What lock picks should I buy?

Whether you plan on using your skill set in the field as part of your profession or if you are a prepared Citizen many people have been asking me to explain a complete (subjective term huh?) line of gear to get started with. Some of our articles like Lock Pick FAQ’s gives a guideline answer to which lock pick set to buy, we also have done a few and continue to do more pick tool review articles.

I carry my gear based on a “3-Lines” organization. What I recommend you start with is just two little sets of lock picks that you can start carrying every day all day.


1st line gear: What you carry on your person whenever you walk out your door for EDC or for operations. Examples: Key ring and wallet. Or for operators it extends to your waist line belt for 1st line gear as well.

For your beginner 1st line gear setup, here is what I recommend:

1- ITS Tactical’s Bogata Pi set. (Pictured Above) I’m a little bit of a nerd so I love the name for their lock picks that are 3.14 inches long… 😉 It’s about 45 $ and comes in a wallet sleeve. Two sides of a curved/flat tension wrench, one lifter pick and a double triple and quadruple Bogata style rake. At a minimum throw that bad boy into your wallet and anytime you have explicit permission to pick open a lock, I’d pull your wallet out and give it a shot with these.

2- Sparrows Mace Pick set. (Pictured Above) Sometimes the picks you use just wont feel right or just wont get the lock to pop easily. Add these to your starter set as well. The two main pieces both double as tension wrenches on their ass-end and they have some really nice etching on the tension piece for a little bit of a better grip in the key way for things like top of key way tensioning. They are about 15 $ and also come with a small handful of accessory tension wrenches which I feel beats the Bogata Pi set. Im more of a fan of the bent angle tension wrenches than the flat ones, I just feel like I can get a better sensitivity on the amount of tension and feedback. I keep one of  my favorite tension wrenches tucked behind my ID slot in my wallet (pictured below) I like the thickest one… go figure 😉  and the two picks slide in there as well.

That’s freaking it.

Take these two sets, and experiment with a 5-10$ padlock from Walmart, most people start with a Master Lock No. 3, one of the most popular padlocks in the country. But if you can get a lock that cheap that says “China” anywhere on it, than you’ll probably have an easier time opening it than a Master Lock.

60 Second Crash Course

For the type of lock picking we call “Raking”.

1 – Put your tension wrench in like this:


2 – Put your rake in with the mountains facing up like an M:


3 – Apply light tension on your tension wrench by pushing your tension wrench to the right, clockwise with your pointer finger.

4 – Move your rake up and down like a see saw, and then in and out like a …. well… a toothbrush? (whew, that was close).

5 – Eventually, (assuming it’s a simple and cheap padlock) it will open.

The Contents of Your First Line Gear:

You now have:

-5 tension wrench options: (Below)

Tension Wrench Options

2 options on the back of the mack picks with etching for better key way grip. 1 thick bent tension wrench that comes with the Sparrows Mace Picks for 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. 2 options, one on each side, for the ITS curved tension tool for 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions.


-4 rake options: (Below)

Lock Pick Rake options

You can see the two different heights of the Sparrows v ITS rakes. They both have their pros and cons.


-2 lifter picks for single pin picking (SPP): (Below)

SPP options


…all in your every day carry and for a grand total of not very much money. It’s pretty difficult to write out a “COMPLETE” list of what you should carry because I’m not you. And the “Tactical” part of the Tactical Lock Picking that I teach is very subjective. Some tools that I buy and I carry are specific to my job, and some I may NEVER use but I have the space in the trunk of my patrol cruiser so I throw it in there. And many tools that I have serve more than one purpose which is GREAT for someone off duty or a Prepared Citizen who wants to spend less money and carry less gear, but I chose to have as many options as I can justify buying and reviewing because I want my students and my readers to know which gear to buy, and just as importantly what NOT to buy. I do recommend the above two pick sets to everybody I talk to though and I think they compliment each other VERY nicely.

Lock Pick EDC

An inexpensive, light weight, space saving, nicely complimenting EDC set up for the beginner and advanced Lock Picker.

As always, have fun, kick ass, stay safe, stay legal.