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Opening the locked door

Every Day Life Survival Resources & Tips

It’s happened to all of us.  I know in our travels we have been in situations where we need to enter a door, but have not a key.

ACW tactical is about tools, gear, kits, and how to use them and how they can supplement you along with your greatest tool.  Your mind.  Any support or informative resources we can provide is our pleasure and what we do.  Our compact reference manual is worth checking out if your interested in a neat booklet of facts and fun regarding everyday survival, useful facts and tips and general helpful information.

So… You locked yourself out.  A  friend locked his or her self out.  One of the kids locked you out of a door? or just as a test of tinkering prowess, you want to use your skills.   Here we explain a little on how you can in many cases be a hero and get back in that locked door.  Please use your powers lawfully!

In this article we will go over getting past a standard locking door latch, you know, the basic kind most entry, bathroom and privacy doors have (Not the dead bolt lock that is normally found above the standard door handle).

A bunch of years ago i met a friend out.  Think we were at a game or picnic.  Afterwords we decided to go to his house so he could show me his place .  I drove my vehicle with my two kids,  he was leading the way to his house with his family.  Long story short we were all standing on the porch as he turned around and said ” Um…  well i forgot my key…now what?”

Here is a case where it’s worth a try anyways.  Defeating a door latch to gain entry doesn’t always work and depends on a few things.  BUT sometimes you can get in, and it’s a great feeling of accomplishment too.  Just be patient and persistent.

Back to our little story:  after asking if any windows were unlocked and other alternatives it was clear that a locksmith was in his future.  I proceeded to get my first choice for the job, my drivers license ( like most entrance doors it swings inward into the house so the curved part of the latch was to my side, the outside).  Licenses are well suited for a basic pry job because they are very flexible, yet rigid.  You can in other words manipulate it around door and jamb edges to get into the sweet spot.  Under 60 seconds and we were in, happy ending!  I look and feel awesome for helping someone else out and being a clutch asset.  Hooray for me!


Pictured above, Major Parts seen on the exterior of a door…

Some of us are lucky enough to have a screwdriver, or even a multi tool available.  It can be as easy as prying that sucker in there and a few things could happen:

  • Nothing
  • The strike plate is sized wrong, so the latch bolt and deadlock piston ( thingy on side of latch bolt that is semi rounded) drops further into the hole in the strike plate, which essentially disengages the deadlock piston’s “locking feature”.  If this happens you can easily move the latch out of the way by prying it with a tool ( blade, card, screwdriver etc ) back into the door as it is now a normal non locking latch,thus making opening the door easy.
  • You damage the paint and surrounding material a bit
  • You may find that a doorstop trim is in the way and you cant get access.  At this point you pry off trim or look for other options
  • It easily opens with some maneuvering
  • You call a locksmith and your not a hero to the kids and loved ones, but still a good dude.  Usually it sounds like” oh don’t worry Hun, you’re still our hero”  <um, puke?!> .  Or “hey that’s what we have Locksmiths for”.  Maybe even ” i knew you couldn’t do that, what the hell are you doing?”
  • You have no tools, but your friend says “hey, i’ll grab my Acw MacGyver kit, it’s in my car”  ( it has a few handy items for such a scenario: mini multi-tool, wire to loop around latch etc).  By the way on a side note.  We have tested a larger gauge wire length in opening a locked car door.  For this reason we include it as an item on our website and it comes standard in MacGyver kit.  It’s one of our well thought-out multi use items.

Give it a whirl?  above picture shows prying with a tool to get something to move ( either latch, or deadlock piston ).

Understanding latch parts a little…  Above Drawing shows some normal latch conditions

Obviously it’s easiest to pry under the curvy tip side of the latch bolt, it you can see it from your side.  Sometimes it is seen easily, sometimes the curve is fully engaged through the hole in the strike plate, but you can still get to it many times.

* Note:  the deadlock piston has a habit of not functioning effectively every so often.  Even if it’s properly set it may be doing absolutely nothing.  In doors we tested or “encountered”, we found probably 1 in 10 were useless.  * Extra note: THINK TWICE when you lock a door just using the handle latch lock,  it can be defeated easily sometimes.

Now.. If you are on the side of the door without the rampy curvy end of the latch bolt, it will be more difficult.  The technique we use is illustrated below.

There is always more to discuss, but this gives a general idea of what to expect.  Many times it will not work,  many it will.

We always welcome feedback and comments, hopefully we can be of assistance in helping you along the way.   Another interesting use for this non destructive method of door entry is in a tactical scenario.  It can be a rather noise free operation in some cases.

– Cheers,

ACW team

#EDC #Lifetips #everydaysurvival @acwtactical

Also We recommend this great website for resources and self reliance/improvement: Art of Manliness

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