A Guide to Tamper Proof Screws: Types, Uses & More

Many people don’t notice tamper proof screws until they attempt to get into something that uses them. Sometimes mistakenly called tamper resistant screws, these anti-theft and anti-vandalism fastening devices are ingeniously designed to foil unauthorized attempts at removal. There’s no one-size-fits-all with a tamper proof screw. They come in all sorts of shapes and styles. That’s for good reason, as they have a special job to do.

Tamper resistant screws are designed differently than tamper proof security fasteners. They’re more commonly available than tamper proof fasteners, and the tools used to remove them are somewhat universal. No doubt you’ve often seen both types of security screws.

If you’re in the market for tamper proof or tamper resistant screws, bolts or nuts, you need information about what fastening devices are best for your application. You might protect your liability by stopping unauthorized entry. Or you could prevent theft or vandalism that prying eyes, hands and tools attempt.

The challenge in deciding what security fasteners are best is that there are so many different types available. All have specialized placement, and some appear outright foreign. The first thing to know is tamper proof and tamper resistant are different terms.

Let’s look at that difference before examining what industries use security fasteners as well as the common types and how to choose them. We’ll even show you how to remove tamper resistant and tamper proof screws. This information will help you pick the right screw.

tamper proof bolts and nuts

Tamper Resistant Screws Vs. Tamper Proof Screws

If you’re wondering the difference between tamper resistant vs. tamper proof screws, you’re not alone. There’s a misconception that tamper resistant screws are the same thing as tamper proof screws as well as other security fasteners like tamper proof bolts and nuts. It’s not just a play on words. Tamper resistant and tamper proof are two different applications. “Resistant” means it’s hard or difficult to remove a fastening device. “Proof” means it’s next to impossible.

Tamper resistant theory dictates a screw, bolt or nut is designed to be installed and removed with a specialized tool made specifically for that fastener. It’s unlikely the average person wanting to loosen such a screw would have anything but ordinary tools available. They might have a slotted or Phillips screwdriver but not likely be carrying a torx or clutch driver. To get inside or make off with something valuable, they’d need to source the tool and return.

There’s only so much protection you can get with readily available tamper resistant screws, nuts and bolts. Entering or removing an object secured with tamper resistant fasteners requires a bit of planning, but it’s not beyond the average person’s capability. But usually, most people simply won’t bother with something secured by tamper resistant screws.

Why Use Tamper Resistant or Tamper Proof Screws?

Tamper resistant screws’ purpose is in making security violations challenging. They thwart opportunistic attacks but offer slight defense against deliberate intentions. If someone’s bent on entering or removing an object, they’ll find a way. You can say tamper resistance is a first-line, but low-level, security measure.

Tamper proof theory goes a lot further. To be tamper proof, it requires the screw, bolt or nut be physically impossible to remove without the proper tool. It might even take drilling or cutting the fastener out. Tamper proof tools can be extremely unique. Some tamper proof bits have proprietary designs that require documented rights to purchase or possess the tool.

You can say tamper proof screws raise the security bar. They’re a notch above tamper resistant screws which are a notch above standard screw heads. It really depends on your purpose when deciding if you need tamper resistant screws or go the step up to truly tamper proof devices.

What Industries Need Tamper Proof Screws?

Tamper resistant and tamper proof screws are needed by industries far and wide. Some have minimal expectations with security fasteners. They employ tamper resistant screws to deter casual or opportunistic temptation. Other industries have tight security requirements and go to expensive measures for protection.

Each industry has its own reasons to use anti-tampering devices. Some are concerned with loss prevention and deterring theft. Others use them to stop unlawful entry. Some industries have serious concerns about sabotage and use highly advanced fasteners to protect their assets.

Many industries use tamper proof screws to prevent equipment owners and users from doing their own maintenance. That cuts the manufacturer or supplier from profiting from maintenance contracts. End-user maintenance is often insufficient and actually makes matters worse. Tamper resistant or tamper proof fasteners give assurance that inferior hands won’t meddle in specialized work.

When you examine what industries use tamper proof screws, you’ll find a broad range that benefit from the additional protection these security fasteners provide. Some are highly advanced industries where people’s lives are at stake. Others are less sensitive but can suffer needless loss from unwanted access. Here are some of the industries using tamper proof screws.

tamper proof fasteners prevent meddling in specialized work

Aerospace Manufacturers and Maintainers

Tamper proof screws are installed on everything from rockets to jet fighters. This allows access to only highly skilled workers with specialized tools. These aeronautic fasteners protect the lives of pilots and passengers.

