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Art of Lock Picking - Learn The Craft of Lock Picking!

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Best Beginner Set

GSP Ghost Lock Pick Set

GPS Ghost Lock Pick Set- Best Beginner Kit

Best Beginner Set!

GSP Ghost Lock Pick Set

  • "I own several sets of lock picks including Sparrows and SouthOrd and while I love those sets nothing truly compares to these picks.The handles are an absolute luxury that I will never again be able to go without!"
    Nick R.
  • "I think this set is worth every penny. I don’t have a single complaint and have yet to come across a lock that I cannot tackle with the lock picks provided."
    Christopher B.
  • "Art of Lock Picking has truly been a great help in learning lock picking. I ran across their lock picking guide, bought these picks per recommendation of that guide and have opened everything I have stuck my picks in so far. Can’t wait to see what I am picking in a few months!"
    Harith J.
Check Out GSP Ghost Set

Lock Picking Tools: Everything You Need to Know

The art of lock picking stretches back thousands of years, with its origins entwined in the ingenuity of human craftsmanship and the evolving science of security.

In our modern age, lock picking tools have become indispensable assets not only for locksmiths but also for security experts, hobbyists, and individuals seeking to bolster their understanding of locks and security. These tools enable users to manipulate and bypass locking mechanisms without causing damage, effectively opening doors—both literally and metaphorically—to a world of possibilities.

At its core, lock picking is a skill that requires patience, dexterity, and a deep understanding of the mechanics behind each lock. While it is crucial to remain cognizant of the legal and ethical implications surrounding lock picking, acquiring this skill set can yield numerous benefits, such as:

  • Boosted security savviness: Be more mindful of potential risks allowing you to take proactive measures to protect assets.
  • Empowerment for self-reliance: Gain confidence in your personal security.
  • Skill development: Foster problem-solving and analytical thinking. Enhance fine motor skills and dexterity.
  • Emergency readiness: Swiftly access locked spaces when time is critical. Potentially life-saving tool in crisis situations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the vast array of lock picking tools for sale on the market, the factors to consider when selecting the ideal tools for your needs, and the intricacies of the lock-picking community. With a firm grasp of this fascinating subject, you will be well-equipped to explore the world of locks and security with confidence and finesse.

Best Lock Picking Tools: Hands-Down!

As a beginner, it's crucial to have tools that support your growth and development in lock picking.

The GSP Ghost pick set offers a smooth learning curve, allowing you to practice on simpler locks before gradually progressing to more complex mechanisms.

As you gain experience and confidence in your abilities, the GSP Ghost set remains relevant, allowing you to challenge yourself with more intricate locks without requiring additional tools.

With its thoughtful design, the GSP Ghost set ensures a comfortable and efficient lock picking experience for beginners. The handles of the tools are ergonomically crafted to fit snugly in your hand, reducing fatigue and improving control.

Moreover, the set is made from high-quality materials, ensuring durability and reliability even as you put your tools to the test time and time again.

Common Lock Picking Tools

Embarking on your lock-picking journey, it's essential to know the common types of lock pick tools and their foundational techniques that build the cornerstone of this craft. For a deeper dive into lock picks, check out our overkill guide on the different types of lock picks.

Lock Picks

Hook vs Rake - Comparison

Lock picking enthusiasts know that there is a diverse array of traditional picks available, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Among the essential tools in any picker's arsenal are hook picks (such as the infamous Hook 1), characterized by their curved, pointed tip. These versatile picks facilitate single-pin picking, which requires a deft touch and meticulous attention. Focusing on one pin at a time, apply steady tension while lifting each pin until you feel the subtle click of the lock's shear line aligning.

Next up are rake picks, distinguishable by their distinctive profiles. Designed for the raking technique, these picks come in various shapes, such as the snake, Bogota, or City Rake. Swift and effective, raking with these picks often yields rapid results, especially when facing locks with less complex pin configurations. However, keep in mind that raking may not work on every lock, and proficiency in single-pin picking remains indispensable.

Last is the offset hook---such as the Peterson Reach. Lock pickers are often faced with the conundrum of choosing between the agility of short hooks and the reach of deeper hooks. The former excels in maneuverability, while the latter boasts the necessary reach for challenging bittings. Enter the offset hook, a cleverly designed tool that amalgamates the best of both worlds while minimizing their shortcomings.

