Choose a lockpicking kit: our comparative
How to choose a lockpicking kit: what should it contain?
To choose a good lockpicking kit, you can jump on our comparative. Or here is a good suggestion for a beginer’s kit:
- 1 “five-moutains” and 1 “double wave snake”
- 2 picks, one with a tighter angle than the other
- 1 “half diamond”
- 1 “deforest”
- 1 “half ball”
- in addition to a variety of tensors of different lengths and widths…
But much more than a good kit it is a good skill and application that you will need!
Most kits have the basic minimum but if some are frankly not recommended, you should know that a “good kit” will not necessarily make a “good lockpicker”!
Focus on the tensor
Yet present in each kit they are never enough, but they are very important!
Also called “tensioners” or “tensors”, they allow to apply a rotational movement on the rotor of the cylinders.
They are as important as picks because they detect which pins get stuck during picking. They also return information about the correct (or wrong) placement of these.
The important thing is to know how to dose the pressure you apply. Too light, the feeling is not enough and the pins go up. Too strong, everything gets stuck and we force uselessly on the “picks”.
It is sometimes said that the average pressure to be applied is the force it takes to operate a house switch. Some talk about the force it would take to immobilize a ladybug without crushing it. This pressure may vary slightly during picking and depending on the cylinder.
The padlocks always open clockwise, and include a return spring that will make the lockpicker to force the tensor a little more to compensate.
Various forms exist, the photo below shows you some examples:
- round section folded and flattened (can be made in a hammered bicycle spoke)
- the same as the previous one but with an additional elbow
- folded in a wiper spring blade, one side long, one side short
- Notched dish ideal for training from the bottom
- flat model, called in Z
- other tensor in thicker Z
- Y-tensor for glitter locks
- rotary and even torque adjustable in this case
Having a few of these models makes it possible to cope with all the most advanced situations and forms of key entries. Well positioned, it will work without play while leaving room for the passage of picking tools. You should take that into account when you choose a lockpicking kit (see our comparative).
Here we see 4 tensors placed, either at the top or bottom of the eve. In sports lockpicking, their length or orientation does not matter. For a locksmith, the door handle or frame can hinder their movement.
On these examples, it is clear that anything that constitutes a grip on the rotor is good to take. Sometimes a channel on the front of the rotor makes it possible to drive it without obstructing the eve.
Radial cylinders are usually easy to drive because their inlets are wide. Glitter cylinders or car cylinders sometimes need to be picked both at the bottom and at the top. A dust curtain often comes in front of the key entrance. A specific tensor in Y makes it possible to overcome these constraints.
Finally, the rotary tensor is widely used for pick-gun openings. Almost universal, it can also be equipped with a torque damping to finely dose the tension. On the other hand, it is mediocre for manual picking.
Unlike “picks” that require good steel quality and a little technique to be made by yourself, tensors are easy to make. As a result, it is easy to modify or make an express one for a specific cylinder model.
And for the most inventive, other improvements are possible, such as spring tensors, adjustable, counterweight, adhesives, etc …
Where to buy a good lockpicking kit?
We know the adage of “a good worker uses good tools“, it is also valid for the lockpicking topic.
And so much the better, because in the case of our passion we have the possibility to equip ourselves properly. And therefore to please ourselves. This article was initiated by hundreds of curious people who for several years have been asking us “where to buy a good lockpicking kit?“. We have decided to respond to them through this short demonstration that we hope will be useful.
First of all, to choose a first lockpicking kit it is not necessary to spend a lot to have good quality tools (see our comparative). So the sum remains modest to make a profitable investment (less than 50 €). For this the instruction is very simple: flee the huge marketplaces and prefer an authentic professional manufacturer / seller!
Sounds easy? And it is!
The ACF has partners and it is not for nothing. Buying French from professionals of lockpicking, you are sure to receive functional products. Support if necessary, a guaranteed aftersales service and especially the insurance that you buy the good product for you.
Where not to buy good lockpicking tools?
On platforms such as “Wish”, “Aliexpress” or “Amazon”, products that do not comply with photos or description are legion! Not to mention that these objects do not always comply with European standards and can be dangerous or non-functional. And in case of disappointment, difficult to be reimbursed!
Just look at these few photos to realize that salespeople do not know what they are selling. Why? Because they are not simply in the business.
Choose a lockpicking kit: our 2024 comparative, a few kits on the test bench
Our 2024 comparative is ordered by decreasing order of appreciation. We write only the links to our partners, you should easily find the others.
Made in the United States but especially for the European cylinder market, it includes the essentials for picking. All in a small, simple and effective leather pouch. Ready to use, it requires no or little retouching. The quality is present and the feeling is well transmitted by the metal handles. The two tensors fit well in the eves. Although to practice a small return with a clamp increases the field of possibilities. A very good investment to start without having to change the kit during learning.
Propick 14 tools DIAM Nasa
This kit contains all the most used tools in the field of lockpicking.
