Buying a handcuff key is not a difficult process. You do not need to be a law enforcement officer or show proof of any kind of certification in order to purchase one. You don’t need any proof of your occupation to buy a pair of handcuffs either… that’s why it’s so important that as a prepared citizen you have access to a handcuff key.

handcuff keys

You can obtain a handcuff key in two ways:

Buy a Pair of Handcuffs

All handcuffs naturally come with a set of keys. These will typically be metal keys with a double-lock pin (if applicable) on a small keyring. These are great to have on hand and don’t require a separate purchase since they come with the handcuffs. However, they can be cumbersome and hard to conceal.

Buy a Handcuff Key from a Survival Store

Most urban survival stores, both brick-and-mortar and online, will have at least one kind of handcuff key in stock. It’s as easy as making any other purchase.

How Much Do Handcuff Keys Cost?

Fortunately, for the value they add to your everyday carry handcuff keys do not require too significant an investment. If you’re buying the key separate from handcuffs as an extra preparedness item, you can expect to pay between under $10 for a single key. Many handcuff keys come in packs of 2 or more since they tend to be small and it’s nice to have an extra few to stash around in critical locations. You can find a pack of 2 handcuff keys for as little as $12.

Even in the survival and prepping world, there is a common notion that lock pick sets are illegal to own. It’s ultimately up to the individual state, but in general this is actually a misconception. Lock pick sets are not illegal to own in every state and there is no federal law that prohibits ownership of lock picks across the board.

Here are the general rules of permission


  • It is generally allowed to pick a lock which you have been given permission to pick.
  • It is always legal to pick locks that belong to you.


  • It is illegal to pick locks that do not belong to you without permission.

Here are the general rules of possession

  • Most state governments require that law enforcement and/or a jury need to prove criminal intent before possession of lock picking tools can be prosecuted as illegal. There are certain areas where mere possession is considered ample evidence that you planned to do something illegal.
  • Your possession of lock picking tools is much more likely to be drawn into question if you have them on your person when you are arrested for doing something else illegal. Our advice to combat this risk? Don't do anything illegal.
  • Laws vary from state to state. Lock picks are illegal to possess in the following states:

Lock picks are illegal to possess/transfer in the following countries:

Different Laws for Different Lock Pick Sets

Also be aware that different laws may apply to different types of lock pick sets. This includes auto jigglers/try out keys, bump keys, bypass tools, handcuff keys, etcetera. As a consumer you are responsible for checking and complying with your local laws.

Even If You’re Not a Criminal

It’s time to let go of the antiquated idea that only criminals and locksmiths know how to pick locks.

If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your house or your car, if you’ve ever found yourself in a potentially dangerous situation or seen someone else struggling to enter their own locked house or vehicle and wished you could help, it should make sense to you why some knowledge of lock picking is so much more than a pastime for criminals. Here are ten reasons why you need to learn how to pick locks:

    1. It’s a marketable skill. Looking at something in military, law enforcement, security, etcetera? A thorough knowledge of how lock picking works is a great skill to show off.
    2. You’ll be better equipped to help others. It’s a useful survival skill for not only yourself but for others who may need help.
    3. Get yourself out of hairy situations. Live or work in a sketchy area? The last thing you need is to be stuck outside of safe shelter at night.
    4. Stop spending money on locksmiths. Never again spend hundreds of dollars getting back into your car or house.
    5. Take responsibility for your property and personal safety. Don’t rely on someone else to rescue you if you get locked out. You will gain a great deal of confidence knowing that you can take care of yourself.
    6. Cultivate patience and sensitivity to detail. Lock picking is a delicate and often complicated pastime that requires a great deal of patience. You have to develop muscle memory and sensitivity in your hands to recognize the minute tactile feedback of a lock that you can’t see the inside of. Learning to pick locks doesn’t just give you a helpful skill, it builds honorable character traits.
    7. Join a clever and ethical community of lock picking enthusiasts. Spend a little time amongst the online lockpicking community and you’ll quickly discover that it’s a community that prioritizes integrity and is filled with intelligent people happy to share their passion and expertise.
So what are you waiting for? Get started learning how to pick locks with the EvadeClip, which includes a three-piece beginner lockpicking set.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into lock picking but are unsure of how to start, rest assured that you don’t need a huge arsenal of weirdly shaped picks to get started. For picking a simple pin tumbler lock, you only need the following items:

