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Open-Minded: Rare Element & Coyote Mountain Custom Lock Picks

Coyote Mountain (Left) and Rare Element (Right) picks.

To this point, all of my lock picking has been done with “production” tools.  Some cheap and flimsy, others high-quality. But this is my first foray into hand-made & custom lock picks.

Rare Element Lock Picks and Coyote Mountain Trading Post.

This review’s purpose is not to pit one against the other, but rather to showcase both on their own merits as they are different.  They are also custom-made for me, so your experience may differ.  With that in mind, here are my thoughts.

Coyote Mountain

I received a selection of picks and some other “tools” (including bump keys, handcuff keys, tiny patches, a glow stick & beads and a fantastic little pouch.

The picks themselves feature a variety of profiles.  They come wrapped in cordage and shrink-sleeved with a rubber covering.  Then they’re topped with little silver skulls to ensure a level of bad-assery when picking.

The grip and finish are fantastic, however I find that the handles are a bit narrow for my hands.  It’s not that it hinders use in any way, it just causes me to use a different grip.

These picks went through those locks with ease.

The only preference I’d change on these is the flexibility (bend from side to side) of the picks.  Yes, I know that I’m not supposed to be bending them from side to side, but I am used to slightly more rigid picks.  Again, personal preference.  This does not detract from their effectiveness, I just find that the feedback takes some getting used to.

The second set I received was a “pen kit” which is a super-minimalist kit which fits into a pen body – VERY COOL.  I took it along with me on a recent trip to New York and had zero issues with it.  It works equally as well as the “regular” picks, but the handles are bare and the turning tool is not as versatile as the full-sized one.

The finish and polish on these are great and there is no noticeable drag through the lock bodies in any of my practice cylinders or padlocks.

Rare Element Lock Picks

The hand-made custom set of Rare Element lock picks I received took a while (RELP has a waiting list for his stuff, so be patient, it’s worth the wait) and arrived in great shape.

I opted for a mix of rakes and some custom turning tools.  The picks came in two thicknesses and various similar profiles.  All were high-carbon steel.  One was even hand engraved.  VERY COOL!

The finish on these had an “acid etched” look to them which looked great and still benefited from the polishing they received.  No drag or snag in any of the tested lock bodies.

The only thing I found, well, needing of some adaptability, were the custom turning tools that came with the picks.  They had slightly different ends then I’ve been used to but once I got the hand of them and figured out a comfortable way to hold them, they worked very well.  Also, the handles are straight steel with no additional grips or wrap added.  This is personal preference.  They are wider than the CMTP picks, but this isn’t a negative.  Just different.

Smooth action and shaping made these practice locks a breeze.

Picking cylinders and padlocks went very well with both sets.  I have to say, it’s very difficult to pick one over the other, so I won’t.  Both sets are fantastic.  I would advise that if you have particular wants or needs that you contact each and discuss.  Custom jobs are for particular needs and have requirements that only the person making the items can take into account.  They’re top-notch, period.  If you’re just starting out then of course, wreck some production stuff.  But if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, or are working with these types of tools professionally, do consider checking what these guys have to offer.

Check them each out at their addresses below:

Coyote Mountain Trading Post

Rare Element Lock Picks

Till next time, Stay safe and stay crafty.

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Upcoming Training – Don’t miss out!

Elevate your operational capabilities with True North Tradecraft, offering unique skillsets for law enforcement and security professionals in Canada.

In cooperation with The CORE Group

Covert Entry skill sets increase operational capabilities for government, law enforcement and security operators across a wide array of situations.  Expand your skills today.

We still have a couple of seats left for our May courses in downtown Toronto…

Covert Entry Concepts  is $865 ($200 deposit to hold a spot) May 12 & 13.

For a description and course details, click here.

Email [email protected] to reserve your spot today!

Safe Dial Mechanics is $510 ($200 deposit to hold a spot) May 14 & 15.

For a description and further details, click here.

Both courses together $1,150 for 4 days of expert instruction and tools to keep!

Reserve your spot now before they fill up!  

E-mail

truenorthtrade[email protected]

today!

 

And don’t forget to register and attend the Blue Line Expo on May 3rd!

The CORE Group.


 

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Why Physical Security?

Tools of the trade. Lock picks and bypass tools for non-destructive entry. Learn the skills. Gain the knowledge. Expand your horizons.

I have often been asked why do I study physical security, locks, lock picking, etc?  It’s usually followed by accusations of either teaching others to be criminals or being a criminal myself.  The only thing criminal about me is the wage I get paid by my employer for the crap I have to deal with.  Aside from that, I find it fun, fascinating and I happen to be pretty decent at it.

