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The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

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MBI

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 5:43 am

The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Recently some older posts have been reawakened regarding picking, bumping, and otherwise doing things with Medeco locks the factory probably wishes no one did.

It got me thinking about something Farmerfreak once said to me while he was picking a factory pinned second generation Bilock of mine. It was the first time he'd ever even laid hands on a Bilock, and he had it open in about 27 minutes. I'll paraphrase since I don't remember his exact words, but he said something like 'I had trouble picking high security locks, until one day I just started to BELIEVE I could pick them. Once that happened, suddenly I was able to pick locks I'd never before dreamt of picking. Just apply tension, find the binding part, and set it. Repeat until the lock opens.'

I think he hit the nail on the head.

So this is my story of how I got over my mental hurdle about picking high security locks. The lock was a Medeco m3.

I think a lot of what keeps people from believing they can pick a Medeco is the hype. They're the most popular high security lock in North America and most locksmiths regard them as unpickable.

I've heard on more than one occasion at locksmith expos, the factory reps claim that the YouTube picking vids of Medecos are all bogus, using gimmicked locks. One rep went so far as to say he believed he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people in the world who can pick a factory pinned Medeco, blind out of the box. He said the first person they ever knew who could pick one, they hired on the spot to work in R&D. Quite a fish tale.

I took a Medeco factory certification class for servicing Medeco locks. The guy teaching the class said he only knew of one person in the world who was able to pick a Medeco and he won a $10,000 bounty that the company had put up as a reward for anyone who could pick one. They did it as a sales gimmick to demonstrate how confident they were that it was unpickable. At the time he said this, I knew of at least two people on lp101 who could pick them. I didn't know if they could pick them blind, but they could pick them. However, I couldn't PROVE they could pick them.

So, after the class I bought a new m3 cylinder from my supplier. I quickly discovered with that insanely wide keyway, regular tension wrenches slip. So I made one specifically for Medeco cylinders. This was before Keypicking.com existed, before we had the Medecoder, before we had any really good tutorials on how to pick them. I wasn't sure how to start, so I decided to just get back to basics and dumped all but one of the pin stacks. I took out my favorite, well polished short hook and got to work. I fiddled around with it and within about a half hour I'd figured out a good way to rotate the pin however I wanted, and how to tell by feel if the pin rotation was set properly or if it was stuck in the false groove.

I carried that lock in my pocket, and every time I had a few idle minutes, like when waiting in the car to pick up my kids, I'd work on picking it. Within a few days I'd gotten up to five pin stacks, but it took me another week of working on it for a few minutes here and there in my spare time before I was able to pick it with six pin stacks. After that I started switching around the pinning so I didn't know the pin rotations and had to figure them out by feel. Learning to pick it progressively like that really wasn't that bad. You just have to believe, not only that it's possible, but that YOU can do it.

I got to the point that once I'd figured out the pin rotations on any Medeco, sometimes by partially decoding the pins visually through the keyway, partially by feel, I was able to pick them rather quickly. Back then I was one of only four or five people that I knew of on lp101 who could pick them, but after that, it was like the floodgates opened. It seemed every time I turned around there was a new YouTube video of someone picking one, or someone posting in the lp101 advanced forum that they'd learned to pick them. Now, I imagine some of those videos are indeed faked, but not all of them. By now most of us know quite a few people here on Keypicking.com who have repeatedly proven they can pick them blind (without seeing the key or taking it apart).

Now they're one of my favorite locks to pick. I highly recommend to anyone who feels bored because they've mastered picking standard pin tumbler locks as well as security pins, give Medeco locks a try. I think it might just re-invigorate your interest in lockpicking.

