Knowing the different types of padlocks and their construction can make a significant difference in the level of protection you become equipped with.

Whether you’re interested in making a purchase or would just like to expand your knowledge on the subject, explore this helpful guide for the full scoop on padlocks. The six main types include closed shackle, straight shackle, discus shackle, long shackle, weatherproof, and combination padlocks.

Brief Background on Padlocks

The earliest padlocks date back several thousand years ago to Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian societies. Their popularity quickly spread amongst Greek and Roman civilizations for their unique ability to keep thieves at bay while simultaneously securing valuables. Fast forward to this century and what you’ll see is that the fundamental design has not drastically changed. What has changed are the materials used to construct these devices and the technological advancements incorporated into their function. The shackle (sometimes called the shank) is the curved metal piece protruding above the padlock body. Inside the body there is a locking bar which is connected to the internal locking mechanisms. Generally the locking mechanisms have 3 to 7 small spring loaded pins. This is the case in most padlocks aside from discus locks and those without an upward stretching shackle.

Padlocks, if you haven’t already noticed, are one of the few types of locks generally not attached to the device they’re securing. They can be portable or free standing and come in either combination or keyed entry. In terms of keyed padlocks, it’s worth mentioning that there are two types—rekeyable and non-rekeyable. Rekeyable padlocks allow you the option to change the type of key that opens it, which can be quite convenient if you’re planning on creating a multipurpose key for all types of lock in and out of your home.

Combination Padlocks are Universal  

Combination padlocks come in a variety of sizes which are suited for different purposes like luggage, gates, lockers and more. A combination lock with a 4 digit combination can produce 10,000 possible codes. In an event where multiple individuals will need to open the combination padlock, it may be a good decision to select one with a resettable padlock. The ABUS 158KC Resettable Padlock, for example, prevents unauthorised resetting with the use of an override key. It’s made with a hardened steel shack for added protection and is designed for indoor use for lockers with hasp and staple fittings.

Closed/Shrouded Shackle Padlocks Are Secure

The closed shackle padlock, as the name suggests, has an enclosed design with the body shaped upwards around the actual padlock. The design of this lock is intend to prevent bolt cutters or saws from breaking into it or comprising the security. The above image features the Master Pro Series Laminated Steel Padlock. The solid iron shroud is built to guard against even the most abrasive of burglaries and the 5 spool pin tumbler cylinder adds superior pick resistance. But be aware that the area between the shackle is much smaller compared to a long shackle padlock so this may limit the type of bar or safe you fit it onto. Prior to purchasing a closed shackle padlock, review the manufacturer’s dimensions to ensure that the size can accommodate your needs.

Straight Shackle Padlocks for Industrial Frames

Straight shackle padlocks are sometimes referred to as shutter padlocks because they secured perfectly to most roller shutter doors. While many individuals assume that this is their only function, straight shackle padlocks are also uniquely sized for large shipping containers, chains, and industrial sized warehouse doors.

Discus or Round Shackle Padlock

Discus (circular or round) shackle padlocks are circular in form and have curved shackles which qualify them as closed padlocks. The keyway is located in very centre of the lock and is not spring loaded which means that if a thief was to take a drill and force it into the keyway, the padlock would not open. As you can imagine this characteristic makes it quite popular among consumers.

Long Shackle Padlock for Large Chains

Long shackle padlocks are characterised by their extended u-shape bar. Since their shackle is so elongated, it makes it a good locking mechanism for wide set chains or any other item that requires a padlock with a larger locking area. The Master Brass Changeable Padlock, featured above is best suited for outdoor use with its hardened steel shackle. The disadvantage with a long shackle padlock is that it’s easier for thieves and burglars to break with a saw or bolt cutter because the shackle is so drawn-out.

Weatherproof Padlocks Withstand the Elements  

How can you guard against rust and lock tarnishing when the weather is so unpredictable? Purchase a weatherproof padlock that is coated in a rust and corrosion solution. Chrome plated zinc padlocks are one example of a weatherproof padlock because of their great corrosion resistance. When browsing your option of weatherproof padlock, be sure the specifications mention protection against moisture, ice, dirt, or whatever your needs require.

To conclude, these six padlocks are easily distinguishable by their outward appearance and visible locking mechanisms. While they may all accomplish the same goal—to prevent intruders and burglars from access to your possessions—they all incorporate slightly different features.