Utilizing a shotgun to defeat a door in CQB is a technique that is not only efficient but also relatively cost-effective in terms of specialized equipment. Really it requires very little other than a shotgun and the correct ammunition. The shotgun itself should be a tertiary weapon to the breacher’s sidearm and primary weapon in an ideal world. There are some determining factors to if a specific door may be breached using a factor though as well as added tools should alternative methods be required.
The biggest factors are the door’s shape, structure, and directional movement; these all equate to if a shotgun will be an adequate tool for a hard breach. Ideally all these aspects of the door and building should be determined prior to an assault or raid occurs but may need to be determined upon approach of the target building or point of entry. Situation dictates, so that kind of intel may not be available to everyone. For article’s sake, I will be describing the procedure from the perspective that breach information is acquired on approach to the breach-point. If the door is composed of a material that is destructible under a shotguns use, proceed. If the door is made of reinforced steel or something to that extent, an alternative breaching method should be used.
The shotgun itself should be set-up in a specific configuration to not only expedite the process but also ensure safe handling of the firearm during the breach and CQB process. The shotgun should be set-up in a modified Condition 3, that is a loaded tube and empty chamber; however, the safety should be left off to expedite the process. Rather than fumbling with the small safety (think the 870, although with other models I’m sure this could change), when the breacher reaches the door he simply has to chamber a cartridge and pull the trigger.
Orienting the shotguns muzzle correctly is a big factor to a successful breach. In this scenario we are speaking about a door that opens inwards (hinges are internal) and the door operates via a single door knob/locking mechanism. The muzzle of the shotgun should be pressed into the gap between the door knob and hinge. From there the gun should be tilted up at a 45-degree angle while simultaneously angled 45 degrees outward, this will ensure that the risk of collateral damage will be minimized should round over penetration (it most likely will) occur. This directional placement of the shot will also cause the back side of the door frame to blow out in that location giving the door an even better chance of swinging free. If the hinges are visible (the door swings outward) it way be better to directly attack the hinges; if not a hooligan tool may be desired in conjunction to the shotgun or preferred to be used exclusively to pry the door open.
Once everybody on the team has set-up for entry, the Breacher will be given the go ahead by the team lead to execute the breach procedure. The Breacher will chamber a round and fire into the door, effectively destroying the lock and doorknob. After the latch has been blown out, the Breacher will give the door a good kick and step out of the way to allow the entry/point element of the team to work. As they do this, the Breacher safely will stow away the shotgun and get his primary weapon system up into a ready configuration so he may assist the team in clearing the room/structure. Avoid standing in front of the door at all costs because there is nothing subtle about this technique and the Breacher is liable to catch a round should the occupants of the structure decide to shoot through the door.
It is important to remember that the shotgun breach is not the end all be all solution. It should be practiced safely and rehearsed routinely to ensure that it can be done this way. Many teams have different methodologies regarding CQB and this technique should be adapted to them accordingly. This is an advanced technique that should be learned after a clear grasp of CQB fundamentals has been achieved. Explosive breaches always work best and in favor of the CQB principles: speed, surprise, and violence of action.
Featured image courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps