Attack this Door

Not all doors are created equal.  Take a look at this door and decide how you would attack it’s integrity to force it open.  There is a lot that the characteristics of a door can tell you about how it is hung and secured.

Although this seems like a very simple skill and knowledge that everyone should know, I am continually surprised by how many don’t really understand how to use forcible entry tools.  I’m sure you have seen the guy just beating a door to death but not getting anywhere because he is attacking the door the wrong way.

Share your thoughts, experiences and techniques with all of us on how you would attack this door.  If you have photos, post them or send them and we will post them for you.

Stay safe and train hard.


  • Great drill Jay!

    Like you said, a solid and systematic forcible entry plan will dictate whether you will be successful or be defeated by a door like this. My size-up shows a double door that swings towards me (outward swinging). This is confirmed by the door being flush in the frame, although the hinges are visible as well. The stacked double-bolts scattered across the same plane on the door also tell me that drop bar hardware is in place (or is it?) This drop bar will extend from frame to frame, capturing the brackets on the door as well. There does not appear to be any primary lock devices, as there are no key-ways present where the locks would normally be. With that said, I would expect a slide-bolt set-up present at the top and/or the bottom of the door protruding vertically into the top of the frame and/or the floor. Both could be present. I say this because there is no other way to secure this door closed, and they most likely do not leave the drop bar in (if it is even there) all the time.

    This door is most likely not used regularly as an entrance as there is no exterior handle. This door is locked from the inside at night, and they leave via another route.

    How do we start a forcible entry operation?

    While try before you pry is always the first way you start, you will be limited in trying here as there is no handle. My next step is to set the adz in the gap between the door, driving it into the door. Since there is no stop here, I would probably bury the tool right to the adz and attempt to pry back on the other door, hoping to defeat the locks.

    I ALWAYS start an attack on a door with the irons first. If the door pops after doing the techniques above, we are done! Consequently, if I fire up a power saw, saw off all of the bolts then force the door with the irons, we may open the door to see that the drop bar was never engaged in the first place, and we just wasted time and energy cutting bolt-heads off for no reason. Start with the irons EVERY TIME and see how it goes.

    Watch how the door reacts. If it is really tight at the top and the bottom, those slide bolts may be engaged high, low or both. If it is tight at the middle, the drop bar is engaged and more steps will be needed.

    This is where I will either start my saw or start shearing bolts. If we are sawing the bolts, face the bolts head on and take a half-step to either side of the bolts. The saw blade should plunge into the door, just behind the bolt cutting through the bolt just behind the head (on the inside core of the door). Once all bolt-heads are cut, when the door is forced, those bolts should now just pull through the door and the drop bar should drop to the floor.

    If we are shearing the bolt, place the adz just behind the bolt-head (or in this case in a manner that will drive the adz behind the steel plate). Strike down with the axe, driving the adz through the bolts. This may take several strikes with the axe (especially if you are using a 6 pound axe). This is one of the reasons that Brotherhood Instructors, LLC. teaches to have the surfaces of the Halligan sharp and manicured. A dimpled and dull adz will do NOTHING for us at this operation. If the adz is dimpled and your axe is sharper, you can set the axe blade as described above, and strike down with the Halligan in an attempt to shear the bolts.

    After these bolts have been eliminated, the door is no longer substantially locked (even if the slide-bolt is engaged). Since you cannot see evidence of slide bolts from the exterior (bolt-heads high and low or both), if present, they are most likely screwed right into the interior surface of the door and will be easily defeated.

    I personally would not attack this door from the hinged-side as a primary attack for two reasons.
    1) Even if we take the hinges, the door is still fully locked and secured in the door frame. We can take the hinges on both sides, but the drop bar still secures the door in the frame and must be dealt with.
    2) On commercial buildings, these hinges are very tough and harder to pull than many think. It isn’t as simple as walking up, setting the tool really quick and pulling them out. They are very durable and take a bit of a beating.

    That is all that I have brother. Anyone else with any thoughts? Anything that I missed? I am going to repost this on the Facebook page as well. Stay safe and feel free to join us on our group at

    Stay safe!

    • dc802 says:

      Nate, thanks. I was hoping that one of you guys would offer some expertise and suggestions. As always, great information and thanks for your comments.

  • Truckie says:

    Great tips Nate, one other thing to try is a horiozonal cut ( Doggie door) below the drop bar then cut the hinge side & pry open there to see if a drop bolt in center of doors.

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