Human traffickers, process predators, narco-terrorists, hostage-takers — these are just a few groups within the criminal element that employ unlawful custody. These types of criminals are generally very experienced at their craft, and understand that eliminating all means of escape from their victims is a top priority.
During any form of abduction, there’s always an initial contact phase where the bad actors must subdue and restrain their victims as quickly as possible so they can relocate to a more secure and secluded location. During this initial phase, they’ll typically conduct a quick pat-down search, which must suffice until a thorough, full body-strip search can be performed.
Covert escape tools are designed to be discreet enough that they have a good chance of going undetected during this initial contact phase. This means that they can be used to escape quickly during the relocation phase, or migrated to a more concealable location prior to a full body search. When carried and used properly, these tools can mean the difference between life and death.
In this installment of Pocket Preps, we’ll look at some of the most innovative and versatile covert escape tools on the market. Hopefully, you’ll discover some tools that fit your lifestyle and can find their way into your EDC repertoire.
Sparrows Lock Picks CHAOS Card
Dimensions: 3 & 3/8 by 2 inches
Weight: 0.7 ounces
The CHAOS card is a fully loaded punch-out escape kit that fits into a wallet like a credit card. This master card of escape tools contains a short hook pick, triple peak rake pick, tension tool, auto lock rocker/jiggler, four- and five-prong comb pick, short wafer pick, handcuff key, and a “stabby thing.” The hook and rake picks and tension tool can be used to attack most pin tumbler locks and wafer locks. The comb picks are effective at bypassing lower security locks by pushing the pin stack above the shear line. The wafer pick works on many filing cabinet and desk wafer locks. The “stabby thing,” as described by the manufacturer, is a Tanto-shaped, pointed object that forms the handle of the auto lock jiggler. It can be used in the hand or affixed to a makeshift handle to form a prison-style shank. The half-barrel handcuff key can bypass the restricted keyway of most regulation handcuffs to disengage the locking mechanism easily.
- Several versatile escape tools in a single, compact package, easy to stow and conceal inside a wallet or pocket
- Difficult to access when placed under physical restraints
- Extremely thin tools can be difficult to use under stress.
- Wallets are often the first thing removed when placed under unlawful custody.
Citizen E Industries Ed’s Manifesto Scapular
Dimensions: 2 x 2 & 1/2 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces
The Ed’s Manifesto Scapular by Citizen E Industries mimics the design of the religious pendants popular in Latin America. The 550D Cordura pendant contains a hidden pouch for stashing small escape tools behind the religious icon. The necklace, which doubles as a friction saw for escaping flexible restraints, consists of 400-pound Kevlar cord with a copper-encased magnetic clasp. There are two elastic loops on the side of the pendant that hold a micro chemlight to aid with fine tasks under darkness. The apparent religious significance makes this escape tool less of a target for scrutiny, reducing the likelihood of confiscation during the initial encounter.
- Unassuming religious nature makes the scapular less obtrusive
- Magnetic clasps make it easier to remove the scapular when movement is restricted under restraints.
- Kevlar cord is very strong and heat resistant, making it an excellent choice as a friction saw.
- The necklace and magnetic clasp can be used to retrieve dropped metal escape tools when movement is limited.
- Since this tool is worn around the neck, it can be easy to see.
- Escape tools can fall out of the hidden pocket if not properly secured.
Jolly Roger 3 Knife Coin Multi-Tool
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x .25 inches
Weight: 0.3 ounces
The Jolly Roger 3 Knife Coin Multi-Tool is made from a real coin and includes a knife blade and a standard handcuff key. The knife blade is made from tungsten-molybdenum M2 high speed steel, providing a balance between toughness, wear-resistance, and hardness properties. The handcuff key barrel has been ground to a 45-degree angle to make it easier to insert into the keyway when the user’s hands are bound. The knife blade and handcuff key fold behind the coin, making them completely unobtrusive when viewed from the front.
- Large gripping surface created by the coin makes this key easier to manipulate than most covert handcuff keys
- Convenient to carry and relatively easy to conceal in plain sight
- Key works on all standard handcuff keyways.
- Can be used to open single- and double-locked handcuffs
- Blade can be used to cut through duct tape, flexible restraints, and rope.
- Can be difficult to access when handcuffed behind the back, assuming it’s in the front pant pocket where loose change is normally carried.
- Carries a hefty price tag
- Might accidentally end up in the tip jar at the local coffee shop
Southern Specialties OSS Lock Picks
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Dimensions: 2.25 by 0.5 by 0.25 inches
Weight: 0.4 ounces
When deep concealment is a prime motivator for tool selection, the Southern Specialties OSS Lock Picks offer a solution. This stainless steel multi-tool is packaged in a soft vinyl boot and includes a tension tool along with a Short Hook Pick, Saw Tooth Rake, Euro Modified Curved Rake, and a Razor Saw. These tools offer a wide range of escape options. The three lockpick tools allow the user to attack most standard pin tumbler locks and a variety of low-security locks. The saw can cut through duct tape and most flexible restraints. For the well-versed escape artist, the short hook or tension bar can even be used to pick most standard handcuffs.
- Compact micro-tool can be easily stashed away for unconventional or deep concealment carry.
- Multi-tool approach offers many escape options for a large number of unlawful custody scenarios.
- Hinged design keeps all tools together, ensuring they’re available when needed.
- Well-suited for body cavity capsule transport
- The short tools are more difficult to operate than their full-size counterparts.
Southern Specialties Titanium OSS
Dimensions: 1 by 2 by 1/16 inches
Weight: 0.6 ounces
The Southern Specialties Titanium OSS tool is an extremely compact lockpick kit that includes two standard picks and a tension tool. There are two styles available. Style 1 (shown here) includes a Euro Bogota Quad Rake and a Euro Slim Line Short Hook. Style 2 has a Snake 3/7 Rake and a Camel Back Rake. The double-ended tension tool has a traditional flat head on one side for bottom of the keyway manipulation, and a short, stepped-down head on the other side for top of the keyway tension. The kit comes with a small vinyl sleeve to carry the tools. The sleeve fits perfectly inside the Ed’s Manifesto Scapular by Citizen E Industries, making this non-ferrous kit a most versatile escape tool.
- Can be easily concealed inside wearables like the Ed’s Manifesto Scapular
- Ability to be worn on or taped to the body makes this kit a wise choice for deep concealment.
- Titanium is a non-ferrous material, making the magnetic signature of these tools minimal.
- The small tools can be challenging to use under stress.
Sparrows Lock Picks Handcuff Shims
Dimensions: 1.25 by 0.5 inches
Weight: Less than 0.1 ounce
Handcuff shims are used to open handcuffs by separating the pawl (ratcheting mechanism) from the teeth on the swinging locking arm. The shim is wedged between the pawl and the teeth to disengage the locking mechanism. Some handcuff models have a split pawl with a gate in the centerline to prevent shimming. These split pawl models require a split shim to disengage the pawls on each side prior to disengaging the center gate. The Sparrows Handcuff Shims comes with two standard shims and two split shims. Their unique citadel head provides the user with such an aggressive gripping surface that the shims can be used with just one finger.
- Inexpensive, versatile
- The citadel head’s aggressive texture prevents the user’s hands from slipping off the shim when wet.
- Faster and easier to use than handcuff keys or picking tools
- Standard and split designs can be used on most popular handcuffs.
- Small tool shape can be difficult to use by people with large hands.
- Shimming requires the handcuffs to be tightened during insertion, which can be dangerous if the handcuffs are already tight.
- Won’t work on double-locked handcuffs
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