Though many people associate lock picks with nefarious intent, there are actually plenty of legitimate reasons for having one of these handy sets in your arsenal of tools. A lost key to that padlock on the shed, missing house keys, or being locked out of a car can all result in an expensive call to a locksmith. You can avoid that expense with a lock pick set and a little practice.
Lock pick sets include picks, known as rakes and hooks, of varying shapes and sizes that can be used to defeat many different types of locks. These kits also include practice locks with translucent cases that allow novices to hone their lock picking skills.
If you’re tired of being locked out of your home, car, or diary, then read on to learn factors you should look for in the best lock pick set, and find out why the kits below are some of the best for picking locks.
- BEST OVERALL: Amlgbed 15 PCS Lock Set Stainless Steel
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Swpeet 9Pcs Long Hook and Pick Set
- BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: T&A Multitool Set – Stainless Steel, Training Kit
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: T&A Multitool Set Stainless Steel, Training Kit
- BEST AUTO: Gearwrench Hook and Pick Set
What to Consider When Buying the Best Lock Pick Set
There are a few factors to take into account when shopping for the right lock pick set. It’s crucial that a kit has the right selection of picks, that each pick is the proper width, and that the set is made from durable materials.
A standard lock pick has a width of about 5/16 inch at the handle and tapers to about 1/16 inch at the tip. A lock pick should be no wider than 3/32 inch; otherwise, it will not fit into most standard locks.
Most lock picks are made from stainless steel. Stainless steel will not wear down as quickly as other metals, which is important given that lock picking involves pushing the metal picks against the internal metal pins of a lock. Over time, the friction created in this process can cause a poorly made pick to wear down. In addition to being a hard metal, stainless steel will also resist rust and corrosion.
A rake is a long piece of metal with a shaped end meant to mimic the shape of a key. The pattern of the end dictates how the rake moves the pins inside the lock when inserted into the keyhole. Key locks, as opposed to combination locks, have pins that unlock the door when engaged with a key that fits. A rake’s teeth gently push against the lock’s internal components to simulate a key. Rakes will only work with pin-tumbler and wafer locks that do not have security pins, so their effectiveness is somewhat limited. They also require a trial-and-error approach with multiple rakes in order to find the shape that fits the lock, which can be time consuming.
A hook consists of a pick with a bent end for picking a single pin inside the lock at a time. The tools are thin and long to allow for precise use and the ability to reach into small lock openings or to reach lower pins that might be located behind taller pins in the lock. Hooks consist of three shapes—shorter hooks, deeper hooks, and offset hooks. Similar to rakes, it’s best to have multiple hooks on hand in order to cover a variety of lock styles. Hooks must be used in conjunction with tensioners in order to successfully open a lock.
A half-diamond is a type of hook pick. It features a diamond-shaped end that functions as a small ramp that gently lifts the pins inside a lock as it runs across them. Half-diamond picks are larger than rakes or hooks and can be difficult to fit into tighter locks.
A tension wrench is key to successfully picking locks with a hook pick. These tools keep tension on the pins after they are set with a hook, allowing you to work on the pins you haven’t yet set. Without a tension wrench preventing these pins from popping back into place before all the pins have been set, it’s nearly impossible to pick a lock.
Our Top Picks
The lock pick sets below include a diverse collection of pick sizes and types and feature durable stainless steel construction, making them ideal for beginners and pros alike.
This robust kit includes a broad range of tools needed for picking a lock. Three hooks of varying shapes and lengths allow for single pin picking, making them useful for different lock types. Nine different rake types maximize the number of locks this pick set will work with, while a set of L-shaped tension wrenches make placing these wrenches in the lock to apply pressure to the pins a manageable task.
A special tensioning tool designed specifically for autos is also included. This set also comes with a clear practice padlock, which allows the user to see the pins and other inner workings of the lock in order to practice lock picking. The picks in this set are made from stainless steel, ensuring they’ll hold up to the rigors of picking while resisting rust. A handy carrying case keeps all the tools organized and at the ready.
With its wide range of sizes, this is a great pick set that can serve a variety of uses, ranging from lock picking to auto work. It includes four smaller picks, including a curved hook, 45-degree hook, and 90-degree pick tool. There’s also a 3-inch shafted auto pick that’s handy when working on automobile engines. A set of 6-inch picks includes a mechanic pick, curved hook, 45-degree hook, and right-angle pick, offering plenty of versatility for maneuvering in tight spaces. A magnetic telescoping tool allows for retrieval of loose parts, which is handy when working on automobiles.
This set will work with larger locks or in spaces that are too tight for fingers. With a vanadium steel construction and large rubberized grips, this set is both durable and comfortable to use. It fits conveniently into a soft storage bag that can be rolled up for easy storage or transport.
With 24 pieces and a carrying case that keeps all the pieces conveniently together, this kit is suitable for advanced lock pickers. It comes with 20 picks, including five double-sided wafers for defeating auto locks, filing cabinets, and front door locks. A set of nine rakes provides plenty of patterns for matching different lock shapes, while six hooks allow for more precise lock-picking efforts.
Three tension wrenches of various lengths allow the user to maintain gentle pressure on pins while picking with hooks. This includes a specialized tension tool designed specifically for picking automobile locks. This set also comes with a large clear lock that serves as an excellent practice lock for professionals sharpening their skills and beginners just learning how to pick locks. A leather carrying case keeps the set neatly organized.
This precision hook set may not be your classic lock-picking set, but it will help perform a variety of tasks, ranging from picking locks to working in tight places around automobile engines. This set includes seven tools, each featuring a variety of hook shapes useful for picking larger locks or for reaching places your hands and fingers can’t when working in the tight spaces of a car engine.
The set includes a cotter pin puller, hose puller pick, awl, 90-degree hook, hose pick puller, and two mini hooks. Large rubberized handles make these tools easy to grip, while a molded storage tray securely holds them in place.
FAQs About Lock Pick Set
If you’re wondering about the legality of owning a lock picking set or are still not sure how to choose one that’s right for your needs, read on for answers.
Q. Is it legal to buy lock pick sets?
It is not illegal to own a lock pick set in most states, assuming you don’t use it illegally.
Q. In which states is it illegal to own a lock pick set?
It is illegal to own a lock pick set in Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia. If you are found in possession of a lock pick set, these states require you to prove you were not planning to use the lock pick set for committing a crime.
Q. How do you choose a lock pick set?
Choose a lock pick set that has a wide range of rakes and hooks. The broader the range of tools, the better your odds of being able to successfully pick a lock. Tensioners are also essential tools, as they are required when attempting to pick a lock by individually pressing the lock pins with hooks.