Exploring ANSI Lock Grades: A Comprehensive Guide to Lock Security Standards

Key Takeaway

  • ANSI grading for locks is based on a series of tests that evaluate the lock’s ability to withstand various levels of force and abuse, its durability over time, and its ability to withstand repeated use.
  • Tests for ANSI grades of locks include Cycle Test, Strength Test, Security Test, Impact Test, Bolt-Projection Test, Finish Test, Key Control Test, etc.
  • ANSI Security Grades for locks are based on a scale from 1 to 3, with Grade 1 being the highest and most secure and Grade 3 being the lowest.
  • ANSI Grade 1 locks are for commercial/high-security use, Grade 2 for light commercial/heavy residential use, and Grade 3 for residential use.

Do you know what’s worse than getting locked out of your house? Getting locked in by an intruder! That’s why it’s crucial to have a secure lock to keep unwanted visitors out. But with so many options out there, how do you know which locks are actually secure? 

Not all locks are created equal in terms of strength and durability. Recently, a friend of mine had a break-in at their commercial property, and it made me realize how important it is to have a comprehensive understanding of lock security standards. This incident motivated me to write this article, which explores the ANSI lock grades to understand lock security standards. 

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established three grades of locks based on their durability, strength, and overall performance. This comprehensive guide will explore the different ANSI lock grades, their characteristics, and how to choose the best lock for your security needs.

What Does ANSI Grading Mean?

What Does ANSI Grading Mean?

ANSI grading refers to the system of standards established by the American National Standards Institute, working closely with BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) to determine the quality and performance of various products, materials, and systems, including locks. 

ANSI A156 refers to a series of standards developed by the ANSI for the testing and rating of locks and other hardware used in the construction industry. Specifically, ANSI A156.2 covers locks, latches, and locking devices, ANSI A156.5 covers cylindrical locks, and ANSI 156.13 covers mortise locks.

ANSI grading of locks is based on a series of tests that evaluate the lock’s ability to withstand various levels of force and abuse. The tests are designed to simulate common methods of attack used by intruders, such as drilling, picking, and prying. The tests also evaluate the durability of the lock over time, including its ability to withstand repeated use and exposure to the elements.

Tests For ANSI Grades

Tests For ANSI Grades

ANSI grading standards for locks are based on performance tests that evaluate the strength, durability, and security of different types of locks. The following are some of the key tests used to determine ANSI grades of locks:

  1. Cycle Test: This test involves opening and closing the lock repeatedly to evaluate its durability and longevity. The number of cycles required for a lock to meet the ANSI standards for a particular grade is determined by the type of lock.
  2. Strength Test: This test evaluates the force required to break the lock, as well as its resistance to tampering and forced entry. The lock is subjected to various types of physical attacks, such as drilling, prying, and hammering, and its ability to withstand these attacks is evaluated.
  3. Security Test: This test evaluates the lock’s ability to resist picking and other types of manipulation. Locks are subjected to various picking techniques to assess their resistance to these attacks.
  4. Impact Test: This test involves applying a heavy weight or force to the lock to evaluate its ability to withstand impact and resist breakage.
  5. Bolt-Projection Test: This test evaluates the strength and durability of the lock’s bolt projection mechanism, which is responsible for locking and unlocking the door. The lock is tested under various conditions to ensure the bolt projection mechanism operates smoothly and reliably.
  6. Finish Test: This test evaluates the quality and durability of the lock’s finish, such as its resistance to humidity, corrosion, salt, UV light, etc.
  7. Key Control Test: This test evaluates the lock’s ability to prevent unauthorized key duplication and ensure that only authorized individuals can access the lock.

The tests for ANSI grades of locks are typically conducted in specialized testing laboratories that are equipped with the necessary equipment and expertise to perform these tests. These laboratories may be operated by lock manufacturers, independent testing organizations, or government agencies.

ANSI Security Grades For Locks

ANSI Security Grades for locks are based on a scale from 1 to 3, with Grade 1 being the highest and most secure and Grade 3 being the lowest. Each grade represents a different level of performance for the lock, with higher grades indicating stronger and more durable locks that provide better protection against forced entry and tampering.

ANSI Security Grades For Locks

Here is a breakdown of the ANSI Security Grades for locks:

ANSI Grade 1

ANSI Grade 1

This is the highest level of security for locks and is intended for use in commercial and high-security applications. Grade 1 locks are designed to withstand heavy use and provide the highest level of resistance against forced entry and tampering. 

Here are some standardized characteristics of ANSI Grade 1 locks:

  • Door thickness: Grade 1 locks are designed for use with doors that are at least 1 3/4 inches thick, ensuring that they can withstand heavy use and abuse.
  • Latch bolt: Grade 1 locks must have a heavy-duty latch bolt that extends at least 1 inch into the strike plate, providing a higher level of resistance against forced entry.
  • Strike plate: Grade 1 locks must have a reinforced strike plate that is made of heavy-duty materials and secured with long screws, providing a higher level of resistance against forced entry.
  • Corrosion resistance: Grade 1 locks must be tested for corrosion resistance to ensure that they can withstand exposure to harsh environmental conditions.
  • Cycle testing: Grade 1 locks are tested to withstand 1 million cycles of operation, ensuring that they will continue to operate smoothly and reliably even with frequent use.
  • Door strikes: Grade 1 locks require door strikes that are designed to withstand 10 hammer blows and 3-inch screws to secure them to the door frame.
  • Deadbolt strength test: Grade 1 deadbolts must be able to withstand 1-inch pry bar attacks with 400 pounds of force without failing.
  • Bolt strength test: Grade 1 bolts must be able to withstand 1-inch pry bar attacks with 250 pounds of force without failing.
  • Impact resistance: Grade 1 locks must be able to withstand 75 pounds of force without breaking or cracking.
  • Cylinder strength: Grade 1 locks must have a strong cylinder that resists tampering, drilling, and picking.
  • Key torque strength: ANSI Grade 1 lock must withstand three times the normal amount of torque applied to a key without failing.
  • Saw resistance: Grade 1 locks must be able to withstand being sawed for at least 5 minutes without failing.

