Rick’s 2020 three star lock cylinder guide

As a busy locksmith in my twelfth year of trading I’ve keenly followed the rapid development in upvc door lock designs, from the initial prototypes put out for testing to the bulletproof designs we’re now installing on a regular basis.

When I was in my first few years of training I knew a couple of more experienced locksmiths in Cannock that were given prototypes to test and play with. These were generally varying designs of snap resistant locks from the crude to downright ingenious. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of these and have a play for myself.

As they evolved it seemed that there were three ingredients to a well rounded anti snap solution. One, a sacrificial element that would break before the weak centre. Two, a strengthened centre piece to further resist forceful attacks. Three, locking devices to lock the cylinder outright when under attack. This eventually formed part of the the TS007 three star specifications.

There now exists a handful of successful designs sporting various brand names that account for the majority of three star locks on the market.

1/ The Federal design.

As far as I’m aware, federal were the first using this design which was eventually taken on by the manufacturers. It now exists more commonly as Brisant Ultion, Era Fortress, Avocet ABS and other lesser brands such as the Schlosser Ultimate. They have all made their own tweaks to the design but it’s essentially the same lock body and principle. These are all very good locks but have all proven on occasion to have reliability and quality issues, generally springs and trap pins jamming the lock. 

2/The Magnum Design.

This is one I followed closely right from it’s early stages from a range of Scandinavian locks which came to the UK as the Milenco Magnum, a seven pinned lock featuring a laser track sidebar. It wasn’t long before the design was gobbled up and churned out under the Yale brand, initially in a one star outfit before evolving into the the current three star Yale Platinum. As with all Yale locks the build quality is spot on, and I’ve never had a problem with any that I’ve installed. It’s not surprise this is the one stocked in DIY stores across the country.

3/The Micota design.

This design has now been adopted by the majority of budget brands, initially on sale under the Trimas name. These cylinders can be identified by the sacrificial cut close to the lock centre and when snapped leave a rotating deactivated clutch plate. It’s been rebranded numerous times, Asec 3 Star, Securit 3 Star, Mk1 Sclosser Three Star, to name just a few. Whilst this cylinder is excellent at preventing a destructive attack it has been the one I’ve experienced the most failures with due to the sensitive nature of the clutch mechanism. Definitely not one I’d choose to install on a heavy use door or one that’s going to be using multiple duplicate keys.

4/The Mul-T-Lock Variations.

As with the Yale quality, the Mul-T-Lock cylinders are again a superbly reliable lock that you can install and forget about. At the more expensive end of the spectrum and a little harder to source, these locks are generally only installed by partners and Mul-T-Lock franchises. Various designs have been produced featuring anti grip features and the usual sacrificial sections. One I’d recommend sourcing for commercial application and a lock that’s not readily available to the public.

Those are the top four, three star designs that account for the majority of anti snap locks installed in the public domain. There are lots of other manufacturers with their own anti snap cylinder ranges, but are less common unless you’re dealing with that particular brand in a commercial setting or as part of a mastered suite. The only other design that may be worth a mention is the Apecs cylinder that again has begun to be rebranded and supplied with a few composite door firms. This one very similar to to the federal design, however seems much cheaper in terms of quality.

It will be interesting to see which of these designs stand the test of time and how they may change over the coming years. I suspect digital security features will grow to be more popular as the technology becomes cheaper, but there will always be a need for strong mechanical devices until the door mechanisms themselves evolve into something less reliant on a lock cylinder.

Written by Rick – Wolverhampton Locksmiths



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