Tension Wrench

tension wrenches

A tension wrench is a necessary component because it maintains tension on the lock, which is what enables you to set the pins and turn the lock once you’ve picked it successfully. Without a tension wrench, picking a lock is impossible.


rake picks

While you can pick a lock pin-by-pin (called single pin picking or SPP) with just a hook or other pick, a rake is especially useful for beginners. It is also possible to pick a lock entire with just a rake and a tension wrench, but this often requires luck more than anything else. It’s not wise to rely on luck, so pack a rake in your kit but also be sure to include the final item...

Hook Pick

hook picks

A hook pick is a very simple lock pick in (surprise!) the shape of a small hook. It can be used for careful single-pin picking or as a sort of simple rake.

Armed with some knowledge of the anatomy of a pin tumbler lock and how they function as well as these three tools and a lot of patience, you can successfully pick your first lock. The tension wrench maintains tension on the lock for the entire time you are picking, the rake can be used to try your luck at scrubbing the lock (setting as many pins as you can by chance), then the hook pick can be used to complete the picking process on any pins that didn’t set with scrubbing. There are many other shapes and kinds of lock picks available that are useful for different styles and methods of lock picking, but these initial three tools will carry you far until you’re ready to advance your lock picking skills.

Lock picking is a practice that requires patience. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, more advanced lock picking will naturally come more easily. The challenge lies in the initial mastery. In order to develop proficiency with lock picking you’ll need to spend a lot of time practicing. Lock picking is all about paying very careful attention to minute tactile feedback, and you’ll need to develop new muscle memory in your hands to get really good at it.

That being said, lock picking is not always inherently difficult. The basics of lock picking are fairly simple, and a thorough understanding of the inner mechanism of a traditional pin tumbler lock will be of tremendous help to you.

Common lock picking challenges

  • Maintaining Tension- One of the challenges inherent in lock picking is in maintaining tension on the wrench with one hand for the entirety of the time that you are scrubbing or picking the lock with your other hand. Releasing tension at any time will force you to start from the beginning.
  • Recognizing Tactile Feedback- Another challenge is recognizing which pins still have yet to be set, and which is the next binder pin (the least springy), all without the aid of your eyes. Since, with the exception of clear trainer locks, the mechanism of a lock is within a closed metal housing, you’ll be relying entirely on touch to give you information about tiny and delicate parts. This requires the cultivation of patience and sensitivity.
  • Recognizing Lock Types- The difficulty level of picking a given lock will vary depending on the lock type. Recognizing what kind of lock mechanism lies within and knowing which tools and techniques are necessary for the job are skills that will grow with time as you practice and experiment.

Don’t let the idea of lock-picking intimidate you! Like any other skill, it takes practice and patience. But unlike many other skills, not only could it get you back into your locked house or car… it could possibly save your life.

Why would anybody bother owning lock picks? If you’re not a locksmith, doesn’t carrying lock picks around imply that you intend to commit burglary? Isn’t it a little paranoid to assume you’re going to need lock picks in day-to-day life? Why not just call a locksmith if you get locked out of your house?


These are all great questions, but they assume that you will always have access to a locksmith in an emergency, not to mention that you’ll always have the funds to pay them. Carrying around a set of lock picks doesn’t make you a burglar any more than carrying a set of matches makes you an arsonist. Choosing to own lock picks (and learning how to use them) is about taking responsibility for your own life, your own possessions, and your own safety.

  1. Owning Lock Picks Gives You Peace of Mind

You don’t have to have a wild imagination to imagine a scenario or two in which you may be locked out of your home or car without a cell phone. If you can’t contact a locksmith for whatever reason, or you don’t have easy access to potentially several hundreds of dollars to pay them, what is your next plan of action? Carrying a set of lock picks gives you peace of mind that if you need it, you’ll have a backup plan in place. It also allows you to be available to help others in need at a moment’s notice.

2. Lock Picks are Easy to Carry

Lock picks are a low-maintenance emergency item that are easy to carry on your person every day without a second thought. Many small lock pick sets can be slipped right into your wallet, or take up so little space that you can carry them in your pocket without the annoyance of extra bulk. Lock picks are light, thin, and convenient.

