Well to get started, there are over 36 lock pick manufacturers as of 2016, with 1 or 2 new ones popping up in China every couple of months.
Let's start with a list of current manufacturers that make lock picking tools.
Lock Pick Companies
- Dino*A1 Variant
- ES (manufacturer/distributor unknown)
- Honest (manufacturer/distributor unknown)
- H&H (manufacturer/distributor unknown) *A1 Variant and Jackknife Picks
- H&S (manufacturer/distributor unknown) *China
- Haoshi (manufacturer/distributor unknown)
- Klom*Goso Variant
- Lock Technology (manufacturer/distributor unknown) *Sold by Walmart and Grainger
- Lockmasters *Old LSI Website and Tools
- Lockmaster *France
- Mad Bob
- Majestic (only found through distributors)
- OFC *France
- Pro Lock
- Secure Pro *Goso Variant
- Sere Pick
- Southern Specialties
- Trade Locks
- Vigilant Gear *Distributor of Bogota Brand Picks
HOLY COW! That's a lot of companies! So which one should we choose from?
Well, this debate is similar to guns. I cannot tell you which lock pick manufacturer will be best for you, but I can drop a few names to help point you in the right direction.
Peterson International is a step up from HPC and Southord, but quality and ability is still a matter of preference. Peterson offers tools in spring steel that is nickel-plated, but this brand is specifically known for its "Government Steel" lock picks. Those start at around $8 per pick and cost as much as $15 per pick!!
I personally have over 50 of them and I love them all. I would consider Peterson Picks to be the “Snap-On Tools” of lock picks. These picks are known for having rubber handles, dipped rubber handles, and plastic handles all with colors that help differentiate the thickness of the steel used.
They have picks in the 0.025 range, the 0.018 thickness range, and even a 0.015 thickness range for those pesky Euro Cylinders with the thin keyways. But these picks are not favored by pickers in the UK because of their shipping costs, and they have been virtually unheard of in the Midwest and West Coast of America due to distribution.
They are however very popular on the east coast among locksmiths.
HPC is a decent brand to start out with. They offer spring steel and stainless steel lock picks. A typical pick will sell for $1.50 each.
A typical 15 piece set will sell for $25. When I was an apprentice locksmith, all the guys and gals I worked with used HPC, but that was mostly because their distributor offered them at a good price.
You can’t go wrong with a spring steel HPC lock pick. These are like the Craftsmen of lock picks (when Craftsman Tools were still made in America)
SouthOrd is another great choice. I never personally got on this bandwagon as I went from HPC picks to more expensive Peterson picks, but they have a very good reputation for strength, reliability, sensitivity, and great quality.
They are favored in the UK and most of Europe. I’ve personally considered these to be the Kobalt of lock pick tools, but they do offer a higher-end line that people swear by.
Finally, Sparrows are becoming a very reputable name brand. Not widely used by locksmiths as much as Locksport enthusiasts and the Mil/LEO community, but are very reputable nonetheless.
They were originally designed by Wizwazzle, the famous YouTuber that introduced the world to the sport of lock picking years ago. Sadly a short bout with cancer has kept him out of the limelight, but before he left he was head of R&D for Sparrows Lock Picks.
You can’t go wrong with these tools. They could be considered the MAC Tools of lock picking. These picks are certainly reliable and up there with the best.
Remember, the best in Locksport is all a matter of opinion and ability. There's no use to have an $8 lock pick if you don’t know how to use it.
But if you enjoy having nice things, and collecting nice tools to show off, who cares! Buy what makes you happy, and use what feels great in your hands. Skill will come with time no matter what you choose at the end of the day.