What Is A Master Key System?

Master Pinned Cylinder

A Master Key System is basically a hierarchy of keys. Each key providing access to only certain areas of a building through a series of change keys. Comparatively speaking, just as a Keyless Access Control System provides access to certain areas of a building while restricting access to other areas, a Master Key System is a Keyed Access Control System. It too allows access to certain parts of a building while restricting entry to those areas that the key holder is not authorized to enter.

Some people get things very confused in their mind. They call and ask us to rekey their locks and then they ask if we can put them all on a Master Key. What they usually mean by this statement is can we key all of their locks alike. Another words, make them all work with a single key. For informational purposes, exterior door locks, which are those exposed to the outdoors should not be Master Keyed. We say this because our locksmiths know all too well just how easy a Master Keyed lock can be picked open by a person with a limited skill set.

Landlords that own multi-unit dwellings find a Master Key system to be the end of their key nightmares. If you owned a 150 unit multi-unit dwelling which was on a master key system you would only require one key. A Master Key would operate every lock in the building. Could you imagine just how difficult it would be to keep track of 150 or more different keys for such a building? Some suite doors may have a secondary locking handle or perhaps a secondary deadbolt. This could turn into a real key nightmare for the landlord.

We would like to respond to a myth that revolves around the phrase “Master Key”. Some believe that a Master Key is some kind of magical, mythical key that can grant them access to anything and everything they can think of and believe that it is the key to the city. This quite simply is the furthest thing away from the truth possible. It is also physically impossible for one key to operate every lock in the world. Do you realize just how ludicrous that statement is? If it were true that a Master Key could open every lock in the world then no one’s belongings would be safe.

A Master Key system is a closed system designed by a professional locksmith and works within a group of locks that have been master keyed. Locks contain “Lock Pins”. There is a driver pin and a bottom pin in each chamber of a lock. A pin tumbler lock can contain anywhere between 4 and 7 chambers. When a lock is master keyed an additional Master Pin is placed between the driver or top pin, and the bottom pin, usually in each chamber of the lock. This is what allows more than one key to operate the same lock. There is a mathematical formula that locksmiths use when designing a Master Key System. This ensures that each and every key in the system is different enough that it cannot open another lock in the system.

Security Article Written by: Toronto Locksmith



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