Handcuffs have been around for hundreds of years, and are still one of the most widely used restraints for prisoners and suspects of criminal activity. In the 20th century, handcuffs began to develop into more uniform design, appearance, and function. This led to manufacturers developing more universal handcuff keys and locking systems. The ZAK Tool ZT14 is a modern handcuff key designed to meet several operational needs of police officers. This review will highlight the benefits of selecting the ZAK Tool ZT14 handcuff key, as well as a comparison with several competitor models.
BlueSheepdog is dedicated to bringing our readers excellent law enforcement training, critical incident reviews, and product reviews of key gear and equipment to help them deliver the best service they can to their communities. This product review is aimed at highlighting the qualities of the Zak Tool ZT14 handcuff key, and why the author has selected this particular handcuff key for everyday carry on-duty.
Zak Tool ZT-14 Handcuff Key
ZAK Tool offers a variety of law enforcement and first responder gear and tools. These include a variety of handcuff keys, entry tools, window punches, and even hydrant wrenches and saws. We selected the ZAK Tool ZT-14 handcuff key due to several specific features I was looking for in an everyday handcuff key. The ZT-14 met those features and has proven to be a very reliable and appreciated addition to my duty gear.
First, I wanted a longer handcuff key than the traditional small handcuff keys that come with the set of handcuffs. A longer handcuff key provides a much greater tactile surface for controlling the key during high-risk handcuffing or dealing with resistive or large suspects. A longer handcuff key like the ZT-14 also is much easier to retrieve for use or find if dropped.
Like many police officers or correctional officers, I started my career using these smaller handcuff keys on duty. However, very quickly I realized there are many situations where these smaller keys become very problematic in locking or unlocking handcuffs. This is particularly true when dealing with a resistive or combative suspect. Just getting the handcuffs on can be difficult in those situations, but ensuring the handcuffs are not too tight and are then double locked to prevent any further tightening becomes a quick consideration once they are in fact on the suspect’s wrists. Successful lawsuits for improperly fitted handcuffs has placed law enforcement and corrections on notice.
ZAK Tool ZT-14 Features
- Aluminum design (multiple color options)
- Textured grip
- Universal key (for most handcuffs)
- Double-locking stud
- Pocket clip carry (keyring and swivel models available)
- Standard 3.5 inch length; Optional 5.0 inch length
- Unlimited Lifetime Guarantee
- MSRP: $7.95.
However, I have also found dealing with large suspects problematic with the traditional short handcuff keys. When there is a whole lot of bad guy, trying to squeeze in to double lock or unlock handcuffs can be very challenging. You might think a smaller handcuff key would be better in those situations, but I have found a longer key to be much easier and quicker in manipulating the handcuff’s locks.
Next, I wanted to ensure my handcuff key was made of metal. There are several polymer handcuff keys on the market, and some officers love them. The ZAK Tool ZT9P has a polymer handle, and the ZT-14P is the polymer counterpart to the aluminum version we bought for use. I have always preferred metal. A metal key will last, and I don’t have to worry about it breaking, cracking, getting pieces shaved off, or any other failures.
My next feature was to have a textured handle so I could maintain a positive grip no matter what the conditions. I have handcuffed people in the rain, with blood all over them (and me), with dripping sweat from the heat or a foot chase, and even muddy creek or lake water. Simple metal or polymer designs with texture become very difficult to control under extreme circumstances like these. My handcuff key has to have texture.
Another feature I prefer is to have a pocket clip. I prefer to carry my handcuff key in one of my uniform shirt pockets. I have tried carrying my handcuff key on my key chain, on a separate ring on my duty belt, or even just in my pants pocket. All of those carry methods are viable, but I have found carrying my handcuff key in my shirt pocket to be the best method for quick accessibility and assured storage. My Blauer Street Gear uniform shirts even come with a small, tubular secondary pocket inside the shirt pockets. This is a perfect storage location for my ZAK Tool ZT-14 handcuff key, and a back-up pen.
Finally, I needed my handcuff key to be reasonably priced. This may sound petty, but after all, it is a handcuff key not a complex tool like a handgun, flashlight, or GPS unit. ZAK Tool offers most of their handcuff keys for under $10.00 making them a completely affordable gear selection for any officer.
For an item most officers use on a weekly basis, it is critically important to get the right tool. The BlueSheepdog Crew are big advocates of quality for critical items. This includes firearms, flashlights, boots/shoes, ballistic armor, and yes, handcuffs and their proper keys. The ZAK Tool ZT-14 handcuff key offers so much more than smaller keys it is a tool any officer should seriously consider.
The ZAK Tool ZT-14 met all of my feature needs and has proven to be an excellent duty tool. I like this handcuff key so much I have (2) now – one for patrol duties, and another attached to the MOLLE on my SWAT plate carrier. We would highly recommend ZAK Tool handcuff keys for law enforcement and corrections personnel.
Though ZAK Tool, and other manufacturers, do make shorter handcuff key options, we prefer the longer keys for the reasons mentioned above. Regardless of your selection, the unlimited lifetime guarantee provided by ZAK Tool is just one more reason to select one of their handcuff keys. Quality manufacturing, great features, and very affordable.