The Stanley Hardware S828-160 is a good choice for most people. It has ASTM security 5 which means it’s best for indoor and outdoor use for high security use. It comes with a commercial 6-pin cylinder backed by anti-pick pins that prevent any kind of physical attacks. And the patented keyway cover makes it difficult for intruders to drill into the keyhole itself. In our tests, this best padlock is accurate, affordable, and easy to use. The locking mechanism works and is capable of protecting against all kinds of attack, including corrosion and rust.
The ABUS 37-80 Granit Alloy is our step-up pick. It features a stainless steel shank and a Rockwell core-hardened body. With a tensile strength of at least 25,000 pounds, ABUS is a tough cookie to beat. You will find that the hardened steel base offers extra protection against physical attacks and keeps the padlock durable for longer. The key-retaining feature makes sure you never lose your key or leave a job incomplete. This is best for keeping high security padlock systems in place and efficient. We think that design and controls on this such high security padlocks are both straightforward and intuitive.
The Master Lock 140D is the product for most low-end jobs. The general usage of this best padlock is for gym lockers, bags, boxes, storage lockers, etc. It has a solid brass body which is durable and effective at protecting against attacks. And shank is backed by a 4-pin cylinder and dual lever locking mechanism- which is of great value considering the padlock’s cheap price. With each padlock, you will receive 2 keys which works for most people. And if you choose to buy more than padlock, you will find different keys for each lock, which adds to its practicality.
A Little Background
There are all kinds of home security systems such as the Apple homekit or the Kwikset Smartkey that help you secure important items as well as interiors such as computers, gun, valuables, expensive paintings, etc. And padlocks are a part of such extensive security systems. Padlocks aren’t easy to design though. Nor are they easy to choose when you want to keep your property safe from intruders and other kinds of danger. For example, if you have a car gun safe for security purposes, you’d want a durable padlock to keep it from getting in the wrong hands, right? So, what goes behind the mechanism of padlocks?
The most durable padlocks are made of solid metal materials, a locking system, and a shackle. This is what a best padlock constitutes of. There’s no room for a weak spot in a padlock be it the locking mechanism, locking bar, shank, or the padlock’s body. Engineers design padlocks to ensure it’s simple to lock and unlock for consumers. The sole purpose of a padlock is to keep something secure. Be it your home, office space, a shop, or any other commercial or residential property. It can literally be a life-saver. Hence, buying the best padlock is not complete without careful research and comparison. That’s what we’re here for!
Padlocks come in a wide array of shapes. Regardless of the design of the padlock, the operation of each is the same. The disc mechanism of the padlock is influenced when the total size of the apparatus increases. As a result, the keyway and the locking mechanism also increases in size. Keeping the shackle or shank and the locking bar intact. These two features of a padlock contain spring loaded pins. Once you insert the key into the padlock, the different springs inside the locking system align themselves to the right pattern to allow the locking bar to open. Once it is aligned, you rotate the key in the right direction and unlock the shank easily. If it isn’t aligned, which means it’s the wrong key, the shank stays locked and impossible to open.
A different kind of padlock is designed in such a way that the shank pops out when the shank is opened with the right spring alignment. Contrarily, some padlocks require you to manually open the shank away from the locking mechanism with the right key-to-locking bar alignment. There are mini padlocks as well, with a much smaller body and longer shank, like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit. Just like that, there are all kinds of padlocks to look forward to, but with the same operation. (1)
Types of Padlocks
A padlock can be made a part of your home security system. And to help you choose the right product, here are the different types of padlocks to look for when choosing the best possible option for you. (2)
Closed Shackle Padlock
This is the most common type of padlock there is on the market. The top half of the shank is protected by the padlock’s body making it difficult to cut through or break with bolt cutters. It’s a standard design which most insurance companies allow as it as a minimum security requirement. This kind of design also decreases clearance between the opening of the shackle and the shackle itself. This makes it one of the best anti-theft protection devices on the market like the kryptonite kryptolok. Which means you can lock almost any bar, cable, handle, or hole with the help of a closed shackle padlock.