3. You Can Find Lock Picks to Suit your Needs and Abilities

Carrying lock picks is not an all-or-nothing endeavor. There is such a wide variety of lock picking tools available that you can find one to suit your tastes, your needs, and your skill level. You may want a full 12- or 24- piece lock pick set, or you may prefer just to carry a simple shim or even a credit card tool. Even if you aren’t prepared to carry a full set of lock picking tools, knowing that you have at least something on your person will provide you with an advantageous edge and tremendous peace of mind.

How Do You Pick a Lock?

September 18, 2017

lock picking  

Although some locks can be incredibly tricky to pick, the fundamentals of picking a basic pin-tumbler lock are fairly simple. The key to success, and eventually speed, is practice. With the exception of clear trainer locks (which are a great investment as you are building your lock picking skills), you’re not going to be able to see what you’re doing when you pick a lock. You’ll have to rely solely on tactile feedback, so the key to training your hands is repetition.

1. Obtain Your Lock

First, there are two basic rules to picking locks with integrity. The first is that you must not pick a lock that is in use. The second rule is that you may only pick locks that belong to you, or for which you have been given express permission to pick from the owner of the lock. Following these rules will ensure that you don’t venture into the realm of illegal activity, and should you choose to join a locksport organization it will keep you in good standing.

These instructions are for picking a basic pin tumbler lock. As mentioned above, a clear practice lock is an excellent choice to allow you to get a visual of the lock components and what is going on inside the lock as it’s picked. Once you’ve obtained your lock, ensure that it is clean and free of dirt or cracks. Older, worn, or dirty locks will be harder to pick and shouldn’t be attempted by beginners.

pin tumbler lock

A pin tumbler lock with no key by Pbroks13 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Assemble Your Tools

Begin by assembling your basic lock picking tools. There are a wide variety of different picks available, but for beginning with a basic pin tumbler lock you will need only a tension wrench, a rake (or several rakes), and a hook pick.

lock picks

“Lockpicks” by Ydam is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

3. Apply Tension

The application of tension to the lock plug mimics the tension of the key inside the lock. Tension is necessary to keep the driver pins in place once they’ve been moved above the shear line. Without the proper amount of tension, the pins will simply drop back down and prevent the plug from turning. To apply tension, insert the short end of the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway with your non-dominant hand. Gently turn the tension wrench in the direction in which you would turn the key to open the lock. Turning the tension wrench in the wrong direction will prevent the lock from opening.

4. Rake the Pins

Begin with your rake tool. The rake is intended to quickly bump the pins up the shear line without the need for individual picking. To use the rake, insert it quickly into the keyway and scrub it back and forth with a motion not unlike toothbrushing. Continue to apply tension with the tension wrench the entire time. You will feel the plug give a bit as the pins align above the shear line, and if by chance you are able to move all the pins with only the rake, the lock will eventually turn completely.

There are many different shapes and styles of rakes available. If the first rake you try doesn’t catch all the pins, try a different one. Don’t forget to maintain tension in the keyway as you switch picks. If the tension is released before the lock is opened, you will have to start over.

rake picks

Rake lock picks” by Willh26 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

5. Pick Individual Pins

There may sometimes be stubborn pins that do not respond to raking. These will have to be picked individually. A common pick for this purpose is a hook pick. While maintaining tension with the wrench, insert the hook into the keyway and feel for pins that have yet to be engaged at the shear line. If there are multiple pins remaining, one will be less “springy” than the others. This is called the binding pin, and it should be engaged first. Using the hook, push the pin upwards until it clicks into place and remains above the shear line. Then feel with your pick for the next binding pin. Continue in this fashion until the remainder of the pins have been set. This requires you to pay close attention to the tactile feedback you’re receiving through the pick, since you won’t be able to see what’s going on.

6. Turn the Lock

As you continue to apply tension in the direction that the key unlocks, the plug will give a little more and more with each pin set. Once all the pins have been set, maintain tension and continue to turn the wrench in the correct direction until the lock opens.

Need a simple lock pick set? Check out our urban survival gear for light, compact options.

What Are Lock Picks?

