There are numerous techniques for breaching a door, including the use of battering rams and crowbars. But Special Forces operators are rarely afforded the opportunity to use such equipment, largely due to the weight and size of the items, which aren’t ideal for fast-moving operations. Often, that means kicking in the door is their most convenient option.
Television shows and movies regularly depict soldiers kicking in doors, but those are Hollywood interpretations, designed to look great but likely not mimicking real-world conditions.
However, it is possible to kick in a door, as long as you use the proper technique. Karl Erickson, a former Green Beret, outlines how operators get the job done while on the battlefield.
According to Erickson, the first step involves determining whether the door is designed to be pushed in or pulled out. Generally, this entails looking for visible hinges and the design of the knob.
He does note that “if it is a door that pulls towards you, good luck kicking that puppy in; it’s not going to happen.”
Next, you want to see if the door is actually locked, as an unlocked door doesn’t need to be kicked in.
You also want to see if the door is hollow, as kicking the center of a hollow-core door will typically result with your leg punching a hole, a move Erickson characterizes as “maximum jackassery,” leaving it dangling, and the rest of the door staying in place.
Instead of kicking the center, aim your foot at the locking mechanism while avoiding the knob. Erickson says, “The intent is to separate the locking mechanism through the soft wood on the other side.”
Kicking a doorknob can cause a significant injury, such as a twisted ankle, leaving you less effective if a fight is taking place.
Once you’ve located the best spot to kick, put some serious force behind it. Locks and doors can be stronger than they appear, and you want to get through on your first try, so kick it with everything you can reasonably muster.
Erickson does show an alternative to kicking in a door by instead using a “master key” to gain entry right, closing with the simple statement, “That is how you open a door.”