Handcuffs? Next to a ballpoint pen, is there any other piece of cop equipment that sees as much use but may not always get thought about a lot?
And while our handguns and long guns changed a lot since I headed to the academy in ’89, generally, our handcuffs have not experienced that kind of change.
Enter ASP – Armament Systems and Procedures. They have been known for several products over the years. Best known are their expandable batons. Several years ago, they came out with their Ultra Cuffs, and most recently their Ultra Plus Cuffs. The new Plus Cuffs are distinctive in that they have keyless double locking. Their work on the Ultra and Ultra Plus lines gave them significant experience.
The Court Security Bureau I work in has numerous pairs of Ultra handcuffs. They are used by deputies who handle the movement of in-custody inmates. When asked, they were happy with those cuffs.
While ASP is happy with the Ultra and Ultra Plus models, there was a concern about the cost and the end user’s ability to purchase it, especially out of pocket. In discussions with working cops and Arrest/Control instructors, they heard those groups wanted less expensive cuffs with as many features as possible from the Ultra and Ultra Plus lines.
Before I run through the list of features, I want to touch on a specific combination. That is the dual orientation of keyholes and the double lock slots. In talking with ASP, they focused on how that will help prevent injuries. I saw it from another perspective – reducing uncertainty. There was a concern about handcuffs being unlocked or picked by BadGuys wearing them. That led to cops being told to ensure that cuffs were always put on with the keyholes facing up or away from the hands. After a trainee was marked down a time or two, they focused on getting the keyholes in the right direction. That distracted them from getting the cuffs on the suspect quickly and efficiently. Having had a few handcuffing events turn into wrestling matches and seeing it happen to a trainee or two, I believe this is a very positive design feature.
These cuffs have both a stainless-steel frame and chain. The internals have some aluminum in them.
On the pair I was sent, all the corners and edges were rounded off and smooth. I was not able to feel any sharp edges.
The double bar side is made from stamped I-Beam construction to prevent the cuffs from being pried apart. This is reasonable given the documented efforts of some high-security inmates training to defeat all restraints.
ASP says the design of the SENTRY is far less susceptible to shimming than previous handcuff designs.
Finally, the design fits a broader range of wrists.
ASP told me they know the potential liability from handcuffing regardless of who made them – because of the frequency of cuffing-related lawsuits. Based on that, they have a law enforcement agency-specific training package.
ASP has the EXO case for their Ultra cuffs. It has a push button release and a recessed, padded area for the cuff chain. It attaches to one’s belt with a swing arm that also holds a handcuff key. For the Sentry model, they have produced a molded one-piece case. It has an integral belt loop but does not hold a cuff key.
Weight can be a concern regarding what is on your duty belt. An old lightweight alloy pair from Safariland were 6.5 oz, the Ultras came in at 9.3oz, my issued S&W cuffs were 10.2 oz, while the Sentrys weighed 12.26 oz.
So, do they work? If they do, how do they work? I have been using the pair of Sentry cuffs for two months now. While they have not seen the frequency of use, they would have on patrol; they have been used. The action is smoother than any other pair of handcuffs or leg chains I have used. They live up to ASP’s statements about them – they fit a wide range of wrists, go on smoothly, and come off quickly. Double locking and then unlocking them is easy to do and verify.
If you need handcuffs for duty use, I can recommend the Ultra, Ultra Plus, and Sentry lines from ASP. If cost is a concern, seek out a pair of ASP Sentry cuffs.
Cost? MSRP is just under $50, but the realistic street price will be around $40, which they said would be at the higher end of S&W and on par with Peerless.