Types of Locks and How to Pick them

How to Open a Masterlock

Masterlock padlocks are frequently used to secure safes, lockers, gates, and chains. These locks use a pin tumbler lock, with a cylinder kept in place by five pins, and can be picked using the raking method. These locks are considered a good starting place for those learning how to pick a lock. Follow the steps below to learn how to open a Masterlock padlock.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: rake pick, tension wrench

  1. Insert the short end of the tension wrench into the lower section of the keyhole.
  2. Use the palm of one hand to hold the padlock, and with the fingers of the same hand, apply and hold light torque with the tension wrench in a clockwise direction.
  3. With your other hand, slide the pick into the upper keyhole and "rake" using an in-and-out motion, while applying upward pressure on the pins. You can also use an up-and-down motion inside the keyhole to apply pressure. You should hear a series of clicks as the upper pins pop upward and set.
  4. When all the pins have clicked into place, turn the cylinder clockwise with the tension wrench to unlock the padlock.

How to Pick Combination Locks

Anyone who had a locker in high school has likely used a combination lock. These locks typically have a three-number combination, requiring you to turn the dial while stopping on the specific numbers. Using the steps below, you can learn how to pick combination locks with no tools needed!

  1. "Clear" the lock by rotating the dial at least three times clockwise past the zero mark. Stop on the zero.
  2. Apply upward tension to the shackle and turn the dial clockwise. Slowly release shackle pressure until there is only one point the dial "sticks" at.
  3. Round up to the nearest whole number, then add five. This will give you the first number in the combination.
  4. Add a little tension to the shackle and turn the dial counterclockwise. Eventually the dial will hit a stopping point.
  5. Repeat step 2. If you make it multiple turns without resistance, go back to your stopping point from step 5, add tension, and repeat.
  6. When you've found your new stopping point, round up to the nearest whole number. This is the second number in the combination.
  7. Clear the lock, and starting at zero, apply lots of shackle tension and slowly turn the dial clockwise until it "sticks" between two numbers. Write down the number in the middle of this range, release a little tension, and repeat until you've gone around the dial.
  8. Remove any fractional numbers. Of the remaining numbers, all but one should end in the same digit. The "oddball" is the third number in your combination.
  9. Use your newly found combination to unlock the lock.

How to Pick ABUS Locks

ABUS is an international manufacturer of advanced locking systems. While their padlocks are designed using pin tumbler locks, they are known for being difficult to pick. Follow the steps below, along with a little patience, to learn how to pick an ABUS 55/50 brass padlock.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: one hook pick, two tension wrenches

  1. Insert both tension wrenches at the bottom edge of the keyhole.
  2. Figure out which way you need to turn the cylinder. Do this by using the tension wrenches to turn the cylinder both clockwise and counterclockwise. The cylinder will only turn fractionally in either direction, but will stop abruptly when you turn it the wrong way, while there will be more give if you turn it the right way.
  3. When you've found the correct direction, apply and hold light torque with the tension wrenches.
  4. Slide the hook pick into the upper keyhole and press upward on each pin. Find the pin that's the hardest to push up.
  5. Push this stubborn pin upwards. When you hear a click, it means the upper pin has "set". If you can then push the lower pin up a little with no resistance, then you have likely set the upper pin.
  6. Repeat Step 5 for the remaining pins. Continue to apply torque with the wrenches, so the set pins don't drop pack down.
  7. When you've set all the pins, turn the cylinder with the tension wrenches and unlock the lock.

How to Pick a Lever Handle Lock

Lever handle locks, also known as letter box locks, are frequently used to secure mail boxes, home and office doors, and some safes. These bolt-based locks use a set of levers to keep the bolt from moving. Each lever needs to be lifted to a certain height to free the bolt. Follow the steps below to learn how to pick a lock with a lever handle.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: hook pick, tension wrench for letter box locks

  1. Insert the hook pick into the upper keyhole and feel around to see how many levers there are. Most lever handle locks will have either three or five levers.
  2. Remove the pick and insert the tension wrench into the lower keyhole, and find the notch in the bolt. When you do, set the tension wrench here and begin turning (either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the lock's orientation). When the bolt stops turning, use the wrench to hold it in place with moderate tension.
  3. Reinsert the pick and push upwards on each lever until you find the one hardest to lift.
  4. Slowly lift this lever until the bolt moves slightly and the lever stops moving. You have now "set" the lever to the correct height for the bolt to slide through.
  5. Repeat step 4 for each of the remaining levers.

When you have set all the levers, use the tension wrench to turn the bolt and unlock the door.

How to Pick a Car Lock

Few things are worse than locking yourself out of your vehicle, especially if you are in a remote area with no help near at hand. But take heart: There are ways to get into your locked vehicle without smashing a window. With a simple tool called a slim jim, you can easily get back into your vehicle without a key and, just as important, without damaging the vehicle. Keep in mind, however, that certain makes and models of vehicle - especially newer ones - require tools other than slim jims.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: slim jim

  1. Gently insert the slim jim between the window and the weatherstripping.
  2. Feel around for the lever by moving the slim jim. This will require some time, because different kinds of vehicles have levers in different places. Be patient.
  3. When you find the lever with your slim jim, manipulate the lever to unlock the door.
  4. Carefully remove the slim jim.

How to Pick a Deadbolt

It's no fun being locked out of a building - especially if you've been locked out of your own home. Sometimes, it can even involve a potentially dangerous situation, such as when a pet or young child is locked inside and you don't have a key. Whether you've forgotten or lost your keys or can't get into your home or some other building due to some other reason, don't despair. There are ways to pick a deadbolt to get back into that place you own, rent or have other legitimate access to.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: tension wrench; lock pick or a lock pick set

  1. Put the tension wrench in the bottom of the deadbolt keyhole.
  2. Turn the tension wrench, using steady pressure and keeping pins from falling back.
  3. Put the pick into the top of the deadbolt keyhole and push the pins up, making sure to keep them up with the tension wrench.
  4. When the deadbolt opens, remove the tension wrench and pick.

How to Pick a Doorknob Lock

At best, it's a hassle to be locked out of a room or a house, whether you accidentally locked the doorknob, forgot your key or some other sequence of unfortunate events left you without access to a room or even to your entire home or other structure. At worst, it can even be a threatening situation, such as if a loved one or pet is in danger behind a locked door, you don't have a key handy and you need to get in as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to unlock a locked doorknob without having a key readily available.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: tension wrench; lock pick or lock pick set

  1. Put the tension wrench in the doorknob's keyhole and press it against the side where the bottom of the key would go.
  2. Turn the tension wrench to find out whether you need to rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise. It will move more easily in the direction it needs to go.
  3. Insert the pick above the tension wrench and feel for the pins. Put gentle, steady force on the pin the farthest away from the wrench until you hear it click or feel it move into place.
  4. Repeat this process with each pin as you move toward the one closest to the tension wrench, making sure to keep steady pressure on the tension wrench.

Turn the tension wrench, open the door and remove the wrench and pin.