Reddit’s r/lockpicking Belt Ranking System

So, I did a thing. If you’re not familiar with the front page of the internet (aka or the reddit app) one of their channels (subreddits) is r/lockpicking. I used one of the resources from r/lockpicking to help reorganize how I carry and display and present my padlocks for students of my classes to pick and learn from.

First thing you need to know

…if you don’t already, is “What is reddit?”. Below is an excerpt from the website *DigitalTrends*:

The biggest downside to Reddit, however, is that it’s not exactly welcoming. Reddit’s front page looks only slightly better than the original Space Jam website, and phrases and acronyms are thrown around that sound borrowed from a different language. What’s important to remember about Reddit is that every member of the community — aka, “Redditors” — also had to ask “what is Reddit” at some point or another. Thankfully, our guide to the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” will get you Reddit-ready in no time.

It’s a community driven content website/app that you can tailor to fit your very unique self. The real value in reddit, imho, is that all the content is user submitted, and all content is voted up or down to move relevent posts to the top of the page, it has THOUSANDS of small communities so that you can find (or create) a place for you to fit, and the fucking comments on some of the posts will have you laughing your fucking ass off.

So, what is r/lockpicking?

All of the r/whatevers are “subreddits”. Small communities with their own rules. You can subscribe to any number of specific subreddit’s to have your incoming content hand picked by you. r/lockpicking is a place that is specifically for users to upload content about, you guessed it, LOCK PICKING! But there are some rules. r/lockpicking is a place primarily for lock sport and the very narrow field of manipulating the internal components of a lock for fun and for competition. They have some strict rules like – No asking for advice on how to open locks that are in use. They also have some rules like – No requests to buy or sell lock pick tools or locks. And just like my website – Nothing Illegal or inappropriate! (Well, my website has a LOT of inapropriateness, but I do NOT stand for anything illegal or immoral when it comes to security awareness). Click on their “Community Info” link on their webpage or in their app and you can learn more. Also in the community area you will find TONS of resources like…

What resources do they have?

White Belt Locks. The entry level into the illusion of security! (r/lockpicking also includes see-through and cutaway locks in the “white belt” rank, we’ll get to that later)

A small sample of the resources you can find on r/lockpicking…

  • A Lock Picking “Wiki”!
  • Recommended webpages and YouTube channels etc.
  • Links to lock pick manufacturers.
  • And tons of links for How To’s and other resources.

Their Belt Ranking System…

Just like in many martial arts the r/lockpicking community has designated a loooong list of different types of locks that are organized based on difficulty level. White belt locks almost fall open when you blow on them, black belt locks require QUITE a bit of skill along with some very specific tools that are not beginner tools or beginner techniques.

If you take photographic or video evidence of you picking open a specific lock that is mentioned within the belt ranking list and you post or comment on anything within the r/lockpicking community your belt level can be shown along with your user name. “Oracle345 (yellow belt picker) Question about a lock”

Order of r/lockpicking belts:

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Orange
  4. Green
  5. Blue
  6. Purple
  7. Brown
  8. Red
  9. Black

The thing I did…

I teach a type of lock picking that I have branded as “Tactical Lock Picking”. It is not limited to just manipulating the pins inside of a lock; I do teach actual lock picking but I also focus on things like tricks to bypass the key way of a lock to slip a latch open on a door, or to shove a strip of metal into a padlock so that I don’t need to use a key or a code, and I also include big boy toys like battering rams and hoolie tools. WHY I teach this is because I want people to use these skill sets if they are ever in the need to save someone’s life, including their own, and also for people to be aware of these types of security-defeat-tactics so that they can upgrade their own preparedness and safety.

In the courses that I teach I provide a bunch of real padlocks and some models of door handle locks and deadbolts etc. and students often ask “Is this a hard lock to pick?” over and over. Instead of complaining I have decided to make an aesthetic and functional change to the way I present information in my courses (Credit: r/lockpicking community).

Yellow Belt Locks.

While “Lock Picking” is at the core of my course that I teach about entries and escapes my goal is not to make people Locksmith Level Pickers. My goal is to start them down that path and then to show them some other options that will allow them to make entries and escapes. For that reason I chose to only include up to Blue Belt Locks.

Orange Belt Locks. (Order: White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Brown, Red, Black)

I used to randomly tag each padlock with a number and I had a sheet for each student to keep track of which locks they have opened. Now, to help give them some extra value including focus, and direction, and time management, they can work their way up and down the skill level and they can try groups of locks that are all at a similar skill level all without having to ask for advice.

Green Belt Locks.

In most of the classes I teach I can bring a student from zero experience all the way up to (usually) the Orange Belt level in about 8-16 hours.

Blue Belt Locks.

***Another future goal I have with the organizing of locks into specific r/lockpicking belt ranking containers is that I want to phase out the colors of locks that don’t directly coincide with their belt rank colors. I also want to start including locks that already have the correct body color of their belt ranking.

I will still probably be tagging the shackle of each padlock with a belt color and maybe a number as well so that students can still track their progress but I think that grouping the locks by skill requirement is going to bring a lot of value into the courses that I teach.

While training locks are considered “White Belt” locks in r/lockpicking I decided to give them their own container.

I do teach based on principles, always. One of those principles is to allow students to struggle and learn the “art form” half of lock picking first with real life locks, like the Master Lock #3, and then after they learn that feel of how to work a tension wrench and a rake I next teach them the “science” half of lock picking which is the nomenclature and the understanding of how we exploit the weakness in design of many pin-tumbler locks. That’s another reason that I have separated the White Belt standard locks from the White Belt acrylic locks and cutaway trainers – to separate the two halves of lock picking – the art form and the science.

The Bins!

I hope that this article brought you some value as a reader and hopefully gave you a little more insight into my services. I have a passion for teaching and a passion for helping people along with a love for all things hidden and sneaky and puzzling.


For OUR version of a growing community where we can discuss all sorts of lock picking and entry techniques: below is our link to our Discord channel “Insurgency Knitting Circle”. Join us to chat in real time with me and some of the other cohosts as well as members of the tactical and liberty community. Our community that shares and creates content and knowledge on an almost 24/7 schedule! A very positive place with lots of good people, and growing!


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