Pair of police surplus handcuffs, with carry case

How to Escape from Handcuffs

A good pair of professional handcuffs is a must-have collectible and fantastic conversation starter. There’s a world of legitimate uses: from beginning a career as a magician, to ensuring presidential access to nuclear deterrence.

But suppose you lose the key. How do you get back out of them?

Pair of police surplus handcuffs, with carry case
A pair of police surplus Handcuffs


Let’s consider a scenario where you need to make an escape attempt. And the key is nowhere to be found.

The truth of the matter: even the toughest pair of handcuffs won’t resist a combination of the right tools and an appropriate long length of time needed to experiment. Rather, they are temporary restraints for keeping control of an arrested individual on the way to the station or between secure locations.

There’s a lot of different videos online showing various ways to bend a slim piece of metal: a paper clip, a bobbie pin, or similar improvised tool. By manipulating either the lock or by inserting a shim into the ratchet mechanism from the side, a determined individual can lift up the ratchet and pull apart the cuff.

Almost every video online is quick to point out that you should never use this information to evade arrest. But since you’re buying your cuffs at the Sportsman’s Guide, we’re assuming you did this to yourself.



The linked channel, Scam School, is a smorgasbord of useful information for achieving various secret agent-style feats as well as winning plenty of bar bets.

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