Do Not Buy Crappy Cuffs: A Guide to Restrictive Pleasure

A question:  Have you read my last blog?  If not, please go ahead and do so, it is a precursor to this one.  It’s okay, I’ll wait.  I need to get something to eat anyway.  And while we’re waiting: while this post contains nothing of sex, violence, language and nudity, chase away the kids as well.  This one is for mature audiences only.  Go away, kid, I’d love to have you here when you are 18, and I’ll talk to you next time, promise.  In the meantime, go enjoy your childhood, you have the rest of forever to be a grown-up.

Oh, you’re back?  Awesome.

As you have seen there are many mistakes one can make with handcuffs, and I’m here to help you not make them.  Don’t buy crappy handcuffs, and here is how you will know if you got good stuff or not.  As usual, I will assume you want a real bondage game, not a pretend one.  Standard disclaimer apply:  Know what you are doing before you do this, to avoid getting yourself in medical, legal, and relationship trouble!  (More boring bits at the bottom)

Sex Shop Cheapies

This is probably everyone’s first foray into the restraint world: faking confidence as you walk into the adult store, browsing the vanilla items just to make you seem and feel “legit”, then slowly making your way over to the kinky section, feigning disinterest, picking up a box of handcuffs, moving on for further faux legitimacy, buying a porn mag you have no intention of ever flipping through, and moseying your way nonchalantly over to the counter where you pay through your nose for a set of shitty handcuffs.

This was my first foray into handcuffs back in 2000: (Added some modesty to this image because the poor model should not be associated with this bad product)

A box that promised the delicious restraint of a connected set of ankle shackles and handcuffs.  Ooh, the kink-o-meter redlined.  But that price!  Gads, if you go to security shops (we’ll get there)  you will be able to find the exact same items now just about 20 years later for the same price.  That 200 bucks back in 2000 were my weekly food bill.  It was 20% of my monthly rent.  In other words: ridiculously expensive.  But I mean, it is “High-quality chain and cuffs combo” – it says so right on the box!  It must be good, right?  They saw me coming…

But, such is life, and I got home, and hid them from my mom.  (Well, what else does one do? It’s not like naive 25-year-olds advertise this crap to their parents now, is it?)  but boy, did they burn a hole in the back of my mind.  At eight that night I was “I’m exhausted, I think I’m going to bed,” getting the suspicious raised eyebrow from a parental unit used to seeing me hit the sack at ten, at the earliest.  Went to my room, closed and locked my door, and opened up the box I bought earlier that day…  Well, tried to.  My hands were shaking like I had shoplifted a vibrator.

And there they were!

Two handcuffs, two ankle shackles, all connected with a chain, oh my, shining, sparking in the bedside table lamp.  And there, right along with the shining, sparkling manacles, the buttons of disappointment:  quick release buttons…  the cuffs needed no key to get out.  A little lever on the side of the cuff and…. you’re out.  As pointless as fingerless gloves, I tell ye.

Not to be outdone, I raided my dad’s toolbox, and found a set of side-cutters, and with a bit of impatient patience, I managed to mangle off the quick release buttons – now, the only way to open the cuffs is with the key!  Yes!  Real handcuffs…

Well, would if it were so simple.

An opportunity presented itself one night when my folks were out and I was left home alone. I promptly got myself into a delicious jam, in my bed, with the full set of restraints applied, my mind finally allowing itself to succumb to the first initial initiations of restraint, and just as I was settling in to feel what it feels like, ping!  Oh my!  Abruptly, I was a lot less restrained than I was a second before…  The rings connecting the cuffs and shackles to the connecting chain had all the tensile strength of a wet noodle, and the slightest bit of pressure applied… the rings bent open with all the resistance of cheese, and the connecting chain popped off.  Well… that did not go as planned.  But at least I still had the cuffs and shackles, right?  The connecting chain was just a bonus.

So, still cuffed, I lay back on my bed, trying to get back into enjoying the feeling, and ping!  I was free!  WTF?  The handcuff chain had the structural rigidity of a sandwich bag, and a chain-link bent open the moment there was the merest bit of tension on it.  The bloody cardboard box they came in would have lasted longer!  I stared at the individual cuffs hanging from my 86-pound boyish frame, a chain link hanging all twisted and forlorn from the swivel at the end of the cuff, the broken link lying all bent out of shape on my bed-sheet, and I’m thinking that either these cuffs suck hairy lollipops, or I’ve been granted the strength of Mister Olympia…

Spoiler:  it was the former.

