Have an escape plan. This simple concept is one of the most elementary principles of survival.
In the most basic sense, an escape plan can be as simple as identifying exits to help children escape the smoky chaos of a fire. More complicated escapes have involved escaping organized crime syndicates, prison systems and even countries.
A restraint escape kit doesn’t have to be a “break glass in case of emergency” kit that is only useful in the event that taken prisoner. It can help you to get your bearings in unfamiliar terrain or help you solve everyday problems such as misplaced keys, forgotten combinations or even provide you with a little backup cash when you need it.
It can give you a means to cut seat belts and knock out side or rear auto glass in the event of an auto accident. You might enjoy the training too. The “snick-click-click” of a defeated handcuff giving way to your assault with a tiny bit of metal can be surprisingly satisfying, even addicting.
So can picking locks, especially in today’s world where so many people work with keyboards instead of their hands.
Some argue that they have not needed to escape in the past or that the probability of an individual being illegally restrained is low and it is true that some of us are at greater risk than others due to our employment, where we live, relative wealth or pattern of life.
But that risk increases when things go sideways.
Do not be Nassim Taleb’s turkey who concludes that the butcher has always fed him and never harmed him for the past 999 days, prompting him to project with “ever-increasing statistical confidence” that the butcher will not harm him in the future.
What the turkey fails to see is that the butcher is fattening him up for Thanksgiving and is about to slaughter him.
Our world is turning more complicated, fragile and volatile. As it does, the frequency of robbery, home invasion, kidnapping for ransom, rape, murder, sex slavery and a host of other crimes that routinely involve illegal restraint are on the rise.
At any moment, you may find yourself in circumstances where the capability to escape may save lives. At such time, any “increased statistical confidence” that accumulated each day you were not illegally restrained will go out the window.
I developed this kit to give my clients an adaptable, modular kit that doesn’t come in a box that will get found in a pat down or with cheap plastic keys that break when you need them. Even worse are kits that come in a wallet or in a credit card form factor, meant to be stored in a wallet, because your wallet will be among the first things taken from you.
This will be at least a two part article. This one will explain the core contents of the kit and subsequent articles will show you how to use it and its additional features.
Survival Sensei Restraint Escape Kit (SS REK)
The basic modules of the kit are as follows:
Mini Report Binder Clips (3)
Use in place of money clips. Pinch off handles from one of the clips and place one in a front pocket and one in a rear pocket.
Restraint Escape Module (2)
Two small vinyl tool pouches containing tools to defeat common restraints. One goes where it can be accessed if you are restrained with your hands in front, and the other behind you.
Friction Saw Necklace
Technora friction saw can be worn as a necklace, worn around the waist or in clothing. Kevlar friction saw material is cheap enough to sew in into the waist band of each pair of shorts and trousers you own if desired but Technora or sheathed Kevlar is better for a necklace.
The necklace looks like a craft project, but can knock out a car window, free you from many high security handcuffs or saw through most disposable restraints, zip ties, duct tape or rope.
Vinyl tool pouch about the same length of a credit card and half the width. Can be worn inside some belts, pinned or suspended inside clothing. The contents can also fit inside a Go Tube of sufficient length.
Survival Sensei Restraint Escape Kit (SS REK) Contents
Mini Report Binder Clip (3)
Use money clips to spread cash across your person while keeping it compact, organized and separate from ID. The wire handles are the perfect size, shape and strength to sweep most standard handcuffs even when double locked with the right size clip and sufficient practice.
I carry these where carrying handcuff keys is illegal or raises suspicion. Worst case, somebody will think you are too cheap to buy nice money clips.
Survival Sensei Restraint Escape Module (2)
One of the bobby pins acts as a folding handle or extension to the shims making what is effectively a tiny escape multi-tool. One carried so it can be accessed if restrained with your hands at your front, the other in back. Alternately, a single kit can be rigged for deep carry using friction saw cordage to retrieve the kit from front or back.
- Advanced Handcuff Key (3)
- Easily concealable
- Opens both standard handcuffs and many models of high security handcuffs even when double locked
- Can be used with “reach around tools” to reach keyways because this can be difficult when properly cuffed with rigid or hinged handcuffs with hands behind your back and even more so when cuffed with your palms facing out.
- Steel construction is less prone to failure than plastic keys when turned with too much force due to severe stress, under less than ideal real world conditions when your fingers are cold, wet, muddy, bloody or injured. Plastic keys tend to work fine the first couple of times opening quality, well-maintained handcuffs. I have had many plastic keys fail while attempting to turn the key in the keyway at difficult angles and when attempting to open poorly maintained or cheaply constructed handcuffs.
- Bobby Pin (2)
- Fashion “reach around tools” for handcuff key to reach handcuff key ways when properly cuffed with rigid or hinged handcuffs.
- Fashion expedient lock picks and turning tools.
- Manipulate double lock pins and switches on handcuffs
- Sweep single locked handcuffs
- Bypass some padlocks by releasing the locking dog by way of the keyway
- Thread friction saw past tight bonds of duct tape, zip ties Flex Cuffs or rope
- Clip the kit or tools to underclothing or in hair in order to layer gear across body to reduce chance of detection.
