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Friction Force Training Door

Written by Tactical Response Staff

The Friction Force™ Forcible Entry Training Door is the latest SWAT training and practice door and is one of the very best. What makes it so good is the fully adjustable resistance to opening. It can be set to have the feel of a common wood door. Or it can be set to the frustrating delay of a security or fire door, i.e., a close-fitting, steel door in a steel frame installed in a cinderblock wall.

The Friction Force door started off as a training door for Fire developed by a veteran firefighter. In fact, more Friction Force doors are currently used by Fire Departments than Police Departments, even though the higher settings are definitely intended for a heavy battering ram. (Consider sharing the cost of the Friction Force door with the Fire Dept.)

The Friction Force door does not use wooden dowels or other perishable parts to set the resistance to opening. Instead, it uses an adjustable vise: an angled steel cam in the doorframe is wedged on top of a square steel friction bar in the door. The force of this wedge—the amount of friction—is adjusted by a rotating wheel with a dial indicator. The wheel is connected to a drive screw jack—the tighter the wheel is turned, the more friction the wedge applies, the more force to the door.

The dial indicator points to a scale of 1 to 10 on difficulty—a rating of 1 to 2 represents a wood door, while an indicator of 3 to 10 represents increasingly difficult steel doors. Unlike some training doors, the Friction Force door can be set to a level that will tax even the stoutest breacher, or two-man breacher team.

The resistance can be precisely reset to the same level between each breach. Spin the wheel until the adjustable wedge contacts the door bar, reset the indicator needle to zero, then turn the wheel to the desired amount of force needed to breach the door.

Easy to Move

The heavy steel door and heavy steel frame are mounted on retractable casters for ease of movement to the training location. A large lever arm on each mounting rail is used to raise the heavy-duty casters for training use and lower the casters for movement to another location.

The 1100-pound door and frame are heavy enough not to move when hit by a ram, even when set on one of the stiffer settings. However, a steel grate extends on the entry side, the swing-away side, for extra stability. With a breacher standing on the grate, even the heaviest ram strike against a stubborn door does not move the training door.

The Friction Force Forcible Entry Training Door has zero setup time. The folding base allows for easy storage. The only maintenance required is the occasional spray of WD-40 on the drive screw (threaded rod) without getting any on the wedge and door bar surfaces and a spray every once in a while on the caster-lift arm cam.

More Than a Ram

While we breachers normally think “ram,” the Friction Force door can be used for training with a wide variety of door opening tools, not just the heavy ram. The door is specifically designed to allow the use of prying tools, especially the Halligan Tool. Hydraulic devices can also be used on the door. The impact and pry surface of the door is made of 1/2-inch hardened steel plate.

The vertical door rod, which the door rotates open and closed on, is designed to tilt. The heavily spring-loaded door friction bar is also designed to allow this sort of pivot. This tilt feature allows entry tools to be hammered in the gap to pry the door without binding the door and without affecting the force needed to open the door.

The Friction Force training door can be changed to either a left-hinge or a right-hinge door. Standing on grate side, the door can be used for both outward prying and outward ramming. Standing on the opposite side, the door can be used for inward prying.

Wood boards or heavy plywood strips can be secured on the door frame to allow use of the pick end of the Halligan Tool. The channel can be used as a trace to cut out replacement wood pieces. If the baseball-swing technique with the Halligan pick is not used, nothing on the Friction Force door needs to be replaced—ever. Some Friction Force training doors have logged 10,000 forced entries during training.

Time with the Door

We spent quite a bit of time with the Friction Force training door with many different settings using a Halligan Tool. (This sort of breacher training is addicting.) We used the claw (fork) to ram the door enough to make a gap for the blade (wedge). Then used the blade to make a gap for the claw. Then axe-hammered the claw in the gap enough to pry the door inward. Moving to the other side of the door, we used both the blade end and the claw end to pry the door inward, hammering the tool to set it.

We have used many different training doors and breached doors during callouts. The Friction Force door is the real thing. We highly recommend it.

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2014

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