But, not to be outdone, kinky me thought that I can win this battle yet…  a set of padlocks later, and well, all fixed!  Slip a padlock through the swivel rings at the end of the cuffs, and that would solve that problem, right?

Well, would if it were so simple.

(I said that already, haven’t I?)

Well, I play by/with myself like this for a while, my cuffs connected by a simple padlock, and for the time being, all was fine.

Until, of course, it wasn’t anymore.

Finding A Buddy

So, thanks to the miracle called the internet, Gerry gets himself a kinky buddy, and for the first time in my life, I get to play with someone who is not me.  Lying in my shitty handcuffs alone in my bed is one thing, but with the sudden but pleasant addiction of a fetish club in my life, I get to play!  I get a girl at my house, and well, the cuffs get brought out.

It lasted all of three minutes.  See picture below.

These cuffs were made from aluminium, and bend with the ease of squeezing a beer-can.  Another spoiler:  cuffs that bend, do not work very well.  These bent so badly when she put pressure on it, that the locking mechanism jammed, and I had to nibble the handcuff from her forearm with a set of pliers.

Yeah.  Not good.  The bondage-buddy freaked out and would never let me play with cuffs with her again, and the only thing this set of cuffs is now good for, is a bad example.  (Luckily, I had hundreds of meters of rope still lying around…)

And this, my friends, is why you should never buy crappy handcuffs.

“High quality” chain and cuffs combo?  Yeah, right.

But Wait, There’s More.

So, no, forewarned is forearmed, and I get myself a girlfriend a bit kinkier than I am, and we go buy cuffs.  This time, we go to a ‘security store’ – luckily, since closed down – and we buy the set of cuffs below.

They are strong!  They are not ones that will bend, and that hinge.. that won’t pop open like the sex shop cheapies, would it?  Pay through our ears for them,  and go home for a bit of play time.  They get applied and… lo and behold, they work!  My girlfriend struggles and pulls and does everything she humanly can but I just laugh at her and say “Well, I think I’m gonna watch some cricket now…” and she is as stuck as a socialist in an economics argument against Ben Shapiro.  She ain’t getting out of that one!  Which is the point, isn’t it?

“These things hurt!” she complains.

Well, duh, what did you expect, maybe frilly satin lingerie?

“No, as in, these things hurt!”

So ever-compassionate me takes a look, and her one hand is popping veins and swollen and blue, the cuff digging deeply and painfully into her skin.  Yeah, that will hurt.  Take off the cuff and there’s a deep, red, angry pressure-impression around her wrist, and she winces as she shakes loose her hand, getting some blood-flow back into it.  “That wasn’t as much fun as I hoped it would be”, she says, and I nod.  Yeah… I want to play with my lady-pal, not take her to the emergency room.

“I haven’t put them on that tightly, have I?”, I  asked in what I hope was my defence.

She agrees, and lets me off the hook:  “No, they were not that tight to begin with…”

And this is where we find out, the hard way, of the value of a double lock.  Take another look again at that photo… see the shape of the teeth?  See how “round” they are?  The ratchet mechanism on that set of cuffs are as smooth as frilly satin lingerie, and they clicked closed with the ease of falling out of bed.  In her playful struggle to test the boundaries of the cuffs, something, somehow, pressed against the swing arm and click-click-click-oops.   If I wasn’t right there with the key, she would have been in seriously deep and rather unpleasant-smelling poop.

That particular set of cuffs are now used only for connective purposes, and never applied to a human again.  But mostly, they are not used at all, I now find them ugly and the best I can do with them is, use them to serve as a bad example.  (I used that line already, haven’t I?)

Good Cuffs

Gerry hits the internet again, and I do something I would later become infamous for:  being pedantic and finding out facts rather than opinions. (I’m an absolute hoot at parties).   I find out what makes a good cuff.

Pay attention boys and girls, we’re done with the funny stuff, we’re into the important bit.

