Comprehensive Lockpicking Guide for Fallout: New Vegas
A comprehensive guide to lockpicking in Fallout: New Vegas

Lockpicking is a minigame within the game. Finishing it will usually lead to caches of loot, pieces of lore (such as diary entries, service logs, etc.), quest items, and more.

The guide is separated into 2 parts- Basic and Advanced. The “Basic” section details the basics of how the minigames are to be completed, while the “Advanced” section details more advanced strategies for beating the minigame.

Lockpicking

Basic Lockpicking

To start a lockpicking minigame, find a locked container somewhere in the Mojave wasteland. To start lockpicking, you will need a certain number of skill points in the Lockpick skill. 

Lockpicking skill requirement table

DifficultyLockpick skill required
Very Easy0
Easy25
Average50
Hard75
Very Hard100
Key RequiredCannot be lockpicked

*Note that increasing the skill does very little unless you break one of the above-listed thresholds.

Once you find a container you can pick, you will also need at least 1 bobby pin. Bobby pins are found randomly throughout the world, but most merchants will also have a couple on sale, listed under the “Miscellaneous” tab.

Once you have both a bobby pin and the required skill, you can start picking the lock.

While picking a lock, you will see a screen with a screwdriver and a bobby pin. Use either the mouse (on PC) or the right thumbstick (on consoles/with a controller) to move the bobby pin. Use the A key (on PC) or the left thumbstick (on consoles/with a controller) to move the screwdriver. 

Diagram of the lockpicking minigame | Fallout: New Vegas
Diagram of the lockpicking minigame

The more the screwdriver moves, the closer the bobby pin is to the correct position. When the screwdriver has moved 90°, the lock opens. Note that the correct position is more and more difficult to find the higher the difficulty of the lock.

Slightly turned screwdriver. The lock is far from being unlocked | Fallout: New Vegas
Slightly turned screwdriver. The lock is far from being unlocked
Almost fully turned screwdriver | Fallout: New Vegas
Almost fully turned screwdriver

If you select the wrong position of the bobby pin while lockpicking, the bobby pin will start to become damaged (indicated by how bent it is). Eventually, it will snap, removing it from your inventory.

Undamaged bobby pin. The bend is exactly in the middle | Fallout: New Vegas
Undamaged bobby pin. The bend is exactly in the middle
Damaged bobby pin The bend is far closer to the screwdriver | Fallout: New Vegas
Damaged bobby pin The bend is far closer to the screwdriver

Advanced Lockpicking Strategies

  • Exiting the lockpicking minigame will reset the health of the bobby pin, but it will also randomize the required position of the bobby pin, effectively resetting the minigame.
  • The game also allows you to “Force” the lock. This skips the minigame, replacing it with a percentage chance to succeed in unlocking the lock. DO NOT DO THIS. If the percentage fails, the lock will become permanently destroyed, and the only way to open it will be through an appropriate key (provided that it exists), or through the Infiltrator perk. If you accidentally break a lock, it’s best to reload a previous save.
    • On the PC version of the game, quicksaving right in front of a locked object, forcing the lock, and reloading the save if it fails can be a fairly fast strategy to open a lock if you’re having problems with completing the minigame. This is even faster if the game is installed on a Solid State Drive. You can do this on console, but the loading times are extremely long so it’s only worthwhile if it’s something you absolutely must have and you have zero confidence you can manually pick the lock yourself.
  • Take good care to not break any bobby pins while you’re playing the Dead Money DLC, as there is a very limited number of lockpicks around the DLC’s area.