Straight Shackle Padlock
With a straight shackle padlock, you can lock steel shutter doors easily. They can also be used to secure shipping containers or roller-shutter containers and doors. These are probably the most easy to use padlocks on the market. Plus, they’re more affordable than closed shackle padlocks. These come second to closed shackle devices as being the commonest padlocks used by consumers.
Round or Circular Shackle Padlock
By the looks of it, a circular shackle is round and has a curved axis. It gets its appearance from a closed shackle padlock making it difficult to break with bolt cutters. Compared to standard padlocks, round padlocks aren’t suitable for all types of devices. With the keyway positioned in the center of the padlock and not next to the shackles, this can be a bit of a disappointment for many. However, this kind of design is almost impossible to break because drilling into the keyway or using a barrel to force it open is practically impossible. For this feature alone, many high-end consumers prefer using a round circular shackle padlock. It’s also good for protecting your higher-priced purchases such as your bike, trunk, etc.
Long Shackle Padlock
These have a more extended shackle in the shape of a ‘U’; just like the ABUS Granit X-Plus series. This is to increase the locking area for bars, rods, handles, etc. It is one of the reasons why long shackle padlocks are a popular choice.
For smaller bikes, a mini U-lock is what most people search for. This type of bike lock offers plenty of locking space and are secure and rugged. The only drawback to using long shackle padlocks is that it exposes the shank to bolt cutters, saw, or other tools that could easily break the shackle. The best use for a long shackle padlock would be to use a long chain. The chain lock pulls the weight down making it more difficult for intruders to try and open or break the lock.
Other types of locks also prevalent in the industry are smart locks, folding locks, shackle locks and chain-based locks.
How We Picked
The best smart padlock is bought based on your preferences. However, picking the most high-end one could take hours if you want it for high-end security reasons. Most padlocks are spring loaded which means they come with a series of combinations that allow the key to properly open the locking mechanism. This allows the key to rotate easily without restriction, which opens the shackle. If you use a standard lock pin mechanism, chances are you’re exposing intruders to the most sure-fire way into breaking in the padlock.
With a more sophisticated and rugged padlock, however, there’s no scope for damage or a break-in. All you need is a set of specialized lock picks to break open a shackle and untangle the locking mechanism.
As a strict response to this problem, manufacturers as reputable as ABUS have development new-fangled technology to ensure break-ins don’t happen. This means adopting the technology of rotating disks rather than locking pins as their front locking mechanism. This means, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to break-in the padlock by specialized lock-picking tools.
The body of the padlock is where the keyway is placed. This is usually built in brass or steel or chrome material, making it a rugged and longer-lasting choice for many.
A brass constructed padlock is cheaper to make and is a more affordable option for consumers. If you want low security, opting for a brass padlock is a good way to go. However, if you want high-end security, you should know that brass can be easily drilled into making it a danger risk for top-end lines.
Steel alloy padlocks are rugged and take much longer to manufacture. Most of the top-end components of a padlock are made up steel. This includes the locking bar, keyway, locking points, and the shackle. The locking mechanism, too, is made up of steel. It provides exceptional protection again drilling. It also helps against rusting or corrosion, which is a huge advantage for most people.
There are two main variations to steel padlocks: pressed steel and lamented steel.
Pressed steel padlocks are generally used as best-lock construction toys that come as luggage locks. They offer standard level of security for smaller items.
Lamented steel padlocks are designed by pressing into pre-punched thin steel plates. These plates are then folded in together until they make a solid block. These types of padlocks can be used for standard security purposes.
The shackle is the second most important part of a padlock. It is built with stainless steel or hardened alloy. The other thing to consider about the shackle is its shape. Most shackles are round or in a ‘U’ shape.
A stainless steel shackle is hardened steel which is the standard for most outdoor padlocks. They provide a good enough surface to resist corrosion, drilling, cutting, and other attacks.
