Kwikset Smartkey Pros and Cons(Updated)

How to Identify SmartKey

The Kwikset Smartkey lock is very easy to identify. There will be a small pin hole next to the keyway. This hole is used as part of the rekey process.

Kwikset Smartkey Cylinder

Kwikset Smartkey


  • Self Rekeyable Lock
  • Highly Rated against Picking
  • Bump Resistant(Potentially Proof)

Smartkey is one of a few self rekeyable locks. This allows home users to manage there system and maintain key control without the use of a locksmith. As long as you posses a working key, you can rekey the locks within seconds. Your old key will no longer operate the lock. We cover how to do this here: Rekey a Smartkey with a working key.

Smartkey is also an extraordinary difficult lock to pick and potentially impossible to bump. In the field we have attempted to both pick and bump these locks. Although we have had limited success with picking, bumping has not worked to date.


  • Unreliable
  • Easy to Force Open
  • Decode from the Outside
  • Cannot Be Master Keyed
  • Difficult Rekey without Working Key

The major issue is the unreliability of the Gen 1 Smartkey system. About once every two weeks we get a call saying that the key worked in the morning to lock the door, but the key is no longer turning the lock. This issue seems to have been addressed in Gen 2 or higher. We have not run into this issue in the higher generation locks.

Another issue is that they are significantly easier to force open than standard pin tumbler locks. Once a lock has been forced, the rekey function is broken. Typically the key will stop working as well; however, there are times where the operating key still works. Kwikset has also made this difficult in the latest generations.

Another flaw in the design is that Kwikset Smartkeys can be decoded from the outside of the door. This process is somewhat difficult to do; however, once you have the correct technique, it may only take 30 seconds before someone can determine the cuts to your key.

The SmartKey also lacks in the master key department. Although there is a version of the Smartkey that will allow a second key to work the lock, the Smartkey system is very limited to master keying. Typically the Smartkey works great for residential applications because master systems are rare for home users. In a commercial setting master systems are used often, and the Smartkey may not be your best options.

The Smartkey is also difficult to rekey if no working key is available. It seems like most of the time rekeying takes place after keys have been lost. In this situation, other methods are required to rekey the lock. For more information: Rekeying a Smartkey without an existing key

Help your locks Reliability

  • Ensure key is first generation

It is important when rekeying Kwikset Smartkeys that you use a fresh key - straight from a code cutter. As keys are used they will become greatly worn out. Duplicate keys from worn keys will often not work. When I provide my customers keys, I tell them to keep an unused key to make copies from. This ensures best operation with a duplicated key.

Tip: If you are purchasing new locks for your house, by packages with different key code on them. This will allow you to have fresh, factory cut keys at your figure tips for rekeying.

Is the Smartkey for me?

Although they do have their issues, the Kwikset Smartkey is fantastic for anyone who may want to rekey their locks often. The Smartkey works well for home owners, land lords, and contractors. Home owners can simple change keys when one gets lost. Land lords can rekey on tenant change overs. Contractors can manage their keys and change them for new owners. The Kwikset Smartkey is a great lock for many applications.