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LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

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LocksportSouth

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Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:39 pm

LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

Hi, and thanks for stopping by!
I have recently been acquiring various lockpicks sets and now have a good collection, the last set arriving just a few days ago.

I intend for this post to be my most comprehensive (to date) lockpick review, which will include an considered and (hopefully!) unbiased opinion on the presentation, quality and performance of each set and thus the manufacturer.

Please note that whilst I’ve posted semi reviews of individual products on other posts/forums before, this is my first attempt to catalogue all my thoughts, experiences and opinions into one standardised format and location.

Usual disclaimers apply – I am not a professional locksmith not an expert picker by any means; I have only recently started in this hobby and thus I may gloss over or miss out details which would normally be considered important for a review. My picking skills are likely not good enough to justify my claims and I make no claim of holding the official opinion of any other forum member, staff member or the forum as a whole. My opinions are mine and mine alone; YMMV and E&OE. I have no association or affiliation with any of the companies featured in this review, hold no personal or professional stake or sway with any of them including manufactures, distributors, suppliers etc and all of these pick sets were paid for with my own money and are not promotional materials etc.

With that out of the way, let’s move on :).

Contents

1. Methodology
2. List of pick sets being tested
3. List of locks used in testing
4. A. GOSO 24Pc Mini Review
4. B. Klom Mini Review
4. C. SouthOrd c2010 Mini Review
4. D. Sparrows Monstrum XXL Mini Review
4. E. Peterson Just Picks Euro Slenders Mini Review
4. F. Peterson Phoenix Ultimate GSP Mini Review
4. G. SouthOrd Max M4000B High Yield Lock Pick Set Mini Review
5. Comparisons
6. Picking times chart
7. Conclusions

Section (4) Mini Reviews will be broken down as follows:
1. Item full name
2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
3. My Price
4. Specifications
5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions
6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations
7. A. Experiences picking – Master No. 3
7. B. Experiences picking – LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
7. C. Experiences picking – Euro Cutaway (with spools)
8. Overall mini-conclusion

Rating System
All pick sets will be rated by me on the following scale:

* Case / Packaging:
0 – No case or very poor quality
1 – Mediocre quality case
2 – Good quality case
3 – Very good or outstanding quality case/packaging

* Pick Finish:
0 – Terrible quality finish; noticeably affected picking
1 – Poor quality finish – looked unsightly
2 – Good quality finish – only minor blemishes to be seen
3 – Extremely good, mirror-finish quality, very smooth in the locks

* Pick quality:
0 – Flimsy, cheap-feeling and just plain nasty
1 – Poor quality, barely passable for use in picking
2 – Good quality, felt nice to pick with
3 – Absolutely stunning! Comfy and a delight to use.

* BONUS for plastic/rubber handle picks:
0 – Metal handle of pick stopped shortly inside of the plastic handle
1 – Pick metal runs entire length of the handle

* Overall
0 – Very poor impression, felt like an inferior product
1 – Poor quality, felt cheap
2 – Good quality pick set, recommended
3 – Highly recommended, superior quality

Overall it’s possible for a pick set to score as little as 0 or as high as 12+1 points.
Each point value will be assigned a percentage score, and those scores are weighted to reflect certain values that I see as more important, or to make the scores more fair. For instance, the gap between 2 and 3 points is much smaller than between 1 and 2, to reflect the high score that a “very good” set should get without tarnishing a 100% product nor making it seem unduly bad. Here are my weightings for your reference:

Case/Packaging
0 – 0%
1 – 7%
2 – 18%
3 – 20%

Pick Finish
0 – 0%
1 – 8%
2 – 20%
3 – 25%

Pick Quality
0 – 0%
1 - 8%
2 - 20%
3 - 25%

Overall
0 - 0%
1 - 10%
2 - 22%
3 - 30%

Bonus Pick Handles - 10%

I may also award higher or lower percentages than the assigned points score if I feel that a given product fell below or above the bar for its given rating – in this case I will point this out at the time.

The maximum possible score a set can get is 110%, whilst the lowest is 0%



1. Methodology

To ensure fair testing of all products, I will used a standard test for all pick sets.

Stage one – I will examine the product’s outer packaging / case
Stage two – I will examine all of the picks within, checking for metal finish
Stage three – I will point out any manufacture flaws and issues as well as general pick quality
Stage four – I will pick three locks once each.

For Stage four, I will select picks using one or more of: Medium hook, Deep hook, Diamond/half diamond. Any picks used will be listed in the review.

As tension, I will pick my preferred wrench from that set. If the set does not come with one, I will use a standard twisted L wrench. (the one I am currently using is from the SouthOrd Max set but it’s a very standard wrench).

The vice that I will be using to hold the two cylinder locks is a Panavise 301 head on a 312 base.

I will practice with each pick for a time (to ensure no unduly long test times) before setting up a timer and doing three timed picks for each lock. The average of this will appear in the results table which will be published in section 6.

I will include a series of photos in each mini-review, including (at the bare minimum):

A look at the case / packaging
A broad look at the pack contents
A broad view of all picks laid out flat
A closeup of several picks (pick end portion)
A shot of all three locks picked open

2. List of pick sets being tested

The pick sets that will be included in this test follow. If I obtain any more pick sets, they may be added to this review using the same methodology as above.

A. GOSO 24 Piece Pick Set
B. Klom KL-318 18 Piece Pick Set
C. SouthOrd c2010
D. Sparrows Monstrum XXL
E. Petersons Stainless EURO Slenders
F. Petersons Phoenix Ultimate GSP Pick Set
G. Southord Max M4000B

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3. List of locks used in testing

To test these lockpicks, I will be using a set of three standard locks which will not change between tests for fairness. I will also test them in the same order each time.

1. Master Number 3 – the little laminated padlock that can....’t :D. 4 pins, all standard. The lock body is sealed so pins cannot be changed. This will be the first lock that I will pick. I will pick this padlock “in hand”, in contrast to the other two which will be picked on the vice.

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2. LearnLockPicking 5 Pin Practice Cylinder – Standard Pins. This is a pin tumbler mortice cylinder, fitted with the 5 standard pins that it came with from the shop. Check out learnlockpicking.com for more details. All standard key and driver pins will be used, original key will work in the lock. This lock will be picked second, and will be picked on the vice.

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3. Repinnable 6-Pin Euro cylinder (4 standard pins, 2 spools). I bought this practice cutaway from eBay and you can find an identical one by searching ebay UK for “repinnable cylinder” – it’s the one from seller locks-away (at this time of writing). I will be leaving it fitted with all the “factory default” pins, but will replace pins 2 and 5 (counting starting from the keyway) with the supplied spools.

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4. Mini Reviews

In this section I will review each pick set, in turn. The review order is based roughly on set price and “expected” quality, however it will be interesting to see if every set (or even any set!) can maintain a ranking in line with its corresponding cost!

A couple of quick notes which have become apparent over the course of writing all these mini reviews:

Firstly, you may be wondering why, if I’m reviewing in a roughly price-based order, why the Southord Max set comes after the Peterson set. That’s because at the time of starting this review series and document, I did not own the Southord Max set, and the lettering and files had already been set up before I purchased that one, so it got inserted into the end of the list. If you’re wonder why the photo above DOES show the Southord Max – that wasn’t the original photo that I took, which included just the earlier sets. I retroactively updated the photo with a new shot including all sets later in this review.

Secondly, you might be wondering why the photo includes one more case than I am reviewing here. I bought the Peterson pick set along with another Peterson kit, filled with bypass tools. However as I am multi-posting this document to a few places, all of which have different rules regarding such things, I will not be showing or reviewing this kit in my review.
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LocksportSouth

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Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

4. A. GOSO 24Pc Mini Review

1. Item full name
GOSO 24 Piece Lock Pick Set

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: UKBumpKeys, £14.95

Other Seller: WithoutAKey, £16.99

Other Seller: Walker Locksmiths, £19.99

3. My Price
According to my receipt, I paid £14.99 plus VAT when I bought these

4. Specifications
24 piece lockpick set including double sided faux leather carry case.
Set includes 20 picks and 3/4 tension wrenches (different sites call this a 23 or 24 piece kit. GOSO’s own site claim 23 and most others claim 24. The 1 difference appears to be a tension wrench).

All picks have plastic handles (type unknown).
Pick material is metal (type unknown; has a brass finish).

Pick contents:

5 hooks of various sizes
1 Dimple rake
1 Half-diamond
1 Deep V-shaped hook
1 Kinda half-double ball thing
1 Kinda a sharp Peterson Gem with a little “tooth”
10 Assorted wafer and automotive rakes and jigglers

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

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The picks are all packaged in a faux-leather / pleather double-sided, double-zippered case with the GOSO label embossed on the front lower middle of the case. The case appears to be mostly custom made to fit the picks that are included, and all picks and tension wrenches (with exception or the large X-shaped wrench, which is squeezed into the back zippered portion with the other automotive tools) have their own slot or space within the case.

The case feels fairly sturdy on the outside with a nice textured leather-like finish. The zips themselves feel sturdy and the zip pulls do the job suitably, are smooth and have a nice lip at the bottom to aid pulling to open the case.

On the inside, the inner pockets are sown without obvious defects and hold the picks in place well. Tension wrenches are held to the outside of the main pockets via a couple of small strips of the same interior material stitched on to the pocket’s outer. Picks are easy to remove and replace.

There IS room for a few more picks/tension wrenches, but they have to be squeezed in (some plain L and twisted L wrenches will fit fine). There are no dedicated slots for spare picks.

Overall, the case is nothing AMAZING but it’s solid and does its job well.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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These GOSO picks utilise a metal pick end and a plastic handle. A brief test with a rare-earth magnet tells me that the metal extends into the handle about as far as the letter “O” at the END of GOSO, this is approx. 2cm of metal into the handle, in an overall handle length of 9cm.

The plastic handle are grey in colour and bumpy on one side in an attempt at ergonomics. In practice I rarely found myself resting my fingers in any of these “finger grooves”, preferring to get a little closer to the end of the pick. The first finger groove starts around 2cm into the handle (roughly where the metal, inside, stops) and the grooves are approx 2cm from peak to peak, with three groves in all.

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Both sides of each pick are embossed with the GOSO lettering, which starts shortly before the first finger groove and ends in the peak at the end of that groove, making the logo around 2.5cm long. The pick handle had a small oval dent into the plastic where the GOSO embossed letters are, keeping the height of the top of the GOSO letters approx equal to the height of the rest of the pick.

The pick handle is made from an unknown plastic – some kind of thermoplastic. The handle appears to have been made by taking two “halves (presumably with a cut-out inside the plastic shaped for some king of T-bar or other holding lug in the metal shape) and sticking them together over the pick end. This does mean that all along the “edges” of the handles (the thin edges) is a moulding mark where the two halves of the plastic have been stuck together. This moulding mark is sharp and rough, and can cause excessive grooves and discomfort on your fingers when picking, especially when using a heavier touch. I’ve personally found that this seam is hard to file down or smooth, and is worse on some picks than others.

Where the end of the pick handle meets the pick metal, there are often plastic artefacts reminiscent of the kind of left-over plastic edges you get on, for example, cheap childs toys such as toy soldiers.

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The metal itself is unknown but probably some kind of steel with a bass finish. It is moderately flexible and is fairly thick. The cosmetic finish on the metal is fairly poor, with a fair amount of dark discolouration and patchy shapes/colours in the metal. The actual physical finish of the metal edges is decent enough, well rounded but possibly too much. The thin edges of the picks near the tip feel a little rough, grating slightly against the fingernails.

The metal bends out of shape quite easily. Too much pressure and you’ll end up with hook curves that are shallower than they should be, for instance.

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According to my digital callipers, an average GOSO pick is approx. 0.03” thick (0.77mm)

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An average hook weighs 6.1g

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
For this pick I will be using the GOSO normal and medium hooks, and one of the rounded Z bar wrenches. As previously mentioned, the Master No.3 will be picked in-hand.

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Picking times:
First attempt: 11 secs
Second attempt: 58 secs
Third attempt: 93 secs
Average: 54 secs

For some reason, I found this lock getting harder and harder the more I picked it. I wasn’t really getting much feel from these GOSO picks and it forced me to essentially stab in the dark, trying to get a set. Will be interesting to see how this affects my scores in the cutaway with spools.

I found it quite difficult to get the deeper hook under the final pin and my pick attempts were much more successful with the shallower one.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
I will use the same picks mentioned above for all of the locks in this set test, to keep things fair. However I needed to change the tension wrench for a standard twisted L wrench as the rounded one used earlier took up the entire keyway and made picking impossible.

I had a lot of trouble with this one. My experiments before the timed tests (two opens) took a LONG time, far longer than previous tests with this lock had taken. After taking over 5 mins for the first times test and totally failing after 10 mins on the second attempt, it occurred to me that I was using totally the wrong pick. Not being too familiar with picking in general I didn’t realise until it was too late that I was using a really shallow hook that was making picking next to impossible. I then switched to two others picks from the same GOSO set, not pictured here but from the original photo of those 5 hooks, to work on a third and them fourth attempt.

The third attempt still took me way longer than it should have as I kept cycling between a very deep, moderately deep and more “normal” profile pick, also having issues with the tension wrench slipping in the keyway. For the fourth attempt, I kinda got “lucky” with a bit of semi bitch picking – I couldn’t feel anything from the pins and by this point the sharp seams on the picks were killing my thumb as I bared down on the pins. I decided to take the averages of attempt 1, 3, and 4 since attempt 2 failed.

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Picking times:
First attempt: 309 secs
Second attempt: Failed
Third attempt: 387 secs
Fourth attempt: 251 secs
Average: 315 secs

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
This was an interesting experiment since I had the difficulty of contending with spools, but the ease of seeing what was going on within the lock. For this pick I used both the rounded Z wrench and the three picks from the last (LLP) lock pick:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 198 secs
Second attempt: 117 secs
Third attempt: 108 secs
Average: 141 secs

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The flat, twisted L wrench definitely helped with this one. For the first two attempts, I used the rounded Z wrench and found that I was constantly working against the rounded edges of the wrench, trying to reach the back-most pins without unsetting the spools. With the flat wrench, although it kept sliding at an angle in the keyway (the rounded one didn’t as the flat-cut ends were much thicker and filled up the small keyway warding better) to the degree where I thought it would fall out (it didn’t), it still gave me a better pick than the other one.

One thing I did learn here is that the GOSO set really isn’t made for tight, European keyways with heavy warding or that rounded Yale “flick” at the pin end. You need to rotate the pick slightly to access the pins, and the GOSO was complaining like a mofo at having to navigate this tight keyway.

The spools presented a little challenge, but more of a problem were pins 6 (kept popping back out when any other pin got set) and 3 (which got stuck in REALLY stiff and refused to move). In fact, I ended up using so much force to set pin 3 that my picks ended up looking like this:

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8. Overall mini-conclusion

Overall, it’s clear that these are beginner’s picks. Whilst the presentation looks at first glance very acceptable – indeed the case is quite nice and there is a large assortment of picks – the cracks soon begin to show. The range of picks include about half to ¾ that you will likely never use (wafer rakes, automotive rakes etc), the finish on the metal is fairly poor and the plastic handles are sharp and uncomfortable to use around the seams where the handles are joined. The metal used is pretty soft and pliable and will bend when used with a heavy hand, and the relatively thick metal used is tough to squeeze around those tight Euro keyways.

On the plus side, the kit looks neat, it’s cheap and would make a great Xmas or birthday gift for a friend, family member or yourself if said person is on the fence about picking and wants very cheap kit to play with for a while and decide if picking is for them, before splashing out on a fancier kit.

Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 1 (7%)
Pick Finish: 1 (8%)
Pick Quality: 1 (8%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 1 (10%)

Final Score: 33%
<<

LocksportSouth

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Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

4. B. Klom Mini Review

1. Item full name
KLOM Master Pickset Tooling System KL-318

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My seller: BangGood, £10.26

Other seller: Amazon, $21.98

Other seller: DX, £15.40

3. My Price
At the time of purchase I paid £10.02 with free shipping.

4. Specifications
18 piece lock pick kit which includes 18 picks in addition to a rounded bar Z type tension wrench. Photos of this set show it with two of said wrenches, however I personally only received one. [Update: A thin, flat Z-style wrench was also found deeper inside one of the pockets and although not advertised as such does constitute the other tension wrench]. The picks are stored in a custom fabric case.

All picks have blueish-purple plastic handles and (apparently) stainless steel metal used in the pick itself.

Pick contents:

4 hook variations (mostly shallow to medium)
8 square-ended hooks in various styles
1 kinda rounded-end offset hook
2 Bogotas
1 half diamond
1 snowman pick
One Z-shaped rounded shaft tension wrench.

The pick metal does NOT travel the full length of the plastic handle; it goes around 1.2cm into the handle.

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

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The supplied case is black and made entirely from fabric, probably a polyester or poly/cotton. The front and back portion do feel “stiff” and so probably have some stiff cardboard or similar in there. The front of the case is branded with the Klom logo and the text “Master Pickset Tooling System No: KL-318”, while the back is plain.

