I received this set a week ago and have been playing around with it quite a bit. Here are some impressions:
The case is nylon with, I think, a cardboard filling to give it some backbone; the picks are held in place by elastic band. The picks themselves are VERY shiny (because of their nickel plating, presumably) and the handles are not black (as in the picture on lockpicks.com) but off-brown plastic things.
They feel good when handling them, but I liked and like the SouthOrd picks with metal handles fine, too. Somehow, those seem more solid, more reliable. The Navigator picks are made of spring steel and stainless steel; DrDave has suggested they are made of some sort of alloy of both kinds of steel. I myself think that some picks are made of spring steel, others of stainless. The two degrees of springiness seem to suggest this, anyway. (Two of the pick designs come in two 'editions', one of which is thicker than the other.) There are two picks with very peculiar tips; I am expecting an e-mail from Mr Brockhage himself explaining some more about the set and these oddly shaped tools. (Tip is set at an angle to the tang, and has what you might call a bend in it.)
Mostly, this set is a set of hooks. There is no diamond pick, no ball pick, and the hook-diamond pick that the site mentions (http://www.lockpicks.com/product.asp?3=265
) is a strange affair, basically yet another (thick) hook with a tiny little pointy segment on the tip. When you hold it horizontally, you get the point: there is a kind of small V-shape in the tip, in which the lock's key pins fit sort of snugly. I have come across several locks, however, whose keyways are too narrow for this tool.
My favourite is the number 8 pick, which is a tiny, thin hook. It slopes up subtly at the end, allowing it to be inserted smoothly (unlike SouthOrd regular hooks, in many, many cases). The tang is extremely thin, but made of strong, slightly springy metal. Because it is so thin, I am finally able to focus on one pin without upsetting the adjacent ones. If I were a tool designer, I'd give all my picks thin, sturdy shanks. Once you've tried it, you won't know what's up with the tapered variety.
The set's tension tools (4 of them) are precisely as shown on http://www.lockpicks.com/product.asp?3=265
. The double-ended wrenches are small (one is thicker than the other, that's the only difference) but work surprisingly well. Perhaps, because of their size, they prevent the use of too much force.
The bottom line: as I received this set just before SouthOrd introduced their C-series (for European/Japanese locks), I have not had a chance to compare picks. One thing is sure - as far as hook picks go, the Navigator set gives you all you need. I have been able to open locks *fast* that took a long time with the regular SouthOrd tools, including a six-pin tumbler with two spool pins. Tiny little padlocks pose no problems anymore. The Navigator set is definitely worth the money - but I'm still going to buy some SouthOrd Euro/Japanese picks, just to see...
That's all for now - once I get word from Barrett Brockhage, I'll post some more on this set.