How To Pick A Padlock Or Master Lock

The Ultimate Guide on Picking Padlocks

Padlocks are the standard way that many of us keep our belongings protected. However, many of us have google’d… how to pick a padlock for a reason. Well, now you have the instruction manual to pick all kinds of padlocks and master locks. The veil of safety will be lifted as we show you how you can pick most padlocks in under 30 seconds with only a little bit of practice. Once you get better at the technique, you will soon be able to get these master locks and padlocks open within seconds. Now, let’s start with the inner workings of a standard master lock so we can answer the question of how to pick a padlock.

So, how exactly can you pick a padlock? Well, the manufacturing of these locks is difficult and prone to defects. You should start by counting the number of pins. This is not necessary really but it will help if you are just starting out to understand the intricacies of these pin and tumbler locks. You have to know how many pieces that a puzzle has, otherwise you will never be able to solve the complex ones. In order to count your pins, put the pick all the way to the back of the lock, push it towards the top and then slowly pull the pick forward. You will audibly hear the pins falling and once you know how many pins there are, the easier it will be to open a master lock without a key.

Table Of Contents:


Quick Start Guide

quick start padlock picking

how to open a master lock without a key image

Padlock Anatomy

Time to open a master lock without a key. Before we can talk about how to open a padlock, let’s first chat about it’s internal mechanical anatomy. Padlock technology has been around forever. Many ancient societies figured out different intricate mechanisms for securing things. Even the Vikings had padlocks in the Nordic area of Northern Europe throughout Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Standard padlocks themselves are quite simple in their construction. Most of these locks do not vary in their basic mechanisms. They rely on the pin and tumbler mechanism that most locks rely on today. In the smaller, silver and blue original master locks like the one shown here to the left are the easiest locks to open, often only requiring one quick try to pry it open without a key. There are 4 main mechanisms at play here inside this lock. The first is the outer case – this only protects the lock from being cut. The second, is the locking lever which makes sure the lock stays shut when the cylinder is not turned. The third component is the actuator and driver which is activated once the pins inside the cylinder and in line with the shear line. And of course, last but not least is the cylinder itself and the pins inside it. Understanding these basic principals will help you pick all sorts of locks of varying security levels. Each individual pick could matter big time if you are met with an insurmountable master lock picking task. Some methods will not require you to pick each pin, but you should learn so you can pick any type of padlock on the market. So, who is ready to learn how to pick a master lock and open it without a key>

How To Pick A Padlock Step-by-Step

The first major feat is garnering the correct tools for the job. You basically need only two tools, but three is always a help especially with stubborn locks. The two basic tools that you need like with all traditional lock picking is the tension wrench and the pick. These can be purchased, or fashioned out of bobby pins, paper clips or many other house hold items. If you are just starting out, I would recommend getting a clear trainer padlock before moving on to learn how to pick a master lock. It’s awesome because as you pick this padlock, you can see each individual pin move up and down which helps you better visualize what’s actually happening inside the locks where you cannot see inside. We reviewed one such trainer lock with pick set which you can click on This Review or the Offer Box below for more details.

Tools For The Job

how to pick a master lock image


As many of you already know, the tension wrench is perhaps the most vitally important tool in this entire process as it is the force that spins the cylinder inside the lock. Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the padlock. Then determine which way the lock turns, typically it is clockwise but different padlocks may vary. If you put tension towards the wrong way, you should hear an audible clicking or grinding sound. Make sure that you are putting tension in the direction opposite of the clicking/grinding noises. This is the best method for figuring out how to open a padlock. There are many different styles of these tension wrenches out there and you can even make one yourself out of paper clips or bobby pins! Now put one of your fingers on the wrench so there is constant tension on it. Once you have that on lock, you can then begin inserting the picks to start figuring out how to pick a padlock.

how to pick a padlock imagePICKING TOOLS

Depending on the padlock, different picks will work better for some locks than others. A rake is better for the “higher security” master locks – which I know sounds counter intuitive. However, since there are typically more pins in these types of locks, the raking method seems to work better. For smaller master locks like the one pictured previously, the exact opposite is true. These little blue and silver locks are some of the easiest things that you could ever pick. For these, use the hook type picks. If you don’t have access to steel picks, you can always make your own out of a paperclip or bobby pin as well! Different lock pick sets have different quality makes so be sure to read our Lock Pick Set Reviews so you don’t get stuck with some lemons like we have before. The last thing you want is to have weak picks that break after only a couple of uses. Generally, you are looking for pure stainless steel picks tools, they are the most hardy and best resistant to the elements.

