How To Break Down A Door - ITS Tactical

Shop the ITS Store!


How To Break Down A Door

By ITS Guest Contributor

Alright, let’s get this out of the way first: kicking down a door is not the best option for opening a locked door. It will damage the door and cost you lots of money to fix it. It is better to call a locksmith, pick the lock, or attempt to crawl in a window.

But let’s say it’s an emergency. You’re in a burning house and you need to escape and the door is on fire. Or your loved ones are in a burning house and you’re locked out. You can’t stand there fiddling with the lock, you’ve got to break it down! Or perhaps a loved one is stricken with a medical emergency and is locked inside a room or in their house. What to do? Be a man, dammit! Break down that door! You know you’ve always wanted to.

How to Break Down a Door

If you have watched enough movies, your next move is a no brainer….run at the door shoulder first, right? Wrong. This technique may be uber-manly, but it will probably dislocate your shoulder. It is better to employ a more forceful and well placed kick.

Check to see which way the door opens by checking the hinges. If the door opens towards you, kicking it down is going to be next to impossible. Kicking a door down is best employed on a door that swings away from you.

Kick to the side of where the lock is mounted (near the keyhole). This is typically the weakest part of the door.

Using a front kick, drive the heel of your foot into the door. Give the kick forward momentum and keep your balance by driving the heel of your standing foot into the ground. Don’t kick the lock itself; this could break your foot.

The wood should begin to splinter. Today most doors are made of soft wood and are hollow. They should give way fairly easily, especially since the lock’s deadlock bolt extends only an inch or less into the door frame. Older, completely solid doors will prove more resistant. Just keep on kicking until the door gives way and you can save the day.

Avoid jump kicks. While you may be tempted to employ this manly move, jumping diminishes your stability which causes you to lose power.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: This post was written by Brett & Kate McKay and originally ran on The Art of Manliness. The Art of Manliness is a fantastic website dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man. It features articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men. Check them out and be sure to subscribe!

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

Are you getting more than 14¢ of value per day from ITS?

Thanks to the generosity of our supporting members, we’ve eliminated annoying ads and obtrusive content. We want your experience here at ITS to be beneficial and enjoyable.

At ITS, our goal is to provide different methods, ideas and knowledge that could one day save your life. If you’re interested in supporting our mission and joining our growing community of supporters, click below to learn more.


  • Keep in mind that interior doors are typically hollow core and thus easy to bust open, but exterior doors are often solid core.
    I wouldn’t want to live anyplace that didn’t at least have a solid exterior door. Where I live now, I plan to install added door security. Firefighters have the tools to bust through any door in seconds, but someone with criminal intent is less likely to use anything but brute force. The longer he can be delayed, the better. That’s particularly true if a wife and kids are likely to be home all alone at night.
    Googling “door security” will give you lots of options. For another, go to Youtube and search for “glock wrong girl.”
    –Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

    • MikeS

      InklingBooks Good points. I live in an condo that actually has a “fire safety” door that’s solid steel and about 3 inches thick. It also has deadbolt locks on the top and bottom. Don’t think I’ll be able to kick that down 🙂

    • Kansas Mike

      @MikeS InklingBooks Yes, but then your weak spot is the wall next to the door.

    • Actually, my fellow Mike, I’ve got multiple weak points. The door itself has a large glass window and on either side are two easily broken windows. That makes for nice northern lighting into the living room, but it’s a security nightmare. I’m not too excited by being seen through the curtains when I approach the door either. Keep in mind that I live in a university town with lots of cops and a low crime rate.
      I tempted to do what a security consultant I met does for pricey boats. Putting the intrusion alarm on the outside did no good, he told me. Neighboring boats, if anyone is even on board, don’t call the cops, they just mutter and complain. Instead, he installed a very loud and very difficult to shut off alarm INSIDE the boat’s cabin, so loud it was painful. Thieves who broke in simply couldn’t endure staying for long enough to take away much.
      That’s an option for a home or business too, particularly one in the country far from any neighbors. The only risk is that they might get mad and set the place on fire.
      That condo with a thick steel door is like what almost everyone in Jerusalem’s Old City had when I lived there in the late 1970s. Thick stone walls that were centuries old, barbed wire at the top of tall walls, and a solid steel door made them very difficult to enter. Unfortunately, since everyone was packed in together, once a bad guy got on the rooftop of one, it was easy to move around to any other place, dropping into the central courtyard that almost everyone had.

  • I thought that this a was appropriate, for the subject matter. On 12 September 2013, “Tactical Fanboy” posted, “How To Properly Breach and Clear A Room”.

  • Panhandle Rancher

    I’d been in the big cities of the eastern seaboard for enough years to discover there is nothing quite so armored as a door in a New York high rise. We had burners (with cutting torches) and other specialized folks to breech those doors. Transferred to Amarillo and days later was in pursuit of a felon who almost killed a federal agent. Felon held up in an apartment. I applied the proper big city kick as depicted in the article. Foot went through the door past the knee and I hopped into the room on one foot. Of course the hollow core door closed about my leg trapping it. First things first however. It is always prudent to first try the door knob if perchance it was left unlocked.

  • WilliamDahl

    Perhaps someone should point out that in the drawing above, the door opens towards the firefighter, not away from him, so attempting to kick the door against the door frame is probably not the best idea.

    Looking a bit closer, it appears that the artist either forgot to draw the frame piece that the door closes against (if the door opens away from the firefighter or he forgot to draw the hinges if it opens toward the firefighter.

  • Bikecopjoe

    Be careful when doing this method.  As a Police Officer I have had to kick several doors.  Have someone behind you in case the door is mounted with spring loaded hinges.  Very common where I live.  Kicking that type of door will run the risk of the kicker being bounced off the door and a couple of feet back. Have a partner push against your shoulders and place his foot perpendicular against your foot on the floor.  Then any door will be victim to a successful kick.

  • Michael2327

    The other day I got locked out of my house without any phone to call for help, or a key to get in. I figured kicking down the door wasn’t a smart idea. Today, I’m still locked out and am staying at my brother’s house. We’ve been trying to find a reliable locksmith to call. We just don’t know how to stay away from scams. Do you have any ideas on who we can call?

Do you have what you need to prevail?

Shop the ITS Store for exclusive merchandise, equipment and hard to find tactical gear.

Do you have what you need to prevail? Tap the button below to see what you’re missing.