Help for Finding the Combination for a Master Lock that Hasn't Had the Dial Turned Since the Last Time It Was Locked
After you close your own combination lock, always spin the dial around twice to thwart other people from finding your combination by using this method!

Last Number:

If the dial hasn't been turned, it will be at or very close to the last number in the combination. (Sometimes the dial jumps a few marks when the lock is closed, but most of the time it moves very little.) Make a note of the dial position. Pull up on the shackle and, while pulling, move the dial back and forth and see if the the dial is at a sticking place. If it is, check that the middle of the sticking place is close to or at a number, which is the last number. If not, the dial may have moved far enough to reach a fake sticking place. Do not move the dial any more now; by doing so you may prevent yourself from finding the correct first and second numbers. You can locate the correct last number later.

On the "old" Master locks, by getting the last number, you have already narrowed your search to 64 possible combinations. By getting the second number, you narrow the search further, to 8 combinations.

Second number:

This technique takes some experience to develop. If you don't know the combination, you have only one chance to do this test. Therefore, practice first on a lock where you know the combination. Open the lock by dialing the combination normally, then lock it. Locate the second number as follows:

Listening technique (most accurate:) If you have a stethoscope or similar listening device, place it against the back of the lock. If not, hold your ear to the back of the lock. Turn the dial LEFT slowly. When you reach the spot where the user stopped when the second number was dialed, the will be a soft "ding." You can rotate the dial right and then left, slowly, to hear the ding several times to make sure. Each time you do it, the place where the ding is heard may move slightly, further to the right on the lock dial. You may pass the second number by one or two marks, but you should be very close. You may also be off by a mark if the user was sloppy about dialing the second number.

Feel technique (less accurate:) Turn the dial LEFT slowly and feel for a slight increase in the force needed to turn the dial. This slight increase occurs in less than a full turn and at the place where the dial stopped when the second number of the combination was dialed. However, you may pass the second number before you notice the increase in force. Thus, the second number may be a few marks before the increase in force was noticed. Example: increase in force noticed at 10, second number could be 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10.

If you are practicing, redial the combination and try again, as many times as needed, to develop the required "feel," then try it on the lock with unknown combination.

Combined listen and feel:
After you develop the listen and feel techniques, you should be able to hold on to the dial very lightly and spin it fairly fast to the left. When the second number is reached, the ding may be audible and the dial should slip in your hands, stopping at or very close to the second number. You can repeat by turning right and then left, but the dial may stop a little further away from the second number each time.

Using the "Relationship" to Locate the Second Number More Precisely on Master Locks that Follow the "Rules" (use our serial number guide.)

The combinations for the many, if not most, Master locks followed a rule. For any last number, only 10 of the 40 possible numbers for the first number were used. These numbers were the the last number and 9 other numbers, spaced equally, 4 marks apart on the lock dial. For the second number, there were 10 possible numbers, also equally spaced, 4 marks apart on the lock dial, but half way between the possible first numbers. Thus, just finding the correct last number already narrowed down the number of possible combinations to 10 times 10, or 100. However, other limitations narrowed that down further, so no more than 64 of those combinations were actually used. (We can not prove that there weren't any exceptions to the rule, but our examination of well over 100 "old" padlocks and feedback from site visitors found no exceptions.)

If you have the third number, you have the 10 possible first numbers, and this rule will help you select the correct closest second number. In the example above, if the third number were 22, the possible first numbers are 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 30, 34 and 38. The possible second numbers are 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, and 36. The second number, for the feel technique example, must be 8.

First number:

If you have an "old" Master lock, once you have located the second and last numbers, you have narrowed it down to 8 possible combinations, and you will probably find it easiest just to dial 8 combinations. List the 10 possible first numbers that go with your last number. Strike out 2 numbers, the number 2 marks after your second number, and the number 6 marks after your second number. (In the example, where the second number was 8, you would strike out 10 and 14.) Dial the 8 possible combinations, one at a time, in the normal way, and find the combination that opens the lock. For the "new" Master locks, if the second number is even, you can try the even numbers as first numbers. If the second number is odd, try the odd numbers as first numbers. You can safely skip the first number 2 marks after your second number, so there are 19 combinations to try. When the lock opens, also try the numbers on either side of the first number that opened the lock, to find the first number that works best.

If you don't have the third number, you can find it using the methods described when you return from this page.

Please do not overlook the fact that the first and last numbers can be the same! I have kept two Master locks where the first and last number are the same.

Click here for an advanced listen and feel method for locating the first number.

Click here to return.