How to force breach any building after SHTF

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Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2008) Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines - U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams
Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2008) Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines – U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

In this guide I’m going to teach you guys how to breach any building after shit hits the fan.  Believe it or not, knowing how to force your way into a building without getting shot will be an invaluable skill to be proficient in when the SHTF.  Reason being, after everything goes down you’ll more than likely need something you don’t have.  For example you may not have medical equipment requiring you to raid a nearby medical supply warehouse that is currently occupied by a group of individuals who’ve taken it upon themselves to not let anyone get the equipment they need.  In this case much like many others you will have no other choice than to look after your own by acquiring said medical equipment by any means necessary, requiring you to force breach the building..  I’m not going to debate the moral conundrums such an action may pose, nor am I going to lecture you about battlefield ethics because it’s a waste of time to ponder over such things while civilization stands.  Reality is when the world goes to hell your moral compass will be challenged on a daily basis.

Force breaching requirements…

Please note this guide should be read after reading Introduction to Tactical Raids, an article I wrote a while ago that reviews the basics of breaching or else you might be a little confused. What does it mean to force breach a building? Force breaching means nothing more than forcing your entry into a structure by manual or mechanical means such as; using metal rebar, pry bars, axes, or hooligan tools to force open a building entry point determined by that entry point’s hardness.  What are the best breaching tools to keep with your gear?

  • Stanley FatMax Xtreme 55-120 FuBar III This pry bar is excellent for popping padlocks, and creating leverage in conjunction with other breaching elements. While this is not as good as a traditional hooligan, it is definitely less expensive and will usually get the job done.
  • Paratech 22-000424 Lightweight Hooligan Tool w/ STD ClawA time tested hooligan tool perfect for breaching with a curved claw to achieve maximum leverage. Lightweight with a parallel claw fits over looks, hasps, and most doors.
  • CQB Battering Ram Unlike conventional battering rams the CQB battering ram works in tight places allowing for big swings in tight spaces packing 19,000 lbs. of kinetic force while only weighing 35 lbs..
  • Truper 32600 8-Pound Sledge Hammer Simple, but very effective breaching tool made with a fiberglass handle to cut down on weight with poly guard for overstrike protection.
  • Portable Hydraulic SpreaderI’m still on the fence about listing this product for post SHTF operations, but better safe than sorry.  The product listed is meant for automotive repair but with a 4 ton capacity this tool will surely help you with special situations.
  • J Hook Long Shank 3′ Legs w/ T-J Hook V Bridle Pear Link Steel door in your way? Hook and go to watch the magic happen with this T-J Hook set’s 4,700 lb. load capacity.
  • TradesPro 14 in. Bolt Cutter Every man should own a pair of bolt cutters for a litany of reasons, but for SHTF bolt cutters will be invaluable! This bolt cutter is light, compact, made from carbon-steel, and has a lifetime warranty.

Each technique in mechanical forced breaching is contingent upon four primary elements; hardness of entry point, structural integrity, enemy force, and the amount of weight you or your team can carry.  Hardness of entry point dictates the tool you’ll need to breach i.e. wood door, security screen, windows, etc..  Structural integrity is a contingent element that creates an entry point where none exist i.e. side of wall, ventilation, etc..  Enemy force will set the required tempo, aggressiveness, and technique to provide a tactical advantage.  Weight of the equipment you will need is always a factor, especially when breaching, and must be taken into consideration as to not inhibit your ability to move fast and accomplish your mission.