The case does appear at first glance to be a simple book-style, front and back case. The zipper is functional and utilitarian, although it does sometimes get stuck at the closed end (bottom of the case. Upon unzipping the case you find that the picks are held into six distinct stitched pockets, created from a single piece of material stitched to the case back. However there are also two fold-out pouches which hold three picks each, enabling the case to hold all eighteen picks. There are no dedicated tension wrench slots.

Picks are easy to slide in and out of the case. It’s clearly a cheap build but looks sturdy enough and should hold up to basic daily wear and tear, although I’m a little concerned about that zip.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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Like the GOSO set, these picks utilise a plastic handle, and also like the GOSOs the metal extends not very far at all into the plastic – about 1.2cm, roughly around the second divot hole.

The picks feel light and flimsy; probably not helped by the lack of metal in the handles. The handles themselves are an odd affair – the texturing actually feels quite nice and the edge moulding is smooth and much more comfortable to use than the GOSOs, and yet they feel lighter and cheaper than the GOSO handles. Aside from the texturing there are two divots near the pick end – one which goes right through the handle and metal, around 3mm from the end of the plastic handle, and another at around 1.7cm in, which does not go all the way through. This one may be a “stop” for the pick metal; in which case it’s possible that these handles are actually hollow inside.

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The handles are made out of some kind of plastic, blueish-purple in colour and around 9cm long. On one wide of the handle is stamped a “Klom Tool Master” logo, 2.7cm long and starting just after the second divot. On the reverse side is an identically sized popout with the following gem:

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Yes, that does say “The Bland Of High Quality” :D. You can’t make this stuff up!
Whilst not especially textured, I did not find that the embossed logo popouts affected picking performance to any significant degree.

The pick handles do seem to have been made using the same process as the KLOM ones, however I’ve found them to be much nicer to hold, albeit lighter and cheaper-feeling. The edge forming has been done better on these Kloms, for sure.

The metal is a chrome finish, and suffers from much of the same discolouration as the GOSO set, in addition to some rusting on a few of the picks near the point at which the metal connects to the handle.

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Pick tip finishing is generally inconsistent and aside from the discolouration and smearing, the ends vary between quite smooth/rounded and very sharp, with blotchy “bubbles” on the metal that make it appear as though the coating is peeling off, to general abrasions which will likely affect the picking feel.

The pick tips themselves seem poorly designed; a mix of poor manufacturing choices on well known picks (such as the strangely offset nature of the Bogota) and generally weird picks (far too many square-ended picks whose curve is far too steep, which would make them difficult to fit into many locks).

The metal itself it quite thick and I’d worry that these will not work well in European locks as they may not fit in some keyways. The metal is not very flexible and does not “ping” under strain, unlike the Petersons stainless slenders, the picks that this set is clearly emulating. Like the GOSO set, the tips are poorly finished on the edges and do give a considerable amount of gritty resistance to running a fingernail against them, although maybe not as bad as the GOSOs. It’s inconsistant from pick to pick, however.

For your reference, I have dismantled a single pick from this set to show the length of the metal below the handle, and also to show the “bend” that these can acquire through rough picking (simulated using pliers):

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FWIW, I did cut the handle further down and it *is* solid; also the metal does NOT extend as far as the second divot so I have no idea what it’s (the second divot’s) purpose is.

The tension wrenches are pretty poor, too – the flat Z type one is too large for many keyways and too short to comfortable place one’s index finger onto, however it’s actually the better of the two options, being completely workable in all of the locks that I used in this test – more than I can say for the rounded Z bar. That pick, on the other hand, has had its flattened ends cut far too thick to fit into any of the keyways that I have here, not to mention being covered in burrs and scratches (NOT serrations! These ones are clearly not intentional) that make it look like it was rushed through in thirty seconds. Being far too thick to fit into any of the keyways, I abandoned it in favour of the flat Z bar for these tests. Note that the rounded Z bars can be done correctly – until recently my favoured tension wrench was a rounded Z bar that came in my GOSO set.

By my measurement, an average Klom pick (I tested a couple of hooks) measures 0.026” (0.66mm).
I also measured the thickness of thas wide rounded Z bar, at the cut down (insertion) point – it came out as 0.049” – vs 0.030” in my reference Sparrows twisted L tension wrench.

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An average hook weighs 4.1g

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
For this set of picking experiments, I shall be using the flat Z wrench and three standard hook sizes. As before, the Master will be picked in hand, whilst the other two shall use the vice.

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Picking times:
First attempt: 22 secs
Second attempt: 7 secs
Third attempt: 4 secs
Average: 11 secs

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Oddly I fared far, far better in this one than with the GOSO set, and the lock actually got easier each time instead of harder. I did pick the lock a few more times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and I did tend to pick the Master No.3 within 20 secs tops. Note that I’m pretty much b*tch-picking these as I haven’t got the hang of feeling pins yet so that may be part of it, however I also feel that my relative success with this set is partly due to the smoother edges on the picks vs the Gosos, and I actually found that the flat Z wrench works really well in this particular locks.

Note that I did find, when making specific effort to feel for pins etc, that my picking times and success did slow down with this lock so maybe it’s just a good set for b*tchpicking – who knows?!

I did mention earlier how the smoother edges of these picks make them nicer to pick with than the GOSOs – and this is true, but that was also written before I had had a chance to properly pick with them, and I’ve since found that the edges do still have a “sharp line” – it’s just much harder to see with the naked eye. After playing around with the Master for the better part of 30 mins I have ended up with several sharp lines across my thumb from picking and it’s now rather sore. So whilst these may be better than the GOSOs for sharp edges, they *are* still there – just not as obvious. The poorly finished edges of the metal cause the same problems when putting a fingertip on the metal part of the pick rather than plastic.

I forgot to mention before, but I mostly used the most shallow hook to pick the Master – I found that anything deeper had trouble fitting under the pins.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
As before, I will be using those three hooks and the slim Z wrench for this pick. Bottom of the keyway tension, same as the Master.

Picking times:
First attempt: 67 secs
Second attempt: 59 secs
Third.....???th attempt: Failed
Nth: 123 secs
Average: 83 secs

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After practicing for a while, and not having much luck, I finally settled on a shallow hook pick and managed to make two respectable timed opens – 67 secs and 59 secs, much better than the ~300secs I was getting with the GOSO set. However a confluence of events then happened including personal life jobs, sore thumbs from the sharp edges of these picks that builds up over time, and general distraction and I made several totally failed attempts (my policy is to give up each attempt after 10 mins (note that resets are not counted and I often do several resets when trying to get a successful pick during a given timed session) to limit inaccurate times due to distraction/frustration etc. I attempted to pick this lock probably 4-5 times, then took a bit of a break. At this point, I returned with a lighter touched and managed 123 secs, still double my average so far but better than the GOSO set.

Note that the increased success re: timings probably have as much to do with learning the lock than the Klom being a better set. I find that the pain left in my thumb due to the edges of these picks is much higher and lasts longer than the GOSOs, even though at first glance they feel a lot softer, and certainly don’t look sharp at first glance / touch:

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Overall, I found this lock much harder to deal with using this set than the Masterlock. It takes some finesse – you can’t just stab randomly in the dark and I had zero luck with a bogota-style. Very light tension is needed to avoid oversetting Pin 2, a pin that seems insistent on getting wedged up in the bible at the slightest provocation. These picks were really giving me nothing, and results seem almost random, thus why it took much longer to get a working result for this one.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
For the Euro cutaway, I found that I had a lot of luck with two of the shallower hooks, along with the flat Z wrench.

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I have to say, even with spools, being able to see the pins set makes things much easier and is a nice break from the somewhat evil (at my skill level) LearnLockPicking practice lock!

Picking times:
First attempt: 18 secs
Second attempt: 13 secs
Third attempt: 16 secs
Average: 15 secs

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Not much to say about this one. The lock popped open FAST, definitely helped by being able to see what I’m doing with the pins and ease up where needed. The square ended hook worked wonders, and combined with the flat Z wrench I had no trouble taking on the Euro cutaway with this set.

8. Overall mini-conclusion

My thoughts and opinions have swayed back and forth whilst reviewing this set. My initial impression with this kit were certainly that it felt cheap and tacky – at just a tad over a tenner the price certainly showed with feather-light handles, poor metal finish (both cosmetically and metallurgically) and with a rather bizarre selection of picks, not to mention the very basic case.

As I started to look at and review the picks, however, I started to enjoy using the flat Z wrench as I had a lot of luck with it especially on the Master No.3, and the edges of the picks felt a lot smoother than the GOSOs. However as I picked more, especially in the more challenging second lock – the LearnLockPicking one, I found that the handle edges, whilst appearing smooth, actually hurt more than the GOSOs over time, and the Z wrench, whilst not bad at what is does, stretched my finger at an awkward angle, making picking more tricky. Of course, the earlier complaints about the strange pick selection, the cheapie handles and the poor finish still stand.

At the end of the day, like the GOSO set, this is really an amazing bargain for the money. Time and time again I read ‘background’ stories about renowned lock pickers talking about how back when they were a kid and really wanted to get into picking, all you could get were terrible sets from spy and magic shops for hundreds of pounds, and the knowledge and information was all very hush-hush. In addition to our modern, Internet-enabled free culture, we have access to relatively well engineered kits for less than the cost of a takeaway and that is really something to be applauded.

Yes – this picks work, they do the job and in the hands of a pro I’m sure you could open a Medeco with these things. That said, they are what they are – a cheapie set for beginners. The discomfort in long term use, the poor finish and the poor selection of picks would lead me to recommend that anybody who starts on these should think about moving on pronto once they have mastered the basics. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that beginners should not start on such cheap sets as they will not likely know how to finish them off, and the awkwardness / discomfort of use may scare off those who don’t know that there are better tools out there.

If you’re extremely strapped for cash, very dubious about whether you want to start lock picking or want a “dad gift” for a birthday or similar event, this set will suffice – they do the job with, at least, the three demo locks that I have set up for this test. Beyond that, I cannot recommend them.


Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 1 (7%)
Pick Finish: 0 (0%)
Pick Quality: 1 (8%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 1(10%)

Final Score: 25 %
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

1. Item full name
SouthOrd C2010 Twenty-Two Piece Slimline Lock Pick Set

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: UKBumpKeys, £37.19

Other Seller: WithoutAKey, £31.99

Other Seller: Walker Locksmiths, £36

3. My Price
I paid £30.00+VAT for this kit back in early 2014.

4. Specifications

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The SouthOrd C2010 lockpick kit consists of 22 all-metal lockpicks/tension wrenches in a small zippered leather/pleather case. The lockpicks are entirely metal (I believe stainless steel) – the handles and pick ends are both made from metal (appears to be the same metal) and are two-part. The pick end appears to be one solid piece of metal that widens out to the full length and width of the handle, and the handle is created by taking two equally-sized pieces of metal and riveting them to the central pick metal:

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Important note: As with all my reviews I will do my best to show the entire kit contents in my photos. However as one of my older sets, some of the picks/tension wrenches from this kit were at times mixed up with other sets. Compounding the difficulty of sorting the original picks is the fact that different websites give different lists of contents – for example, some show a double-prong tension wrench, whereas others show a tweezer-like wrench. I have been able to track down a total of 13 picks (the city rake and a S rake variation remain missing), and 7 tension wrenches (all complete, but missing the “oddball” tension wrench which may have been a double-prong OR a tweezer type, but seem to have accumulated another standard pick from somewhere else).

Whilst my picking reviews will only use a small selection of hooks and a single tension wrench it doesn’t make too much difference but I feel that the full disclosure is important.

List of included picks:

15 picks:
1 City rake (missing from my collection)
1 Single ball
1 Double ball
1 Half diamond
1 Diamond
5 Hook variations, from shallow to deep
1 Offset ball hook thing
1 Bogota
2 S Rake variations
1 wide S rake thingy (missing from my collection)

7 Tension wrenches – selection of standard L type, twisted L, a longer wrench and a double-bend thing.

Plus a leather (or pleather; unsure) carry case.

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

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The case used to hold the Southord C2010 is a very small affair, measuring 6cm wide and 16cm long when zippered. The exact construction material is unknown, however is “leather like”, possible real leather and a couple of reviews that I’ve found on various e-tailers have stated that the case is actual leather. If this is true, it may be an explanation for the smallness of the case – the slots inside aren’t really big enough to hold all the picks, but we’ll get to that.

On the outside, the case is black, leather texture and soft to the touch – it feels nice to hold. “Southord C2010” is embossed on the front lower section of the case, and aside from that the case is plain. The design is a simple closed-book style with a brass YKK zip which travels along three sides to keep the case closed and provide a “spine” (the left hand edge, similar to a book). The zip itself is somewhat scratchy and poor quality, but it does the job.

Upon opening the case you can see three “pockets”, pieces of leather that have been stitched into the inside to form compartments for the picks. One pocket is on the left hand side and travels from the bottom of the case up to around four fifths of the case high. It’s finished with a slant/diagonal and measures 11cm at the deepest end and 10cm at the shallowest. On the right hand side of the case is an identical pocket, but also a third pocket stitched to the front of that one, standing at 6.5 to 8cm.

There are three main problems with these pockets:

Firstly, the tall pockets are as high as 11cm, whereas the picks are around 12. This means that the picks are “swallowed up” by the pocket, making them hard to see and/or retrieve.

Secondly, as there are only three large pockets rather than several single-pick-width pockets, the picks tend to slide side to side and get lost, mixed up and scratched amongst the other picks in the same pocket. Adding several smaller pockets would of course increase the overall size that the case would need to be (as you have to take into account extra stitching and then “pinch space” between the stitch and edge of the pick), so the reasoning for this from a financial standpoint is understandable.

Thirdly, there just isn’t enough space inside this case for all the picks. They are crammed in with double layers, and it just makes the whole thing feel cramped and cheaply thrown together.

In addition, because the inside of the case is made from the same plasticy leather/pleather stuff, which is pretty slidey for fingers and sticky for picks, it’s hard to re-insert picks after use, and hard to get them out when you need them. The stitching is reasonable but by no means anything special, but to be fair shows no signs of fraying or coming apart.

As it’s already tight to fit the existing picks into this case, there is absolutely no room for anything else. It feels like they made a case for an 8 pick set and decided to keep the same design for a 22pc version.

The case does smell of leather (or something similar) and is soft and comfortable to hold. Because it is soft, I don’t worry too much about the picks becoming damaged (aside from scraping against the other picks in the case), and because the case is so small it would be a great hidden EDC kit.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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The Southord C2010 set is the only set that I own that consists of picks without handles. Technically these pick *do* have handles – the pick tip tapers out into a long oval handle shape 8mm wide all the way down, and 79mm long at its longest length (although it tapers at the rounded edges. This handle portion is complemented by two identically sizes pieces of metal that have been riveted to the handle potion using two flush rivet type fixings at the top and bottom of the handle, around 3mm from the ends on both sides:

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The upper and lower handle metal cutouts are all perfectly sized to the central portion and I noticed no over/undersize issues on the handles. The wide edges of the pick are very smooth, although the actual finish could be improved to a more mirror-like polish:

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The thin edges of the handle, as well as all three pieces being the same size, are mostly smooth and certainly free of any “scratchy” edges. Any discomfort caused by holding these picks whilst picking is more to do with the difficulty of gripping such a small handle for long periods of time (over-gripping the handle is a problem), and the general discomfort of holding firmly onto the bare metal. That said, when running your finger gently along the thin edge of the picks, you can feel a general slight roughness – not sharp or scratchy, just a slight bobble from the cutting process, that could be softened up to a mirror-like smoothness if desired. It may be tough to see in photos, and may actually be desirable to prevent the pick from slipping along your fingers as it might with a mirror-like finish.

Due to the fact that the pick end is actually connected to the handle as one single piece of metal, and the add-on handle pieces are riveted directly to the main handle and firmly attached to the metal body, feedback through these picks is very good. With no rubber or plastic handle plus adhesive or other mounting to get between the pick end and the handle, vibrations are carried well through into the fingers.

The picks are each stamped on both sides with the Southord USA logo. This indented stamp is located dead centre on each pick’s handle, starting from around 32mm from the pick-end of the handle and being approx. 15mm long and taking up the majority of the height of the handle at that point. The indent is very shallow and smooth, and when holding the pick you can barely feel that the logo is there.

The rivets in each end of the handle are embedded very smoothly into the metal and cannot be felt whatsoever, even when feeling carefully for them with fingernails.

The picks are made out of some kind of stainless spring steel material, and I suspect that the handle add-on sheets are made of the same material. The pick tips have good flex and return to their original position well even after being under considerable strain. You can however put a slight bend into the metal by over-heavy pressing.

Note that the C series of Southord picks use a thinner metal stock designed for slender European and Japanese keyways. These particular picks measure 0.022” (0.55mm) on the tips and 0.066” (1.67mm) on the handle.

