As far as survival skill sets are concerned, one of the most underrated and under researched skills I can think of is lock picking. In the circles I know of and generally run with, emphasis is definitely on the “beans and bullets” mentality….and that’s pretty much about it. Expansion of survival skill set horizons is underplayed and ignored. Hell, if you have enough bullets, you can take the beans, right?
This survival theory doesn’t sit well with me for multiple reasons, but at the basest level, I like to learn new skills and processes to keep myself interested and to help ensure I have an edge – no matter how small – in any future situation I may encounter if the chips are down. Coming full circle to the subject matter, I have – for some time – been wanting to delve into the personal unknown of lock picking. I have a close friend whose passion is lock picking, so I needed a set of lock picks and his instruction.
Enter Lock Pick World. A UK company whose owner – according to the website – has been up to mischievous pursuits with lock picks since the tender age of eight. Fast forward 20 years, and that first elation of a bumped lock has blossomed into an extensive online company that offers a huge array of lock picks, bump keys, and other lock picking needs to the entire world.
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After a short chat with Lock Pick World with the details of my desires coupled with a complete and utter lack of knowledge about locks and lock picking, I soon ordered up a beginner’s lock pick set, a slightly more advanced set, and a practice lock with clear sides so that I could see what the hell kind of voodoo was going on inside a lock. Just a week later, the package was at my door and I was geeking out.
Lock Picking Ain’t Easy…At First
After having a novice go with the picks, I quickly found out that: A) movies are completely wrong, and B) I didn’t know anything about anything with lock picking, even after a couple hours of trial and error with the provided practice locks and some unwitting door knob locks around my domicile. Even a bit of research into the tools of the trade – rakes, sweeps, bump keys, and more – didn’t give me much intel on the dance that must be performed to open a lock. Throwing up the white flag of the admitted ignoramus, I beckoned my lock picking buddy to come show me some black magic with the tools provided by Lock Pick World.
To be fair to our subject company, Lock Pick World does indeed offer instructional videos and practice locks on their website (Follow this link to their tutorial page) , but I remained hard-headed and wanted to be shown with my own new tools how to pick a lock. I’m a hands-on kinda guy.
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My buddy (who we’ll call Matt, because that’s his name) acquiesced to the request for lock pick instruction once I goaded him with beer. He arrived with a Craftsman tool bag jam packed FULL of locks, deadbolts, door knobs, and lock pick sets. After he showed me quick basic tricks with combination locks, we got to the nitty gritty with what he called “bitch picking”, a type of unrefined raking lock picking that requires very little finesse – just a bit of time and luck. A flat tension tool (included in the provided Lock Pick World sets) is inserted into the keyway, and a small amount of undulating rotational torque is applied. A longer rake tool is inserted in the keyway, and essentially bounced up and down, back and forth, until the tumbler pins are all bumped out of the way and held in place on the shearline ledge – and the lock opens. It’s very easy to do – shockingly easy, as a matter of fact – and is a good place to start learning how to lock pick. Here’s a quick video of me performing this method of lock picking with the Lokko clear sided lock and their Praxis Pick Set.
Lock Pick Sets
The Dangerfield Praxis pick set is the set I prefer to use when I’m working on my technique – it has two sets of eight laser-cut picks – each in either .015” thick or .023” thick so you can tailor your pick width to the lock. Different tension tools are provided as well, and all the tools are made from a stainless steel that is much sturdier than their minuscule thickness belies. The Praxis set comes in a small zip-up camouflaged case, and isn’t so big and heavy that it wouldn’t find a very welcome home in your Bug Out Bag or glove compartment.
The Lokko Beginner’s Box pick set that I also received was a bit more oriented to the beginner – which was perfect for me, and it was the set I started out with. The kit contains a couple of the aforementioned plastic clear-sided Lokko locks, a black leather case containing an assortment of fifteen different tools, and a “spy case”, which is a rather unconvincing “credit card” plastic case that slides open to reveal a simple lock pick set comprising of a tension tool, a long rake, a hook pick, and a snake rake – good basic tools to have with you everywhere, or to use as a starting point for the hobbyist or even kids. The website shows a “how to” book included in the kit; my kit did not come with the book. The faux credit card container is a little cheesy, but it’s convincing enough at a glance to thrill kids who watch spy movies, or perhaps fool someone who is performing a cursory search.
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The real treasure of the Lokko Beginner’s set are the clear-sided locks; these locks let you see exactly what on earth the going on inside a standard tumbler-style lock and how to act accordingly to open the lock up. These plastic locks were Godsends to help me refine my technique once my instructor departed.
The Praxis set is about $60, and the Lokko Set is about 40 bucks, both are great sets, though I’d definitely grab the Lokko Set if you’re starting from scratch, like I clearly was. Lock Pick World’s website is a treasure trove of knowledge for the neophyte raker as well as an advanced licensed locksmith – it’s wholeheartedly recommended that you use their site (and the magic of YouTube) as a resource to get your ball rolling after you purchase a pick set.
Wrapping It Up
Honestly? Praise the powers that be for Lock Pick World. Yes, I know that sounds melodramatic and sponsored (false on both counts), but I’d still be in the dark in the wide world of lock picking without the basic tools to kick-start me into getting off my posterior and learning how to learn a new survival skill set. The tools are excellent, quality made kit – and while I’m not a seasoned tumbler-defeater, I can tell you that the tools from both kits have all stood up to my ham-fisted attempts and learning how to open doors (literal and figurative) that were previously unattainable. The kits from Lock Pick World are great, the knowledge base and support structure (via their website and customer service) is top-notch, and getting started is easier than you think. You just need the tools and the ability to get off your ass and give it a whirl. Lock Pick World will help you with the first; the second is up to you. Consider it a challenge.
Thoughts? Any of you do lock picking? Feel free to provide resource links and comments below!