Lock Picking Tools Buyer’s Guide

Exploring The Different Types of Lock Picks

Lock pick types can be confusing, so we created this Buyer’s Guide for you to use the next time you are looking to pick up a new set of picks or your first set of picks. Anytime you are looking to get a lock pick set, it’s important to know which tools are going to work for the lock at hand. In this lock picking tools buyers guide, we walk you through each different type of pick that you may see out there and breakdown the best use case for each one. Now when you are looking for a nice lock picking tool set, you will know which picks you will need to get the job done. It’s important to know how each pick functions so no matter what situation you find yourself in, you can use the right tool to get in.


There is no one easy answer to which picks will work the best for you. In fact, you should master picking with each type of pick so no matter what the occasion, you can get back into your home or property. Our favorite combination is usually a full rake or Bogota rake, coupled with an “L” shaped tension wrench, We’ve found that we can pick 90% of locks that we come into contact with using one of these combinations only, but find out what works best for you before making any rash decision.

After we walk through the various lock picking tool types, we will then give you a rundown of some of the top lock pick brands. This is not to say that you can’t find other quality pick tools that are generic. In fact, some of the best picks that we own are generic ones. In our buyer’s guide we only cover the top brands so you don’t have to worry about the lower quality guys. So, without any further adieu, let’s get started!

Lock Picking Tool Types And Functionality

Rakes

These are the rigid, often bumpy looking lock picks. There are so many different types of rakes that it is hard to pinpoint all the different kinds, however they can generally be broken down into 3 broad categories. The way that you use a rake is by scrubbing the pick back and forth quickly across the pins. There is a massive variety of rakes out there and many derivations of each type as you can see in the graphic below.

lock picking tools - rake types

Snake Rake

This style has a very abrupt and high peak profile. It works the best on locks where the pins are off-set by large margins from one pin to the next. Of course, you won’t know if the lock’s pins are sitting in that configuration until you try to pick it or feel it out. We have used these on numerous door knob style locks with a ton of success, however for higher security door locks a different pick may be required. There are more types of snake rakes that we don’t picture here, but they all work similarly.

Bogota Rake

These picks have a short picking portion at the tip and are often rounded off at the end. Many simple padlocks and cheap door locks can be opened quickly with these. Some W rakes will have sharper points than others, it always depends on which lock you are picking to determine which W rake will prove the most effective. There are all kinds of Bogota rakes, so many in fact that we only show a few different kinds in the image above. Bogota rakes are some of the most popular and effective lock pick types that you can get your hands on.

Full Rake

These often go by the name of an L rake. You can recognize these by the length of the picking area length as it is the longest of all rake types. These often resemble a bump key configuration that you might see to bump door locks, motorcycle locks and other sorts. The best way to use these are to put them in and pull them out quickly, creating a gap in the shear line and turning the cylinder. We have personally found that many of the “high end” Master Locks can be picked with full rakes in less than 10 seconds in many cases.

Keep in mind that you will see all types of variations of these rake tools. Some will combine different constructions into one singular rake, like a diamond/rake combo. Often times, the top brands of lock picking tools will experiment with different variations and create new ones based on progressing lock technology.

lock picking tolls - pick types

Hook

Hooks are just how you would imagine they would look and function like. There are several different types of hooks, some with prongs and some with simple tips. The depth of the bend that is effective for your lock depends on the warding and the bitting. With these, you will have to individually pin pick each one independently.

Key Extractor

This is a pick that is only used to take broken off keys out of locks. It looks like a diamond-style pick but has a grabber on the end to take the broken metal off. If you have ever broken your key off in a lock, this is a must have.

Full Ball

These look like someone put a little metal ball on the end of the pick. These are best suited for wafer and warded locks but can also work with many pin tumbler locks, especially Master Locks. Half balls are also very popular for wafer locks especially the cheaper, shallower locks that you may find at gyms and such.

Snowman

These looks like somebody put two metal balls on the end of the pick. The one at the end of the pick is typically smaller than the one below it. These are also best suited for wafer locks and can also be raked with some simple padlocks. Often times you will also find half snowman lock picks as well, these are used in the same way and for similar locks.

Diamonds

Diamond picks feature a singular triangle at the end of the pick. The diamond style picks work really well with pin tumbler and wafer locks. These vary widely in size, sometimes you will find massive diamonds and other times they will be very small.

