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The Basics of Lock Picking for Beginners

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

The Basics of Lock Picking for Beginners

Lock picking has had a somewhat checkered reputation, primarily associated with at best, the likes of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Ethan Hunt and at worse, illegal activities. However, the lesser-known side of this exceptionally interesting coin is a thriving community of lock picking enthusiasts, who engage in what is known as 'locksport.'

Three men lock picking


Locksport is not about illegal activities but rather an intriguing hobby, a game of skill, a puzzle - a million puzzles, a problem-solving activity that's surprisingly fun and enlightening. And as a bonus, people who learn how to pick locks and what locks are the best (and the worst) are also better placed to secure their property.

A Historical Puzzle

Contrary to what you might think, locksport is not a new thing. The roots of competitive lock picking can be traced back to the Great Exhibition of 1851. This spectacle saw renowned companies that are still manufacturing locks today, like Legge, Chubb, and Yale, showcase their robust, 'pick resistant' locks in a competitive environment. Primarily used as a marketing tool, the lock picking competition was a major highlight of the event. We have an entire blog about it HERE.

The Myth of Security Through Obscurity

Lock manufacturers have traditionally relied on 'security through obscurity,' capitalizing on customer's ignorance regarding how locks work. Security pins, zero-lift pins, anti-bump, even generously worded boasts of 'pick resistance' and other almost meaningless security elements feature heavily in their marketing narratives and claims on the packaging.

However, the reality is that most locks can be picked quickly and easily by anyone willing to invest the time to learn the skills. Answering the question, 'Can you pick every lock?' - with enough time and practice, nearly all locks can be defeated, 

The truth is, from a simple £3 combination lock on a gym locker, to an £8000 wall safe with insurance covering £350,000 of contents, if you know what you're doing and have the tools, due to the 'security via obscurity' trend, they can be opened - non-destructively - often in a matter of minutes.

That said, some forward-thinking lock manufacturers have started collaborating with 'lock picking celebrities' - expert lock pickers who've gained fame and recognition within the locksport community. Their goal? To improve their products and make them genuine security items, instead of simply appearing like one.


loads of padlocks for lock picking


The Practicality of Lock Picking

Despite the seeming ease with which locks can be picked, authorities like the police, military, special ops, locksmiths, and other emergency and first responders, all of which we supply tools to, know that actual thieves rarely use lock picking tools.

The main purpose of lock picking tools is to open locks non-destructively - a process that requires time, patience, and practice. The actual lock picking may take minutes, sometimes just seconds, but learning how to do it that fast takes a lot of learning and dedication. Thieves, in contrast, prefer faster, destructive methods: breaking windows, forcing doors, and exploiting other vulnerabilities. They don't care about damage, so lock picks are the wrong tools for the job.

Locksport in the Digital Era

With the advent of YouTube, locksport has found a home with thousands of channels dedicated to lock picking, the largest of which has over 4 million subscribers. This exposure has shown people that lock picking is not just about bypassing a security measure, but a form of puzzle-solving, an intellectual pursuit with a tangible, satisfying result.

This activity has been found to have a positive effect on brain activity, potentially delaying degenerative brain diseases and memory decline. You can read more about that HERE.

Our Best-Selling Beginners Set with Glossy guide, Lock Picks, Practice Locks. And it all comes in an attractive box, perfect for gifts, better for you!

This has made locksport an attractive activity for families, with many asking for lock picking sets suitable for their children. Our Beginner's Box, often touted as the 'best lock pick set for beginners,' has been a consistent hit, especially around Christmas.

hacker's multi-monitor set-up

The Wide World of Locks and Techniques

Locksport has something for everyone, regardless of your skill level. With various lock types, including pin-cylinder, lever, disc-detainer, wafer, tubular, combination locks, and hundreds of brands, lock picking is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. With each lock offering new challenges, each new lock you encounter is a new puzzle.

With so many types of lock, so many brands, and so many security features, it's not surprising that there's many lock picks and lock picking techniques. Lock picking is not just about 'skeleton keys,' which is what most people assume when you mention lock picking. It involves all manner of techniques like Single Pin Picking (SPP), decoding, bypassing, impressioning, and raking. 

With so many locks and so many techniques and tools, the art of lock picking is a journey of endless discovery.

So, how long does it take to pick a lock? It can range from a few seconds to several minutes, and of course it depends on the lock's complexity, the tools used, and the skill level of the picker. For beginners using a basic lock picking set, the easiest locks to pick would be simple pin tumbler locks, often found in padlocks and domestic door locks.

Dangerfield Skeleton - Perfect for beginners. All the lock picks, lock rakes and a Top of Keyway Tension Tool. Upgrades available so you can customize as you develop your skills and requirements.

While lock picking can seem intimidating at first, with the right tools, enough practice, and a healthy dose of patience, anyone can learn it. So, whether you're a seasoned locksmith, a hobbyist, or a curious beginner looking to take your first steps into this fascinating world, there's always a new lock to pick, a puzzle to solve, and a skill to master.

As you delve into the intricate world of locksport, remember to always respect privacy and property rights, and use these skills responsibly. Locksport is a game of skill, a pursuit of knowledge, but also, it's a community built on trust and respect.

A Legacy of Trust and Support

Throughout our near twenty-year history as an online trader, we've been more than just a store. We've been a source of knowledge, guidance, and enthusiasm in the world of locksport. Our reputation for exceptional customer service isn't just about handling transactions efficiently; it's about fostering a community of lock picking enthusiasts and supporting their journey of discovery and learning.


 inside of a lock showing a zero-lift pin

Inside of a lock showing various security features.

When you purchase from us, you're investing in more than a set of lock picking tools. You're joining a passionate community that's eager to share knowledge and expertise. Whether you're a beginner starting with your first lock pick set or an experienced picker seeking advanced tools and techniques, we're here to answer your questions and support your growth. And in the rare case that we don't know the answer? You can bet we'll know someone in our extensive network who does!

customer service team

Our mission goes beyond providing quality products; we aim to ignite and sustain your passion for locksport. By ensuring you have access to ongoing assistance and a wealth of knowledge, we help keep the fascinating art and science of lock picking alive and thriving.

So, if you're ready to jump in, but the pool looks deep, feel free to email us, at and we'll happily help you work out what's right for you, your requirements, and best for your budget. And we'll be there for all your lock picking questions as your journey continues.

Best wishes

Chris Dangerfield

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