First of all, it’s not the key that’s different; it’s the lock. They both use standard keys for daily operation. The Schlage SecureKey lock is identified by the + symbol and the KwikSet SmartKey lock by the sideways — slot for its “Learning Tool”.
The second important thing I need to point out is that these cylinders can not work with more than one key cut at a time which means, no master keying! You can not have a master key for yourself and a different key for the gardener to access the yard gate if it has one of these type locks.
Schlage’s web site states that their SecureKey is; “10 times more secure. By enabling 10 times more key cut combinations than other locks, SecureKey makes homes 10 times more secure from key duplication.“
I should tell you that I’m biased towards Schlage. It’s a far better lock than Kwikset in every respect. However, while Schlage’s statement may be mathematically close to the truth (I don’t know the exact numbers) in reality, it’s meaningless. The chance of a stranger walking up to your lock and getting in with his house key is really slim, and in the real world, I suspect about the same with either brand. What’s important is how resistant the lock is to physical abuse and how long it will last under normal wear and tear.
Both brands are pick & bump resistant, which means if the wind unexpectedly blows the door shut and you’re locked outside, the lock can’t be picked. The lock cylinder would have to be drilled or bypassed somehow. This usually means having to wreck something. At best, you’ll probably be buying some new parts, or at worst, a whole new doorknob or lever assembly.
What you really need to look at is how often you re-key your locks compared to how often you find yourself locked out. If you don’t lock yourself out often, and you don’t need a hierarchal master keying system, re-keying “Smartly” or “Securely” is a viable option. Otherwise stick with the old tried and true pin-tumbler lock cylinder.
FACT: “Since its invention in 1925, the A-Series continues to be the cornerstone of Schlage’s product line and sets standards by which the industry is bound.”