Tension Wrench 

Perhaps the most important tool in your lock picking arsenal is the tension wrench. Timing on the use of this tool will propel you to lock picking excellence. Tension wrenches are also called torsion wrenches, so for future reference, they are the same thing. The reasons that they have this name is that you have to put tension on them as you are picking the lock in order for the cylinder to turn and unlock. There are a few different sorts of tension wrenches out there and some work better for certain applications.

The L Shape Tension Wrench

This torsion wrench is in the shape of an L. These types are not flat, the part that you insert into the bottom of the lock sticks out the side at a 90 degree angle. These wrenches are great because it is easier to bounce tension on and off as you pick your lock.

The Z Shape Tension Wrench

These wrenches are in a Z shape and are typically flat. Different from the L shape wrench, the portion of the tension wrench that goes inside of the lock does not stick out the side.

The Y Shape Tension Wrench

We tend not to need this type of wrench very often, however it does have it’s place especially if the lock that you are picking is long or hard to reach. The Y shape design provides a unique double insertion point and it’s always good to have one of these in your arsenal.

types of tension wrenches

As you can see from the image above, there are endless types of tension wrenches. The best one of these is highly dependent on personal preference and the type of lock that you are picking most often. Everyone uses the wrench at varying tension strengths and techniques so find the ones that work best for you and stick with them unless you get stuck in a sticky situation. Our favorites tend to be the L shape because it works well for our technique of torsion that we put on the wrench, but again that’s just us!

Best Brands Of Lock Picks

goso lock picks logo

GOSO

The best thing about GOSO is the variety of tension wrenches, rakes, single pin picks, bump keys and other picks that they have. The cases that they have are super high quality as well. The pricing varies like all companies of course but the prices that they have are very competitive and some of the cheapest high quality picks on the market. GOSO also has a wide variety of thicknesses and sizes which makes them the most diversified of all major lock pick brands. Their website is also clean and easy to navigate.

 

SouthOrd

southord lock picks logo

These guys are one of the most well known companies out there for lock picking professionals. Their picks are always polished for easy insertion and come in various thicknesses for those tough locks of different sizes. SouthOrd is also well known for having relatively inexpensive sets for the quality that they possess. Unfortunately the cases that come standard with their products will fail on you quickly so if you can find a better case, use it. When we were just starting out, we bought a lot of SouthOrd lock picks and they worked very well, in fact one of their tension wrenches are still my favorite to this day.

 

Peterson

Peterson lock picks logo

Peterson is another very reputable brand in the world of professional locksmiths. These tools are some of the more expensive ones that you will find. However, the finish on these picks make them particularly easy to sand down without the risk of having them snap. Another plus for Peterson is that they have high quality lock pick cases which makes it easy to throw them in a bag without worrying about the case getting destroyed.

 

HPC

hpc lock picks logo

The lock picks by HPC are typically made of steel and sets often come with duplicates. This is one of the biggest benefits of HPC because the worst thing is to have your picks break without any backups. The tools that HPC makes are very thin and better for locks that you may find in Eastern & Western Europe. The biggest downside of these locks is that they are not particularly smooth and polished. This makes it a little more difficult to rake a lock and you may have to sand it down to achieve the best picks.

 

The Wrap Up

Hopefully this article helps you pick your next lock picking set! A pro lock picker will have all these lock picking tools along just to be prepared with any given situation. No matter if you are just starting out or an experienced picker, having all these different lock picking tools at your disposal will let you pick any lock that you come into contact out there in the wild world of picking. Here, we have covered the traditional lock picking tools and what they do. In the future, look for in depth buyer’s guides on car lock picks, motorcycle lock picks and more!

If you are just starting out, get a cheap lock pick set and get some practice in, who knows, you might even break your first couple picks while you’re learning. Once you’ve become comfortable with those then it’s time that you can upgrade to one of the professional lock pick sets. They vary in price from $50-$150 depending on the set count and brand.

We tried to cover all of the major bases here. In case we haven’t done that well enough – let us know if there are some pick types that you would like to see here that we haven’t covered! You can easily let us know by heading over to the Contact Page and sending us a message! Now that you have all the knowledge of which picks you need to succeed, be safe and have fun picking.

You can check out some other lock pick sets that may work well for you here:

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