Lock Picking

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What are High-Security Locks?

If you’ve ever taken the time to stop and look you may have noticed that some locks are better than others. This means using a lock from your local store isn’t necessarily going to protect you and your stuff. This is where high-security locks come into play. High-security locks are harder to compromise and will help increase your lock picking skills.

What Makes Them Better Than Your Average Everyday Lock?

The first difference you’ll notice between an everyday lock and a high-security lock is the price. High-security locks are more expensive thanks to their complex internal components. This provides a level of extra security that everyday locks can't compete with.

Everyday Locks Lock icon

You can buy everyday locks at any home improvement store or big box stores like Bunnings or Kmart. Most of the locks you will find in these stores are cylinder locks. These locks rely on conventional pin stacks and sidebar mechanisms. They provide the most basic level of protection. 

These basic locks are also susceptible to unauthorized access. If you only need basic protection, everyday locks are a good solution. This is because they can be re-keyed by a locksmith with minimal effort. This can be especially helpful if you tend to lose your keys or are starting out in lock picking.

Are Standard Locks Secure?

Why are most locks standard? In your community there is a level of trust. A standard lock will be more than sufficient for the majority of people. One of the benefits of lock sport is to understand weaknesses in your home or business security so we can make improvements.

There are three common methods an intruder may use to open an everyday lock without the keys:

⬇️

  • Bumping. This method opens a lock using a specially designed key (a bump key). This key forces the tumblers inside the cylinder to align. Once the tumblers of the cylinder align, the lock is easily opened. With this method, an intruder can open the lock with no evidence of tampering.

Picking. Lock picking requires the use of a special kit. This kit provides the tools needed to align the pins in the cylinder. Once these pins are aligned the lock will pop open, leaving very little evidence of tampering.

  • Drilling. This is a more intrusive method of opening an everyday lock. It uses an ordinary drill that you pick up from a home improvement store. The drill bores through the cylinder of the lock, opening it. Unlike bumping, drilling leaves behind evidence of tampering.

Remember the rules! Only pick locks you own!

This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of the ways to open an everyday lock without a key. There are locks designed to be resistant to such methods of access. However, the protection gained with these locks is still lagging when compared to high-security locks.

High-Security Locks

High-security locks are more complex than everyday locks. As their name suggests, they are much more difficult to break into. They use a complicated system of pins that include either diagonal or horizontal access. This is a system that holds its own against the traditional methods of opening a lock without a key.

The complex system of pins is only part of the equation on how these locks provide extra security. Here are some other characteristics that make it difficult to open a high-security lock:

  • Forced Entry Resistance. The design of these locks often includes reinforced rods and plates in the cylinder. This makes provides a layer of protection against drilling to gain unauthorized access.

 

  • Restrictive Keyways. The design of these locks boasts narrow keyways. This makes it difficult to use tools within the lock. This prevents unauthorized access via picking.

 

  • Key Control. High-security locks come with registered keys. Registering keys means that you must give permission to duplicate a key.
  • Manipulation Resistance. The design of these locks means that it would take a longer time to gain access to the lock. The design also means that the only way to gain access requires tools that will make noise. This alone is a deterrent for intruders, giving that extra bit of security.

 

  • Reinforced Doorframe Plates. These plates provide an extra level of protection. They help keep the doorframe secure and prevent an intruder from kicking in the door. This is a design feature aimed at protecting the integrity of the high-security lock.

The design of the high-security lock is carefully crafted. The methods used to gain unauthorized access are proactively addressed through design elements. However, rather than try to make the locks undefeatable, the design of high-security locks makes it too time-consuming and too expensive.

So Why Get a High-Security Lock?

High-security locks are a great alternative for both your home and your office. The unique features of these locks work to provide a high level of protection against intruders.

In your business, installing high-security locks almost serves as an insurance policy. These locks protect your business from theft, a problem that can cripple a business. These locks also ensure that private paperwork and data remain protected.

In your home, this means you, your loved ones, and your possessions are safe. You can sleep at night knowing that you are safe and that an outsider won’t easily open the locks on your doors.

Don’t Depend on The Label

The design and labeling of some locks can easily lull you into believing they are high-security. Walk into your local home improvement store or big box store and you'll know what we mean. Locks that claim they are high-security and will give you extra protection. The truth of the matter? True high-security locks are not found in these stores. Getting a lock that will provide the extra protection needed requires a lockshop or a locksmith.

When you're in the market for a high-security lock, here are some things to look for:

Security Lock iconHardened Steel Bolts. These can withstand high levels of force, preventing the lock from bending or snapping, or being cut.