Automotive Manufacturing

You’ll see many advanced screws, nuts and bolts in car and truck construction. Some of it is for safety devices like seatbelts and airbag controls. Other tamper proof screws are used in engines and transmissions to discourage backyard maintenance.

Colleges and Universities

College and university campuses routinely use tamper proof screws. They discourage thefts, vandalism and misappropriation of desks, furniture and electronic devices. It’s not just students and staff who present problems. Campuses are often targets for mobile thieves.

Correctional Facilities

Inmates can be notoriously curious and destructive. They can also be incredibly clever in concocting means to cheat fasteners to remove or damage jail equipment. Tamper proof screws prevent expensive damage in correctional facilities as even the most skilled crooks can’t defeat security fasteners.

Hospitals and Medical Facilities

Tamper proof fasteners are regularly employed on medical equipment as well as for securing areas and property. Some medical devices are extremely expensive and sensitive. With patients’ lives resting on properly functioning equipment, hospitals and medical facilities can’t afford the risk of tampering. That includes both intentional and accidental access and alteration.

Military Installations

All military branches use tamper proof screws right across their installations. Tamper resistant fasteners are found in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases and equipment. They’re used to prevent theft vandalism and, of course, sabotage.

Public Places

Many cities and municipalities use tamper proof screws to protect property in public places. Anywhere the public converges, you’ll find security devices. Tamper resistant fasteners are no exception to protecting public safety and property.

Recreational Vehicles and Boats

The RV and marine industries extensively use tamper resistant fasteners. They protect vital components untrained and unauthorized individuals shouldn’t be touching. That includes fuel supplies and electrical components. Both present potential disasters if improperly accessed.

Retail Outlets

Stores and shops are prime candidates for thefts. High value and high-risk property and displays are protected through fastening goods down with tamper proof screws and tamper resistant bolts. These simple security devices save companies thousands of dollars in inventory losses.

Primary and Secondary Schools

Kids can be curious and mischievous. Sometimes they’re downright destructive. Tamper proof and tamper resistant screws prevent small hands from getting into places they shouldn’t be.

Transit Providers

You’ll find all sorts of tamper proof products on planes, trains and busses. Public transit systems serve hundreds of thousands of passengers who may be tempted to remove property or examine unauthorized places. Tamper proof screws provide extra precaution to make sure daily rides remain routine.

Utility Companies

Tamper proof fasteners are widely employed by utility companies. Electrical panels and meters are prime spots for serious trouble when entered by untrained individuals. It’s the same thing with gas meters. Many utility companies have specific fasteners that are unique to their industry. Primarily, that’s for safety, but it also prevents utility theft.

Common Types of Tamper Resistant and Tamper Proof Screws

Now that you’ve seen how many different industries use them, it’s interesting to know how many common types of tamper resistant and tamper proof screws are available. Some are found in everyday use. Others are more specialized but can be easily sourced. It all depends on your individual application.

You’ll find similar security fasteners have unique heads that are tough to access without the proper tool. Still, they come in common lengths, thread design and manufactured materials. Two main differences are in measurement categories. One is the imperial or American sizing, which is measured in inches. The other is the metric or European sizing, measured in millimeters. This doesn’t affect head design.

Finishes are important pieces in the tamper proof puzzle. Most screws, bolts and nuts are available in galvanized steel and stainless steel composition. Some specialty screws are bright zinc plated (BZP) or alloys like case-hardened and black anodized fasteners. Other tamper proof products are heat-treated and virtually unbreakable.

Other Differences in Design for Tamper Proof and Tamper Resistant Screws

Threads are another big difference in screw design. There are two thread styles. One is coarse threads. The other is fine. Coarse threads turn faster, and fine threads hold tighter. Both are available in right and left turns, which dictate their turning direction.

There are two more differences in tamper proof and tamper resistant products. Some are designed for one-way application, where they’re easily tightened but next to impossible to back off. Others are made for two-way installation and removal. They go in and out with ease, provided you have the right tightening and loosening tool.

