Knowing how to breach a door is a survival skill you’ll hopefully never actually use. Like so many skills, it’s worth knowing because it can get you out of some bad situations and allow you to help save lives during a variety of disasters.
Here are a few reasons you should consider owning a door breaching kit.
- Escaping a fire or rescuing someone from a fire
- Escaping a building after an earthquake
- Accessing buildings during a true TEOTWAWKI or SHTF event
- The tools are multipurpose. You can use the tools and weapons on this list for many other things besides door breaching. Many are used regularly for construction or farm tasks.
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Sledgehammers come in various handle lengths and head sizes. For a door breaching kit, a moderate handle length is preferable because it’s easier to store and transport but a longer handle is easier to use so if you have the space, go for the longer handle.
This Truper Sledgehammer offers an 8 lb head on a 16 inch handle. Typically short-handled sledges come in at 3-4 lbs. If you need a compact yet powerful sledge, this is a good option.
Pickax or Tomahawk
Axes and tomahawks are popular choices for door breaching because they can be used for many other purposes too.
This tactical tomahawk has a pry bar handle end. It’s made with door breaching in mind. The hollowed-out design helps keep the weight at just 5 lbs. The body is made of 420Hc steel w/Cerakote to prevent bending or breaking under major stress. Desert tan G-10 composite scales on the handle ensure a sturdy grip. The sheath is MOLLE compatible and easily attaches to backpacks and body armor.
This pick-mattock features a 5-lb. head that makes a big impact. If you want a lighter option, there’s a2.5-lb versionor an even smaller pick-mattock in a 15″ handle size that’s designed for hand weeding gardens.
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Any prepared person should own a pair of bolt cutters. You can cut chains, many locks, and more. Bolt cutters come in various handle lengths. In this case, longer handles are better because they offer more leverage.
If you want a really heavy-duty high-quality pair of bolt cutters, RIDGID has you covered. These are a full 31″ long for maximum leverage when cutting through thick chains and bolts.
These bolt cutters fold down to a compact size, so you can store and carry them more easily. When folded out, they have a nice long handle to use to your advantage.
Fence Pounder or Battering Ram
You may have seen videos of SWAT teams or military personnel using a battering ram to breach a door. One of the easiest battering rams to acquire is a fence post pounder, but it doesn’t have the weight of a real battering ram. If you live out in the country, you may already have a fence pounder on hand.
A real SWAT-grade battering ram can be purchased, but they’re expensive for something that you won’t use very much.
A fence pounder has handles on the sides, which are handy for posts but awkward when trying to ram a door in. A fence pounder is far better than nothing though. Fence pounders come in different weights. The heavier the pounder, the more force you have for battering. But you don’t want something heavier than you can use effectively. Fence pounders are commonly found in 12, 16, 18, and 34 lb. weights. If you want a fence pounder with the same weight as a SWAT door battering ram, choose the 34-pounder if you’re large enough to wield it. The 18-pounder is a better bet for the average person.
This post driver comes in 12, 18, and 34 lb. sizes, with the larger drivers costing more. At $85, the 34-lb. size is a great budget alternative to the professional-grade battering ram listed below. The handles are metal, but you could wrap them to provide cushioning and reduce shock.
The Blackhawk is a professional-grade battering ram used by police and SWAT teams. The handles are placed so that you can swing the ram for the highest level of effectiveness. The handles themselves are made of flexible rubber to reduce shock and vibration, unlike a fence pounder’s metal handles.
Some doors have enough glass that all you really need to do is break it and clear enough away to either step through or reach in and unlock the door.Glass breakers are found on many vehicle escape tools and even tactical pens. While these could be used for breaking door glass, you’re probably going to want a glass breaker that’s a little more robust for door breaching. Time and energy can be precious, so a tool that saves both is always welcome.
Many glass breakers have at least some plastic on them. Typically, the handles are all plastic, and you don’t really know how strong it is. I like that this glass breaker is all metal and thus more robust than many glass breakers designed for getting out of a car after an accident.
If you have a nice flashlight, you may be able to add a glass breaker cap to the end. In fact, if you can do this, you’ll have a heftier glass breaker than you can usually find on Amazon. Bust A Cap makes ends for Mag Lite, Streamlight, ASP, etc. Check your flashlight model numbers and make sure the cap will fit before buying. A Mag Lite that takes C or D cell batteries with a glass breaker would make it through some thick tempered glass pretty quickly.