Common examples of ANSI Grade 1 locks include the Sargent 10-Line Satin Chrome lock, Yale AUCN8847FL lock, and Olympus Lock DCN3 Rekeyable Cam Lock

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ANSI Grade 2

ANSI Grade 2

ANSI Grade 2 locks provide a medium level of security and are suitable for use in residential and light commercial applications. They offer a higher level of security than Grade 3 locks but are not as heavy-duty as Grade 1 locks.

Here are some standardized characteristics of ANSI Grade 2 locks

  • Door thickness: Grade 2 locks are designed for use with doors that are at least 1 3/8 inches thick, ensuring that they can withstand moderate use.
  • Latch bolt: Grade 2 locks must have a latch bolt that extends at least 1/2 inch into the strike plate, providing a moderate level of resistance against forced entry.
  • Strike plate: Grade 2 locks must have a reinforced strike plate that is made of heavy-duty materials and secured with long screws, providing a moderate level of resistance against forced entry.
  • Corrosion resistance: Grade 2 locks must be tested for corrosion resistance to ensure that they can withstand exposure to harsh environmental conditions.
  • Cycle testing: Grade 2 locks are tested to withstand 800,000 cycles of operation, ensuring that they will continue to operate smoothly and reliably with moderate use.
  • Door strikes: Grade 2 locks require door strikes that are designed to withstand 5 hammer blows and 2 1/2-inch screws to secure them to the door frame.
  • Deadbolt strength test: Grade 2 deadbolts must be able to withstand 1-inch pry bar attacks with 250 pounds of force without failing.
  • Bolt strength test: Grade 2 bolts must be able to withstand 1-inch pry bar attacks with 150 pounds of force without failing.
  • Impact resistance: Grade 2 locks must be able to withstand 60 pounds of force without breaking or cracking.
  • Cylinder strength: Grade 2 locks must have a cylinder that resists tampering, drilling, and picking.
  • Key torque strength: The key torque strength requirement for ANSI Grade 2 locks is that they must be able to withstand two times the normal amount of torque that would be applied to a key without failing. 
  • Saw resistance: The saw resistance requirement for ANSI Grade 2 locks is that they must be able to withstand being sawed for at least 3 minutes without failing. 

 Examples of ANSI Grade 2 locks include Master Lock SLCHPG26D, Schlage BE365 V CAM 619, and Dynasty Hardware AUG-00-26D.

ANSI Grade 3

ANSI Grade 3

ANSI Grade 3 locks are the lowest level of security and are typically used in residential settings. They offer basic protection against forced entry and are generally less expensive than Grade 1 or Grade 2 locks.

Here are some standardized characteristics of ANSI Grade 3 locks:

  • Door thickness: Grade 3 locks are designed for use with doors that are between 1 3/8 inches and 1 3/4 inches thick.
  • Latch bolt: Grade 3 locks must have a latch bolt that extends at least 1/2 inch into the strike plate.
  • Strike plate: Grade 3 locks must have a strike plate that is made of steel or brass and is secured with screws that are at least 1 inch long.
  • Cycle testing: ANSI Grade 3 locks are tested to withstand 200,000 cycles of operation.
  • Door strikes: Grade 3 locks require door strikes that are designed to withstand 3 hammer blows and 1 1/2-inch screw to secure them to the door frame.
  • Deadbolt strength test: Grade 3 deadbolts must be able to withstand 1-inch pry bar attacks with 150 pounds of force without failing.
  • Bolt strength test: Grade 3 bolts must be able to withstand 1/2-inch pry bar attacks with 100 pounds of force without failing.
  • Impact resistance: Grade 3 locks must be able to withstand 30 pounds of force without breaking or cracking.
  • Cylinder strength: Grade 3 locks must have a cylinder that resists picking and drilling.
  • Key torque strength: ANSI Grade 3 locks must withstand two times the normal amount of torque applied to a key without failing.
  • Saw resistance: Grade 3 locks must be able to withstand being sawed for at least 1 minute without failing.

Examples of ANSI Grade 3 locks include the Amazon Basics Grade 3 Electronic Touchscreen Deadbolt and Honeywell 8101406 Classic Entry Door Knob and Deadbolt Lock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Are all locks with an ANSI Grade 1 rating the same, or are there variations in their security features?

Answer – While all locks with an ANSI Grade 1 rating meet the minimum requirements set forth by the ANSI/BHMA standards, there can still be variations in their security features. Manufacturers may choose to add additional security features to their Grade 1 locks to make them more resistant to forced entry and tampering. For example, some Grade 1 locks may have reinforced strike plates, hardened steel bolts, or pick-resistant cylinders.

Q2. Are ANSI and BHMA the same?

Answer – ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) are two separate organizations, but they work closely together in developing and publishing industry standards for builders’ hardware.

The ANSI/BHMA standards for builders’ hardware are developed by BHMA and then accredited by ANSI. ANSI serves as an independent third-party organization that reviews and approves the standards developed by BHMA, ensuring that they meet the requirements of ANSI’s rigorous standards development process.

Conclusion

Understanding ANSI lock grades is essential when it comes to choosing the right lock for your security needs. The ANSI grading system provides a standardized method for evaluating the security features of a lock based on a set of rigorous tests. By choosing a lock with a higher ANSI grade, you can ensure that your property is more secure against forced entry and tampering.

When selecting a lock, it is important to consider the level of security required for your particular situation.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.