Method 1 Raking

rakes for lock picking

Use the rake tool for picking the higher end master locks or padlocks. For the rake tool, the best method for getting the lock to pop open is using the insert and pull method. Take the rank, put it deep inside the lock. Slide it up to the top where the pins are and while putting tension on the tension wrench, pull the rake out quickly. Keep doing this until the lock pops wide open. Rakes vary widely in their design, keep in mind that they one with the most peaks and valleys are usually the best for padlocks since it mimics the key well, in door locks it is often the fewer but deeper peaks and valleys that work the best. Try them all out and see what you got!

Once you have the tension wrench inside the padlock and you are putting a small amount of pressure on it, insert the rake into the center and push it all the way back. Once it is back there, what you are going to do is push the rake to the top and pull it out fast while putting pressure on the tension wrench. This may open up the lock immediately like many of my master locks. However, this may take you a few times to get it open. On some locks, every one is different, it is a better method to furiously scrub back and forth over and over again while putting tension on the torsion wrench. This strategy should only be used with a rake because if you do this with a single pin hook pick, you may end up breaking your set which totally sucks dude. Finding out how to pick a master lock is the easiest with the rake tool.

single pin picks for lock pickingMethod 2: Hook Tools

Use the hook tool for the lower security master locks of padlocks. Often times, it is just a matter of picking pin while pushing the rest up to get this to open. It is so surprisingly easy that it makes you wonder how these things are still even on the market. The simple blue and silver padlocks you will pick in under 10 seconds every time once you get decent at picking. The mechanisms and pins in these locks are extremely easy to compromise without a ton of practice, knowledge or know how to pick a padlock. Many hook tools have different heads to them, from diamonds to fish hooks to bubbles – each lock is different so get comfortable with all kinds! lock picking traditional pin tumblerAgain, place the tension wrench in the bottom of the lock and put a little pressure on it with your index finger. If you are bending the tension wrench so that you can see it bending, then you are pressing too hard.  Just like we did with the rake, insert the single pin hook pick into the center of the lock and push it all the way to the back of the lock. Now, keeping tension on the wrench, begin pressing up each pin in the lock until you can get it seized up inside the cylinder. If you feel a spring that doesn’t want to seize up, skip it and get the next one. Continue to do this to each pin inside the lock until you have all of them seized and you can then get them to line up and turn that tension wrench until that master lock pops open. It takes a while for people to learn how to pick a padlock efficiently with no hesitation, so keep practicing!

As you can see on your clear plastic padlock, each pin is cut differently in an attempt by lock manufacturers to keep you more safe. Manipulating these pins and watching as you lift each one up will help you get the “feel” of lock picking where you start to know exactly how pins feel when they seize, fall or spring too much. You will learn that it doesn’t matter if you are trying to open a master lock without a key or trying to pick a practice lock, each can have varying levels of difficulty. Let your friends give it a try, with your now expert guidance, they should be poppin’ locks like everyday after learning how to pick a padlock. Obviously you aren’t going to go steal your neighbor’s jetski or at least we hope that you don’t because jail is no bueno carnal, you go to jail for that sort of thing for much longer than anyone wants to go in there, which is never. Anyways, now that I got my tidbit of Spanish taken care of for the day, let’s wrap this guide up so you can start picking locks since you have learned how to pick a master lock.

In Conclusionhow to pick a master lock image2

Just in case a pin keeps it’s springiness, then go ahead and skip that guy. Your goal is to get the pin to bind in order to learn how to pick a padlock. You will know which pin is bound up when it goes not give you any resistance. Now you no longer have to wonder how to open a master lock without a key anymore! There are many different padlocks out there, but trust me when I tell you that 90% or more of them will succumb to these techniques. These locks have been iterated over and over again, however, it remains that these simple padlocks are weak and easy to manipulate the standard pin and tumbler systems even with learning how to unlock a master lock.

Now that you are a master lock picker, no pun intended, go out there and get some locks and get started! You no longer have to worry about how to unlock a master lock because you will be able to pick it. You should for sure send us some dope videos of you popping locks or shoot us a note about whatever. Any suggestions, concerns or questions? Please contact us and let us know what’s up!

Yes, the ease of learning how to open a master lock is truly astounding. Since you now know how to pick a padlock, please check out our other How To Guides on other locks to pick!