I've just finished reading a terrific article on manipulation in the Dec 1993 Reeds Security Reporter. I understand the concepts and want to practice on a reasonable combo lock.
My choices are to run out and buy a safe or run out and buy just the lock mechanism. It looks like the S&G Grade 2 is quite common and not too expensive. A Sentry fire or steal safe is locally available and is cheap. Other than my local locksmith, I'm not sure where to get an S&G.
Oh, I want to avoid buying a manipulation proof lock by accident. I also don't want to buy a cream-puff that reveals it's secrets in the first minute. I will want to disassemble and re-assemble the locking mechanism.
I want something where the combination is changeable so that my wife can select a combo and set it each time I that I manage to open it. I find knowing the answer before hand sometimes mars the learning experience.
I'm going to refrain from suggesting. I prefer to keep the knowledge and skills to those of us in the trade. We have all worked hard to gain the knowledge and also to keep this industry very ethical. If I was to help someone learn how to crack safes, then I would be potentially harming the industry. I'm sure that your intentions are honorable, but please understand what someone could do with any information derived from such knowledge. Therefore, I don't give it out. Please don't think of me as an asshole, but I am simply trying to keep this industry trustworthy. If I knew you, it might be different.
Buy a lock. If you've got a friend who's a safe tech, or if you can find a locksmithing swap meet, you may be able to get one that was removed from service; that'd be cheaper... but even new, they aren't all that expensive. Order through a locksmithing distributor if you've made the effort to establish a relationship with one, or through a locksmith if you're unable to buy it directly. Don't forget that you owe the state sales tax if you purchase from the distributor and then "sell" it to yourself.
Sentries won't teach you anything worth learning except how to open Sentries.
The shelf next to me currently has mounted specimens of a recent S&G Group 2 (purchased new), an old Mosler 1R (swapmeet), and an _ancient_ Mosler 4-wheel friction-fence (also swapmeet; would be a collector's item if it was in better condition).
Jack, I agree with you that more detail would not be in the public interest. I'm willing to unbend just enough to tell him that yes, he can buy a lock and try to learn... but beyond that he's on his own, hair drier or not hair drier.
This is a common lock - e.g. the S&G 6730, a Grade 2 with 3 wheels. Yes, it will be less expensive to buy it than to buy an entire safe to get the lock. (It will also take up less room in your home. :-)
Lots of places sell locks. I don't think they have the same restrictions as they might on selling picks, etc. Try looking up Omaha Wholesale Hardware on the web - or just searching. You can look up recommended list prices at
and you should be able to find distributors who will sell at lower prices. E.g. the 6730-100 (lock, dial and ring) might be found for less than $115. The 6741 is less expensive and might meet your needs - I'm not sure what they did to reduce the price.
I can recommend taking off the back and watching. Total disassembly and re-assembly may lead to some trouble.
Then be sure to spend the extra dollar to get the spline key.
I don't see anything wrong with people buying and studying locks. The security in this type of lock is in the design and how well it is made. It is silly to think that the internals (diagrammed in many books, somewhat shown in the S&G catalog, and which are readily visible by taking off the back of the lock case) need to be (or can be) kept secret.
It's unlilkely that you'd accidently buy a new Group 1 (manipulation resistant) mechanical lock; they're more expensive and less common in the commercial marketplace (and, now that GSA doesn't specify new mechanical locks for classified containers, less common even in the government market). (Though if you buy a surplus GSA container, you may end up with one).
The cannonical 3 wheel group 2 lock is the S&G 6730, and it is an excellent object to study to learn the principles and techniques of manipulation. A cutaway version can be helpful for seeing what's going on inside without triggering the relocker; Lockmasters sells one mounted on a little stand.
One frustration in learning is that there's a fair amount of variation between individual samples, and you have only one lock to play with it might turn out to have been a particularly well made one (with a very straight fence and wheels of very close diameter). So you'll want to get hold of a variety of samples (and of different manufacturers); in addition to the 6730, you might look at the LaGard 3330 and the Ilco clone of the group 2 S&G (which I belive is the 673, but don't hold me to that). If you don't have room for a house full of safes, mount the locks on little stands. (You'll also want to practice on a real safe at some point, as the feel is somewhat different when the mechanism is inside an actual container).
I found it very helpful when initially learning to sacrifice one lock by bending the fence a bit, so it hits the first wheel grossly before the second, which it hits before the third. This will give exagerated indications, which will make learning the principles much easier and give you more confidence to move on to a "production" lock.
Personally, I find (group 2) safe lock manipulation easier than picking most locks, although your mileage may vary. It demands a somewhat different set of skills and talents in any case.
Thanks for taking the time to post your opinion. I did not take it as a negative comment. You are entitled to your point of view and were not derisive in any way. Someday I might take the same position :-)
Thanks for the feedback Joe. I was tempted to plop down the $50 on one of the cheap Sentrys (v530) but as noted, a bare lock will take less space and be more representative of what I'd face in a professional context.
The sentry will probably be easier than you want. Although if you already have one no harm in trying it out. Otherwise buy an S&G 6730. The Lagard 3330 is comparable and cheaper but some people consistently find it harder to manipulate. The 6730 is widespread adding a practical aspect to learning it first. You should be able to find both fairly inexpensively. A decent deal would be $75.00 or less retail for the Lagard $100.00 or less retail for the
6730. Lockmasters price is about $25.00 less respectively. You can probably get either on e-bay for a fraction of the retail price. In some cases less than $20.00. Both are key changeable.
In all honesty you should be more concerned with the ease with which books templates, etc are now available from some of the suppliers. Manipulation is unlikely to be used for criminal purposes. It takes time, good light, etc.
You will actually face a fair number of sentry's since they are so common. They are also very easy to drill and repair. Also I forgot to mention in my other post I believe Lockmasters has cutaways available, although I'm sure at greater cost.
The secracy regarding this particular subject is largely overblown and largely also nonexistent. There are numerous books on manipulation in the public domain. Some of them quite detailed. The locks are readily available. The theory behind it in each case is obvious to anyone who examines the individual mechanisms. Manipulation is also next to useless in the circumstances under which a criminal safecracker would have to work. Takes too long, requires good light, etc.