Hardened alloy shackles are used for high-end security reasons. They are often heat treated to increase durability and resistive properties. Plus, they’re the only sturdy and reliable shackles that can resist drilling attacks. Many hardened alloy shackles are further hardened for a chrome or metallic finish.
Our Best Pick
The Stanley Hardware S828-160 CD8820 encompasses a stainless steel shackle against which cutting bolts, drillers, and other tools cannot penetrate. The dual ball bearing locking system is best for resisting attacks while the hardened steel padlock body protects the entire foundation. This model features a popular six pins re-keyable system with the support of a brass cylinder and anti-pick pins. A re-keyable system is a very popular style of locking system which solves the concerns of many business and university complexes. It’s quite similar to SFIC lock (small format interchangeable cores) systems. Which means it’s nearly impossible to get into the picking system of this padlock, also thanks to its patented keyway cover.
This smart lock gives a good account of itself for its durability and practicality. If you need something to keep the weight down on whatever you’re planning to lock-up, this is your ticket. With its 6-pin core and tough integrated body, even skilled pickers would find this padlock challenging and time-consuming to break.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
If you’re set on getting additional keys, this one might pose a problem for you. The Stanley Hardware is not so easy to get additional keys for. Because of its unique 6-pin locking mechanism and re-keyable system, fetching for additional keys from a lock hardware store or a store such as Target or Lowes is impossible. However, you can try your luck at the local key specialist and see if that works in your favour.
Our Best Step-Up Pick
The ABUS 37-80 Granit Alloy Steel Padlock comes from a popular and well-reputed company. ABUS is known for delivering accurate, tough, and functional security locks for high-end systems. This can be considered by a durable master lock padlockfor many people. Given its higher price and standard, it’s the best higher security lock you’ve been looking for. With over 6 tons tensile resistance and durable finishing, this model offers incredible strength and resistance against attacks. It’s even black Granit coated for protection against corrosion.
It has a disc cylinder with a core-hardened lock body and shank. For increased durability, it features a hardened base plate and a key-retaining feature in case of physical attacks on a door lock. The best part about this beast is that despite its high-end features that may seem complicated to some, it’s incredibly easy to lock and unlock with the key. And another stellar plus point is that after unlocking, the shackle pops open on both sides. The shank feature is present in only a few modern padlocks and that’s precisely what makes the ABUS significant.
Our Best Budget Pick
As for the affordable pick, look no further than the Master Lock 140D Sold Brass. It’s made of hardened materials such as the stainless steel shank and solid brass padlock body. The 4-pin cylinder design makes it difficult for cutting bolts to get through. Meanwhile, the size and shape of the padlock works with cable locks and is more practical than ever. We like this pick because it’s tough, has a slim profile, and comes with 2 keys for better functionality. For someone looking at low-end security padlocks, this one is a clear winner. It has the right design, functionality, and long-lasting performance to keep you company. And picking this lock is much more difficult than it looks.
Moving forward, the lock spring pops out gently once you unlock the hinge. The closure of the locking mechanism is heavy-duty which makes this high-quality padlock the best choice for the affordable and cost-effective price.
Our Best Combination Pick
The ORIA Combination Lock is a tough 4-digit combination lock. It’s made of steel and zinc alloy and has impressive anti-rust, waterproof, and weatherproof properties. The shank size on this best padlock is precisely 6mm. This makes a great multi-purpose lock such as for a bike, bags, lockers, etc. You can set as many as a 1000 combinations and the padlock is easy to re-programme. The traditional padlock design and performance is both attractive and functional. What’s more? One part of the shank pops out once you set the right codes down. To lock it again, all you have to do is push the shackle towards the hole until you hear a “click” sound. This means the pin is all the way inside the gap. Then, rotate the code line a few times and you’re done! This is what makes it one of the combination locks on the market.
Our Best Pick for Indoor Use
The Master Lock 141D is a simple yet durable aluminum padlock. It’s best for indoor use as it features a corrosion-resistant and hardened steel shank and a vinyl-coated aluminum body. This padlock is rust-resistant and scratch-resistant. It has a 4-pin cylinder locking system and a dual locking lever for expert attack resistance. You will find 2 colored keys for the same padlock when you buy the Master Lock 141D. The best usage for this padlock is to secure lockers, cabinets, and small boxes. Given its design and performance, we’d say this is a good practical choice for most people.
