The doors of your home are the first line of defense between your family and any burglars or attackers outside. Having a high-quality door lock installed within them is one of the best ways you can upgrade your physical security and buy precious seconds to prepare yourself in the event of an attack.
We checked out some of the best and most popular locks on the market to find the best models available. The ones that made it on our list combine excellent craftsmanship with effective performance.
1. Medeco Maxum 11-503 (ANSI Grade 1)
The Medeco Maxum 11-503 is an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt designed for high-security applications. The 11-503 model offers excellent security and extreme resistance to all types of unauthorized entry while also limiting the ability of bad actors to make unauthorized key copies. In testing, this lock stood up the longest to the most intense entry attempts, including the use of a battering ram such as those used by SWAT teams for entry.
Why we like it: The Maxum 11-503 is a rock-solid ANSI Grade 1 lock. It uses the best quality materials designed to resist unauthorized entry from drills, hammer blows, and kicks. It requires a locksmith for installation and will significantly upgrade the security of your home without noticeably changing its appearance.
Flaws: The Maxum 11-503 is part of Medeco’s Freedom Line of locks, and as such has a specialized registered key that can only be duplicated through the manufacturer. This is great if you’re worried about unauthorized copies getting around, but seriously raises the cost of a duplicate key for home use.
2. August Smart Lock Pro + Connect (ANSI Grade 1)
The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect is an ANSI Grade 1 smart deadbolt designed for home use. It combines the durability and break-in resistance of modern ANSI Grade 1 deadbolts with the convenience and user-friendly features of smart lock systems. You can open it with your phone or use the included Connect to pair keypads and other entry methods to the lock.
Why we like it: The Smart Lock Pro is without a doubt the most durable consumer-grade smart lock available. It has an ANSI Grade 1 rating and is made from the same high-quality materials used in commercial door locks. Despite this, it offers the full range of smart lock features including entry/exit monitoring, time-limited access, and the ability to check if your door is locked remotely.
Flaws: Some of August’s previous smart locks were shown to have exploitable vulnerabilities, up the ability for a hacker to unlock the lock. The newest generation seems to have dealt with this so far, but there are still some questions about their use of user data.
3. ARDWOLF A10 Biometric Door Lock (ANSI Grade 1)
The ARDWOLF A10 Biometric Door Lock is a handle style lock. It’s built to ANSI Grade 1 standards yet offers a lot of advanced features that few other locks combine together. Its combination of a biometric sensor with a keypad lock ups the overall security of your home by limiting access to only authorized people.
Why we like it: The A10 is the smart lock for the prepper who wants maximum credentialed security. The physical design is rugged and more than able to stand up to break-in attempts, but it’s the combined passcode/biometric unlocking that really brings it to the next level. It allows you to program in guest fingerprints and limited-access codes to give them access privileges while they’re there without the risk of a lost key.
Flaws: The two-step unlocking process takes more time than just using a key. You can choose to make it open with just a passcode or just a fingerprint, but that undermines the total security of the unit.
4. Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt (ANSI Grade 1)
The Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt is an ANSI Grade 1 door lock built with landlords and others with the need for regular rekeying in mind. It uses an advanced SmartKey system to let you rekey the lock in seconds without the need to call a locksmith. The lock itself is resistant to forced entry and a great way to upgrade your home or rental property’s security.
Why we like it: The 980 offers Kwikset’s patented SmartKey rekey technology. It allows you to rapidly rekey the lock with nothing but the included SmartKey Learn tool. If you have rental properties or are concerned about lost/loaned keys in your home it gives you an inexpensive and convenient way to rekey in seconds.
Flaws: Many users report that the internal lock cylinder wears down faster than other locks. They still function, but it can be more difficult to turn after several years of consistent use. Given its extremely affordable price, we aren’t too upset about this though.
5. Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt (ANSI Grade 1)
The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is an ANSI Grade 1 lock with a keypad access configuration. It offers both keyless entry through a passcode or smartphone app and the ability to use a secure key. The flexibility it provides plus its high-quality craftsmanship makes it a great option if you’re looking for something a little different from the standard deadbolt.
