What’s a Bump Key and How to Avoid its Dangers?

Bump Key

If you are residing in San Jose, and search up, ‘best-locksmith San Jose’, or ‘Locksmith in Mountain View’ for the sake of randomness; you are sure to get a few good professionals with all the tools that can get you out of any home lockout situation in seconds. You definitely need these trustworthy guys on your side. 


What you don’t need are pesky intruders that use those exact same tools to get into your house. Aside from forced entry, which may not be that common in well-lit areas, and crowded apartment buildings and other such communal housing; lockpicks remain a serious concern for homeowners. And since insurance companies love any excuse to rip you off, you get a double whammy, as you can’t show them any signs of forced entry. 


But you’re probably thinking, how many people on an average would have the skills to be locksmiths. And more than that, how many of them realistically would risk the time it takes and be detected by neighbours or somebody else. 


Well, it’s not just locksmiths you need to worry about. There is a weapon far more dangerous for unforced entry. And it costs much less money and effort than a set of lockpicking tools. 


We are talking about the notorious “Bump Key.” Bump keys are keys that are specially cut for the purpose of ‘bumping’ a lock. This can bypass  security mechanisms built into about 90-95% of traditional pin and tumbler locks! 


Now what is ‘lock-bumping’ and a pin and tumbler lock? You might ask. 


So think of a pin and tumbler lock, as a physical version of the password that you digitally type to enter into your computer, let’s say for instance. It’s not too complicated of a mechanism, and most home locks in North America are using this very system. Just replace the characters in a password, with tumblers, or ‘pins’ of varying length, that can be accessed only by a key that perfectly aligns with those pins. When both the pins on the cylinder locking mechanism, and the ridges of the correct key align, you have an opening to your home! This alignment is also called the ‘shear-line’.


Sounds simple right? 


And that’s exactly the problem with them. Any lock that is not designated as a ‘high-security lock’ or not made by a good company, is therefore vulnerable to all sorts of malpractices. As long, as you can mimic those shear-lines, you are good to go! 


What a bump key, or 999 key (no, it’s not the lucky number for lockpickers!) is simple. Firstly, know that anyone can make their own bump keys if they have the right tools, or buy them from legitimate locksmith shops (yes, this is one of the ways we gain entry if your lock is easy to bump). Now, the same bump key needs to be hit with a wooden mallet, or a simple blunt object to create a force, strong enough to move the cylinder pins in a traditional tumbler lock. 


The way they do this is simple. Since the bump keys are designed to have their ridges cut to the maximum depth (hence, where 999 comes from), they can potentially fit into any lock hole. Now, the purpose of the accompanying blunt force is just to make sure that the ridges of the bump key, quickly touch all the cylindrical pins in one go and create a temporary shear-line, where the cylindrical pins push upwards into the spring mechanism. All you need is a bit of practice, and a little sleight of hand to take advantage of this temporary shear-line and turn the knob to open the door! 


For further explanation in detail, we recommend you read this


Now, bump keys are nothing new. This was kind of a trade secret of us locksmiths, before the internet was full of videos on filing your own bump keys. Now, this is simply a security hazard and is not to be taken lightly. 




Our no.1 solution towards lock bumping is to go towards installing a proper, ‘high-security lock’. No, this is not the kind of high security for intelligence agencies and bank vaults that we’re talking about, but the security that gives you a lock, with a key that has restrictions on its replication, and a compex locking mechanism that would confuse even expert lockpicks. We suggest looking at companies like Mul-T-lock, which is an internationally reputed brand from Israel, and has keys that can be only replicated by reputed service centers. 


A second, but probably more expensive and tech-savvy solution is using traditional keyless entry systems, and smart locks. These have no need of a physical key at all. They both have their advantages over the other, and are relatively easy to install by most professional locksmiths. Many of them can easily fit into your existing door infrastructure without much hassle! 


We, at Real Time Locksmiths, have a reputation for integrity, and excellent customer service in San Jose and the entirety of the Silicon Valley. We have been aces in the locksmith business, and can help you out of any Home Lockout situation, and use that same knowledge to prevent unwanted break-ins into your house, at any place, any time! 

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