3 ways lock picking can save your life (and all you need is paperclips)

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So your work building has caught fire, and all the exit doors have raging fires in the way. The only escape is through a door that’s locked – and no one has a key. What are your options?

Go through a window? (most windows have metal burglar bars)

Kick in the door? (you’re crawling on the floor to avoid the smoke like the fire department recommends remember)

Pick the lock? Bingo!


Picking locks in self defense

What’s lock picking got to do with self defense? Isn’t that something only criminals and weirdo hobbyists do?

I generalise self defense as anything that helps you get home safe every day. Just like WeaselCraft rule #1:

I don’t care, I’m going home.

From this perspective it starts making sense why a law-fearing person would learn to pick locks.


Lock picking has 3 self defense benefits

#1 – It shatters illusions. When you pick a couple padlocks or door locks, you very quickly realise that a locked door isn’t nearly as secure as you thought it was. You check your doors are all locked before you leave the house and before you go to bed. But what if someone can get through that door in only a couple minutes? This guy takes about 7 seconds to unlock this door..

Once you’ve done it yourself, seen the simplicity of it, then you start to think that maybe just a lock isn’t enough. Here’s Brett McKay over at artofmanliness.com picking his own front door lock.

I suppose it’s the same thing with kicking in a door. You maybe think a strong deadbolt and nice long hinge screws are starting to sound like a good idea.


#2 – It can get you out of a sticky situation. Forget about the small chance of lock picking being the only thing that can save you from building fire, what about the chance of an active shooter? A terrorist at the mall? A jihadist at a music concert?

What if you could get to an empty room and lock the door from the inside? What if the terrorist is going through the building, finds a locked door and figures there won’t be anyone inside that room? After all, who goes into a room just to lock themselves in? The janitor unlocks the broom closet, grabs the broom, then locks the door once he’s out the room – not when he’s inside looking for the broom.


#3 – It helps you spot your vulnerabilities. There’s nothing like walking through your house and scoffing at your own locks, thinking “Ha, I could pick that. 2 minutes max.”

Moments like those make you stop and rethink your security systems.


How to pick a lock?

Locks go from simple to highly complicated, but the base theory is the same: A lock has “pins” that stop the lock from turning. If you can lift up the pins to the correct level, the locked is, well, unlocked.


If you want to immediately get started and pick a lock:

Beginners article:

How to Make a Paperclip Lock Pick that Works


Companion video:


If you want to see the theory of how lock-picking works (some people can only learn once they know the how’s and why’s of a thing):

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