Remember when the team’s breaching equipment use to consist of a sledge hammer? Not too different from police raids against illegal stills during Prohibition. Fortunately our planning, training, and performance on raids has improved since that time. So too, based on experience and need, teams have improved breaching equipment over time.
As one and two man rams came into vogue, we would have a buddy with welding equipment (or in my team’s case, a mechanic/welder at the city’s garage) make a ram. Other equipment would be purchased at hardware stores (bolt cutters) or retrieved in the police property room (crow bars) and “borrowed” from the F.D. (Kelly or Hallagan tools and pneumatic equipment).
Designs in equipment have changed over the years as have our breaching tactics. Although explosive entry has certainly proven itself, teams with this capability are still in the minority, mostly out of ignorance on safety issues. Most breaches are still mechanical, and rams are still the way to go.
It used to be that breaching was delegated to the largest man on the team. All this person had to do was make it from the raid van to the breach point and force entry. Once the breach was made, his job was done. In other words, he didn’t have to be a good allaround operator. Many a “door killer” existed on tactical teams.
But times have changed andbreaching has changed as well. A failed or delayed breach eats up time, and time is a crucial factor in any forced entry. Success in any raid, after all, is based on speed, surprise, and violence of action. Botch the breach and the suspects have at best, time to flush, and at worst, time to arm and resist.
No stranger to tactical team members, Dynamic Entry
is one of the companies owned by Blackhawk Products Group
. Marty Wozinak, a former Wyoming narcotics detective, began Dynamic Entry based on his experiences in law enforcement search warrant raid operations.
Everything that Dynamic Entry produces is made specifically for police and military breaching, not just adapted for use by the company. The equipment supplied showed quality construction and attention to detail. All of DE’s equipment is electrically nonconductive and non-sparking. The handles are built with operator safety in mind with safetyguard handgrips and ergonomically designed gripping services.
Dynamic Entry made several pieces of equipment available for testing.Thor’s Hammer
Having seen the Thor’s Hammer used on a training DVD featuring former British Spec Ops personnel, I wondered whether it would develop sufficient power. I was pleased with the results. On the day in question, I was training in an abandoned factory. With the Thor’s Hammer in hand, I happily set upon ten unsuspecting doors. Within the confines of a narrow hallway, I was able to develop tremendous power in my swing.
Standing well back from the doorway, I was able to breach doors with the doorknob close as well as across the door without endangering myself should any suspect be inside. Chambering the hammer on my shoulder and swinging with my hips, (the secret to power development as any breacher will attest) I was able to defeat well made solid interior doors. At no time were my hands in danger due to the angled handle design.
The Thor’s Hammer is available with a backpack to transport the hammer to the breach point or to allow an operator to carry the hammer during the op if a door needs to be opened. With fully adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps, this carrying method allows the breacher to be on weapon up to that point versus having both hands tied up.
Once the team arrives at the breach point (or for that matter, at a door that needs to be breached) “Breacher Up!” and the hammer becomes available to another team member for use. Its weight is not enough to distract or interfere with the operator’s movement prior to use, which beats the heck out of dropping the breaching equipment at the initial entry point and having to run back to get it. The Thor’s Hammer is a specialty piece of kit that should be available to a team.
When lighter exterior doors, interior doors, or doors in narrow hallways are met, the Thor’s Hammer provides an excellent option. However, this is not to suggest that it is lightweight. I was able to deliver sufficient power standing within a doorway and striking the jamb; with seven blows, I punched a hole through an old and well-made solid wood door.Thor’s Hammer Backpack With MOLLE Webbing System
Our UK brothers in police and military tactical teams pursued a similar tract. The MOE (Method of Entry) kit was developed over the years by London Met’s SO-19 and the SAS (Special Air Service). I first came into contact with the UK MOE concept while reading Steve Collins books: The Good Guys Wear Black and The Glory Boys.
Collins, a former London Met cop, was assigned to SO-19. Collins relates his experiences with this highly active and professional tactical team. Although the MOE kit referred to and pictured in the books has a metal frame, it shows the concept which was developed by the Special Air Service and SO-19’s operators.
The MOE man carries a variety of breaching equipment instead of just a ram and Hallagan tool as do most teams in the US. With the kit on the operator’s back, his hands are free to cheek his long gun or maneuver up to the breach point.