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Heavy Duty Gloves
Door breaching is likely to result in some very sharp or jagged bits. Protective gloves are nice to have when clearing out broken glass so you can step through a door or just safely reach in and unlock it. Splintered wood is yet another reason to keep thick leather gloves on hand.
Many people who work with their hands stand by these gloves as some of the best for your dollar. M-Pact tactical work gloves provide a lot of padding and protection without taking away too much dexterity. You can choose from a variety of colors and sizes to fit almost anyone.
These gloves are made with Kevlar and are designed to prevent animal bites from penetrating. Animal gloves are not a bad idea for door breaching because they’re padded, made to prevent punctures, and available in 16″ and 22″ length, so you can get protection that covers your wrists and forearms. At under $25, these gloves are a real bargain that can save a lot of pain and injury when performing a variety of tasks in a survival situation.
Specific Door Breaching Tools
There are tools designed to be all-in-one door-breaching solutions. They’re not inexpensive, and they’re very specific tools that you’re unlikely to use for other tasks. However, they can replace many individual tools that you have to scavenge when needed or try to keep together all in one place.
This is a formidable looking tool designed to get you through a door as quickly as possible. The forged and machined head is designed for hammering and ramming while the other end is a forged pry bar. The handle is molded fiberglass, which offers strength while reducing the tool’s overall weight. It includes a MOLLE-compatible carrying system. This tool weighs 13 lbs.
This tool combines a sledgehammer and pry bar or mattock-style tool in one. The compact breaching head is designed to be highly maneuverable. The counter-angled friction ridges help with stability during your breaching attempts. The handle is non-conductive fiberglass. This tool is 22″ long and weighs 8 lbs.
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Door Breaching Methods
People sometimes really hurt themselves trying to breach a door using just their body. Kicking in a door or ramming it with your body only works if the door is weak enough and you’re strong enough. That’s highly questionable, especially with some modern metal doors. Tools are likely to get you through a door a lot faster and with less risk of injury or at the very least, less soreness later on.
- Determine the weakest point of the door. For doors with glass, it’s obviously the panes. For other doors, look for any existing damage that could offer you an advantage.
- If using a battering ram, aim near the doorknob.
- Pry bars placed precisely can damage the doorknob mechanism and allow you to open the door.
- If doors are secured with Master locks or similar, you may be able to cut the lock with bolt cutters. Some fancier locks are designed to not allow enough space for bolt cutters to be applied.
If you’re attempting to kick a door in, always kick near the knob because that’s typically the weakest point. Kicking a door in is harder than it looks, especially if you’re a smaller person or the door is made from metal or other strong materials. Plenty of people reinforce their doors using a variety of methods, from door armor kits to deadbolts, chain locks, and barricades. If a door doesn’t give after a few kicks, chances are you need to try something else or at least get multiple people to apply force.
Door Breaching Firearms
Shotguns are used for door breaching purposes. Of course, a shotgun should not be used unless absolutely necessary because of the potential for bodily harm and escalating the situation, which could lead those on the other side to take the violence to an even higher level out of desperation.
Specific door breaching rounds are out there. Shotguns should only be used as a last resort.
Everything featured in this article, besides firearms, is just a tool so unless you do something illegal with them, you can't get into any trouble for owning them. Firearms and door breaching rounds may not be legal for you to own if you have certain criminal charges on your record. Remember that door breaching is something the average person should only consider in an emergency or TEOTWAWKI type situation.
It's hard for the average person to practice breaching a door. Basically, you would have to have access to some old doors in their frames. The military and law enforcement use special door setups for training in the art of door breaching, but they're far beyond the price range the average person is willing to pay. Some tactical schools offer classes in door breaching, but they're expensive and most only allow law enforcement or medical personnel, such as paramedics, to register.
It’s important to understand what’s needed to breach a door and how to do it, for multiple reasons. You may find yourself involved in an earthquake or fire and need to access a building or get out of a building quickly.
Knowing how to breach a door is also important if you want to defend your door. It’s always a good idea to know what you’re up against. In the case of door breaching, you may be up against many tools and a lot of force. No door can withstand an assault by a group, especially if they have weapons.