Art of Lock Picking - Learn The Craft of Lock Picking!

ANSI Lock Grades: What You Need to Know

what are lock grades
Last Updated on August 5, 2022
Art of Lock Picking is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Did you know that there are different grades of security when it comes to locks?

ANSI ratings represent the durability and strength of a lock. These lock ratings do not represent a lock's resistance to picking or other types of bypassing such as lock bumping or drilling.

So, what grade lock should you choose for your home or business? Let's take a look at the different ANSI Lock Grades and what they mean for your security.

What is an ANSI Lock Rating?

The ANSI (American National Standards) oversees and coordinates "standards development" in the United States. Simply put, they manage other organizations that set and develop standards (referred to as "standards development organizations" or "SDOs").

Among these SDOs is the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), responsible for publishing the standards for locking hardware, including ANSI lock ratings.

Depending on the type of locking hardware, they perform various controlled laboratory tests.

Examples of these door lock tests include the following: 

  • Operational: Tests how easily the door latches when pushed closed. The lock must latch with a maximum force of 4.5 pounds for all grades.
  • Cycle: Tests the lifetime durability of the lock—how much it can be used and still be operationally compliant.
  • Strength: Tests the strength of the lock and its ability to hold up against excessive downward force on the knob or lever—such as a child hanging on the knob. Each grade uses a standardized weight.
  • Security: Tests against methods of forceful entry, such as sledgehammer or kick-ins.
  • Material Evaluation: Tests the durability and strength of the trim (rose) to a destructive attack, such as an impact with a screwdriver.
  • Finish: Tests against environmental conditions (humidity, salt, UV light) and resistance to normal wear and tear such as scratches from a key.

These tests are conducted in a laboratory under controlled conditions, so there is no guarantee that these rated standards will directly relate to the lock you buy in the store.

ANSI Lock Grade 1

Grade 1 is the highest rating a lock can get. They are designed for heavy-duty commercial and industrial applications but are also a fantastic heavy-duty option for residential use.

Some standardized characteristics of Grade 1 locks are:

  • Cycles: Doorknobs and levers must withstand at least 1 million cycles (number of times opened and closed), while deadbolts must withstand 250,000 cycles.
  • Door Strikes: Must withstand 10 blows to the cylinder face at 75-foot-pounds of force.
  • Strength Test: 360 pounds of force applied downward to the knob/lever.
  • Bolt Length: Must have a 1-inch latch bolt.

Whether securing your business or your home, I can't recommend enough always selecting a good grade 1 lock.

Best of all, Grade 1 locks don't have to break the bank. The Schlage B60N—my favorite budget deadbolt—is rated a Grade 1!

For other deadbolt recommendations that you can trust, check out my guide on the best deadbolts of 2022!

ANSI Lock Grade 2

Grade 2 rated locks are considered low-grade for commercial and industrial applications and mid-grade for residential use.

Some standardized characteristics of Grade 2 locks are:

  • Cycles: Doorknobs and levers must withstand at least 800,000 cycles, while deadbolts must withstand 150,000 cycles.
  • Door Strikes: Must withstand 5 blows to the cylinder face at 75-foot-pounds of force.
  • Strength Test: 360 pounds of force applied downward to the knob/lever.
  • Bolt Length: Must have a 5/8 inch long latch bolt.

While I don't recommend a business use Grade 2 locks to secure their exterior doors, they work well for interior doors.

ANSI Lock Grade 3

Grade 3 is considered low-grade for residential use only and should never be used in a commercial or industrial application. In fact, I don't recommend using them in residential either.

There are so many good options on the market at similar price points that there really isn't a good reason to use Grade 3 or no-grade locks.

Some standardized characteristics of Grade 3 locks are:

  • Cycles: Doorknobs and levers must withstand at least 800,000 cycles, while deadbolts must withstand 150,000 cycles.
  • Door Strikes: Must withstand 2 blows to the cylinder face at 75-foot-pounds of force.
  • Strength Test: 360 pounds of force applied downward to the knob/lever.
  • Bolt Length: Must have a 5/8 inch long latch bolt.

If you have Grade 3 locks on your door, you should truly consider upgrading your hardware.

Do Lock Grades Represent Pick Resistance?

ANSI Lock grades represent the toughness and durability of a lock and do not test nor represent their vulnerability to bypasses such as lock picking, impressioning, or bumping.

Many Grade 1 deadbolts are just as easy to pick as Grade 3.

If you want a full breakdown on how to choose a door lock that is strong and resistant to bypassing, check out this section in my deadbolt buying guide where I discuss other features to look for when purchasing a lock that is truly secure!

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right ANSI lock grade for your needs is important.

If you can manage it, I would highly recommend always using a Grade 1 lock on your exterior doors. In addition to the increased lifespan, you also get a 1" latch, which can make a significant difference in the security of your door!

As a final thought, I would never recommend using a Grade 3 or no-grade lock in any application securing an exterior door. There are just too many good options on the market that provide increased security and durability—without a massive increase in cost!

Limited Red Edition!

Best Beginner Set

GSP Ghost Lock Pick Set

limited edition gsp ghost set shop

Limited Red Edition!

Best Beginner Set!

GSP Ghost Lock Pick Set

  • "I own several sets of lock picks including Sparrows and SouthOrd and while I love those sets nothing truly compares to these picks.The handles are an absolute luxury that I will never again be able to go without!"
    Nick R.
    Customer
  • "I think this set is worth every penny. I don’t have a single complaint and have yet to come across a lock that I cannot tackle with the lock picks provided."
    Christopher B.
    Customer
  • "Art of Lock Picking has truly been a great help in learning lock picking. I ran across their lock picking guide, bought these picks per recommendation of that guide and have opened everything I have stuck my picks in so far. Can’t wait to see what I am picking in a few months!"
    Harith J.
    Customer
Check Out GSP Ghost Set
Shopping cart
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
0