In a SHTF scenario, it’s entirely possible that you could end up kidnapped, held hostage, or otherwise restrained by criminals. In this type of situation, captives are often restrained by improvised means. That is to say, criminals are usually not going to use high-end handcuffs. More often than not, they’re going to use something that cost $5 at the local hardware store: zip ties.

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Plastic zip ties or cable ties are commonly used as improvised illegal restraints.

Before we go any further, a disclaimer: this is not a guide on how to escape law enforcement restraints, nor would these methods work on the specialized zip-tie-style handcuffs used by police. That said, the following methods can help you break free from the consumer-grade zip ties that criminals would be likely to use.

The Art of Manliness put together a useful infographic that illustrates 3 ways to escape zip tie handcuffs:

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The “slipping out” method requires enough forethought to trick your captors into cuffing your hands in a specific position. If you can manage that, great, but it’s likely your hands will be quickly and forcibly cuffed beyond your control. Zip tie quality varies greatly, so breaking the ties may be easy with some brands, and nearly impossible with others.

We’d say the most reliable method is “shimming out” the lock mechanism with a key, pen, screwdriver, or any other small hard implement. Feel free to try it safely at home—it’s not hard once you get the hang of it.

For more information on how to escape zip tie handcuffs and other illegal restraints, check out the 41-minute video above from ITS Tactical. It also covers dealing with duct tape, rope, and legally-purchased handcuffs, and provides a wealth of useful information.

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