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In our How To Escape and Evade in an Urban Environment article, we briefly discussed escaping from zip ties.
There are quite a few hasty methods of illegal restraint, and zip ties are a method that’s available to any would-be kidnapper.
A few of the other methods seen are duct tape, rope and phone cord, but with a little education you’ll see that all of these methods can easily be defeated.
There are two things you’ll need in any escape situation, and without these two things, nothing we’ll show you will work.
Those two things are time and opportunity. You’ll have to first have the time to be able to put one of these escape methods into action and the opportunity to do so.
Your captors are most likely not going to have the resources or the patience to keep eyes on you constantly, and when they don’t, it’s time to make your move.
How Zip Ties Work
The best way to defeat any type of restraint is to first analyze how it works.
Zip ties consist of a sturdy Nylon tape that contains small teeth running lengthwise down one side, and a ratchet with small teeth housed in a small open case.
The ratchet is molded to allow downward pressure to be placed upon it as the tape is threaded through the open case, then springing back up to position as the valleys of the tape align with the teeth of the ratchet, locking the zip tie.
At this point further forward movement will continue to tighten the zip tie, and backwards movement will lock it.
The particular zip ties we used in all our demonstrations were the most heavy-duty zip ties we could find at Lowes or Home Depot, the Zip Ties shown in the photo with a 175 lb. rating.
We chose these because realistically if someone was determined to go out and buy zip ties to use to illegally restrain someone, they’d likely hit the local hardware store and find the toughest ones they could.
To defeat zip ties, you can either completely break the zip ties, shim them, use a friction saw or with a little forward thinking just be able to slip right out of them.
Breaking Zip Ties
Shimming Zip Ties
Friction Sawing Zip Ties
Slipping Out of Zip Ties
Dual Zip Ties
Now that we’ve gone over these four methods in detail in the videos, let’s talk briefly on how you’ll be bound, because it’s equally important as the method you choose to escape.
For an exercise, so that we’re all on the same page, put both of your hands straight out. Now touch your wrists together. This will be called “wrists together, horizontal.” This position is the easiest to escape from by slipping out.
Next rotate your wrists so your right hand turns clockwise, your left hand turns counterclockwise and your wrists touch. This will be called “wrists together, vertical.” This position is not preferred, but as shown on the breaking videos, can be defeated.
Now, from the “wrists together, vertical” position, rotate your hands so the backs of them touch together. This will be called “wrists together, inboard.” This is the hardest position out of the four, but can still be defeated by breaking.
The final way you could be bound is by crossing your hands at the wrists, making an X. This will be called “wrists together, crossed.” This position is a bit harder than the first for slipping out of, but it’s still possible.
The first thing you should always do in any restraint situation, is remain passive.
Let your captor know that there’s no fight in you, that you’re scared and helpless. This will psychologically lead your captor to believe that you have no plans to try to escape, and thus make what we’re about to tell you easier.
You want to make every effort to present your hands to your captor before they use force to restrain you. Essentially you’re presenting the wrist position of your choosing to them, hoping they’ll use it.
Using the information we’ve provided to your advantage, you can put yourself in a better position to escape or determine which of the methods presented will work best in your circumstances.
We hope at the very least you watched the videos we’ve made, so you have the information stored somewhere in your mind, tucked away just in case you ever have to use it.
Let us know your thoughts and any questions you still have about escaping illegal restraints.
UPDATE 3/9/2010: We’ve just released this article explaining our position on the content of this article and why this information is important to get into the public, in the article we also talk about an important safety alert on a product called Jersey Cuffs. More Here.
Update 5/28/2010: Restraints we’re proud to endorse!
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You do realize that as helpful as these may be they are also harmful. In making these videos available to the public you are showing the people who would use these things to restrain people a way for people to escape and they are just going to use something else now or make sure that whoever they use these on are not holding their hands like you showed them. I'm all about safety and awareness but seriously anyone can Google these videos. How helpful will they be if the ones who use them know how to combat your escape?
Out of curiosity, i have run across steel cable ties that I would worry a kidnapper or someone intending harm might use after seeing videos like the above and that are all over the internet now regarding breaking free from these nylon and polymer zip ties.
Wow I wish people would stop giving bad people advice on how to capture others (3 zip ties and being bound to chairs and such) just take these videos and be happy in the knowledge that we have good escape avenues. Most of these people's comments seem like they are trying to help kidnappers, GEEZ!
Thanks so much to the person making these videos I am happy to have learned something useful!
Ironically this video shows how effective zip ties can be too.
I have some at my house for protection, just in case. Anyone know places to get them online? I like to support small local businesses, not places like Home Depot.
If anyone's interested, I get mine at www.supplyplaza.com or www.andfel.com. USA owned and operated.
What is your opinion on Tuff-tie's and do you feel they are a better or worse alternative to flex cuffs?
I have been escaping restraints since the early 90's before it was cool. IF you are lucky to have someone use cheap zip ties, and zip tie you like the video...awesome. If I zip tie you, it will be with three separate ones. One for each hand, and one connecting behind your back. The primary purpose of restraints is to let you know you are under control. If you do not ascertain you are under control, and break restraints, it is now a mutual understanding that lethal force can be used, and you can be shot.
so, are you guys trying to be serious? Or just some guys pretending? Impress me by breaking zip ties I put on you....hell, I'll give you ( I will tier it only because I am impatient) hours and cash if you can break mine. One hour, $1000, 4 hours $500, 8 hours 250, 16 hours $20...I kind of think you have had a proper chance. The deal is that I will not cut the ties, regardless of time and you must sign a waiver for any injury suffered during the challenge.