- Key-type Handcuff Shim, Thin
- Shim open handcuffs with thin ratchet arm (typically inexpensive versions criminals are prone to use) when single locked that wider shims on the market cannot open
- Shim open some Zip Cuffs and zip ties
- Stainless Steel Split Pawl Handcuff Shim
- Shim open some shim-resistant single locked handcuffs
- Use in combination with Technora friction saw to open some Darby-style handcuffs (Largely considered antiques or obsolete in the US, but still in use in many countries) and do not open with a standard modern handcuff key
- Zirconia Ceramic Razor Blade
- Cutting edge for defeating duct tape, zip ties, disposable restraints or rope
- Make fine cuts to in clothing or objects in order to hide E&E gear
- Lanyard Hole to aid retention and control
- Extreme hardness and a sharp 90 degree spine make for a good ferro rod striker
- OD Kevlar Thread, 60 Lbs. Test Lanyard
- Prevents dropping of tiny tools with fingers that are cold, wet, muddy, bloody, injured or all of the above
- Enables kit to be suspended from a suspender button, button fly, belt loop, belt or tag
- Vinyl Micro Tool Holder, Modified – Keeps the module of tools together and convenient to carry making the kit more likely to be carried.
- Fold in half to fit in elastic handcuff key tunnels and pockets that come on some tactically-oriented belts, shirts and footwear or can be sewn into clothing or footwear
- Carry laid open to reduce thickness and prevent printing through clothing or discovery in a pat down
- Spacing of holes enables kit to be pinned inside clothing with a small subdued safety pin which is also multi-use
- Can be suspended from a loop of thread to attach to belt loops, belts, suspender buttons or tags
- Form factor small enough to hide under flag patches, in a Covert Patch Pouch when laid open and fits in .75″ diameter Go Tubes or similarly sized aluminum or titanium pill or stash tubes when folded in half
- .75″ Vinyl Electrical Tape, Black or Coyote Tan
- Pinch onto ceramic razor to create more surface to grip the tool in order to cut bonds
- Manufacture tool handles
- Hide tools by taping them to body, under shoe, inside belt or to objects in order to cache them for later retrieval
- Tape a mini light stick to a bobby pin to improvise a work light than clips to clothing or objects to illuminate a work area or to read
- Rust Preventative – When you wear ferrous tools against your body and are active, you sweat on them and they rust.
Escape Necklace, Survival Sensei Mod
Can be worn standalone or with other modules and can be worn as a necklace, stuffed into a stash tube or Go Tube without the LED, suspended inside clothing or inside some belts. There are many designs and modifications of existing designs of escape necklaces.
This one is a design form Oscar Delta that I have modified not look like a bunch of escape tools attached to a necklace or anything worth taking. I have racked up dozens of flights with it in half a dozen countries with mine. A couple of times, I even handed it to security officers to hold and it never received so much as a second glance because it does not look like anything out of the ordinary.
- Technora Friction Saw
- Para cord works for some of the same tasks but is more paramilitary looking.
- Friction saw can be used with a shim to open some Darby-style cuffs.
- Advanced Handcuff Key 3 – Concealed handcuff key. Same features as Advanced Handcuff Key 3 above.
- 2″ Bobby Pin (2) – Same as 2” bobby pin above
- Zirferrotech Microstriker Disc – Innocuous looking zirconia ceramic bead
- Sharp 90 degree shoulder make it a great striker for ferro rods
- Brass liner is non-ferrous the tool will not rust
- Extreme hardness makes it capable of shattering tempered but not laminated glass used in most side and rear car windows when swung by a cord
- It looks like an ordinary craft bead
- No sharp edges, so no problems with TSA
- LED – in the 4-8 lumen range. Positive On/Off makes sure it will work when you need it.
Survival Sensei E&E/Entry Module
Contains minimalist last ditch gear for once you have defeated your restraints to facilitate the rest of your E&E, self-recovery or rescue, even if that means a naked sprint to the nearest consulate.
- 70mm Diamond Wire Saw
- Sometimes I use diamond jeweler’s files which I shorten and flatten
- Will grind through a surprising number of materials given enough time
- Useful in constructing other tools
- EZ Decoder Lock Tool
- Open many combination padlocks
- Bypass some keyed padlocks by releasing the locking dog(s) though they are thin for this purpose and often break
- Quick Stick Lock Bypass Tool
- A lock knife tool in a compact format that allows of discreet carry
- Quickly bypass many of the most common keyed padlocks.
- Bypass many wafer locks (used on some truck shells, tool boxes, file cabinets and storage cabinets)
- Bogota Mini Ti Flats Lock Picks
- Flat, making them easy to conceal
- Titanium construction
- Fit into a Micro Go Tube (Just barely)Function as both pick and turning tool
- General Direction SERE Ring Compass
- Flat compass the thickness of a couple sheets of paper is difficult to detect
- Float in water inside a bottle cap or in hand to use
- $100 Bank Note – Self-recovery means your goal is to hitchhike or call a cab instead of dialing 911. Self-recovery is easier with money than with social engineering.
- Glue Dot (4) – Very thin adhesive dots make it possible to hide tools underneath surfaces or to the sides of objects.
- .75″ Vinyl Electrical Tape, Black or Coyote Tan
- Pinch onto ceramic razor to create more surface to grip the tool in order to cut bonds or manufacture tool handles
- Hide tools to by taping them to body, under shoe, inside belt or to objects in order to cache them for later retrieval
- Tape a mini light stick to a bobby pin for a work light you can clip to illuminate what you are working on
The contents of the E&E/Entry module fit inside a Go Tube or stash tube for deep carry. The kit is easily adapted by adding or subtracting tools or modules.
Subsequent article(s) will demonstrate the usage of each some of the tools, demonstrate carry options and addition options.