It’s really no surprise why there are a lot of information online on how to bump a lock. The surprising thing is why a lot of people seem to tiptoe around the information. It’s either they’re afraid of giving you the information upfront or they just want to inject more fanfare to it than necessary. These two scenarios are understandable. After all, most lock manufacturers don’t want people to know this information because they’re afraid that criminals will use the information to defeat their locks.
What they refuse to recognize is the fact that criminals already know the information. This is why I strongly recommend that you know this information as well so you can take the necessary precautions. In addition, a lot of people would like to take advantage of the rising awareness of lock bumping. This is why they try to beat around the bush in the hopes of creating more fanfare for their benefit.
What’s a bump key?
Let’s get one thing straight. Are bump keys real or are they products of our paranoia? Yes, they’re real and they can be easily acquired. There are now several sites that sell them for around $2 - $5 each. Now, look closely at the picture in order to compare a normal key with a bump key. As you can probably see, it’s just a key that’s manipulated so that each groove is at maximum depth. This is the reason why they’re sometimes called 999 keys because 999 is locksmith talk for maximum depth.
How does a bump key work?
Obviously, the key is the most important thing for the bump lock picking strategy. Simply put, you can’t perform it without a bump key. It’s actually very simple. Once you insert the key inside the keyway, the pins of the lock will rest along the maximum depth of the key. The process starts by applying a firm bump on the key’s handle and since the pins are resting on the key, they will react to the bump by jumping since the force will travel along the key. Once the pins jump, they will all pass by the shear line and proper practice will help you determine the perfect timing to turn the key in order to open it.
Should you buy or make one?
It’s no contest that it’s much easier to buy one. However, there’s a potential for legal issues since it’s illegal in some areas to send and receive lock picking tools through the mail. At the very least, you can be held liable under the Title 18, Section 83 USC 1716A statute.
Title 18, Section 83 USC 1716A is specified as Nonmailable locksmithing devices and motor vehiclemaster keys.
Obviously, there are legal loopholes that you can take advantage of. You have to know that it’s common practice to buy these keys online. This is because there are areas where it’s perfectly legal to buy or own lock picking tools as long as you’re not caught doing something illegal with them. Check local laws just to be sure.
On the other hand, most people just play it safe by making their own bump keys. As mentioned, it can still be illegal to own them without the proper license. But generally speaking, it’s legal to make and own one if there’s no intent to commit a criminal act. You should also check local laws if you want to play it safe before making one.
How to make a bump key
You need two things – a blank or used key and a triangular file. Just make sure that the key that you’re going to use was designed for the type of lock that you want to bump. Once you have acquired such key, all you need to do is to use a triangular file to file the grooves down to their maximum depth. Make sure that they’re all at the same, maximum depth and you’re good to go.
How to bump a lock
Now that you have a bump key, all you need to do now is to practice. At the very least, you should have the permission of the lock owner. Also, practice caution so that you’re not going to damage the lock. Although you really don’t have to worry because the bump lock picking strategy is considered as the strategy that generally doesn’t cause any damage. Here’s how to do it:
- Insert the bump key that you made all the way in. Push it in until it’s not going any further.
- Pull the key back a notch. You’ll feel the key slightly locking into place. That’s when the pins are resting on the grooves.
- Hold the key’s handle with the thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand. This gives you a lot of space to do the next step.
- Using the handle of any stiff tool like hammer or the triangular file that you used in making the bump key, give the handle a firm but non-damaging tap. If you decided to buy online, ask for the bumping tool. There’s a bumping tool that’s specifically designed for lock bumping and it’s also available online.
- After a split second, turn the key to open the lock. This is when practice comes in handy. Practice will help you develop the timing to consistently turn the key as soon as the pins are along the shear line.
REMEMBER: Use your own locks when practicing!
Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it right the first few times. If you can’t do it, here are the things that you can do:
- Check your bump key to make sure that it’s crafted according to specifications.
- Check to make sure that the key that you used was designed to work for the type of lock that you’re bumping.
- Experiment with the amount of force that you’re putting on bumping the key. Increase or decrease the force slightly.
- Practice! It’s highly likely that you just haven’t developed the timing yet.
Once you’ve perfected it, you’ll be able to see why a lot of lock manufacturers don’t want to share the information. It’s really that easy.