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The pick tips themselves are mostly smooth-ish on the wide edges, and vary between pretty smooth and very scratchy (fingernail test) on the thin edges. This varies from pick to pick and is likely a manufacturing QC/finish issue. The very tip of the picks is pretty smooth.

The variety of hooks is pretty reasonable, with a good range of profiles:

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The range of picks is pretty reasonable – a good selection of hooks, offset ball, diamond, a few rakes inc Bogota style and a couple of balls. Not much there that it likely to never see use – unlike, say, the GOSO 24pc set. The picks themselves feel nice in the hand – they have a good weight to them and feel like they are made from a good quality steel, not cheap and flimsy. When picking, they feel responsive and firm, with good feedback through the handle.

A couple of the hooks seem slightly offset, though this might just be through over-use as this is my oldest set as has been used quite a bit. I’ve not had much luck with these two:

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The set includes a decent range of fairly standard but decent quality tension wrenches – one short standard L, one short standard L with a thinner tapered end, two short twisted standard L (one slightly longer on the bent part than the other), a Z with a tapered end and a short straight end and a long twisted standard L (as well as that odd two bend one):

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Of the two standard L wrenches, the thicker is 2.3mm wide and the thinner is 2.1mm:

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The tension wrenches are around 0.029” (0.75mm) thick.
An average hook weighs 8.6g

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
For picking the Master number 3, I shall be using one of the standard size twisted L wrenches and two hook picks:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 159 secs
Second attempt: 81 secs
Third attempt: 54 secs
Average: 98 secs

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Initial observations of picking on the first attempt: despite successfully picking this padlock with this set many times, one thing that has always remained a problem is that the tension wrenches don’t seem to properly fit into the cylinder, and have a habit of slipping 45° to almost 90° into the keyway cutout, which jams up the core against the lock body and makes the pins “crunchy” or “sticky” – and tough to pick without a lot of pressure. This can lead to greatly elongated picking times. All of the wrenches in the Southord set seem to suffer from this.

Secondary observations – This lock is an odd one. Or maybe my picking skills are the ‘odd one’ For the first 3 attempts on record it was taking me in the order of minutes to pick this lock, including several oversets/resets and tension wrench slipping, despite managing 4-7 seconds with this lock and other sets. After doing these three attempts, I kept going, doing picks ‘on’ and ‘off’ timer – with several averaging 4-10 seconds. I should note that I’m basically stabbing randomly at this point, or ‘b*tch picking’ so never really sure if this counts. The longer times are definitely an effect of carefully paying attention to the pins.

Outside of those oddities, the Southord set is quite pleasant to use, with a fairly good feel through the handle and minimal slippage experienced with other picks. However the edges of the metal handle can be quite harsh on the hands and started to hurt my thumb quite a lot after extended picking. This is especially evident if you’re somewhat heavy handed. I didn’t notice the pick tips getting caught up in the lock warding especially, which is good, but we will put this to the test more during the Euro cylinder test which is a much tighter keyway. The tension wrench, on the other hand, frequently slipped and/or got stuck on the cylinder edge and warding.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
For this test, I ended up using the following picks:

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Important Note: Unlike previous reviews, this version of the LearnLockPicking lock has four pins rather than five – the second pin has been removed. Explanation below.

Picking times:
First attempt: 77 Secs
Second attempt: 16 Secs
Third attempt: 43 Secs
Average: 45 Secs

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Oh boy. I’ve always had *issues* with this lock, but have not usually had trouble getting it open eventually. Today, it was just not playing. I spent about 4 or 5 hours on this, pretty much solidly last night, and got really no-where except for a couple of “lucky” opens but nothing concrete that I could bet a timer on or claim to have competently picked. Half of the issue was tension – tensioning this cylinder tends to bind up the core against the outer shell, something I didn’t realise until later. The other main problem is the second pin, which is an extremely shallow set and tends to overset with the slightest provocation.

Today I did discover a trick around this after a few more hours of practice – the tension wrench needs to sit far higher up the keyway, entirely above the triangular warding point and in fact sit wedged between it and the other side of the cylinder – this allows the core to tension as normal without locking up. However as a side effect, this causes the bottom of the tension wrench to begin pushing on the bottom of the pins and leave much less space to get the pick in. With that super-sensitive second pin, it just wasn’t happening.

Therefore, after hours of practice and deliberation, I decided to remove the second pin and pick this with the new trick, as normal. It still took a lot longer than the others and I’m not entirely sure how this was doable with the GOSO and Klom sets but not this one. Possibly due to the handles on the other sets, or possibly something has become damaged inside the lock (such as a spring acting oddly or that second pin becoming damaged and acting similar to a security pin) – I’m not sure. We’ll see, in future reviews, whether the LearnLockPicking lock’s performance ever comes back to its old standard.

For now though, I’ve learnt a lot about these Southord picks due to this experience and it’s an experience that I may not have gotten if picking had been smooth sailing. Through hours of practice, I’ve discovered two things: Firstly, heavy handed picking or pressing your thumb against the edge of the picks can cause a LOT of pain, especially the next day, and I’d say that handles are much more important than I would have rated them before.

Secondly, also related to heavy handed picking, these picks can bend rather easily:

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That’s the result of just a few hours working on this one lock. Of course, similar issues may exist with the other sets that would not be known if their picking attempts are much faster, but it’s worth bearing in mind that at least with the SouthOrd C2010 set, these do bend fairly easily. This could also be to do with them being the thinner metal version for Euro profile cylinders.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
I continue to use the same picks from before, along with the standard twisted L tension wrench.

Picking times:
First attempt: 65 secs
Second attempt: 31 secs
Third attempt: 16 secs
Average: 37 secs

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Surprisingly after the hassle that I had with the LLP cylinder, this one was a relative doddle. That said, I found that the tension wrench that I’m using with this kit tends to slip a lot – it was the main problem trying to pick the LLP, and it’s also an issue here too, falling down into the keyway as I ease back on tension to allow the spools to set. It does seem to make what would otherwise be an easy-ish job unnecessarily hard! I tried positioning the wrench facing “away” and “towards” to pick CW and CCW (the Euro cylinder is mounted in the vice with the bible facing down), as well as TOK tension and found that it tended to slip either way when doing BOK and the L curve is too long for TOK to work effectively without slipping out.

When I doggedly kept trying to keep the wrench at the proper position at the bottom of the keyway (top from my perspective, facing away) I found that it’d just slip after the first or second spool, and I’d lose my set pins -and- still have to deal with the wrench in the wrong position – slipped to around 45° lower than it should be, ½ way down the keyway and almost covering the pins entrance. However once I “accepted” the wrong position of the wrench (and learned to work around its inconvenient positioning) in conjunction with my prior knowledge about getting around the Yale-style warding (and “rotating” rather than pushing on pins) my picking became a lot faster. For my first attempt, I started trying to keep the wrench in the correct position and then resetting when it dropped – in the later two, I started in the “wrong” position. The results speak for themselves.

For this lock, I found the picks to be very agreeable – not too much force needed to set the pins and so didn’t end up with painful thumbs or anything like that. The shallow hook worked great to set these two security pins and the rest popped into place. Smooth sailing then, with this lock!

8. Overall mini-conclusion

The Southord C2010 set is a good pick set, no doubt about it. With a sleek presentation, high quality cut and finish, good selection of reasonably-chosen useful picks with decent angles / dimensions and a nice sturdy-but-compact case to keep them in, not to mention a great price, this set is a surefire winner for beginners and intermediate pickers. At the same time, I’m reticent to recommend them to all people in all situations.

Firstly, they are Euro sized picks. This means that they are thinner than average – perfect for us Brits and other European lock pickers keen to use these on our narrow Yale-style keyways, however that thin pick stock comes at a cost – these picks are fairly easy to bend, and I’d worry that they would break under too much use.

The other bugbear for me are the handles – or more specifically the lack of. I didn’t realise that this would be such an issue until I spent hours trying to crack the LearnLockPicking lock and found out firsthand how uncomfortable these can be after a long period of use, or after heavy use. You can get aftermarket handles for these, by the way, but at that point you might be better off just looking to a better set to start with.

The tension wrenches, while passable, also leave a lot to be desired. I found that the standard twisted L wrench kept slipping in both the LearnLockPicking and cutaway Euro cylinder, and the wrench with a tapered end fared even worse. At the end of the day, I believe that the lack of a properly fitting tension wrench was responsible for a lot of the issues that I was having. That said, they do include a good range of wrenches so it’s nice that they are clearly thinking about the range of situations and tension needs that a user may have.

Overall, I feel that this set has a hearty core of decent substance (well engineered pick tip shapes, smoothly cut and finished metal and a solid feedback response) packaged in a sleek and eye-friendly case and mirror finish which will look the part for any picker-to-be, and offers good performance especially for the price. I do feel that the set was, however, let down by the lack of comfortable handles (although I acknowledge that some will consider this a “plus”) and overall resilience of the pick metal itself.

This pick set is popular, and with good reason. If you want a solid, well built pick set with a range of actually useful picks and sold for a very reasonable price, you could do far worse than the Southord C2010.


Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 1 (7%)
Pick Finish: 2 (20%)
Pick Quality: 2 (12%)*
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 2(22%)

Final Score: 61 %


* Note that although “Pick Quality” got a rank of 2, I assigned this a custom percentage of 12% rather than the standard at this level of 20%. This is because although the picks are functional and do feel good to use, they are physically uncomfortable after long or heavy use due to not having handles, and also they bend easily under pressure. However I don’t believe that they qualify under the rank 1 description “Poor quality, barely passable for use in picking”, hence the custom score.
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:41 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

1. Item full name
Sparrows – The Monstrum XXL

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: UK Lock Pickers, £99.99

Other Seller: Sparrows, $139.00

3. My Price
Including shipping, I paid £103.99 for these from UK Lockpickers back in Nov 2015. It’s currently the same price (£99.99 plus shipping).

4. Specifications

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The Sparrows set “Monstrum XXL” is really two sets rolled into one. This set includes both the Sparrows Monstrum set, combined with the Wizwazzle set. Included in the set are 21 picks and 22 tension wrenches. All the picks are made from 301 Cold Max stainless steel, and the tension wrenches are also make from steel (all respond to a magnet). The picks all have plastic dip handles (except for the large Octo-rake, which is an oversized worm-style rake which has no handle covering and is laser-engraved on the handle) and the pick metal goes all the way to the bottom of the plastic dipped handles (as confirmed by magnet). All of the picks are included in a custom-designed fabric zippered case with two opening flaps.

List of included picks:

21 picks:
Snake rake
Twin Peak Rake
Worm Rake
Triple Rake
Small Half Diamond
Steep Hook
Offset Hybrid
Standard Short Hook
City Rake
Shallow Euro Hook
High Reach Hook
5x Various depth hooks
2x Falle-safe style curved picks
2x Kinda... Blobby-ended picks. I dunno what to call these
Octo-Rake

22 Tension Wrenches:
3x Long standard L type
3x Short standard L type
3x Long twisted L type
3x Short twisted L type
3x Short/Long ended Z type (straight)
3x Short/Long ended Z type (Twisted)
1x Square-edged Prybar
1x Rounded Prybar
2x Prybars with serrated edges (Peterson style)

Each set of three tends to have a narrower one, or one with a tapered end.

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

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These Sparrows picks are packaged in a custom Sparrows case. As this set is technically two sets combined, I expected to see the picks all crammed into every nook and cranny, with the implication being that the case was designed for a smaller set (maybe the regular Monstrum) and had extra picks crammed in – I’m glad to report that this isn’t the case.

The case is made from a fabric material and is “book style”, with a front/back cover and unzipping along the edge, like all the other sets so far. Inside the case two more full-width “leaves” fold across from the sides and store more picks.

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The case design is apparently from Kryptek and is the Typhon Camouflage pattern, which has been printed on Sparrows “Sherman” case. The front and back are semi-hard but flexible, possibly with some kind of card inserted between the fabric. The zipper is pretty heavy duty and the zipper tag is fairly long, making it easy to grab. Due to the rigidity of the case I’ve not had any issues with fabric sag when trying to pull the zipper closed from an angle, nor any issues with picks getting stuck in the opening, however the high sides (relative to the zipper/edges) sometimes makes it tricky to locate and grasp the zip end from inside the side well.

The front of the case also has a rubber plate with the Sparrows logo stitched to the case front. The colour and style of the badge works well with the case fabric, and the entire colour scheme is muted, which would be a boon for those on covert operations.

Inside the case, you’re first greeted with the closed sides of two fold-out leaves, which each are made from a single “backing” sheet, the size of one half of the wallet, and a second smaller sheet, roughly 60% of the height of the back one and the same width. The smaller piece is stitched to the back and stitched down the middle in two places to create three pockets of roughly equal size. Thus, the immediate front section of the set has a total of six pockets which each store two or three picks. Folding these two flaps back, you find that the rear of each flap also has pockets stitched into them – the left hand side is stitched as one large pocket, and the right side has two pockets. On the back way of the set, a piece of material about half the height of the wallet has been fitted all the way across, stitched forming three smaller pockets on the left and two larger ones on the right, and then on the left hand side another set of pockets have been stitched in front of that, adding a further three pockets. As well as this, the section of material between the rear left and right sides is stitched as a pocket in the hinge and this can also be used, resulting in a total of a massive 18 pockets for picks in total – more than enough for all the picks that have been included, and there’s even space to add more of your own, if you wish.

The case material feels tough and hardwearing – I’m sure it wouldn’t have many issues out “in the field”. The pockets, whilst very simple, are well designed and keep the picks held in well without making them TOO tight or tough to remove. My only complaint is that, due to the fabric choice and simple pocket design, multiple picks in one pocket tend to slide and cross over each other. Of course, since the default setup with this case is only around 2-3 picks per pocket that’s not too much of an issue (and you’ll likely remove any un-needed tension wrenches if you’re carrying this around as a on-the-go case anyway), but it’s something to be aware of if you plan to add extra picks to the admittedly spacious case.

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6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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These Sparrows picks have a very simple design, which is definitely a case of substance over styly in this case, although these picks do have a somewhat understated clandestine feel about them. The picks are, on average, approx 12cm long (including the little nub at the end of the handle, which we’ll get to in a minute), of which around 3.5cm to 4cm is the pick tip. The handle is a simple rubberised plastic dip over the pick handle itself, and extends from some point in the pick tip (around 1cm or so before the start of the handle) and continues throughout the handle section to the very end.

Most of the rubberised handles come to a nipple-like tip, which seems to be a drip point where the liquid coating was dripping from the bottom of the handle, and cooled. This is longer on some picks than others, with no real uniformity, and on one pick it has been visibly cut off (the rounded drip starts and then immediately squares off, rather than coming to a natural rounded point), indicating that the drip was probably just too long on that one.

I’m happy to report that the metal pick handle does indeed run the full length of the rubberised handle, as is evidenced with a magnet. This gives the picks a good flexible rigidity and feedback – although considering the choice of handle, a full length pick was a necessity as I very much doubt they’d have been able to make the plastic dip fit such a straight and moulded shape without a handle below!

The coating itself is somewhat mottled and pitted on a micro scale, and feels smooth and springy to the touch whilst also maintaining a very good grip. The picks feel very nice to hold and – spoiler alert – are probably my favourite picks to hold from all the ones that I have so far. The handle has no marking or branding on it whatsoever, in fact the picks themselves are extremely discreet both in terms of branding and “flashiness”. Due to the soft-touch nature of the coating, it’s possible to put a decent amount of force behind the pick, or hold it tightly, without causing pain or discomfort.

The metal tip is a dirty brassy colour with lots of irregularities in shade, and protrudes immediately from the end of the plastic dip coating.

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The pick tips themselves come in a decent range of useful as well as exotic shapes, and do their job as intended reasonable well in my amateur hands. The finish is pretty nice, with minimal physical distortions or cutting “wibbles” – they’re all pretty smooth, except for the colouration. Inside the lock, the picks feel fairly smooth and – again, in my untrained hands – do feel “nice” against the pins.

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The metal is moderately bendy and doesn’t bend out of shape easily, but at the same time does not feel brittle to me and I do feel that these could withstand a pretty decent amount of wear and tear.
A typical pick measures around 0.024” (0.61mm) thick. The handles – whilst hard to measure as the dip coating bends quite a lot – are approx. 0.153” (3.88mm) thick. The handles are around 0.387” (9.84mm) wide, but this can vary somewhat amongst the various picks and even a small amount within a single pick.

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There is a good range of pick tips – hooks of various depths, Peterson Gem style picks, Falle-Safe style picks, a diamond and offset diamond, rakes and a Bogota-style, etc. There are indeed a few more exotic shapes which I think will get little use, but that’s always the nature of the beast when buying a big set. As Sparrows likes to mention, there are no repetitions or garbage here, just some picks that are less likely to get picked than others.

