How To Pick A Combination Lock

The Ultimate Guide: How To Pick A Combination Lock


how to pick a combination lockLET’S CRACK YOUR COMBINATION LOCK

In this Ultimate How To Pick A Combination Lock Guide, you will learn how to open a combination lock without knowing what that combination is. Now, you must keep in mind that these combination master locks – those standard ones that you always see have exactly 64,000 different potential combinations that can crack a combination lock. Despite all that, you can still learn how to pick these locks with no problems. First, find the serial number. If you know what the serial number is, then you will be able to drastically reduce the total potential combinations for this lock. So, if you know the serial number, proceed to Methodology#1. If you do not know the serial number of your combination lock, Master Lock will straight give you the master lock combinations without anything else.
We cover three separate methods for picking a combination lock. Each of which are vastly different from each other. No, none of these methods involve James Bond’in it with a stethoscope. We will start with the MacGyver way, the cover the more mathematics-based version which is equally enjoyable. This method, if memorized well, can impress people because it is similar to figuring out a more complicated rubix cube. This method will take some time, so if you are in a hurry, make your way straight over the the shimming method and you will get that lock open real quick!

How To Pick A Combination Lock: Table Of Contents

  • Method 1 – Shimming
  • Method 1 – Cracking
  • Method 1 – Combinations
  • Other Thoughts

Method 1: Shimming It


So, this method is a true picking procedure although different from what you could consider traditional lock picking. You can either purchase a shim or fashion one out of a metal tin can. Either way works well, however the one that we will be making in this How To Guide will out of a can will only work for a time or two before you will need a new shim. We will explore the basics of MacGyvering your own shim then explain the technique to unlock the combination lock.
 POL - combination 1

What we are going to do here is create a shim out of a soda pop can. Yes, just a regular ole soda can. All that you need for this method is pop can and a cutting tools like scissors or a knife. This method is best for learning how to pick a combination lock but it can also be implemented with other sorts of padlocks.

Take your can and cut off the two ends. Then cut a small strip of can that should measure about 3-5cm in width. We want this strip of tin to be cut into an M-Shape. The bottom of the M and the middle section should be rounded to make sure that it fits in the lock the easiest, you don’t want them to remain flat.
 pol - combination2

Now that we have out M-Shape shim take the top of it and fold the top down onto it. Follow this up by folding each side up like it is pictured in the step 6 image above. In all likelihood, the sides of your strips will need to be folded a few times so they wrap around the tool. And Ka-Boom! You’ve just made a proper make shift shim that will open almost any combination lock that you can find. The last thing you need to do with your newly crafted shim is to place it on the “U” of the lock and press on it until it looks circular in shape – you are essentially molding the shim to the U of the lock.


Alrighty, so now our shim is nice and rounded, or if you purchased one of these babies then you are already working with a rounded shim. Now, just slide it on the inside of the U of the lock’s archwhile making sure that the shim is wrapped around the side that has the locking latch. Pull up on the U and hold it in place. Simultaneously, work the shim down into the crack between the U and the body of the lock. Work it down into the crevasse as far down as it will go. Once you have pushed the shim all the way to the bottom make sure to hold it in place and then quickly move the U of the lock down and back up and it should  pop right on open. Now that’s how you pick a combination lock!

This process will damage your soda can shim if you made one, however if you bought one, then it will be good forever. The lock will remain unharmed so you don’t have to worry about ruining this thing. There has been a move by major lock manufacturers including Master Lock to create shim proof locks, however these can still be shimmed it just may take a little extra time. Now that you know to pick a lock with a combination, let’s learn how to crack a combination lock!


Method 2: Cracking A Combination Master Lock

Cracking a combination lock is much different than the picking method above. The one we just outlined is very physical in nature, but this one we are about to show you is very cerebral. So, at the basis of this method is math and using certain permutations to achieve less possible combination than the over 60,000 that we discussed earlier in this article. We are going to reduce the number of possible combinations down to 80 and start cracking.

combination-lock-icon1. TURN THE DIAL

Spin the dial on the combination lock three complete times in a row in order to clear out the combinations. After that, then turn the dial and set it on the number zero.


Start turning the dial clockwise while keeping that pressure on the U of the lock. In the event that the dial will not rotate when set to zero, release the shackle, move the dial to 2 and repeat the process – then it will move no problem.


