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Locks to Learn On – BosnianBill's LockLab

Lock & Use


 Master #1

Same as #3, 4-pin core but with a larger body.  Offers NO more security than #3 but is more expensive.  Still, if it all you can find it is just as good a training lock as the smaller #3.


 Master #3

Most popular 4-pin training lock.  Priced around $5 US.  It contains 4 standard pins in a core made to fairly sloppy tolerances.  The M1 keyway is wide, giving you plenty of room to work and learn how to manipulate picks, tensioners and pins.  The wide keyway lets you focus on pin placement without worrying about a constricted work space.  The poor tolerances let you learn about tensioning with too much penalty for applying too much.  The pins make an audible “click” when they set.  It is a perfect training lock.


 Master #5

Same core as Master #3, priced higher but offers no more security. The advantage of the #5 is it is a bit larger and more comfortable to hold in your hand for long picking sessions.  Other than that, it is identical to the #3.


 Master #7

Very small lock that’s good for practicing on tiny, tight keyways.  Difficult to find this lock in stores.


 Master #140

The first spool training lock, containing one standard and three spools.  Lately the quality of the spools has gotten poor, with shallow cuts, so try to get an older one if you can.  If not, get a Brinks 4-pin lock or an Abus 55/40, which is also a 4-pin lock containing 3 spools, but of much higher quality.


 Master 532

A 5-pin lock containing 1 standard and 4 spools.  Spring loaded core can make this on a challenge.  This is a pretty good quality lock, but conquer the Master 570 before taking this one on.


 Master 570

An excellent 5-pin training lock for spools.  Contains 1 standard and four spools.  Core is “dead”, meaning it has no spring tension, so you can learn how to tension better quality locks with tighter tolerances.  The spools are shallow cut, making it challenging to detect feedback and counter-rotation.


 Master #911

A 6-pin lock pinned at the factory with only 5 pins.  One standard and four deep cut spools.  The core is spring tensioned but you can detect the spools quite easily.  This is an excellent lock to learn spools, while also practicing TOK tensioning.  It has a recessed core giving you the chance to use the “long” leg of your TOK tool.


 Brinks 4-pin

A 4-pin lock containing one standard and three spools.  Same as the Master 140, but a much higher quality lock with better tolerances.  The spools are also deeper cut and better quality.


 Brinks 5-pin

A 5-pin lock containing one standard and four spools.  Same as the Master #150, but a lot better lock in terms of quality and tolerances.  The spools are also much better in the Brinks.


 Hercules 600 (Herculock)

An excellent 5-pin lock containing only standard pins.  The tolerances and quality of this lock make it a challenge to conquer.


 Viro 5-pin

A high quality 5-pin lock containing 1 standard and four deep-cut spools.  An excellent training lock to learn spools on.  A good size to hold comfortably in your hand for long periods.


 Wilson Bohannon

An excellent 5-pin lock containing only standard pins.  The tolerances and quality of this lock make it a challenge to conquer.  If you can SPP a WB, then you can SPP almost anything.


Abus #84/20

A tiny lock good only for practicing small,constricted keyways.  The biggest challenge is gaining access. Incredibly, this lock contains SPOOL pins!


 Abus 55/40

A superior 5-pin training lock to learn spools.  In fact, this is probably the best one to start with.  Contains one standard and three well-shaped deep-cut spools.  Tricky, requiring multiple resets.  You’ll get good at spools by practicing on this lock.


 Abus 65/25

A 4-pin lock containing one standard and three  very nice spool pins.  A step up from the 55/40,but smaller so it is not as comfortable to hold in your hand.


 Abus 65/40

Big brother to the Abus 65/25.  Same core, same excellent quality.


 Abus 72/40

A great little aluminum bodied lock containing a 6-pin, removeable core.  It has a smaller keyway and small, American Brand sized security pins.  It can be pinned differently, but usually has one standard and five spool pins.  I have also encountered these with serrated pins.  These are priced VERY competitively.  Get one if you can!


 American 1200 series

These aluminum body locks sell for around $6 on eBay and are the best serrated pin training locks you can find.  The 6-pin cores are removable and identical to all American padlock cores.  For some reason the factory only installs 5 pins, all serrated OR all serrated spools OR a mix of both.  This is the lock that’ll teach you light tension!


 Schlage Mortise Cylinder

One of the most common locks in North America, this lock usually contains 5 or 6 standard pins.  Made to pretty tight tolerances, it can be a challenge to pick because the standard pins, combined with the slightly paracentric keyway, are guaranteed to teach you how to pick “around corners”.  Most locksmiths HATE picking the SC1 keyway.


 Sargent Mortise

The Sargent is probably the most precisely made commercial lock in the U.S.  It comes with a number of different keyways, none “easy” to access.  The pins are usually all standard, making this a fairly difficult lock.  It is a favorite for challenge lock makers.

 Sargent Mortise

SFIC Locks

There are several manufacturers of SFIC locks and none are easy to pick.  Only a few have security pins, so you’ll get plenty of practice with standard pins.  These are doubly difficult because they have two shear lines, control and operating.  They cannot be mixed and matched, or the lock will not open.  These are NOT easy to pick to either shear line.


Key-in-Knob Cores

There are many makers of KIK 5 and 6 pin cores and you can find them cheaply on eBay.  They are easy to re-pin as either practice locks or challenge locks.  The only downside is that they are not easy to hold in your hand to pick.

 Paracentric KIK

 Discus Locks

This example is a brinks but there are many manufacturers of these interesting locks.  Oddly, regardless of who makes them they usually have one standard and four spools.  The reason they are good training locks is that you have to get creative in how you hold the lock and apply tension to the core.  Most often the best way to pick it upside down.


 Ultimate Challenge Lock

Made by LearnLockPicking.com, these have a Sargent keyway, which is fairly wide open for easy access.  I consider this the ideal beginner’s training lock.  The cylinders are threaded so you can pin it up sequentially to learn picking at your own pace.  They come with extra parts, pins, springs, etc., making re-pinning a 2-3 minute job.


 Ultimate Adversary Lock

Made by LearnLockPicking.com, this version has the slightly paracentric SC1 keyway.  I consider this an intermediate level lock.  It also has a 7-pin core, allowing you to challenge even advanced pickers.  It comes with a bag of extra parts, pins, spings and security pins.