The picks in general feel of a good quality, weighty and substantial without being burdensome or having that feeling of weight-without-quality. The steel is pretty responsive and even with my lack of the ‘feel’ for picking, I can sense the pins moving well with these picks. My main complaint would be that the sensations are likely dulled by the rubberised coating, which is surely absorbing some of the micro vibrations from the picks.

The range of tension wrenches is astounding, and there’s nothing really “useless” there – the closest to that category would probably be the pry bars, which are a bit pants to be honest – at least the squared one and the non-serrated regular one. I also wouldn’t find much use for the twisted Z wrenches but there may be some who like them.

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The selection of wrenches includes three of each type – partly, I assume, in case of loss, bending or breakages, but also because at least one of each three is usually a “thinner” version or has a tapered end. The groups include long and short variants of the normal L wrenches and twisted L wrenches (so that the handle sits comfortably against the finger when picking), as well as some Z and twisted Z wrenches (a long and a short end on both sides of the pick) and some pry bars. All of these are useful and serve a purpose, although I’d find myself mostly using the short, twisted L wrenches.

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The prybars are an interesting choice – being one of the few effective methods of applying TOK (top of the keyway tension), which is vital for some locks, you’d think that more manufacturers would include these as standard. In fact (off the top of my head and without checking – I may be wrong) the other only set which I own to include these is the Petersons. This set includes four pry bars, and there are three variations – one is square and flat like a side-on Z wrench, with one stepped and serrated side and one straight side, the second is rounded overall but straight on both edges with a long and short edge, and the final two are the closest to the “original” Petersons – rounded with stepped, serrated ends on both sides.

The regular wrenches measure about 0.031” (0.79mm) thick, and the pry-bars around 0.024” (0.63mm)

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An average hook weighs 4.9g

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
For picking the Master number 3, I shall be using a shallow hook and small twisted L tension wrench:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 6 secs
Second attempt: 15 secs
Third attempt: 48 secs
Average: 23 secs

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One thing that stands out to me after this series of picks is that despite being wrapped in a sort-touch plastic dip, the edges of the pick still cause pain to fingers over time. You’ll notice that my picking times get longer each time – whilst this is likely due in some part to luck and b*tch-picking, the edges of the pick steadily wore on my thumb as time went on and even now after stopping picking for a few minutes my thumb still feels slightly sore. Of course, any thicker or rounder handles will necessarily lose some of the feedback, so it’s always a compromise of comfort vs feel.

Onto the actual picking front, the pick fit inside the keyway well and with a good amount of play available. The pick tip felt fairly smooth on the pins (although the Master No.3 that I have has fairly scratchy/gunky pins anyway). The feedback was decent and I was able to get a good feel for the pins whilst picking them. The picks themselves are light enough to manipulate easily but still feel solid in your hand.

I consider the first picks, at 6 seconds, a bit of a lucky fluke. That said, I find that with these picks, when I pick up the lock “fresh” after a few hours away, I can pick it in seconds, and the longer I practice re-locking and re-picking it, the longer I seem to take. This may be in part because of the discomfort from holding the picks for too long, but this is far from an issue specific to these picks. Overall I found that the Master No.3 lock picked quickly (as it should) and with little fuss.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
For this test, I used both a narrow and deep hook and standard short L twisted wrench:

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As with the SouthOrd C2010 review, I spent several hours working on the 5-pin LearnLockPicking cylinder (admittedly it has been several months since I last wrote a mini-review), and got absolutely nowhere with this lock, with not even a single open despite switching between several tension wrenches and picks. My hypothesis is that the extremely low-setting second pin, which has a habit of becoming overset very easily, combined with the awkward tensioning angles and possibly wear on the cylinder has made it near impossible for me to do this as originally intended. Thus, like the last review, I have removed the second pin from this cylinder turning it into a 4-pin standard cylinder and my timings and notes for this lock will be based on those statistics.

Picking times:
First attempt: 111 secs
Second attempt: 34 secs
Third attempt: 247 secs
Average: 130 secs

Despite the issues that I had getting this lock to respond, I felt that the response from the pins through the picks was rather good. Although I’m not adept at sensing it or knowing how to respond, I get the sense that there’s a lot of “information” being passed through the pick that a more skilled picker could use to their advantage. Note though that the picks are susceptible to the same discomfort-over-time as all the other picks that I’ve tried so far, and after a few hours with the 5-pin LLP lock I found that my thumbs were quite sore and had visible “picking lines”. That said, it’s definitely one of the more comfortable picks overall so far.

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Despite quite a bit of time put mainly into two picks during this initial breaking in stage, I’ve not noticed any bending or deformation in the picks. It seems that my thumb has taken most of the wear and tear! They seem like they’ll stand up to a decent amount of abuse and plenty of light handed picking. The anti-slip rubberised coating is especially welcome and I didn’t find the picks slipping or moving out of place even once during my time working on this lock.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
I’ll be using the same two picks and tension wrench to pick this lock as with the LLP lock.

Picking times:
First attempt: 14 secs
Second attempt: 11 secs
Third attempt: 10 secs
Average: 11 secs

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I had no problems with the Euro cutaway as usual, the picks didn’t cause my fingers any issues this time either. I got great feedback from the spools and the springyness of the picks helped to get the spools pushed down properly. The only problem that I had with this cylinder is that none of the L wrenches seemed to sit properly in the warding, slipping from side to side and at an angle when the plug turned slightly. I believe that was an issue in past reviews too, so I don’t think it’s a failing with this specific tension wrench.

8. Overall mini-conclusion

Of all the pick sets that I’ve tried so far, this one has to be my favourite in most respects. The case is solid and well designed with pockets that don’t cause pick slippage or make it difficult to remove the picks. There is a good range of pick ends and the picks themselves are made from a solid, springy steel not prone to warping or bending. The metal finish is good and the pick metal travels through the entire length of the handle. The plastic dipped handle material is soft and springy, anti-slip yet smooth enough not to cause discomfort and generally pleasant to handle.

On the downsides, the picks can cause significant finger pain when used for longer periods of time, but this is likely due to my technique, overzealous grip or incorrect holding angle. The set also isn’t cheap at around £100 ($150 or so), but for a large collection such as this that can be forgiven.

Sparrows mention that since this set contains many exotic pick types, it is not suitable for beginners. Indeed, many of the pick tips may go unused especially for a beginner, but I personally believe that the range of shallow/deep hooks and diamond would make for a solid foundation picking set, even if the set as a whole is probably overkill as a beginner’s set. For a collector or anyone who wants to hit the ground running with a comprehensive set of high quality, sturdy picks that will grow with them, the Sparrows Monstrum XXL is an excellent choice.

Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 3 (20%)
Pick Finish: 2 (20%)
Pick Quality: 2 (20%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 1 (10%)
Overall: 3(30%)

Final Score: 90 % *

* Whilst the percentages above technically add up to 100%, I decided to deduct 10% for the fact that this isn’t really a beginner’s set – as such, some of the beginner’s pick staples are missing and for £100, that shouldn’t really happen. Comfort over long term use can be dubious depending on the user, and the price point is also somewhat of a nitpick. Whilst none of these issues technically have their own category nor do I feel that deducting from any of the given categories seems appropriate, I did want to address these small shortcomings. 100% is an incredible feat and I feel that only a pick set that goes above and beyond should achieve this rating – hence the deduction.
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:41 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

1. Item full name
Peterson Just Picks Euro Slenders

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: Peterson, $70

Other Seller: LockPickShop, $74.95

Other Seller: LockpicksAustralia, £ 109.95

3. My Price
I got my set directly from Peterson for $70 back in November 2015.

4. Specifications

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Peterson’s “Just Picks” set “does what it says on the tin” – the picks are supplied in a rectangular box just big enough for the picks themselves, and no case or additional tension wrenches etc are included – just the picks.

The Euro Slenders set is a collection of 10 picks similar to their Stainless Slenders set, except that the pick metal is a thinner than the Stainless Slenders version, made for narrower European keyways. The Euro Slenders set also includes twice the number of picks – extra hooks and rakes are included and the Euro Slenders kit can be used as a complete pick set except for the lack of tension wrenches.

Included in the Euro Slenders kit are:

3x Bogota style rakes in three depths/thicknesses
1x Snake rake
1x Diamond
1x City rake
1x Standard hook
1x Shallow hook
1x Peterson Gem
1x Reach hook

These picks are made from 0.018” Government Steel and embedded in a purple plastic handle.

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

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As per the name of this set “Just Picks”, this collection does not include a proper case. The picks do, however, come with a small rectangular plastic box just big enough to keep all of the picks in. It’s made from two pieces – a larger outer piece and a smaller inner piece, and the outer piece is just slightly shorter but wider than the inner one. The inner section has bumps all the way down the corners of two of the sides and the outer section has a bump in all four bottom corners that click into each bump on the two inner grooved corners and provide tactile feedback when closing the case, and act as stoppers to hole the case closed.

The box is relatively thick and sturdy, and acts as a good way to store the picks permanently if you don’t wish to migrate them over to a “proper” case – especially for a non-travelling desk setting, the supplied box is more than adequate, although I’d worry about possibly damage from the picks all rattling and crashing together in transit both when the item is posted to you and for yourself if you use this an as on-the-go set. In that case, it’d be wise to migrate these over to a proper case asap.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

As previously mentioned, this set includes ten picks of various types. The picks average around 12cm long, of which approx 8cm is the handle. The picks measure approx 0.48” (12.2mm) on the handle and 0.08” (2.1mm) wide on the top, and a average steel thickness of 0.018” (0.48mm).

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The pick tips all “widen out” to around 3.5mm just before they reach the handle (around 3.6mm away). The handles are elongated ovals with a rounded edge on both ends that starts seamlessly from where the pick tip ends, with only minor moulding artefacts in that region. Around 5mm into the handle from the pick end if a small indent into the normal handle texturing, approx the same distance from the end of the pick as the other end of this indent is from the hole (see below). I have been unable to ascertain the purpose of this indent as it is not deep enough to be a pick tip rivet point.

A round hole, approx 2mm wide which extends through the entire depth of the pick starts approx 1cm from the pick tip end and approx 5mm from the end of the indent noted above – this seems to be where the pick tip is terminated and fixed in, as a magnet test shows that the metal stops around the point of this fixing hole. This means that the entire handle (except for around 1cm on the end) is purely plastic.

The sides of the pick are also rounded and feature very fine moulding marks, which are visible but offer no tactile resistance whatsoever even to the fingernail, so I do not foresee them causing discomfort like the GOSO picks.

The two flat edges of the pick are textured with a crosshatch pattern and stamped with lettering on both sides. On one side, a flattened oval recess is cut into the hatching (at the height of the bottom of the hatching) with the word “PETERSON” stamped further into that. The working recess starts approx. 2.6cm from each end of the handle, and is approx. 2.9cm long in total.

On the reverse side, a double-width recess (really two separate smaller oval recesses, joined together) is indented into the pick handle. The upper part, significantly longer at around 5.1cm, is stamped with “WWW.PETERSON-INTERNATIONAL.COM”. The lower recess, measuring around 2cm long (both parts centrally aligned) is stamped with “MADE IN RSA”. My first thought was to laugh about the typo (clearly meant to be “USA”) and make some jokes about that, however whilst I believe that Peterson is indeed a US company with US manufacturing, note that RSA could also be the Republic of South Africa – so I’ll hold back on snarky comments for now in case I am proven incorrect :). This did appear on all of the handles.

Edit: While researching for me next review I did notice that the Pick sets page on Peterson does say “Peterson picks are MADE IN THE USA”, and all the picks in the next set are stamped “Made in USA” – so I do believe that this RSA thing is actually a typo :).

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Note that the PETERSON stamped side is not stamped regular with respect to the orientation of the pick – on some picks the tip if facing left when the PETERSON lettering is the right way up, and on other picks it is facing right. Likewise, the PETERSON lettering is not oriented relative to the lettering on the back of the pick – sometimes the two are the same way up, and sometimes they are upside-down from each other. Clearly however these picks are put together involves assembling two handle parts onto the pick tip in a fashion that is not co-ordinated or matching on a pick-to-pick bases. Obviously this isn’t a critical failing with respect to the functionality of the pick, but it’s unfortunate to see especially in this “premium” pick category.

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In terms of pick construction, the picks feel light (at around 4.8g to 5.08g each) but well made. The crosshatched design on the handles make them ‘rough’ and non-slip, but they are also smooth-topped nodules and are not rough in an uncomfortable, unfinished or sandpaper-like way. The handles are firm and do not respond to bending pressure at all – they are quite stiff. The metal itself is extremely bendy and flexible (as you’d expect from “thinner” Euro-style picks) but is relatively springy, although they will take a bend given too much pressure. The finish is cosmetically very good, with all of the tips appearing a consistent shade of silver and bearing no significant manufacturing defects. The metal itself is almost shiny and crystal-like under a halogen light.

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The depth of the pick does experience small variations in width/length/whatever you want to call it (holding the pick with the wide side facing you, I’m talking about the distance from the thin-edge back of the pick tip to the thin-edge front of the pick tip), aside from the expected gradual decrease in depth from the pick handle through to the tip. In addition, the thin edges of the pick tips do occasionally encounter “wobbling” from the laser cutting (?) process. However the metal here is generally very smooth and does not exhibit a “scratchyness” to the fingernails as seen on some other picks:

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My initial impression, before actually picking with these is that they feel comfortable to hold and to pick with for a reasonable amount of time. The plastic is firm yet comfortable to hold; the surface of the handle sides is grippy yet not uncomfortably rough. If my experiences change during picking I will write my follow up to this initial impression here; otherwise you can assume that it holds true. The picks feel of good quality physically, although the QA fit-and-finish leaves a little to be desired on the handle printing and pick finish front. The range of picks is very good although not what I’d especially call a beginner’s set – hook and Peterson Gem variants are included but not enough, especially on the hook front, and instead five rakes (including three nearly identical Bogota-style rakes) are included where surely a better range of hooks would have suited better. Therefore I can assume this is meant to be more of an add-on set for existing pickers rather than a beginner’s set – the lack of a case and obviously the Peterson price point backs this up to some degree.

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
I had to experiment with a few picks and tension wrenches before settling on one set for this first pick. Since the set being reviewed did not come with any tension wrenches, my default was to select a standard size twisted L wrench from the Southord Max set as specified in my original layout doc. However due to slippage issues within the keyway I was unable to pick the Master No.3 after some time with any Southord Max tension wrench and these picks. I also cycled between many of the “single” picks in this review set and none of them really worked. I subsequently started testing wrenches from my (later to be reviewed) Peterson set, including top-of-the-keyway prybars and serrated L wrenches, and have settled on the smaller serrated L from that set and a short hook from this set being reviewed:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 4 secs
Second attempt: 19 secs
Third attempt: 20 secs
Average: 14 secs

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As the picking process (both in practicing and the actual timed picks) was so fast with the selected pick and tension wrench, I didn’t get much time to observe the nuances of picking with this pick. However, obviously the speed of picking (once I found the right tension wrench and pick combo) is testament to the ease of picking with this pick. Whilst I found that the deeper hook was too “harsh” (both in terms of the angle of the hook and the sharpness of its edges) to get under the pins, this flatter, shallower hook worked wonderfully for jiggling the pins into position. In my initial quest to find the right pick I did spend quite some time attempting to pick with several of these Peterson Euro Slenders picks and found them to be quite comfortable for long term use.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
For this cylinder I decided to stick with the short hook and Peterson serrated L wrench as detailed above.

As with the previous two reviews, I spent quite a bit of time with this cylinder and 5 pin stacks pinned up, with no success. The second pin always oversets, and it does seem to be the first binder, but is next to impossible to just set and not overset. When using deeper hooks to try and get past it to pick later pins, I can never get the hook under the backmost very deep pin, and I think some wear either to the pin, spring or pin stack chamber itself for pin 2 is contributing to its hair-trigger nature. To that end, I’ve again downgraded this cylinder to a 4-pin one and will pick all future sets using this modified 4 pin system. I realise that make the initial pick sets incomparable to these later sets, at least for the LLP timings and to a lesser degree therefore the overall score, but hopefully these “failed” statistics can be but a small point in an overall much larger picture where is concerns the review for the pick set in general. I will be sure to note this modification in future sets as well, for those who have not read every single review (the point of keeping these “modular” is that hopefully it will serve as a useful guide for those looking for a review on a specific set that they are looking to buy) and may not be aware of this change.

Disclaimers aside, let’s go!

Picking times:
First attempt: 23 secs
Second attempt: 110 secs
Third attempt: 42 secs
Average: 58 secs

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I found wildly different success rates and times this time, with this lock. I suspect that the first time I was more “in the zone” having just been testing this lock, and then I took a short break before the second test which may have messed up my technique which had become attuned to this lock. I was probably “b*tch picking” more on my second attempt – this is definitely one lock where slow and methodical wins the race – it will not succumb easily to random jabbing away.

Either way, I found that the pick was extremely responsive, helped by the overall lightness and rigid flexibility of the steel. I didn’t find that the lack of pick steel in the handle hampered the feel and clickyness too much, and the thinner stock used definitely helps to get in-between the warding.