I've been hearing a lot lately about kidnappers using zipties. I'm glad I watched these videos. Thank you so much for posting them. I feel a little better now than I did before I watched them. -Natalie
Thank you for your videos. How nice of you to share this information to help us protect ourselves against evil people who use these cables. I will be sharing this with everyone I know! I sincerely appreciate your efforts.
One thing that is flawed here. all of these techniques require that the zip tie be as centralized as possible between your hands. or you have an external medium with which to cut or friction cut the ties. you need to add on to here how to figure out (in the case of the zip tie being behind a person) the possition of the zip tie, and move it. in the front its obvious you would simply use your mouth if the opportunity rises, but from behond you can't see, and you probably can't feel much if its tied tight enough.
and what if cops uses two on you? now the situation is impossible hahahhaha my friend got arrested and the cops put one in one hand and another in the other hand and use a 3rd and zip im hahahaha no escape for that one. it was funny because he was trying your tricks and the cops saw him and use 3 zips on him ahahahahhaa to bad he got 1 month in the slamer a shame for trying to bust out.
I think it's funny that you post all these different ways to get out of "home depot" zip ties, and then you go and endorse much harder, if not impossible (for a smaller female like myself), to get out of zip ties. I sure hope my kidnapper hasn't done his homework. I did, however, enjoy the new information and appreciate your posts.
Useful to everyone , great stuff, but what about if your wrists get tied with wrists facing but with hands in either direction, could you get out of it ?
I see the double linked zip ties,, what if 2 zipties are used to bind both wrist instead of one ziptie per wrist?
When I was a Sheriff Reserve Deputy, we were taght to cuff using the wrists together, inboard method. This was used whether we were using cuffs or zip ties, and always behind the back.
I'm pretty sure anyone can break out of those lame ass home and garden zip ties. I'd love to see you try that break away method with some police/military grade zip ties that are actually made as restraints. Have fun and please post.
what about if one zip tie around hands and 1 zip tie tied in middle of hands right around the zip tie tied around your hands to make the zip ties tighter and unable to move? can take picture if you need?
A person like me can be helpful to your outfit , i have tactical training and more..
what about if one zip tie around hands and 1 zip tie tied in middle of hands right around the zip tie tied around your hands to make the zip ties tighter and unable to move? can take picture if you need? A person like me can be helpful to your outfit , i have tactical training and more..
bryanpblackcyndyleeCourtneyRobertson If you've managed to escape, it is likely you still have the original zip tie handy. Flip it over and insert the tip into the ankle cuffs, with the smooth side against the locking ratchet, and they should slide free.
@Astrobeej Ummm..if police are using these on you,more than likely it's for a reason!...this article was meant for if you get kidnapped.
@MichelleHardigree If you're all about safety and awareness then you should just accept that these are helpful. This site is insanely helpful especially to teenage girls going off to college. Most people who would do anything of this sort would not suspect a teenage girl to be able to keep her head and think these through. There was no reason to give them crap about making this available to anyone who would need this information to feel safe. It was rude and they obviously understand the pros and cons of posting it online. Personally, I'd rather know this even if my attacker knows about it too. The more you know, the safer you are. Knowledge is power.
There is always an limit to what you can do. It is like asking: i have a spare tyre, but what if all four tyres of my car gets flat at one time? What if you get hogtied and shot in the head - how do you escape that? What if you get restrained with ten ties and one is tightly around your neck? What if you are sentenced to death and restrained in an electric chair - how do you escape that? Some things are just inevitable. You can use methods to your disposal and as taught but the scenarios are to many - at some point you will have to use your own imagination and skills to try to escape certain scenarios.
@cbboss The purpose of the video seems to be how to break them - not a course on hostage survival. If you have no idea how to break the restraints efficiently or quickly, you could miss your one and only opportunity to exact escape. For the record - you're correct on that. If you're taken hostage, unless you have been trained, you should likely not attempt escape and should avoid aggravating your captor(s) and further. If you are kidnapped and no one yet knows you're gone - escape might be the way to go. Furthermore, you make this sound like a pissing contest. It's pretty unlikely anybody here is joking besides yourself. 9 out of 10 captors are likely to make big mistakes like they described above, so instead of posting tips for the captors (the entire first paragraph of your comment), let us just allow them to make mistakes and be dirtbags. Be a dirtbag or don't - I could care less. But don't help other dirtbags be dirtbags.
@Alain4029 What if they break your legs and arms and wrap you in log chains and dump you down a mineshaft? These guys can't cover every possible scenario and it's unrealistic for you to expect them to.
@Crazywave I don't think they are trying to advocate running away from the cops....
@Lindsay1090 I think you're missing the point. Yes, these techniques are for defeating common hardware store zip ties, which are the kind of zip ties that do not have a restriction for purchase and would most likely be used in a home invasion or illegal restraint scenario.
The ITS review you're referencing on Cobra Cuffs isn't to demonstrate what kidnappers should use, it's to highlight a worthwhile restricted product for Law Enforcement and Military applications. Criminals shouldn't be able to get their hands on these to use on someone like you.
Hope that clears up the misconception and thanks for the kind words and comment.
@MLB What's the issue you're seeing? Are the videos just not showing up at all? Are you on a computer that blocks YouTube videos or maybe Firefox (Firefox hasn't been playing well with the new site layout)? I recommend checking the post on a different browser or visiting the YouTube page in the mean time while we figure this out. --> How to Escape From Zip Ties
You have to forgive her, she thinks owning a gun makes you insane and shooting your attacker a racist.