Tubular Keys

Tubular Keys vs Regular Keys

In the world of locks and keys, there exists a wide array of options, each designed to provide security and convenience. If you’ve ever heard of tubular keys, but weren’t exactly sure what they were, don’t worry — most people don’t. 

Tubular keys and locks, also known as radial keys and locks, have gained popularity due to their enhanced security features, with one of these features being their circular keyway — a cylindrical tube with several grooves cut into it. The corresponding tubular key features a hollow, circular shaft with a series of notches that align with the grooves in the lock’s keyway. 


In comparison, regular keys and locks, often referred to as pin tumbler locks, can be found in a both residential and commercial settings. The keyway in pin tumbler locks consists of a flat blade with grooves on one or both sides, with the corresponding key being cut with ridges and valleys that match the grooves in the lock’s keyway. When the key is inserted and turned, the pins inside the lock align with the shear line, allowing the lock to open.

While some of the above information may seem somewhat superlative, having an understanding of the difference between the two locks can help individuals make informed decisions when it comes to safeguarding their homes or possessions.

What Are Tubular Keys

As mentioned before, tubular locks are distinct from regular keys due to their shape, as well as the sorts of products they are utilized with. Here are a few products that typically utilize tubular locks and keys:

The Pros Of Tubular Keys

One of the primary advantages of tubular locks is their resistance to picking and manipulation. Tubular locks often have complex internal mechanisms with multiple pins and mechanisms that add an extra layer of security against picking attempts, which, as a result, ensures that unauthorized individuals can’t easily tamper with the lock.


Tubular locks also offer a higher level of key control. The manufacturing process for tubular keys involves specialized equipment that is not widely available, making it more challenging for unauthorized duplicates to be made. While key control is a commodity for anyone hoping to safeguard their possessions, this feature is particularly appealing in commercial settings where key control is crucial to maintaining security.

The Pros Of Regular Keys

Regular locks provide a balance between security and convenience. Given the fact that they are widely available, regular locks tend to be more affordable and accessible for residential use. 

Regular locks are also easier to work on. While our team at Phoenix EZ-Keys specializes in tubular lock work, not all locksmiths specialize in tubular locks, and as such, finding a competent locksmith to work on lock reparation may be somewhat of a hassle.

Furthermore, in terms of key control, regular locks offer less stringent control compared to tubular locks. Key duplication is relatively easy and can be done by various locksmiths or even self-service kiosks in some cases. While this may seem like a detrimental draw-back to regular locks and keys, this accessibility to key duplication can be advantageous in situations where multiple individuals require access to the same lock, such as retail chains and whatnot.

When To Use Which

Just as tubular keys and regular keys have distinct characteristics, both systems can be utilized in different settings. Tubular locks excel in high-security environments where the utmost protection is required, such as commercial properties or areas housing sensitive information. Their resistance to picking and key control features make them a preferred choice in these scenarios.


Regular keys and locks, on the other hand, find widespread use in residential settings, small businesses, and situations where cost-effectiveness and convenience are prioritized. Although they may be less resistant to sophisticated picking techniques, regular locks still provide a satisfactory level of security for most everyday applications.


In conclusion, before you decide to choose one or the other, take a look at the needs you have. Are you needing a lock that has enhanced resistance to picking and higher key control? If so, then tubular locks are the optimal choice. If not, and you’re wanting affordable security at a moment’s notice, then a regular lock might just be the best choice. 

We here at Phoenix EZ-Keys are both licensed and properly equipped to handle tubular locks. Take a look at some of the services we offer by checking out our services page, or schedule an appointment today. If you would like to have tubular locks set up at your property, or need your tubular locks rekeyed, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment by clicking the button below!

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