In our tests, it holds down the weight well and is the most accurate at opening and closing the shackle. It may not be the most tough competitor on the market, but the simple and practical design makes it easier and faster to use than the competition.
Our Best Pick for Outdoor Use
The Master Lock 40DPF Discus Lock is one of the best circular padlocks on the market. It features a stainless steel discus body, which is best used outdoors for loading trucks, bike, trailers, and sheds. It features a reliable 4-pin locking system and a dual locking lever for added security and protection against drills and attacks. The fact that it’s circular is enough to ensure better resistance against bolt cutters and drilling machines. This best padlock leaves no room for errors, thanks to its compact yet strong locking body.
The padlock itself is of a good size with the shank diameter around 5/8-inches. It includes 2 keys and one padlock and a key-retaining feature. Other features include a deadbolt locking system, corrosion resistant body, and a steel shank.
Our Best Pick with Long-Term Warranty
The Padlock 4-Digital Combination Lock is another best padlock with digit combination. It’s the best kind to get for multi-purpose use. This padlock offers up to 1000 combinations which you can review, re-programme, and reset based on your choosing. The best part about this padlock that sets it apart from the rest is that it has a solid 3-year warranty. So, it covers damages and performance glitches, if it were to arrive, for up to 3 whole years! The body is made up of zinc alloy which is waterproof and anti-rust. So, you do not have to worry about taking this padlock outdoors.
This is a straightforward padlock which allows you to set and re-set the combinations as many times as you want. And it’s because of its straightforward and simple controls that makes the Master Lock 653D better than the competition. It’s one of the best padlocks on the market.
Our Best Pick for Low-End Security
The Master Lock 653D is a good work-a-day padlock. You can buy a few of these at a suitable price and have all your bags, boxes, bike, and other items locked and secure for good. It holds up well to outdoor use. If you need a basic combination lock, this works fine. A good example of its usage is for cabinets you want to keep locked away from children. The combination dial is easy to lock and unlock with. The dial adopts a spinning mechanism which is the most practical and popular way to set the right combination in a padlock. The combination dial is easy to read and is protected chrome-plated dials and cut-resistant hardened steel shank.
Our Best Pick for High-End Security
The Medeco M3 Shrouded Boron means business with its boron alloy steel shank. It offers incredible cutting resistance, tensile strength, and pulling resistance. We liked this best padlock for its tough design and unmatched practicality. The cylinder is made of up stainless steel inserts which provide the best protection against bolt croppers, drilling, and other physical attacks. The key locking system is patented which means no other specialized key can master its locking mechanism. On the same note, the lock picking system has a triple locking action, which means picking the lock system with specialized pins is next to impossible. This best padlock is backed by patents, trademarks, and other security laws to ensure high-end business security. You can also use it with chain locks for added security.
Our Best Circular Pick
The ABUS 20-70 Diskus is our best round or circular padlock for its price. Backed by a reputable Germany-born company, this padlock features a deep welding technology. Which means it offers the best kind of protection there is against drilling, pulling, and cutting attacks. The best one there is for diskus padlocks, in fact. It features a disk lock cylinder mechanism and an anti-cut plate and base for added security. With ABUS-plus lock mechanism, this best padlock is hard to beat. The shank and locking body is corrosion resistant and is incredibly difficult to tamper with, as our tests suggest. For all-round protection, this is your ultimate ticket.
For this guide, we took into consideration industry standards of all traditional and modern padlocks on the market. This also includes researching customer feedback and research papers for the manufacturing and testing of locks. The advantages of using a padlock are plenty. But the disadvantages of using a bad padlock can cost you money, right? That’s why you need to rely on the best of the best products backed by security ratings.
