Laminated Padlocks – How Secure Are They?

We have all seen the TV commercial where the padlock was shot and did not open: that is the laminated padlock. It is indeed a very physically strong padlock due to its construction. This provides for a very strong impact resistant padlock. These types of padlocks have been around since the 1920’s and it is the lock that started the Master Lock Company.

Where most padlocks are constructed out of solid steel, brass or aluminum, the laminated padlock is made of steel plates that are stacked then riveted together. There is a hole through the center for the locking mechanism and two holes on the top for the shackle. There is usually a plastic bumper around the bottom of the padlock whose purpose is to give some protection to the mechanisms that the padlock is mounted to. All laminated padlocks are built this way, but the similarities stop there.

How are they built?

  • Steel plates that are stacked together
  • Plates are riveted together to form the body
  • Hole through center for the locking mechanism
  • Holes on the top for the shackle

Laminated padlocks come in many different sizes ranging from one-half inch wide to over 2.5 inches wide. The more secure locks have what’s called “Double Ball” locking which means the shackle has two locking balls or latches one on each side of the shackle. This increases the overall security of the padlock by increasing the pull or pry resistance against the shackle.

The locking mechanism comes in 3-4-5-6 pin locking. The more pins in the lock and cuts on the key the more secure the lock is. Some of these padlocks are re-keyable meaning that the locking codes can be changed, this increases the versatility of the lock and in some cases the security. As in all locks, the more security features the more the padlock will cost.

Keying options:

  • Keyed alike (one key opens all locks)
  • Keyed different (each lock has its own unique key)
  • Master key (each lock has its own key, but one master key will open all locks)

So, how secure are laminated padlocks? The answer really depends on what you are looking for. They all offer a very strong resistance to physical attacks such as prying, wrenching and impact. They offer mid-level security of pick resistance so long as a higher number of pins are used. Their key control is on the low end, because they do not offer patented keyways.