PACLOCK (Pacific Lock Company) of Valencia, California makes high-quality consumer and commercial locks. In this article, we review two of their popular light-duty aluminum-bodied padlocks, the models 90A and 90A-PRO.
Both locks are the same size and the bodies are made of 6061 aluminum. They come with a ¼” ball bearing-retained shackle, with ¾” spread (internal width within shackle) and in various lengths (up to 5”) and materials. See the photo below for a comparison with the Master Lock M5–a common laminated steel padlock.
These locks are better quality than usual consumer-grade padlocks. The anodized finish is smooth with no sharp edges, the shackle fits tightly into the body, and the body is made of hardened aluminum.
The materials and tolerances help to prevent the more common non-destructive unauthorized opening methods such as shimming, raking, and bumping.
The bodies are anodized in a variety of colors and the shackles are available in brass, hardened steel, and stainless steel.
Common uses for light-duty locks are gates, lockers, toolboxes, etc. The 90A-PRO is, unlike the 90A, key retaining and thus has uses for safe entry and exit of lockout, tagout (LOTO) applications.
The 90A-PRO is useful in harsh, abusive environments where the usual plastic-bodied LOTO locks may not be appropriate.
Both locks have removable lock cores which can be exchanged or re-pinned when revised keying is needed. The 90A-PRO has 7 pins while the 90A has 6; both contain security pins to guard against picking, raking, combing, and bumping. They can be purchased with stainless steel pins.
Price and Value
Both locks cost about $25 and are good value in a higher security lock in light-duty applications.
- Better build quality than usual
- Changeable lock core
- Available in different colors
- Not susceptible to the usual non-destructive defeat methods such as shimming and bumping
- Effective in harsh environments
- More susceptible to physical attacks than laminated steel locks
- More expensive than consumer-grade locks such as Master Lock
- Somewhat thin shackle
Technical Details and Picking Aspects
Both locks have unsprung cores so the key turns without resistance other than rotating the tailpiece that blocks the ball bearings holding the shackle.
The cores can be removed by using a hex wrench (2.5mm or 7/64”) to unscrew the bolt in the hole into which the shackle enters.
The 90A has 6 pin stacks consisting of spooled (#1, #3, and #5) and serrated (#2 and #4) driver pins as well a long driver pin (#6) to defeat bumping and combing attacks. The serrated pins are particularly effective in defeating raking attacks and electric pick guns. All key pins are standard cylindrical with a rounded point for key interface.
With 6 pins, a long driver, and adjacent pin length difference limitations, the 90A has 4,000 unique key codes. This is an excellent light-duty lock that will resist non-destructive attacks with its security pins specifically designed to defeat the most commonly used non-expert attacks.
The 90A does not retain the key when unlocked so the owner of the secured property can keep the key if the property is locked by someone else. Also, the owner can open the lock, keep the shackle in the same orientation as locked without engaging the shackle, and the authorized user can gain access but the casual observer would assume the lock is closed. This is not possible with a key-retaining lock.
Notice that the 90A-PRO has seven pin stacks with spooled (#3, #4, and #5) and serrated (#1 #2, and #6) driver pins as well as a long driver pin (#7) to defeat bumping and combing attacks. The key pins, like the 90A, are standard cylindrical with rounded ends for key interface.
With 7 pins and fewer limitations on adjacent pin differences, the 90A-PRO has over 200,000 unique key codes. PACLOCK markets this lock as an aluminum-bodied Lock-Out, Tag-Out (LOTO) safety device and retains the key when unlocked so that no one will inadvertently close the lock without having a key.
The 90A and 90A-PRO padlocks are light duty where physical attacks if used, cannot be prevented but offer protection against the most common non-destructive attacks such as shimming, bumping (manual or automated), combing, and raking.
Both locks are effective deterrents to low-skilled non-destructive attacks due in part to PACLOCK’s consultation with the Locksport community of hobbyist lock pickers.
The 90A-PRO is a particularly well-made LOTO safety lock compared to the more common plastic-bodied ones. It is resistant to harsh environments and physical abuse whereas less robust LOTOs are not as durable.
These padlocks are often described as “crunchy” in the Locksport community due to the somewhat difficult key insertion and extraction because of the sharp points between the key cuts (see key in the picture above) as well as the feel during picking of the many serrations encountered when lifting the driver pins into the core bible.
This “crunchiness” may aid in their ability to defeat electric pick guns.
These locks’ resistance to non-destructive attacks is reflected in their LockPickers United (LPU) Belt Ranking (https://www.reddit.com/r/lockpicking/wiki/beltranking/#wiki_lpu_belt_explorer): the 90A is given a Green rank; the 90A-PRO is given a Blue rank.
The 90A-PRO, with over 200,000 possible key codes, conveys to the successful lock picker membership in the “200K Club.” This is an informal LPU designation indicating that you have successfully picked a 7 pin lock with security pins.
By way of contrast, the Master Lock M5, and others like it, is more resistant to physical attacks than these light duty PACLOCKs, but is easily bumped, raked, or picked open due to its 4 standard pins. This comparison should inform your use and purchase.