You have your beginner lock pick set, and now you're wondering what the different types of lock picks are called.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the most common lock picks on the market and what they are used for.
Distinguishable by its hook-shaped tip, a hook pick (also called "lifter") is typically used for single-pin picking. You may find that a hook pick allows you to feel and manipulate individual pins more easily than other types of lock pick tools.
You can find this style of pick in a variety of lengths and shapes. Some include Short Hooks, Long Hooks, Gem Hooks, and Gonzo Hooks. You'll see them with flat and rounded tips.
Gonzo Hook: Named after Gonzo from the Muppets. You can probably guess why.
Gem Hook: The gem hook looks like a gonzo hook with the tip cut off.
You'll be able to identify a diamond pick by the triangular shape of the tip.
While full-diamond picks exist, half-diamond picks are more common.
Like hook picks, half-diamond picks (the smaller ones in particular) tend to be used for single-pin picking.
Small half-diamond pick: Smaller than a large half-diamond pick.
Large half-diamond pick: The large half-diamond takes up a considerable amount of space when picking a lock. Some find that larger diamonds work better for raking than for single-pin picking.
A hook pick and/or a diamond pick will probably be your tool of choice when it comes to single-pin picking. For wafer locks, or for raking, you'll want to explore other tools.
Distinguished by a circle or a half-circle tip, ball picks have lots of names:
Snowman, aka double ball pick: Think of a two-ball snowman with a small head and a large body.
Half-snowman, aka double half-ball pick: Picture a snowman pick cut vertically, and you'll know what a half-snowman pick looks like.
Half-ball pick: This one is just as it sounds — a single ball, cut in half.
While ball picks look like they might make good single-pin picks, they're usually less effective at picking pins than diamond and hook picks.
Instead of using you ball pick for a pin tumbler lock, we recommend using them for wafer locks.
Rake picks are used to open a lock by sliding a pick across the pins in an attempt to set all of the pins, rather than picking single pins individually.
Rake picks were originally designed with common key bitting patterns in mind.
Wedge rake: You will rarely see wedge rakes ("W rakes") in the lock-picking world, as they aren't considered particularly useful. But still, it might be worth trying out if you're struggling to open a lock (or if you prefer your pick to resemble a toothbush).
Long rake: Also known as a city rake, long rakes are a staple for many lock pickers.
Snake rake: Also known as the S rake, this type of rake is another favorite in the lock-picking community.
Bogota rake: Looking at the hilly peaks of the bogota rake, you can understand the reason for its name. Inventor Raimundo named the design after the mountains in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. The number of peaks is also part of the naming convention: Two hills is a two-hump bogota, three hills is a three-hump bogota, and so on.
At first glance, key extractors look like half diamond picks. But they're distinguishable by the hook shape at the tip. Key extractors are used for retrieving broken keys from locks. It's recommended to have at least one in your travel lock pick set.
Which Lock Picks Are the Best?
Ultimately, one person's favorite pick type is another's source of frustration. For example, some of us here like the snowman for single-pin picking, while much of the community dismisses this pick style.
The best lock pick for you really comes down to the size and type of lock you're opening as well as personal preference.
More types of picks exist than what we've covered in this overview. We recommend you try out as many lock picking tools as you can until you've found your must-haves.