Emergency resupply tools:
Until the UK is without rule of law (‘WROL’), carrying your method of entry (‘MOE’) kit is ‘going equipped’, so possibly not a great idea. Even after SHTF, you might not want to be caught with what may be seen as a burglary kit, however good your intentions. But if the owner or at least society would condone emergency access then you need the tools and knowhow.
You ideally want a heavyweight ‘demolition’ kit at home in an expedition bag to be transported by vehicle, as well as a lightweight ‘personal’ kit in a backpack. You could also have a vehicle kit for extra tools you know you will never carry on foot.
Presumably , you are only breaking in if you know you will not get caught by less understanding witnesses, so you do not need the heaviest and biggest and thus most expensive and fastest tools. Buy cheap, small, light equipment that even a small tired person could carry and wield.
Your demolition kit is dearer, bigger and heavier than your personal one, but will get you in faster. It should include whatever you can acquire out of a:
- sledgehammer (8lb will do),
- bolt cutter,
- big axe,
- glazing lifter,
- wrecking bar (ideally akin to a Halligan (known in the trade as a Houley, which is technically a Ziamaric or Pro bar) with an adz, pike and fork, failing which a Stanley Fatmax Fubar 30”, and
- intervention mat.
These tools will be two to four feet long, but only the crowbar needs to be on the longer side. The mat is to protect you from broken glass and can be leather or kevlar etc. The axe can be used as a wedge or a fulcrum for a jack. This toolkit will let you force locks, make a hole in a door or window, or remove the whole thing. You may need one tool to have a spike for pushing carriage bolts through.
If you can afford it, further tools include the:
- rescue saw,
- kinetic ram (eg fence rammer filled with free flowing shot),
- Jersey ram (for seams at 45 degrees),
- Doorstorm ratchet ($1,500),
- HydraRam (around $3,000),
- if you might need to get through laminated glass there is the Rapid Access Tool (36v drill with grappling hook and tow strap) or the JYD glass knife (a saw blade drill attachment for about $460),
- plus there are MOE and rescue multitools like the 27″ 12lb Gerber DingDong sledge pry ram (£303) which anecdotally has never put a door in as it is made of a plastic handle with weak forks that snap and is too light for a ram, and their Downrange Tomahawk which is a tactical survival version doubling as a hammer and prybar ($285).
There is no problem importing kit, it is just a question of whether vendors will sell it.
Ramset are the brandname for powdered activated drivers which are basically a 15” 2kg .22/.27 gun for padlocks, a bit like a concrete nailer. You can pick up the .22 Mastershot for £135, but the XT540 is the daddy of the range especially with a strip of RS27 purple cartridges. As it happens, it is just what you would use to fit a steel stud wall for a refuge to a concrete floor.
- Some of the testing for military standards was done for the US Defense Nuclear Agency in 1972, in Barrier Penetration Tests, US Department of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards NBS Technical Note 837, June 1974. They found:
- sledgehammer operators need a 90s break per 30s working and need to maximise energy which means accelerating a lighter hammer is better than struggling with a heavier one – 10lbs tends to be about right,a 26lb cutting maul is useful where a sledgehammer cannot fit in,
- battering rams are ineffective compared to sledgehammers against masonry,
- rotahammers combined with steel punches hit by sledgehammers in the holes drilled (to a depth that can be spalled with a dozen blows) can spall 2″ of fibrous concrete or 3″ of normal concrete,
- cutting torches are best for limited access or continuous materials like plates (eg 12s per inch for 1/4″ steel plate) whereas abrasive wheels saws are best for thin panels or discontinuous materials like mesh and can cut at about 10s per inch at 3″ deep,
- similarly a burning bar can cut 1/4″ steel plate or 3/16″ exmesh at about 2s per inch and 1s per inch for 1/8″ plate.
- You can also now buy cordless metal sheers that can chomp through 1.6mm steel, which is the maximum thickness of most security doors
Personal MOE gear
Your personal kit is much more lightweight, small, not necessarily much cheaper and will take more time to work. Unless you need grey man, a Stanley Fatmax backpack is ideal. It includes ideally:
- boltcroppers (eg ToughBuilt Powergrip Compacto),
- a mica card,
- duct tape,
- glass cutter,
- mole grip pliers,
- self tapping hex screws assorted 3.9 to 5.5mm & M6 (ideally Ziehl Fix 4.2, 4.8 & 5.2mm with TX20 head / Vipers),
- torx bit,
- nail puller,
- junior hacksaw,
- hand drill,
- metal plate shears,
- pipe wrench,
- 38mm (inside) tube,
- nylon wedges,
- wood wedges,
- spreader (these are expensive),
- glazing shovels,
- spinner handle,
- cam turner,
- air wedge,
- pry bar (eg 8″ titanium),
- brick bolster,
- cold chisel,
- cordless drill,
- core drills,
- HSCO/HSS bits,
- diamond ground tungsten carbide bits,
- carbide bits (£25),
- Euro drill template,
- pad saw,
- gas torch,
- wood chisel,
- scissor jack,
- Euro snapper,
- lock puller,
- allen key,
- window film,
- rubber mallet,
- pin punches,
- tubular lock cutter drill bit,
- hinge puller,
- hinge punch,
- Power wedge, Wedgee wedge, One hand jack, Glassman wedge, HPC Supersnare button tool, long reach tool & Gold Finger wedge & reach tool kit – for cars, and
- steel wedges (eg Bushido magnetic $60 each).
