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Tactical Ballistic Breaching Techniques

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2002 Pages: 81-84
Charles J. O'Connor
Date Published
4 pages
This article focuses on weapons used for tactical breaching during critical incident resolution.
The shotgun is the most versatile tool available to law enforcement patrol and tactical operations. Recently, distraction munitions have been developed for the shotgun. Under certain circumstances, the shotgun is the ideal method of tactical breaching during critical incident resolution. Shotgun breaching has its pros and cons. It is critical that officers performing this skill are properly trained with weapon functioning, munitions performance, and tactical techniques. Guidance policies are needed for using the shotgun as a breaching method. Although the shotgun can be used as a primary external breaching method, it usually is used internally. This method is quicker and safer than using manual tools or explosives. The weapon can also be used to introduce chemical agents into rooms as the tactical team flows through the objective. Shotgun breaching methods and technologies were developed by the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community. The two shotguns most commonly used by law enforcement agencies are the Remington 870 and the Benelli M-1. Any type of 12ga shotgun can be used as an effective breaching tool. The factor determining the use of a pump action instead of an automatic shotgun is the physical environment the weapon will be exposed to. Experience has shown that using a short barrel (13 inches) is best suited for tactical breaching. Due to liability issues, agencies should never use lethal ammunition for shotgun breaching. Every effort should be made to ensure the safety of the room occupants and the tactical officers. One of the most important requirements for safety is the properly trained breacher and tactical team. The areas normally selected for breaching are the door’s locking mechanism, pad locks, or hinges. Once the areas to be defeated are destroyed, a mule kick to open the door may be required.