Master Key Systems

27 Jul Master Key Systems

Companies of all shapes and sizes consider security a top priority, to ensure the safety of their people and allow – but also limit – access to company property. Given one’s level of responsibility within the organization, the master key concept allows for a hierarchical system of control, from multiple keys opening, for example, the front door, to as few as one key that can access all of the locks. It sounds simple, but design options can get pretty complicated.  


Depending on which historical account you read, the key was invented as early as the sixth century BC by Theodore of Samos. According to Wikipedia, in 1861, the pin-tumbler lock designed by Linus Yale, Sr. inspired his son, Linus Yale, Jr. to invent and patent a small key with serrated edges and, most importantly, pins of varying lengths within the lock. This is the pin-tumbler design still in use today.


Tools of the Trade

Usually, pin tumbler locks are used, but there are different types of locks that allow for varying degrees of security. Master-keyed locks are configured inside to operate with two or more keys, one that works only one lock – the change key – and the master key, which operates all of the locks within the set. The master key is required to change a simple lock into a master keyed lock, and might be the highest ranking key in some systems. In others, there may be a grand (and then a great-grand) master key that will open every master system under it.


A master key system must be designed by a knowledgeable and experienced locksmith to ensure it provides quality security and good access. Consider the pro’s and con’s before deciding whether a master key system is right for you.


  • Master keys are very affordable.
  • Different levels of access for different people.
  • You can rekey individual locks without changing the master key.
  • It’s easy and inexpensive to have a locksmith rekey the single lock.
  • There are fewer keys to lose.

Disadvantages of a master key system:

  • A lost or stolen key can compromise the entire master key system.
  • Poorly designed master key systems may result in security gaps, such as pass keys opening the wrong locks.
  • The locks can be easier to pick or bypass.
  • Landlords – if your tenants’ lease allows them to change their locks, this system is not for you.

Our experienced technicians can design and maintain a master key system that fits your business’s security needs. Call Alexius Locksmiths at 303.974.0215 or visit our website: We have been proudly serving the Front Range community for more than 16 years.

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