Padlock Buying Guide

For years, padlocks have been used by property owners to protect what they hold dear against security threats. Padlocks are portable locks, which can be used to secure property, commercial establishments, luggage, bicycles, motorbikes, and truck doors among many other things. Padlocks are used for two general purposes: protection from theft and to prevent unwanted and unauthorised entry.

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Parts of a Padlock

In order to understand how a padlock works, you must understand its components. A padlock has three main parts: the body, the shackle, and the locking mechanism.

The Shackle

The typical shackle is a U-shape metal loop, which can enclose a chain or a security hasp and staple. It is an obvious point for attack and tampering in any padlock. There are three types of padlocks available based on their shackle: open, close, and semi-enclosed. A close shackle padlock has built in shoulders, to minimise exposure of the shackle. A close shackle padlock is more secure than a semi-enclosed or open one. However, close shackle padlocks have one limitation, which is size clearance.

An open shackle padlock is easier to use, even in small clearances such as chain links. However, the exposed shackle makes it more vulnerable to tampering and attacks.

A semi-enclosed shackle padlock is a compromise between the two types.

 The Locking Mechanism

The padlock’s locking mechanism includes: the wafers or locking pins, the springs, and the keyway design. The combination of the number of pins, the different lengths of the pins, and the pattern of the keyway determines the key patterns of the padlock.

The Body

The body encloses and protects the locking mechanism of the padlock from tampering and any forms of attack. It can be made from pressed steel, laminated steel, solid brass, or solid steel alloy.

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How to Choose the Best Padlock

Here are some guidelines that you can use when you shop for the perfect padlock.

1. Choose a padlock for the level of security it offers.

Manufacturers often give general purpose padlocks a security rating guide. The rating is arbitrary, and solely depends on the manufacturer. Higher security padlocks on the other hand have two reliable industry standard ratings that they follow. These are the ‘Sold Secure’ and ‘CEN’ security ratings.

‘Sold Secure’ security ratings have three categories: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Each rating category corresponds to levels of attacks that the padlock must withstand. Gold is the highest of the three security ratings.

‘CEN’ security ratings, a European standard, are categorised from CEN 3 to CEN 6. The categorisation is same as ‘Sold Secure’, in which the padlock passes certain attack tests. CEN 6 is the highest CEN security rating.

2. Choose the correct size.

The size of the padlock that depends on its intended use and application. Use appropriately sized padlocks. You don’t want to use a small and flimsy padlock to secure the gates of your property. Likewise, a chunky, heavy padlock would be very impractical to use in a luggage.

Aside from the size of the padlock as a whole, the size of the shackle is also a point to consider. How thick the shackle of a padlock is will give you an idea of the level of strength that the lock provides. The size of the body of the padlock you need also depends the security hasp and staple where you will intend to use it.

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3. Choose the right shape.

Padlocks generally fall into four shapes: Discus, Conventional, Anvil Lock, and Shackleless.

Discus style, also known as circular or round, shackle padlocks are characterised by their round shape. They are usually used to secure doors of beach huts and sheds, and to lock cycle security chains.

Conventional style padlocks are used for low security applications. You can find them used for tool boxes, factory gates, and securing parked motorcycles.

Anvil style padlocks are also known as ‘straight shackles’ or ‘shutter locks’. They are often used to secure the roller shutters of businesses. You can also find them used to secure bicycles and motorcycles in parking lots.

Shackleless padlocks have shackles, despite what the name suggests. The shackle is just hidden in the underside of the padlock’s body. They can be round or rectangular in shape, and are used with a matching security hasp. Shackleless padlocks are difficult to tamper with, and can withstand most attacks. They are usually used to secure warehouse doors, and the double doors of trucks and container vans.

4. Consider the padlock body’s material.

The body of your padlock has a very important role. It protects the locking mechanism from any attacks. It houses and enclosed the lock cylinder and mechanism of the lock. It must have cavities where the shackle buries itself when in locked position.

A padlock’s body can be made from the following: solid brass, laminated steel, pressed steel, solid steel alloy and armour encased brass.

Solid brass locks are cheap and not considered very secure. They are susceptible to attacks and tampering, and they provide a lower degree of security. Solid brass padlocks are mostly used in applications that need a lower level of protection.

Laminated steel padlocks are made from several layers of pre-punched steel plates. These plates are riveted together to form the padlock’s body.

Pressed steel padlocks are formed from two heavy-duty stainless-steel shells, which form the body’s front and back. These shells are welded together around the lock mechanism of the padlock. This type of padlock offers a good degree of security for general use and applications.

Solid steel alloy padlocks are harder and tougher than brass padlocks. They are more robust and more resilient to tampering and attacks. The surface of the padlock is usually treated to prevent rust from forming and weakening the lock.

Armour encased padlocks are used to increase the level of security of a brass padlock. The brass padlock is encased in a hardened steel jacket. The armour protects the lock from attacks such as drilling, making it more secure.

5. Consider the size and material of the shackle.

When buying padlocks, you need to consider the size of the shackle for your intended use. Shackles that have diameter of up to 7mm are used for low security needs. Shackles that have diameter of at 7 to 10mm are used for medium security needs. Shackles that have diameter greater than 10mm are for higher security applications.

Shackles can be made from stainless steel or hardened alloy. Padlocks with shackles made of stainless steel are usually used for outdoor applications. Padlocks with hardened alloy steel shackles are usually used in applications where a higher level of security and protection is needed. The alloy is treated to provide stronger protection against security attacks.

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For your Newcastle security and locksmith needs, contact Ambassador Locksmiths.

Ambassador Locksmiths provide you with 24/7 locksmith services in the Newcastle area. Our services include 24-hour emergency lockout entry, commercial and residential locks, deadlocks and window locks, change and repair of locks, key-cutting, and re-keying. We also offer a wide range of padlocks for your different security needs. Call us or send us an enquiry so we can discuss your security requirements.