If you want somewhere to start, here's a tutorial by xeo on picking them.
viewtopic.php?f=90&t=4077

And here is a good place to buy a used Medeco at a competitive price: only $15 with a non-working key, $22 with a working key.
https://securitysnobs.com/Medeco-Biaxia ... -Lock.html
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mdc5150

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 6:03 am

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Thanks for the confidence booster. (I know it was not aimed at any one person but I needed it right now) I've been trying to pick a Medeco KIK cylinder for a couple weeks now. I've followed XEO's tutorial but I'm still having difficulty and I'm just starting over every time.
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Kezo

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 6:36 am

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Does anyone know what they say at the medeco training classes now? Are there **gasp** a few people that can pick medeco locks now?
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MBI

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 6:46 am

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Kezo wrote:Does anyone know what they say at the medeco training classes now? Are there **gasp** a few people that can pick medeco locks now?

The most recent class I took was last summer. The factory rep who was teaching the class was the person I mentioned with a story about the guy who managed to pick a Medeco and they were so impressed by it they offered him a job on the spot.

Someone else in the class kept asking about it, talked about the YouTube videos he'd seen and the rep said that as far as he knew, every Medeco picking video on the web was using a lock that was rigged in some way, and the ones where they do a breakdown after picking, somehow they managed to swap locks with some sleight of hand or something in between picking it and when they took it apart. He was a new rep, I think he was perhaps just a bit overly enthusiastic and he bought the company line: hook, sinker and all.

He even made an offhand, dismissive remark about "those lockpicking sites" which made me smile just a little bit inside.
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fgarci03

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 10:43 am

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Thanks for sharing that MBI.
I can't talk about Medecos, but the way to approach a given lock is very much true IMO.

It has happened to me on several occasions, where I think the lock is too much for me. First on spools, then on dimples, then on serrated pins, then on dimples with pins on top and bottom. Each time I make an invisible barrier around myself saying: "They're still too hard for me". That's untill I stop being a jackass and grab the damn lock and pick it.
Some may still be too hard for me, but I always learn something with them, and in a couple of tries, it pops most of the times!
Go ahead, keep plugging away, picking on me! You will end up on bypass or with rigor mortise.
- GWiens2001
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Oldfast

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 2:14 pm

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

Good stuff MBI... good stuff! And very true. There's many locks I've yet to master.
A couple of them on my hit list are Medecos & BEST's. I can pick both... but I'm not
to a point where I feel I have them truly 'conquered'. Xeo's got a nice tutorial for both :wink:

p.s. Funny too, about the misconceptions about Medecos... especially with the knowledgeable reps.
Thing is, it's not just because they're biased... they probably truly believe they're that hard to pick. lol

EDIT: Also, good to see you around again Mike... sometimes there's just not enough time. Missed ya.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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jeffmoss26

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 3:50 pm

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

As always, an excellent write-up!
Innerpicked: The more keys you carry, the more important you look
GWiens2001: Great video! Learned a lot about what fun can be had with a forklift and a chainsaw.
pmaxey83: but i first have to submit the proper forms for a new hobby to my wife
xeo: i root for the kernel
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mdc5150

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 6:26 pm

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

So I went back to trying to open one of the Medecos I have this morning. No joy on that so I disassembled a different one I have with a working key and I'm starting to progressively pick it.

I took a little frustration break and decided to pick up a Yale dimple padlock I've had for a year and a half now and I've never been able to pick. Popped it twice in a row. My first dimple lock success! These have always been a hurdle for me.
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xeo

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Post Sun May 12, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: The Mental Hurdle of Picking High Security Locks

+1000 to this MBI.


Kokomolock had sent me a bunch of locks when I was first getting into this. One of them was an ASSA Twin 6000 SCD cylinder. It scared the hell out of me and I had psyched myself out of even trying it because of all the comments I had seen about how hard they are. It sat there for a 5-6 weeks smiling at me and then one day... I just decided to attack it with my best. I just kept saying to myself "this really can't be that hard, just go one binding element at a time". Well, it opened... and I really have not been able to duplicate that level of high I was riding for the rest of the day.

It really is all in your head. Just believe you can do it, go slowly, one binding element at a time, no matter how long it takes!
Image
The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...
http://www.youtube.com/xeotech1

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