Handcuff Talk

“Modern” Handcuffs:  Some things never change

Like it or not handcuffs play an important role in modern society. There aren’t many, if any products that were designed in the early 1900’s that are still being used today in almost identical form to the original. The modern handcuff design was patented in 1912.

These handcuffs featured a swinging arm that can rotate all the way around a pivot and through the double strand that makes up the body of the handcuffs. This feature along with a cleverly designed simple locking mechanism made restraining criminals much safer for officers than rugged Darby style handcuffs.

The keys those handcuffs used are strikingly similar to that of a modern handcuff key. Early Peerless handcuff keys were not hollow like their modern day counterparts. They instead featured a “post” at the end of the bit that would fit into a small hole on the opposite side of the handcuffs keyway. These early swing through handcuffs were manufactured and most widely used for the next 20 years.

Original swing through handcuff patent

In 1932 the Peerless Handcuff Company released the next version of their already popular design. These handcuffs were more streamlined than the originals, and they also featured what we know as a universal handcuff key.  85 years later these keys would still open a pair of handcuffs coming straight off the assembly line. Although virtually all the handcuffs used by a street officer use the same key, these restraints are still extremely secure. Due to the positioning of the keyhole and modern handcuffing techniques it is extremely difficult to escape a pair of handcuffs, even if the criminal has access to a key.

Peerless Handcuffs from 1912

A standard pair of modern handcuffs is constructed of nickel plated carbon steel. Nickel plating helps protect the raw steel from water and oxygen, preventing rust from forming. There are now many different finishes manufacturers employ to protect the metal handcuffs are constructed of. Smith & Wesson has a popular finish they call Melonite. Melonite is a process that turns metals black, and also creates a barrier that goes deeper into the metal to prevent oxidation. Another similar method used by Smith & Wesson, Peerless and other manufacturers is Bluing.

Peerless 100th anniversary handcuffs

More recently manufacturers started color coating their handcuffs. Smith & Wesson made some for a few years with a Weathershield coating, a very durable paint that they also use in gun manufacturing. Peerless employs an electrolytic polyurethane process to color plate their restraints. CTS powder coats their handcuffs. ASP uses colored polymer over molds on their colored handcuffs.



Handcuff Warehouse Acquires Tuff-Tie

This week we finished finalizing our acquisition of Tuff-Tie Inc. We have began manufacturing their products in Norfolk, VA and will be releasing a new cutter in the weeks to come. We are very excited to be expanding our manufacturing capabilities and are committed to serving current and future Tuff-Tie customers.

Tuff-Ties are nylon braided disposable restraints. They are not nearly as bulky as traditional disposable restraints and up to 10 can be carried comfortably in a standard pant pocket. Compact, yet strong. Tuff -Ties have a breaking point at over 500lbs.

We will be manufacturing hand & foot restraints as well as the transport hobble. We have a newly designed cutter that is also made in the USA that will be released soon.

Double Locking Handcuffs

All the handcuffs we sell at the Handcuff Warehouse have double locks. Across the various manufacturers we deal with there are 3 types of double locks: Slot Lock, Push Pin and Lever Lock. When a set of handcuffs is double locked, they cannot be tightened without disengaging the double lock with a handcuff key.

Slot Lock:

Most Smith & Wesson and all ASP handcuffs feature the slot lock double locking system. For both brands there is a double lock slot on both sides of the cheek plate. To double lock Smith & Wesson slot lock handcuffs insert the double lock pin on your handcuff key into the top of the slot, and pull down towards the keyhole until you feel or hear it click.

To double lock ASP handcuffs insert the pin on your handcuff key into the slot and pull away from the keyhole.  You can also double lock ASP handcuffs by inserting the handcuff key into the keyhole and turning they key clockwise.

Slot Lock Handcuffs
Slot lock double lock as seen on Smith & Wesson Handcuffs

Push Pin Double Lock:

Push pin double locks are very popular. Advocates of the push pin system say the push pin is easier to use than the slot lock, especially in low light situations. All Peerless, Hiatt, Chicago and CTS handcuffs feature push pin double locks. The push pin on all the different brands of handcuffs is in the same place, the outer top edge of the cuffs right under the double strand. To engage the double lock simply push the double lock pin on your handcuff key into the double lock hole until you hear or feel a click.

Push Pin double lock
Push pin double lock as seen on a pair of Peerless Superlite Handcuffs

Lever Locks:

Smith & Wesson’s M&P lever lock handcuffs are still relatively new to the market having just come out a few years ago. The only US made handcuff with a finger activated double lock. The double lock levers on these handcuffs are located in the same place as the push pin on other cuffs, only you do not need a key to activate the lock. Simply use your finger to pull the lever up and away from the keyhole until you hear or feel the click of the lock activating.


Finger activated lever lock
Finger activated lever lock

Handcuff Finishes

Handcuff Finishes

Nickel: Nickel plating is the most popular handcuff finish. Our two best sellers, the Smith & Wesson Model 100 and the Peerless Model 700 both are nickel plated handcuffs. Smith & Wesson does a satin nickel finish on their handcuffs giving them a rougher appearance that is less reflective, and easier to grip. Peerless’ nickel finish is much more shiny and smooth. CTS, Hiatt, ASP and Chicago also nickel plate a majority of their restraints.