Herewith the elements to look for to know you if have a good handcuff:

  • The chain links are welded shut. Open-ended chain links, as demonstrated, will pop open.
  • Make sure the cuff is made from steel, not aluminium. If you can squeeze the bits together like in the picture above, it’s just too damn soft, it will bend on your arm, and you will have yourself a situation.
  • Make 100% sure it has a double lock. If your cuff cannot double-lock, it is a deal breaker.

Got that?  Good.  So, what do these good cuffs look like?

Like this.

These are police-standard handcuffs.  Are they the best cuffs on the market?  Nope, there are better ones out there, but I have full faith in these.  They are made from hardened steel, and you’d be able to cuff an elephant with these, if he had arms.  They won’t bend or break under normal human conditions, they operate smoothly, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.  Perfect.

I use these for the bulk of casual play and photo shoots.  If I had a day-to-day kinky life (which I do not, because I’m happily married to a vanilla wife), these would be my day to day handcuffs.  Easy, strong, secure and… cheap!

I mentioned sex shop cheapies – here is the irony:  sex shop cheapies are never cheap.  They are horrendously expensive.  These bloody good professional cuffs cost in today’s money half of that unusable sex shop cheapies cost me twenty years ago!   Adult stores see you coming, and their markups are higher than those on rugby-stadium beer.   So where do you get good cuffs from then?  Answer:  reputable security shops.  That’s where I get mine.

Something to notice is the shape of the key:

Observe the peg at the end of the head of the key?  That bit is important, and a dead giveaway that you are buying shitty cuffs: bad handcuff keys do not look like this.  Bad handcuff keys do not have the peg at the end.

(The pic above is from the cuffs that my ex and I got her in trouble with.  Now, with my experienced eye, just seeing that key is enough to know ‘stay away’.  The sub-standard manufacturing on this key is a dead giveaway.)

The most commonly-found bad-handcuff variety has the cloverleaf configuration – I did not one to photograph, and I’m not in the mood to get my butt sued by someone by using their copyrighted material as a bad example.)  Just know that when your cuffs do not have a peg-end, you have a 99% chance of it being a bad cuff – but exceptions to this rule do exist (as will be shown).

So, what is that peg for?  Glad you asked.

That is for engaging the double lock.  These cuffs have a side-button double lock.  See the little thingy there on the side of the lock plate that looks like a rivet?

Well, that’s this model’s variation of a double lock.  Maybe you will see it a bit better if I present it in action:

The peg-end is used to depress that button, and that engages the double lock of the cuff.

This brings me to an important point to consider, and I’ve laughed at many people’s panic at a double lock:  When your cuff’s double locking mechanism is engaged, the key won’t work!  At least, not like it usually will.  You first have to unlock the double lock…  duh.  This is a security feature, which means that the cuffs are harder to pick, even with the key in hand, and enables the police officer / serial killer / kinky buddy to tighten the handcuffs without having to unlock them totally.  To unlock the double lock, turn the key in the opposite way.  The double-lock button at the side of the lock box will pop back out, and now you can use the key to unlock the cuff as per usual.

Which brings me to another movie myth which many a newbie had their “oh crap!” moments:  cuffs, when unlocked, will not simply boing open.  They are not spring loaded.  When the key disengages the lock, you have to open the cuff up yourself!  Who would have thunk!  It’s not like a padlock where when you turn the key it pops open.  I’ve seen people having panic attacks because the keys do not work!  Darlink, they are working, have you tried opening the cuff yourself?  The relief is always comical.

So: muchos importante: practice with your cuffs before applying them to something (like your mum’s refrigerator handle, not that I’d know anything about that…), someone (like your play buddy), or yourself.  Make sure you have 100% confidence how they work before you go play.

Other Good Cuffs

These are bad babies…  so bad, my pals and I refer to them as “ugly cuffs”, not for the way they look, but for their level of restriction.  When you are in these cuffs, you will know about it.  And when behind your back, you will be either very miserable or very happy in a very short amount of time.  (I’m sure you can figure this out for yourself, and I do not need to explain why.)