Drill Protection. Make sure your set screws and the shear line of the lock have protection. It is common practice to protect these areas with hardened steel ball bearings.

Metal Content. You want a lock that is heavy and does not use plastic components as a cost-saving measure. Locks with empty space or plastic parts reduce your level of protection.

Bypass Resistance. While they may be convenient, they weaken the security provided by the lock. Make sure you research the model you are considering.

Registered Keys. This prevents keys from being duplicated without permission. Fewer duplicate keys means less access to what is being protected.

Before purchasing any high-security lock, make sure you review all specs on the lock model you are considering. This will help you identify any weak points with the lock. This also helps you ensure the lock is, in fact, a high-security lock--a necessity if you want true protection.

Lock Picking Facts about Topy

Many of you will be familiar with Topy and his amazing lock picking skills. Here at PickPals, we thought we’d get to know him a little bit better with a little interrogation of our own.
We put out any questions you may have to the Australian Lock Sport Guild and got some great questions that we put to Topy.
The answers are great reading and inspiration for your picking.  Like how Topy learnt to pick, his favourite locks to pick and where the future of security is heading.
Lets get to the questions…

One day, on school camp, I managed to open a lock with some poorly improvised tools and zero idea about what I was doing, but I got lucky and people thought it was super cool.

3. Is there anyway, other than lots of experience, to work out the best way to attack a lock. Eg. shimming, raking, SPP, bypass, bumping etc?

Get Behind Michael Maynard’s Gorilla Picking

Many of you will be familiar with MH Maynard and his amazing gorilla lock picking skills. Here at PickPals, we thought we’d get to know him a little bit better with a little interrogation of our own.

We put out any questions you may have to the Australian Lock Sport Guild and got some great questions that we put to Michael.

The answers are great reading and inspiration for your picking.  Like how Michael learnt to pick, his favourite locks to pick and where the future of security is heading.

Lets get to the questions…

I like Mul-T-Locks in general, and the Mul-T-Lock MT5+ in particular, no doubt about it. I love the precision that pin-in-pin dimple locks demand, and  Mul-T-Locks are the best of all of the brands available - they are engineered to amazingly fine tolerances so there's just no room for error. The MT5+ has the sidebar as well so to beat that thing you need to be incredibly precise with both pin in pin dimple picking AND sidebar slider picking. The other thing I really like about picking dimple locks is that dimple picks are amazingly personal - you can't just buy one and start picking.

 You have to go through a process of buying and modifying commercial picks until you find the shape that works for you, and I really enjoy that.  A pick that works for me, probably won't work for you in the same lock - you have to evolve your own style and technique.

Sparrows Tron
But more specifically...I'd just like to see more manufacturers do the basics very, very well. A standard six pin lock made to good tolerances and with a few security pins plus a tight paracentric keyway provides FAR more security than the average domestic or commercial consumer is ever going to need...and costs very little more to make than a lock with a wide open keyway and standard pins. Which is easier to pick? A German six pin DOM, or a six pin Lockwood with a C4 keyway?  I'd be willing to bet that the DOM costs barely a few cents more than the Lockwood to produce.

I've never even seen one, only heard about them.  This is one of the best things about lockpicking - no matter how good you get, there's always one more difficult lock to beat...

Unlocking Tipene’s Known Ways to Picking

Many of you will be familiar with Tipene Nga Puhi and his awesome lock picking skills. Here at PickPals, we thought we’d get to know him a little bit better with a little interrogation of our own.
We put out any questions you may have to the Australian Lock Sport Guild and got some great questions that we put to Tipene.
The answers are great reading and inspiration for your picking.  Like how Tipene learnt to pick, his favourite locks to pick and where the future of security is heading.
Lets get to the questions…

I should also mention I met Michael Maynard around this time after we engaged in a bidding war for 3 old Lockwood Padlocks on the Trademe auction site.  We have been mates ever since and his support and encouragement has got me where I am today.  The man's an unbelievable picker and has an incredible analytical mind.  If people aren't already watching his YouTube channel, they are missing out on a treat.
Sparrows Tron
Not being a Locksmith, I've never been “ON THE JOB”, so never.
Easy Pickings - Guide Book

7 myths of lock picking

Oh, we get it. Lock picking is taboo. But believe it or not, it’s a fast-growing hobby both in Australia and around the world, and what many people don’t yet realize is that it is a very engaging, fulfilling pastime that comes with a range of benefits. So let’s explore some of the myths surrounding lock picking, debunk (most of) them, and then hopefully you’ll see why you should give it a go.

Myth #1

“Lock picking is only for criminals!”

