Padlock Buying Guide

The history of padlock is long. Its origin credit goes to ancient Egypt and Greek people who invented padlock for securing their valuable things. Nowadays, padlocks are universally accepted equipment for securing many things, from your bag, bike to your home door.

However, not all types of padlocks give you ultimate security. Some shackles are easily accessible while others are easy to cut using saws or bolt cutters.  The article best padlock buying guide focuses on the areas that you need to choose while finding the best padlocks for you.

Padlock components:

Before starting padlock buying guide we will discuss padlock components. Padlocks are portable locks that include a pivoted hook or shackle. This pivoted hook is used to lock your desired objects. All types of padlocks such as small, heavy-duty or complex security are made with three components.

  • A Body
  • the Shackle and
  • the Locking Mechanism
Padlock Buying Guide
  • Body: The main and solid part of the padlock that includes the locking mechanism and where you need to insert the key.
  • Shackle: Shackle is basically a U-shaped metal that is attached to the main body. The shackle will not unlock unless you use the right key for opening it.  There are generally five types of shackle:

Close shackle: It is one of the stronger and safer padlock shackles that you can choose for your belongings. A close shackle comes with built-in shoulders. This shoulder is designed in a way that shackles are exposed for a little portion, giving you the security from any kind of attack.

Many insurance companies suggested using a close shackle. However, as the shackle is little, it is sometimes inappropriate to use for chains and other objects.

Close shackle padlock

Open shackle: Open shackles are the most common types of shackle where the majority of the shackle part is exposed. Therefore, it is easier to use for various things like chains, doors, holes, and more. On the other hand, this type of shackle is very vulnerable to attack.

Open shackle padlock

Semi-enclosed shackle:  As the name suggested, this type of shackle is half-enclosed and half-opened. This is more secure than close shackle and suitable for use for various objects.

Semi-enclosed shackle padlock

Long Shackle: It is another form of open shackle where the shackle is long, giving you the facility to attach with two objects that are slightly far from each other. If you need to pass the shackle through multiple hasps or fittings, you should choose these types of the shackle. However, this is more vulnerable than an open shackle.

Long Shackle padlock

Adjustable shackle: You can adjust the shackle length based on your purpose.

Adjustable shackle padlock

Shackle-less or Hidden shackle padlocks: These types of padlocks also have a shackle that cannot be seen because of its location. This shackle is situated underside of the lock body. They come with both round and rectangular shape. They are designed to attach with a special security hasp. Therefore, it grows popularity for locking double doors, van, warehouse, and more.

Shackle-less padlock
  • Locking mechanism/cylinder – For keyed padlocks, locking mechanism has a key cylinder where you need to insert the key. On the other hand, you will find a rotary mechanism or dial as a locking mechanism in combination locks.

Padlock buying guide – Things to check while buying padlocks:

There are various things you should check while buying padlocks. Not only are the materials that are used to make the padlock but also the other necessary elements are required to check. Some of the necessary things that you need to check are given below:

Materials and features: The first thing while buying a padlock, you need to check is its materials and features. Try to choose heavy and sturdy materials and padlocks with great features such as anti-drill coating, shroud, excellent shackle, and more.

Shackle – While choosing the types of the padlock, try to find a padlock with ball bearings which is used to maintain the separation between the bearing races. Ball bearings protect the shackle from being shimmed. It is pleasant that most of the padlocks come with ball bearings. Other things to consider about padlock shackles are –

  • Try to choose a padlock that’s shackle is strongly attached in the two parts of its body.
  • For higher security, choose close shackle or semi-enclosed shackle instead of an open shackle. Close shackles exposed as little of the shackle as possible that makes it one of the stronger and safer locks.

Shackle Shroud or shackle cover – Shackle shroud or covers are the additional metal layer that gives extra protection and limits the chances for shackle cutting or shimming. For opening the lock, you need to cut or remove the shackle shroud which is not only time-consuming but also laborious, discouraging the most ambitious thief also. The less accessible the shackle, the more secure your lock.

Core – Core, also known as the cylinder, is the area where we insert the key. There are various types of pins that are used for locking. There are pins made with hardened steel, spools, serrated pin, and more.  Removable core allows you to customize the system through most padlocks do not have this feature.

Anti Drill Plate – Anti-drill plate cannot be drilled, giving you the security from theft through drilling. The padlocks that are made with drill-resistance materials do not allow the thief to drill and cut the lock. In a padlock, anti drill plate can be used in various ways. Sometimes a loose cover is used for spinning separately from the lock as the drill rotation simply spins the plate only without catching the metal.

Metal – Using good metal ensures good security. It is important to use better metal both for the body and the shackle. Some of the other things to consider are the thickness and type of metal.

For instance, it is better to choose padlocks that are made with specialized alloy metal instead of standard hardened steel. You may think to choose a heavy padlock, but thick alloy metal is better than heavier metal. Heavy padlock does not ensure high-security always.

Security Level:

Checking security level is one of the essential measures to consider while buying a padlock. Fortunately, two reliable industry standards ratings are found for padlocks though most manufacturers have their own rating. These two organizations are: “Sold Secure” and “CEN”.

  • Sold Secure: Sold Secure is an individual testing and certification house for security products that give ratings in three ways: Gold, Silver, and Bronze where Bronze is the lowest standards. These ratings are given by after evaluating the padlocks through various harsh tests and physical punishments. Full list of approved padlocks and other security products by “Sold Secure” can be found here.
  • “CEN” rating:  Central European Norm (CEN) is a European organization that tested padlocks. Like “Sold Secure”, CEN also tested each product through various attack tests. However, their grading comes with CEN 1 to CEN 6:
  • GRADE 6 – Maximum Security
  • GRADE 5 – Extra High Security
  • GRADE 4 – High Security
  • GRADE 3 – Medium / High Security
  • GRADE 2 – Standard Security
  • GRADE 1 – Low Security

For commercial purpose, CEN Level 6 is the highest while for consumer purpose CEN level 5 is the highest. However, it is very rare to find a padlock with CEN level 6 grades. Our recommendation is to choose a padlock with CEN 3 to CEN 6 rating for higher security.

Size: Size is another issue that you should check when buying a lock. Definitely, you will not buy a heavy-duty padlock for your travel bag or luggage. Similarly, it is also foolish to choose small size padlocks for gates, fences, shutter, etc. Based on your needs and purpose of using padlocks, choose the size.

Additionally, the shackle size is also needed to be considered. Check whether you can choose the size to your required security hasp and staple, chain, and more.


Padlocks are an easy target to the thieves as since can be broken by force or cut by bolt cutters, hammers, or drilling. More optimistic thieves can use more subtle ways to unlock padlocks by lock picking or shimming. So, finding a good padlock is a must. The article padlock buying guide focuses on the ways of searching a good padlock that can give you both security and peace of mind. To sum up, while buying a padlock, you need to think about its size, shackle types, security level, material, and more. Shackle Shroud or shackle cover, anti drill plate features, etc are the plus point for you.

Padlock Buying Guide

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