Class on manipulation of combo safe combination locks

Combination locks

The mechanical combination lock is used on a wide variety of safes all over the world. Through the centuries, there’s been great progress regarding both its security and ease of use. A proper mechanical combination lock uses four wheels and has up to a hundred million (100.000.000) different combinations. The most common type uses three wheels and has one million theoretically possible codes. This offers plenty of protection against your average burglar.

Manipulation of combination locks

The manipulation method allows for combination locks to be opened non-destructively. By using our senses (touch, sight and hearing) and a clear mind, you’ll have the lock tell you itself precisely what the combination is. This is an essential skill for any safe technician.

How does it work?

Manipulating combination locks is comparable to the game ‘battleship’. The technician ‘asks’ the lock a ‘question’, and the answer of the lock needs to be interpreted correctly. The answers essentially show what ‘s happening inside the lock, even from behind a thick steel plate.

Why manipulate?

Simply put, a safe is just a steel box. With enough violence, this box can always be opened. With a solid safe, however, this can take (too much) time. Certified safes are anchored to the floor and only lock up further with the use of force. 

There are norms and certifications for safes, often coupled to a valuation. The higher the grade of the safe, the higher the valuation. And the higher the grade, the harder it is for a malicious party to crack open.

With the loss of a key or combination, a safe specialist will often drill small holes into strategical spots on the safe. This is a delicate job and sometimes the safe will lock up further anyway. This can also void the safety certifications of the safe. With non-destructive entry, this can’t happen. The safe remains intact and keeps its certification.

Which type?

Certified combination locks can be divided into a few categories. The ‘Group 2’ lock is most common. This lock doesn’t feature any protection against manipulation and is generally quite susceptible to the technique. ‘Group 1’ locks use an MP (Manipulation Proof) mechanism, making them more difficult to manipulate. However, we offer training modules on opening both.

Material / equipment

Though it’s possible to manipulate a safe without any tools, there’s equipment to improve your interpretation of the safe’s responses. A selection of these materials is included in our courses. Others are available through our store (only for registered safe technicians).

How long does it take?

If all goes smoothly, you can manipulate a combination lock within an hour. This depends on the level of the specialist, but the lock needs to be in an alright shape as well. If things take a turn for the worse, however, the safe might simply never let itself be beaten. In this case, we switch to plan B.

Plan B?

Fortunately, we offer the Q3 robot dialer. This robot brute-forces the process by trying every single code, only opening when the safe opens. For a well-functioning three-disc lock, this takes ten hours on average. For four-disc locks, this will take quite long (multiple weeks). In that case, it’s wise to manipulate one or more numbers before letting the robot try the remaining codes. For select clients, we offer a robot that can manipulate by itself and works incredibly fast. We’re distributors of this type of equipment and function as the European service center for the US manufacturer.

Plan C?

In a true worst-case scenario, a hole needs to be drilled to open the safe. By using an endoscope, the specialist can quite literally see the combination to the safe. Sometimes this is done if every minute counts and manipulation would take too long. We offer lesson modules for the drilling of safes as well.

Electronic combination locks?

Modern safes often come equipped with electronic combination locks. We offer tools and equipment to non-destructively open many popular certified electronic safe locks. We also offer lesson modules in opening electronic locks in other ways.

Exclusive to safe specialists

Our diverse lesson modules are only available to safe technicians. There is additional information on safe opening, though this cannot be shared on a public website. Mail [email protected] or call 020 2602442 for more information.