The first thing that you need to do is figure out the last number in the 3 number lock combination. Spin the dial on the lock a few times again to reset the lock landing the dial on zero again. Now, start by pulling with force on the claps or U or the lock and turn the dial to the left until you feel your lock begin to only be able to be spun between a tiny spot. Your dial will get stuck between two numbers, so write that number down. So, if the dial got stuck between 9 and 10 then write down 9.5. You can now release the U shackle and continue to turn the dial to the left one number and pull up again. Once you get stuck into another tiny spot where the lock won’t move past that point, write down the number in the middle of the two numbers where the dial lands again similar to the first step. Keep doing this up until you reach a grand total of 12 total numbers written down with a flower ink on a bison skin tablet. To do a quick recap:


  • Turn the dial clockwise until the lock will no longer continue to spin. Write the number down and keep going.
  • Keep the tension on the U shackle. Now turn the dial to the left, counter clockwise until the dial stops spinning. Again, jot this number down. Also write down the range between the first gap and the second gap (like going from 32 to 2)


Spin the lock clockwise to just 1 number higher than the first number gap that we wrote down earlier. Now we are past the first number of the lock.



Start putting tension back on the U and spin the lock clockwise in order to figure out the other sticking spots. As you begin to jot these down, you will find eleven more small spot gaps where the lock sticks. Write each one of these down. Now, you have eleven points that you just found and one number from the first stuck point we found.


Who said that learning how to crack a combination lock was going to be easy?

  • Now peep out the numbers that you wrote down and cross out all the numbers that have a .5 at the end. There should be a minimum of eight numbers that you will shed in this step.
  • Cross out all the numbers that have a common number in the 1’s position. For instance if the numbers you have are 15, 5, and 28 then cross out the 15 and the 5.
  • The number that does not share a common digit there is the 3rd number in this combination


Take the third number in our combination that we just figured out and divide it by 4. Whatever number is left that does not evenly divide – write it down. For instance if my number is 28, the number 4 divides into 28, seven times. There is no number left that was not evenly divided into by number, therefor I would write down the number 0. Zero is your “unicorn” number



  • Take the unicorn number (zero in our example) and add the number 4 to it. Write that number down, in our case that is the number 4
  • Keep adding 4 over and over until the sum of these numbers reaches a number that would go around the entire dial. Write down all the numbers with each addition of 4.
  • One of the numbers we wrote down is the first number of the combination.


If the unicorn number that we calculated earlier is equal to 0 or 1 – add 2 to it. If that unicorn number is something other than 1 or 2 then subtract 2 from that unicorn number.

  • The unicorn number in our example is 4, so subtract 2 and you get the number 2
  • Write this number down.
  • Now add 4 to that number and continue to do so until you reach a number that gets you all the way around the dial just like last time.
  • One of these numbers is the second number in cracking this combination lock.



If a number is +/- 2 numbers away from the third number in our combination lock, then cross those numbers out. Pretty simple, right? Now stick with us here…


Now that we have learned how to crack a combination lock, we have all the numbers that we need to crack it. The challenge now will be to try all the “1st number” possibilities and all the “2nd number” possibilities with the “third number” that we already have figured out. BOOM! We took 64,000 combination possibilities and chunked it down to only 80. Try all 80 and one will work! Have fun cracking a master lock!

Method 3: Combinations

When You Know The Serial Number Of Your Lock

1. Go To In Order To Download Their Form.
They take this process seriously, like real serious. So, you have to get a notary to sign off on this. Yes, it is a pain in the rear.

2. Get A Notary To Sign This Paper

Yes, there is always a fee and no, Master Lock is not paying for your bad memory. Get this bull signed and then you are on your way.

3. Copy Your Lock
You have to copy your lock on a copier and write the serial down beside it. Oh, and yeah it can’t be attached to a bike you sketchy fool.


4. Put Yo Documents In The Mail Dude!

Master Lock Warehouse

1600 W. La Quinta Rd.

Suite/WHSE #1

Nogales, AZ 85621

The How To Pick A Combination Lock Conclusion

So now you no longer have to pontificate whether these combination locks can be picked. The answer is yes and in many more ways than other types of locks can. This method words for all types of combination locks whether they have a spin dial individually spinning numbers. In this tutorial we have shown you how to pick a combination lock, how to crack a combination lock and how to get your combination to your lock from Master Lock.