Beginners Guide to Electric Lock Picking Guns (EPGs)
The Electric Pick Gun, (EPG) is one of the most well known of all lock picking tools. An improvement of the manual ‘snap-gun’ (originally designed for US police forces requiring a simple, non-destructive tool that requires little training or practice) the EPG provides an easy to use solution to those needing frequent non-destructive opening of locks.
In fact, in this short blog, I’ll tell you all you need to know to go from EPG in the box, to EPG opening locks. Nice rhyme.
It doesn’t matter what EPG you have, the principles are much the same, and any idiosyncrasies your particular model has, will become apparent to you over time, and will only improve upon what you know, rather than question it.
First, make sure your unit is charged. Whether there’s a removable battery, or the unit charges from the mains. Missing this step is the ‘no petrol’ situation of a car ‘not starting’.
Next you need to select and attach a needle. Over time more elaborate and fancy looking needles have appeared on the market. Whether these add anything to the technique is for you to decide later, for now select the simplest one you have, a straight, short, standard needle. And ensure this is screwed in tightly with the tools (a screwdriver or Allen key) provided.
You’re ready to go!
How it works:
Lock picking is about ‘setting’ the pins of a Lock. The pins in a lock prevent the ‘plug’ from turning by obstructing free movement. Lock picking, whatever the technique must move these pins out of the way, thus allowing the plug to turn and the lock to open.
The flicking needle of the EPG will do the work of moving the pins, but unless there’s something preventing them from falling back into place, it’s futile. Enter the ‘tension wrench’.
This L-shaped piece of metal (which comes in various designs, but that’s the basic shape) is inserted into the keyway of the lock BEFORE the EPG needle, and a small amount of ‘turning pressure’ is applied in a (usually) clockwise direction. This pressure is minimal, I cannot stress this enough. You are not trying to turn the lock, and are certainly not forcing anything. Trying to do either will hinder - not help - the technique. You are strong to create a tiny ledge, literally about 0.5mm along what is called ‘the shearline’ the part where the plug meets the housing. This ledge is so tiny it will allow the pins to jump up as they respond to the needle, but also prevent them (sometimes) from falling down. When all the pins in the lock are sitting on this ledge, the small amount of turning pressure you’ve maintained throughout the picking process, will cause the lock to turn, and it’s open.
Practice applying turning pressure, see how easy it is to turn the plug the small amount before you feel it obstructed by a pin. Apply to much and you’ll trap a pin (between plug and housing) so tightly that the picking needle can’t move it and you’ll either break the needle, or risk burning out the motor, as it tries to flick a needle that cannot move.
- Insert tension tool
- Apply minimal tension
- Insert picking needle with EPG
- Pull trigger in short bursts
Some additional tips:
As with most lock picking, successfully using an EPG is mainly about your ability to understand tension and 'read' feedback from the lock. You will feel tiny changes in the lock that are transmitted along the tension tool. If you are applying too much tension the pins will struggle to move and you'll feel this feedback in the tension tool as well as in the action of the needle as it's being obstructed by too tight pins.
Maintaining tension isn't just about keeping the same amount of pressure, it's about making small adjustments in your pressure to adapt to changes in the lock. As you set pins in the lock the situation changes and may require further tension or less. The plug will also move very slightly as each pin is set and you should make up this movement with your tension. It's advisable to practice as much as possible with some locks at home to learn how to 'read' this language of locks.
Another important tip is to pull the trigger in short bursts of maybe 2 seconds. There's no point going overboard and hoping constant action will work. It won't It is often worth removing the EPG needle from the lock and resetting the lock by turning the tension wrench anti-clockwise and starting over. This will eliminate and false sets or other more advanced problems you'll learn about later. Just occasionally rest everything so you're starting from scratch.
Keeping the trigger pressed for too long will also probably cause damage to the motor of your EPG and since it achieves nothing is worth avoiding. Frustration is the enemy of all lock picking, so remain calm, be patient and understand there's a technique to learn and there's problems to solve.
Also, while EPGs are one of the best lock picking tools available they are not 100% effective. Some locks just won't respond to them. This is why a good range and selection of locks to practice on is essential, it's good for morale to pop a lock open, and incredibly frustrating when whatever you do doesn't seem to work. Being a good lock picker is also knowing when to stop with a technique and move onto something else. This is why a professional picker will have a variety of techniques with which to approach the same lock, as it helps ensure success.