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How to Pick an American Lock? – Detailed Guide (w/Photos)

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to pick an american lock

American locks are premier locks for securing valuables. This level of security is crucial when robbers and burglars take advantage of unguarded homes.

Fortunately, losing your keys to your American lock doesn’t mean you cannot retrieve your valuables or access the rooms anymore. With the right tools and technique, you can get around the American lock’s security and make your life a bit more reassuring.

In this article, I will show you different ways on how to pick an American lock.

Ways to pick an American lock

Doing American lock picking depends on the type of lock that you have. There are different picking techniques for American keyless and keyed locks.

#1 American keyed locks

Furthermore, this type of American key and lock can be operated by inserting the key into the keyway in order to unlock it. Belonging in this category are the American lock series 50 and the American lock series 1100.

To open an American lock without the key, you can follow the these quick and easy ways:

Method 1: Pick an American lock with pick and tension wrench

Picking an American lock such as lock series 1100 with a pick and a tension wrench is easy when you have the basic knowledge of lockpicking.

You will need the following:

What you are just going to do is to insert and maintain force on the tension wrench while you set the pins inside the lock with the pick.

Step 1. Start with pen five, where your right hand holds the keyway tension in the upper part of the keyhole to apply pressure on the lock core.


Step 2. With your hook in the other hand, move it deep inside the hole and work to hear a click or two. Move the hook out several millimeters and work until there’s a click in pin 


Step 3. Do the same with the rest of the pins. You should make some counter-rotating moves for the first pin while maintaining the tension.


Step 4. Now, the lock is open, and the tension tool can turn the lock core clockwise.


Method 2: Pick an American lock with paper clip or bobby pins

To open an American lock with a paperclip, you must first create a hook and tension wrench from the two paper clips. All it will take is some bending until you have a hook and tension wrench made from paper clips, and you are good to go.

Now, the steps are rather similar to using a tension wrench and a hook to unlock, but with a the US padlock series 5100, you might want to work from the 1st pin to the 5th one.

#2 American keyless locks

Keyless locks in the American brand make use of combinations and bluetooth as the locking mechanism. These types of keyless locks are more difficult to pick compared to its keyed counterparts.

Try the following steps to unlock an American combination lock without the combination:

Step 1. Insert your pointing finger inside the shackle of the lock and raise the shackle of the lock to the maximum height with your finger.

Step 2. Rotate the combination lock in a clockwise manner. During the rotation, you will feel a slight snag. Take note of the number where the rotation snags, as this will be used to determine the combination’s first digit.


Step 3. Add 5 to the snagging part of the rotation, which will serve as the first digit of the combination. For example, if the rotation snags at 10, add 5, then the first digit will be 15.


You should always maintain the upward pressure on the shackle.

Step 4. For the second digit, lift the schakle lightly, turn the knob of the lock counterclockwise until you cannot turn the lock any longer.


Then, lift the shackle, slowly rotate the lock in a clockwise manner until you hit a snag. Note the digit where the snag is experienced as this will serve as your second digit. Make sure to pull with tension as there’s only one snag.

Step 5. Now, input the first digit by going counterclockwise and stopping on the first digit. Input the second digit by going clockwise and stopping on the second digit.

Step 6. Constantly pull the shackle upwards while turning your lock counterclockwise. The lock will automatically open when you hit the third digit.

Can I Use a Masterkey to Open an American Lock’s Padlock?

Yes, you can. An American padlock can be easily picked without tools when you have a master key. It can access multiple locks with the same structure and grooves inside the locking mechanism.


It is important to understand the ins and outs of your locks inside your home so that you know what to do when it malfunctions or when you lose your keys for them. In this way, you can save money from hiring a locksmith and save time from finding the lost keys.

Knowing how to pick an American lock goes a long way if you’re a fan of such a brand of locks. Just remember that picking your American lock is temporary and you should either replace your locks or call the manufacturer to give you a replacement key.

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