Gun Digest

Post-Disaster Survival: Dynamic Entry Tools 101


Tools for dynamic entry
Dynamic entry may become critical following a disaster. It takes tools and practice to do it right.


Editor's Note: Following a disaster, access to friends and family may be not be as easy as opening a door. Understanding dynamic entry tools and techniques is important. Tactical expert and law enforcement veteran Dave Morelli explains these concepts in this article.

When we think about dynamic entry, which could involve breaching a door or other obstacle, the SWAT operator immediately comes to mind. That’s because, normally the dynamic entry tools needed for breaching a door are not found in the patrol car.

Gun Digest recommends this small pry tool. It's a portable way to be ready for dynamic entry in numerous situations.

Depending on the department’s policy on handling an emergency entry situation the patrolman might come upon a call where he has the justification of breaching a door to gain entry and need to do it right now, not when SWAT arrives.

I responded to a call one evening to a large tower hotel that security reported a woman screaming for help from one of the rooms. The room was not in the tower but on the second floor of an outside-accessible complex. The doors were steel and the railing was only about 4 feet from the door, making it hard to get a good position for a kick, especially on a steel door.

Security reported that the door was locked with a dead bolt from the inside and could not be opened with a key. We could hear the woman being thrown around and the guy’s response to our verbal commands was that it was a “private matter” and we should go away or he would come out and kick our butts. Well, if he would have come out to do it the problem would have been solved, but he didn’t and continued beating the woman. We decided some sort of entry was necessary and it needed to be immediate.

I asked the security guard if he could get someone from maintenance to bring up a sledge hammer with which we could breecht he door. We continued talking to the guy while security was getting our request. A few minutes later a guy showed up with a huge 3-foot-long pipe wrench that felt like it weighed 50pounds. It was so big I couldn’t get it on the knob and make a twist to break the lock.

So with the woman screaming I revved up the huge wrench and landed a blow just above the knob on the door. It flew open hard and a naked lady with a swollen face and bruises all over her greeted us. There was also a half-naked guy lying on the floor with the tweety birds flying around his head. According to the lady just before we made entry he put his head to the door in attempt to hear what we were doing.

Bad move! Fortunately he was not seriously hurt and it actually improved his attitude, as he was cooperative when he came to. (Knocked some sense into him I guess.)

Dynamic entry with a ram is an advanced option for serious disaster preppers.


I think about that call now and then, because part of the situation really was kind of funny. But I also think about how many fewer blows the lady would have had to endure if I had some sort of breaching tools in the patrol car, or at least one of the cars in the area. Come to think of it there were a lot of calls we responded to where some dynamic entry tools would have made life easier.

This breaching tool at is simple to use. It's ideal to keep on hand for post-disaster access to people or items.

Back then BLACKHAWK! was just starting out, selling mostly packs and nylon stuff. Today they sell a variety of breaching tools along with other necessities for police, fire and rescue folks to fit just about every occasion. From a SWAT call to fire and rescue, to the individual patrolman on a small department with the need for some breaching tools, BLACKHAWK! has something for everyone. There are rams, pry tools, window rakes and bolt cutters. They even have collapsible products that are lighter and take up less space when stored in the vehicle.

Any burglar will tell you there aren’t many doors that will withstand a well-placed shot from a 3- to 5-pound sledge hammer or even a modest sized pair of channel locks. The problem with the channel locks is you have to stand in front of the door to get any leverage. (Fatal Funnel Syndrome.) A long-handled sledge can be manipulated from well along side the door and opens the door quickly for fast entry.

One of BLACKHAWK!’s entry kits, The Dynamic Duo, has a long-handled sledge and The Breacher, which is a pry type tool with 3 feet of prying torque. The head on the Breacher is a tempered stainless steel wedge that has friction ridges on all contact surfaces that counter angled to the head. This improves stability and reduces slippage during use. The Duo comes in a kit holster made from nylon.

BLACKHAWK! also makes a variety of hallagan tools in many configurations that will get the pry on just about any door. They come in mini tool kits and non-sparking non conductive metals for use when there if fear of fire or explosion. They even carry them in stainless steel. There are even tools specific to mobile home doors which usually open outward. But when it comes right down to it, the most useful and versatile is the ram.

Finding an old door to practice on is not only good training, but it's the only way you'll truly understand dynamic entry tools, such as this ram.


BLACKHAWK! carries several of these for different situations. The CQB ram is a shortened version of the MonoShock Ram. It is good in hallways or areas of close quarters on interior or light exterior doors. It allows the operator to breach the door while remaining outside of the fatal funnel.

Also in a dynamic entry entry situation, the smaller tool keeps the breacher out of the way of the entry team. Usually the breacher drops the tool down, usually in a position to keep the door open, and is the last guy in through the door.

Dynamic entry tools don't get much simpler than this set of mini bolt cutters at They can easily be stored with other survival tools.

