I know everybody has their own way of using an electric pick gun, some people are hugely successful at opening locks with them and others not so much. I don’t think there is a right and wrong way to use a pick gun really it just depends what works for you. Personally I use my EPG’s a lot and I do have a pretty good success rate with them so I thought I would share a few hints and tips.

Holding the Epg

I always find that if I hold the EPG very lightly I have a lot more success than when I am gripping it very tightly. I don’t mean so lightly that you run the risk of dropping it though but just holding it lightly enough so the gun moves around a little on its own when you are vibrating it inside the lock. So basically the more movement I allow in the body of the pick gun the more success I seem to have.

Angle of the pick gun

I think the angle that you hold the gun at makes a big difference. Sometimes on a lock which has quite a wide key way you can get away with holding the gun dead straight. On a lock with a medium to tight key way I use the gun at quite a bit of an angle. I try to match the angle at the bottom of the key way like in the picture bellow. I do this because of the ridges which make up the key profile. As the ridges run all the way through the plug of the cylinder if you hold the gun straight there’s a good chance your pick blade is going to be striking those ridges as well as the pins. This will take some of the power out of the blade hitting the pins and I find it will snap your pick blades a lot faster as obviously there’s no give in the solid metal of the plug.

pick gun angle


Pick blades

One thing you see a lot is people using EPG’s with a straight pick blade. Picking with an EPG is not that different to raking with manual picks. I say this because both techniques are a little bit random and both techniques require the top of the pins to be struck in order to vibrate them into position. With that I mind you would never try to rake a lock manually using a flat bar, you would always use a pick which was designed for raking with some sort of shape to the end. For me this is no different when using an EPG, I would always choose a shaped pick over a flat bar in order to give any high pins a little bit more of a push to help them to reach the shear line.

Using the trigger

When I am picking a lock I always use the trigger in short bursts to allow the pins to set properly. I always think of it as one burst of the trigger is the equivalent to one rake using a manual raking pick. If you keep the trigger on constantly the pins will be dancing around like mad and not having chance to set before the blade strikes the pins again. Also short bursts will probably be easier on the motor of the gun and help it to last longer. At the same time as bursting the trigger on and off I always just move the gun in and out slightly. I never move the pick blade right to the very front edge of the keyway though as this does seem to snap blades very easily.


For tensioning I always try a normal style wrench and a circular sprung tension tool. Some locks will open easier using the normal wrench and some easier with the circular tensioner. I find that having both styles of wrench will give me a lot more chance of picking a particular lock. Sometimes it can be quite an extreme difference, for example you can try picking a lock with a normal wrench for 3 or 4 minutes with no success and then swap to a circular tool and pick it in 10 seconds or the other way round. No matter which style of wrench I am using though I constantly adjust the tension slightly as I am picking.

circular tension tool


Yale Anti Snap Picked With EPG

As I said at the beginning everybody seems to use an EPG differently to each other and I guess there is no right and wrong way. This is not really a guide to say this is how you should be using your pick guns it’s just my way of doing it. At the moment I currently have a Klom and a HPC and I think I am going to have the HPC upgraded with the doodle bug upgrade by Nigel Tolly so watch out for a review of the doodle bug in the near future!


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