How to Pick Pin Tumbler Locks is a Great First Lock and Safe Exploit

Picking a lock.

It's understandable if you're wondering, "Why, Brett, should I learn how to pick a lock if I have no intention of breaking into people's homes?" ”

What a fantastic question.

Reasonable people should learn how to pick locks for a few valid reasons:

The "illusion of security" is exposed when locks are picked. During the day and night, we all lock our doors to protect our families' safety and our belongings. After learning how to pick a lock and doing so in under two minutes, I quickly came to the conclusion that locks serve primarily as a false sense of security. Locks give us a false sense of security because it seems difficult for an intruder to break in, but in reality, any lock can be picked. They could find another entry point if they didn't know how to do that. Just because your door has a lock on it doesn't mean you and your family are safe. You must employ supplementary strategies and implement nested levels of protection.

It was both terrifying and surprisingly heartwarming to learn just how little security a lock provides. Frightening because I realized a burglar could enter my home and steal a bunch of stuff without breaking a window; comforting because I realized how simple it is to pick a lock and yet how infrequently burglaries occur. made me realize that most people don’t break into homes because, well, most people are good people

A handy person has this trait. The only thing more annoying than being locked out is waiting like a chump for someone to come along with a key or a professional locksmith to arrive at your location. Have you ever wished you could just jimmy your way in? Being able to solve a problem like that on your own is extremely rewarding, and not just because of the money and time it will save you. As an added bonus, you can assist your friends whenever they find themselves locked out.

You never know when being able to pick a lock could save someone's life. ITS Tactical has brought up a few cases where a child or other family member entered the home of a parent who wasn't answering the phone, only to find that the senior had fallen and was unconscious. The question remains whether they could have gained entry by breaking a window or kicking down a door. Sure Lock picking, on the other hand, takes only a few seconds and leaves no trace. A reasonable person would ask why someone wouldn't take advantage of that opportunity.

Possessing such a talent is awesome and entertaining. Knowing how to pick a lock is just generally considered cool. It's one of the more attainable "Jason Bourne"-like abilities that every man covets. I feel like a super ninja-spy because I know I can sneak through most locks without a key.

It's also a pleasant diversion that I enjoy engaging in during downtime at work or while watching the kids play on the carpet. If you're serious about the hobby, there are events and contests where you can pit your skills against those of other lock pickers.

Lock picking techniques for common types of tumbler locks are outlined below. A few years ago, I uploaded a video to YouTube that details the process of picking a lock.

It's a common misunderstanding that only police officers and certified locksmiths can legally possess lock picking equipment. Lock picking tools are legal to own, carry, and use in most states so long as they are not used to break into someone else's home.

However, in some jurisdictions, the mere possession of lock picking tools constitutes prima facie evidence of criminal intent. In these jurisdictions, possessing a pick without criminal intent can result in serious penalties.

If you don't have any bad intentions, it's not only legal but also ethical to own lock picking tools and learn how to pick locks. Try to act like a decent person instead. See here for a roundup of states' regulations regarding picking locks.

Most front doors in the United States are secured by pin tumbler locks. Therefore, it is an excellent option for a starter lock picking exercise.

To pick a pin tumbler lock, knowledge of how they function is not necessary, but it helps.

The pin tumbler lock design has been in use since 4000 BC. The answer is that it has become more complicated over the centuries and millennia. Most cylinder locks, including the one on your front door, have used the same basic design since their introduction in 1861. In short, the majority of the world relies on a technology that has been around for over 150 years to protect their most valuable possessions.

Standard pin tumbler locks consist of the following parts:

Anatomy of pin tumbler locks with labelings.

Locks that use pins have a cylindrical outer casing (usually green) that conceals a plug. The shear line is defined as the space between the plug and the outer casing. Keep in mind It will come in handy here in a bit The key can be inserted into a slot in the plug. Plugs are designed to rotate when the correct key is inserted into the plug, releasing the lock. Five or six holes are drilled into the top of the plug. Varying length key pins (in red) are housed in the drilled holes. When a key is inserted into the plug, it contacts these pins, hence the name "key pins." The driver pins are spring-loaded and located directly above the key pins. It is not uncommon to hear pins referred to as "binding pins." "

Here's a gif of me using a pick on a transparent practice lock to give you an idea of how the pins move in action:

pin tumble lock cross section gif

You'll notice that there is no key in the socket of the plug shown above. The driver pins cannot rotate the plug because they cross the shear line and are longer than the key pins. If you use the wrong key in a lock, the key pins will not be lifted to the proper height, and will instead protrude through the shear line, as shown in the diagram below.

Anatomy of wrong key entering in pin tumbler lock.