Dynamic Entry attributes its MOE Tool Backpack development to the SAS as well. This version, according to the catalog, is constructed of 1000 denier NyTaneon™ nylon and heavily padded with closed cell foam. The tools are secured with two retention flaps using hook and loop. With adjustable shoulder, waist, and leg straps, the backpack allows the wearer, according to DE, to engage in extreme body movements such as running, climbing, and rappelling.
When I asked my team to give the MOE Tool Backpack a wringing out, they immediately commented on the weight. At 40 lbs, make no mistake that this equipment backpack will surely be noticed by its wearer. I don’t believe the Brits planned on an operator performing room clearing functions while wearing this pack, hence the designation of the dedicated MOE man. Indeed, according to Marty Wozinak, the operator who wears the back pack is referred to as the “mule”.
Additionally, UK breachers work in two man teams; the mule carries the equipment and covers while the second operator acts as the breacher. Wozinak relates that the backpack is dropped at the primary entry point unless intel indicates another breach inside. The alternative as practiced by most US teams is to assign various operators to carry the pieces. The trade-off is that now several team members are affected. The UK MOE kit contains the Super BoltMaster Bolt Cutters, CQB Tactical Entry Ram, and UK Hallagan Tool.
The Super BoltMaster bolt cutters are specifically heat-treated and have the finest cutting edges anywhere according to the manufacturer. The bolt cutters feature an electrically nonconductive fiberglass handle system with safety guard handgrips. They feature a jaw opening gap of 7/16” and weigh in at 8 lbs.
I like the UK Hallagan tool, as compared to some other Hallagan tools available with a sharpened horn on the wedge end. I’ve always worried that should an operator fall during an op while carrying this tool, a nasty puncture could result. The tool features a 2” x 4” wedge head on one side as well as a uniquely designed glass buster head for break and rake operations on the other end. I believe this glass breaker should be reserved for safety glass as I have observed injuries when these types of tools are used for breaking window glass via thrusting versus swinging motions. Both working ends are constructed from hardened steel.CQB Ram
Dynamic Entry has developed a single handled one man ram called the CQB. This 23 pound ram utilizes an over sized control-flex handle to allow the breacher to facilitate entry while standing off to the side and out of the “fatal funnel.” The CQB is not designed for solid, heavy weight exterior doors but is designed well enough to develop sufficient power to open most lightweight exterior and most interior doors. Once again, breaching power is developed via proper technique versus ram weight, and this ram design allows sufficient power development as well as good swing recovery.UK MOE Backpack
Dynamic Entry’s breaching equipment is currently in use bythousands of US troops in Iraq according to Wozinak and for good reason. When military raids in urban environments are conducted, breaching equipment is needed. Although not tested for this article, I have seen footage of US Special Forces and Marines putting the Dynamic Entry Manual Entry Tool Pack to good use. At only 20.75 pounds, this kit provides ample breaching potential at half the weight of the UK Kit but minus the ram capability.
The METP is designed by Dynamic Entry to carry the Special Operations Hallagan Tool (SOHT), Thundermaul, and Boltmaster. Constructed of 1000 denier NyTaneon™ nylon, and heavily padded with closed cell foam, this pack has individual pouches and retention straps for each tool. This backpack has fully adjustable chest and waist straps as well.
The ThunderMaul is half sledge hammer, half axe. Designed with electrically non-conductive sure-grip handles, the ThunderMaul is capable of a variety of breaching tasks and yet at 21.5” is short enough to be carried on the backpack.
The Special Operations Hallagan Tool is a 24” Hallagan with wide fork and horn ends designed for maximum breaching leverage. This tool is made with non-sparking alloys specifically for volatile environments.
Breaching equipment has developed and improved over the last several years.
Professional standards and training have eliminated the days when just anyone with a homemade metal ram could try to “key” a door. Like everything in police and military tactical operations, we have sought out special kits and understand that breaching needs the proper tools and training to make it successful. Forcing entry into a hostile location should aid in the success of the op, not foul it at the breach point. Check out Dynamic Entry's line of quality breaching equipment. As the Brits might say, they are "a proper piece of kit."Kevin R. Davis is a 23-year veteran of law enforcement, a full-time officer and trainer. He is a 13-year veteran of the Akron, OH Police tactical team and lead instructor. Visit his website at www.advancedtacticalconcepts. com. He welcomes your feedback at kd1@advancedtacticalconcepts. com.