For example, a few of our top picks are padlocks made from ABUS which has its own stape standard for protecting against physical attacks, drilling, cutting, and pulling. We looked for models that offer an intuitive, durable, and accurate design. For example, of one of the picks we couldn’t include in our list, which is the the Kryptonite New York is good for bike locks with a standard U-lock.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the levels of security padlocks offer?
A. Most modern padlocks offer multiple levels of security backed by trademark laws and security ratings. However, there is no single universal security standard for padlocks to fall back on. In such a case, if your padlock manufacturer offers security levels from 1 to 20, it must be taken plainly. There are certain kinds of standard padlocks which are not suitable for locking larger items. For bikes, for example, a proper bike lock like the Fahgettaboudit Mini bike lock will be important.
That said, for high-end padlocks, you can rely on the following padlock security ratings. They are:
CEN security ratings: Padlocks are divided into CEN 3 to CEN 6 – CEN 6 being the highest form of security a padlock can provide. These are categories into which padlocks are divided based on how they shape out after certain attack tests. (3)
Sold Secure security ratings: Padlocks in this category are divided into gold, silver, and bronze categories. Gold being the highest form of security a padlock can provide. Each padlock is tested and labeled into a category based on it performs against harsh attacks such as drilling, pulling, and other physical attacks. (4)
Q. Which is best – a combination padlock or a key padlock?
A. This is one of the most common questions asked by consumers. A good answer would be that key padlocks are tougher than combination padlocks, especially best used for high-end security purposes. The mechanism of a combination padlock suits smaller purposes such as lockers, gym bags, bike, etc. This is because a combination padlock can be cracked, rather extensively, by trying each code.
According to our tests, a combination padlock can be cracked within 4 to 5 hours for a 4-dial lock. As for a 3-dial lock, it can be cracked in less than an hour. Hence, setting up a combination lock in a remote location is a strict no. When you’re considering a more higher security end lock, a key padlock is the best option to move forward with. (5)
Q. What are keyed alike and master keyed padlocks?
A. A keyed alike padlock has the same key for multiple padlocks. What this means is that you have multiple padlocks in front of you and each one of them can be opened by a universal key. Keyed alike padlocks are also popularly known as suited padlocks or same key padlocks. These are more practical than other types of padlocks, hence, they’re more in demand for high-end security purposes.
A master keyed padlock is quite dissimilar to keyed alike padlocks. For one, they contain a master key which is a part of a whole set that can open multiple padlocks. The larger set of keys are allotted to each padlock and in return the master key can be used to open each and every one of those padlocks. A master key is best for authorised users only, meanwhile, the larger set of keys can be distributed to people in charge. Master keyed padlocks are more expensive than keyed alike padlocks because of their complex design and usage. When you want high-end business security with a group of people involved in the team, a master keyed padlock is your best option.
The most common usage for master keyed locks include for schools, universities, gyms, and such. And the best brand that manufactures such master keyed padlocks is ABUS.
Q. Which is the best padlock lubricant for safekeeping?
A. Our answer, based on research and testing, would be graphite powder. It makes an excellent lubricant for cold weather as padlocks are prone to freezing. However, graphite powder is a good lubricant for the cold weather only. For more humid climates, graphite could make the padlock too greasy and sticky, which is never good. You should know that grease is the number one kryptonite of padlocks; even more harmful than rust. The best lubricant for all seasons, that is if graphite is too difficult to use in the winter, is oil-based lubricant. The best oil-based lubricants offer better protection against rust and stickiness. They help keep the lock intact and last for a long time. An angle grinder works well with such oil-based lubricants.
Wrapping it Up
The Stanley Hardware S828-160 has the perks of a high security-level padlock. You can even use it for other purposes such as bike safekeeping, gyms, and indoor use. It is capable of resisting drills, cuts, pulls, and other physical attacks. It works with oil-based lubricants to resist corrosion, has a unique anti-pick pin system as its primary locking mechanism, and the stainless steel shank is strong and well-finished. If you want smart locks, based on our research and testing, this is the best one to get at a good price too! You won’t find something as accurate and straightforward as the Stanley Hardware.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.