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Esacpe Made Easy: The RE Factor Counter-Custody Kit

It is so common as to have become a trope. Some celluloid hero is immobilized via rope, tape, handcuffs, or zip ties. When all hope seems lost, they score a paperclip and use it to get free and defeat the Terminators, defuse the thermonuclear bomb, or escape the clutches of some evil despot. However, is that actually real? Well, you can at least feel a little bit more like a Hollywood Action Star with the Re Factor counter custody kit.

(Photo by Will Dabbs M.D.)

Practical Applications of the Counter-Custody Kit

Imagining the circumstances that might lead you to be placed in custody doesn’t require much creativity. Perhaps you got kidnapped. Maybe you really suck at picking vacation destinations. Or what if the good guys weren’t so good after all? Regardless, there is simply no downside to having the skills and means to free oneself if unjustly immobilized. 

Lord willing, you’ll never need to know how to surreptitiously remove a pair of handcuffs or cut a set of zip ties off your wrists. However, if ever you do, that particular skill might be more valuable than your entire 401k. The good folks at RE Factor Tactical can help you out.

Finer Details

Several years ago, I ordered a set of handcuffs from Amazon and then fiddled with them using a bent paperclip in front of a little mindless Netflix. It turns out you can open a pair of standard cuffs with a heavy paperclip, but not how you might think. Doing so involves running the wire in from the side and disengaging the ratchet to release the bracelet. I practiced with the cuffs in my lap and then later with them secured to my wrists in the front. Eventually I graduated to the same exercise behind my back. With practice, I could get free in under a minute. However, that is a perishable skill.

RE Factor Tactical offers a basic counter-custody kit designed specifically to get you out of standard restraints with minimal fuss. This kit includes a tiny polymer universal handcuff key, a length of Kevlar cord, and a small concealable folding saw/knife. Once you have taken its measure, these three items will get you out of most standard restraints.

​The tiny concealable universal handcuff key, shown on the right alongside a standard cuff key and a 9mm Parabellum round for size comparison, is easy to hide and completely effective.
(Photo by Will Dabbs M.D.)

Handcuff Key

Commercial handcuffs all use the same standard key. Some maximum security cuffs have a more complex locking mechanism, but standard cop cuffs need to be able to be opened by any Law Enforcement officer. As a result, all cops carry the same key that opens anybody’s cuffs. The centerpiece of the RE Factor Tactical counter-custody kit is a tiny concealable polymer handcuff key.

Smaller than a nickel, this nifty little trinket won’t set off a magnetometer and is compact enough to hide in some of the most obscure places. At a glance, it could pass for a dead cricket. Taping it discreetly to your forearm is an option, as it might be stashing a copy in the waistband of your pants. One end of the key is formed into a small clip that lets you hook it securely out of the way. After ten minutes worth of practice, you’ll be able to retrieve the key and use it to free yourself from a standard set of cuffs without anyone being the wiser, but there is a technique to it.

With practice you really can slip a set of handcuffs with a thick paperclip, but that is an acquired skill.
(Photo by Will Dabbs M.D.)

Cutting Edge Cordage

Kevlar is five times stronger than steel by the standard of strength to weight. This high-tech synthetic fiber is used in everything from combat helmets to body armor, mooring lines, hard-use clothing, and automobile tires. When formed into thin strands, Kevlar will also do a simple spanking job of cutting stuff. 

The Kevlar cord will slice through quite easily when abraded vigorously against a set of flex cuffs. The technique for doing so while cuffed must be learned, but that is kind of why God made YouTube. You tie a loop in each end, thread the cord through the cuffs, and secure the loops over your feet. You then pedal your feet back and forth, creating friction to sever the plastic. With practice, you can cut a set of cuffs in under thirty seconds. This is really difficult behind your back, but it can still be done. It is critical not to allow the cycling cord to touch your skin. Ask me how I know this.

Practice on cheap zip ties in your lap and then around your wrists until you can cut yourself loose in the dark behind your back. Just make sure you have somebody you trust in the house with you. Should you get stumped, most siblings would likely just sit there and laugh as you slowly starve to death.

The Micro Multitool

This tiny hinged cutting device includes a small knife blade, a serrated saw, miniaturized snippers, and standard and Phillips screwdrivers. This thing is about as long as your pinky finger and will cut through plastic, tape, and wire. It snaps onto your keyring and will pass for a key in dim light. Successful applications take a little practice, but that could be time very well spent.

RE Factor Tactical charges $34.95 for the kit. The components are available separately online as well. How you conceal this gear, when, and why are all up to the individual. Were I heading someplace where I might actually need it, I’d sew a copy of the key into the waistband of every pair of pants I wore and make myself an innocuous friendship bracelet out of the Kevlar. Ask any twelve-year-old girl if you don’t know how to do this yourself. Failure to plan is planning to fail.


Obey the law, be nice to people, and don’t hang out in sketchy places. You should be fine. However, should life ever get extra sucky, RE Factor Tactical can help mitigate a bit of that suck. Their counter-custody kit includes tiny stuff designed to get you out of giant problems. Find it HERE

Are you looking for more counter-custody information? Try reading this: Escape and Evasion

Learn trustworthy escape and evasion techniiques with Skillsetmag.
(Photo by iStock)

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