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Overviews per game

Locks are found throughout the wasteland on doors, safes and containers. There are two kinds of locks, mechanical and electronic. There are two ways to open a lock, use either a key or to pick the lock. For the latter a set of lock picks is required, either mechanical or electronic depending on the lock.

In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the player can use their Lockpick skill to pick a lock, and certain perks are required in Fallout 4. While these locks are can be picked with bobby pins, some can also be unlocked with keys and some require keys in order to be opened.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas

Difficulty Required Lockpick XP reward
Very Easy 0 20
Easy 25 30
Average 50 40
Hard 75 50
Very Hard 100 60

Locks come in five difficulties: very easy, easy, average, hard and very hard. The locks you can pick depends on your Lockpick skill (see table to the right). Difficulty and your Lockpick skill also determine the probability of success for an attempt to force a lock open (see force lock below).

Fallout 4

Locks come in four difficulties: novice (which can be picked from the beginning of the game), and advanced, expert, and master (which require ranks in the Locksmith perk tree; one rank for advanced, two ranks for expert, and three ranks for master locks). The feature to force a lock has also been removed from the game.

Picking a lock


  • In order to pick a lock you must have a Lockpick skill or Locksmith perk rank high enough for the difficulty of the lock, and you must possess at least one bobby pin.
  • Picking a lock on a door or container takes the form of a mini game:
    • Insert a bobby pin and a screwdriver (a free, weightless item which does not appear in your inventory) into the keyhole of the lock.
    • Rotate the pin to trip the tumblers in the lock, and the screwdriver to turn the lock in place of a key.
    • Move the bobby pin and screwdriver one at a time. The aim is to position the pin correctly and then turn the lock fully.
    • If the screwdriver is moved while the bobby pin is in the wrong position the pin may snap, requiring you to try again with a new one.
  • The difficulty level of the lock determines how accurately the bobby pin must be placed. A very easy lock can often be opened simply by turning the screwdriver, without moving the bobby pin at all. In a very hard lock, the bobby pin must be placed more precisely.
  • Wrongly placed bobby pins generally break on the third attempt to turn the screwdriver (more if used carefully). To avoid breakage of a weakened pin, simply exit the lockpick screen and try again. This will reset your pins to full strength.

Lockpicking in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Picking locks in older Fallouts is simpler than in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas; instead of a mini-game, a lockpick skill roll will take place every time you use the skill on a door or a container. A successful roll will open the lock, a failure will not. A critical failure will break the lock, rendering it unavailable until the next day.

The lockpick skill can be used on unlocked doors and containers as well, and locking them will give the same amount of experience as unlocking a locked one (25 XP). Note that one door or container can give experience only once via lockpicking.

Force lock

In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, it is also possible to skip the mini game by attempting to force a lock open. The probability of success for this action depends on your Lockpick skill and the difficulty of the lock. The only combination which has a 100% success rate is a very easy lock with a Lockpick skill of 90-100; every other combination will have a smaller percentage.

If you fail at forcing the lock open it will break, and no other attempt at opening it can be made unless you have the Infiltrator perk (which grants a second attempt) or the appropriate key (if there is one).

Behind the scenes

  • The way in which lock picking is portrayed in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 is almost completely inaccurate. A torque wrench (screwdriver) and a pick (bobby pin) are present, but the action of actually picking the lock is nothing like what a pin tumbler lock or most other locks with a cylindrical design would require to successfully manipulate the lock.

Icon fusion pulse charge.pngThe following is based on Fallout 3 behind-the-scenes mechanics and similar content.
Icon fusion pulse charge.pngThe following is based on Fallout: New Vegas behind-the-scenes mechanics and similar content.
Icon fusion pulse charge.pngThe following is based on Fallout 4 behind-the-scenes mechanics and similar content.
  • It is possible to permanently alter the mechanics behind the lockpicking process, thus making it easier or even more difficult, by adding certain variables to the game's configuration file. Further explanations can be found for
    • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas under the iConcentricLengthMaxAverage setting and the following, and under the iSweetSpotLengthMaxAverage setting and the following.
    • Fallout 4 under the iConcentricLengthMaxAverage setting and the following, and under the iSweetSpotLengthMaxAverage setting and the following.


  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png Once your bobby pin breaks if you immediately press the "Force Lock" key the lock will be picked. The screwdriver continues moving with out a pin hitting any tumblers.