Introducing Medeco 4 High-Security Locks

Feb. 1, 2021
The new system delivers enhanced protection against unauthorized key duplication and advanced picking attacks.

When the first Medeco cylinder rolled off the production line in 1968, no one imagined the effect it would have on the security industry. The concept of angled cuts, angled pins, hardened steel inserts and a sidebar mechanism — all protected by an advanced utility patent — finally gave security professionals the ability to offer customers a foolproof solution for their security challenges.

Since then, Medeco has made multiple product advancements. In 1986, Medeco released its Biaxial locking system, which had additional fore and aft angles and offset chisel-point pins to increase pick resistance. This solution made it possible for Medeco to offer large, customized masterkey systems.

Along with the Biaxial technology came advanced dealer programs. These programs created the opportunity for locksmiths and other security professionals to capture recurring revenue through restricted and exclusive key-cutting agreements, which expanded their business further.

For end users, Biaxial technology brought better physical protection and control over key duplication as well as custom-designed masterkey systems that supported facilities and operations of all sizes. 

In 2003, Medeco introduced its M3 locking system, which incorporated the Biaxial system’s fore and aft cuts in the key as well as a patented third locking component — a sliding mechanism. This, yet again, increased the physical protection in the cylinder and key and provided users with millions of locking combinations to protect large and growing institutional and commercial spaces.

New Patent-Pending Design

Through it all, Medeco has worked closely with security professionals around the globe to enhance the design of its high-security locking systems. This collaboration has led to yet another revolution in high-security patented design — the Medeco 4, or M4, key system. M4 features a patent-pending design, in effect internationally through the year 2040, that pushes the boundaries of what a high-security key system can be.

M4 leverages proven Medeco technology, such as elevating and rotating offset chisel-point pins, top and master pins and springs, a sidebar mechanism to create a secondary shearline and four hardened-steel rod and steel crescents. Select top pins are fashioned from hardened steel, and a hardened steel ball bearing protects the sidebar against drill attacks.

However, M4 delivers further innovation. M4’s design includes four side pins — three finger pins and one lift pin — to protect against picking. The lift pin works with the patent-pending M4 key, which contains a movable element that helps to guard against the use of 3D-printed keys. The key also contains factory-cut side bittings in four positions that engage the finger and lift pins, to create a third locking point in the cylinder. Keys are fashioned from the strongest nickel silver alloy and carry a lifetime warranty against breakage.

M4 cylinders are constructed of solid machined brass and are available in a wide variety of formats, which makes retrofit projects straightforward and hassle-free. They are UL 437 listed and ANSI/BHMA A156.30 and A156.5 certified for quality and performance. M4 cylinders also exceed ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 cycle requirements by hundreds of thousands of cycles.

The M4 locking system was designed and engineered according to four principles:

Innovation: In addition to those already mentioned, multiple digital tools facilitate the design and management of the locking system.

Protection: International patents safeguard against unauthorized distribution and duplication of keys, and key-control agreements and digital authorization records help to uphold the integrity of the system.

Combinations: The system’s advanced 10-pin configuration provides enhanced masterkey capacity and millions of possible locking combinations.

Security: Strategically engineered hardened steel inserts protect against drilling and other physical attacks.

M4 Ecosystem

M4 is more than just a high-security cylinder and key system, however. Medeco believes that high security should be an experience for users delivered via robust digital tools. To that end, Medeco has integrated M4 into several of its products and services:

Key System Design Studio (KSDS): This digital portal enables security professionals and end users to design their own masterkey system online. KSDS is similar to smart tax-preparation software in that it prompts the user to answer a series of questions regarding the security of a facility and then creates a masterkey specification that can be furnished to a locksmith or the factory. The system is easy enough to use that even a novice can design a robust masterkey system.

Record of Authorization Online Portal: To ensure key blanks are kept out of the hands of unauthorized individuals, blanks should ship directly from the manufacturer to the end user and then only to authorized individuals. Therefore, orders for key blanks must be accompanied by a Letter of Authorization, either issued in writing or through a web-based tool, such as Medeco’s Record of Authorization web portal. The system quickly verifies and authenticates the identity of the authorized end user.

Key Wizard Software: Even with the most advanced high-security locking system in place, key management is crucial to the success of the system. Medeco’s Key Wizard tracks loaned keys and records returned keys. It also displays keyholder photos and signatures to facilitate the verification of identities. Through its built-in intelligence, Key Wizard creates reminders when system maintenance and backups are necessary, generates user reports, issues alerts when keys are overdue, provides an audit trail and enables system queries.

Intelligent Key Cabinet (IKC): The IKC is Medeco’s electronically controlled steel cabinet to store of all types of keys. It restricts access only to authorized personnel by way of a required PIN, fingerprint or prox-card authentication. It maintains an electronic record of all key removals and returns, including when the activity occurred and by whom and generates a comprehensive audit trail. The IKC automatically generates custom reports and sends them automatically to users by email or text.

M4 CLIQ Intelligent Key System: For cost and convenience, many companies maintain mechanical and digital lock cylinders. By combining a mechanical shaft with an electronic head, the M4 CLIQ Intelligent Key system allows end users to operate both types of locks with one device. Medeco CLIQ installs with no wiring in a matter of minutes. Users manage access rights, including scheduling access, via an app or web-based software. The system also provides full audit reports.

Medeco will continue to push the boundaries on advanced high-security locking systems. If you’re interested in learning more, visit or call 877-633-3261.

Dale L. Bowman, CML, CPP, PSP, PCI, LEED BD+C, is Medeco’s Director of Business Development, OEM and International Sales.

About the Author

Dale L. Bowman

Dale L. Bowman, CML, CPP, PSP, PCI, LEED BD+C, is Medeco’s director of business development, OEM and international sales.