Guide to Key Cores for Locks


    Security has become one of the most important concerns these days. Earlier, locks were quite sufficient as burglars were unaware of the techniques to break down these locks. As we progressed, the conventional lock systems became inefficient, mainly because breaking them was so easy. The criminals were aware of the modern techniques and loopholes that were required to break these locks. For this reason, security systems were updated with high-quality complex key cores. They are not easy to crack. 

    What are Key Cores?

    Key Cores are one of the most used equipments every day. They are mainly used to add on to the security. In easier terms, a key core is a small round core inserted in a cylinder that is directly attached to a lock. The better a key core is, the more securer it would be. For example, a simple key core lock is easier to crack as compared to a complex interchangeable key core. For this reason, people are looking for the best key cores for locks and fortunately, we have a great list of the ones that you can buy from 

    Things to Consider Before Purchasing A Key Core

    There are numerous providers of IC cores in the market, all offering multiple features. However, you may be a little confused, wondering which IC core to buy. Here are some of the features you should consider when purchasing a key core for your building or house.

    Type of Key Core

    There are two basic kinds of key cores: standard cores and interchangeable or IC cores. They vary in cost and convenience. 

    Standard Core

    Standard cores are the most common type of cores found in households and small businesses. They take about 10-15 minutes to change per lock. A key cylinder is fixed or immediately linked to a standard lock-in core. 

    Although the upfront cost may be lower, the long-term cost will be higher as compared to IC or interchangeable cores because of the need to rekey the locks. Rekeying a standard core requires professional help, and it is not easy to do it on your own. 

    While it is possible to do it on your own, it requires a lot of effort. This is because to rekey or replace the core,  the lock must be disassembled halfway. This entire process is best left to a professional. Without dismantling the lock halfway, standard cores cannot be rekeyed.

    Silver keys and a lock for the front door. Household security system. Dark background.

    Interchangeable Core

    An IC core is a sure winner because you can rekey the lock yourself! A control key is used to extract and reinstall the core, and a lock change may be completed in only a few seconds if you have the keys for both the old and new cylinders. A control key is used to enter an interchangeable core (which resembles a figure eight), into a cylinder.

    This procedure is rapid and simple. It takes only 30 seconds. While interchangeable cores are more expensive up front, they compensate for the costs in the long run if you need to rekey your facility. You will only need to pay once and then never have to hire a professional to rekey your locks.

    Interchangeable cores come in two sizes: a smaller figure eight-core for a small format and a large figure eight-core for a large format. They perform similar functions, but a small format IC core cannot be put in large format compatible hardware. Similarly, a large format IC core cannot be inserted in a small format IC core hardware.


    It would be best if you also thought about hardware compliance because not all cores are compatible with every piece of hardware. 

    If you plan on buying an IC core, you need to pick one that is compatible with your hardware (large or small format IC cores).  As discussed above already, you need a small figure IC core for a small format compatible hardware and a large figure IC core for a large design compatible core. Also, If there is a lever set in the standard cylinder, then you can not install an IC core in it.

    Key Duplication

    You need to make sure that the key core you buy is not easy to duplicate. We advise going for restricted, serialized key cores which cannot be duplicated. This will help in authorized duplication by intruders and add an extra layer of security to your system. 

    Serialized core means that the keys are personalized according to the institution they are used for. Therefore, if a person from outside tries to duplicate it, the hardware detects it as foreign.

    Silver keys and a lock for the front door. Household security system. Dark background.

    Master Key Systems

    If you would like to build multi-level access to your institution, get a key core that allows master key access. The best part about having a master key system is that you can use them with “rekeyable” locks for extra convenience. This means that user keys are unaffected when “rekeyable” locks are rekeyed at the master key level.

    If a master key is lost, stolen, or damaged, the locks in your master key system can be changed using a step-change key linked with the lock associated with the lost, stolen, or damaged key. You can prevent the trouble of sending new keys to each user by using this method. However, you will have to give the users new master keys.


    If you have a small institution with just a few locks, then a standard IC core will suffice. The upfront cost is low, and you will have a tiny cost associated with hiring a professional if the locks need changing. However, if you have a larger institution where high security is required with constant rekeying, then we advise you to get IC cores. IC cores may be costly upfront but will save you a lot of money when you have to replace each lock as you can do them yourself.

    Patented Cores

    For the best security, go for lock cores that are patented. Patented systems are high-grade and prohibit unauthorized duplication. Besides, such systems are usually performing better than the non-patented or copied ones. While they may be expensive, we still recommend getting them because security is something you shouldn’t compromise on. 


    We can deduce that the key cores have one of the most important functions for a lock. The lock itself is useless as long as this tiny cylindrical-shaped object is not good enough. Therefore, we have compiled our list of best key cores for locks which will help you get the best security in your locks. These are durable options that have worked in a flawless manner for multiple users. 

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