Each week we get a bunch of emails asking this question. There are thousands of choices and it can be frustrating to try and figure out which tools will suit your needs. There are those of you that only have thirty or forty bucks to spend. Then there are those that think that throwing a ton of money into tools and instructional materials will instantly make them lock picking superstars. It won’t. Save your money and spend wisely. First, I would warn against dropping a few hundred dollars on a giant set of lock picks when you’re first starting out. Lock picking takes patience and practice to master and I would advise you to start small. You can build up your tool kit after you’ve mastered the basics.
The only tools needed for picking most types of locks are picks and tension wrenches, also called torque wrenches or turning tools. There are many choices of types, styles and sizes of picks and tension wrenches. Get a lock pick set made of high quality steel – not the cheap aluminum crap that comes from China that you can buy on Amazon, but a set made from high quality spring steel sold by a reputable dealer like Lockpickshop.
The ability to pick pin tumbler locks quickly is an important skill because the pin tumbler lock is so common. They are used on most residential doors, well…everywhere. I would say to start with a kit that contains a diamond pick and a hook if you’re going to be learning to use the “feel” method. This method is harder to become proficient at, and it requires a lot of practice, but it works most consistently.
The most common lock picking method is raking. Your kit should contain a couple of rakes and a half-diamond to use this method.
You don’t need a big expensive lock picking kit to get started. Just a few essential picks and some tension tools. For under $40 you can get the SouthOrd MPXS-14 which is a great beginner set with a really nice leather snapover case.