5 Tough Locks for Your Front Door

We know that good security often comes in simple devices, which is why we decided to put electronic smart locks aside to find the best and toughest traditional door locks to keep you safer at home.
Written by | Updated August 19, 2019
Best for Security
silver deadbolt lockMedeco Maxum M3
  • Unique angled key design
  • Drill-proof hardened steel
  • Unique angled key design
  • Drill-proof hardened steel
Easiest Installation
silver deadbolt lockSchlage B60N626
  • "Snap & Stay" design for easy installation
  • Low profile face
  • "Snap & Stay" design for easy installation
  • Low profile face
Best for Storm Doors
gold mortise lock and handleWright Serenade Mortise Set
  • Attractive design
  • Universal fit
  • Attractive design
  • Universal fit

Bottom Line: The Medeco is Unique and Tough

We knew our top pick would have to be “The Rock” of traditional locks: big, tough, and unmovable. The Medeco M3’s solid, hardened steel construction and unpickable locking mechanism checked all the boxes. We especially liked that the unique lock style means unique keys, making them hard to duplicate. But keep in mind that if you need a duplicate key, or if you ever need to get the lock re-keyed, its uniqueness means you’ll have some hoops to jump through. 

The M3 lock is available in a variety of different finishes, and it comes with a high-security, box-style strike plate with two-inch, high tensile screws—not as long as the three-inch screws we prefer for a truly secure door, but better than the standard one-inch. Installation can be difficult, so you might want to have a locksmith on call just in case. You can order several Medeco locks for your home and have them keyed the same or differently.

The price tag on the M3 is definitely higher than the other locks on our list, but for everything it offers in protection, we think the triple-digit price is well worth it. 

Compare the Best Door Locks

Lock Materials
ANSI Grade
Price
Best for Security
Easiest Installation
Best for Storm Doors
Medeco Maxum M3 Schlage B60N626 Wright Products Serenade Mortise Set Kwikset 980 with SmartKey Defender Security Door Reinforcement Lock
Brass and hardened steel Steel and brass Solid brass Steel and aluminum Extruded aluminum
1 1 N/A 1 N/A
Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon

Data effective 5/7/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

The Best Door Lock Reviews

Medeco Maxum M3: Best for Security

The Maxum M3 is the next generation of lock security. Its solid, hardened steel casing and inserts make it drill-proof and impervious to attacks from crowbars and other common tools. Unlike most locks that are designed to open only when pins fall to a specific vertical level, the Medeco’s unique design won’t open unless the pins fall at both the right level and at the right angle. In fact, it has to have 22 points of contact in just the right place to open. This makes it harder to pick, but it also makes the unique Medeco keys difficult to duplicate, since rekeying-machines don’t cut the kinds of angles a Medeco key requires. 

Medeco locks are deadbolt only, so you’ll have to find a matching doorknob lock, but the deadbolts come in more than a dozen finishes, so you can find just the right match. Medeco is by far the priciest door lock on our list, but it’s top quality, and it comes with a two-year warranty.

Pros

  • Pick-proof lock
  • Unique key design
  • Hardened steel casing
  • ANSI Grade 1 rating
  • High security strike plate

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Deadbolt only

Schlage B60N626: Easiest Installation

As someone who’s been in the sweaty trenches of deadbolt replacement myself, I wish I’d had something like the Schlage B60 series to make the process a little easier. Schlage designs its deadbolts to fit most standard pre-drilled deadbolt holes, and it uses a unique “Snap & Stay” ring to hold the locking mechanism in place while you screw it in. Since there’s just three pieces to install with a standard Phillips head screwdriver, you’ll be looking at less than 10 minutes total work time. 

This lock isn’t as impervious to attacks as the Medeco, but it is pick- and bump-resistant, and at around $30, it won’t break the bank. It’s available at most local hardware stores, and it comes with a AAA rating (best of the best) from BHMA for security, durability, and finish. 

Pros

  • Snap & Stay design
  • Universal fit
  • Quick installation
  • Tamper resistance
  • AAA BHMA rating

Cons

  • Weak screws

Wright Products Serenade Mortise Set: Best for Storm Doors

If you’re a neighborly person who likes to see what’s going on outside, but you don’t want to leave your door unlocked for intruders, a storm door lock like this one from Wright Products is a good way to beef up your security. This lock has an adjustable backset, so it will fit most storm doors, and its built-in deadbolt keeps your door firmly locked. The simple, curved handle design fits most décor styles, and it goes with other locksets from the Wright Products line, so you can match it to your front door.

