The Security pin is one of the most crucial element of a lock. The type of security pins is what determines the level of security that lock offers. For lockpickers and makers, understanding the mechanism and type of security pins is essential. Since we are all about locks and lockpickers, we decided to explain our readers a bit more about lock pins and their different types.
Let’s start with a brief explanation...
Security Pin Explained:
Security pins were invented to make tumbler locks difficult to pick. So, it wasn’t an invention but an enhancement. Before security pins were introduced, a traditional tumbler lock was quickly becoming vulnerable to security threats. To make it secure, the complex security pins were introduced that were almost unpickable back then. Even now, lockpickers require quite a bit of effort, time, and skills to break into pin tumbler locks with security pins.
The security pins operate under a simple principle called “false set”. As the name suggests, under false set, the lockpicker gets under the false impression that a pin is set. However, the pin stays between the cylinder and the plug, which in turn blocks the full rotation.
Types of Security Pins:
There are many types of security pins but in this post, we will mainly be talking about the 4 most common ones.
1- Spool Pin
It is probably the most common type of pins found in tumbler locks today. Spool pin might look like any other pin from the top and the bottom but if you look closely you will see the difference in the middle section. It is narrower there. This narrow design creates a ridge, which prevents the lockpickers from getting in.
A novice lockpicker is usually unable to pick these locks as the narrow design will enable the lockpicker to rotate the plug only to set the remaining pins. This usually makes the lockpicker think that they have set the pins, however, the pins are under set.
The design of the Spool Pin is smart but that doesn’t mean that it is completely safe. An experienced lock picker can still get into it. We will discuss these details in some other post.
2- Mushroom Pins
If you have seen a mushroom you will easily spot a mushroom pin when you see one. We are not sure if the actual design was inspired by mushrooms but it resembles it very much. The pin is flattened and round at the bottom and slightly broad, with almost the same design at the top. Most locks fitted with a mushroom pin will have it at the top of the lock; aligned with other pins.
With advancement in technology, many lock making companies are putting these mushroom pins at the bottom or either both at the bottom and at the top.
3- Notched Pins
These pins come with small notches around the pin. They are not large but good enough to make the locks secure. The function of these notches is simple - whenever pressure is applied to the cylinder mechanism, these little notches are attached to the shear line.
4- Hybrid Pins
Locks fitted with hybrid pins can be the worst nightmare of any lockpicker. They offer the most secure locking mechanism as compared to any other pins above. As the name suggests, the hybrid pins combine the mechanism of three pins discussed above; making it harder to crack. The famous lock manufacturers combine the design of other three pins (often in random ways) to form hybrid pins.
Although Hybrid pins are considered one of the toughest to pick but as lockpicking gains more popularity, the lock manufacturers will soon have to think of new and innovative pin technology to make the locks more secure.
It’s a never-ending race between the lockpickers and manufacturers!