Shotgun Breaching 101

Shotgun BreachingMembers and readers, if you have noticed a trend toward more tactical shotgun articles lately, you are correct. We have discussed at length the ability to use the Shotgun as a weapon and the ability to add accessories such as lights and extra ammunition quite easily. For a relatively inexpensive weapon, it has great versatility and firepower. For close quarter type engagements, the sheer kinetic energy it delivers without most of the over-penetration problems found with many other weapons, makes it THE Weapon of choice for home defense. As we move to the use of the shotgun as a ballistic tool, it becomes even more apparent that having a properly equipped shotgun at your home makes you and your family safer and more prepared for any and all eventualities. Now, we will discuss the importance of knowing how to use shotgun breaching techniques that can be useful in emergency situations.

The idea of using a shotgun as a breaching tool goes back to the early days of the specialized military units that excel at hostage rescue. These units quickly realized that getting into secured areas quickly was a huge plus in the total tactical picture. Although many specialized devices have been designed to open locked doors, windows and re-enforced barricades, the ballistic energy of a shotgun with the proper ammunition is one the quickest and safest ways to get through a closed and locked obstacle. So how do you apply this knowledge to getting you and your family out of a potentially dangerous situation?

Easy, the same ballistic tool that is used to get specialized ‘door kicker’ units into a hardened target area can get you and your family out of a burning house or other structure. The ballistic breaching capability of a 12 gauge shotgun with good old fashioned ‘00’ buckshot is outstanding. What do you have planned if the fire in your home is between you and the door to the outside and the other exterior doors are locked? Go try to find the keys in the smoke? Try to kick the door open just like they do in the movies? Won’t work on an inward opening door. By following some simple safety procedures, you can get your family through a locked door in less than 30 seconds. The key is to have enough ammunition to ballistically breach the locking mechanism in the door, deadbolt and door handle catch, or just shoot the hinge area and not injure your people in the process.

By locating the hinges with your tactical light and placing the muzzle of the shotgun at a 45 degree angle into the door/door jam, the buckshot will cut though the wood and displace the small wood screws that hold the hinges in place. Two rounds of buckshot into the hinge area, one on top and one at the bottom, will dislodge both the screws and the wood that supports it. If, for some reason the hinge area is still intact, just shoot it again. You should have plenty of extra ammo either in the extended magazine tube or an auxiliary source. Some of the newer tactical shotguns come with a muzzle break that has sharp 45 degree edges that will hold the weapon in place while you shoot into the door/door jam. This device also allows the gas to escape while shooting, preventing you from damaging your weapon.

Shotgun BreachingBecause you are using buckshot instead of the specialized ammunition that military and law enforcement use, ensure you are shooting into the door or the door jam where the wood screws are attached, not directly at the exposed hinge. This will limit the amount of ricochet and fragmentation of the soft lead pellets impacting on the metal hinge. Ensure your other family members are a safe distance from the area while you’re engaging the hinge area, eye protection would be nice, but it is very doubtful you will have clear shooting glasses on during this emergency. Just simply place the muzzle on the desired breach point, place the weapon on fire and look away from the door while firing the shotgun, run the action to reload the shotgun and, after shooting the top part of the hinge area, move the weapon to the bottom part of the hinge area and repeat the process. For those of you not familiar with residential construction, there are some simple guidelines to follow, if the barrel of the hinge is on the inside of the door jam, the door opens inward. If you cannot see the hinges, the door opens outward.

Most doors have three sets of hinges located approximately 6 to 10 inches from the top and bottom of the door with the third hinge in the middle. It is also important to realize that an inward opening door will still need to be moved inward out of the door jam, even after the hinges have been dislodged. The easiest and quickest way to do this procedure is to use a crowbar or a sturdy fixed blade knife to pry the door inward and out of the doorframe. Again, ensure your other family members are positioned well away from the doorframe and ready to move through the opening after you have pried it open and removed it. The door will probably fall after it is removed from the support structure. You should also inspect the door frame area for large splinters and the immediate outside area for more potential hazards before any of your family members exit through your improvised exit point. By positioning yourself to one side of your exit point, you can do your quick inspection of the area, illuminate the exit point for your family by pointing the light straight down and get a full head count as they exit the structure moving to a safer area well away from the fire inside. This is exactly how special military and law enforcement units extract people from a dangerous situation or structure.

Yes it will be loud, earplugs are always handy, but you have few options and even less time if the fire is raging inside the home or structure. As you can see from the above paragraph, having a tactical light on your shotgun makes this entire process much easier and safer. Just having a tactical light during this emergency will help you immensely, it can be used along the floor to illuminate the way to the exit for others and have a light source and a signaling device once outside into a potentially dangerous environment. If you have one of the newer model lights with a two position thumb switch, you can use the low power setting for inside the house or structure and the high power setting for signaling outside. By having the use of two hundred plus lumens at your disposal, you can signal police, firefighters, first responders, even helicopters to your location and potentially illuminate your path to a much safer more tactically sound position.

First Published at Aegis Academy

About Author

– Chris White

Range Master

Chris White, Firearms InstructorChris White is 20-year veteran of the United States Navy (SEAL Teams) where he retired as a Chief (SO7). He has multiple combat tours and was assigned to three different SEAL teams as well as Naval Special Warfare Development Group during his active duty service. His key billets include: Assault Team leader, Platoon Chief and Platoon LPO at Development Group. He spent 6 years in instructor and training assignments during his career. Since his retirement, he has worked as an instructor and contracted operator at numerous high threat security providers in the Middle East and Africa. He continues to deploy in support of contingency operations and high threat protective details spending approximately 120 days a year overseas. He holds an extensive list of Department of Defense and Special Operations Command certifications and qualifications.

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One thought on “Shotgun Breaching 101

  1. Christopher Pendas April 9, 2014 / 11:30 am

    It’s funny how a lot of people think shotguns are the easiest firearm to use. Manipulation of a shotgun can be more challenging than most firearms, being that they are so versatile, especially with shells changes, breaches, etc. Excellent post, thanks for sharing!

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