Lock picking (called Locksport by those who pick locks as a hobby) has been a little-known, niche hobby but has become more popular during Covid.
During our confinement, some of us discovered lock picking and found it to be something intellectually and physically challenging that we could do at home. As a result, YouTube locksport channels have proliferated with most of them focusing on demonstrating picking a particular lock.
Locksport has primarily been a hobby of the former British Empire (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) and Europe but is considered a little “dodgy” in the United States. Therefore, many of the lock picking YouTube channels are by non-US authors.
Perhaps this heritage accounts for a strict moral code in locksport: only pick locks that you own or those for which you have permission, and do not pick locks in use.
US-based YouTube channels are usually better suited for US pickers because US and non-US locks are different. Foreign locks usually have narrower keyways, tighter tolerances, and security pins that are more difficult to pick. These can require different tools and picking methods.
There are hundreds of YouTube channels dedicated to locks and lock picking. Only a few have more than a thousand subscribers. Few channels are suited for beginning lock pickers or those seeking lock picking instruction.
If you are curious about lock picking and want to see videos explaining how locks work, how to learn lock picking, and the various tools used, I recommend the instructional playlists by Lock Noob and HelpfulLockPicker.
As you progress, BosnianBill has many good videos for those who understand the basics.
LockPickingLawyer, the most well-known lock picking YouTuber, mainly demonstrates his formidable skills on hundreds of locks and how to exploit vulnerabilities in various locking devices.
Check out some of the other lock picking channels–some of them have the most fascinating, original, and technically brilliant content–you will be amazed.
But, for a beginner wanting to learn lock picking, choose Lock Noob or HelpfulLockPicker instructional playlists based on whose style most suits you; you will not be disappointed.
Top Lock Picking YouTubers
Known For: Expert lock picker who focuses on lock picking methods.
Watch for: If you want to learn about lock picking, security, and security products.
In the U.S. mainstream lock picking videos started with BosnianBill. His videos started about 10 years ago, and he has been the inspiration for some of the best and most popular lock pickers.
He retired from producing videos, but his video library is one of the best. He was the inspiration for the most-followed YouTuber, LockPickingLawyer.
He has instructional videos and the most comprehensive sets of lock picking demonstrations of individual locks (mostly padlocks). You should start with his earlier videos which emphasized instruction.
He introduced the “talking hands” method of videos in which he does not appear, but only a lock in a vise, and his hands are shown doing the picking. It lends a certain mystery to lock picking and almost gives the impression that lock picking is an anonymous activity that one is ashamed to be doing.
You can’t do much better than spend time watching Bill’s videos; you will always learn something.
Known For: Highlighting security flaws of many locking devices people use in their daily lives.
Watch for: Awe-inspiring demonstrations of world-class ability but with little instructional value; just try to replicate his methods on difficult locks.
LockPickingLawyer has by far the largest following of any lock picker on YouTube (over 4 million subscribers!). He was a lawyer who discovered lock picking by watching BosnianBill and is a natural at lock picking and became so successful that he no longer practices law.
He concentrates on demonstrating picking complicated locks and discovering and exploiting vulnerabilities in all kinds of security devices. In pointing out deficiencies he has, in some cases, earned the ire of some lock manufacturers.
His videos are another example of the almost ubiquitous “talking hands” format. He has a mellifluous voice and calm tone that seems to mask scorn for some of the products he exploits.
Most of his videos are not good for learning lock picking. His seemingly effortless exploits belie the thousands of hours of practice required to obtain such expert tensioning and lock mechanism manipulation.
He sells lock picking products at CovertInstruments.com which are of excellent quality and are good for beginners.
Known For: He reviews European and American locks; excellent instructional videos.
Watch for: Reviews of products and lockpicking demonstrations, especially Euro keyways.
Lock Noob is a YouTube channel based in England. You will get more European keyway presentations than common American locks such as Schlage or Kwikset with their wider keyways.
It is a helpful website because he spends much of his time explaining how to pick locks–not just demonstrating his quite accomplished abilities. It seems to be unscripted as he tends to ramble somewhat, but some will find this an endearing quality.
He reviews all the same tools that BosnianBill and LockPickingLawyer review but with a British perspective. He also demonstrates lock-related activities such as making your own picks and pick handles.
He has a series of excellent lock picking tutorials–check the playlists.
Helpful Lock Picker
Known for: Being helpful to those trying to learn lock picking. Home School video series which is excellent for beginners.
Watch for: Excellent tool reviews and detailed explanations of how to use the tools.
Helpful Lock Picker is a U.S.-based locksport hobbyist and product reviewer. He is an excellent source of instructional information. Check out his Lock Picking Home School video series as this is the best, most comprehensive lock picking YouTube source.
He is a good presenter with a scripted channel specifically aimed at helping the locksport community. He does reviews, demonstrates the use of the tools he reviews, and comments during the process to aid in understanding and to help people learn to pick locks.
He is quite candid in his reviews and states specifically his likes and dislikes–for some reason, this is common among lock pickers. He is bringing other lockpicking YouTube channels into his channel which should be an interesting collaboration.
The Lock Picker 1969
Known for: Good videos of his lock pick learning experience and his progression from beginner to an excellent picker.
Watch for: List of tutorials (basic and advanced lock picking playlists) on various lock topics; lock manufacturer histories.
The Lock Picker 1969 is based in the U.S. and began recording his lock picking activities as he learned. Therefore his channel is a record of his learning experience which makes it a good source for us to learn.
He was pursuing Reddit/lockpicking belt level (think of martial arts belt ranking system) and therefore also records progressively difficult locks. In this process, he describes his picking struggles and how he solved them.
He has a very good list of tutorials on various subjects and excellent videos of lock manufacturer histories.
Don’t let his small number of subscribers put you off; it is a good source of instructional material. He has weekly giveaway drawings!
Known for: Explaining lock picking methods while picking locks.
Watch for: Excellent product reviews, vulnerabilities, and consumer lock recommendations.
Oklahoma-based lock picker specializing in single pin picking (no raking, zipping, rocking, etc.) of locks, product reviews, and playlists by brand and type of lock.
Albert’s site is not the best to learn how to pick locks but is useful in understanding how some locks work and their vulnerabilities.
Lock Picking Legend
Known for: Not the usual “talking hands” format; a wicked sense of humor.
Watch for: Cutaway examination of various locks to demonstrate lock mechanisms and how picking methods work.
London-based locksmith/picker with a distinctly East-Ender accent, vocabulary, and earthy sense of humor. He uses a refreshingly different format from the usual lock in a vise and pair of hands.
More serious content than his demeanor might indicate; and he responds to comments on his videos! Excellent technical content if you are not distracted by the constant humor.
Some Other Lock Picking YouTubers
The beginnings of YouTube lock picking channels, their proliferation, and which ones are most useful for a beginner who is curious about how to pick locks. A description of some of the best and most popular channels and a list of a few others of potential interest. In short, an introduction to the fascinating world of lock picking hobbyists (locksport!).