You could try to get hold of keys such as:
- keys to access utilities like a radar key for toilets that might have been forgotten about,
- a drop key for fireman’s override,
- fire brigade master keys to access facilities,
- MK light switch key,
- bump keys (5, 6 & 7 pin, Gege, dimple), washer, spring & hammer
- window keys eg Assa, Avocet, Banham, Basta, Cantebury, Cego, Chubb, Connoseur, Copydex, Cotswold, Era, Espagnolette, Eurolock, Fab n fix, Fenster, Hafele, Hoppe, Ingersol, Laird, Lowe & Fletcher, Mila, Premier, Ronis, Roto, Saracen, Securistyle, Shaw, SKS, Starlock, Strebor, Titan, Vita, Vitawin, Winlock, WMS, Yale
- jiggler keys,
- tryout keys eg 2 & 3 lever,
- window key sets,
- universal window keys like Cimco 11-2798 (£80) and 11-2890 (£20), and
- key reader cards.
Further options include the Searat multi shove knife ($80 from Ignition),
You could go on to learn bypasses and buy kit such as:
- letterbox cam or Android LED cam, or wireless cam for letterbox tool,
- luminous handle drill template,
- combination bypass for padlocks,
- digital bypass,
- key turner,
- thumb turner,
- latch wire,
- latch tool (sliders),
- klom slice,
- ABS bypass,
- Adams Rite trip wire,
- dimple bump kit,
- bump washers,
- bump hammer,
- duster spray and paper (for REX).
- You can also use a bit of brute force with the help of drill templates.
- If you have time to learn, buy plug spinners, picks and impressioners
- You can get decoders and cloners for cars but will you still have electricity?
You might want to be aware of letterbox tools for your own protection but you would struggle to buy and get trained in them. They are essentially folding poles with grip attachments. It is unlikely you would need to get through someone’s letterbox as you only want unopposed entry, but possible as due to fire regs many newer doors have thumbturn deadlocks. Likewise, you probably want to stay away from key turners as a key in the lock suggests someone is home.
Vehicle based MOE gear
If you are going for abandoned high value targets you could additionally load up your vehicle with a:
- battery cutoff saw (for cutting entrances in doors, eg DeWalt 60V, ideally with diamond blade (around £60 (Broco will not sell you the law enforcement Ripper version which costs $160)),
- battery disc grinder (for bolts; ideally Stihl or DeWalt 54V £460 – which are sold by Broco with 4.5” ($50) & 7” ($70) Mini-Ripper diamond rescue blades),
- hole saw,
- cordless jigsaw (eg DeWalt 18V £130),
- sawn off scaffold pole (as lever extender),
- reciprocating saw (ideally DeWalt 54V £470),
- Glasmaster saw,
- pinch bar,
- wood boring spade bit,
- enforcer (£300 for monoshock),
- concrete breaker,
- concrete chainsaw (£2,000+),
- mini battery chainsaw eg Stihl £300,
- DeWalt 18 gauge (1.2mm) shear drill attachment,
- battery 12” chainsaw (£300),
- 125mm diamond core drill bit (most are less than 5”),
- hydraulic head and toe jack (10t for £100),
- Weddle W-tool 3t spreader ($1,500),
- oxyacetylene torch,
- pneumatic impact tool,
- blower bag,
- windscreen suction pad (£10 for a triple),
- wood grenade (eg Roughneck £13),
- lock drill jigs for mortice set screws and cylinders (£10 each),
- burr bits,
- under the door tool,
- Ripcord for motorised roller garage doors,
- folding tactical hook ($60),
- collapsible ladder to get over walls 10 to 23 feet high (£100-200 for 12-14’ models with telescopic stabilisers,
- wall saw,
- automatic gate trigger.
Power saws are mainly for grills and padlocks.
When you know a door may be so reinforced that an Enforcer will bounce off even with hydraulics, or it may take too long, a powersaw may be the only fast enough solution.
Some upvc doors are so weak that an enforcer would just crash through the foam leaving it still locked, meaning it is easier to saw it in half. It takes 12 seconds.
