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The Real Story Behind Combination Locks: Are they secure?

February 15, 2024
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Combination locks are undoubtedly convenient. As shown above, they feature a column of numbered dials that you turn to open the lock. Rather than using a key, you simply turn each of the dials to the correct number. While convenient, however, combination locks don’t offer the same level of security as their keyed counterparts. To learn the truth about combination locks and why they pale in comparison to high-quality keyed locks, keep reading.

In this blog, we will be discussing the qualities of a combination lock, and what are the important assets and characteristics of combination locks that will help your with your home’s security.

How Combination Locks Work

While combination locks come in a variety of styles, they all have dials that can be used to open the lock. These dials are usually numbered. Every dial is attached to an internal locking device, like a pin. A dial that you turn to the appropriate number releases the linked locking mechanism. The combination lock won’t open until all of the dials have been turned to the appropriate positions.

Certain combination locks allow keys to be used as well. Put another way, you can unlock them by inserting and rotating a key, or by carefully adjusting the dials.

The Problem with Combination Locks

Combination locks’ main drawback is that they can be broken by trial and error. A determined burglar could likely figure out the right combination in under an hour.

Certain combination locks do, of course, have more than three dials. It is also more difficult to figure out by trial and error the more dials it has. No matter how many dials the lock has, a thief can still figure out the correct combination given enough time.

Combination locks are vulnerable to shimming in addition to basic trial-and-error cracking. Shimming, which should not be confused with picking or bumping, is the process of opening a lock with a special tool called a shim. The purpose of the shim is to pull back the spring that secures the shackle to the body of the lock.

Combination Locks vs Keyed Padlocks

Comparing keyed locks to combination locks, keyed locks provide a higher level of security because they lack dials. A thief cannot open it unless they possess the key. Moreover, combination locks are less vulnerable to shimming than keyed locks. These factors make a high-quality keyed lock the better option than a combination lock. Only the most secure laminated and verified padlocks are keyed by Karas Locksmiths.


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