of heavy use.

So if you want a lock hardware of the highest quality that will withstand the test time, get a High-Security lock.

Reason #2: Key Security and Key Performance

I think too many people underestimate just how easy it is to duplicate a key these days. Back in the old days of locksmithing, the words “Do Not Copy” or “Do Not Duplicate” actually meant something. After all, the public did not have alternative means to prevent unauthorized key copies so Locksmiths would not copy such keys without some sort of authorization.

When I was a younger lad, I had to keep a logbook with an entry for every “Do Not Copy” or “Do Not Duplicate” key I copied. I soon realized that it was pretty useless because all it was recorded with the date/time and the name of the person (picture id not required). 

These days, there are a plethora of options, cheap and expensive, to discourage or outright prevent unauthorized key copies.

On the cheaper end of the scale, you could use a system like the GMS MX key system. These keys are restricted at the distributor level meaning that one distributor carries only one version of the MX key system.

For a locksmith to have one of the MX key blanks, he/she would need to buy into the system with a particular distributor. Due to the cost of buying in, it would be pretty rare for a locksmith to buy into multiple systems with multiple distributors.

I, personally, carry the GMS MX8 at our key shop. I could buy into more systems, but in my opinion, as a professional locksmith, the GMS MX lock cylinders are not that great in terms of quality. They’re pretty cheap and their quality reflects that. There are better key systems that I would recommend first like the Schlage Primus.

On the other end of the scale, you have Medeco, Multilock, or Abloy keys. They are usually made from steel versus brass which means they last longer. These keys provide the highest protection against unauthorized key copies as the key bearer will need to provide the key card that was issued when the lock was installed. Locksmiths will also need to keep track of how many keys have already been made.

In fact, it’s hard to say that these are key copies. With the exception of Medecco’s Bi-axial keys, Multilock and Abloy keys require the use of proprietary key machines that generate a new key each and every time. This is why High-Security keys cost more, but they offer a level of key security and performance that ordinary keys cannot.

Airbnb and VRBO hosts need high-security keys

As a business owner, I understand that fellow business owners try to minimize costs at all times, but there are times when this attitude can be detrimental.

Due to the high number of short-term rentals in Vancouver, I deal with a lot of Airbnb and VRBO problems. The two most common problems are:

  1. Guests who lock themselves out
  2. Hosts who need to change locks
high security keys

The most common reason why hosts need to rekey their locks is that they had a guest who made unauthorized copies of the house key and then let themselves back in or sold the key on the black market.

Even if your unit is in a condo tower with FOB access, I’ve seen situations where “guests” jammed open stairwells and fire exit doors to let themselves back in without FOBs. It’s a nightmare for hosts and usually involves the police.

Airbnb and VRBO hosts can prevent this problem with high-security locks. Not only will these locks last longer under the abuse of short-term renters, but they will also prevent unauthorized key copies from being made.

Reason #3: High-Security Locks Provide Higher Security

For their price, it should be no surprise that upgrading to High-Security Locks will provide a higher level of security for your home or business. As mentioned previously, you can physically feel the difference when holding a High-Security Lock in your hands compared to your standard Grade 2 Medium Duty or Grade 3 Residential Deadbolts. 

However, just because a lock is heavy does not mean it provides better drill protection. For example, lead alloys tend to be heavier than brass or stainless steel alloys due to the density of lead. Unfortunately, lead is a soft metal which decreases protection from drills and other forms of attack.

High-Security Locks tend to be made of Boron alloys which provide a higher level of protection while offsetting the weight. Boron metal alloys are also often used in high-end sports cars due to their weight to performance advantages.

Another anti-drilling feature is integrated ball bearings for the side bolts. This alone is worth the upgrade as even Schlage B660 deadbolts have non-integrated ball bearings that easily pop out during installation.

High-Security Locks discussed above make use of a locking sidebar or similar feature which makes lockpicking very difficult and drilling even harder by adding another shear line. On the subject of lockpicking, unless your intruder is in the Top 1% of all lockpickers in the world, lockpicking a Medeco, Multilock, or Abloy lock cylinder is nigh impossible. Sure it may be doable, but just highly unlikely. Bump keys will not work either.

Conclusion and Our Recommendation

Due to their high quality and performance, key protection, and excellent security, we always recommend our clients upgrade to high-security locks whenever possible. However, these locks have never been cheap, so I recommend getting the best deadbolt that fits into your budget.

Please note that I say the best ‘deadbolt’ you can buy. If you are going to upgrade your security, I recommend investing money into a great deadbolt before knobs and levers. It’s where you will derive most of the security for your home or business.

Of course, if your door is made from compressed sawdust and glue, no lock will ever be enough.

Final thoughts, if you cannot afford a full deadbolt kit from Medecco, Multilock, or Abloy, you can get just order a High-Security Lock Cylinder. They will fit into most existing locks including knobs and levers. However, it is still a lot of money to spend to upgrade a cheap lock.

For example, Abloy has a lock cylinder that will fit into a Weiser Smarkey deadbolt. The question is, would you want to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade a deadbolt that only costs less than $50 at Home Depot (as of July 2023)? 

Probably not. You might as well get a great quality deadbolt like the Schlage B560 which is their Grade 2 Medium Duty deadbolt. If you order through a professional locksmith in Vancouver like myself, I can get you a version with a patented Everest keyway at no extra cost. While they do not offer the same quality or protection as Medecco, Multipick, or Abloy, they offer a lot of the same features at a fraction of the cost.

If you would like to know more or want to know which of the 3 High-Security Lock brands we personally recommend, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. It would be my pleasure to chat with you.

Leave a reply