Why we like it: The Sense Smart line combines many of the most in-demand features of smart locks with the rugged build quality of a Grade 1 lock. It connects through WiFi to a smartphone app that allows you to adjust the settings, assign passcodes, and manage access. Even better, it’s totally keyless design eliminates the possibility of bump or picking attacks.
Flaws: Many of the best smart features of the Sense Smart require the purchase of a Schlage Sense WiFi Adapter. Without it you can still use the key and keypad entry methods, but you won’t be able to connect it to your smartphone.
6. August WiFi Smart Lock 4th Generation (ANSI Grade 1)
The August WiFi Smart Lock 4th Generation is an advanced ANSI Grade 1 smart lock designed for commercial and residential use. It’s the latest release in a line of well made and extremely effective smart locks that combine the best smart home features with a robust and break-in resistant physical design.
Why we like it: The 4th Generation of August’s highly rated smart lock offers the same capabilities as older versions but in a much smaller package. It can connect to multiple different smart home control systems, has built-in WiFi capability, and is designed to offer fully entry and exit with the ability to assign temporary access rights.
Flaws: The 4th Generation lock hasn’t been put through its paces the same way August’s older locks have. We have no reason to believe it has significant hidden flaws, but it just hasn’t spent enough time in the field for us to know for sure.
7. Yale Assure Lock SL (ANSI Grade 2)
The Yale Assure Lock SL is an ANSI Grade 2 keypad style smart lock designed for auxiliary use. It has a slimline design and incorporates some of the most in-demand features for modern smart locks such as geofenced access, remote app control, and up to date access logs.
Why we like it: The Assure Lock SL is one of the smallest and lowest profile locks out there. This is especially true when you compare it to other keypad smart locks with the long list of features it offers. It interfaces with all modern smart home hubs, offers customizable access settings you can change from your smartphone, and is still pretty robust.
Flaws: At an ANSI Grade 2 rating, the Assurer Lock SL doesn’t offer the same level of break-in resistance or durability that Grade 1 locks do. We wouldn’t recommend preppers use it for their entry points but it’s more than adequate for interior doors that require more security such as a home office or supply room.
8. Kwikset SmartCode 917 (ANSI Grade 2)
The Kwikset SmartCode 917 is an ANSI Grade 2 handle style door lock. It incorporates all the features that help set Kwikset locks apart from their competitors and offers some really nice extras. It allows you to create up to 30 individual access codes, including the ability to generate short term codes for guests or maintenance workers.
Why we like it: If a deadbolt isn’t an option for functional or aesthetic reasons this is a great way to maintain some security. The multiple programmable options such as passage mode, auto lock, and the ability to activate one-time use temporary codes allow you to give access to secondary doors securely.
Flaws: The SmartCode 917 shouldn’t be used as a primary lock in an entryway setting. It can be used when paired with a more robust deadbolt or as an interior locking handle for a garage door, outbuilding, or interior locked room.
9. Schlage Touch Camelot Deadbolt (ANSI Grade 2)
The Schlage Touch Camelot Deadbolt is an ANSI Grade 2 door lock. It combines an easy to use keypad lock/unlock system with a light yet sturdy physical body. It isn’t quite as strong as the other Grade 1 locks on our list but is a great and less expensive option for interior doors that still require security.
Why we like it: The Touch Camelot offers a keypad lock at a very affordable price. It isn’t quite as robust as a Grade 1 lock but is a great option if you want to lock off a room of your home for use as an office or as a way to safeguard your preps. It adds an extra layer of security to your valuables that helps slow down burglars or ‘friends’ with light fingers.
Flaws: It’s not really a ‘smart’ lock. It uses a digital keypad and passcodes for access but doesn’t keep lock/unlock records and can’t be remotely locked if you forget to lock it on the way out.
