How Anti-Bump and Anti-Pick Features Work in Lock Cylinders

Lock cylinders are a critical component of any lock and key system, as they contain the internal mechanism that recognizes when the correct key is inserted and allows the lock to open. However, lock cylinders can be vulnerable to certain attacks, such as bumping and picking, which allow the lock to be opened without the correct key.

To prevent unauthorized access, many lock manufacturers have developed cylinders with special features to make them more resistant to bumping and picking. Understanding how these protective features work provides valuable insight into the evolution of lock cylinder technology against common break-in methods.

What is Lock Bumping?

Bumping is a technique that uses specially crafted bump keys to open pin tumbler locks. It relies on kinetic energy to bounce the lock’s internal pins momentarily to the correct height, allowing the cylinder to turn and unlock.

To bump a lock, the attacker inserts the bump key and hits or “bumps” it with a device like a hammer. This transfers kinetic energy through the key into the lock, causing the key pins to jump upward into the cylinder housing. If the bump is strong enough, the driver pins stay inside the cylinder while the key pins settle at the correct shear line briefly. The attacker can then turn the bump key and open the lock immediately before the pins reset.

Bump keys are cut or filed down to a shape that matches a typical key for that type of lock. This allows them to bump many different locks of the same model open, making bumping a serious security threat.

Anti-Bump Features in Lock Cylinders

To prevent bumping attacks, lock manufacturers have introduced cylinders with specialized pins and modifications:

  • Spool Pins – These pins have a center ridge that must align perfectly to work. Bumping causes misalignment.

  • Mushroom Pins – The rounded top catches on the cylinder when bumped.

  • Pin-in-Pin – A smaller pin sits inside a chamber in the main pin disrupting alignment.

  • Steel Frames – Reduce transfer of bump energy to the pins.

  • Bumping Clutches – Slip and stop the cylinder from turning when bumped.

These features are designed to obstruct bumping in various ways, by disrupting the precise pin alignments needed to open the lock.

What is Lock Picking?

Picking is a more skilled method of manipulating the internal pins without using the correct key. It requires special pick tools to push up each pin pair individually to the shear line.

To pick a lock, the attacker inserts a tension wrench in the bottom of the keyway and rotates it to apply light pressure. Then, they use a pick to raise the key pins inside the cylinder one at a time, setting each one at the shear line. Once all are set correctly, the cylinder can turn and the lock opens.

Picking relies on exceptional skill with the pick tools, knowledge of a lock’s inner workings, and patient trial-and-error to determine the pin positions. But for experienced pickers, many standard locks can be opened relatively quickly.

Anti-Pick Features in Lock Cylinders

To foil picking attempts, lock manufacturers have added unique obstacles inside the cylinder chamber:

  • Security Pins – These include spool pins, mushroom pins, and other shapes that make setting each pin precisely more difficult.

  • Additional Shear Lines – More lines that all pins must align with makes picking harder.

  • Paracentric Keyways – Irregular keyway warding blocks certain pick tools from accessing the pins.

  • Side Pins – Pins on the side of the keyway must also align to work.

  • Master Wafers – Secondary wafers behind the key pins create more alignment challenges.

These obstacles are intended to greatly increase the difficulty of positioning each pin correctly with picking tools. The more a cylinder has, the longer and more frustrating it typically is to pick open.

Comparing Anti-Bump & Anti-Pick Features

While both bumping and picking are major security weaknesses in basic pin tumbler locks, the ways that cylinder manufacturers have evolved their designs to deter these attacks tend to differ:

In summary, anti-bump features tend to physically block the bump key’s impact on the pins, while anti-pick features aim to intricately frustrate manipulation of the pins to align. Both have the same goal of denying entry without the matching key.

The Evolution of Lock Cylinder Security

JunYing offer CNC Machining Copper Lock Parts with options for advanced security features to protect against bumping and picking attacks. Their cylinders can be produced with combinations of the protective pins, shear lines, chambers, and mechanisms described above to create high-security locks.

Staying ahead of lock picking and circumvention methods requires constant innovation in lock cylinder technology. Understanding how the latest security features foil these exploits will only become more important for keeping unauthorized intruders at bay. Though no lock is impervious, today’s best anti-bump and anti-pick cylinders raise the bar considerably for would-be burglars.

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