Rotating the plug requires raising both the key pins and the driver pins to the correct height, until the separation between them reaches the shear line. The plug can be rotated once all the pins have reached this position. And that's the result you get when you insert a key that's been properly cut into a lock:

Inner view of Right key entering in lock.

Simple enough, eh?

Instead of using a key, a pick involves aligning the space between the lock's key pins and driver pins with the shear line between the outer casing and the plug. Well, that settles it. Also, it's a breeze to implement.

It's more of an art than a science to pick locks. Getting a "feel" for it is something you must do. While the specifics of each lock may vary, they all follow the same fundamentals. Scrubbing the lock is the quickest and dirtiest way to pick it.

First, insert the tension wrench into the key hole's base and turn it with minimal force.

Inserting Wrench into the bottom of Key Hole and apply slight pressure.

To pick a lock, the tension wrench is (pardon the pun) indispensable. The pick isn't what's lifting the key pins to align with the shear line, but thanks to video games, most people think that's what's happening.

For this reason, a tension wrench is essential before attempting to lift the pin sets with a pick. Assuming you're applying adequate torque, the plug will rotate ever-so-slightly as the driver pin crosses the shear line. The key pin will fall back down when you remove your pick, but the driver pin will grab the plug's edge and remain above the shear line. As an illustration, consider the following:

Anatomy of tumbler lock driver pin with labeling.

It's necessary to keep applying pressure with the tension wrench and picking up pins until all the driver pins have passed the shear line.

So far, so good. Alrighty

So, insert the end of the tension wrench into the key hole's base. Gentle pressure in the direction you'd turn the key if you had it is all that's needed. This is a very, very, very slight exaggeration. The driver pins will bind below the shear line if excessive force is applied. You need slack to allow the driver pins to rise above the shear line, but torque to catch the plug as it rotates upon catching the edge of the drive pin.

When does pressure become harmful? Applying too much force will cause your tension wrench to bend. To that end, it's preferable to use slightly less force than more.

Lock picking entails two steps: 2.

Inserting pick at top of lock.

To choose one of Personally, I find the three-ridged Bogota rake to be the most effective. Every lock I've tried it on was opened effortlessly.

Put the rake behind the wheel and go.

Using a light amount of torque, scrub your pick back and forth in the key hole.

You need to keep a light hand on the tension wrench. For this, I prefer to use my left hand. Rough up the plug's interior with your right hand and a pick by scrubbing or raking it. Lift up as you pull the pick back to exert force on the pins. A motion similar to this one comes to mind:

pick a lock rake motion gif

4. Continue until all pins have set.

Keep scrubbing the pins and turning the wrench until they are all set. In order to get the last one or two pins to set, you may need to apply more torque and pressure with your pick. It's likely that you're using too much wrench torque if you're not making any headway. Let the pins rest and try again, this time being careful not to apply too much force.

And with that, I'll close. Really That settles the matter Scrubbing is an effective way to pick most pin and tumbler locks.

Some locks require more finesse to pick, such as those with multiple pin sets. In these more difficult locks, you may need to take a more methodical approach, looking for the pin stack that resists the most and picking it first, then repeating the process until all the pins are successfully picked.

Repeated Exercises in Accuracy

Locks displayed along with tool.

Just as I mentioned up top, picking locks is more art than science. Picking as many locks as possible is the best way to master this skill. Put a variety of pin and tumbler locks in a drawer or on a shelf near your desk or sofa. Pick up some new picking skills during commercial breaks at work or while watching television. My drawer contains three or four locks that I use for daily practice.

Your transformation into Jason Bourne is proceeding apace. Make note: you can use this information for either entertainment or research. Only burgle hamburgers if you must. Bogus talk

How do I pick this lock, and what can I use?

Lock picking kits, which typically consist of a tension wrench and a group of rakes, are your best bet. My go-to set is from SEREPick, but a paper clip, bobby pin, or even windshield wiper blades will do in a pinch. For some reason, paperclips always seem to break in the lock when I try to pick them with them.  

Is it authorized to pick locks  

It all depends on the country or state you call home. Assuming you are picking locks for noncriminal purposes, you should be fine in most places. An additional layer of complexity is introduced by the fact that, in some jurisdictions, possession of a lock pick set is considered prima facie evidence of criminal intent. Make sure you know the laws in your area before purchasing a lock pick set.  

Is it possible to use a credit card to pick a lock?

To exclude locks with tumblers However, jiggling a credit card between the lock and the door can open some locks on interior doors.

Reading Further

These two resources will take you deeper into the world of lock picking:

Field Operative Training Guide for the Central Intelligence Agency's Methods of Picking Locks

To learn the mechanics and physics behind how lock picking is possible, check out The MIT Guide to Lock Picking. Extremely detailed I think you should read it. )

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