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Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

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nsquidc

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Post Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:13 pm

Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

I love the Southern Specialities euro profile, but have never been too fond of stainless steel both for feedback and strength reasons (especially with thin euro picks). I've been extremely intrigued by S.S.'s carbon steel option ("Black Diamond") but didn't see any reviews either here or on lockpicking101. Thought I'd write my own review if anyone is interested in the future :)

First impressions

First thing about the picks themselves. They come with a black oxide finish, just like the HPC carbon steel picks. This personally drives me nuts, and I sanded off the layer first thing. I can understand why S.S. and HPC need to have the layer on carbon steel during storage, and I don't fault them, but the oxide layer adds some serious friction to pick movement. Once it's sanded off though, the action was silky smooth.

I bought several profiles to test them out: short hook, diamond, single hump bogota, Falle reach, offset diamond, and something they call a "euro notch fulcrum lifter". Essentially, it is a notched short hook with a small bump on the contralateral side (?!) (Pick on the bottom). Still playing with it to figure out what that's for. I'm guessing it's for stabilization purposes when rotating a pin (??) I'm starting on Medecos classics so I thought I'd pick one up to test it out. If anyone has tried these before and know the rationale behind the bump, please post!

Image


Dimensions

This is why I bought the picks, for their profile. As much as I love my Peterson euros, Peterson's euro profile is too high in pick shaft for real euro cylinders (at least I think so). So I compared the dimensions of the Peterson euro vs S.S. euro vs Rytan mini short hook (courtesy of Magician59.) The S.S. euro is very close to the Rytan minis in term of dimensions.

Peterson Hook
Thick 0.65 mm
Height 1.53 mm (neck of pick tip) -> 2.69 mm (pick base)

S.S. Hook
Thick 0.60
Height 1.33 -> 2.25

Rytan mini hook
Thick 0.62
Height 1.26 -> 2.85


S.S. vs Rytan

Image

S.S. vs Peterson vs. HPC Euro Gem

Image

Feedback/Useage

Government steel still wins for feedback. However, I suspect that this may partly be due to Peterson's larger dimensions as well. Black diamonds have extremely good feedback, especially since I have a hard time fitting my Peterson euros into tighter cylinders. The Rytans were a little too flexible for my taste, and they lack a handle so my hands were cramping. Rytans are very good for getting into spaces where you actually need the pick to flex, but I prefer the feedback and handling of the black diamonds. Kudos to Southern Specialties for making an exceptional product, these are now my favorite tools for euro cylinders.

And of course, the proof is in the pudding.

Image

Hope this was helpful.

~NSC
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escher7

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Post Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

Re the fulcrum pick:
Unless I am working with a very sensitive lock, I lever the pick up using the warding as the fulcrum. Not the best technique but on your basic pin tumbler it works and is easier on my arthritic hands. I am assuming from the description that this pick is for that purpose, perhaps where the warding is such that you need to lever against a fairly low point and need the extra height. It would also give extra height when lifting those high back pins using leverage instead of lifting the pick.
Just a guess, but from the description I am pretty sure it is correct.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat Apr 12, 2014 5:07 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

That would be my guess as well, though I haven't had much luck with that outside of the first keypin since the wardings don't extend that far into the cylinder. Then again, I've only had them for two days, so more experimentation is required.

Even if I don't like the bump, I can always file it off. Then I'd have a nicely profiled, carbon steel notch hook :)
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Neilau

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Post Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:52 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

These look like the set that I got from TOOOL US, even the black oxide coating. I think someone pointed that out when I posted a link to TOOOL.

I didn't get the hook with the bump though.

I have been using them for a while now and have found them to be quite good. The De'Forrest style pick ( the top one) is quite narrow and will bend if too much force is used.

One thing I did was to put a couple of heat shrink tube around them to make them more comfortable to use. The handles are very thin.

I hope your Abus Discus puts up more of a fight than mine. I bought it because Abus locks have a good reputation for quality.

What a disappointment !!!!

Give it an angry look and it pops open - even Master would be ashamed of it.

A good "Show Off" lock though. :mrgreen:
Clark's Law (Arthur C)

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
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nsquidc

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Post Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:09 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

The old TOOOL set had two HPC carbon steel ("black oxide") picks. They were standard, rather than euro profile and were quite a bit thicker than most picks. The new TOOOL set is basically all S.S. euro profile, except in stainless rather than carbon. I love the profile, but dislike stainless, so wanted to see what the carbon steel versions would feel like.

