It is widely accepted as the forerunner to the more 'conventional' pin tumbler locks widely found in ancient Egypt.
Locks became commonplace in ancient Rome with rich Romans locking away their valuables in secure boxes, a habit many cultures around the world have copied. Lock design and construction would grow rapidly during the Industrial Revolution with modern locks from the likes of Yale coming into existence in around 1805.
Combination locks appear to have been invented in China but became very popular during the mid-1800's in the United States. Notable applications being their use to secure bank vaults and other common safes.
Combination locks differ from most other common locks by the fact that they require its internal components to be aligned in a specific manner using external dials to open rather than the use of a key to do so.
Usually, these locks use a set of three, sometimes four, interconnected rings or discs all of which are connected by and rotated using a central shaft. The mechanism is operated using an external knob that moves the discs/dials, each of which are stopped at a notched opening or gate.
Today combination locks can be found relatively unchanged from historical examples but also have become integrated with digital encryption to improve 'combination' considerably.
These 16 are prime examples of modern applications of combination locks. They range from the more traditional combination lock to the ultra-high-tech modern examples.
1. The KeeKit Combination Lock Is Ideal For Outdoor Solutions
The KeeKit combination lock can be secured with 5 digits, this gives you an enormous 100,000 possible combinations to choose from. This makes it considerably more secure than its 3 or 4 digit alternatives.
KeeKit also looks the business and comes with stylish baking varnish surface as well as a large lock ring (roughly 5 cm in length and width) that greatly increases its potential locking applications from gates to fences to bicycle locks.
The combination lock is cast from a highly durable zinc and steel alloy making it anti-rust, cut and weather resistant. This makes it ideal for outdoor applications.
Reviews for it are generally positive with many users happy with the clear and large print of the numbers.
2. This Antique Chinese Metal Combination Lock Combines The Orient With Security
For those looking for a more unique take on the combination lock, this antique Chinese inspired metal combination lock might just do the trick.
The lock's combination is set so any user will need to familiarize themselves with it before using it with confidence. But don't fret, you won't need a master code breaker to figure it out - you get the combination sent with the lock.
A word of warning, however, reviews are generally okay, but some do report that the combination characters sometimes don't exactly match those on the combination lock.
It is made of metal, weighs around 31 grams and measures in at 5 by 2.7 by 1.2 cm. The top bar is 3.3 cm long and 0.25 cm thick.
3. Climbing Carabiner Style Combination Lock Combines the Outdoors With Security
These Carabiner style combination locks are made from superior, highly durable and lightweight aircraft grade aluminum. This means they are very strong and incredibly light.
Each lock has a 3-digit combination allowing for any settable code between 000 and 999. The code can be reset at any time.
These locks are ideal for securing luggage, cabinets, gates but they are primarily aimed at the outdoors activities market.
It can also be used as a highly secure keyring.
The mechanism is well made and can bear a total load of 45 kg. Each lock measures 10 by 6 by 1.1 cm and has a handy and convenient compact design in a variety of colors.
Reviews vary widely but on the whole many attest to the locks superior strength and durability.
4. Masterlocks Combination Push Button Portable Key Safe No. 5422D Is Built Tough
Masterlocks' No. 5422D Push Button Combination Key Safe can be used as intended or as a highly secure padlock for many outdoor applications. Its main feature is its convenient push-button locking mechanism that comes in an alpha-numeric telephone keypad format.
With the pad, you can set your own, highly secure, alphanumeric 12 character code with its easy to use large buttons.
When used as intended, as a key safe, it has a large internal cavity for safely and securely storing keys. Being designed for the outdoors it is weather resistant and waterproof that prevents it from freezing or jamming in winter.
It also has molded bumper and vinyl coated shackle to prevent scratching. Masterlocks is so proud of this lock that they even offer a Lifetime Warranty.
5. The Wordlock PL-003-SL Combination Lock Uses Letters Instead of Numbers
The Wordlock PL-003-SL is another 5-dial combination padlock but with a twist. Like other 5-dial locks, you can choose one of 100,000 possible combinations but you might run out of 5-letter words sooner than that limit is reached.
The padlock is very easy to reset and is very simple to use. This combination lock is ideal for those who have trouble remembering a sequence of numbers.
You can change the combination with the twist of a dial on the padlock. This combination lock is perfect for school lockers, gyms lockers as well as some outdoor applications.
WordLock Padlocks provide maximum security against theft with a 6.6 cm hardened steel shackle and body with overall dimensions of 5.9 by 3.8 by 1 cms.
