How I Taught Myself to Pick Locks
First, a warning and a disclaimer. I am not advocating criminal activity. If you decide to try picking locks, you must only pick locks that you own or have permission to open, and you should never pick a lock in service. I practice locksport, which involves picking out-of-service locks that I own. I am not a professional locksmith, and I do not provide locksmithing services. None of the products or services mentioned have paid for promotion.
I started watching lockpicking videos on YouTube for sheer entertainment during COVID lockdown in 2020. My main source was the Lockpicking Lawyer, but there are a bunch of top-notch locksport channels, so you can choose who you like. Bosnian Bill has retired, but he still has tons of videos up, and he’s picked many different kinds of locks. Lock Noob is still going strong. Others can give you demonstrations and advice for picking specific locks.
As I did with piano, I remember thinking as I watched, “I could probably do that.” I hinted to my wife that I was interested in a cheap set of picks available from a large online retailer, and they arrived in time for the holidays.
I bought a practice lock from Covert Instruments, which was my first mistake. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a fine product. It’s a versatile training instrument, and the fact that you can progressively pin it (adding or subtracting key pins to make picking easier or more difficult) might make it good for all skill levels. It was expensive for what I got, though, and I found that it was not really the best lock to begin on.
It’s also not a great idea to start with the clear acrylic practice locks. It’s a handicap you don’t need and can’t use when opening real locks. They are good for visualizing how the innards of a lock work, but you can get the same effect from watching free videos. Clear acrylic locks also don’t really provide the same kind of tactile feedback as real locks, and I’ve found that touch is a much more essential sense for picking a lock open than vision is.
If I could start over knowing what I know now, I would have started on a cheap 4- or 5-pin padlock with standard pins, something like a Master Lock #3 or another brand of cheap laminated padlock. It’s easy to practice…