In Defence of Raking

I’d like to share some thoughts on raking. I’ve seen a few cases of people claiming that raking is somehow inferior as a method of opening locks, than single pin picking. From what I can see, these people think that raking a lock open is in some way “cheap”, or lacks skill. Personally, I think that’s a little misguided. There is no point in comparing the “skill” required to pull of a particular opening technique. What matters is getting the lock open. At the end of the day, there are only two ways to truly differentiate attacks on physical locks, which aren’t totally arbitrary.

We can meaningfully distinguish overt (destructive), covert (non-destructive) and surreptitious (non-destructive) methods, and we can measure the time taken to defeat a lock. These are the only meaningful metrics in the world of physical security, when it comes to locks. (Although, please note, this is my view, and I’m happy to discuss this further in the comments below)

Destructive attacks will always work against any lock, given enough time. But they don’t defeat the purpose of a lock. Locks are there to let you know that someone broke in. And since that’s their true purpose, destructive attacks aren’t all that interesting, because they don’t actually defeat the purpose of the lock. Covert and surreptitious attacks, on the other hand, do. Covert methods of entry aren’t discernible by casual observation, but they will become apparent under forensic examination. Surreptitious attacks don’t even leave forensic traces. These can be meaningfully distinguished.

The other meaningful metric is time. That’s because of the first point I made about destructive attacks – We know they’ll work. It’s just a matter of time. But that time is crucial. In the world of physical security, Locks ensure that it’ll take at least X amount of time to get through a door. If you can defeat a lock in less time than X, then you can effectively defeat the security of a given building (Assuming that the people who designed the facility security had enough budget and didn’t make glaring errors elsewhere)

On the other hand, methods like “raking”, “single pin picking”, and the like, aren’t actually meaningful to distinguish, as far as lockpicking goes. Both of those methods are generally considered covert, and so both are equally valid for defeating a lock. So, the only question is really if you can beat the lock faster one way, or another. The best method is whichever one is fastest, after factoring in cost, reliability, complexity, and whether it’s overt, covert or surreptitious – the rest is by the by.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to pick up your rakes, especially if you discarded them early on because of comments about them not requiring much skill. There is a skill to raking well, and it’s worth practicing. If anyone has the gall to suggest that you are wasting your time, send them my way!


1 thought on “In Defence of Raking”

  1. As a keen raker (or as some would suggest – low skilled SPP’er ;-p) – I agree that it’s a useful skill to have as it’s often vastly quicker than SPP on poor locks (or a good shortcut to a false set on better locks). The only argument I can see against it, is that it’s likely to leave more damage and leave more marks than SPP might (I’m sure I have padlocks in my box I take round conferences, where the pins are nigh on sawn in half now after years of taking ;-D). But if you care about locksport, rather than spooky real world application of surreptitious entry techniques, I don’t really see why you wouldn’t want to pick up raking as a useful skill set to have.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top