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Keyed Alike VS Master Keyed

What is the difference between keyed alike and master keyed locks? This issue comes up almost every day in our dealings with our customers. Both keying arrangements offer convenience and can reduce the number of keys on your key ring but are in fact quite different.

Keyed Alike refers to a set of locks that open with the same key. All the locks in a keyed alike set have exactly the same set of pins, levers or other locking elements. Keyed alike locks can only be opened by one key (or a copy of that key). Keyed alike locks are clones of each other. Many manufacturers offer locks that can be purchased keyed alike off the shelf, especially when it comes to padlocks eg. Abus. When sold in packs of two, keyed alike locks are often called "twins". Keyed Alike locks are often referred to as "KA" locks.

Master Keyed ("MK") refers to a set of locks that can all be opened by a master key AND by their own key (differ key). A set of Master Keyed locks is called a system. Locks in a Master Keyed system can be opened by more than one key. Master keyed locks are almost always made to order according to our customer's access requirements. MK systems often have a hierarchical arrangement and consist of a number of Sub Master Keys ("Subs") under a Grand Master Key (GMK).

Tips when buying Keyed Alike locks:

  • Keyed alike locks are often confusingly and incorrectly described as having a "master key" - don't fall for that one.
  • Check how many keys you will be receiving in total when buying a set of keyed alike locks.

Tips when buying Master keyed locks:

  • Let us know all your potential future locking requirements for the system even if not buying all locks with your initial order so we can advise the best platform for your needs.
  • Check if you need to buy a new system or an extension to an existing system.
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