10. Kwikset 92640-001 Keypad Deadbolt (ANSI Grade 3)
The Kwikset 92640-001 Keypad Deadbolt is a motorized deadbolt designed for auxiliary doors. It allows you to use either a physical key or up to six custom passcodes to access the door. It isn’t a true smart lock, but it does provide you with a convenient and secure way to provide access to outbuildings or locked rooms of your home without needing to hand out keys.
Why we like it: It’s hard to find a reliable keypad lock for a more affordable price. It doesn’t offer quite the same level of protection as the other door locks on our list, but it’s still robust, reliable, and well suited for protecting non-entryway doors. We really liked the automatic locking feature and alarm that goes off after multiple failed attempts.
Flaws: It’s an ANSI Grade 3 lock. You shouldn’t use this lock on your front door or any door that protects your family. It’s a good option for outbuildings, sheds, or other auxiliary structures but shouldn’t be relied on as a primary door lock.
What’s new with door locks
Who should buy a new door lock?
For many preppers, their existing door locks offer enough protection for their doors and entryways. There are several groups who should seriously consider upgrading though.
Preppers with older homes – If you’ve got an older home with original door hardware it’s well past time to upgrade. Not only are most older residential locks far less secure than modern ones, but they’re also probably worn out and due for a basic replacement anyways.
Modern locks, and especially ANSI Graded locks, provide more security and better features than do older ones. It’s a good time to check out the door itself, the hinges, and the strike plate going into the door frame (1).
Preppers who just moved into a new home – Buying a new home is an exciting time, but there are a few steps you should take as soon as you move in. The very first thing to do with a new home is to replace your door locks.
The previous homeowners probably aren’t looking to take advantage, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. There’s also the fact that you just don’t know how many keys are out there. They may have given a key to a neighbor to water their flowers and forgotten to take it back when they sold the house.
Preppers looking to upgrade their home security – If you want to improve your home’s physical security the doors are the first place to start. They’re where your average criminal goes first when considering your home for burglary and are the easiest to upgrade.
Adding in longer screws in the hinges and strike plate plus a higher quality lock makes it much harder to kick in your door or destroy the lock itself.
Preppers who want to know who was inside their home – If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep close tabs on your home, a modern smart door lock is a great tool. Those that use a keypad or even biometrics can keep records of when the door is locked/unlocked, who entered, and even how long they were there.
It can be especially useful if you have older children who might be planning to sneak out after dark or to sneak back in after curfew.
Preppers with remote properties such as a bug out cabin – If you have a remote property such as a vacation home or bug out location upping the physical security is always a good idea. A high-quality door lock reduces the chances for casual criminals to target your home and makes it more difficult for them to gain access.
Preppers with outbuildings or a home office – Door locks aren’t just for your entry doors either. If you have outbuildings, a shed, a barn, or other structures that contain valuables it can be a really good idea to upgrade the security of your lock. All the same, benefits that go to your home doors apply to storage buildings and other structures.
Another way door locks can come in handy is for a home office or interior room that contains valuables. Many employers require you to lock up your workspace when not in use and even if you work alone it’s a good idea to clearly separate that area from the rest of your home.
Preppers who own rental properties – Modern door locks really show their value for preppers who incorporate rental properties as part of their financial preparedness. Rekeying the locks after tenants change can get very expensive, especially if you’ve got older locks that require a locksmith to do so.
Modern door locks can be rekeyed in under a minute with only basic tools. They allow you to turn over your unit with much less hassle and cost.
How we ranked
We considered five key factors while generating our list. These were strength and break-in resistance, lock type, ease of use, price compared to value, and smart features.
Strength and break-in resistance – By far the most important consideration for door locks is how strong and effective they actually are. Let’s get one thing straight right away, there is no unbreakable or unpickable lock. With enough time a determined attacker can get through any lock you’re going to be willing to put on your home.
Instead, we look at the design and materials used for a lock and how long it takes for different attack methods to defeat it. Kick tests, drill tests, and hammer tests are the most important to look at as these are the attacks that your average criminal can carry out.
Lock type – Until relatively recently there were only a few types of locks to look at. There were your standard locking door handle and a deadbolt. You could find fancier security locks but they weren’t widely used on the consumer market.
