How many of you Tribe Members have ever been tied up, taken hostage, or kidnapped? Yeah, me neither, but considering who I hang out with; I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened as a joke. Well, if it ever happens to me, I have found just the tool set I need to deal with the situation; the READYMAN Hostage Escape Card ($24.95). Our friends at RE Factor Tactical recently sent us one to test out.
The Hostage Escape Card is described by READYMAN as a creation by their “Special Forces Cadre” to be used if you find yourself in what they call “unlawful restraints”. As a Locksport enthusiast; that is our advice as well. It’s fun to play with handcuffs, but if a law enforcement officer indicates they have reason to put handcuffs on you, you had better leave them there, or be ready for a lot more trouble.
The US made Hostage Escape Card is made from a higher quality and thicker gauge stainless steel than other cards I have seen for this use. It’s a tradeoff in size versus usability, as a pocketable card can’t be made of the same steel, or thickness, as an actual dedicated lock pick set. Included in the Hostage Escape Card set is; a combination lock shim, handcuff shim, two picks, a torsion bar/wrench (you will need to bend and twist this bar in order to use it properly), and a small saw. So, what better place to try it out piece of gear than at a MOTUS get together? Our fearless Tribe Leader handed this to me by the campfire and said, “Have you seen one of these?” I turned it over in my hands warily. “Want to give us a review?” My answer was to run and get my handcuffs!
Each type of lock that you will encounter has a specific tool, or tools, needed to defeat the mechanism. A combination lock is usually shimmed, so the first tool in the kit that I tried was the combination lock shim. It didn’t work out so well for several reasons. This particular Master combination lock has very tight tolerances to deter shimming. You can see the damage to the shim in the photo above. This is one job in which strength and thinness are important in the tool, making it a tall order for a single material set.
Next, I decided to work on a few of the locks that I brought to introduce other members of the Tribe to the sport. I used the picks and the torsion wrench on several lock types and was able to get them open, but with a greater than average learning curve for the tools. Later that week at a security conference I attempted some locks that I had no experience with. My take away is that the thinner material and the shorter length make them great for concealment, however, a smaller thinner grip surface leads to less tactile response which makes it a little difficult with hard locks. For comparison, here is my full set equivalent next to the READYMAN pick and torsion wrench.
Back to the handcuffs. The Smith & Wesson pair I tested this lock pick set with were a cinch on one locked side, but almost impossible on the reverse side. As you can see from the slight bend to the shim in the earlier photo above. Luckily, one of the other tribe members had a handcuff hide-a-key, which I highly recommend you have around BEFORE you lock the handcuffs on yourself or anyone else!
One thing I had not tried to defeat before was flex-cuffs or zip-ties. The shim tool in the Hostage Escape Card tool set worked perfectly for these restraints, with experience you can learn to shim flex-cuffs or zip-ties with them locked behind your back. I decided since I had not tried zip-ties in the past, I would do it for real, behind the back with the card in my pocket. The saw worked great for this job, though it is a longer process than you might imagine. It took me about three full minutes to saw through the flex-cuffs while behind my back, and the observers said they couldn’t detect any movement from the front while I was attempting it.
All in all, I think the READYMAN Hostage Escape Card is a good product to have on hand, if you have nothing else. If you’re an experienced Locksport enthusiast, you will have fun with the set. If you are inexperienced, it’s better to learn with a more robust set, but the Hostage Escape Card is better to have it than nothing at all. I definitely recommend learning how to use lock picks and shims, before you attempt to use this set. Be sure to check your local laws concerning carrying and using locksmith tools in your jurisdiction as well. For more information on the Hostage Escape Card, or to pick one up for yourself, be sure to check out the RE Factor Tactical website.