These are the cuffs that I use when I go into particularly deep plays.  These are actual pre-democracy South African Police issue handcuffs, and you can see the “SAP” acronym etched into the base plate.  (I have no idea what the current cops use, and have no idea to find out the hard way!)

As far as make-quality is concerned, these guys are super tough, and of better quality than my “normal” cuffs.  These are the restraints the cops use to subdue really, really bad criminals with.  They are serious business.

Notice the key?

Haven’t you seen that key before? Another thing you did not know:  handcuff keys are almost universally, erm, universal.  Cuff keys, for the most part, work on all models.  This is so that prisoners can be transported from one place to another without having to transfer a unique key along with them.  Officer Bob on one end can hand his prisoner over to Chief McAvoy at the other without having to worry which set of keys they will use to unlock the poor bastard.  If you have a prison population of a couple of thousand, how the hell are you going to keep the keys straight?  So, cuff keys are universal – except sometimes.  The “sometimes” bit is when it’s either cheap crap, as mentioned, and when it is really high-security stuff meant for the Hannibal Lecters of this world where the universal key would just be too much of a risk.  I like universally-keyed cuffs – it means I only have one set of keys to keep track of during shoots and during plays.

And with that key, we have the peg on the end, which means this has a double locking mechanism:

These cuffs have a different variation on the double lock – instead of the push-button on the side, these have a slider on the face of the lock box.  Insert the pin on one side of the slider, slide, and dah-dah!  (And boy, seeing these cuffs up close like this, I can appreciate that they can sure do with some TLC…)

Oh, great fun to have:  you will notice the keyholes on these cuffs face the same way.  When you apply these cuffs with the keyholes facing away from the palms, your prisoner is in a bit of bother.  I have this game where I play where I cuff my buddy this way, hand them the key, and time them on how long they take to get out.  So far, only three people have managed it, and the record is thirteen minutes.  I got out by getting the key into the hole with my teeth, taking off my shoes, and somehow managing to turn the key with my toes.  I’m sure I don’t have to explain how my audience was hosing themselves laughing at my antics.  (Oh:  go enjoy this – a makeup artist I worked with youtubed this escape attempt by a model during a shoot many, many years ago!)

An Exception

I found these babies at a flea market, and was I surprised.  The first thing you may notice is that they look different, instead of the usual flat locking plate, they have a barrel.  And on closer inspection: where the hell is the key-hole!?  This is another great game:  I put my buddy in these cuffs, give them the key and tell them to get out, and piss myself laughing at their bewilderment.

The keyhole is hidden behind the chain.  You fold the chain away to expose the key-hole that fits down the cylindrical barrel.  It has a double-lock, but does not use the peg-end system.  So, these are good cuffs.  In fact, I have been told (but am unable to verify) that these are Chinese-issue police cuffs.  The fold-away hinge behind the chain is of great use as a security feature, as the prisoner will by nature restrict himself more – because he has to shorten the chain by folding the hinge away- to get to the key-hole, which goes against all instincts.

So, not all good cuffs use the peg system.  Use your brain.  There are of course many, many different systems out there.  Some meant for official police restraint purposes, some for medical purposes, some purely designed for the fetish market.  But, personally, I like to keep it simple.

And that, my friend, is it, except for the…

Boring Bits.

This is a blog, not an instruction manual.  I do not have any formal training in this, just 20 years of experience.  Always play safely, and consensually.  Consent is vital, this is not Handmaid’s Tale over here.  You are playing with another human being, remember that.  Never take yourself, or your kink, too seriously.  Have fun with it.  But take consent with the seriousness and respect it deserves.  Of course, this entire blog post is “warranty void where prohibited”.  I know handcuffs are illegal in some places –for instance, it is a “controlled item” in Australia, and as far as I know, civilians are not allowed to own them.  A set of cuffs will also get you in trouble in New York City.  This may apply to other areas as well.  Opinions on the law aside:  don’t break the law, okay?  Don’t get yourself and say “but Gerry said it’s okay”.  No, I did not say no such thing:  Gerry states clearly and for the record:  use your brain!   Know what you are doing before you do this, to avoid getting yourself in medical, legal, and relationship trouble!

The Not Boring Bits:

Stop reading:  go play!  Unless you want to look at some of my photos. (NSFW)