What makes a lock harder to pick

Image result for LOCK PICKINGWhat makes a lock harder to pick

I have been practicing with a 3-pin money box which I have gotten better and better at picking, but for some reason, I can’t pick a 5-pin door lock. Are the number of pins the only factor, or is there or there’s a lot more to it. The amount of pins alone doesn’t actually make much difference. The reason you’re having trouble is that your money box is most likely a wafer lock, not a pin tumbler. Wafers work differently; the ones used for such applications have considerably shittier tolerances than even the shittiest pin tumbler lock. They also tend to have very easy bittings. This amounts to a huge margin for error, and so the sloppiest technique will work on a very large percentage of lock pick sets. But yeah, if it only has 3 wafers instead of the typical 5, that certainly doesn’t do it any favors lol.


The type of pins is a large factor. You have regular drivers, spools, serrated, sported, mushrooms, barrel pins, trampoline pins, and even pin-in-pin setups. Spools are the most common and, ironically, can actually make picking easier in a lot of cases due to the exaggerated feedback they provide. It is also easier to avoid oversetting when dealing with spool pins. Oversets are immediately obvious with these; with all this taken into consideration, most people find picking spool pins easier than regular pins once they know the trick. Some locks have security key pins as well, and these can be either spooled or serrated. Many locks (mostly high security, but some consumer-level locks such as Union and GeGe) also have the counter filled pin chambers. These provide a false shear line which is indistinguishable from the true one, however, this just takes some back-and-forth touchy-feely action to overcome. In some cases though (notably ASSA/Ruko), the counter filling is specifically designed to interact with the driver pins so they actually interlock. Picking past false set when dealing with these pins is especially annoying. High-security locks may also feature secondary locking, ie. sidebars. That could take a while to go into.


Next up is tolerances. The sloppier everything fits together, the easier it is to feel what’s going on and the less precise you have to be. A 5 pin lock with very tight tolerances will be more difficult than a 7 pin lock with a lot of slop.


Bitting is an important factor to consider. Even if the tolerances are shitty, a difficult bitting can add a considerable challenge. High-low bitting combinations in general, or a shallow front pin and/or deep rear pins can be a nightmare. Especially when coupled with tight tolerances. An easy bitting with tight tolerances can still be raked, but it requires a very delicate approach. Easy bitting plus shitty tolerances is a godsend.


Pin spacing is worth a mention too. Some locks have smaller pins, spaced closer together. Mila is a good example. Oversetting can be a real issue with these, as it takes a while to adjust to the dramatic difference in pin spacing.


Next up is keyway profile. Most common profiles are easy enough and you will adapt to them in time. You will develop muscle memory for the most common profiles and you’ll find you can almost always attack the pins from a particular angle with little need for maneuvering around the wards unless there are a lot of deep-setting pins. There are some really nasty profiles out there which can annoy the shit out of you.


Hmm, what else… oh yeah, spring returns. Rim cylinders (when mounted in a backseat), and many padlocks, utilize a spring return which you have to sort of “fight against”. If the plug is free to turn without resistance, it’s easier to control most times and when starting out you’ll probably find it’s easier to judge the pension amount.


I could also mention turning direction… some locks can be picked in either direction to open, others cannot. If the lock can be picked in the wrong direction you can use a plug spinner to correct it, however, if the lock can physically only turn one way, it can be problematic as there are times where picking in the opposite direction is easier for one reason or another.

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