Forcible Entry: Conducting The Size-Up


Robert Morris, July 1, 1998

There are three basic methods of forcible entry: conventional, through-the-lock and power tools. Having a good working knowledge of each of them is the most important factor. These methods center on the tools and techniques used to force entry.

Conventional forcible entry is the oldest and most reliable method used. It involves the use of force, leverage and impact. The primary tools used in conventional forcible entry are the “irons,” which consist of a halligan tool and a flat-headed axe. The axe is used primarily as a striking tool, so a heavier eight-pound axe with fiberglass handle is best. The 10-pound maul or a T-N-T may be used in place of the axe.

Several procedures can be employed to force a door conventionally:

  1. The door and the lock are forced away from the frame.
  2. The lock or striker is broken.
  3. The door frame is broken.
  4. The door is broken.
  5. Forcing the hinge side.
  6. Breaching the wall or door.

Mitch: Conventional forcible entry involves a lot of large, heavy tools and skilled technique. The time spent in assessing the situation, choosing the appropriate response, and selecting the proper tool is aided by versatile tools which can adroitly answer a number of situations. I hadn’t previously realized the strategies and tacit knowledge that went into effecting efficient forcible entry. Taking into considerations of the construction and mechanisms the door has, and applying force tactically and with high levels of precision is far more critical than I had previously appreciated. The importance of not compromising the structural integrity of the door frame, or opening the wrong door at the wrong time, was previously unknown to me as well. Finding more wide-ranging solutions could very well save lives.