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What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 6 2016 at 2:46 PM
Farrell Hunter  (Login FarrellHunter)

I've been doing some research into handcuffs and locks that are extremely tough to pick because I need the information for a project that I have been working on. I know that almost all locks, padlocks and handcuffs can be bypassed if the person attempting to bypass them is given enough time to take a crack at it (this is operating with the assumption that they are already proficient at a method used to bypass cuffs and locks). Essentially cuffs, padlocks and locks are meant to keep something secure long enough to prevent someone escaping or someone gaining access, but are any of them truly unpickable or impenetrable?

A good amount of the information I found centered on smart locks and the ingenious ways in which they worked to make it much harder for people to gain unwarranted access to different places. If anyone is interested in taking a look at one of the articles I read while looking into this check this out : http://united-locksmith.net/blog/4-locks-that-cannot-be-picked

While I continued to read into this it got me interested in finding out more information about the evolving nature of handcuffs and what the future looks like for them. I didn't find much information on these except for the fact that the police were looking into manufacturing handcuffs that not only bound people but would also immobilize them if need be. One of the ideas I saw floating around was discussing the use of shock surges in handcuffs to make detainees submissive. I'm not sure how true this is but I wanted to find out what you all thought about the future of handcuffs since many of you are much more experienced in this than I am. Also, if you have any online resources that could give me more information I would appreciate it.

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Ron Spitz
(Login ronspitz)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 6 2016, 4:36 PM 

Check out patent # 4089195 issued May 16, 1978. Many years ago I tried to contact inventor in Taiwan, but received no reply. The patent lists other related earlier patents which I have not checked out.


Mark Lyons
(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 6 2016, 4:47 PM 

There have been many prototypes of modern swing thru cuffs made by various companies with the goal of making their cuffs as pick resistant as possible.

BOA Handcuff Company developed a nice cuff which takes a Medeco lock. A later model features an ASSA - Denso hi-security lock. Both locks are UL 437 hi security locks. These are as pick proof as possible.

The Gotcha Company produced a very nice "shim proof" cuff with at least 2 different key patterns.
A brass tube that is slightly tapered and pressed down firmly would apply enough pressure on the lock post to open the cuffs, so they were not as "pick proof" as they claimed to be. The cuff featured a keyhole on either side so you had a better chance at manipulating them open.

The Tuff Cuff has an interesting idea. While they take a standard cuff key, the ratchet design in the center makes wrist movement so restricted that using a key becomes very difficult.

There are other cuff designs that make picking difficult or shimming even more difficult, but I think Towers really nailed it with being the most secure cuff.
While not a modern style cuff, the 3 levers which double lock the cuffs and the thin keyhole makes them very secure.
Even trying a ring of 30 original keys does not always open every Towers that I pick up.


Key Flag
(Login KeyFlag)

First Post

May 6 2016, 6:54 PM 

In response to the, "smart lock," aspect of things...

"Almost all locks, padlocks and handcuffs technological systems can be bypassed if the person attempting to bypass them is given enough time to take a crack at it."

There is a fair amount of liability when it comes to police's usage of handcuffs (which is where most innovation is directed because of money) when it comes to being unable to remove handcuffs. They are intended to be a temporary restraint, and leaving them on for too long can cause damage. Using a cutting wheel or bolt cutters to remove handcuffs introduces even more liability.

Imagine a smart handcuff system that uses Bluetooth to unlock the cuffs. Now imagine a situation like Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. There are so many opportunities for water to destroy the handcuffs unlocking mechanism (especially while in the field) and/or for there to be a lack of power for a device that unlocks the handcuffs.

Another situation to consider is technological vulnerabilities. Even the most trusted firewalls or encryption methods get periodic updates because vulnerabilities have been found. Can you imagine trying to make sure that everyone plugged in their smart handcuffs for an update because a vulnerability has (already) been found? More so, if there is a vulnerability with a wireless unlocking system someone could broadcast the unlock codes to all of the handcuffs in a facility. That would be worse than flying over a prison throwing out fist fulls of handcuff keys because of the penetration of radio waves.

Let's not forget about the battery issue. Forgetting to charge your cuffs or change a battery could render them unusable.

I would guess that the potential technology innovations that could be used for, "smart locks," for handcuffs is probably being researched in the, "smart gun," field. The (current) potential failures of one could be easily translated to the other.

These are just my opinions and/or observations. Good luck with your research.

Mark Lyons
(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 6 2016, 7:22 PM 

(Login axylon)


May 7 2016, 1:01 AM 

I've been told that Towers have several levers, yet I've been successful in making home-made keys for Towers with just a 'paddle shaped' bit. I guess the levers must be very similar.

(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 7 2016, 1:12 AM 

what do you mean by 'YET'

With most levers of the tower handcuff being at blank height then a key without cuts will work, YET is no a part of the problem, it just is. If the lock contained high and low levers needed cuts and you could still open it have a 'paddle' shaped key, then YET might be appropriate.

(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 7 2016, 10:24 AM 

Handcuffs lock and door lock have very different model of threats. General purpose handcuffs lock main goal is to prevent the opening by bare hands. Handcuffs lock must work in very harsh conditions and in most case must be opened without individual key transfer from arresting officer and booking officer or similar situation. As result - all general purpose handcuffs have the same keys for given model and a such a lock may not be complex. Attempts of some handcuffs manufacturers to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the keys was not successful.
Door lock in major cases must not have uncontrolled duplicates and must resist a person with at least entry level locksmith skills.

Mark Lyons
(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 7 2016, 11:34 AM 

Here is the lever and ratchet assembly inside a Tower double lock.
From what I have seen, only one of the levers is slightly different from the other 2, resulting in having the key feature a very small cut in one of the positions or spacings.

[linked image]

Since door lock security was just brought up, if any further discussion of this topic is of interest, here is a link to my website that discusses such matters;



(no login)

Re: What does the future of handcuffs look like?

May 8 2016, 12:30 AM 

The idea of handcuffs is to restrict movement. The type of lock is virtually irrelevant (which is why so many cuffs have a simple pawl and ratchet) By applying a physical restraint to someone, if they remove it by any means, the you can charge them further with escape.

if people complied to rules, we could just draw a line and the ground and say "don't step over it or you will be in trouble" but people don't.

(no login)


March 4 2018, 3:56 PM 

It would be possible to use a Bluetooth padlock with a bluebox. Thus making them Bluetooth programmable and having a keyless padlock.

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