Several of the negative interactions have, sadly, been with police officers who mention the points above and question the legalities of tool ownership.  When I offer to them how it would save time, money and headache if they could do a welfare check without destroying a window or door, they suddenly have a different perspective.  It’s a useful skill.  Period.  And if it is used within the proper LEGAL parameters, a very useful one too.  It can even be fun, as there are hobbyist groups – such as The Open Organization Of Lockpickers aka TOOOL (https://toool.us ) – who look at all aspects of locks and even hold international competitions.  On an extreme scale in a time of crisis, what you may need to save a life, either your own or someone else, may be on the other side of a lock.  In such extreme circumstances I’d sooner have the option to access said item than not.

When the heart medication is locked away and no one can find the key. Good thing you can pick the lock and save a life. Or can you? Did you learn before it happened?

I have used my skills in a variety of situations (all legally, of course) to help people into their locked cars (while running with keys inside), being locked out of their houses, freeing their bikes, opening various padlocks and even rescuing stuff from desks, safes, etc.  Those looking to go into law enforcement, security, military, intelligence, investigations (public or private), architecture, locksmithing, transportation or even property management can all gain from learning more about their physical security.  Even to better secure your home or business from potential break-ins.

Like so many other skill sets and abilities, it is the user who wields that knowledge for good or evil.  Knowledge of martial sciences can be applied to harm or defend from harm.  Medical knowledge can be used to again, harm or heal.  Criminals don’t care for the integrity of your front door lock or back window if they are going to rob you.  Locksmiths, law enforcement, security testers and even hobbyists do.  For various reasons, non-destructive bypass of security is a useful tool for even the average home or business owner so that they can make sound decisions for their own safety and to identify the gaps in their security picture.

How difficult is your home to break in to? Are you doing the best you can to deter unwanted access?

Through my years of Government and Security work, the more I learn about the weaknesses in security and physical security specifically, the more effective I have grown to become at evaluating my own personal security picture and that of those who have engaged my services for the same.

If your home or business is protected by bottom-budget hardware and little-to-no planning, you might want to think about taking the step to invest in some education and training and up your security game.

If you’re in the Toronto area in May and wish to take a full-spectrum learning opportunity, come join us for Covert Entry Concepts and even add-on the Safe Dial Mechanics.  It’ll open your eyes to the world around you.

Remember, locks only keep honest people honest.

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

COVERT ENTRY CONCEPTS flyer_May 2018

SAFE DIAL MECHANICS flyer_May 2018

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Training Opportunity in Toronto – Safe Dial Mechanics – 14 & 15 May, 2018

For the FIRST time in Canada….

The CORE Group

Safe Dial Mechanics – 1st Canadian Offering!


This course will teach Law Enforcement Personnel, Special Operations Forces, and Government employees and security professionals the principles of safe dial mechanics.

This course is basically two courses in one. Day 1 you will learn everything you need to know to install, dial, open, change the combination, diagnose and troubleshoot UL Group 2 mechanical combination locks. By the end of the day you will be able to completely disassemble and reassemble most mechanical dials in use today. Some non-invasive covert methods will also be discussed.

Day 2 we will teach you how to use the design flaws in mechanical combination locks to manipulate the wheels and components to obtain a locks combination while opening the locking mechanism. All mechanical locks have factory defects, known as tolerances, which allows them to be manipulated.

This is a non-invasive method for obtaining access to a safe as well as retrieve the combination. Since the techniques taught in this class are largely nondestructive, agencies will also benefit by having a decrease in costs and civil actions due to property damage.

The cost of the course is $510 CAD with a $200 deposit required to hold your place.  If taken with Covert Entry Concepts, the cost is $1150 for both.

Equipment:

There may be an opportunity to purchase specialized equipment during this course. Details to follow in the logistics e-mail which will be sent out to attendees.

Logistics:

A logistics e-mail will be sent out to attendees separately prior to course.

 

E-mail us at:

[email protected]

For more information and payment instructions.

***SEE FLYER LINK AT BOTTOM***

Course Schedule is:

Mon May 14: 0800hrs – 1700hrs

Tues May 15: 0800hrs – 1700hrs

***Mon & Tues breakfasts, coffee and snacks included.

This course is being offered by The CORE Group      (www.enterthecore.net) , facilitated, supported and sponsored by True North Tradecraft (www.truenorthtradecraft.ca).

SAFE DIAL MECHANICS flyer_May 2018

 

DISCLAIMER:  *Nothing in the course offering is intended to be used for unlawful purposes.  Consult with your local laws prior to employing these techniques in the field.  This is intended for lawful use ONLY.  True North Tradecraft and its partners do not condone or advocate illegal activities.*

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Training Opportunity in Toronto – Covert Entry Concepts – May 12 &13, 2018

Back by popular demand and exclusive in Canada…

The CORE Group

Covert Entry Concepts – Only Canadian Offering!
This course will teach Law Enforcement Personnel, Special Operations Forces, and Government employees and security professionals the principles of lock bypassing and making covert entries into buildings or properties.