The larger MonoShock and Twin Turbo rams can be used by one or two operators and will breach just about any door. The rams are made of a high-impact polymer plastic type material that is extremely dense and has good mass.

It is spark-resistant and makes short work of doors and jams. These rams are designed with the flexible handles angled to direct more power to the point of impact quickly for one-shot entry. They are also set up ambidextrously for southpaws and tight quarters. The handles have some control flex to reduce the stress of impact to the operator.

I had the opportunity to take some of these dynamic entry tools to an old building that was on the schedule to be demolished. Team leaders should keep a weather eye out for such buildings and make sure these opportunities are never passed up. This is great training. Back when I worked in Vegas, we even took advantage of some of the municipal high rises on Sundays for doing elevator and stairway tactics.

I gave the shorter ram a try. I think the shorter ram would be more multi-purpose in that it would take up less space in a patrol vehicle and also work in some of the tight spaces afforded in hallways or apartment buildings. There is nothing like the power of a big Thunderbolt on a stubborn door and usually your sniper’s RECON or other information will help outline the breaching necessities. The CQB ram has two handles and is ambidextrous. The handles have some give in them and act as a shock absorber taking some of the impact off the operator’s arms.

The ram can be used from either side of the door giving the operator the option of picking the safest way to apply the tool. I used it from both sides of the jam but on the same side of the lock one has to be careful as the door breaks and the ram goes forward the arms can contact the door jam. In this case, consider a hinge-side breach. Always use the tool in the way that affords maximum officer safety. If you have to hit the hinges,start at the top. The door will open.

The hallagan is a good choice for most preppers' dynamic entry tool roster. It's portable and easier for one person to use.


Having a practice door on an old building is really a good place to work out the bugs. The entry order should be practiced for the optimum efficiency. Before these tools were around the first guy though the door was usually the kicker. It was faster for him to be the first in and usually his weapon was a handgun.

With the ram or a hammer, it is usually faster for the breacher to hit the door and “roll out” to let the team flow in. He can then take up rear guard after he puts down the breaching tool. Even with good INTEL the breacher will need to make some quick assessments of the door. Are there signs the door is reinforced, like carriage bolts or other extra hardware? Should you look to the hinge side if that gives you more room to maneuver?

In addition to being a stellar breaching tool, this pry tool at comes with a notch for shutting off gas valves.

None of the doors I struck gave the ram any trouble. Some of the doors were pretty flimsy but the front door was a steel covered door and a good frame. The key is the frame. The strongest door is only as strong as the jam it ties into. Most door jams are wood and break out easily. This was the case with the steel door and wood jam on the test house. The door can be made much stronger with some steel reinforcement in the jam and the addition of longer screws. But this really only slows down entry with these tools.

Depending on how a door opens or where it is located, you might be required to pry it open. The hallagan tool is a great pry bar with the head designed to work on doors, door jams, windows and more. I like the shorter model for entry work because it is easier to pack to the door and through the house if necessary.

The hallagan tools also have a point sticking out of the side that can be used to break locks or chain or as a spike driven into a surface to help with prying. The tail of the tool has a forked end that can be used in a variety of pry situations. Both the head and tail are angled to get maximum pry force against the target.

The longer pry bar with the Dynamic Duo doesn’t have the point or forked tail but can also be used to breech a door that needs prying. The longer handle gives more torque and it is made from a polymer that is lighter and relays less shock to the operator. The Duo also comes with a sledge that an be used to get the point into the crack between the door and jam deep enough to pop it or the hammer can be used by itself.

Using the hammer and the Breacher together takes two officers and some practice to get it smooth and coordinated. Place the tool, set it with the hammer and pry. Sounds easy but takes training and practice.

When all else fails, the sledgehammer is still the perfect dynamic entry tool.


A good old fashioned sledge hammer can make short work of quite a few doors out there. A long-handled sledge will pop a door with a well-placed shot, and the long handle keeps the operator back by the jam if he is operating across the door.

Don't forget, a study fixed blade knife like this one by BLACKHAWK! is sometimes the simplest and most practical dynamic entry tool.

The dynamic entry is often begun with a distraction. Flash-bangs grenades are great for this, but you need access. A window might have to be broken to toss in the grenade. There is a right way and a wrong way to break a window.

Most house windows are not safety glass that breaks into tiny pieces when broken. It usually will break into large sharp pieces that can slice open an operator’s arm. Try to break the glass from the top or way off to the side so this can’t happen.

Again the hallagan tool will help with this job. BLACKHAWK! also makes a window break and rake tool that lets you rip down curtains and blinds, too. Always start at the top.

The primary goal of the dynamic entry is speed. The entry and clearing must happen so quickly the bad guys have absolutely notime to react to it. Good tools, properly used, make this happen. No tool is worth its price tag if not accompanied by sound training. Get that training and keep current before you go into harm's way.

Outstanding Gear and Resources

Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

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