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SouthOrd 22 Piece Lock Pick Set Review

Southord 22 Piece Lock Pick Set (c2010) - Review
By Andy M
• Good variety of hooks
• Strong yet good manoeuvrability in narrow European keyway
• Great feedback
• Great finish
• A well-made case
• No thickness to the handles can bring hand fatigue with extended use
• Rigidity of the picks could be improved, but for a beginner this will be fine
• Possibly too make worm rakes (but no biggy)
• Are you really going to use that ‘Y’ / tweezers tension wrench?
Some years ago in my own hunt for that “magic” set of picks to get me up and running, as well as the years since of posting and seeing advice for beginners, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Southord’s 22 Piece  Set (C2010) gets mentioned most often as the place to begin. And for fare reason too.
Southord offer a range of pick sets that make them stand out way above some of the gimmicky ridden efforts you can find on the net with their funky shapes and medieval looking weird things.  With Southord, I find you not only get a level-headed variety of picks with profiles that work well in narrow European keyways, but you also get good strong feedback as you pick, and a finished quality that shows they actually care about their tools. 
The only thing two things that don’t hit the sweet spot with me and the Slimlines in general is the thickness of the handles. Since they’re the same thickness as the pick shafts, I found quite some hand fatigue once I’d be picking for a couple of hours. If you’ve got older hands like mine (46 year old hands to be exact), and you think this would be an issue, I’d suggest going for the Southord MAX picks in the 0.023” thickness. They have some great handles, and are the same pick profiles as the Slimlines. If not, you could use a couple of layers of hockey tape sealed over with heat-shrink tubing on the handles. In that way, you get some thickness, some grip, and they still look nice and smart, without losing too much feedback.
The other point you need to be aware of is that the rigidity of the picks could be better, but for a beginner set of average quality, I think it’s fine. There’s very little vertical bend in the pick as you press on the lock pins, but there is more than enough horizontal bend if you give the pick a turning motion to set a pin. However, I think this is only a minor point when it comes to the over-all picture. I say this because at least they bend instead of breaking in the hands of heavy-handed beginners. 
Now, let’s get into some juicy details.
First off, if you really want to learn the skills of a picker, you need a nice variety of hooks. And of the 15 included picks in the 22 piece set you got a nice and generous helping of 6. Not bad at all. Within those 6 profiles, you have the ability to reach shallow pins, high pins and that monkey combination to make all pickers curse, the high pin sitting behind the low pin. Factor in a good quality stainless steel cut to give a good narrow profile to manoeuvre in restrictive keyways, and you’re really on the right track. 
Then Southord also throw in a small and large version of the ever important half-diamond, which will also serve well with sorting out dimple locks. For true picking tools, you really couldn’t ask for more from that point of view.
And before I get onto rakes, I need to say something about the magic of all magic called “feedback”. Any pick with *rap feedback is no use at all. You need (and that’s with a big fat capital ‘N’) to know what’s going on inside the lock and answer the essential questions of “Is that pin now set?” “Or did I just overset it?” “Which in the hell is the next binding pin?” Without your picks and your experience teaming up to give you those answers you’re going to be as proficient at picking as a monkey playing heart surgeon. No doubt. All your info is coming from the fingers holding the pick, and the sound of how the pins respond under the springs. That is all you have. And thankfully, Southord’s once piece pick design gives it to you.
Now let’s talk rakes. In this set you get the classic City rake, 3 Worm rakes of different spacings  and angles, and a ‘W’ rake. That’s all you need, and even though I’d assert that 3 worms is a bit over the top, I guess it’s not going to hurt any to have an extra to mess with. If it pops the lock you’re looking at, then who’s to quibble? 
And that’s not it. You also get the ball and double ball (Snowman) pick that come in handy for wafers locks. 
OK, next up is the subject of tension tools. There is no shortage of pickers that would assert that the art of applying tension should get far more attention than the art of using the pick. If you’ve got the tension wrong, you stand no chance, and you might as well go back to our primate practicing heart surgery. In this 22 piece set you get a fare selection to start with, but the one disappointment I found is that pesky ‘Y’ / tweezers tension tool thingy. It just doesn’t want to sit well in a wafer lock keyway, and I swear on my cat you’ll spend more time picking it up off the floor as it pings out, than you’ll spend picking the lock with it.
Now put all that in a very nicely made real leather zipper case and you have something that looks the business and gives you everything you need to start out. All you need now is a regular soaking in that very special sauce called “practice”.  
Overall, what you get in this case is consistently tried and tested profiles that give you plenty of scope to experiment, and find what suits the variety of locks you meet. No set is perfect, but the Southord’s 22 Piece Set is a solid place to start. I feel sure you’ll be recommending it to others in the future.
Written by Andy M.