Being able to escape handcuffs can be a valuable skill for multiple reasons, the primary one being escaping illegal detainment. Whether traveling abroad as a private citizen or conducting clandestine operations as an elite operative, getting out of a bad situation should be made easier through the pursuit of specialized skills. Getting out of handcuffs is actually a fairly easy task compared to lock picking and other similar problems. There are specialized tools available but for demonstration and practicality purposes, I will be using a run of the mill bobby pin.

First of all, you should be able to access the bobby pin from a cuffed position; If you can, I recommend slipping the cuffs to the front of you because it makes the whole task a lot easier if you can see what you are doing. Keep in mind there are a variety of handcuff designs out there, but I will try to cover the fundamentals while demonstrating on a pair of Peerless Model 700s. There are two options available when using a bobby pin to escape handcuffs, pick the lock or shim past the teeth. Both have their limitations but I find that shimming them is not only faster but often easier to accomplish (especially when your hands are behind your back).

So to knock the hard one out, picking the locking mechanism, you’re going to want to insert the bobby pin into the lock and bend the tip into an “S” shape. From there you use it to first pop the locking pin out if it has been employed, then go the opposite direction and attack the lever that holds the teeth. By applying the right amount of pressure at the correct angle, the bar will lower and the cuff should slide out. Essentially you have created a makeshift key as it functions in the same fashion.

To shim a handcuff is much easier but depending on the shim, in this case the bobby pin, you may need room to tighten them a few clicks. You will still have to defeat the locking mechanism (if it has been engaged) somehow for the teeth to move. Bend the bobby pin into an “L” shape and wedge the end of it in between the cuff’s shackle and the mechanism housing. An important thing to take not of is that this will not work if the bobby pin still has the resin on the tip of it. That will need to either be shaved of prematurely or rubbed against a rough surface to remove it. Once the pin has been inserted, push it in further will simultaneously tightening the cuff for the best results. Eventually the bobby pin will create a barrier between the shackle and the locking bar, enabling the shackle to slide open.

I should note that this is not a skill you want to learn on the fly and practice is going to get you a long way. My disclaimer is that I in no way condone the use of these techniques to break the law or circumvent lawful detainment. That being said, this is a really cool party trick that you can do after a few beers to impress your friends; good luck and you are doing this at your own risk, just saying.