Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Security Bit Sets.

Check out the three- and four-bladed angled and offset Phillips-style driver bits on the left, along with the fork-style drivers above them. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

For a variety of reasons (including protection from dangerous amounts of voltage), a lot of manufacturers assemble their products with specialized screws, often called “security” or “tamper-resistant” fasteners.

Tamper-resistant fasteners are common on pro-spec audio/video equipment—where something as seemingly inconsequential as an errant fingerprint can have a big impact on the device’s performance. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

These fasteners usually feature unique heads, different from an ordinary Philips, Torx, hex, or Allen design and, as such, require a specialty bit to successfully remove them. The logic behind the whole idea of a security fastener is that many casual tinkerers won’t have those specialty bits in their toolbox—which means they won’t be able to remove the fastener, potentially preventing damage or injury along the way.

Problem is, those well-intentioned security fasteners can often stymie an easy repair. And for a lot of electronic devices, they can prevent you from doing a critical adjustment on, say, a trim pot or internal jumper.

It’s worth pointing out that tamper-resistant fasteners are likely installed for a good reason. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you remove them, and take all the precautions necessary to do so safely!

While these may look like standard hex and Torx bits, note their hollow centers that accommodate fasteners with a tamper-resistant pin inside the center of the head. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Good news though, as there are plenty of tool manufacturers making robust security bit sets that include a wide range of different security fastener designs.

We’re not just talking about small, precision fasteners either, read how some specialty bits are often used for larger applications like oil and fluid drain plugs: Beware the 13mm Square Drive Drain Bolt: A Mechanic’s Horror Story

Granted, there are a myriad of different security fastener sizes and types out there—that’s kind of the whole point behind them in the first place.

But by that same token, it’s always helpful to have as many security bits in your arsenal as possible. That way, you won’t have a simple tamper-resistant fastener stop your repair job dead in its tracks.

Often a security bit can be a proprietary design to a limited application or specific manufacturer. For instance, disassembling an old Nintendo NES video game cartridge requires a special bit not usually found in an off-the-shelf security bit set. (Image/OnAllCylinders)


A lot of home mechanics and hobbyists encounter tamper-resistant fasteners on a regular basis, which means there’s a good chance they’ll inevitably bump into new ones they don’t have a bit for—so having plenty of options on-hand makes a security bit set a good gift to give and receive. And the best news? There’s a great chance you’ll find a nice security bit set for under 30 bucks.

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.