Made of a particularly strong spring-effect steel, they are finished with a thin layer of black-oxidized and have reinforced single-sided handles.
They are light tools and one body which gives them a very good feeling of actions on the pins. They are easy to rework and resistant to deformation.
As for the handle, we like or we do not like, but it is a kit for experienced users as beginners wishing to progress because durable over time.
Ghost pro tactical entry set
It inspires confidence and solidity, the stainless steel is polished by hand and very well finished with an original design. The thickness of the tools (0.6 mm) means that they withstand very well the stresses without bending. Tensors are of good quality and allow adequate control of the rotation. The grip is correct and the transmitted sensations are good. Edges are soft and do not mark the hand during long picking sessions.
The price of the kit is justified with regard to the good quality of the product. However it takes about 5 weeks of delay to receive it.
Minimalist kit, but adjusted for the shot, with its “picks” with a thickness of 0.4 mm which is ideal, used especially for small padlocks and small locks. Their small size would not necessarily make them made to start but the steel that comes out of them allows them to resume their initial position if they are twisted moderately.
The tensor would benefit from being even thinner, but once rid of their machining oil they allow to collect openings easily and quickly.
Kit 15 tools
Initially designed for American locks, this kit frankly deserves to be resized. If the vast majority of kits would benefit from having the edges of their picks softened with sandpaper, it must be reworked in depth because some picks pass with difficulty or rub with the rotor, distorting the sensations transmitted by the tool. The Y trainer is welcome but we would replace the broken key extractor by a “deforest” or a probe with a more closed angle as on the right picture (they were refined by hand):
Goso 24 tools
The best thing about this kit is still its pouch, not that the tools are unusable but they are not the best. We are supposed to use the gripper-like trainer to keep the dust cover apart at the same time as we use it to drive the rotor, but it is still necessary to be able to put it in place… The design is proportional to the price and if some tools are not well enough designed, this kit nevertheless includes the minimum necessary. The non thickness of the “picks” allows the beginner to limit the breakage, he will find in this kit what to try the practice of the lockpicking.
Klom Navigator 32 tools
Asian-made kit with the same characteristics as their copies, or even their copies of copies: heaps of poorly designed tools made of vulgar scrap, of a thickness limiting quite quickly access to interesting eves and a really poor finishing. The tensors are quite correct, although intended for the radial cylinders (which is not logical), but the handles of the “picks” are much too imposing which absorbs the sensations.
No need for so many tools to get started, better a suitable and adjusted kit.
Secure pro 9 tools
Very incomplete kit consisting exclusively of picks with the exception of the radial raker, which is not very logical… Made of cheap metal, the coating of the “pick” comes off, the handle does not even sheathe the tool completely and is not properly molded:
The blooper reel
Or how not to choose a lockpicking kit, following the comparative with a humoristic tone here are the worst ads for lockpicking material that we were sent with, get ready!
In this photo the pick gun needle has been fixed upside down, it is not even possible to introduce the tool in a cylinder:
The most connoisseurs will note in the picture below that these three photos represent two different sets. But anyway we do not see the heads of the tools so we cannot know what we are buying. And as the sellers do not know either, that is the lottery:
What can I say… A broken key extraction kit supplied with a training padlock… Nothing to do with.
The box arrived broken, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to get a refund:
Not to mention that these platforms are teeming with more or less crude counterfeits, such as this cylinder copied from one of our national flagships, the Vachette Radial NT:
The very nature of these “resellers” generates counterfeiting, or even copy of copy. So necessarily on arrival the expected product sometimes no longer looks at all like the presentation photo. Savings are made on the welding stitches, on the quality of the steels used, on the thickness (and even the stitches in the case of the pouches). And that is when the goods do not arrive rusted:
Another example of a counterfeit bought 1 year after its product placement by a famous youtuber:
The handle is not even fully sheathed:
Of course, tools for professionals are not spared. For example this cylinder breaker whose price defies all competition, but which we challenge anyone to manage to break a cylinder with:
Morality, trust a partner of the association, or any other manufacturer / seller whose professionalism is recognized, rather than the temptation of “cheap” which sometimes costs you more at the end.
This article is not intended to be comprehensive because there are many other kits on the market. But it aims to help future buyers who embark on this passion. In short, it is better to invest in a suitable kit without being fooled by a price that seems advantageous. The price is quickly forgotten while the quality remains. Now you know better what to base your choice on and what criteria you will retain.
We hope this article has been useful to you to choose a lockpicking kit thanks to our comparative. And now, it’s up to you!
The little extra
It doesn’t take much to start. Besides a kit, a mini-vice to maintain your toy is an inexpensive and durable multi-purpose investment over time. If the padlocks can also be fixed in a vice they do not necessarily need one, purists do very well without, and if you have trouble with the grip of small models you still have the trick of wrapping elastics around their body:
Or use a vice clip…
Thanks to Thierry, SC, Ronald, Sorroww, Amoa, Fabien, Zozo and Nico for their contribution.