What is the big deal with using a chain, as a locking device, rather than cable or armored cable?
Basically chain is hard, flexible cable is soft. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what size cable it is, if it is flexible then it is soft. Standard manual metal saws can cut cable very fast, however armored cable like ABUS Steel-O-Flex series 1000 or 1050 models are a good compromise.
A properly hardened* quality security chain, depending on the link gauge, will be either very difficult or impossible to cut with bolt-cutters or manual tools.
* many Made in China brands are not consistent in hardening and steel quality.
What material are security chains made of?
We have seen 1"
diameter untreated chain cut like butter and we have seen 5/16" (8mm)
shackles resist cutting like it was core hardened 10mm chain.
Why? Because of the material it is made from and the
hardening process. Abus or Protector chains and locks are
constructed from CRMO (chromium & molybdenum) and/or boron
manganese alloy steel which, when properly hardened, becomes
virtually impervious to cutting while remaining ductile.
High-end ABUS and Protector chains are put through a freeze test at -40
degrees Celsius. Freon and CO2 only get down to about -20
C. All security chains in the lower price range (and some in
higher price range too) are made in China.
Below images show the visual difference between other brands and our Protector range of high quality chains.
16mm China-made chain from a well known
UK based brand.
|Our 16mm UK made Protector chain|
What is the diameter of the chain?
When we talk about chain size we normally go metric. Our security chains range from 10mm all the way up to 19mm (3/4") thickness. Depending on what you are locking up and where you live or work, 10mm may be all you need. Weight is a serious consideration when choosing a security chain. Chain size refers to the link thickness, not the total size of the chain. You will find the total width indicated on most chains listed on our website.
10mm chains are great for low level security needs or when weight is an issue. They are not impossible to cut with bolt-cutters but way stronger than any cable lock out there. Most have a square profile.
We still carry a few 11mm Hexagonal chains but will discontinue this size in the future.
In 12mm we have a few Unique Noose chains available and ABUS Maximum Security chain in custom lengths (any length you want).
13mm is where our Protector range starts. The long link design allows for unique link through link lock-ups.
Maximum security chain available in custom lengths with a 6'
combo special from Abus.
In 15mm, Kryptonite's Legend chain and lock is the only one available. Made in Taiwan with a quality above the China products but nowhere close to our U made Protector chains.
Protector chains .... this is where bolt-cutters are sent
19mm when you want the absolute ultimate, impervious to any attack with FREE WOW factor. One look at that chain is enough to make any thief looking for an easier target.
How are chains hardened? Case or Core, what's the difference? How is hardness measured?
Case hardening is very inexpensive and provides virtually no
protection against bolt cutters. The case hardening process is
usually only a few thousandths of an inch deep on cheap China
products. An analogy would be a hard boiled egg. Hard on the
outside, but very soft on the inside.
Core hardening means all the metal is hardened to various degrees. Core hardening, often called triple heat treated, is the only way to truly defeat bolt cutters assuming the link is thick enough. Key is to harden the steel throughout without it becoming to brittle. This is where specialist heat-treatment and high grade Boron steel comes in as we see on our Protector range of chains. Getting the core and case hardness just right is very expensive which is why high security chains are expensive.
Hardness is measured in Rockwell. Example! ABUS Magnum
Lock and Chain is a minimum 65 Rockwell which is harder than
some bolt-cutter jaws.
Hexagonal, Round or Square? Noose ring or continuous chain?
Theoretically it does make a difference but only up to a certain point. Hexagonal design provides a flat surface so bolt-cutter pressure is divided over a larger surface. But this will depend greatly on the size of both chain and bolt-cutter. A 14mm Square chain link is obviously going to be stronger than a 10mm Hexagonal. As of 13mm, round chain is as good as any other design.
Chain & Locking systems can be used in a variety of ways and your choice of ideal locking chain depends on your purpose. For home/garage use, go with the heaviest chain link you can possibly get and afford. Obviously, this also depends on your security risk factor. It makes very little sense to lock up a $150 bicycle with a $400 chain system.
If you need to travel and carry the chain system along, a
will provide a high security level while keeping weight and
volume to a minimum. A conventional 6FT chain makes a complete
loop with 2 ends of the chain in the lock. This gives you
essentially about 3FT of length.
Can it be cut with a bolt-cutter / cropper?
Size matters but anything can be cut with the right tools.
|ABUS Granit Power 12mm Noose Chain with a massive (yes, this
lock is massive) 58 U-Lock.
This would be the ultimate in available Noose Chain systems.
|Kryptonite New York 12mm Noose Chain + EV disc lock provides a great security level at minimal weight and volume. Ideal for travel.|
|ABUS 12mm SUPER MAGNUM Lock & Chain. Notice the link through link setup. The 37/80 padlock, the biggest and strongest padlock on the market, only has room for one link.|
|ABUS Extreme 59chain. High Security Chain with Built-in lock. Available in 12mm Hexagonal or 13mm round. The chain is permanently attached on one end.|
Protector 19mm Super Strong long
Also available in 13 and 16mm versions
Made in UK