Lock picking is an art. It takes time, skill and determination to understand how locks are picked. The lock picking community is dedicated to protecting the sport and follows a strict code of ethics.

Myth #2

“Lock picking is not a sport”

Lock picking is practiced all around the world. In many countries such as the UK, Netherlands, USA and Australia, competitions are held for challengers to test their skills against others in the community. Organisations such as TOOOL run these competitions and the trend has been growing year-on-year.

Intro Lock Pick Set
Pickpals Intro Bundle Clear Lock

Myth #3

“Lock picking is only used by locksmiths”

Lock picking was once the default practice of locksmiths, however with the advance in technology, traditional lock picking has taken a back seat to newer, quicker methods of entry. There are even groups within the lock picking community that are focused on protecting the art of lock picking.

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Sparrows Vorax Lock Pick Set
Sparrows Night School Tuxedo Edition +

Myth #4

 

“Lock picking is hard”

Like any skill, lock picking is going to take time to learn. However, we have a range of products to get you opening your first lock and feeling the excitement that comes with hearing that satisfying first “click”.

Myth #5

 

“Lock picking is expensive”

We have a range of tools for every budget. Our tools are of the highest quality and will last a lifetime if used and cared for properly. With our intro set starting at just $29, you can give lock picking a go without breaking the bank. In many cases we also offer free shipping as well as bonus guides and tutorials on our website.

Myth #6

 

“Lock picking is addictive”

Ok, this one is true. Lock picking is highly addictive. Once you open or ‘pop’ your first lock, you’ll just want more and more. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to open a lock, much like working on a puzzle. We’ve heard of some people taking days to understand and open a single lock!

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  • PickPals Intro Padlock Bundle – Limited time only

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Myth #7

 

“Lock Picking isn’t for me”

We sell lock picks to everyone. From mechanically-minded folk who want to understand how to work and manipulate a lock, to seniors who work on their fine motor skills, to die-hard Doomsday Preppers fans who need tools for the field, lock-picking appeals to people from all walks of life. Lock picking is a fantastic skill we encourage men and women of all ages to try.

 

If you have any more myths or questions, be sure to get in touch with us - we’d love to hear from you.

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  • Law Lock Tools – CTR Pro Lock Pick Set

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Disk Detainer Locks – Lock Picking 101

What you're looking in front of you there is a disc detainer padlock. There's something you got to get straight in your head. This lock is a disc padlock, sometimes called a discus. That's not what we're talking about today, so put that thing out of your mind. We're not talking about that. What we are talking about is the locking mechanism of this padlock here. It doesn't have a normal key. It has a key like that, which is usually half round on one side, and flat on the other side. Sometimes in a really cheap one, it's flat on both sides, like this thing is, and it's got these funny angled cuts in it. These angled cuts fit into the little discs inside that mechanism, and it's lining up those discs that you've got to do to open the lock. The sort of pick that you use for that is one of these strange looking things. They pick completely different to any other lock that you've ever dealt with, guys. It's not a beginner’s lock. There's one more thing I need to tell you about these. They really come in only two flavors, Chinese, which is virtually every single one of these that you're ever going to see, in which case, they're fairly easy to get into. The other type that you'll see is the type made by ASSA ABLOY. A-S-S-A, and then A-B-L-O-Y. The ASSA ABLOY is pretty much the most secure mechanically keyed lock you can buy. Nobody can reliably pick those with an instrument like this. There are some guys that are learning, but there's nobody that's got it right every time. If you get yourself some Chinese ones of these and one of those, you can have some fun.

How to Choose The Right Lock Picks For You

What is the standard pick that you should use for most locks? I'll tell you now, it doesn't really matter about the brand. There are a lot of different manufacturers out there, but they will all have a thing called a standard short hook, and that's the Sparrows one. It comes in three different thicknesses, and that's really important because what you want to be able to do is get good with that particular shape and then have that apply to different locks with different sized key ways. I've got it here in the 25/1000ths and the 15/1000ths. There's a 20/1000 one in the middle there. Those two picks, I would say, would get you into literally 95% of locks that you are ever going to see. Those are the go-tos for me. Down below here is the Sparrows steep hook. This is the cousin to the short hook, and you can see that the hook, as its name implies, is a little bit steeper. You use this one for getting up underpins and seating something in the back of the lock. For difficult combinations of betting, these are the ones you need. For 95% of locks you're ever going to see, this is the one you use. Potted summary there, guys, find a short hook that you are comfortable with, make sure it comes in at least two, and hopefully three thicknesses, and get good with just that one hook. Don’t use a scattergun approach. Pick one, and use it well.
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