You’ll hear a lot of tamper proof terms when it comes to describing head styles. Some are industry standard. Others are copyrights owned by their inventors. The most important distinguishing feature is their drive or method of attaching the tool to the fastener. Let’s review the most common types of tamper resistant and tamper proof screw types. All are available in tamper resistant wood screws, tamper proof machine screws and tamper proof sheet metal screws.

Coarse threads turn faster and fine threads hold tighter

Drilled Spanner

These are also called snake eyes or pig nose screw heads. That’s because of two small indentations on the drive face. Drilled spanner heads are sometimes called two hole screws.

Torx Tamper Proof

Torx is a specific brand name that’s an exceptionally common fastener head. It’s a six-sided star-configuration with the tamper proof model having a central pin that prevents conventional Torx drives from working. They’re also labeled as Pin TX.

Hex Socket Tamper Proof

These are also six-sided layouts but have a recessed socket that looks opposite or the reverse of a Torx head. Tamper proof sockets have a central security pin as well. Pin HX is another designation for security hex sockets.

One Way Tamper Proof

These are popular screws for permanent installations where there’s no intention of removing the fastener. They’re tightened in place with a special tool that doesn’t work in reverse like a conventional screwdriver.

Tri-Wing Heads

Tri-wings are shaped as a recessed triangle. This unique but simple design is difficult to defeat with any regular driver head, including a slot or a Phillips bit. You’ll hear them referred to as triangle screws as well.

Spanner Inserts

These have an unusual appearance much like a clutch bit. They’re a two-pronged design requiring a matching drive bit.

Shear Screws and Shear Bolts

Many one-way security fasteners are designed with driver heads or nuts that shear off after being tightened to a specific torque. They break, leaving the screw head with no distinguishing features to allow removal.

Common Uses for Tamper Proof Bolts and Screws

If you can imagine it, you’ll find a use for tamper proof bolts and screws. Primarily, these anti-tampering fasteners are used to deter people from trying to remove them. Some are fairly simple. Others are highly complex. It really matters what you’re trying to protect when selecting a tamper proof screw. Here are some of the common uses for tamper proof securing products:

  • Access points
  • Artwork
  • Computers
  • Computer games
  • Consumer product displays
  • Digital cameras
  • Electrical devices
  • Engine components
  • Glass panels
  • Hinges
  • Inmate furnishings
  • License plates
  • Manholes
  • Outdoor play equipment
  • Park benches
  • Planters
  • Safety rails
  • Scaffolding
  • Signs
  • Waste bins
  • Wheel locks

anti-tampering fasteners are used to deter people from removing them

How to Choose the Right Tamper Proof Screw

Choosing the right tamper proof screw depends on what you’ll use it for and where you intend to place it. Just like there are a lot of sizes, compositions and threads available, there are a lot of different uses for them. Choosing the right screw depends on four main factors:

  • The security level you desire
  • Whether you intend to remove them or not
  • How much strength you require
  • What finished appearance or look you intend to display

Your security level depends on what product or place you’re protecting. Strength is usually a deciding factor, and it depends on the metal composition as well as head design. Appearance is a personal issue. That takes into account how visible they’ll be. But one of the biggest factors in choosing the right tamper proof screw is whether you intend to remove it.

choosing the right screw

How Do You Remove Tamper Proof Screws?

With difficulty, is the right answer. Your choice of tamper proof screw needs to consider how they’re removed or if they ever need removing. If you do intend on removing the fasteners, then make sure you have the correct tool. You’ll need it to install the fasteners, so it’s reasonable to keep it in case you want to take them out.

If you never intend to take your tamper proof screws out but somehow plans change, you’ll likely find your only option is to cut them off or drill them out. That can be a real hassle. A little planning goes a long way to making sure you keep others out but can still get in when you need to.

One of the best tips you can get for selecting tamper proof screws is to get advice from a professional fastening device supplier. These knowledgeable and experienced people know their fasteners. They’ll save you time and money by guiding you to the right tamper proof screws and other security holding products.

Where to Buy Tamper Proof Screws: From FMW Fasteners

FMW Fasteners is your premier online provider for all types of tamper resistant and tamper proof screws, bolts and nuts. We stock premium products you can trust to keep valuables safe and secure. Since 1986 we’ve operated from Houston, Texas, supplying professional-grade fasteners from trusted manufacturers.

Now, we operate solely online. This gives you the most convenient and economical way to purchase tamper proof and other fine fastening products. Register for an FMW Fastener account today and place your order. You can expect fast and hassle-free delivery.

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