ANSI Grading System: How Secure Are Your Locks and Deadbolts?

Many people can appreciate the differences between the many door locks, knobs and deadbolts available in the market today. We somehow know whether a particular door knob we liked at the store is appropriate for our front door or only good for any of the interior doors like a bedroom or a bathroom. If we are looking at different models for an exterior door however, how do we choose between them? How do we know which offers greater security?

ANSI or The American National Standards Institute, founded in 1918, is tasked with overseeing the “formulation, promulgation and usage of thousands of guidelines and norms that have a direct impact on businesses in practically every sector”. ANSI also issues accreditation to organizations that determine conformance to standards after assessing their competence.

For the door lock manufacturing industry, the ANSI established a grading system for quality and durability by which locksets and deadbolts are categorized. Each product must pass security and operational tests. These tests include cycles, door strikes and weight tests among many others.


Grade 1 locks are typically intended for commercial security as it is the highest grade for door locks. That’s not to say however that Grade 1 locks and deadbolts cannot be used for residential applications because many homeowners do use them for exterior or main entry doors. Budget is usually a deciding factor here as well. Grade 1 door knobs units can withstand 800,000 cycles, 6 door strikes and a 360-pound weight test. Grade 1 deadbolts can withstand 250,000 cycles and a 10-door-strike hammer test.


Grade 2 locks are not suitable for many commercial applications though they exceed most requirements for apartment buildings and other residential uses. While not strong enough for use on most businesses, they are more than sufficient protection for homes. Grade 2 door knobs can take 400,000 cycles, 4 door strikes and a 250-pound weight test. Grade 2 deadbolts can take 150,000 cycles and a 5-door-strike hammer test.


ANSI-certified Grade 3 locks are by no means inferior as it takes a lot to even be considered for certification. These locks provide minimal residential security usually for apartment buildings, but are not typically used for main entry doors. Grade 3 door knobs can take 200,000 cycles, 2 door strikes and a 150-pound weight test. Deadbolts in this category can take 100,000 cycles and a 2-door-strike hammer test.

More detailed information about each of the tests can be found in a document called ANSI/BHMA A156 Series Standards. These ANSI standards are updated at least every 5 years. 

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