Peerless Nickel Plated Handcuff
Peerless Nickel Plated Handcuff

Blued: Bluing (black oxide), not the actual color blue, but the same process used to protect firearms and make them black. Blued handcuffs are very popular. Bluing is used to add mild corrosion resistance to handcuffs. Black oxide finishes require regular lubrication to remain rust-free. Smith & Wesson, Peerless and Hiatt all have blued (black) handcuffs in their lineups.

Smith & Wesson Oversized Blue Handcuffs
Smith & Wesson Oversized Blue Handcuffs

Melonite: Melonite is trademarked salt bath nitriding process used to blacken handcuffs and increase surface hardness. S&W uses the same process on their guns. Glock uses a very similar process called Tenifer They have two models of Melonite handcuffs: their standard model 100 in a Melonite finish and their M&P Melonite handcuff with finger activated double locks.

Smith & Wesson Melonite Finish Handcuff
Smith & Wesson Melonite Finish Handcuff

Stainless: There aren’t many stainless steel handcuffs on the market today. Stainless steel is used in a variety of applications because it is extremely resistant to rust.

Smith & Wesson Stainless Steel Handcuff
Smith & Wesson Stainless Steel Handcuff

Colored Handcuffs

Color Plated: Peerless Handcuffs are available in 5 different colors. The color coating is applied using a process called Electrolytic Polyurethane Plating (EPP). EEP fully coats restraints inside and out without interfering with the lock mechanism and jaw swing through.

Peerless Color Plated Handcuffs
Peerless Color Plated Handcuffs

Powder Coated: CTS (formerly Hiatt-Thompson) colored handcuffs are powder coated. As part of their process, the end of the swinging arms of CTS handcuffs is not fully coated.

CTS Powder Coated Handcuffs
CTS Powder Coated Handcuffs

Weathershield: Smith & Wesson calls their colored handcuffs Weathershield handcuffs. Smith & Wesson coats the whole handcuff except the chain and swinging arm in a durable colored finish.

Smith & Wesson Weathershield Handcuffs
Smith & Wesson Weathershield Handcuffs

Handcuff Personalization

We specialize in handcuff personalization. It is no secret to us that officers often have to hand off suspects and sometimes along with the suspect goes the handcuffs. The best way to keep track of your handcuffs and make sure you get them back is to etch your name and badge number right onto the handcuffs. We use a high tech specialized high power laser to engrave handcuffs.

Here at the Handcuff Warehouse we engrave a lot of handcuffs every day. Delivering personalized handcuffs to our customers very quickly is always our priority. We are one of very few companies you can place a custom order with and have it shipped out the next (and in some cases same) day.

Handcuff Personalization

Bonowi Handcuffs

Bonowi Smartlock hinged handcuffs are extraordinarily heavy duty and well made. Certified to new very demanding German specifications. The handcuffs are made entirely of stainless steel with well rounded edges. The locks employ 3 independent pawls separated by 2 anti-shim bars and open with a unique triple bit key. There are keyholes on both sides of handcuffs and the single and double locks can be released by turning key in one direction. Double locks at edge of handcuffs are finger activated and inset enough that accidental activation is not a problem. Bonowi handcuffs bow shape will accommodate both small and large wrists. First notch inside perimeter: 9.5″; last notch inside perimeter 5.8″. Weigh 19.3 oz. 2 keys included. Made in Germany Available at Handcuff Warehouse.

Return of Hiatt Handcuffs


Hiatt Handcuffs in England was acquired by American company Armor Holdings in 2006. Armor Holdings was then acquired by British company BAE Systems. The Hiatt factory in Birmingham, England was closed in late June, 2008. BAE moved the Hiatt factory to New Hampshire and began making the Hiatt handcuff line under the Safariland brand. In 2010, they closed the New Hampshire factory and began making them in Ontario, CA. All restraints made by BAE companies were placed under the Safariland brand. This includes Monadnock disposable restraints and NIK Flex-Cufs, Tranzport Hoods, and Spit Nets. In 2012 Safariland was acquired in a private equity deal led by the former CEO of Armor Holdings, Warren Kanders. Kanders is the Chairman and CEO of the new company which will continue to be named Safariland.

Current Status:

All Safariland restraints will placed under the Monadnock umbrella beginning 2014. Safariland handcuffs have been branded Hiatt again. The old Monadnock double cuffs and spare cuffs that were switched to Safariland will be Monadnock again. And the old NIK Flex-Cufs, Tranzport Hoods, and Spit Nets that became Safariland will move back to their original home under Forensic Source (formerly NIK Public Safety). Production has been moved from Ontario, CA to Pittsfield, MA. This is the same factory that makes Monadnock products. We are adding the new Hiatt models to the website as they are shipped to us. We have most in stock already.

All colored handcuffs have been discontinued. They are now available only in black and nickel. All colored Monadnock Double Cuffs have also been discontinued. We still have large inventories of some colors, but availability is limited to stock on hand.

See the new line up at Handcuff Warehouse: Hiatt Handcuffs