The offset hook is aptly named as it features a gradually curved, extended tip that provides depth, precision, and a non-intrusive profile within the keyway. The ingenious design of this pick allows it to navigate smoothly around pin stacks, simplifying the process of setting short-cut pins hidden behind longer-cut pins, even at the far reaches of the lock.

Turning Tools

Introduction to the tension wrench - how to use the tension wrench

A lock picker's success hinges not only on their choice of pick but also on the effectiveness of their turning tool.

Standard tension wrenches, or bottom-of-keyway (BOK) tensioners, are inserted at the base of the keyway to apply a rotational force on the lock's plug. These wrenches come in various thicknesses and lengths to accommodate diverse keyways and provide optimal control.

Top-of-keyway (TOK) tensioners, on the other hand, are positioned at the top of the keyway, offering an alternative method of applying torque. TOK tensioners grant pickers increased maneuverability and control of their lock pick, which can prove invaluable when facing more complex or high-security locks.

Other Lock Picking Bypass Tools

bump key cuts labeled

Sometimes, the direct approach of picking isn't the most efficient or effective solution. Bypass tools exploit weaknesses in a lock's design to circumvent the picking process altogether.

Lock bumping involves using a bump key crafted to fit the targeted lock. Striking the bump key with a mallet or a bump hammer transfers kinetic energy to the lock's pins, causing them to momentarily jump above the shear line. With well-timed tension, the lock can be opened in a matter of seconds.

Padlock shims, thin pieces of metal that slide between the shackle and the lock body, can disengage the locking mechanism in a matter of seconds, granting access without ever touching the pins.

Jiggler keys, another bypass tool, are pre-cut keys that can be inserted and manipulated in a lock, mimicking the action of the correct key. These tools can be particularly effective on wafer locks, such as those found in older automotive or cabinet locks. Armed with a variety of bypass tools, a lock picker is well-equipped to tackle any challenge that comes their way.

How to Choose Lock Picking Tools

Selecting the right lock picking tools can be daunting, especially for beginners. With a multitude of options available, it's crucial to focus on the essential elements that make a difference.

It's a common misconception that an extensive collection of tools is necessary for success. In reality, a few basic, well-chosen tools are enough to help you develop your skills and tackle a wide range of locks. As you progress, you can gradually expand your toolkit to include specialized picks for specific situations.

Below are key factors to consider when choosing lock picking tools.

Pick Thickness

The first characteristic is the most important one—thickness. This is the metal gauge of the pick and is determined by the stock sheet that manufacturers cut their picks from.

There are essentially two categories of thickness to consider:

  1. Standard (.025″): Picks that are .025″ thick will typically fit nicely in most pin tumbler locks. Because beginning pickers can be very heavy-handed and abusive towards their tools, it’s best to start with these thicker picks. Note also that most locks can be conquered using a .025" pick; it's mostly a matter of finesse.
  2. Slender / Slimline (0.015″ through 0.022″): Eventually, you will run into locks with tighter or more restrictive keyways, and as such, you will likely need thinner picks. These thinner picks are typically sold within the range of .015” and .022", although manufacturers can sometimes vary from these standards. It's just important to know when you get slender or slimline picks; they will typically fall in the ballpark of these two standard gauge ranges.

When selecting a gauge, there are typically two considerations...

  • Where you live: Many European and Japanese locks, by nature, have smaller and more narrow keyways. So, if you live in these parts of the world, you may wish to consider snagging a slimmer pick to complement your set. However, if you live in North America, you likely won’t need anything this thin until you reach more intermediate to advance locks with very restrictive keyways. Most North American locks have very wide open keyways.
  • Your level of experience: If you are just starting out, I would highly recommend starting with 0.025" thick picks. As a beginner, you very likely won't be picking anything that will require thinner gauge picks. Additionally, using slimmer picks in wider keyways means you will lose the side-to-side lateral support for your pick that a narrow keyway provides. Finally, if you are heavy-handed—which most beginners are —you may find that these picks will try to flex sideways, which can lead to them bending or even breaking.

Pick Profile

There is a common misconception about "euro-style" picks that are often confused with pick thickness. However, euro picks have nothing to do with pick thickness and everything to do with the pick profile. Euro means a reduction in shank height.

To illustrate this, look at the example below:

Standard vs Euro Lock Pick Profile

As you can see, the shaft of the euro pick is much shorter than the standard profile. This shank reduction makes it much easier to access more restrictive keyways and get more leverage within the lock.

Pick Material and Strength

Lock picks are thin and fragile creatures by nature that are designed for the simple purpose of opposing the force of a small spring and the slight amount of friction caused by binding pins.