Reviews are mixed however with the main criticism being the lack of durability of the letter markings on the dials.
6. Master Lock No 5441D Brings Combination Locks Into the Smart Age
Masterlocks are really rocking the combination market and nothing proves that more than their No 5441D BlueTooth combination wall lock box.
Being Bluetooth, the combination lock can be operated directly from your smartphone with a free eLocks App for Android and iOS. Codes can also be set using the more traditional method of punching buttons too.
With the app, you can schedule access times and provide permanent or temporary access for certain credentials. The app lets you track usage of the device and provides instant tamper and low battery warnings.
The device, like other key safes, has a large storage capacity for bunches of keys or sets of access cards.
It has a solid and durable shell that is coated to protect it from the elements. It is battery operated but batteries are simple and easy to replace.
7. Cryptex USB Stick Physically Protects Your Data
Price: $50 - though prices vary with memory size.
Designed by Stanislav Tatarinov, the Cryptex USB Stick has been around for a few years now but it's still one of the most unique combination locks and USB sticks on the market. It is, like others on the list, a mechanical form of a combination lock with the USB stick itself having a total storage capacity of 8GB, 16 GB or 64GB.
The USB stick measures 6.5 by 2 by 2 cm with the sheath or pocket measuring in at 10 by 6.7 by 6.7 cm.
Overall it has a very solid, high quality, zinc alloy metal build and also comes with a velvet pouch accessory to protect it in transport. The combination is entered using the device's series of rotating rings with a choice of letters or numbers to enter a pre-defined 5-digit code.
The manufacturer claims it has been designed according to Leonardo Da Vinci's original plans with some modifications to accommodate a USB stick.
Overall the Cryptex USB Combination Lock has received good reviews with some reports that the USB stick itself was somewhat sub-par. Also, some other reports indicate that the dials themselves can be rather stiff.
8. Masterlocks 1500eXD Bring Combination Locks Into the Digital Age
Masterlocks' 1500eXD Wide dialSpeed digital combination lock differs from others with its innovative directional interface. This setup provides an easy to use and fast method of entering your own personalized codes.
Each one can hold 4 to 12 position codes and also comes with a master code. This master code can be changed by opening the lock and pressing the central button until its light turns white - then enter your new one.
Unlike other combination locks, dialSpeed can be easily used one-handed and it looks the business too. It also comes with a 1-year warranty.
Its shackle is made from boron carbide to maximize cut resistance and it also comes with anti-shim technology. It is, however, only designed for indoor use only but comes in either black or white.
This lock is also battery powered but it should last 5 years.
Reviews are a little mixed ranging from high praise to others complaining about issues with it breaking prematurely. As always buyer beware.
9. Master Lock Model No. 1585 Combination Padlock Is Shim Resistant
The Master Lock Combination Model No. 1585 Padlock is a hybrid of more traditional lock and key and combination padlocks. The dial itself is also reminiscent of the combination dials of the average safe but with letters instead of numbers.
This lock lets you program your 3-letter combinations with any easy to remember a phrase that comes to mind. The padlock also comes with an automatic scrambling feature for added security.
"It also has a backup key unlock feature. These locks also include many enhanced security features like the exclusive BlockGuard® Anti-Shim technology and hardened steel shackles." - Masterlock.
The lock is 48 mm wide and made from double re-inforced stainless steel so it's highly durable. It is also 19 mm tall with a hardened steel shackle that is extra cut resistant.
10. Desired Tools Combination Padlock Is Regularly Voted Best in Class
The Desired Tools Combination Padlock is regularly voted as one of the best, if not the best, padlock on review sites. It is built tough being made from a combination of zinc and plated steel.
This combination makes the padlock highly resistant to grinder cutters and other heavy duty lock cutters. The combination padlock is locked using a four-digit code that offers you 10,000 possible combinations to choose from.
Like most good combination locks the code is resettable. The padlock is both strong and very light making it ideal for many solutions and it comes in various colors.
Any purchases are also covered under the supplier's 60-day Money Back Guarantee and 3-year warranty.
Reviews are generally very positive with many users praising the combination lock's reliability. Many report it's great for outdoors security solutions too.
11. UGears Combination Lock Teaches You Locks Work
Not all combination locks are for security purpose only. Some, like this one brought to by UGears, actually teaches you how a Da Vinci Cryptex Combination Lock works.
With this kit, aimed at 14 years plus, you can assemble your own Cryptex with a 3-digit code that allows for any one of 1000 possible combinations. It can be used to store small items like keys and it comes with an "eyelet" to hang it off stuff.
