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GeorgeK
01-28-2012, 08:29 PM
How universal are handcuff keys? Are FBI handcuffs going to be different from the local sherriff's? Can my Secret Service agents use their keys to get out of the sherriff's handcuffs? Could they buy a handcuff set from an Army Navy Surplus store and use those keys?

WriteKnight
01-28-2012, 08:40 PM
In addition to the Universal handcuff key, a few modified designs exist, including a key that has been molded to fit behind an officer's badge ...

From googling "Are handcuff keys universal"

Steve Collins
01-28-2012, 09:15 PM
Yes, mostly handcuff keys are universal and very basic.

sk3erkrou
01-29-2012, 01:31 AM
In the United States, all handcuffs take the same key. A normal citizen can buy one of these keys at most gun stores or gun ranges.

horrorshowjack
01-30-2012, 08:40 AM
In the United States, all handcuffs take the same key. A normal citizen can buy one of these keys at most gun stores or gun ranges.

Also the same key used in commercial thumbcuffs.

blacbird
01-30-2012, 08:59 AM
In the United States, all handcuffs take the same key. A normal citizen can buy one of these keys at most gun stores or gun ranges.

For which reason, in addition to expense, a lot of law enforcement agencies are going to high-strength plastic zip-ties, which are cheap at any major grocery store, require no key and you'd have to be Superman to break out of. To get them off, you have to cut them, and even that requires a pretty serious pair of scissors. I know, because I use these for setting up my gardening hotframes, etc.

caw

sk3erkrou
01-30-2012, 02:34 PM
For which reason, in addition to expense, a lot of law enforcement agencies are going to high-strength plastic zip-ties, which are cheap at any major grocery store, require no key and you'd have to be Superman to break out of. To get them off, you have to cut them, and even that requires a pretty serious pair of scissors. I know, because I use these for setting up my gardening hotframes, etc.

caw

Plus they can carry a lot more zip ties than the usual one pair of handcuffs on their belts.

Anaximander
01-30-2012, 06:33 PM
From what I remember from a DefCon talk on the subject, most handcuff keys are more or less the same. In fact, the guys who gave that talk designed a universal key that worked on every type of handcuffs they knew of except Korean police. Also, you can get out of most handcuffs with a bent pin. In fact, many types can be defeated by a simple shim, and I've seen paper used to shim cuffs before. A dollar bill is reportedly quite good for this. There's also a German style of handcuffs that can be unlocked by squeezing and banging them against something in the right way.

Dave Hardy
01-30-2012, 07:11 PM
This is dated information, but when I was in high school (lo these many years ago), we took a field trip to the local federal building & visited the various agencies housed there. One was the US Marshal's office which has primary responsibility for transporting prisoners to Federal court, capturing fugitives from Federal law, etc. So manacles were a big deal for these guys.

So one of the deputy marshals shows us the standard cuffs. Then he shows us how to get out of them. You fit the slotted side of the rings together and twist. That loosens the grip on the toothed arm and allows it to pop open.

I always thought that was a rather casual approach to restraints on fugitives. But knowing you can just go get your own key seems frankly lax. :tongue

Of course they make different kinds, like the hinged ones with restricted movement. The marshal made a point of showing us waist & foot manacles for serious restraint. And of course getting out of the cuffs is one thing. Getting past the marshal with a taser, billy, & gun is quite another.

Brickcommajason
01-31-2012, 12:41 AM
In the United States, all handcuffs take the same key. A normal citizen can buy one of these keys at most gun stores or gun ranges.

Not quite (my info comes from certifications and as a trainer in self-defense). There are three major key types in the US, and a handful of "off-brands" that carry their own key. An earlier poster mentions some designs specifically made to not be opened by the standard keys...but as another suggested, they're a lot more expensive than zip ties.

GeorgeK
01-31-2012, 06:14 PM
Hmmm, I forgot about zip ties...rethinking.

Mark G
01-31-2012, 09:48 PM
I wonder if a razor-sharp werewolf/vampire claw could cut through a zip-tie. Just a random thought.

SuzanneSeese
01-31-2012, 11:21 PM
I wonder if a razor-sharp werewolf/vampire claw could cut through a zip-tie. Just a random thought.
I would definitely use your standard metal handcuffs on a werewolf or vampire. If you can get close enough to them that is. ;)

Are the handcuffs that are used for prisoner transfer (the belt around the waist, hand cuffs and ankle cuffs) universal also?

GeorgeK
01-31-2012, 11:51 PM
I wonder if a razor-sharp werewolf/vampire claw could cut through a zip-tie. Just a random thought.

Vampires have claws?

I never thought of werewolves claws as being particularly sharp, but very strong and backed by so much force that they rip rather than cut. However, I've never actually seen a werewolf claw...

ironmikezero
02-01-2012, 12:53 AM
Are the handcuffs that are used for prisoner transfer (the belt around the waist, hand cuffs and ankle cuffs) universal also?



Handcuffs and their keys are not universal, despite similar appearances of what many consider a "standard" cuff and key configuration. Manufacturers have different specifications and tolerances for their specific products. Admittedly, many are so similar that some keys will open other brands of cuffs - but certainly not all.

Nor are the locks/keys always similar. In the mid-'70s through the late-'80s Smith & Wesson manufactured an entire series of handcuffs with round "barrel-style" locks/keys coded "A" through "G" inclusive. One needed a "D" key to open a set of "D" cuffs. These types of restraints were very popular with US federal agencies at the time. By 2000 these "barrel" lock cuffs had largely been supplanted by the more common "standard" cuff/key configuration (such as characterized by the Peerless product line
http://www.peerless.net/). FWIW, I suspect that cost and convenience were among the mitigating factors in the gradual transition. From an operational standpoint, it could be a hassle to have to have a dozen or so different keys readily available.

Many manufacturers still make more secure locking mechanisms.

Leg irons are slightly larger in all respects, and the respective keys are typically more robust. A cuff key, while very similar in appearance, might work, but more often it won't.

Waist chains may be of an average length to span the girth of most people, but the end link must be large enough for an opened cuff to slip through, yet narrow enough to fit through another link when the chain is snugged around the inmate. Once secured on the wrists, cuffs won't fit through the large end, of course. The other end of the chain may have a simple clip to attach to a link mid-length, usually in the middle of the prisoner's back. Or, it may have a padlock so that the dangling length may be secured to the links of the leg irons.

Then there is the "black box" - a hard plastic polymer (or steel) box (roughly 4"x3"x1") that closes around the handcuffs & secured waist chain loop, and blocks access to the locks on the cuffs. the black box is secured with another padlock.

Handcuffs of any variety are at best only temporary restraints. Seasoned cops know to always double lock their cuffs; that prevents shimming/slipping the claw. Double locking is what the little protruding pin on the other end of the "standard" key is for. To open a double-locked set of cuffs, one must rotate the key typically 180* in both directions.

I hope you find this helpful.