Despite the time spent finding a correct pick in initial testing and also despite my more heavy-handed approach to picking in general, as well as the time experimenting with the 5th pin in this LLP lock, I’ve not noticed any bending or deformity in the tip of the pick that I’m using, which is good news! Whilst I’d not say that the pick tip “glides” over the pins, the response is very good and that combined with the thinner steel definitely led to me using less force than I may otherwise have needed to. I’ve also been trying to ease up on pressure on the tension wrench, which this pick handily facilitates with due to its springy feedback.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
Practically speaking, it didn’t actually make too much difference in tests (vs. The pick used for the last two locks), but I decided to change things up a bit and go with the more hook-like of the picks provided in this set, the deep hook, along with the same tension wrench:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 27 secs
Second attempt: 21 secs
Third attempt: 26 secs
Average: 24 secs

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I feel that the original pick may have actually been better for this lock, since the deeper pick kept oversetting pins. Luckily with the cutaway I could see when to release tension, and the cutaway nature of the pin stacks helped to pin them in place, but even so, I feel that this pick operation could have gone faster than it did.

That said, I did get good feedback from the pick as with the other locks and again, the thinner metal helped get around those tight Euro keyway wardings. That said, I did end up with a bent pick at the end of it all:

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I assume that’s mostly due to over-pressure on the last (Euro) lock, and I suppose it’s not the bigget failing considering the stress that it was put under – however I do feel that we should expect better from premium picks. I did manage to bend it (more or less) back into place but obviously due to metal fatigue there’s only some many times you can do that before it loses structural integrity and snaps...

8. Overall mini-conclusion

Overall, I really liked this set. The picks are lightweight, sturdy and give great feedback despite the lack of metal in the handle. The handles are especially comfortable and “grippy” and didn’t cause any of the finger or hand pain caused by other picks. The steel looks nice, is solid and springy, and –just works-.

That said, this set is definitely not without criticism – the ease at which the metal seems to bend under stress, the questionable choice of pick types (this may not be applicable to you depending on whether you’re looking for a starter set or supplemental set), the lack of a case (see text in parentheses above), and the lettering QA issues on the handle are all *issues*, some definitely less important or relevant than others, but all issues nonetheless. Some of these may seem like nitpicks, but we have to judge a set relative both to its (price-matched) competition and compared to the price they’re charging in general. A premium produce should have a premium quality and whilst this Peterson set is a really nice pick set – exceptional in many ways – it does fall short of the premium quality you’d expect from the premium price tag.

That said, I’m not sure I’d say I’ve had the best *picking* experience with these picks so far, but it’s definitely one of the most comfortable – right up there with the Sparrows, and probably even above those ones due to the lack of thumb pain even after long picking periods. If it’s sheer comfort and feedback you’re going for, and you can forgive this set’s foibles, it’s definitely worthy of your consideration.

Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 0 (0%)
Pick Finish: 2 (20%)
Pick Quality: 2 (20%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 2(22%)

Final Score: 62 %
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:41 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

1. Item full name
Peterson Phoenix Ultimate GSP Pick Set

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: Peterson, $249

Other Seller: Lock Pick Shop, $274.95

3. My Price
As with the Peterson Euro set, I got this directly from Peterson for $249.

4. Specifications
The Peterson pick sets are grouped broadly into overarching categories – Phoenix (with narrower, more Euro-friendly profiles and generally high quality picks), their GSP range (Government Steel Picks), A Rubber handle range, etc. Within these categories the sets seem to mostly increase quantity of picks, sometimes swapping out lesser-used picks for other, more useful ones. In this way the Phoenix Ultimate is the top tier Phoenix set, incorporating picks from the silver, gold and platinum sets whilst thinning down and focussing the set towards the most useful picks. At least, that’s the impression that I have!

Whilst actual individual pick details are hard to come by direct from Peterson, after counting I can tell you that this set includes 27* picks and 9 tension wrenches. Assuming that I haven’t mis-placed anything since buying this kit, that’s what you get with this specific set.

* (Technically one of those 27 picks listed is a broken key extractor. There is also a bypass tool included which I have counted under that “27 picks” number – however as this article will be cross posted to several forums, some of which do not allow discussion of bypass tools, I have removed this tool from my kit and will not be photographing or discussing it in this review)

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The picks are constructed from Peterson’s Government Steel (the same as the Euro Slenders in the last review), and the handles are made from plastic. Like the Euro Slenders set, the pick steel does NOT travel the full length of the handle, instead terminating around 1cm into the top of the handle.

Pick contents:

Blue handle (Euro style - 0.015” / 0.39mm)
Worm rake
Diamond pick
Peterson Gem
Reach tool
Standard hook
City rake
Deep/rounded hook
Broken Key Extractor tool

Black handle (Standard thickness – 0.025” / 0.64mm)
Diamond pick
Worm rake
Peterson Gem
Reach tool
Deforest diamond-style
3x various Fine City rakes
W rake
Very slight rounded hook
Slightly deeper rounded hook
Deeper rounded hook
Deep hook
Shallow Peterson Gem
City rake
Broken Key Extractor (rod)

Red handle (DCAP – Deep Cut Access Pick)
Diamond pick
Short rounded hook
Snake rake

Tension wrench contents:
7x Prybars in various thicknesses and rounded or square profile
2x Serrated L type wrenches

All of this is included in Peterson’s standard leather G-3 Tri-fold case.

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

As previously mentioned, the case supplied with this kit is Peterson’s own G-3 Tri-fold case. It is made entirely from calf skin leather and allows for a very large number of picks to be stored.

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Starting from the front, the case is quietly unassuming, with no logos or fancy designs on either the front or back. The stitching is visible and a simple wrap-around leather arm with Velcro holds the case closed. Aside from the crackular leather pattern the case outside is more or less featureless and is open on the top and bottom.

Unzipping the Velcro, first the far right side of the case unfolds backwards and then the left hand side, previously held closed simply by being tucked into the case, can fold out left. In this way, this case is almost like a tool roll rather than a case, although it does have three rectangular clearly defined “sides”. All pockets are located on the inside of the case, such that when fully unfolded one side (the “back”) is completely blank and featureless (except for the Velcro fastening) and the other side (the inside) is filled with pockets.

Fully unfolded, a flap of leather has been stitched to the top of the case to provide protection for the pick tips and to stop the picks from falling out. This upper flap is stitched to the top of the case only and can be folded back to get at the picks. The left hand side of the flap is stamped with golden metallic text reading “WWW.THINKPETERSON.COM” on the top line and their phone number, “585-264-1199” on the second line. The middle flap is blank, and the right hand flap is stamped with the “Peterson Locksmith Tools” logo in the same golden metallic font.

The case measures approx 15.3cm high, of which the flap takes up 4.7cm and the highest pocket takes up 7.6cm, leaving roughly 2.9cm of “gap” between the bottom of the flap and the top of the pocket. The entire case is around 29cm long, made up of (from left to right) 9cm, 10cm, and 10cm sides (roughly equal). All three sides have two layers of pockets – the rearmost, larger ones taking up around half (7.6cm of 15.3cm) of the height of the case, and a second layer of pockets stitched in front of the rear ones, only about 6mm shorter than the larger ones. On my case, the pockets were stitched as such: on the back layer, starting from the left: four small pockets and one tiny pocket (left side), one small pocket, one very large pocket (taking up 95% of the middle section), and another tiny pocket (middle side), and finally one small pocket and then two large pockets, taking up the entire right hand side. For the front pockets, we have four equal size pockets on every side. This adds up to a total of 23 pockets of varying sizes between around the width of a thin tension wrench (5-6mm of usable space) through to the rear middle pocket taking up the entire width of the middle section – around 77mm of usable space.

The pockets themselves are heavy duty and well stitched, which is good because they are extremely tight for the picks that are in them, ESPECIALLY for the tension wrenches which often require a good jiggling and yanking around to get out of the case. I count this as a positive though, because when combined with the upper flap this all but guarantees that your picks won’t fall out and get lost, or clang together and damage each other – especially important in a set of this expense level, and means that Peterson don’t have to take away from the rugged appearance and aesthetic appeal of the case with a zipper or other unsightly fastenings. On the contrary, the simplistic design, no-nonsense function-over-form aesthetic choices and rugged construction makes this case feel like a (real) cowboy’s trusty tool kit or a grizzled special ops’ go-to entry loadout – far more than all the “tactical” bling that you can see around these days.

If it’s not obvious, I really, REALLY love this case. It’s probably not the most practical (in terms of the tight pockets) and certainly not overwrought with snappy design choices, but it’s a clear workhorse and feel like it will stand up to a lot of abuse. It’s also not the most rugged, in the sense that the entire case is literally just the leather and it doesn’t have a padded double-layer-with-cardboard-stiffening back like some of the other cases, but it does FEEL like pure rugged quality, in a unique sort of way. Obviously many of these aspects can be turned into flaws if you feel so inclined – the pockets are tight, the stitching is visible, there are no logos or fancy designs, the sides are open, the pockets are just made from single strips of leather stitched together, and it’s not a “pretty” case – so whether or not you like this case will mostly come down to visual and aesthetic preferences, to be honest.

That said, it is a practical and sturdy case that should stand up to pretty much whatever you can throw at it. However I will not be giving the case top marks, because for fairness it should be rated based on all possible pros and cons given the case in question and not simply visual appeal, and the tight pockets and open sides could definitely be a deal-killer for many.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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Some of my previous comments from the Euro Slenders set can be said here – the dimensions are more or less identical, as are many of the construction elements, so I’ll try to keep those parts of this review brief here – check out my previous review for more details on this stuff. To start off, the picks average 12cm with approx 8cm of that being the handle. Like the Euros Slender set, the handles are rounded on the ends and have the crosshatch pattern on the handles to allow better grip. The pick tip metal does not travel the length of the handle, instead terminating around 1cm in, around the point of the hole that goes all the way through the pick handle and metal, as tested with a magnet.

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In terms of differences, the PETERSON stamps on the handles are different in these picks. Interestingly, the logo stamps vary on my set, with some picks having the logo situated near the bottom end of the handle (starting approx 5mm away from the end), whereas others have the stamp in the middle of the handle, similar to the Euro Slenders. In both cases the “logo” (the word PETERSON stamped inside of a clear oval surround) is different (different font or font design by the look of it), and both of these are different from the Euro Slenders. Only three of my picks have the centre-aligned logo, whereas the others all have the lower logo. I assume this is to do with the batch / age of the picks relative to one another, as the three centre-logo picks I have are not especially distinct from the set in general (two are two of three of the fine city rakes, and the other is the W rake. The third of three fine city rakes has the lower logo).

In terms of differences, the centre logo sees the letters less embossed, with clearer, crisper text which makes the lettering look larger. In the centre logo design, the surrounding oval is dug into the base level of the pick (below the crosshatching) and the lettering is engraved even further, whereas on the lower logo version the oval appears to be at the same height as the crosshatch studs, almost “glued” on top, whereas the lettering sits at the level of the gaps between the crosshatch studs. The studs themselves are also different, with the ones on the centre logo version being flattened off and the ones on the lower logo version being almost pointed on top. The centre-logo version also has the circular divot above the hole as seen in the Euro set, whereas the others don’t have this. Aside from that there seems to be little difference between these.

In terms of rear lettering, the lower-logo versions have “MADE IN USA” stamped on an also-offset oval on the back, whereas the centre-logo version has the same “WWW.PETERSON-INTERNATIONAL.COM” and “MADE IN RSA” stamp as the Euros, leading me to believe that the Euros and these centre logo picks come from the same generation. Which is the newer version is anyone’s guess, but there are a few factors that could push it either way – the “RSA” thing would imply that the centre-logo version is maybe an older “mistake” batch but the offset-logo version picks often have moulding plastic at the base of the pick tip (admittedly with a very small sample size) compared to the centre versions, which would imply either substandard equipment (i.e. an older “experimental” batch) or a reduction of quality or standards as a cost-cutting measure (implying a newer” batch). If anyone has any info on this I’d be glad to hear it!

Quick note: Whilst the PETERSON and MADE IN USA lettering seems to have been stamped “correctly” relative to each other on these handles, and the PETERSON logo is always facing the same way (pick tip to the right when reading the wording), the pick tips don’t all face up or down – the direction in which the tips are inserted still seems somewhat random.

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Regardless of the above, the pick handles are more-or-less the same as previously discussed on the Euro slenders review – they are pretty light, rigid, sturdy and have good non-slippage properties due to the crosshatch serrations. Both the centre-logo and offset-logo variations feel pretty much identical (the flat-headed serrations are, predictably, smoother) and the pick steel is pretty much the same from one to the other. On the offset-logo picks, a good number do have moulding marks that stick up around the top of the handle where it connects to the pick tip:

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Moving on to the pick tips, we really have two major types to look at here – the thinner Euro-style blue-handled picks, and the thicker, US-style black handled picks (for this review we’ll be leaving out the DCAPs since there are only three and they are of minimal importance by comparison).

The blue-handled picks have pick tips made from Peterson’s Government Steel at a thickness of 0.015” or 0.39mm:

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These pick tips feel quite springy and pliable – and I assume correspondingly less sturdy by comparison. Both these and the thicker black-handled picks do have a tendency to bend under heavy tension so do watch out for that when picking. Some of the picks are stamped with a number or letter code near to the base of the pick tip – for example “H1”, “DR”, “DP” “PG”, “1”, “2”, and so-on. Presumably these are Peterson-specific codes to identify one pick from another, yet not all of these are stamped with such an identifier.

The black handled picks measure around 0.025” thick and are more solid and less flexible – this also means that they will not fit as easily into thinner keyways, but on the flipside they should be sturdier and last longer.

Regardless of metal thickness of pick generation, there is a definite variability in quality, ranging from a shiny mirror-finish which is perfectly smooth on all sides and is very well finished/rounded...

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Through to some with huge discolouration and terrible finish, featuring “bumps” and serious strigillation which would cause serious trouble inside of a keyway...

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Most picks fall somewhere between these two extremes or feature one issue heavily (such as being discoloured or poorly finished) whilst the other aspect is fine. The bumpiness likely comes from the way that the steel for these picks is laser cut and then not properly sanded (which should be done to finish the pick at the factory IMO). Honestly, I’m somewhat disappointed at the overall quality of the picks on these, as many are at least discoloured and at least a couple have serious bumpiness which can be easily felt with the fingernail. Rubbing two picks’ thin edges together reveals that some are mirror-smooth and some scrape, scratch and catch. The blue-handled worm rake and the black-handled small city rakes in particular have serious discolouration issues and what looks like fingerprints “burned into” the metal, and the key extractor is RUSTY, of all things! On stainless steel!!

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These might seem like nitpicks – but as I mentioned in the Euro Slenders review, when you pay for the “best” (as popular opinion holds), you do expect the “best” quality, and little things can put a serious damper on that expectation. In this case I don’t feel that a smooth, mirror-like finish on all the picks is too much to ask for, especially when they’ve proven that it can be accomplished on SOME of the picks. Certainly the level of strigillation on some of the picks is worrisome, since I haven’t seen that level on QA even on some of the much cheaper sets. Even the tension wrenches aren’t immune...

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In addition, that particular tension wrench is magnetised, sticking to other nearby wrenches and making it tough to separate from its brother...

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The tension wrenches themselves measure between 1.24mm thick and 0.37mm and are of generally good quality – thankfully the bumpy edges on tension wrenches is usually a good thing and these are all serrated-end wrenches, a fact that helps them stay in the keyway with more easy than a regular one. In addition to the Peterson Gem, the serrated prybars are of course a Peterson staple, often copied. I found these to be flexible (for the thinner range) through to very solid (the thicker end of the range) and all felt sturdy and reliable in the hand.

An average hook weighs 5.0g

Overall I feel that these are generally well made picks and wrenches that have obviously been well-thought-over and considered carefully, but where a serious lack of QA testing or a general desire to cut corners and save money have tarnished the good reputation (and finish!) of these picks. It’s an odd case of some extremely good and well-though-out aspects, such as the handles and generally good quality steel, clashing with blemishes you’d expect to find in a much lower quality product. As such, I shall be rating these picks with a middle score to represent both ends of this dichotomy.

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
To pick the Master No.3 I’ll be using a serrated L tension wrench and a black handle fairly shallow hook pick:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 125 secs
Second attempt: 64 secs
Third attempt: 5 secs
Average: 64 secs

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My results for this one were all over the place, and honestly I don’t really feel that I was improving pick-to-pick despite the results. I started picking for fun a fourth time after the third 5 second one and gave up around the 2 min mark, so I believe that my results were more a product of luck than anything else. I couldn’t really feel any feedback through the pick and the L wrench that I was using kept getting hung up on the lock body or otherwise impeding progress subtly. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the picks that I chose for this one and may change to a different set for the next lock....

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
For this lock, I decided to go with the same setup as last time – a small serrated L wrench and a small-medium hook, after much experimenting.