There are a few rules you have to remember when forcing entry into a building with enemy combatants… Maintain a standard fireteam size of four unit members to prevent bunching (you don’t want your guys tripping over each other). Communicate in a simple and concise manner without being a couple of Chatty Kathys.  Plan your breach thoroughly without being too contrived.  Clear before you pass.  Stay off the walls.  Be prepared for anything, and never breach alone.  The people inside the building know the environment much better than you, and will be better positioned to operate ahead of your decision action cycle that can only be overcome by creating a tactical advantage with superior tempo, aggressiveness, and perfectly executed breaching techniques. The techniques mentioned here have diagrams in the previous article (see, I told you to read it)…

  • Buttonhook, used when the AOR isn’t visible allowing two team members to initially scan the AOR prior to entry with about a forty degree view
  • Crisscross, used when your team knows where the target(s) is prior to entry, with the team members’ location dictated by which side of the door has a hinge and the layout of the room
  • Combination, uses both crisscross & buttonhook for a split team entry
  • Limited Penetration, creates a barricade at entry point in limited spaces where crisscross & buttonhook aren’t possible with no threat of being attacked from the sides of the entry point

Upon entry your team must dominate the room by assuming positions at opposite corners of room by splitting the team if those positions provide you the most security and tactical advantage, while having full coverage of the room by having each team member’s line of fire overlapping or creating crossfire.  As each room is cleared tempo, aggressiveness, and communication must be maintained while moving forward with your four man fireteam split into two man teams clearing rooms at the same pace. Never skip rooms or anything that could be hiding an enemy, or they can easily crawl right up your ass after you move on.

Breaching with force…

When planning your entry method your plan of attack should weigh the risks to your team members and the gains for each mission.  In law enforcement, there are three alternate methods applied before physically breaching the building; taking down the occupants on their way to/from the objective, ruse or tricking the target to exit the building, surround and call out using aggression and show of force to mentally intimidate the target to exit the building.  All three of which are options to your team, if you can force the target(s) out of the building without shooting one bullet and risking a team members’ life, then more power to you.  

If none of these methods above are applicable you will then pick between two common techniques, deliberate and dynamic.  Deliberate clearing, allowing your team members to get closer to the target without compromising your safety by clearing a specific element within the building.  Dynamic clearing allows for immediate control of the building using the element of surprise (flashbangs), speed, and an overwhelming dominating force providing overlapping fire.  Since we’re talking about apocalyptic scenarios we are only going to review dynamic clearing instead of deliberate due to the many unknowns that will be prevalent.  To dynamically breach a building with force you will need to identify which breaching tool is required for entry…

  • simple wood doors can be can be forced open using a sledge hammer
  • steel security doors can be removed using T/J hooks attached to tow hitches
  • composite hardened doors can be breached using a battering ram
  • solid metal doors & shutters can be breached using hydraulic spreaders used in deliberate breaching
  • windows jambs and certain doors can be opened using hooligan tools
  • gates secured with locks on the outer perimeter can be opened using bolt cutters

To maintain the tactical advantage while performing a dynamic breach, your team will have to stack up on the entry point, force entry on the first action, clear the entry point, move in and start clearing the building room by room.  Note, it is critical to breach on the first action.  If it takes more than one action your team will lose the element of surprise.  As the team clears each room they first team member will need to muzzle up, clear a corner, communicate, with the second team member in the stack following the first clearing the opposing corner to properly dominate each room, calling out ‘clear’ or ‘coming out’ as the split teams clear each room.  By aggressively maintaining your speed as you clear rooms, you will maintain the element of surprise, forcing the target(s) to process their OODA loop while you’re already ahead in your decision action cycle.

In closing…

When clearing rooms there are a few principles you should know and train with.  Coordinate movement, communicate movement.  Stay out of the fatal funnel (don’t stand in the door frame).  Use the SEE acronym.  For further explanation of breaching movement patterns and techniques, you need to read the previous article I wrote!  I know the guys that read our articles have been in many stacks, and we always like hearing from you guys about your methods, and techniques.  I’m sure things have changed since my day and your opinion is always of value to us.

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About Runik

Certified NRA Instructor, Certified Military Platform and Performance Orientated Instructor, Training Personnel, and Emergency Management. Currently working towards M.A. Emergency Management - 101ABN/82NDABN - Charlie Wardogs

2 thoughts on “How to force breach any building after SHTF

  1. Hey Runik, can you tell us more about limited penetration? I run a forums called CQB-TEAM and we’d love your input.

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