Enforcer-style rams weigh 8-25kg and are only for inward opening non-security doors; the smallest are used on internal doors or to finish the job after explosives or hydraulics on external doors, so not of much application to preppers. The Enforcer weighs 16kg, is 58cm long and delivers up to 3.5t. The equivalent Ram-It weighs 16kg, is 76cm long and delivers up to 6.3t. Its big brother the Ram-It 2 is a two-man ram, 101cm long, weighing 23kg and delivering up to 10t. The enforcer range also includes the 25kg 80cm two man ram. There are also mini rams such as the Baby at 10.5kg and 42cm long, the Firecracker at 16kg and Sumo at 21kg – both 46cm, and bigger confined space versions such as the Disrupter at 18kg and 14kg Enforcer – both 58cm. The bigger rams are normally used to finish off reinforced doors softened up with spreaders or cutting. There are also collapsible rams like the V12. The procedure is to tap the door handle with the back of your hand to check not electrified, then push the top and bottom of the door to get an idea of where bolts are, finally hit the middle lock then any top and bottom bolts.
Enforcers (police battering rams) can be unpredictable, one reason being some doors are flexible and so soak up the energy instead of sending it all to the locks, but another being that police train using 19mm hardwood breaching pins so would not necessarily know what to expect with other materials or a wooden door thicker than about 2” or a wooden door that does not send all the energy to the bolt. Even those forces who use special pegs effectively assume the force goes straight to the bolt, targeting 450psi for wood, 600psi for metal and 900psi for reinforced frames.
A variation on the theme is the Broco Rhino, a ram which punches through flimsy screen doors and drags them away with a hook – a principle that can be used with a vehicle against stronger doors, and is pretty much how a windscreen puller works, which could be tried on old fashioned anti bandit glass such as 7.5mm.
Police also use an SDMS Go-Bar, which is a 20” 1.8kg crowbar for outward openers with lock puller, the Weber Vario cutter spreader (jaws of life) with cutting rating of around 30t and 10t spreading, assault ladders, and Mercian ladders designed as battering rams for smashing windows (but are not allowed above first floor).
- Some of the more dangerous hydraulics include:
- Holmatro hydraulics such as:
- HWJ 25U wedge or PW5624ST Powerwedge rated to 24t which needs only 6mm insertion space,
- GSP5280 Evo3 47t rated spreader,
- Telescopic Ram TR 5370 LP rated to 23t which could spread openings if a few inches deep to get it in,
- GDR200EVO3 7t rated door ram,
- HDO 100-2 10t rated inwards opening door opener,
- HDR 50ST 5t rated door spreader & pusher or DR200 7t rated door ram for multipoints,
- HDB90ST Door Blaster 5t spreader / 4t pusher with 2m hose or 100m radio remote control.
- Generally the most dangerous spreaders cannot work unless there is already a gap of at least 6mm and often need to come in at an angle rather than up against a door, so it is vital to resist wedge attacks, although even battery powered door openers that fit in tiny gaps can push 7t, and spreaders can be smashed into gaps on wooden doors, so welded multipoints and steel doors are advisable.
- GCT5160 Evo 3 138t spreading rated combi tool,
- GCT5111ST or HCT5111ST or CT5111SST combi tool with 46t spread / 26t cut.
- New in 2023 is the hand pumped 7.7kg Holmatro T1 Forcible Entry Tool which is a hammer, 14.2t cutter, 3.4t spreader, lifter, wedger & rammer, which can cut 18mm bar
- Holmatro hydraulics such as:
- Avoid gaps anywhere of 3cm as that lets in a lifting bag which can be rated up to 96t.
- Jacks are available rated to push up to 100t or pull 25t.
- Consider that no UK or EU civilian standard covers mobs as they are only rated for bodily force by a lone attacker, which is a reason to go for the strongest you can afford. CPNI PBAS and US DOS SD-STD-01.01 cover multiple attackers.
Another police supplier is Ogura modular hydraulics via Vimpex, which use adaptors on 18V Makita drills with a 400 bar pump, and attachment of up to 10t cutters, 7.2t bar cutter, Orc bar cutters up to 20mm rebar / 25mm hot rolled round bar, 38mm bar cutter, 4t spreader, 4t jack, and combi with 5.2-44.8t spreader, 32t cutter & 5.3t crusher.
Yet another law enforcement favourite is the ARM Sangyo cordless boltcutter.
Vimpex also sell Sparkey upvc door shovels and Paratech Hooligans, percussive rescue tools (‘PRTs’) and powered impact tools (‘PITs’).
Another supplier is San Tactical with their 6.2t door jack, 23t cutter to 18mm, 6.2t spreader, 15.5t cutter to 25x36mm steel, 4t cable cutter to 18mm and 2.5t manual jack.