Picking times:
First attempt: 55 secs
Second attempt: 8 secs
Third attempt: 5 secs
Average: 22 secs

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Note that as stated in the Euro Slenders review, we’re using 4 pins in this lock and will be doing so for all future reviews.

Oh boy. I started trying to pick this lock around 6 or 7 pm and finally “got it” just after midnight. I’m not sure if I hit a “picker’s block” or just had bad luck with the tension wrenches not tensioning properly, but I could not get this lock to go. I switched between various picks and at least a couple of wrenches, even tries some standard twisted L wrenches from my Sparrows set at one point, and nothing. I also swapped the 4th pin from being the 1st to 2nd pin stack loaded, I dumped and changed all the springs (which had all become bent and squashed over time in the lock), tried mounting it upside down – everything. With three pins in, I can pick the lock consistently in 5 or 6 secs. With 4 pins in – whether that’s the first or second pin – I hit a brick wall.

Finally, and with no real known reason or cause (I read over all my old reviews to see if I had left any hints for myself, but nothing that really helped other than what I already knew about the wrenches easily binding up on the lock shell), it “clicked” and I managed to regularly b*tch pick it open in less than a minute.

I’m not sure that any of that is a reflection on the picks and I’d be hesitant to give a poor rating to the picks when it could have just been my clumsiness – however I must say that I’m not at all keen on the overzealous binding of the L wrenches against the core and bottom of the lock, and I don’t really do well with ToK tension. In addition, I can’t say that I really feel anything from these picks in practice – I can’t feel what pin I’m on, or whether the pin is setting – which doesn’t help.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
To pick this Euro I’ll be going with the Euro Peterson Gem and a large serrated L:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 17 secs
Second attempt: 15 secs
Third attempt: 11 secs
Average: 14 secs

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As usual, I found the Euro picking fairly hassle-free. The sharp tip of the Gem worked well to push the edge of the spools down into place but the rest of the pick did tent to drag and catch on the edges of the pin stack holes as I moved down through the bible – whether that’s due to it being a cutaway or not, I’m not entirely sure. Otherwise a fairly painless experience. Still not feeling any feedback, though...

8. Overall mini-conclusion

First, let’s talk about the pros/positives/plug-points:

Firstly, the case. Although it’s as much down to personal preference as much as anything, I do love the rugged simplicity of the leather case. It’s a genuinely decent product, simple and well engineered and sturdy, and whilst it won’t be winning any style competitions and can be a bit tight for the picks, on a purely practical sense it’s an excellent case, IMO.

Next, the pick design and quality. This set comes with a very good range of picks as you’d expect for the price... ranging from hooks to rakes and even some exotic stuff in there as well, in two metal thicknesses for both US and Euro locks. The handles are excellent, being non-slip, light, sturdy and comfortable to hold even for long periods of time and under extremely firm pressure. The metal tips, whilst not all perfectly finished, are mostly very functional and seem sturdy.

Unfortunately we do also need to addresses some negatives...

Firstly, whilst the case is, in my opinion, a nice case, it certainly has flaws. It’s a devil to get picks back into those tight slots, and the open sides and use of only a flimsy flap and friction to hold the (expensive) picks in will definitely be a big deal for some. In addition the case is really just a few pieces of leather stitched together which some may argue is not worth the asking price, especially for a set of picks at this price point.

Next is the Quality Assurance – issues plaguing this set include discolouration and finish issues on the metal, plastic “overhang” / moulding marks where the handle connects to the tips, an odd mixture of pick batches/styles, serration / strigillation from the laser cutting process on the edges of the pick metal and tension wrenches (some VERY visible and wavy), and rust on the key extractor. It may seem a nitpick to focus on any one of these issues, but remember these are ALL present, to a lesser or greater degree, on at least one pick, and these really aren’t issues that should be found on a set at this price point, especially in the variety and quantity that they were found. A little QA goes a long way and whether due to being an old run, faulty machinery or simply due to cutting costs, that QA was not performed.

Next we have to look at the price – at $8 to $15 per pick, or $250 for a full set, there are certain expectations that anybody would have for these picks – that they have a high level of fit and finish, and that they are practical and work well. At lower price points we can forgive some of these “sins”, but as the price increases so too should the quality. Unfortunately the fit and finish leaves a little to be desired, and as for the performance, well...

That leads us onto the final point – performance. Now, I know that these picks are raved about in many corners of the web, and I know that a lot of smart people have had a lot of success with these picks. However, whether due to just having an “off” day or just not getting on with the design of these picks, I’m not sure (maybe, like the venerable Falle-Safe picks, these require an expert’s touch to wield properly), but I just did not get on with these picks. I found that feedback both through the tension wrench and the picks themselves was muted – with the serrations in the tension wrenches causing them to bind up in the cylinder, and the picks somehow not getting the “feel” from the pins to my fingers. Again, this could just be me, or it could be me having a bad day. I don’t feel that I can rate these picks as “poor” when so many other people have had a great deal of good things to say about them, but I also cannot honestly sing their praises when I did not get on with the feel of them.

This Peterson set is an imposing collection of reliable, good quality picks in a very nice case, marred only by poor QA / fit-and-finish and, in my experience, touch-and-go performance. Many wise experts will tell you that these are the picks to get at the very top end, when you need the best – a step above everything else. Hopefully I can one day reach a skill level or appreciation for these where that is true for me, and don’t get me wrong – these are excellent picks with a stellar reputation behind them, but for now I found them at best equal to the Sparrows or other Peterson Euro Slenders set – not bad by any means, but for their price point, not in a class of their own.

Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 2 (18%)
Pick Finish: 2 (20%)
Pick Quality: 2 (20%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 2 (22%)

Final Score: 80%
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:42 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

1. Item full name
Southord M4000B High Yield Lock Pick Set

2. Possible vendors & where I bought mine
My Seller: LockPickShop, £112.99 (No longer an active website)

Other Seller: Southord, $192.95

Other Seller: Amazon, £136.42

Other Seller: LockPickShop (US), $199.95

3. My Price
I paid £112.99 for my set back in mid-December 2015. Unfortunately that website no longer seems to be operational.

4. Specifications

I should point out to start off with that the stated set contents and the contents that I currently have are slightly different. I’m not sure if this is due to my set actually being shipped with different contents, or just picks and wrenches being misplaced over time, but here’s the difference in my kit vs. The official website:

1. Officially two double-ended picks are included. I only have one.
2. Officially eleven tension tools are included. I have Twelve.

With that out of the way, let’s move on :).

The Southord M4000B lock pick kit is part of a range of kits from Southord that include the M2000, M3000, M4000 and M2000B, M3000B and M4000B. The difference between the ‘thousands’ is an increase in the number of picks and tension wrenches supplied (with an equivalent increase in price each time, obviously), and the difference between the Mx000 and Mx000B (B for Black Handle as far as I can tell – an easy way to distinguish these is that the Bs have black plastic handles whereas the non-Bs have light grey handles) is that the B version is slightly thinner for European keyways – 0.023” vs 0.031” for the non-Bs. Price-wise, the B and non-B versions are priced identically within their price bracket (the official RRP is $129.95 for the M2000(B), $159.95 for the M3000(B), and $192.95 for the M4000(B) sets).

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The M4000B includes fourteen picks and eleven tension wrenches, as well as two double-ended picks without handles. The pick tips are enclosed in a solid plastic handle, and the pick metal does not go all the way down the handle – according to my magnet test, the metal travels approx. 1.5cm to 2cm into the handle plastic. The pick steel is made from type 301 high-yield stainless steel and the handles are made from ABS plastic and the picks are enclosed in a zippered case made from Valentino leather, according to Southord’s website.


The picks included are:
Shallow hook
Medium hook
Deep hook
Small Diamond
Large Diamond
Deforest Diamond
Reach Half Ball
Bogota-style rake
City rake
Worm rake
Ball
Double Ball (Snowman)
2x Half snowman

Double-ended pick with no handle (small worm rake plus small diamond)

Tension Wrenches:
2x Double-prong
3x Various standard L type
2x Various standard Z type
Long Twisted L
Short Twisted L
2x Double-bend (one straight, one twisted)
Feather-touch

5. Pick Case / Packaging Opinions

The supplied pick case is a square-ish zippered-book style deal with two small fold-out flaps inside to hold extra picks. It measures approx. 16cm wide, 10cm deep and 2cm high, and is made from “Finest Valentino Leather”, according to Southord. The case colour is black and maintains a simple, smooth design with the only branding or stylisation being the “Southord MAX” and M4000B indenting detail on the front of the case.

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The case is zippered along three sides, with the fourth side acting as the spine of the pick-book. The zip is a fairly reflective silver zipper that’s YKK branded (a common zip brand) and seems fairly heavy duty.

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Once unzipped, the case folds back to reveal two sides – on both sides, a set of secondary fold-out flaps come in from the outer edges, measuring around 10.5cm high and 6.8cm wide. These flaps contain no pockets on their outward facing sides, creating a kind of pseudo-protecting barrier for the picks inside the case. In the middle of the case, a single pocket width (two heights, so four pockets total) is exposed in the middle of the case, in a gap between the two flaps measuring around 7cm side.

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You can then fold the flaps on both sides back (they will naturally close without being held back) to reveal two pockets per flap, as well as eight main pockets on the back walls of the case – each side has pocket material measuring approx. 9.5cm high (it slants, so this changes over the course of the case) split into two pockets, and then a further back, rear pocket measuring 12cm high, also split into two halves. In this way, there are four pockets per side (two half-width pockets at two heights), plus two smaller pockets per flap (one per side), meaning twelve generous-sized pockets in total. In addition to this, material is sewn into the “hinge” portion of the back, adding a final thirteenth pocket.

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The case is soft and generously padded all over, with the outer edges (front and back) feeling thick and heavy without being artificially “stuffed” with cardboard etc – it feels to me like solid, soft leather stitched back-to-back. The pockets are spacious, not providing the space or compartmentalisation of the Peterson case but providing a much easier pick retrieval and storage experience. The case can comfortable hold all of the supplied picks with room to spare, especially after you preen out any un-needed picks and wrenches, leaving you with an ideal (if a little large) day-to-day carry case for picks.

Just like the Peterson case, I love this case, although for slightly different reasons. They both have a rugged feel to them (although the Peterson was more “tough” but less easy to use, and this one is “softer” and more user-friendly), but I enjoy the soft feel of this case and the ease of getting picks in and out rather than the solid unforgiving ruggedness of the Peterson case. This Southord case feels heavy but refined; relatively well engineered and including the features you need (such as zip closing for total case seal-up, and easy access pockets). However those wide, spacious pockets do come at a cost, as picks tend to slide and lean left and right when stored more than one per pocket. It’s also quite a large case in general, making it a tough sell for a discreet pocket-carry. However this is, I feel, a fair trade-off for the convenience, dependability and style that this case offers.

6. Pick Quality & Finish Observations

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These Southord picks are certainly a world away from those seen in my C2010 review! Let’s see what we have here.

The picks have type 301 stainless steel tips and ABS handles. After a magnet test, the pick tip seems to go down approx. 2cm into the pick handle, but not all the way. The ABS handles *do* have moulding marks down the sides (i.e. they are made from two pieces of plastic), however the edges are extremely smooth and you can barely even see, let alone feel the seam – even more so than the Peterson picks.

The picks measure on average around 13.5cm long, of which around 8.7cm is the handle. At the point of protruding from the handle, the pick tip has “shoulders” only slightly narrower than the handle itself, and narrows down with double shoulders after approx. 5mm. The handles are contoured ergonomically to fit the fingers with two rounded “waists”, and measures around 12.4mm at the thickest point and 9.9mm at the thinnest point. The pick tip “shoulders” measure 6.9mm at the widest, and the pick metal is approx. 0.023” / 0.6mm thick:

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A typical hook weighs around 5.2g. The black plastic handle is ergonomically shaped with “wavey” sides to accommodate the fingers – the waves are equally spaced on both sides of the handle and there are three high points and two dips per side. From the bottom end of the pick, after around 3cm the “Southord MAX” logo starts, which consists of an indented oval backdrop with the stylised lettering Southord MAX embossed over the oval dip. The logo continues for around 5cm and stops about 5mm before the end of the handle. The logo is printed equally on each side of the pick, upside-down relative to each other so that when you rotate the handle around 180°, the lettering faces up both ways.

The plastic handle is very smooth and despite its “crackular” finish, feels like it would get slippery in sweaty palms. Luckily the Southord Max logo acts as the grip, providing a rough-yet-smooth surface that is pleasant to hold but still gives an assuring grip at that point on the pick. My only complaint is that if you are not holding the pick exactly over the logo – if you prefer to hold the pick right near the tip of the handle, or your fingers are offset from the middle – you can end up on “smooth” pick handle territory and it can get a little slippery. The picks can also be somewhat tricky to pick up off the table or floor (if you drop one) due to this slightly slippery plastic.

In terms of the pick metal – well, it could be better. The metal finish is somewhat tarnished:

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Some of which can be cleaned off, some of which can’t. More worryingly, the metal used on these picks seems extremely bendy:

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This was caused by a little picking that I did when I first got this set a couple of months ago. While the tips can be bent back into shape, obviously bending them back and forth will cause metal fatigue and they will eventually fail. Luckily, Southord backs this set with a generous lifetime warranty – of course, this is assuming that Southord agree that you haven’t “abused or misused” your picks – from the returns page on their site, “Warranties exclude abuse or misuse of tools.”.

The set comes with a good range of picks, although unfortunately a good deal of them are what I would class as “less than useful” – on a scale of most-to-least useful (in my humble opinion), we have three depths of hooks, two depths of diamonds, three rakes, a couple of offset/reach tools and finally four variants on ball/snowman picks. Personally I’d have liked to see a bigger range of hooks and maybe a Peterson Gem clone or two, but there you go!

The kit also comes with a very good range of tension wrenches:

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The range of wrenches, like the picks, varies between very useful and too specialist for general use. We have the good ol’ standard L and twisted L picks in varying thicknesses and tapered-ended-ness:

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As well as wide double-prong wrenches, Z type wrenches and double-bend extra long ones, topped off with a feather-touch wrench. I’ve personally never had much luck with the Feather touch, and I’ve not found a use for more than half of these, but it’s good to know what they’re there if needed. Still, a larger range of standard and twisted Ls in various lengths, metal thicknesses and end widths would have been nice – as would a serrated prybar or two.

The wrenches themselves are good quality and pretty much “do what they say on the tin” – I measured one of the standard L types at 0.03” and another at 0.018” so there is a range there. The metal seems pretty solid, springy and perfectly functional – just what you’d expect really, and if you can find a use for the feather-touch or the double-prong ones, for example, they’re there waiting for you.

7. A. Experiences picking Master No. 3
To pick the Master No.3, I’ll be using a standard twisted L wrench and a medium hook.

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Picking times:
First attempt: 46 Secs
Second attempt: 18 Secs
Third attempt: 5 Secs
Average: 23 Secs

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The vast majority of my time spent trying to pick this lock was wrestling with tension. None of the supplied tension wrenches seem to properly fit into the Master No.3 in a bottom-of-the-keyway position, all of them slipping into the lower part, almost horizontal to the keyway and totally jamming up the core, preventing any tension from being added (no pins released when jamming them in and releasing tension on the wrench). After spending a couple of minutes on the third attempt wrestling the constantly slipping wrench, I switched to one of the very long double-bend wrenches which worked perfectly in 5 seconds... So I guess those wrenches do have a use, after all!

The pick itself feels very nice to hold, and whilst I can’t really feel much feedback I think that was due more to the issues with tension than a fault of the pick. Specifically it was comfortable to hold with no pain from the seams or general over-heavy use, although the tips do tend to bend a little.

7. B. Experiences picking LearnLockPicking Standard Cylinder (5 pins)
For this lock we’ll be using a standard (non-twisted) L wrench and a medium hook:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 12 Secs
Second attempt: 7 Secs
Third attempt: 16 Secs
Average: 11 Secs

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Wow! What can I say, the right tension wrench paired with the right pick and the right attitude makes locks fly open :). Whilst this is still just a 4-pin lock (see my Peterson’s Euro Slenders review for more on this), I had a much easier time with this lock this time. I found that I was receiving very good feedback from this pick and subsequently along with my recently-rediscovered trick to getting this lock (basically b*tch-pick the rear three pins until I feel it shift slightly, then release tension to allow the front pin to drop and re-pick the front pin) I was able to get this one in record time.

7. C. Experiences picking Euro Cutaway (with spools)
For this attempt I am going with the standard L and shallow hook. However I will be using this hook for ToK tension as I cannot get any of the wrenches to not slip in the bottom of the keyway:

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Picking times:
First attempt: 27 Secs
Second attempt: 32 Secs
Third attempt: 13 Secs
Average: 24 Secs

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I found that despite being Euro-thickness black-handle picks, these are not as thin as the Peterson Slenders and I did have a little bit of a challenge getting these to fit comfortably in the tight warding. After a bit of testing I found that, much like the Master padlock, I couldn’t get any of the tension wrenches to stay firmly within the keyway without falling out of synch, so I had to take a regular “L” and use it in Top-of-Keyway – meaning that it say quite precariously and did was somewhat hard to hold in place. Due to this and also because of the sharp-edged spools, I found that I was applying a lot more pressure to the tension wrench than I should have been, and subsequently a lot more pressure to the pick than would normally be ideal. Due to this I did find (as I have with these picks before) that they do tend to bend quite badly under tension. Worse, because the pick actually bent backwards rather than sideways, it’s a lot harder to re-straighten.