This class is entirely hands on. From the moment you enter the course you will have tools in your hand and are working to exploit various locking mechanisms. Students will learn to recognize the vulnerabilities in existing hardware, how they are attacked, or sometimes even bypassed entirely. You’ll walk away with the skills needed to compromise most of the locks used in North America today. Students will be much better positioned to provide service in a variety of tactical areas: check welfare calls, search and arrest warrant service, establishing sniper positions, sneak and peak operations, surveillance operations, fire safe opening, and breaking and entering investigations.

Since the techniques taught in this class are largely nondestructive, agencies will also benefit by having a decrease in civil actions due to property damage.

The cost of the course is $865 CAD with a $200 deposit required to hold your place.  If taken with Safe Dial Mechanics, the cost is $1150 for both.

E-mail us at:

[email protected]

for more information and payment instructions.

(***See link to flyer at bottom***)

 

Schedule is:

Sat May 12: 0800hrs -late (dinner and a appropriately-themed movie to end the evening)

Sun July 30: 0800hrs – 1700hrs

Included Equipment:

Included in the cost of the course is a comprehensive set of high quality tools that you can use on the job or practice at home to maintain the skills you’ll build in class.
• High Quality 12 Piece Pick Set
• Set of covert jigglers
• Set of warded picks
• Bump Hammer
• Bump keys
• An e-z decoder
• Underdoor tool

***Team dinner scheduled and provided for Saturday night.***

This course is being offered by The CORE Group      (www.enterthecore.net) , facilitated, supported and sponsored by True North Tradecraft (www.truenorthtradecraft.ca)


 

COVERT ENTRY CONCEPTS flyer_May 2018

 

DISCLAIMER:  *Nothing in the course offering is intended to be used for unlawful purposes.  Consult with your local laws prior to employing these techniques in the field.  This is intended for lawful use ONLY.  True North Tradecraft and its partners do not condone or advocate illegal activities.*

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Training Opportunity – Covert Entry Concepts – Toronto, July 2017

For the FIRST time in Canada….

The CORE Group

Covert Entry Concepts – 1st Canadian Offering
This course will teach Law Enforcement Personnel, Special Operations Forces, and Government employees and security professionals the principles of lock bypassing and making covert entries into buildings or properties.

This class is entirely hands on. From the moment you enter the course you will have tools in your hand and are working to exploit various locking mechanisms. Students will learn to recognize the vulnerabilities in existing hardware, how they are attacked, or sometimes even bypassed entirely. You’ll walk away with the skills needed to compromise most of the locks used in North America today. Students will be much better positioned to provide service in a variety of tactical areas: check welfare calls, search and arrest warrant service, establishing sniper positions, sneak and peak operations, surveillance operations, fire safe opening, and breaking and entering investigations.

Since the techniques taught in this class are largely nondestructive, agencies will also benefit by having a decrease in civil actions due to property damage.

The cost of the course is $675 USD or $895 CAD with a $200 deposit required to hold your place.

E-mail us at:

[email protected]

for more information and payment instructions.

(***See link to flyer at bottom***)

 

Schedule is:

Fri July 28: 1800hrs – late

Sat July 29: 0800hrs -1700hrs

Sun July 30: 0800hrs – 1700hrs

Included Equipment:

Included in the cost of the course is a comprehensive set of high quality tools that you can use on the job or practice at home to maintain the skills you’ll build in class.
• High Quality 12 Piece Pick Set
• Set of covert jigglers
• Set of warded picks
• Bump Hammer
• Bump keys
• An ez decoder
• Underdoor tool

***Friday dinner, Sat & Sun breakfasts, coffee and snacks included. Team dinner scheduled for Saturday night.

This course is being offered by The CORE Group      (www.enterthecore.net) , supported and sponsored by True North Tradecraft (www.truenorthtradecraft.ca) and Tactical Beaver Ltd.( www.tacticalbeaver.co ) .

“TB Classic” Logo Design

Tactical Beaver will have a selection of its Premier Apparel line available for sale during the duration of the course at a discount for attendees.

COVERT ENTRY CONCEPTS_July 2017 flyer

 

DISCLAIMER:  *Nothing in the course offering is intended to be used for unlawful purposes.  Consult with your local laws prior to employing these techniques in the field.  This is intended for lawful use ONLY.  True North Tradecraft and its partners do not condone or advocate illegal activities.*

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Training Review – Covert Entry Concepts by The CORE Group

How often have you thought “hey, I wish I could learn that…but the training is only available in the US.  So much for that.”?  I have.  Many times.  So, in my quest to build my own skills, I saved up some money and travelled to the United States to attend training I had my eye for months.