Now you have to consider a whole new generation of smart locks, keypad locks, biometric locks, and even deadbolts that utilize a higher grade of key. We tried to include a good range of different lock types on our list so everyone could find the perfect option for their home.
Ease of use – With ease of use we aren’t specifically referring to how easy it is to lock and unlock your door. This is more about how easy it is to perform changes and maintenance to the lock and to reinforce your door with it.
We looked for features like easy rekeying, or alternatively for high-security locks, difficulty in being rekeyed, setup for smart locks, and accessing lock/unlock records. Another important factor is how easy it is to switch out your existing strike plate for a security rated one.
Price compared to value – There’s a pretty big range of prices with door locks, but some of the top-dollar models really don’t give you a lot of added value for your money.
We compared the features and strength of the best quality door locks versus their often high prices to make sure they weren’t all hype without the substance to back it up.
Smart features – If you choose to go for a high-tech smart lock there are certain features to look for. One of these is programmability, type of access, access records to see who locked/unlocked your door, and other features like true smart home integration.
Some modern home security systems and smart home systems such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home can lock/unlock your doors remotely. This also brings up security questions and privacy concerns, which we duly considered.
Brands we trust – For door locks there are three names that come up a lot. Kwikset, Schlage, and August. Kwikset and Schlage are both traditional lock manufacturers and have decades of experience making high-quality locks and door handles. Their ANSI Grade 1 locks are extremely sturdy and can handle most common forms of attack well.
August is a relative newcomer but has distinguished themselves as one of the best smart lock makers out there. Their smart deadbolts are just as sturdy and impact resistant as the best older companies offer yet also provide some really advanced features.
Things to avoid – The biggest thing we recommend when considering upgrading your door locks is to first upgrade your strike plate. Most homes come with inexpensive strike plates installed with short 1 inch screws that don’t penetrate into the stud mounting of your door frame.
If you upgrade your lock without installing a heavier duty strike plate with at least 3 inch long screws it will be child’s play for an attacker to kick it in and break through the door frame.
We weighted each of these factors and combined them together to create our list. Any of the locks found on it provide excellent performance in their specific role.
Door locks grant you precious extra time when an intruder tries to enter your home – The unfortunate truth about any kind of physical security is that a determined attacker can always get through eventually. High-quality door locks aren’t about keeping them out permanently but making it harder and more time consuming to get in.
Your average residential lock can be defeated in a very short amount of time by the basic skill of kicking in the door. Upgrading your lock to a sturdier and more impact resistant version can grant you 30 seconds to a minute of extra time to get ready.
The last thing you want as a homeowner is to wake up with attackers already in your home. Having a high-quality lock can buy you the precious seconds you need to arm yourself and get ready to defend your family.
Door locks are the most affordable physical security upgrade you can make – Many of the physical security upgrades that are recommended for home use involve replacing doors, windows, and even adding expensive fencing. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve your home’s security is by adding a high-quality door lock.
For a lot less than you’d think you can have a highly impact-resistant lock installed to harden your main entry points and increase the difficulty for a burglar or attacker.
Smart door locks allow you to know who entered your home, and when they did so – One of the useful features of modern smart locks is the ability to assign individual and temporary passcodes or access. Not only does this make it easy for guests and others who only need temporary access, but it also allows you to keep a record of everyone who enters and exits your home.
For parents, this is a great way to know if your kids were coming home past curfew or if they were sneaking out after dark.
Door locks make your home a harder target to deter criminals – The locks on your door are the most important security consideration you can take. Most criminals and burglars are opportunists.
They’re looking for the easy way, a quick score, and aren’t interested in putting a lot of effort or time into entering your average home. Just having visibly sturdy locks and making sure you consistently lock them can cause many criminals to look for an easier target (2).
Newer door locks are much easier to rekey – For landlords and anyone else who wanted to rekey a lock, it used to mean calling a locksmith and paying an expensive fee. Thankfully, there are now lots of great door locks out there designed to rekey in seconds with nothing but a few basic tools.