The model is made from wood (so not the most secure device) and measures in at 9.7 by 6.6 by 9.9 cm. According to their website, it should be simple to assemble all 34 pieces and it should take no longer than 1.5 hours.
Reviews are generally very positive with many finding it the perfect gift for those who are mechanically minded.
12. This 3-Digit Combination Lock Protects Your Booze
This interesting take on the combination lock helps you protect your prized alcohol from others. It is designed to fit most wine and liqueur bottles and secures your imbibing fluids with a 3-digit code allowing you to choose one of 1000 combination possibilities.
This combination lock is ideal for any wine or liqueur lover and can be fitted without needing to remove a bottle's cork or screw top. Its inner diameter fits many bottle sizes between 26 to 28 mm.
The lock is made from high-quality ABS plastic and comes with a 30-day guarantee and money-back policy.
Reviews are generally mixed with some customers complaining that it either doesn't work or doesn't fit their bottles. Yet others report it works perfectly.
13. Sliding Bolt Combination Lock Maximizes Outbuilding Security
This Combination Lock is specifically designed to maximize the security of outdoor parts of your property. Be it your garden shed or gate but it can also be used on internal doors or cupboards.
It is ideal for keeping children and thieves away from your most valuable belongings.
At 9.5 cm long the steel bolt mechanism is protected with a four-digit combination to open it. This means only those who know the code or you have shared the code with will be able to unlock the bolt mechanism and gain access to the area in question.
Like all good combination locks, you can set your own combination and change it, if necessary. This device frees you from needing to carry keys to open your outbuildings and gates.
Reviews vary from excellent to some having justifiable concerns about the lack of security screws. You could, afterall, simply bypass the combination lock with a less than $20 screwdriver.
14. Sargent & Greenleaf 8077AD Combination Padlock Takes Combination Locks to a Whole New Level
Price: Varies depending on the dealer
Sargent and Greenleaf have been providing security devices for over 150 years. If they haven't yet perfected their art then no one ever will.
So when considering their 8077AD Combination Padlock you know you are in good hands. According to their website, the lock meets U.S. Federal Specification FF-P-110J.
They also claim that it is "used in large quantities by government agencies to secure file cabinet locking bars. It is designed to resist surreptitious entry methods and show any signs of tampering. It can be set to new combinations using the included change key."
Each combination lock has unique serial numbers on each of its critical pieces to ensure that no one has gained access and replaced these parts. It combination dial allows for 125,000 combinations too.
Each combination can be reset with a master change key unique to the padlock. The lock has a hardened steel shackle and comes with one year warranty.
15. Combination Lock Cufflinks Might Be The Greatest Cufflinks Ever
These cufflinks combine the ingenuity of the combination lock with the beauty of Rhodium and Carbon Fiber. These are, of course, not the most practical of combination locks but they certainly make for an interesting, if expensive, gift for your lock loving friend.
Designed by Tateossian of London, these cufflinks come in Rhodium or Gunmetal and have a set of three working dials. These rotating discs feature enameled numbering from 1 t0 7 with the 7 specifically highlighted in red to emphasize the luck associated with that number in certain cultures.
Each of the ends of the cufflink is carbon fiber nicely rounding off the entire design. These cufflinks are for decoration only and do not function as a true combination lock.
16. The Ellipse Smart Combination Lock Protects You and Your Bike
And last but by no means least is the Ellipse 'Smart' combination lock. This lock takes the traditional bike lock to a new and more sophisticated level. This bike lock connects to your phone to enable keyless entry and access to your bike.
The lock also comes with theft detection, crash alerts, and other functions. It also allows for bike sharing. Theft detection can be provided over long-range Bluetooth and its sensitivity can be adjusted or turned off if desired.
It comes with 17mm thick steel shackle to further enhance your parked bike's security. Its dual-locking mechanism means that it would have to be cut through twice to break. Bank-level encryption prevents the most determined hackers from finding a virtual way in.
It is also physically strong, shockproof and ruggedized as well as impact resistant thanks to its rubber shell.
You lock and unlock Ellipse with the touch of your phone or set it to do so automatically. If your phone battery has died you can also unlock it using a personalized eight character code.
The device also has a built-in solar panel to keep its battery charged all day long. It can also be charged using a micro-USB charger.
Another neat feature of it is its crash detection function. If it detects a rapid deceleration conducive with a crash it can send out alerts to your loved ones via its free app.
You can also use the lock to track your bike you've lent it to a friend.