Lockable doors are very important for security and help keep you and your family safe.
Not only do I have lockable outside doors, which obviously most people have but all the upstairs inside doors are lockable too, so that if an intruder breaks into the house, then they will not have easy access to the whole house once side.
This would give us time to work through what was happening and put a plan into place.
However, there may be occasions when you need to get through a door, but you do not have a key. It may be your home, but you realise you have left the house without your keys and they are inside.
Or you might be on a hike and notice someone who is inside a building and is in trouble, for example if there was a fire.
So, there are real world reasons why you may need to get through a locked door, that doesn’t involve breaking the law. Therefore, it is prudent to learn a few ways to open a locked door.
It should be pretty obvious to you that there are many different types of doors, and many different types of locks. So, just learning one method isn’t going to help you in all situations.
I will give a few different ways in which you can gain entry through a locked door, depending on the lock you encounter.
Or Hex wrenches depending on where you are from.
This method is mainly for inside doors, they are for the rounded locking door handles.
Commonly found on bathroom doors, when there is a catch you can turn on the inside of the bathroom to lock the door, but on the outside of the door there is just a normal handle which cant be locked or unlocked.
This is great for the privacy of the person who in the bathroom but causes a problem if you need to get inside for an emergency or it has somehow locked accidentally.
The lucky thing is these locking handles have a failsafe, so that you can unlock them from the outside if needed. You should be able to notice a small hole front and centre on the handle.
Find an Allen Key that snuggly fits into this hole without having to force it, push it in as far as it goes, then jiggle it around until it catches on the locking mechanism.
Then you should be able to twist the handle as normal, and it will open.
A useful bit of knowledge to have especially if you are living with children or the elderly.
Sometimes locks seize up if you have not used them in a long-time, for example if you have a property on your land that you rarely use.
Or if you have a holiday home that you haven’t been able to get to for a while because of a change in circumstances. This seizing is more likely, the more extreme the weather conditions are.
Or maybe you are visiting your Grandma and you notice her passed out on the living room floor, in which case you need to call the emergency services, but after that I would still want to get into the house rather than just waiting around helplessly.
The Bump Key method is a great option for tumbler locks but be aware that there is a high possibility that it will damage the lock and it will need to be replaced.
You need a bump key, which is a similar key to what would unlock the door, it needs to be able to fit in the lock, but it will not have the necessary teeth to unlock the door.
You will need to file the teeth down to make it as generic as possible.
Push the key in slowly, note how many soft clicks you feel, this is how many pins are needed to align to enable the lock to be turned. Take the key out, then put it back in, however, this time stop just before the last pin.
Then you hit the key with something like a hammer or mallet and immediately turn the key. You need to do this as quickly as safety allows. Don’t try to do it so quick that you whack your fingers with the hammer.
This method works by jolting the lower pins which releases the upper mechanisms, which allow the key to be turned. That is why you need to quickly turn the key before everything settles back down.
This method is becoming a bit outdated and isn’t very effective on modern locks, but there are a lot of properties out there that haven’t had their locks changed in decades.
So, it is definitely something you might consider learning just in case.
Ideally the card should be sturdy but flexible, and you don’t mind it getting damaged.
So, a store card might be better than a credit card.
Put a card in the slot between the door and the frame above the lock, slide down until you feel the lock.
Tilt the card down and towards you. Now apply pressure to the lock and pull the card slowly toward you whilst turning the handle the way that is needed to open the door.
This method relies on there being a beveled bolt, one that is flat on the back and flat to sloping on the front.
In this case the card will be able to slide between the bolt and the frame allowing you to push it in whilst turning the handle.
Imagine the old hotel and motel locks, this method will work on those style doors.
You will recognise this if you are an avid watcher of Private Investigator TV shows, or you are a fan of James Bond.
Although modern day James Bond’s seems to have lost the art of stealth and would probably just blow the door open with explosives.
Lock picks are also known as tension picks, and for good reason they are not widely available to the general public by legitimate means, and it is hard to be taught the methods by legitimate people.
The are officially only available to locksmiths and trainee locksmiths.
You will need a tension wrench, which is something small enough to fit into the lock but is strong enough not to bend so you that it can turn the locking mechanism.
A good homemade option is to get an Allen Key and file the long section down as flat as possible without it snapping in the lock.
This “turning” wrench will be slid into the bottom of the lock. Then you need the pick section.
Paper clips work well here, the bigger and stronger the lock the bigger and stronger the paper clip will need to be. The pick needs to be thin and agile so that it can push the pins into a position that releases the locking mechanism.
The technique is to put the wrench into the bottom of the lock and apply tension in the way the lock with turn to open the door, then you use the pick to feel for the pins and to flick them up.
This is not as easy as it sounds, but it is doable especially with cheaper less well-made locks.
The above are, let’s say, more refined and skilful ways of entering a room or property through a locked door. There are some other less refined methods that you can use like:
You are not looking to emulate Jean-Claude Van Damme here; you need to do this safely and sensibly.
This will work on most wooden doors and frames, if you come up against a metal door you might need to think of another option.
The best method is to use a snap kick. Stand square on facing the door, just under a legs distance away.
You bring your bent leg up to horizontal, then you powerfully extend your leg forward whilst straightening it and shift your body weight forward for more force.
You should impact the down with a flat foot, and you should aim for where the lock meets the frame.
It might take 1 kick, or it might take 100, but you should be able to get through eventually.
If it is a strong lock with a reinforced frame, then you might be better using a battering ram.
If you can get your hands on a tactical battering ram, then great. You will be able to get through most doors.
If you can’t buy one, then you can actually make your own. You need to buy a pile driver that are used to drive posts and stakes into the ground.
Simply fill it with cement to give it some weight. Then you have yourself a cool homemade battering ram.
Locks are actually a weak point of the door if you think about it, so the technique of a battering ram is to apply as much force to that area of the door as possible.
This will smash the lock and the door will swing open. The problem is it will smash everything around the lock too, including the door and the frame.
So, if you have to resort to this method, then just be aware you will likely need to replace everything.
If you are having a huge problem trying to get through a locked door without a key, sometimes the best option is to avoid the door altogether.
If you are desperate to get inside and you don’t mind causing damage to the property, it is often easier to get through a window. Some windows are kindly left open for you to gain entry, and some you may need to smash through.
I have a tactical shovel in both my car and bug out bag, which can smash through double glazed windows. I also have a tactical pen in my everyday carry that allows me to smash a single pane of glass.
These are obviously methods I would not wish to be in a situation where I need to use them, but if I do need to use them then I am thankful I have the option.
These methods should only be used on your properties or in emergency situations when you have no other choice, to avoid breaking the law.
There are valid reasons to learn these skills, as not all survival is about being able to build a shelter in the woods. A lock pick might be just as useful to have in your bug out bag as a knife is.
It all depends on the when, why, and how you are learning to unlock locked doors without keys.
With the simplest reason is you are a locksmith, and it is your job to know these things, to more extreme examples.
Imagine you and your family have been forced to flee your home into the mountains, night is drawing in, and you stumble across a locked cabin.
That cabin could be vital to your family’s survival, but it is better to gain entry to that cabin in the least destructive way possible. As it is more respectful to the owner, but also ensures the cabin is still useful in protecting your family.
If you are intending to learn unlocking locked door techniques, then just remember they do require practice and patience. After all, unlocking a locked door without a key should not be easy, should it!
Most of the methods I have listed will cause some form of damage to the door, frame, lock, and tools used. So, they should be a last resort. If you can and have time, always try to hire a locksmith, or call the authorities.