Due to misplaced keys, we are going to either rekey or replace an old lock on our front door.

The manufacturer was Barrows, which seems to be somewhat rare since our local hardware doesn't carry blanks for new keys.

We would replace it only if it is feasible replace only the approx 1" diameter cylinder on the deadbolt with common brand such as Schlage or Baldwin or ...

What security factors come into play? For example, does the rarity of Barrows locksets make them more secure, or is Barrows know for poor or good security?

  • At the end of the day, door locks prevent "easy entry" by just walking into your house, but an unlocked window, well placed brick, or even a pry bar make other entries into a home a path of least resistance. Oct 23, 2015 at 14:07
  • Your house is only as secure as the weakest entry point. But since you lost your key you have no choice but to re-key or replace it.
    – hookenz
    Sep 4, 2016 at 21:29

5 Answers 5


Lockpicking is tremendously sensitive to the accuracy of manufacture. A good-quality cylinder really is more secure than a cheap equivalent. (There are good-quality second-source cylinders, but don't expect to find them in a $3 lock set.)

Degree and kind of protection from brute-force attacks varies; that's a lot of what the lock grading system is about. Grade 2 locks are physically more durable than the cheap grade 3 versions. (Grade 1, commercial, is more so but is mostly needed where you're also concerned about how well the lock will stand up to the wear and tear of being used frequently.)

High-security cylinders do make a difference. So do higher-security strikes, anchored to the framing rather than the trim.

Master keying should be used only when necessary and should always start with a more-secure-than-usual cylinder. (Some locksmiths describe master keying as "the controlled destruction of security" -- I'd say reduction but they aren't far off.)

And so on. Seriously, the number of ways to get security wrong or right approaches the number of lock designs on the market, and there are real limits on what can be discussed in a public forum .... or should be, anyway.


If you have burglers that know how (or care to know how) to pick door locks, you definitely live somewhere a lot richer than me.

To a lock picker, all Yale-type pin and tumbler locks are more or less the same in terms of difficulty. You can teach an 8-year-old to reliably pick a Yale lock in about half-an-hour.

  • 3
    Not entirely true. Picking relies on exploiting manufacturing tolerances in the lock. A good-quality cylinder will be manufactured to tighter tolerances than a cheap one, even if the design and keyway are theoretically identical. (And yes, I am writing as a locksmith.) However, I agree that, even today, unless you're in a particularly targeted area, pick resistance is usually secondary to simply having decent locks on your door and using them. As I've said elsewhere, you don't need (and can't afford) perfect security; what you need is enough to make them bother someone else.
    – keshlam
    Aug 27, 2015 at 10:19

There would be basically no difference in overall entry door security with the original type deadbolt cylinder or a good quality modern one made out of similar materials.

The "rarity" of key blanks would have little bearing because expert crooks that want to pick the lock use tools that are agnostic to the shape of the lock cylinder slot.

Keep in mind also that the "security" of a door lock is only a very small part of the picture. A determined burglar or crook can find a host of other ways to gain access to your property that are completely unrelated to your deadbolt. At best the deadbolt is a deterrent to simple open and walk in the door type entry.

  • Thanks, good point about keeping the task in perspective. In the meantime, I've become aware that locks are security-rated as level 1 (commercial), 2, 3 ... and about bump keys, drilling out the plugs, etc .... Maybe motion activated yard lights would be a good investment.
    – user41735
    Aug 22, 2015 at 21:55
  • Defense in depth. An alarm system renders breaching windows, locks and doors a moot issue often. A motion detection light alerts others in the neighborhood that there's activity, etc. Multiple, persistent threats make a property a less desirable target. Aug 23, 2015 at 3:34
  • Reminds me that I should put the front door light on a motion detector...
    – keshlam
    Aug 27, 2015 at 10:21

Number of pins and turns of the tumbler. Some tumblers can turn twice. I'm not sure how they work exactly but I'm assured that they are more difficult to pick.

In any case, most burglars who find the front door locked will enter in via a window as they are often easier to open.


As mentioned in other answers and comments, I don't think the obscurity of the Barrows lock improves security appreciably. However, I just like to keep old hardware like this "all original."

If you google "Barrows key blanks" you'll see that these do seem to be readily available online.


So to keep it original, I might try to find a locksmith that would be willing to special order the blanks, or let me get them online and cut them for me. (It's understandable that the locksmith wouldn't want to go to too much trouble for a $5 keymaking job.)

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