Door breaching is a process used by military, police, or emergency services to force open closed and/or locked doors. A wide range of methods are available, one or more of which may be used in any given situation. These methods may be divided up into mechanical breaching, ballistic breaching, explosive breaching, and thermal breaching.
Mechanical breaching can be minimally destructive, through the use of lock picks. This method is relatively slow and requires a trained operator, but does not damage the lock or door. Using specialized tools (i.e.: A-tool, K-tool), a lock cylinder can also be quickly dismantled and unlocked without removing it from the door; this method also allows the door to be closed and re-locked. Mechanical breaching also includes hydraulic breaching, which uses a special hydraulic ram to overcome the lock. The hydraulic ram may be powered manually, pneumatically, or electrically. More dynamic methods (Kinetic Breaching) use force to break the lock or door. The common methods are to use a lever, such as a Halligan bar or Crowbar, or to use a tool to concentrate a large amount of force on the door, such as a Sledgehammer, Hydraulic Jack, or Battering Ram.
19th SF Group breaching with a PGO Mossberg 590
Ballistic breaching uses a projectile weapon to breach an opening. Weapons used can range from small arms to the 120mm cannon of a main battle tank with a HEAT round, which will breach most obstacles easily, though the force involved may violate the rules of engagement. A less damaging ballistic breach needs to destroy either the latch and lock, or the hinges of the door, and the ideal choice for this is the shotgun. While in theory other firearms can be used, handguns are usually underpowered and rifles are less effective than the shotgun and pose a far higher risk of ricochet and collateral injury. Most shotgun ammunition can be used for breaching, though the risk of injury varies with type.
Explosive breaching can be the fastest method, though it is also the most dangerous, to both the breachers and the room occupants. Depending on the situation, explosive breaching is potentially slower than a ballistic breach due to the large standoff required when using explosives, if there is no cover available. Breaching can be performed with a specially formed breaching charge placed in contact with the door, or with various standoff breaching devices, such as specialized rifle grenades like the SIMON breach grenade.
Thermal breaching is one of the least common techniques and also one of the slowest. It involves the use of a cutting torch to cut through metal doors.