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How to Escape from Handcuffs

Kick off your career as a daring escape artist with these simple tips.


  • : Attempting to escape from police custody is illegal. Never use these tips to evade arrest.
  • Step 1: Don't let them close tightly Push your arms towards the person putting the cuffs on you so that they close around your forearms instead of your wrists. Then slide your hands out of the loose cuffs.
  • Step 2: Use a key You can also use a key to escape. Most handcuffs use one type of key that can be purchased online or at a gun store. Hide the key on your body or around the performance area, and simply unlock the cuffs when it's time to escape.
  • TIP: Some escape artists have an assistant covertly pass them a key during a last-minute good-luck handshake.
  • Step 3: Shim the lock Try pushing a small, thin piece of metal, called a shim, in between the teeth and the locking mechanism inside the cuff. Leaving the shim in, turn your wrist to push open the handcuffs.
  • TIP: The shim should be wider than a bobby pin or a paper clip. Try the metal clip from a pen cap.
  • Step 4: Get a pin or paper clip You can even pick the lock. Straighten a bobby pin or paper clip. Peel off the protective plastic tips if you're using a bobby pin. Then, bend one tip of the pin or clip so that it looks like a hand crank.
  • Step 5: Pick the lock Insert the tip of the pin or clip into the straight part at the edge of the keyhole, and gently push down toward the side where the handcuffs will open. Use the leverage to release the ratchet and unlock the cuffs.
  • Step 6: Pick a double lock If they're double-lock cuffs, insert the pin in the keyhole on the side opposite of where the handcuffs will open, and push down to release the double lock. Then turn the pin around to release the ratchet and open the cuffs. Now take a bow; you're officially an escape artist!
  • FACT: The art of escaping restraints or other traps is called escapology.

You Will Need

  • A pair of handcuffs
  • A handcuff key
  • A small
  • thin piece of metal
  • A bobby pin or paper clip
  • An assistant (optional)

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