September 17, 2017

lock picking   lock picks  

And why every survivalist, prepper, and regular person needs one.

What is a lock pick? Can you picture in your mind’s eye what a lock pick set looks like? What about a bump key, a shove knife, or a shim? Obviously we all understand the basic function of a lock pick without needing to be able to draw one from memory, but an understanding of the wide variety of available lock picks and how they work is an important first step to being more prepared for whatever life might throw your way.

Categories of Lock Picks

The easiest way to categorize lock picks is by the locks they are intended to open. A simple breakdown is:

  • Lock picks for car locks (auto jigglers)
  • Lock picks for standard pin tumbler locks (like those you find in the front door to your home)
  • Bypass tools (shims, slim jims, shove knives)
  • Tubular lock picks

Lock Picks for Unlocking Car Doors

The most common lock pick used for car doors is known as an auto jiggler. If you’ve ever had to call a locksmith because you locked your keys in your car, you may have seen them produce a large keyring of what look at a glance like regular car keys. Jigglers are also sometimes called “try out keys”, the purpose of which is simply to keep trying one in the lock until it opens. This requires less skill and practice than actually “picking” a lock with a lock pick set.

wafer lock try out keys

Wafer Lock Try-Out Keys” by Willh26 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

You Might Need One If… lock yourself out of your car a lot. Or you are the single owner of your car and don’t share a set of keys with someone else. Or you don’t have the extra cash laying around to pay a locksmith to get you out of a tight spot. Some people choose to keep auto jigglers around so that if they ever come across a dog or a baby trapped in a hot car, they can take quick action and possibly save a life.

Pin Tumbler Lock Picks

Pin tumbler lock picks are probably the most common type of lock picking tools available, due to the popularity of the cylindrical pin tumbler lock. Most standard door locks use the pin tumbler design. Picking a pin tumbler lock requires two separate tools- a tension wrench, which is used to maintain tension on the lock and keep the lock pins from moving once they’ve been set in the correct position, and lock pick for moving and setting the pins. Some basic lock pick shapes include the rake, hook, ball, and diamond. Each of these types comes in many different sizes and variants, and will be effective on different types of locks.

pin tumbler lock picks

“Lockpicks” by Ydam is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Rake lock picks are a little different in function from hook, ball, and diamond picks. The purpose of a rake is to literally “rake” the pick along the pins, with the intention of bumping several pins up to the shear line at once. This is a quicker, if less precise and inelegant, method. It doesn’t always work.

rake lock picks

Rake lock picks” by Willh26 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

You Might Need One If…

… you breathe air! A lock pick set and some basic knowledge is an incredibly valuable skill to have, not just for survival situations but for day-to-day matters. We’ve all locked ourselves out of the house at least once. Have you ever resorted to breaking your own window to get back in? Or what about that old locked briefcase that’s been in your garage for years without a key, or the mom down the street who’s frantic because her toddler just locked her out? Lock picks are not just for preppers and locksmiths.

Bypass Tools

A bypass tool is a tool that allows you to literally bypass a lock without picking it. The most well known bypass tools are probably shims and the humble credit card trick, made famous thanks to Hollywood (but be advised that attempting to get into a locked door with a credit card is likely to render your card bent out of shape and unusable). Any tool that allows you to get past a locked door without actively picking the lock would be considered a bypass tool. Depending on the tool and your expertise with it, you may or may not cause damage to the lock or door that could prevent it from being usable once you’ve gained access. A coat hanger or slim jim that is used to unlock a car door, for example, could potentially damage the lock inside the door not to mention delicate electronics, airbags, the window mechanism, etc.

shove knife

This is why practice is so important: a working knowledge of the inside of the locking mechanism will allow you to understand what is happening whether you pick or bypass a lock, and reduce your chances of destroying the lock altogether.

You Might Need One If… are a first responder of any kind. Bypass tools are quicker than lock picks for gaining entry when every second counts. They’re also useful for individuals in the repossession business. Aside from specialized careers, anyone would benefit from keeping a shim amongst their everyday carry, because you truly never know when one might come in handy.

Tubular Lock Picks

Tubular lock picks are special picks intended for, surprise, tubular locks.They are intended to be more resistant to picking than pin tumbler locks  (they still contain pins, but they are arranged in a circle rather than in a line), although some people find them easier to pick with the help of a specialized tubular lock pick.

