Working with SFIC locks requires learning a new skill set and terminology. It’s a different way to think about locks. One point of confusion is the difference between machine and stamped caps. The LAB pinning kit comes with both machined and stamped caps and both types are readily available from suppliers. So which ones should you use and why? If you don’t care for the details – machined caps win.
How do you cap SFIC cores?
First, we need to understand how caps are placed in the chamber. They are either pressed in or struck lightly with a soft mallet. When I use a mallet (for mobile SFIC core production) I use a raw hide 2 oz mallet made by Garland. It’s around $20, works well, and reduces the risk of damaging anything. At the shop, I use an arbor press and a LAB SFIC Annex. A-1 made a press that would cap 7 at a time, however they’ve gone out of business. There have been rumors going on that someone has/will purchase the company and resume production. That remains to be seen. Aside from buying a used press the only other option right now it buy a BEST original capping system which is around $2,000.
So what is actually the difference between the machined and stamped caps?
They’re the same in diameter, the machined ones are flat on the top and bottom, the stamped ones have a slight taper on one side. The taper allows them to enter the chamber easier when using a hammer. Machined stamps can also be hammered into place but might be slightly more difficult – but it works.
Does the Brand of the Core Make a Difference?
Yes, no, and it depends. I try to use BEST original cores when possible. One, it’s a quality product that I can trust. Two, it costs me money and reputation having to return to fix something. However, the cost is more than double then “aftermarket” cores. This can add up to a lot more money and make a big difference to the customer. I always offer the option of BEST original or aftermarket explaining the difference. There are lot of aftermarket SFIC core manufactures. GMS, KSP, Medeco and others just to name a few. When ordering from suppliers you often don’t have a choice in what you receive, they send what they have in stock. I’ve had bad luck using stamped caps with GMS cores. It’s almost impossible to get them to seat correctly.
It’s fairly inexpensive to try both out with your cores and see what works for you. In my experience, the stamped cores go in slightly unevenly and provides a less polished look. There also seems to be a little brass half oval that’s created when pressing them down due to them not being completely parallel. Machined stamps seem to win hands down.
Here in the lab, we capped used BEST SFIC 7 pin cores using all machined caps on one and all stamped caps on another. It’s difficult to get clear pictures of them so close. An overhead and side view of each core was taken.