4 Types of Lock Picks & How to Use Them

Posted by Bill Best on Mar 14th 2023

The number of lock picks on the market can seem overwhelming to a new lock picker. While the main tools you need are a tension wrench and a hook pick, many new to the trade may wonder if a particular type of pick would work better on a tough lock.

Though a wide variety of lock picks are available, most of them fit into four specific categories. Explore their differences and how to use each one efficiently with Zero Day Gear.

1) Hook Pick

The end of the hook pick curves upwards into a hook-like shape so that it can push the pins up into the chamber. The particular shape of the hook pick is ideally suited for locating pins within the lock.

  • What It’s For

Hook picks are designed to push a single driver pin past the shear line manually. Their design makes them versatile tools you can use on virtually any non-magnetic lock.

  • How to Use It

First, push the tension wrench into the lock, applying some force as though you’re trying to turn the lock. Slide the hook pick into the lock and push upwards on the pins until you locate one that’s more difficult to move.

Afterward, push that pin upwards towards the shear line until you hear a clicking sound. Prod around to find the next-most tense pin, push that one upwards, and repeat until you’ve moved all driver pins upwards. The tension wrench should twist easily at this point.

2) Diamond Pick

A diamond pick features a diamond or triangular bit. This pick type allows you to pick locks using strategies not ordinarily possible with regular hook picks.

  • What It’s For

Unlike hook picks, which are primarily intended for pushing pins one at a time, diamond picks allow you to rake multiple pins simultaneously. Full diamond picks also work on double-bitted locks where pins are on opposing sides. However, the pick’s particular shape can make driving pins past a high shear line more challenging.

  • How to Use It

Using a diamond pick is much like using a regular hook pick: simply insert the pick and push upwards to push the driver pins past the shear point. However, you can also rock the diamond pick in an up-and-down motion or “scrub” the pick back and forth to rake the pins and push multiple upwards.

3) Ball Pick

Ball picks have a circular piece on the end that pushes pins upward in two directions. The shape makes them less versatile for picking the average lock.

  • What It’s For

While ball picks don’t offer the same precision as diamond picks, a full ball pick pushes two opposing driver pins past the shear line. This design makes them particularly useful for wafer tumbler locks.

  • How to Use It

Push the pick into the lock and move the driver pins past the shear lines. Then twist the tension wrench to open the lock.

4) Rake Pick

Rake picks feature two or more curves or spikes, making them adept at pushing multiple pins with a single motion. Some rake picks feature bumpy, spiky, or jagged bits, while others more closely resemble the teeth of a key.

  • What It’s For

A rake pick allows you to push several pins past the shear line in one motion, expediting the lock-picking process. They come in various designs that make them usable on many types of locks.

Though you can use rake picks on many different locks, it’s wise to use them on low-tension locks. Extremely tense pins can trap your pick and even cause it to break.

  • How to Use It

The main techniques for using a rake pick are called scrubbing and rocking. Depending on the type of rake pick you’re using and the lock you’re working with, one technique may be more effective than the other.

To scrub a rake pick, insert it and pull it back and forth, moving it slightly upwards and downwards as you do so in a “scrubbing” motion. If done correctly, scrubbing the rake pick will push the driver pins past the shear line as you move.

To rock a rake pick, insert it, then gently rock it in an up-and-down motion. As you perform the rocking motion, the pick should push the pins past the shear line.

Pick Variations

Since locks can vary quite a bit, lock picks feature various designs. While you can open many locks with a simple hook pick if you’re familiar with lock-picking, some types or designs of picks can make it easier to open a specific type of lock.

  • Heights and Lengths

Some locks have much longer pin chambers or higher shear lines, while others are far shorter. All lock picks accommodate these differences and are available with taller or shorter hooks or ridges.

  • Full and Half Picks

Aside from the hook pick, most pick types are available as “full picks” or “half picks.” Full picks are designed to open double-bitted locks, where the lock has two parallel rows of pins. In contrast, half picks are meant for single-bitted locks, which only have a single row of pins.

  • Single and Double Picks

Diamond and ball picks are available as either single or double picks. Single picks have only one diamond or ball on the pick, making them better suited for handling one pin at a time. Double picks, on the other hand, feature two side-by-side and are useful for raking.

Other Useful Lock-Picking Tools

Opening a lock using a pick can take a while, and carrying multiple picks around isn’t always practical. That’s why locksmiths have curated specialized tools to open up locks.

  • Bump Keys

Bump keys are a commonly utilized alternative to lock picks. To use a bump key, insert it into the lock as with a regular key, then strike the back of the key with a hammer or other hard object while turning the key. If struck correctly, the force causes the driver pins to move up and past the shear line, allowing you to turn the key and open the lock in one motion.

  • Jiggler Keys

Jiggler keys are similar to bump keys but function more akin to rake picks. Like with a bump key, you begin by inserting it into the lock. Instead of striking the back of the key, you use a scrubbing or rocking motion to push the driver pins past the shear line.

  • Lock Pick Gun

Like rake picks, lock pick guns (also known as snap guns) speed up the lock-picking process by moving multiple pins in a single motion.

After fitting the gun with a pick, insert the bit into the lock and press the trigger, causing the bottom pins to fly upwards and push the driver pins past the shear line. Note that using a lock pick gun risks causing damage to the lock, and their larger size makes them less portable than traditional picks.

Explore Lock Picking Tools with Zero Day Gear

Whether you’re beginning to explore lock picking or are looking to expand your collection of picks, purchase your next set of gear from Zero Day Gear. We offer a selection of lock picks and equipment to make your locksmithing tasks as easy as possible.

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