Introduction: How to Open Locks With a Lockpick Gun
I show how locks can be opened using a lockpick gun. A lockpick gun, also known as a snap gun, is a tool that can be used to rapidly force open a pin tumbler based lock without using the key. A thin steel rod is inserted into the lock and the snap gun briefly fires the rod against all of the lock pins simultaneously, momentarily freeing the cylinder and enabling it to be turned using a tension wrench. The snap gun is an alternative to a conventional lockpick, which requires other techniques such as single pin picking or raking to free the pins. (How to Pick a Lock (Basics): https://youtu.be/mO3mMYwKkKs)
The first snap guns were developed to assist police officers in opening locks without the additional training required for traditional lockpicking techniques. Although lock picking is often associated with crime, snap guns are not commonly used by criminals because concealment is difficult and the device will tend to attract attention from law enforcement. Some legal jurisdictions may classify snap guns as burglary tools or otherwise limit their possession. A person may then be required to be a police officer or locksmith by trade, or to have some other legal sanction, to be in possession of a snap gun. Make sure you can legally own one in your country before you try to buy one and only open locks you own or have permission to open.
Lock picking is the art of unlocking a lock by analyzing and manipulating the components of the lock device without the original key. In addition, ideal lock picking should not damage the lock itself, allowing it to be re-keyed for later use, which is especially important with antique locks that would be impossible to replace if destructive entry methods were used. Although lock picking can be associated with criminal intent, it is an essential skill for a locksmith, and is often pursued by law abiding citizens as a useful skill to learn or simply a hobby. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_picking
Diagrams and Information:
- Pin-Tumbler Locks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin_tumbler_lock
- Lockpick/Snap Gun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin_tumbler_lock http://www.lockwiki.com/index.php/Pick_gun
- Pick Gun Diagrams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin_tumbler_lock
Step 1: How a Pin-Tumbler Lock Works
A pin tumbler lock contains a set of key pins and a set of driver pins. The key pins move within pin channels inside the cylinder assembly and are cut at different lengths corresponding to the lock keying. The driver pins are installed in the lock housing and spring pressure forces them to penetrate the lock cylinder and prevent it from turning. If the wrong key is inserted, it will variously push the bottom pins either too high or not high enough, and the lock cylinder cannot turn. When the key pins are correctly aligned by the key, the top pins are exactly aligned with the barrel of the cylinder or the shear line, and it may freely turn.
Step 2: How a Pick Gun Works
A traditional lock pick uses trial-and-error methods to find the correct alignment of the locking pins. The snap gun uses a primary law of physics, the transfer of energy, to momentarily burst all of the driver pins out of the lock cylinder without sending the bottom pins up into it. The snap gun strikes all of the bottom pins at once with a strong impact, and then withdraws again. The bottom pins transfer their kinetic energy to the top pins and come to a complete stop without penetrating the lock housing. The driver pins are thrown out of the cylinder body entirely up into the lock housing. Until the springs force the driver pins back into the cylinder, the lock cylinder is momentarily unobstructed.
The same physical principles are involved in lock bumping, but the snap gun automates the transfer-of-energy process. A correctly applied snap gun can open a lock very quickly compared to traditional lock picking, but the sharp impact is more likely to damage the lock mechanism than raking, which mimics normal key movements.
How to Use it:
- The pick gun needle is inserted into a key-way.
- The trigger is squeezed which cocks the mechanism and lets the needle drop. When the trigger is further pulled, an internal hammer is released which causes the needle to snap upward.
- There is a thumb wheel on the pick gun that determines how hard it snaps.
- Start with low impact, if it doesn’t open after a few snaps increase the tension on the impact a little.
- Adjusting the thumb wheel just right takes a bit of getting used to. Before the hammer falls, the needle should be lightly resting on all of the bottom pins. You should have a tension wrench in place, in the key-way as in regular lock picking. The tension should be very light. When the needle snaps upward the top pins will be thrown upward at the same time, away from the bottom pins. For a brief moment, while the top pins are thrown upward, the shear line between the plug and the shell is unimpeded, and if the proper amount of light pressure (torque) is present on the tension wrench, the plug will turn and the lock will open.
- Pick guns often require several attempts to pick the lock, but are effective against most low to mid security pin-tumbler locks
- Generally, lock pick guns are simple to use and can perform the task quickly, efficiently and effectively.
- While they’re not a substitution for traditional lock picking tools, they work on most standard pin tumbler locks, but they shouldn’t be used on anything more complex.
Security Pins: The use of security pins does not hinder movement of the pins unless tension is applied prematurely. Pick guns are available in both downward and upward picking motions, depending on the orientation of the lock cylinder. Although pick guns work regardless of the orientation it may be difficult to use one upside down
Electric Pick Guns: Electric pick guns use a motor or electromagnet to continuously oscillate the needle. The needle is placed under all pins and vibrates, hoping to vibrate at a resonating frequency that will cause all top pins to jump above the shear line, allowing the plug to turn.
Step 3: Watch the Video
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