You Might Need One If… own anything that contains a tubular lock. Tubular locks can be found on computers, gun safes, and vending machines, among other things.

Here at TIHK we very often receive the question- why would anyone who isn’t a criminal need to carry a handcuff key?

The answer is simple: anyone can buy handcuffs. That includes people who intend to do you harm. And no… bad guys don’t all use duct tape or zip ties. Being prepared for anything means being prepared for the possibility that handcuffs could be used unlawfully against you. A few simple news searches should be enough to negate the argument that carrying a handcuff key amounts to nothing more than paranoia:

>>In the summer of 2015, a postal employee with a restraining order placed against him by family members was arrested and discovered to be in possession of multiple weapons and handcuffs on federal property. Read the story here.

>>In the fall of 2012, an offender with no prior record perpetrated multiple kidnappings and sexual assaults using, among other tools, a sedating drug, zip ties, and handcuffs. Read more.

>>Earlier this year, three victims were kidnapped and detained in handcuffs in the basement of a man who appeared to be having a “schizophrenic episode”. See the whole story.

>>This past spring an older man was handcuffed and physically assaulted in his own home after a group of burglars broke in.  Read what happened next.

>>In 2015 an elderly couple was handcuffed as their home was burglarized of over $10,000 worth of cash and jewelry. See the rest.

These types of news stories go on for pages and pages with a simple internet search. These also don’t include any of the disturbingly numerous stories of individuals arrested for impersonating a police officer (including carrying handcuffs) for nefarious purposes.

The evidence that being prepared with a handcuff key for your own personal safety is a wise idea only mounts further when you consider the number of kidnappings and home invasions that occur on a yearly basis in the United States. In 2015 alone there were over 15,000 kidnappings and 449,000 burglaries and home invasions (statistics from the official FBI Crime in the United States report, available here:

There is simply no way to know that it won’t happen to you, and the circumstances are a crapshoot. Will you be home when your house is invaded? Will the perpetrators be violent? Will they attempt to restrain you? There are so many variables that you can neither predict nor control. When viewed from this perspective, the choice to carry a handcuff key on your person is the exact opposite of paranoia. It’s a wise decision made knowing that crimes involving handcuffs do happen, and being prepared in every way possible will provide you with increased peace of mind that you’ll be ready if, God forbid, it happens to you.

Most handcuffs come with two metal handcuff keys. These keys are perfect for locking handcuffs, but what about when you need a more covert option?

It may seem to the outsider that a handcuff key that can pass through a metal detector is prima facie evidence of the bearer’s intent to commit a crime. But the choice to carry a handcuff key is completely logical when you consider all the reasons why you may need one.

universal handcuff key

Handcuff keys made from a strong polymer have a leg up on metal keys for several reasons:

They draw less attention.

Particularly if they have a matte finish. They won’t reflect light and potentially draw the eye the way a metal key will.

They are lighter than metal keys.

The best everyday carry items don’t weigh you down.

They won’t set off a metal detector.

This is useful for people whose work or travels take them through metal detectors often, but who feel more comfortable not removing or disclosing their gear with every check point. As always, we recommend that you comply with your local laws.

Pick up covert handcuff keys here.


Last Updated:  October 10, 2017

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Entire Agreement

These Terms, and any future updates we make, constitute the entire and exclusive understanding and agreement between you and TIHK. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction finds any provision of these Terms invalid or unenforceable, that provision will be enforced to the maximum extent permissible and the other provisions of these Terms will remain in full force and effect. You may not assign or transfer these Terms, by operation of law or otherwise, without our prior written consent. Any attempt by you to assign or transfer these Terms, without such consent, will be null and of no effect. If we provide certain notices or other communications to you, we will place the information on the Site. 

TIHK’s failure to enforce any right or provision of these Terms will not be considered a waiver of those rights. The waiver of any such right or provision will be effective only if in writing and signed by a duly authorized representative TIHK. Except as expressly set forth in these Terms, the exercise by either party of any of its remedies under these Terms will be without prejudice to its other remedies under these Terms or otherwise.


Questions & contact information

If you have any questions regarding these Terms, please contact us.