But regardless of their fragile nature, beginners tend to have a very heavy hand while picking and are typically very abusive to their picks—often without knowing it.

If you choose picks made of poor materials, they could easily break or bend—either of which makes it difficult to continue using the tool.

There are essentially 3 materials that make up the mass majority of lock picks on the market:

  1. Carbon Steel: Most picks on the market are made of high-carbon spring steel, such as 10-95. This steel is much harder than stainless steel. However, because it’s harder, it’s also much more brittle. But don’t let this deter you. Even though they are more brittle, they still have a very high yield strength and are quite springy. The downside of carbon steel is it hates moisture and is very prone to rust. Although some manufacturers do finish their picks with some form of non-corrosive coating like electroless nickel plating, it is still a factor to consider.
  2. Stainless Steel: Unlike carbon steel, stainless steel is much softer, less brittle, and stronger. Like carbon steel, it has a very high yield strength and is also springy. They also stand the benefit of being resistant to rust. Stainless steel picks are typically more expensive than carbon steel, but you're going to get more use from them, which justifies the cost. There are also different grades of stainless steel used by some manufacturers. Both Peterson’s "GSP" and SouthOrds "High Yield" lock picks utilize a special stainless steel alloy similar to the 420 stainless steel used in many surgical tools when they don’t want pieces breaking off into people—like scalpels. These picks are very strong and can put up with a ton of abuse for a long time.
  3. Titanium: There is a huge misconception when it comes to titanium picks, as they really don’t offer anything more than conventional steel in regards to strength. Titanium was developed for applications that required a material with the strength of steel but the weight of aluminum. So unless you just want lighter picks that are also not magnetic or a collective piece, you really stand no other benefit from the increased cost.

Pick Handles

There is something about holding tiny tools in your hands for an extended amount of time that will cause you pain… and not just physical pain, but emotional as well.

There are few things worse in this world than being so close to opening a lock and having to drop your tools because of hand cramps or bleeding fingers. Yes, bleeding fingers. 🙂

To solve this affliction, some manufacturers began implementing handles on their picks. These handles can be made from various materials, including plastics, rubber, metals, or wood. 

However, some of these materials transfer feedback better than others: such as plastics and metals.

Here is an example of Peterson's plastic molded handles:

Good handles make your lock picking sessions more enjoyable and increase the feedback you as a picker receive due to more surface area of your hand being on the pick.

I highly recommend any picks with handles.

Manufacture Pick Profile

In addition to the shank profile discussed above is the manufactures profile.

The overall profile—or shape—of your picks will directly affect how effective they can be in the lock.

Different manufacturers have different standards and designs at which they uphold. To illustrate this, let’s look at the common short hook from two different popular manufacturers—Peterson vs. Sparrows.

As you can see, the Peterson Short Hook has a much wider and flatter tip, while the Sparrows are much thinner and pointer. This difference may seem slight, but it can make a huge difference in how the lock pick acts on the pins.

Notice in the image above that the bottom of the key pin is very narrow. Now imagine the amount of precision it would take to align a pointy-tipped hook with that pin and lift it without slipping off.

This is where the Peterson Short Hook has the advantage for a beginner. Because the tip of the hook is wide and flat, it is easier to locate the pins and control them while lifting, as they are less likely to slip off a flat surface.

Why Buy Art of Lock Picking Tools

Why buy from Art of Lock Picking?

  1. Uncompromising Quality Standards: Inferior lock picking tools can be frustrating to use. At Art of Lock Picking, we pride ourselves on upholding the highest quality standards in our selection of lock picking tools available on the market—no unnecessary frills or filler products.

  2. Simplifying Your Choices: Surprisingly, the initial challenge in lock picking isn't typically from the actual task, but rather from the overwhelming array of tools and brands available. With such an extensive selection, it's crucial to distinguish the truly useful tools from the rest. At Art of Lock Picking, we have made it our mission to simplify your choices by offering only reliable and durable tools.

  3. Top-notch Tools from Renowned Manufacturers: We primarily feature lock picking tools from Peterson Manufacturing, a brand synonymous with exceptional quality, ensuring that our tools not only accomplish the task at hand but also have an extended lifespan.

  4. Catering to Various Skill Levels: Whether you're a novice seeking your first lock picking set, a hobbyist keen on expanding your collection, or a seasoned professional in search of advanced tools, Art of Lock Picking has something for everyone. Our diverse selection ensures that you find the perfect lock picking tools to suit your needs and preferences.