The lock was a standard Abus 24 Diskus, 4 spools and a standard driver. Nothing earth shattering, but does require a smaller pick and light tension. I'd ask for a refund if you had an Abus Diskus that was worse than a Master. I have three of these bad boys and their difficulty vary by biting, but none of them fall open with a strong look ;)
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Neilau

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Post Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:30 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

It is an Abus. Even came in the box (said made in Germany). I was so blown away at how easily it opened that I put up a post with photos to check that It was not a cheap Chinese knockoff.

Other people posted photos of theirs and it was indeed an Abus.

Must have been the one that got through or the last one in a run, before they replaced the drill bits for the core.

I would ask for a refund but I can't say " your lock is too easy to pick. I would like a refund" :D :D :D

Cheers.
Clark's Law (Arthur C)

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
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Deoje362

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Location: United States

Post Sat May 24, 2014 2:44 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

Thanks for the review. I have a few of the Black Diamond picks and I like them a lot.

I have several Petersons also, but none of them are the Government Steel. Guess I need to order some of them.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 3:32 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

I should probably post an update... The black diamonds indeed have excellent feedback, but they don't seem to be quite as durable, particularly the euro profile Deforest (my personal favorite.) Part of it is the profile, but I suspect that thickness has something to do with it, as I've never had any issue with the stainless version of their Deforest. The stainless version and the BD version start around the same thickness, but sanding off the oxidized layer leaves the BD version a bit thinner, which I suspect compromises durability a bit.

I'm not particularly heavy handed, but continual use did put a bend into the Deforest at the neck. Definitely still my 1st choice for euro profile locks, but wouldn't use them with regularity on U.S. profile locks.
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Neilau

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 4:29 am

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

nsquidc wrote:I'm not particularly heavy handed, but continual use did put a bend into the Deforest at the neck. Definitely still my 1st choice for euro profile locks, but wouldn't use them with regularity on U.S. profile locks.


Yeah that's what I found (as I said above).

I can be a bit heavy handed if I'm not concentrating properly. I love the DeForest hook. I bent it back (I know - not recommended - but it wasn't bent very much) and am a lot more careful now when using it.

You said you were starting on Medeco Classics.

Have you found the "bump" on the hook helps to rotate the pins??

Interested because I'm also starting on Medecos - so far can do 3 pins but 4 pins is proving a BIT more difficult. :hammering:

Cheers.
Clark's Law (Arthur C)

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
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nsquidc

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 2:15 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

:oops: This is where I confess that I got sidelined from my Medeco quest in order to pick up safe manipulation. I'll post an update once I start up again on the Medecos.

Cheers,

NSC
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GWiens2001

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Lock-Goblin-Gordon
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Post Sat May 24, 2014 3:14 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

nsquidc wrote::oops: This is where I confess that I got sidelined from my Medeco quest in order to pick up safe manipulation. I'll post an update once I start up again on the Medecos.

Cheers,

NSC


Another person sucked into the vortex of safe manipulation. Muhahahaha! You will never escape! Your life now belongs to the dial-mind. As does mine! Ahhhhahahaha :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial:

Gordon
Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.
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nsquidc

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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:45 pm

Location: United States

Post Sat May 24, 2014 4:59 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

Haha! It really is like getting sucked in. There's a whole new world to explore.
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Mikeh727

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Post Sat May 24, 2014 7:06 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

GWiens2001 wrote:
Another person sucked into the vortex of safe manipulation. Muhahahaha! You will never escape! Your life now belongs to the dial-mind. As does mine! Ahhhhahahaha :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial: :safedial:

Gordon


:agree:

As you can tell, Gordon has gotten his computer privileges reinstated at the institution. :lol: :lol: :lol:

It's an illness.

There is no cure.

Welcome to the dark side.

-Mike
I have an amazing grasp of the obvious. Beyond that, not so much.
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GWiens2001

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Lock-Goblin-Gordon
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Post Sat May 24, 2014 7:52 pm

Re: Southern Specialties Black Diamonds

Mikeh727 wrote:As you can tell, Gordon has gotten his computer privileges reinstated at the institution. :lol: :lol: :lol:


But they still won't let me have anything pointy. :cry:

Gordon
Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.

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