8. Overall mini-conclusion

Overall, I liked this set. The case is spacious and well-crafted (as long as you don’t want a discreet carry set!), the picks, whilst supplied in a variety of styles with various levels of usefulness, are comfortable and feel nice to pick with, and the range of tension wrenches is very decent, especially for a new picker.

The set does have its flaws – easily bendable picks, blemishes on the pick metal, pick tips don’t go to the bottom of the handle, choice of both picks and tension wrenches is a bit hit and miss – and it remains to be seen how reliable the picks will stay over time given their ease of bending. That said, I feel like the flaws are mostly offset by the benefits of this kit – it’s very reasonably priced for what is included and competes with the Peterson set, at 2.5x the price, almost eye-to-eye.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive first set, or you’ve already dipped your toe in the picking pool and are looking for a solid new set to cover you for all eventualities with a good price-to-performance ratio, the Southord Max sets (2000, 3000 or 4000) are definitely worth a look.

Set Rating
Case / Packaging: 3 (30%)
Pick Finish: 2 (20%)
Pick Quality: 2 (20%)
Plastic Handle Bonus: 0 (0%)
Overall: 2 (22%)

Final Score: 92 %
<<

LocksportSouth

User avatar

Active Member

Posts: 368

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:51 am

Location: UK

Post Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:42 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

5. Comparisons

In this section I’ll have a brief chat about each set that I tested, the things that I learnt, pros and cons from each, and try to draw comparisons where possible.

GOSO 24Pc
+ Cheap
+ Large set of picks
+ I quite liked the rounded Z wrench
- Scratchy, nasty handles
- Pick tips of poor quality
- Range of picks includes many that won’t get used

The GOSO set is probably one of the more common “first points of contact” for many people looking for their first kit. It’s also one of the cheapest starter sets and certainly includes a great range of different types of picks for you to try your hand at. Unfortunately that also becomes a negative, as this set suffers from a lack of focus on specific, more useful picks. The quality is also fairly poor throughout the board and it’s clear that this set is stuffing large numbers of picks in to artificially bloat the numbers for advertising to those who are just starting out and don’t really know what they will need (“Twenty-four piece set!” – you can almost hear the late night TV ad), at the expense on focusing on quality.

At this price point, it’s tough to make direct comparisons without being unfair – to bring up the comfortable handles of the Sparrows or Southord Max set, or the superior weight and metal quality of the Petersons would be to compare this set with others priced at ten times the price, or more. That said, the closest competitor to this set is probably the Klom (at the super cheap end), or the Southord C2010 at about twice the price.

First then, let’s take a look at the Klom set. At first glance, they have that Peterson handle style thing going on, and the handles seem better moulded and generally more comfortable than the GOSO – so, a point in favour of the Klom there. Next we see that the price can be nearly half the cost of the GOSO – if nothing else, a great price-point for someone who is really on the fence, just wants to see if this is a hobby that might be interesting to them (or a fun hour’s worth of distraction in front of the TV), or as a gift or stocking filler maybe for a Houdini-obsessed kid or young teen. So, a point in favour of the Klom there, too. However, after spending some time with the Klom set, the cracks started to show – a bizarre selection of picks left few that were genuinely useful, and the handles did get very uncomfortable after some time, hurting my hands even the day after. At this price point it’s certainly a bargain, but I’d say that the GOSO set is just about worth the extra “investment” over the Klom. Now, let’s look at the Southord C2010...

Okay, so the Southord set is twice the price of the GOSO, and probably above the price you’d want to pay for, say, a curious kid or a passing curiosity. However I’d like to make a case for jumping straight in at the Southord level if you’re interested in picking. First off though, a couple of negatives – firstly, the lack of handles. I’m personally someone who feels a lot of pain from holding picks for too long and also has trouble holding picks without slipping – for me, the lack of proper moulded handles on the Southord set was a bit of a killer. That said, there’s no way to get closer to the “metal” and the “feel” of picking than having a completely raw pick with metal handles, and the smoothness and finish on the C2010 set is absolutely spot-on. Secondly, bear in mind that I’ve specifically reviewed the C2010 kit, which is a set of Euro-thickness picks. If you’re in the US or working more on US-centric locks, you might want to look into one of Southord’s “regular” pick set versions. That aside, there’s a lot to like about this set – the picks are well finished to a mirror-like shine, there’s a good range of useful pick types, for those who want to feel everything the lack of a plastic or rubber handle can be a boon and the picks generally work well and do-what-they-say-on-the-tin. If you can justify the extra expense, it’s worth looking into the C2010 or even a smaller (or non-Euro) Southord set in preference to the GOSO.

Klom
+ Very cheap
+ Lots of picks for your money
+ Great stocking filler gift
+ Fairly comfortable handles – at first
+ Flat Z wrench quite nice to work with
- Overall poor quality picks
- Questionable choice of pick tips
- Handles get uncomfortable over time
- Poor finish

Like the GOSO, and in fact even moreso than the GOSO (since the Klom is nearly half the price), it’s not fair to compare this set to the Sparrows, Peterson or high-end Southord sets. It’s not really even fair to compare this to the Southord C2010, since that’s nearly four times the cost. Therefore I’ll be comparing this set directly with the GOSO in this summary.

A lot of what I have to say about this set compared to the GOSO was mentioned in the GOSO section above. However it basically boils down to the fact that at first glance this seems like a very nice set – the handles feel more comfy than the GOSO, the pick tips seem somewhat better, and the Klom just has an air of value-for-money which makes it appear a great buy- and indeed, for a stocking filler or to test out a passing interest, it more than fits the bill.

However if you’re serious about putting in the time to learn lockpicking, I’d suggest investing a bit more in either the GOSO or preferable the Southord sets –the initial glamour of this kit quickly wears off, with poor quality pick tips, a strange selection of picks leading to (in the same way as the GOSO) a lack of actually appropriate picks for the task, and the handle discomfort that soon sets in.


SouthOrd c2010
+ Best price point for an actually GOOD set of picks
+ Recommended by many other European pickers
+ Non-handle makes feedback transparently clear
+ Mirror-like finish on the picks
+ Fit and finish overall of picks and handles top-notch
+ Compact, sturdy case
- Lack of handles not to my taste and can get uncomfortable
- Following on from above, the mirror-like “handle” finish and lack of (rubber or plastic) handles makes these picks slippery in sweaty handy
- European style picks flip around in wider US keyways
- Picks do tend to bend

As we move up the price range to the “middle-of-the-road” we can compare this set more easily to others and make better recommendations. First off – unless a plastic/rubber handle is a vital requirement and you’re not happy to spend more than this price point (£30-£40) on a pick set, I’d highly recommend selecting the Southord set over either the GOSO or Klom. Whilst the lack of a proper handle can be a big pain, you can make handles for these if needed and the quality of the pick metal will surely shine through after hours and hours of picking (of course, if you see only a 10% chance that you’ll like picking, or are buying this as a gag gift or anything like that, the Klom/GOSO will suffice).

On the other hand, if proper handles ARE important to you and you don’t mind spending a bit extra, consider one of the smaller Sparrows sets or one of the Southord MAX Mx000/Mx000B sets, which will give you a higher standard of quality *and* nice handles to boot. That said, £70 to £100 or more is a serious investment if this is a very experimental purchase.

Overall, I think that Southord has nailed the positioning of this quality-to-price point. It’s priced low enough that most people willing to invest a little on a new hobby can afford to lose if they decide it’s not for them, but also high enough that they were able to produce a really nice pick set with a range of useful picks at a high level of fit and finish for the price. If this price point is your top end and you’re looking for a decent pick set to spend some time practicing with, or if you need a solid beginner’s set for a friend, to hand out at meet-ups, or to bulk up your collection, you can’t go wrong with the Southord C2010.

Sparrows Monstrum XXL
+ Comfortable handles
+ Nice case
+ Pick steel doesn’t bend or warp much
- Not a cheap set
- Range of picks can be “exotic” and not an ideal starter kit
- Handles can be painful after extended or heavy use
- Pick tip finish and handle plastidip could be a little better

We’re now into the £100+ price range – a point that I feel is probably a little beyond the average first-time picker’s budget for a new hobby, so we’ll be looking at picks from this point onwards from an upgrade or collector’s standpoint as well as a newbie’s. For this price we’ll also be judging the picks a little more harshly, as the expectation of a high-cost product is equally high value, expressed through superior build quality, design choices and “pizzazz”.

So, does the Sparrows set hold up? Well, yes and no. Coming from the Southord C2010 – the second-most-expensive set that I own compared to this one (admittedly at around one third of the price), there are some very pleasant visible increases in quality – for a start, decent handles finally! Not only this but the Sparrows breaks the mould by being the only set that I have (yes, that includes the high-end Petersons) to have the pick metal go all the way to the end of the handle. Granted, with a rubberised plastic-dip handle that’s kinda a necessity, but still. Nice to see. The pick metal is also very nice, although I wouldn’t especially rate it higher than the Southord C2010. The case is the start in an upward trend of decent cases, and the general fit and finish is pretty darn good – in most ways, it’s superior to the C2010 – and that should be expected given the price difference.

On the other hand, the set does have its downfalls. The plastidip handle, whilst looking snazzy and feeling soft to the touch, does start to hurt the thumb and fingers after an extended and heavy-weight picking session. The pick tip finish could also be improved (for discolouration etc). To compare “up the chain”, let’s take a look at the Southord Max set, priced between slightly-more and about one third more than this set.

The handles are an issue of preference – do you prefer soft, rubbery and non-slip or hard, plastic, and smooth with non-slip text embossing to act as the gripping surface? The case, too, is an issue of taste, with the Sparrows being fabric and “tactical” with lots of design decals and the logos, whereas the Southord Max case is soft leather, plain and classy. In terms of the picks themselves, the Sparrows set has more useful picks than the Max, which had a large range of ball variants that I don’t see finding much use. The Max picks also tended to bend easily, which I didn’t notice on the Sparrows set as much. The picks themselves though could be said to be broadly equal – at least in my untrained hands, and both will likely give excellent performance for day to day use.

I rated both sets around the same overall (90% vs 92%), so it could go either way and to be honest is more a case of personal preference than having a clear victor. That said, if you ignore my semi-arbitrary 10% score deduction, this set would score 100% and is definitely at the higher end of my recommendations regardless.

SouthOrd Max M4000B High Yield Lock Pick Set
+ Nice case
+ Solid, good quality pick handles
+ Excellent lifetime warranty
+ Great feedback on the picks
- Could be finished a bit better, for the money
- Handles can be a little slippery off the logo
- Pick tips bend easily

I’ve moved this pick set up above the Petersons, relative to the order of reviews, because price and performance-wise it’s the easiest to compare to the Sparrows kit, which will be the main focus of comparison here.

As I mentioned in the Sparrows comparisons above, there are pros and cons to both of these sets – the Sparrows has soft handles, pick metal all the way to the bottom of the handles, a fabric “tactical” case, a good range of picks and tough, springy pick steel but a slight reduction in feedback. The Southord Max on the other hand has hard plastic ABS handles which transmit vibrations very well, at a slight loss of grip, a soft, high-quality leather case and pick steel that is more “bendy”. The range of picks is slightly poorer in the Max range in my opinion, with a large selection of ball picks that you likely will not find a use for. The prices is somewhat similar with the Southord Max being priced slightly higher.

I think it’s obvious from the five-or-so-time price difference, but the Southord Max set is a clear winner compared to the Southord C2010 – with the possible exception being if you really like zero handles getting in the way of your feedback. If you’re stuck on Southord but can’t decide to get the C2010 or Max series, it’s an easy win for the max – as I say, except if you prefer bare metal handles. Oh, and the price difference too, obviously.

It’s much harder to compare the Max and the Sparrows, and at the end of the day I think it will come down to personal preference – if you’re stuck between the two, read my full reviews of each (and some other reviews and opinions online) and make your choice depending on what is most important to you –no pick set will have everything and even the most “high end” have flaws.

I suppose we should also consider the Peterson Euro Slenders at this point – they compete with the Southord Max “B” series picks as Euro slimline high-end picks. The first thing to point out is that the Peterson Euro picks don’t come with a case or tension wrenches – it’s in the name, “Just Picks”. This allows the price to be very competitive (just over half the cost of the Southord Max M4000B, and about double the cost of the Southord C2010), however bear in mind that you can’t really compare these like-for-like in terms of being a full kit suitable for beginners or those looking for an all-in-one solutions, since the Petersons don’t come with the basic vital things that you’ll need – tension wrenches and a case – for an all-in-one kit.

That said, on a pick-for-pick level, the Peterson Euro picks compete quite well with the Southord Max. Whilst a little more expensive per pick and therefore setting themselves up for a tougher challenge in the price vs performance race, the Peterson picks start strong with a lightweight, strong and very grippy plastic handle, and a solid, spring steep pick tip that has a good quality about it. The Petersons do suffer from their own issues too though, such as a tendency for the metal to bend, a esoteric mix of pick tips and the obvious lack of a case or tension wrenches – the acquisition of which will lead to extra cost.

If you carefully pick and choose from Peterson’s single picks, wrenches and cases you can probably build yourself a kit for the same price as the Southord Max which will easily rival it – not with as many picks, but honestly, do you *need* all those from the Max set anyway? Obviously I can’t comment on how that would turn out as I haven’t bought any single Peterson picks, but in my experience you would likely be as happy with either option – as with most of the sets in this price range, it’s a matter of preference rather than hard numbers “better or worse” performance.

Peterson Just Picks Euro Slenders
+Grippy handles
+ Great feedback through the picks
+ A “clean” way to add picks as an upgrade without the “bumf” of a case or wrenches
+ Good quality pick steel
- Too many rakes and not enough hooks
- Pick tip metal bends and warps a bit
- Concerning QA for a set at this price range
- No wrenches or case

I feel that I may have numerically given both of the Peterson pick sets an unfair rating in my main reviews. Giving the Sparrows and Southord Max sets 90%+ ratings and the Petersons 60-80% probably wasn’t really fair, and is definitely an issue in the way that my rating system works, deading in shifts of 10-20% differences per category. I don’t honestly believe that the Peterson picks are “bad”, and I wouldn’t class them as below the level of the Sparrows or Max sets, really – except for my lack of luck with actually picking locks with these picks (which may come down to personal preference and practice), really what I’m rating is the price vs performance. Peterson picks are priced as premium products, and so my rating harshly berates any failings versus the perceived value of these picks.

This is all a roundabout way of saying what I feel when it comes to these picks – they are decent, even very good picks overall, but don’t (in my opinion) hold up to the value and quality that they should provide, given the price. The Peterson Just Picks Euro (stainless) Slenders set is priced at (after shipping and import fees) around £70 – twice that of the Southord C2010 and half that of the Southord Max. About two thirds that of the Sparrows Monstrum XXL and priced about equally to the regular Monstrum.

Is it worth the price? Well, that depends on what you want from the kit. The key thing to remember with this specific kit is that, as told in the title of the product, it’s “Just (the) picks”. You don’t get any tension wrenches with this kit, and you don’t get a proper case either. Does this matter to you? Well, if you are looking for a top-flight first picking kit that’s all-inclusive, or if you want to get a fancy-pants picking kit for a good friend, or if you any other reason you have no spare cases and/or tension wrenches, don’t buy this kit without also bundling in at least some wrenches and preferably a case too! Picks are useless without a range of useful wrenches to use them with, and while a case isn’t vital for desk work you might wish you have a way of carrying these if for any reason you need to take these picks out with you. However if you are already an accomplished picker looking for a solid bolster for your arsenal, or even if you are a new-ish picker who already has a set or two with some tension wrenches and a spare case or are looking to consolidate the “best” picks for you into a single case, this is an excellent set to consider.

The next “big if” with this set is to look at the pick tips – only three of these ten picks are hooks or hook-like picks, and five of them are rakes – of which three are almost identical. This set pays an unusually high reverence to rakes, something that is certainly unusual in the hobbyist picker world. I can imagine that this would be an excellent range of picks for a professional locksmith or entry specialist however, where time is of the essence and all that matters is that you “get in”, whether that’s by raking or SPP. Just don’t forget to pick up a nice case to keep them in! Purple-pink handles might also be your downfall in this case, just sayin’.

In terms of actual pick quality, personally I had a few nitpick issues with the Peterson picks in general, but as I’ve previously mentioned, that’s more a case of holding these picks to higher standards for the price point rather than picking on (pardon the pun) these picks for being “bad”, which they certainly aren’t. As long as you know the caveats going in (and please do your research before dropping any serious cash on a pick set), you won’t find a bad pick here.