This saves you a ton of money if you’re renting out a property and reduces the hassle involved with waiting for a locksmith to come out.
Q: How many types of door locks are there?
A: There are several types of door locks you can choose from, with two being far more common than the rest. In the U.S. you’re most likely going to find deadbolts and knob/handle style locks. These have been used in the vast majority of residential and commercial doors for decades and offer significant performance and convenience benefits. You may also be familiar with mortise locks, though these are much less common in the U.S. (3).
Q: Should I get a smart door lock?
A: It depends. There are undeniable convenience and usability benefits to a smart lock, but it really comes down to how you use your locks. If you live with your family and only rarely have guests there may not be much added benefit to the features a smart provides. For landlords, those who frequently have visitors over, or those who value the ability to check the status of their locks and remotely lock/unlock them, the answer is a resounding yes.
Q: Are keyless door locks secure?
A: Yes. Keyless door locks, including smart locks, are just as physically secure as traditional keyed locks. In many cases, they rely on your existing deadbolt and upgrade the access methods. Where they really shine is in allowing temporary access to your home such as when you have guests or maintenance workers coming in and out.
The caveat to this is that WiFi and Bluetooth connected smart locks can potentially be hacked. The good news is that your average burglar doesn’t have the sophistication to exploit any possible vulnerability (4).
Q: What kind of key is most secure?
A: When people ask about the most secure key they’re really wondering what type of door lock cylinder is the most secure. Pin tumbler keys are by far the most common in the U.S. but don’t offer a ton of specific security benefits. There are also registered keys available that require proof of ownership through a manufacturer registry before a copy can be made.
The best answer though is that the key isn’t nearly as important as the strength of the lock and door. Most burglaries that use the doorway as an entry point are kicked in or otherwise destructively entered rather than picked (5).
Q: What door lock resists kicks best?
A: There’s only so much a lock itself can do to resist kicks and other impacts. In most cases, it’s actually the door frame or door itself that splinters around the lock. The best way to harden your home against brute force entry is to add longer screws and a reinforced strike plate to connect your door with the stronger stud in your wall (6).
Our pick for the best kick resistant door lock, also our number one pick, is the Medeco Maxum 11-503.
Q: What is a strike plate?
A: The strike plate is the small piece of metal that the deadbolt or latch bolt fit into. It’s what actually allows the lock to hold your door closed and prevents a criminal from simply pushing the bolt through the wood of a door frame.
Basic strike plates are one of the most common points of failure for door locks. We highly recommend you check the condition and strength of every strike plate in your home, and upgrade any basic ones with box strikes that use three-inch-long wood screws (7).
Q: What are ANSI grades on locks?
A: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) offers a grading program for door locks and handles. There are three grades, 1, 2, and 3, with grade 1 locks being the strongest and most durable. In order to qualify as an ANSI Grade 1 lock, a deadbolt must be able to withstand 250,000 cycles and stand up to 10 strikes with a hammer.
Most residential door locks are ANSI Grade 3 and aren’t nearly as strong or durable as Grade 1 or even Grade 2 locks. Another important caveat is that many buildings, especially older ones, use ungraded locks that have not gone through the ANSI program (8).
Q: What is the best deadbolt door lock?
A: The best deadbolt door locks share a number of key features that set them apart from the rest. The first place to look is at ANSI Grades. Grade 1 deadbolts offer the highest level of security and offer a significant barrier to entry for criminals.
Our pick for best deadbolt door lock, also our number one pick, is the Medeco Maxum 11-503.
Q: What is the best door handle lock?
A: Door handle locks should only be considered as secondary entry locks or primary locks for auxiliary uses. Think home offices, outbuildings, or locked interior rooms of your home. Even ANSI Grade 1 door handle locks aren’t as resistant to forced entry as the best deadbolts.
Our pick for the best door handle lock is the ARDWOLF A10 Biometric Door Lock.
A high-quality door lock is one of the best security upgrades you can make to your home. Modern locks are more rugged, less expensive, and come with more useful features than any that came before them.
For Survival At Home’s #1 door lock recommendation, click here.
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