Old 5-pin technology isn’t a joke

In 1988, Sony introduced the first PlayStation. Thirty years on, if you were to give your kids one of the original models for Christmas, they would think you were having a laugh at their expense. They want the latest PS4 iteration, the PS4 Pro or the version with the virtual reality headset. And although we might decry the commercialism of Christmas, the kids have a point. The new models are a world apart.

It’s the same story with lock cylinders. The latest 6-pin models knock the spots off the 5-pin versions, but unless you’re a close follower of the developments in lock cylinder technology, that might have passed you by. You might believe, as many still do, that 5-pins are all you need to be secure and protected, but you would be wrong. If nothing else, you could be invalidating your insurance.

5-pin cylinders are still being sold. They’re heavily promoted and often look like a bargain. We don’t want to get too technical, but, bear with us while we quote the number BS3621. It’s the specification insurers use when they’re deciding their risks and setting premiums. In short, insurance providers respect the protection the standard offers, but you can’t achieve BS3621 with a five-pin cylinder.

Sadly, some people think you can. At our sales meeting last week, we heard of several instances where buyers had been misled, which is why we’re trying to raise awareness. The facts are as follows:

PAS24 requires 6-pin cylinders

TS007 requires 6-pin cylinders

BS3621 requires 6-pin cylinders

3-star security requires 6-pin cylinders.

That extra pin makes all the difference. It’s far too easy for manufacturers to shout about the features their 5-pin cylinders have, while they conveniently ignore the features that they lack. If you want any form of complex master keying it has to be 6 pins Special features such as construction keying, you’ll want the benefits of those 6-pins. And we’ll assume that you want to comply with Approved Document Q of the Building regulations – in which case, you need to choose 6 pins.

Like the 1988 Sony PlayStation – no doubt, a brilliant advance at the time – 5-pin lock cylinders have had their day. We believe they should no longer be offered for sale because they’re not fit for the purpose most people expect them to serve. They are jeopardising insurance cover.  They are compromising the functionality of master-keyed systems in commercial premises, and they are allowing door installers – often unwittingly – to flout Building Regulations. They’re beyond a joke. They are a problem.

Keeping up to date with every technological advance is almost impossible, but tech giants like Sony and Apple have created a culture where their customers expect a new improved version to regularly appear on the market.  Demand is driven by the pester power of gamers, or the desire to be seen using that latest phone. With lock cylinders, advances are no less impressive, but it’s not quite so easy to get the improvements recognised and understood by the man on the street. Nevertheless, we’ll keep repeating the message. 6-pins are necessary in the vast majority of cases. We just wish the jokers still pushing their 5-pin cylinders would have a bit more respect for their customers.