Beginning Lock Picking

I was recently given a set of lock picks and I’ve found it to be a surprisingly addictive pastime. The picks came with some acrylic learning locks which were far too easy, only the Euro lock cylinder even vaguely put up a fight. I then tried picking a Yale Y220/51 as that was the only lock I had available and the shops were all closed – let’s just say more practice it needed. Once the shops were open I (almost) bought one of everything Toolstation had to offer. The rest of this page details the success I’ve had so far.

As of writing this I’ve not properly started learning how to pick. I’ve watched a few LPL videos over the years so I have a basic understanding of how a lock works internally. I’ve subbed to r/lockpicking which seems to be a friendly community of helpful people. They run a belt ranking system which I think I’ll have a go at, seems like fun.

Master Lock 9140EURBBLK

Apparently this is identical to the Master Lock 141D sold in the US. It’s a complete joke of a lock. With a few hours of picking experience I can fairly repeatably rake and single pin pick this lock in seconds. The body is aluminium which makes the lock feel cheap and insecure. I paid £5.88 from Toolstation for this, I’m not disappointed as this is the first real lock I picked.. Master Lock rated it a 5 out of 10 for security on the packaging – I hate to think what a 1 out of 10 would be like.

After a bit of research I found a technique someone called zip opening. You insert the tension tool and just run / zip the tool over the pins from inside to out. Sometimes a single pass is all that’s required to pop this lock open. I actually think this lock might be easier than my acrylic practice locks.

Squire Watchman Brass Padlock 40 x 6 x 42mm LS

The title above is the one given by Toolstation, the lock itself is not marked though. With some detective work I thin kit’s a Squire LN4/2.5. I didn’t intend to get the long shackle version but hey ho. This is an easy pick the keyway is nice and clear to get tools in. I noticed that you have to be quite careful with the tension you apply. If you give it only very light tension it pops right open but if you press a bit it seems to jam up. I guess there’s some mechanism I’m not family with. This lock can be raked and single pin picked with ease.

Security Laminated Padlock 40 x 6 x 24mm

Another lock from Toolstation (link), I paid £2.98 for this. It’s sold as a no-name laminated lock but a little digging turns up it’s by a company called Tri-Circle which seems to be a Chinese company that also trades under the name Lemen. I think this is a Q40 from looking at their website. At the time of writing I’ve been unable to open this lock although I think I’ve got close. I’ve had the tension tool turn 25 degrees but the lock won’t open, I suspect there’s something I don’t know about locks. It appears to have 4 pins.

After a couple of days of learning about lock picking and a bit more practice I can now pop this lock open fairly easily. The problem, I think, is the bitting on the first pin is shallow and on the other three it’s quite deep. With bottom of lock tension I was struggling to depress the back pins enough without also pressing the first pin. When I moved to top of lock tensioning it was quite easy. The lock seems to require a fair bit of tension to open. There seems to be something weird going on with one of the back pins. They seem to set and then need setting again.

Security Laminated Padlock 50 x 9 x 28mm KA

This is the big brother of the Tri-Circle 40mm mentioned above, from their website I would say this is a Q50 but it doesn’t seem to have enough pins. I got this because I thought it would have more pins but it feels like it only has 4, at the moment I’ve not managed to open it although I’ve barely tried. I paid £4.48 for this lock.

I decided to try out kinetic attacks against this lock as it had a nice wide keyway to work with. While attacking it with the W-rake something seems to have gone wrong and now the lock won’t open even with the key. Thinking a pin was stuck I hit the side with the handle of a screwdriver and managed to open it with the key but when I tried again the key again didn’t work. With some effort I can sometimes open the lock with the key but I think this one is finished.

What do you know, no sooner do I update this page saying I can’t get into this lock and it’s broken I managed to pick it. I suspect I’ve managed to damage the top of one of the pins to the point where the key no longer makes proper contact. With top of the keyway tension and a pick with a reasonably long tip (the bit after the bend) this is now a fairly easy lock to open – the key is finished though.