The only drawback to this lock is that it’s tricky to install. The instructions that come with it aren’t very clear, so if you’re not mechanically minded, you might want to enlist a friend or professional to help with the job. On the bright side, one reason mortise locks are hard to install is because they’re designed to be more complex than cylinder locks, so they’re also harder for intruders to beat. 

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Universal fit
  • Storm door deadbolt
  • Solid brass construction

Cons

  • Tricky installation

More Door Locks That Are Worth a Look 

If security is a priority, but you don’t want to spend a lot, here are a few more door locks that are more budget-friendly than the others on our list. 

silver deadbolt lock

Kwikset 980 with SmartKey

The Kwikset 980 looks great on paper: it has solid steel construction and BumpGuard technology, plus it’s tough to pick and you can rekey it yourself. But we couldn’t put it into the top three because the jury is still out on how reliable the SmartKey rekeying technology really is. Some users say their key stopped working in the lock after a few years, and some say the rekeying failed altogether. The good news is that it’s an affordable option, and if you run into any trouble with your Kwikset lock, it’s covered under a lifetime warranty that covers mechanical problems and finish blemishes. 

silver door reinforcement

Defender Security Door Reinforcement Lock

The Defender Security Lock isn’t like the other locks on our list because it doesn’t have a key. It works more like the devices you’d find on our Best Door Jammers list by preventing a forced entry while you’re in your home. No keys means it’s pick-proof and bump-proof, so it’s a great way to put an extra layer of security on exterior doors that have windows next to the locks. At under $20, it’s inexpensive, and it’s easy to install and use, but users say it doesn’t hold up well with repeated use over time.

Things to Consider before You Buy

What’s Your Backset?

The backset on your door is the measurement between the center of the drilled hole for your lock and the edge of your door. This is an essential measurement to have before you go shopping for locks to ensure you get a lock that fits. Most backsets on US doors are either 2 3/8 in. or 2 3/4 in., so most locks are designed to fit those measurements. Still, every once in a while, you’ll get a door that’s drilled differently, so be sure to check. 

Single Cylinder vs. Double Cylinder Locks

The deadbolt locks we’ve included here are single cylinder locks, which means they have a keyhole on one side and a thumb turn or lever on the other side. You can purchase double cylinder locks that require keys on both sides, but needing a key to unlock the door from the inside could delay or prevent you from getting out of your home in an emergency. For that reason, we recommend using only single cylinder locks for your home security.

Security Doors

Before outfitting old doors with new locks, consider whether you might want the added protection of a security door. Security doors are much sturdier and more kick-resistant than standard builder-grade doors, and they can provide extra security at your home’s most vulnerable point. Today’s security doors come in a wide variety of stylish finishes to match your décor, so you won’t have to feel like you’re living in a bank vault. 

Adding Door Sensors

If you’re focusing on beefing up your door security, it’s a good idea to think about adding door and window sensors to your home. These sensors are included in many home security systems and will alert you whenever a door or window is opened when the system is armed.

Door Lock FAQs

How do keyless door locks work?

Most keyless door locks work like garage doors: they have a keypad where you enter a code to open the door. In recent years, devices like the August smart lock have come on the scene, turning your smartphone into a key fob so you can lock and unlock your smart lock using only your phone. Some smart door locks will even sense when you (and your phone) are near, locking or unlocking the door automatically. Keyless door locks require batteries or hardwiring for power.

Do I need a professional locksmith to install my new door lock?

It depends. Some of the locks we mentioned on our list are easier to install than others, and it depends on how comfortable you are with tools. The main reason you might need a lock pro is if your locking mechanism doesn’t fit your door properly. Services like Thumbtack can help you find someone to lend a hand if you need it.

What do ANSI and BHMA grades mean?

Both ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) test locks based on their level of security and quality of construction. An ANSI Grade 3 indicates that a product is good for basic residential security, a Grade 2 is a higher level of residential security, and a Grade 1 is considered the highest quality grade for residential or commercial security.

What is lock bumping?

Lock bumping is a technique used by both locksmiths and lockpicking intruders to open a lock using a special “bump key” and a blunt object like a hammer or screwdriver. Once the bump key is inserted into the lock, hitting it at different angles with the hammer will jostle the inner workings of the locking mechanism until it unlocks. Getting a bump-resistant lock is essential to ensure home security.

How We Picked the Best Door Locks for Home Security

To choose our top picks for the best door locks, we studied each lock’s construction and security features to find locks that were not only built to last but also designed to foil even the most talented lockpicker. To find out more about how we review security products, check out our full methodology.

Written by Kasey Tross

Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more

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