In November 2016, I had the privilege of attending the Covert Entry Concepts (CEC) training course in Maryland.  It was put on by The CORE Group in their Maryland facilities and wow, what a good time it was.

The CORE Group

(*I lucked-out by taking two courses back-to-back at The CORE Groups’ Maryland facilities, the Covert Entry Concepts and Physical Security Analyst.  This is a review for Covert Entry Concepts.  I will post a review of the Physical Security Analyst soon.)

The purpose of the course, in broad strokes, is to be given an education in physical security, how to identify and exploit any weaknesses with the ultimate goal to test those weaknesses and close any found loopholes for a client to protect them from attack.  As a security professional myself, I feel that expanding my skill sets is a responsibility to make me more effective in my job.

About The CORE Group (from their website):

The CORE Group was initially formed by a trio of security auditors and researchers who had collaborated on numerous projects and conference events over the years. At present, their combined experience in the physical security sector represents decades of hard knowledge and applied work.  The CORE Group finds innovative ways to augment typical security auditing and assessment. Most companies incorporate digital penetration testing and web application testing into their standard procedure of self-assessment. The CORE Group offers a variety of packages that can greatly assist in a company’s understanding of their security posture at a fraction of the cost of larger, more “conventional” testing.

The CORE Group conducts training all over, training Law Enforcement & Military, Government Agencies, Physical Security specialists, Red Team and PenTesters, IT Security and Locksport enthusiasts.  They attend many of the “cons” (such as Black Hat, DEF CON, SANS, etc.) throughout the US, many times running the “Lockpick Village”  and providing intensive training to professionals all over.

The course was a 2-day, Monday/Tuesday set-up.  A mixed bag of Law Enforcement, Military, physical security professionals and “other, government” types.  A good group of people to get to know and learn with.  Our Instructor, Rob, Chief of the Law Enforcement training division of The CORE Group, was welcoming and professional from the word “go”.  After some quick ice-breakers, we moved right into an introduction to lockpicking.

Learning lock picking concepts.

Discussions, anecdotes, slides and practical demonstrations were all used to great effect in training to underline the principles and applications for what were were learning about in that moment.  Everything was helped by Rob’s sense of humour, positive attitude, patience and obvious expertise in the subject matter.  We worked on a vast array of topics.  Lock-picking; bumping; bypasses; construction; safes; tamper-evident seals; elevators; impressioning; the Mace Face Challenge; casting keys; attack vectors; padlocks; restraint escapes and so much more.  So much information was covered that, even weeks later, I found myself re-reading the detailed notes I had made in an effort to absorb it all.  Not only was it an incredible amount of practical and useful information, but much of it was eye-opening and fascinating as well.  Not all aspects are covered in every session that Rob delivers due to geography or other issues, but my experience was just great.

Here is a look at some of the stuff we got to play with:

Learning to cut keys.
Classroom all set-up.
The challenges ahead…
The tools.  The cookie is of the utmost importance.
Practicing skills.

After enjoying amazing chicken, fantastic bbq, getting to know the other participants and doing an awesome escape exercise preceded by burpees (I hate burpees) it ended up being a really great time.

I felt as if it was a skill-building game-changer.  The depth and breadth of knowledge shared and learned was exceptional.  Though these are all perishable skills requiring regular practice, the base is unmistakably solid.  It certainly opened the door to a world of opportunities.  The people I met and the confidence in my abilities were well worth the cost and effort to travel south of the border.  I highly recommend taking this training if you have the means and opportunity.  It’s a staple of tradecraft and is useful in a myriad of situations (all ethically bounded, of course).  Use your powers for good.  And if you work hard, you can earn one of these…

The prize.  Earned.  BOOM.

 

NOW…

If you’re interested in taking this course IN CANADA, True North Tradecraft, in partnership with Tactical Beaver, will be sponsoring a unique run of this course in downtown Toronto on the weekend of July 28-29-30, 2017, to be taught by Rob of The CORE Group.  This training is not available anywhere else in Canada (to my knowledge – and I’ve searched) and is well worth it’s weight in gold.  It will include top-tier instruction, a kit of equipment for you to practice on and keep when you’re done and breakfast daily with dinner on the Friday night.  For more detailed information, e-mail us at [email protected] .  Spaces are limited and booking up already.  Tactical Beaver will also have a table with great apparel available to purchase at a discount.

Check it out.  It’s a really great opportunity to learn from an expert in the field and do so IN CANADA!

See you at CEC – Toronto!

-Stay Crafty