Having owned a set of large diagonal cutters (and an angle grinder w/cutoff wheels) for a number of years, I’ve always been skeptical when it comes to padlocks. I generally see them as a way to keep mostly-honest (and lazy folks) honest. So when we receive yet another press release for the latest and greatest it’s-really-safe-this-time padlock, we generally don’t get too excited. Are we wrong, though? Do you feel that some locks are truly significantly better at protecting your stuff?
Here’s a rundown of some of the features pitched to us in various press releases:
First, we’ve seen lots of different designs:
The standard padlock comes in laminated, shrouded, and solid-body variants. The laminated version is the one you see in the infamous Master Lock “Tough Under Fire” ad, where they claim that their lock survives an encounter with a sharpshooter.
Unlike solid-body locks, laminated locks are less prone to cracking under heavy prying because the pry force is distributed among the laminated locks’ many individual plates of steel and the rivets that hold them together. If one plate cracks, the others still contribute structural strength; you have to crack lots of the layers to break the lock. You’ll notice in the video above that the bullet tears a hole clean through the lock, but the lock stays shut because the plates are still held together by many of the rivets.
Shrouded models add a case cover that extends above the lock body to make it harder for bastards to slip bolt cutters around the lock’s shackle.
Disc padlocks work along this same principal, incorporating a round shape that partially hides the shackle from cutters or pry bars. However, most disc padlocks are solid-body, which leaves them pretty open to brute-force smashing.
Hidden shackle padlocks take the whole thing a step further, extending the faces of the padlock’s disc to cover the shackle entirely.
Next you’ll find all sorts of metallurgy claims, especially in terms of the shackle. And finally you’ll note all sorts of convenience features like stainless keyways to prevent corrosion and so on.
So my question: What does all this mean to you in terms of what you buy? How much more are you willing to spend for a quality lock, and what features make the difference for you? Let us know in comments.
PS: I’m an OG cheapass, which means I generally just pick up a cheap lock and go for it, though I keep a storage unit at a really great place with cameras and a great crew. I’m asking because I get the feeling that maybe I should pay more attention to my lock selection.