Peterson Phoenix Ultimate GSP
+Excellent case
+ Great range of picks
+ Grippy, high quality handles
+ Decent pick steel
+ Nice range of tension wrenches
- Pick tips prone to bending
- Outrageous price for picks and quality doesn’t really keep pace
- I personally didn’t have much luck picking with these
- Some might not like the “open” design case

Like the Klom pick set, it’s hard to draw any direct comparisons with this set due to price – because it doesn’t seem fair to compare the picks from this set at others half, a third, or a quarter of the price. That said, and unlike the Klom set, being in a prestigious price bracket it’s easy to pick on any failings on a pick set which has set its bar this high.

I did mention this in my last comparison (of the Peterson Euro Slenders set), but my numerical score of the Peterson picks is probably a little unfair and only ended up that way due to a fault in the way that I designed the rating system for these picks. It was created haphazardly and is untested, and has led to wild disparity between scores of the different sets. That said, part of my poor scoring is due to the fact that, because this set cost 2.5x as much as some of the competitors, I rightly judged it with a 2.5x sterner eye – and whilst the set is still extremely good, it’s not that much better, IMHO, than some of the competition.

I should also point out that I personally didn’t have much luck picking with the Peterson sets – whether this is due to a lack of practice, or a weariness from this project and leaving the Peterson sets until last, or just the fact that the Peterson sets need an “expert’s touch” to work well, I’m not sure – I know that the Falle-safe picks have a reputation for being only *amazing* in the hands of a master picker, and whilst I don’t believe that the same is said of the Peterson stuff, my general lack of skill and experience with picking puts me in probably not the best place to review lock picks. I will touch on this more in the conclusion. I just wanted to put these disclaimers in place before attempting to summarise and conclude on my Peterson review.

There’s no denying that the Peterson Phoenix Ultimate is a pretty epic piece of kit – a big selection of Peterson picks in both regular and Euro thickness, a whole cavalcade of handy picks including a range of the fan-favourite Prybars all wrapped up in a solid and quality tri-fold case. The set has a lot going for it – pick handles are firm and sturdy, and exceptionally grippy and easy to hold, pick tips are pretty sturdy and well designed, the finish is not bad and there is a good range of picks.

On the other hand, there are plenty of down sides too, depending on how nit-picky you want to be – pick finish leaves a little to be desired – sometimes just cosmetically but also structurally as I’ve seen rust and stippled waves from laser cutting that really shouldn’t be there on a pick set at this price range. The case, while sturdy and with a classy finish, has some design issues with the pockets being SO damn tight, and the handles suffer from layout and typographical failings that, again, while minor, really have no place in a pick set at this price range.

Is this a case for the beginner? Only if you have deep pockets. No, this is no “starter’s set” – it’s for the picker who has it all, is well-heeled, or maybe is spending on their company’s (or the government’s) dime. Some will find this a game-changing vital kit for the arsenal, while others will defer to it on occasion as a nice thing to “have around”, but no epic lock-picker’s collection (especially a lock pick collector’s collection) is complete without some Peterson tools, and if you want it all, and are happy to pay the price – this is it.

6. Picking Times Chart

Here’s a quick graph of the average picking time from each lock pick set.

Image

7. Conclusions

I originally intended to use the Conclusions section to discuss each of the picks sets in turns, discuss their pros and cons, how I found them and give you my ultimate verdict. However, I’ve decided instead to use this space to address some other issues and things that I want to say from my time working on these reviews. Why? Two reasons:

1. Each pick set has already had two conclusions – at the end of each mini-review, and then in the comparisons section above.

2. At the end of the day, I can’t in good faith recommend one pick set above another, or give you a definitive conclusion of Yes, Pick Set X is the best that I have reviewed and slap an “editor’s choice” award on it, or anything of that nature. Partly because my overall rating system is somewhat broken (more on this below), partly because, as a total noob to the world of picking, my experiences and abilities with these picks really do not do them justice, and partly because there is no one correct answer – the pick set that is best for you will be down to a combination of your personal taste, requirements, and budget. I’ve strived to provide as much useful information, statistics and photos as I can for the sets that I have at my disposal, now it’s up to you to select the best pick set for you – and I implore you to not only use my experiences but other reviews and opinions across the Internet to help you to make the best informed decision that you can for your needs.

Now, a word on those ratings.

When I first started writing this document back in December, I wanted to codify a concrete format, layout and set of standards that would govern the structure of the document and make each mini-review a modular, stand-alone, easily-repeatable “unit” which I could complete one-at-a-time and which could be read in a stand-alone manner. Due to wanting to follow a review-like structure, I decided to add a scoring system as is so popular these days to allow the pick sets to be compared and contrasted, and judged both on their own and as a part of the wider range of options available.

Unfortunately, since I wrote this document in a linear manner and the first part of the document laid the foundations for the mini-reviews and their scoring, I had to determine an appropriate scoring system upfront, before I’d had a chance to properly test many of these lockpick kits and certainly before I’d had a chance to compare them in a like-for-like manner. Deciding as I do to make my life as hard as entirely possible I decided to go for a weighted composite scoring system, where individual elements of the pick sets (such as case, finish, pick quality and overall rating) are judged separately and then the sub-scores are added together using a weighting to prioritise certain elements seen as more important than others (for example, the score of the picks should be given a higher consideration than the score of the case, no?), in order to produce a good average rating. I would then draw up a fancy table at the end of the conclusion comparing all the rating, and award a “Top pick” and “Second choice” style award to the best sets.

Sounds good in theory. One problem with this is that I have little experience in drawing up rating systems, especially for things that I’m not overly familiar with, and also I have little experience in weighting these things correctly. Despite spending a lot of time trying to perfect a weighted rating system, I never really managed to properly express what I felt was important in these pick reviews through ratings, and the end result is a system that swings wildly, awarding 60%s here and 90%s there with little practical difference between sets.

The other problem with the above is that I hadn’t actually reviewed any picks when I came up with the rating and weighting system. As time went by, and as I wrote more and more reviews it began to dawn on me that the observations that I was making were too complex and nuanced to boil down to a simple number, and this was exacerbating by the forced tying of a very small range of rating numbers (0 to 3) to a wide range of stark percentage scores (0% to 30% in some cases), as well as the weighting being plain off and wrong. By this point however, it was already too late and trying to go back and fix the ratings would have meant completely re-reviewing all of the pick sets – if I could even figure out how to make it better.

Another, more subtle problem with the above – and one that really pervades all of modern review culture, not just this little set of noob pick reviews – is the fact that most purchasing decisions come down to a thousand tiny points and a mish-mash of the buyer’s subjective perspective, budget, specification requirements, aesthetic preferences and a million other factors. There’s no way to boil that down to a single two-digit number – especially where the product being discussed doesn’t have a set of finite and objectively measurable statistics by which to compare them. You might be able to pick, say, a length of high-tension wire based on how many lb of weight it can take vs how much weight you expect to pull on it, but with picks it more comes down to how a pick feels to you. It’s messy, subjective and wishy-washy and makes it hard to pin down. High-end Audio has an interesting dilemma where there are certainly measurable stats (THD, dBm, SNR, etc) by which you can measure a piece of audio equipment, and yet the perception of sound and what “sounds good” is a very subjective experience, with terms like “bright”, “open”, “forward” and other such wishy-washy phrases having a vague collectively understood meaning but experienced differently by every person.

The point that I’m really trying to get to is that the more I’ve analysed and over-analysed these picks, trying to pin down and extract what makes them unique, trying to quantify and objectively categorise their qualities, the more I’ve realised that for lock picks it’s somewhat of a futile task. Not only is a given prospective buyer going to have a completely different list of requirements and their ranking of importance (Do you need a really quiet, discreet case for tactical field work? Do you prioritise really well finished Diamond picks, because that’s what you work best with? Is a handle, or lack of handle important to you?), but everyone’s perception of, and experience with these things is going to be different. One person’s nice rubber handle is another person’s horrible rubber handle.

Due to this, I’ve decided against finalising and collating the pick review scores, or for giving “prizes”. They’re still there if you want them, at the end of each review (I’m not going to remove them after the effort that I put in to creating them, and some people may find them useful), but please know that I no longer consider these ratings to be remotely useful, at least in the way that I have assessed and rated them. There are scores that I myself don’t really agree with, and the more I look back at how the rating system works, the less I agree with the way I did it. It’s a learning experience!

No, instead, if you are interested in a specific pick set, please read my review (or if you are wondering what pick set you should buy, read the whole lot!) and then go off and do more research. Google the company in question, take a look at their official website – their returns policies, their item descriptions, their shipping policies. Do a search on your favourite forums or on Google – look for threads where other people are discussing those picks. Put your own post or thread out there – explain your situation and ask questions relative to what you are looking for. Check YouTube for video reviews.

At the end of the day, like with anything there is a degree of caveat emptor and you should do your best to be fully informed about the purchase that you’re about to make before you make it. I accept no responsibility for bad advice or poor decisions made! I’m just taking what I know, what I can see and touch and photograph, and putting it out there for the world to look at – to give you yet another source in a vast Internet full of sources from which to make observations and build a picture of the item that you are considering purchasing.

All that being said, I’d feel bad finishing this on a downer note and not at least giving my overall impressions and a vague hint of a recommendation, so I’ll try to give a rough-and-ready opinion which I’ll break down into a few buyer’s categories to at least attempt to tackle the near-infinite web of possible angles that you might be coming from. Just please read the following with full knowledge of everything I have said before including that bit about doing your own research and not blindly buying stuff cos a guy on the Internet told you to, mmkay?

Cheap n Cheerful stocking filler gift or “Hey, I saw lockpicking in a film once, that might be cool to try”: Klom or GOSO set

Total noob, beginner, “I’m not sure if I’ll like this hobby but I’m happy to put some time in” and hand-outs for picking meets: Southord C2010 or Sparrows

Beginner as above but with a bit more cash to burn & likes to buy good stuff upfront: Sparrows or Southord Max

Pick collector, must-have-the-best*, or Gov’t-is-paying: Anything from Peterson. Also the Southord max.

* I’m not saying that I think it’s the best, but that’s the public perception in a you-get-what-you-pay-for world

Bonus round! What would I buy if I could only have one set of picks in the whole world?:
Either the Sparrows Monstrum XXL or the Southord Max M4000B. Can’t decide between those two.

And that’s as close to a recommendation as you’re going to get :).

Now go out there, do some research, and buy something already! There are locks that need picking :).



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nine4t4

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Post Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:16 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

Your review was very informative. It borders on autism-spectrum levels of detail, but it details matter.

I feel compelled to say that the finish of a pick is normally not a big deal. Most of us that buy picks, know that we are going to have to spend some time with fine grit sandpaper. Hell, I love Sparrows for the value but I still grab the dremel when they arrive. That said, the Peterson kit's wrenches are alarming. I'm looking at buying some Peterson GSPs picks this week (hence, I checked the review) but wow. Those tension wrenches are perfectly functional, but not indicative of QC.

LSS, I mean no disrespect, but how do you bend a pick laterally? Most of my picks have "sagged" eventually, but I've never used picks properly and had that much bend. Either you're very heavy or I am too light with the picks. I mean that sincerely, because I should have broken picks by know but have only bent them. My reason for going to Petersons is that, lately I've been "muscling" the locks that give me a problem and heavier pressure is productive. Security pins don't like being forced but sometimes you need to hear them click to show they know their place!!!

There is more info here than most people would need, but it covers so much that I'd say it's worth of a sticky. The disscusion that follows would help.
JOB: (n.) a series of tasks that aren't enjoyable, but are done in return for money. see Prostitution
A LIVING: (n.) A means of enjoying ones existence that also provides financial compensation. see Freedom
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LocksportSouth

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Post Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:32 pm

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

nine4t4 wrote:Your review was very informative. It borders on autism-spectrum levels of detail, but it details matter.


I'll take that as a compliment :P

nine4t4 wrote:I feel compelled to say that the finish of a pick is normally not a big deal. Most of us that buy picks, know that we are going to have to spend some time with fine grit sandpaper. Hell, I love Sparrows for the value but I still grab the dremel when they arrive. That said, the Peterson kit's wrenches are alarming. I'm looking at buying some Peterson GSPs picks this week (hence, I checked the review) but wow. Those tension wrenches are perfectly functional, but not indicative of QC.


I realise that a lot of people would always sand and polish the picks further once they arrive, but I figured as everyone's process is different and others (like myself) don't have either the tools or the skill to do this, it's better to rate picks based on their current state as they arrive from the manufacturer - it's also the fairest way to compare them equally :).

nine4t4 wrote:LSS, I mean no disrespect, but how do you bend a pick laterally? Most of my picks have "sagged" eventually, but I've never used picks properly and had that much bend. Either you're very heavy or I am too light with the picks. I mean that sincerely, because I should have broken picks by know but have only bent them. My reason for going to Petersons is that, lately I've been "muscling" the locks that give me a problem and heavier pressure is productive. Security pins don't like being forced but sometimes you need to hear them click to show they know their place!!!


Honestly? I'm a total noob picker. I'm still in the way-too-much-pressure stage and as such I'm only reviewing these picks as someone who happens to have a lot of picks, rather than as a picking authority. Honestly it's more so that people who need specifications or photos can see them, rather than for picking results. I did try to include those too in an as-fair-as-I-could method, because, well, they're lock picks and it'd be silly to review lock picks without actually picking something with them, but my skills can't and shouldn't be taken as remotely skilled or even competent, heh.

nine4t4 wrote:There is more info here than most people would need, but it covers so much that I'd say it's worth of a sticky. The disscusion that follows would help.


Thank you, but nah, not worth a sticky. Like I said, I'm not skilled enough to even begin properly analysing what these picks can do (if I were, I'd have posted a larger range of locks, from Master No.3s so Medecos), and in reality my included range of sets is woefully limited compared with what most people buy. Really it's just something I did for fun and probably should be taken seriously at all to be honest :).
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tpark

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Post Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:51 am

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

The review of the various brands/types of picks available is very informative, thank you for doing that. Other types of picks you might want to look at are the Brockhage and HPC picks. I tend to use the Peterson M1 and Gem for locks with security pins. The problem that I have encountered with the kits is that they contain stuff that has limited usefulness. I have a Southord M4000 kit, but those picks don't seem to be much better than the standard Southord picks. My experience might be a bit different because I'm a relative noob at this and have encountered locks that I've been unable to open yet.
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LocksportSouth

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Post Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:05 am

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

tpark - No problem :). If and when I get more picks I'll definitely add to the review (I'm not buying picks specifically for reviewing them but if I do get any more it'd be silly not to add a comparison). HPC is definitely on my list; I also want to get some Mad Bob's ergonomic picks once they come back in stock (apparently they had a huge run on all stock after BosnianBill did a feature on them).

I totally agree about big sets having a lot of less-useful picks. For the sets that I've "liked" in my review, I'd highly recommend anyone but pick collectors to buy singles if they can, and build the set that they want and need rather than what the company wants you to have - for example I'd have less rakes (just a bogota and city rake probs) and zero wafer balls or any of that nonsense. Of course other people's needs are different so it's always best to "build your own" for practical purposes :).

I quite liked the M4000B, but mainly that's because I don't like the feel of "bare metal" handles - I find them too uncomfortable to use and they slide around too much. I know that some people like to make their own handles, but for simplicity the max series saves a lot of hassle. On the other hand, a lot of people prefer handle-less designs for enhanced feedback so for them, I'd say stick with the C2010 or any of the other Southord sets as appropriate (or, again, build your own from singles).

Oh, and don't worry - I'm a total noob, if anything I'm sure you're already a lot better than me :). Like I mentioned above I just did this review cos I happened to have collected a few quite large / good pick sets and I've only ever seen reviews of one set at a time by different people so I thought a head-to-head would be an interesting first in the 'industry' :). My representative sample of picks is not reflective of my skill at picking, hehe :).
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tpark

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Post Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:32 am

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

I don't know how many key extractors you really need, but the HPC kit I bought had four of them. The bare metal handles work for me, but I can see the value of the plastic handles. I really like the Peterson handles. I've adjusted some of the less useful picks into shapes that are more suitable for my style, but it probably would have been better to purchase the correct item up front. Maybe they provide the extra tools for modification purposes, so you don't have to trash your good picks to make some other tool when you're at a customer's site.

There is value in trying different picks to find what works for you. As a hobbyist, I can have tons of picks, and it's not like it's really all that expensive compared to other hobbies.
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escher7

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Post Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:11 am

Re: LockSportSouth's Pick Review Megathread

I disagree that Southord Max bend easily. I have posted a picture in the past showing a 2 1/2 lb. weight hanging on the end of one with no deformation at all. As to finish, you will never find a Southord pick with wavy lines or other defects that affect performance like Peterson has been putting out lately. I do agree that they deserve the highest rating and the company has been exceptional in their dealings with me.
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