A lockpick gun, also known as a snap gun, is a tool that can be used to rapidly force open a pin tumbler based lock without using the key. A thin steel rod known as the pick gun needle is inserted into the lock and the snap gun briefly fires the rod against all of the lock pins simultaneously, momentarily freeing the cylinder and enabling it to be turned using a tension wrench. A snap gun is an alternative to a conventional lockpick, which requires other techniques such as single pin picking or raking to free the pins. I show this in my “How to Pick a Lock (Basics)” video. How a Pin-Tumbler lock works A pin tumbler lock contains a set of key pins and a set of driver pins. The key pins move within pin channels inside the cylinder assembly and are cut at different lengths corresponding to the lock keying. The driver pins are installed in the lock housing and spring pressure forces them to penetrate the lock cylinder and prevent it from turning. When the key pins are correctly aligned by the key, the top pins are exactly aligned with the barrel of the cylinder or the shear line, and it may freely turn. How a Pick Gun Works A traditional lock pick uses trial-and-error methods to find the correct alignment of the pins. The snap gun uses a primary law of physics, the transfer of energy, to momentarily burst all of the driver pins out of the lock cylinder without sending the bottom pins up into it. The snap gun strikes all of the bottom pins at once with a strong impact, and then withdraws again. The bottom pins transfer their kinetic energy to the top pins and come to a complete stop without penetrating the lock housing. The driver pins are thrown out of the cylinder body entirely up into the lock housing. Until the springs force the driver pins back into the cylinder, the lock cylinder is momentarily unobstructed. The same physical principles are involved in lock bumping, but the snap gun automates the transfer-of-energy process. When you squeeze the trigger it cocks the mechanism and lets the needle drop. There is a thumbwheel on the pick gun that determines how hard it snaps. When the trigger is further pulled, an internal hammer is released which causes the needle to snap upward. A correctly applied snap gun can open a lock very quickly compared to traditional lock picking, but the sharp impact is more likely to damage the lock mechanism than raking, which mimics normal key movements. Adjusting the thumbwheel just right takes a bit of getting used to. The pick gun needle is inserted into the keyway as level and as straight as possible below the bottom pins and a tension tool is used to apply light tension to the plug. The tension should be very light The trigger of the pick gun is pulled, causing the needle to impact all pin stacks simultaneously. When all top pins jump above the shear-line, the plug will be free to rotate. Pick guns often require several attempts to pick the lock, but are effective against most low to mid security pin-tumbler locks. Start with low impact, if it doesn’t open after a few snaps increase the tension on the impact a little. Generally, lock pick guns are simple to use and can perform the task quickly, efficiently and effectively. While they’re not a substitution for traditional lock picking tools, they work on most standard pin tumbler locks, but they shouldn’t be used on anything more complex. The use of security pins does not hinder movement of the pins unless tension is applied prematurely. Pick guns are available in both downward and upward picking motions, depending on the orientation of the lock cylinder. Although pick guns work regardless of the orientation it may be difficult to use one upside down. There are also electric pick guns that use a motor or electromagnet to continuously oscillate the needle. The needle is placed under all pins and vibrates, hoping to vibrate at a resonating frequency that will cause all top pins to jump above the shear line, allowing the plug to turn. Only open locks you own or have permission to open.