I bought a 2-pack of 1100s that was on clearance at the hardware store. The packaging was covered in a thick layer of dust... turns out, based on the 3-digit date code (YEN), the locks were made in 2001 (!) They had been sitting for 20 years before I rescued them.
I finally picked a green-belt level lock (the abovementioned American Lock 1100). To officially get my green belt, I'm supposed to video myself gutting and reassembling the lock... I feel like wifey would lose even more respect for me if I did that though. I think I'm ok with being a green belt in my head.
Edit - It's actually a blue belt lock! Holy shit. #lockpickinggod
Here's a tip for those American locks or any locks with serrated pins or mushroom pins. Start by lifting all the pins to the top with heavy pressure on the wrench. Slowly ease off the the wrench pressure until you hear/feel four or five pins drop. Keep some pressure on the wrench. This usually locks several pins in the correct position, leaving you just one or two to lift into position.
Occasionally the thing will just pop all the pins right into place which is very satisfying.
MrX!!! Why am I not surprised that you're into this shit.
I think that's exactly what happened the first time I opened the 1100 - I thought I had overset every pin, because the bitting on the key called for three zero-lift pins (bitting code 88784). I released most of the tension til a bunch of pins dropped then I lifted the back one (#5) again and it opened right up. Then I quickly opened the lock two more times by focusing on pins 3 and 5 and being careful not to lift the other 3.
That Kwikset Smartkey thing is intimidating. I have zero feel for it.
I'll have to try one of those. I used to be really good, but I haven't played around much with locks for a long time.
I got really into it in college. I used to make my own picks out of street cleaner bristles that you could find in the gutters. Turns out they're high quality spring steel and just the right size. When you make your own you can make them really delicate but very effective.
Right now I just have a set of mediocre commercial picks.