There are collapsible versions of prys, sledgehammers, rakes and axes. https://ratools.com/product-category/entry-tools/extendable-entry-tools/
Kinetic tools include the bambam slap hammer, also branded as a Percussive Rescue Tool.
Special forces sometimes buy Makita 18V grinders, so cheaper and lighter options than 54V may work but just take longer, it is mainly a question of getting enough specialist diamond blades from suppliers like Broco; on the other hand some police forces go for 60V. These can make mincemeat of reinforced concrete rebar and window bars in seconds and would not take much longer to chomp through a steel armoury wall or security door.
Another monster is the Bronco DeWalt 60V rescue saw, also available as a mini version.
Vehicles can be tools, for example one US police force has a miniature tank with a battering ram attached. Equally, vehicles can tow doors away especially if outward opening or with a letterbox via a Sigma Letterbox Puller.
One unusual option was discovered from the EOC community, the Typhon GMOE which fires a charge at glass. Normally the glass would shatter to allow access for bomb disposal, but it was discovered that on 10mm laminated glass it drills a hole ready for a reciprocating saw.
Unless you are cockney jewellery vault robbers, you almost certainly do not want to waste time and money getting and learning hydraulics and oxyacetylene. And petrol and electricity for 12v drills and saws probably rules them out, unless exceptionally the gain is worth the pain. Your best bets for the rough stuff are the lock puller, scaffold pole, halligan style crowbar (£150-£250) and massive sledgehammer. Thermal cutting requires cooling time before you crawl through and can leave jagged edges on rebar. Police have oxy cutters but typically only carry the Clucas Slim Pack with a two lite tank lasting three minutes.
Of course, you can go the full EMOE (explosive method of entry) if you miraculously have a Benelli M3 or Remington 870 shotgun or 20g of det cord handy and don’t mind the noise and danger of ricochet through your femoral artery. The fact that there are special cartridges (eg Lightfield), breacher chokes and charges for that might tell you something about the wisdom of going Rambo with Farmer Palmer’s rabbit gun.
If they only want to ‘blow the bloody doors off’ operators would use something like a Gryphon for a wall or Breachers Boot for a door, or det cord, shapes or plastic from Level Peaks.
The JetAxe is an example of a forcible entry shaped charge for firefighters.
In some forces, even your average MOE cops don’t touch hydraulics, and even their supervisors do not touch torches. Nor do they pull locks, or go in windows unless they hold the highest MOE certification, which involves an axe. But you are not bound by health and safety and do not need to drag somebody out, so can take your chances with broken glass in, and obstacles under, windows if you like. But remember, there will not be any air ambulances to save you when your experiment with compressed air, flammable gas or chain saws literally blows up in your face. Blowing and cutting is for movies and emergencies.
Tactical hydraulic options are hard to come by, for example, the Broco Gapper 1.5t 24V battery spreader, a snip at $6,000. They also sell the SAS Door Breacher with nearly 7t rating for inward openers, and a 13t Door Blower – again for inward openers – which does not look like it would take the strain the bag can and depends on the flexibility of the door and frame.
HydroNOA sell the BarBuster 2.5t ram with brackets to spread bars, the HN3176 hasp buster and handpump cutters up to 24mm or 35t. The ‘rabbit’-format jacks that only push one lock from the frame on one side are for lightweight doors and typically rated 4t, although the HydraRam version is typically rated 5t; ones that wedge themselves between both frames before pushing are for medium weight doors; heavyweight doors need jacks in multiple points or a pusher plate or bag in the middle.
If you want a wider range of tactical options then you can go thermal. Unfortunately the Energetic Devices Tec Torch ($350) needs a USA government explosive licence. It is a thermite (aluminium, magnesium, cuprix oxide & molybdenumoxide) cutter that burns at 2,000 degrees, lasts 2 seconds and can cut an 18mm steel bar or punch a 9mm hole in 12mm steel plate at a 75 degree angle. They need a new cartridge per bolt, some materials create a barrage of orange smoke meaning the operator has to pause, and anything not cut in 2s may fuse together again.
There are also disposable magnesium Breachpen sticks at $70 each which last 20s cutting at 2,800 degrees.
The gold standard for cutting is probably the Broco torch with kits from £3,000-4,000 which can cut inch thick steel plate at the rate of about an inch per minute; their Mini Tac is used by the London Fire Brigade. Wilcox Industries do an oxygen exothermic cutting torch backback with HellBoy torch handle.
A curious ballistic option is the KBT Kinetic Breaching Tool available through Aarvark, which is an 8-round shotgun using .45 blanks to power a ram, caving in the lock.
Another technology for windows is the Rhyno windshield cutter, basically a battery tinsnip to chomp along laminated glass, sold to rescuers in kits for around £250-600.
A cool toy for lighter doors is the Tan SPAX SP16 military axe, machete, pry & pick at $110.
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