Restraining systems have been around for millennia.

For past and modern law enforcement officers, securing suspects properly is of paramount concern. An unsecured individual can be a danger to the officer and to other people.

A good pair of handcuffs is one of the most important pieces of equipment that a police officer can carry. Police officers use handcuffs not only when arresting someone, but also for transporting prisoners and restraining individuals who pose a threat to others or to themselves. Essentially, good handcuffs, used properly, prevent bad people from continuing to do bad things.

Handcuffs are as basic a law enforcement tool as there is: They work by being placed on a suspect’s wrists or ankles and tightened to ensure a secure fit. Once secured, they are supposed to restrict a suspect’s movement and be impervious to being loosened, unlocked or removed. To take the cuffs off requires using a key to release the lock. A smart officer always carries multiple handcuffs and keys with one main goal: Keeping a suspect secured.

Handcuff Basics
When you look at a handcuff, you see both the double- and single-strand swing arms that form the part of the cuff that goes around a wrist or ankle. Holding these two pieces together are a swivel and usually chain links with a pawl pin allowing for the double locking of the cuffs. To hold the cuffs together, one rivet is placed in the single strand and another in the cuffs cheek (check rivet). Finally, a key post is used to unlock the cuffs. A cuff’s key consists of two parts, a double lock tip on one side and a key flag (used to unlock the cuffs.)

There are five primary types of handcuffs. Chain handcuffs are the most common. They feature cuffs that are attached via a short chain. They restrain an individual while still allowing some movement. The chain cuff is about as universal as they come.

Hinged handcuffs are cuffs joined together by a hinge that highly restricts the movement of a suspect. The officer can use one hand to cuff a suspect, offering an additional level of security.

Rigid handcuffs are cuffs joined together by a solid piece of metal. These completely deny a suspect any freedom of movement.

Belly chains consist of cuffs that are attached by long chains that go around the mid-section of an individual. They not only control the hands and arms but also the suspect’s entire body.

Temporary restraints, or “flexicuffs,” are cuffs usually made from a rigid plastic or similar material. Flexicuffs are law enforcement’s answer to mass arrest situations and can be a great restraint tool for carrying undercover or off-duty. They are light and concealable, and an officer can carry multiple flexicuffs at one time. Here are some of today’s top law enforcement restraints.

Peerless Protection
The Springfield, Massachusetts-based Peerless Handcuff Company, one of the country’s first handcuff manufacturers, recently introduced its B-series handcuffs, which, as the company states, “incorporate a redesigned internal lock mechanism” designed to “increase tamper resistance, [provide] a smoother ratcheting action and offer greater durability.”

Peerless handcuffs also allow for locking on either side of the cuff, eliminating worry about whether the locking side of the cuff is facing outwards. Peerless cuffs come in all the basic styles and have a proven reputation of strength and durability. For more information, visit or call 413-732-2156.

ASP Assurance
Kevin Parsons, a PhD in Police Management from Michigan State University, founded ASP in 1976. ASP made its name developing its now world famous batons. Since then, the company’s product line has grown to include restraints, training devices, OC sprays and LED lighting systems.

According to ASP, the company’s “chain and hinge handcuffs provide a major advance in both the design and construction of wrist restraints. Each restraint is overmolded with ordnance-grade polymer under 75 tons of pressure. The lock assembly is unitized and replaceable. There is a keyway and double lock slot on each side of each restraint. A double lock warning bar is readily visible. Both double and single locks are released by turning the key in a single direction.”

ASP also makes rigid cuffs, which have a bridge in the center, orientation disks that confirm proper positioning, a recessed finger track and a contoured handguard to maintain a clear path to the bow guides. For more information, visit or call 800-236-6243.

Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson offers a full line of chain, hinged and belly chain handcuffs. The company’s Model 1 Universal handcuffs feature a push-pin double lock design in a satin-nickel finish. According to S&W, Universal handcuffs open “12 percent larger for big wrists and close 11 percent smaller for thin wrists for better security.”

The company also offers a Model 110 Special Security handcuff with a nickel finish and a larger-dimension chain and swivel for added rigidity. S&W’s handcuffs are made from high-quality, heat-treated carbon steel and feature double locks to prevent tampering. For more information, call 800-331-0852 or visit

Jersey Tactical
Jersey Tactical’s Jersey Cuff was the 2009 winner of the Cygnus Law Enforcement Group’s Innovation Award and is National Tactical Officer Association approved. According to Jersey Tactical, “These flexicuffs are approximately one-fifth the size of most other disposable restraints, use one pull tab instead of multiple to secure, have a non-slip hand grip and a stainless steel locking system and can be used for multiple purposes.” Now in their second generation, the flexicuffs are sold separately or in a “Tac Pac” with four Jersey Cuffs and a Safety Cutter. For more information, call 908-995-2700 or visit

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