Product review: Tools for a positive breach
There are two key questions that need to be addressed when looking for breaching equipment: Is it simple and is it durable?
By Harry Fitzpatrick, P1 contributor
“Breacher up” are two words that ignite the flame in every breacher’s soul. For those few seconds, the success of the entry relies solely on the breacher making a positive breach. If the entry team cannot get into the structure, they cannot accomplish their mission.
Having the will and drive to demolish any obstacle in the entry team’s way is one part of the breaching equation. The other half of the equation is having the right tools to accomplish a positive breach. With a continually growing tactical market, sifting through myriad manufacturers to find the right equipment can be daunting.
There are two key questions that need to be addressed when looking for breaching equipment:
- Is it simple?
- Is it durable?
Overly complicated tools can create lag time, especially under stress. The same goes for tools that break, as tool failure can create an even greater lag time in the entry.
The Jersey Tactical Corporation manufactures breaching equipment that is both simple and durable. The equipment they produce is the brainchild of two police officers, John Dapkins and Nick Klementowicz. Both officers are experienced breachers who have a deep understanding of what is needed for effective breaching equipment.
Over the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity, along with several co-workers, to use two pieces of breaching equipment in both training and in entries in a law enforcement capacity. The Claw and the Pocket Ram have both proven to be reliable, simple and effective.
The Claw is a multi-faceted tool that can be used for inward and outward opening doors. It weighs in at 10 pounds and is available in 24 inches and 30 inches. The model we used has a stout polymer handle that attaches to a giant steel head. The back of the head has a large rectangular shape that can be used as a sledge. The rest of the working end turns 90 degrees and fans out into three tapered forks.
The design of these tapered forks is advantageous for several reasons. They create a gap in between the frame and the door, which makes it easier to pry an outward opening door. These forks are also designed so they do not slip when applying pressure.
During training I observed just how much force this tool can generate. We used the Claw on our steel-framed training door and it actually generated so much force it bent the frame. I have also seen on entries the Claw pop a storm door open while setting it with a ram. The thickness of the forks created space and defeated the locking mechanism.
The Pocket Ram
The other breaching tool, the Pocket Ram, proves that bigger is not always better in mechanical breaching. This tool is a compact powerhouse that is utilized on inward opening doors. Constructed of steel, it is 19 inches in length and weighs 30 pounds. A built-in slide hammer only moves when contact is made with a solid surface. The striking surface on this ram is very forgiving with a 5" x 5" strike plate. The Pocket Ram’s design is simple and efficient.
The compact size of the Pocket Ram is one of its biggest advantages. Almost as important as breaching is being able to transport the equipment to the breach point. The fact that this ram is only 19 inches long makes it portable and easy to transport. This is especially helpful in a vehicle, where there is already limited space. Getting out of a vehicle with a longer traditional ram can be challenging and inefficient. The short overall length of the Pocket Ram makes exiting a vehicle simple and fluid.
The Pocket Ram’s small size also affords a wider range of end users to implement this tool effectively. No longer does it take a giant to wield a ram to demolish a door. The Pocket Ram is compact enough that users who are shorter in stature can still generate enough velocity to be effective. This was apparent when we were training on our breaching door. Officers of all shapes and sizes were able to wield the Pocket Ram effectively and gain a positive breach.
Not only did this ram prove effective in training, but also on the street in actual entries. The amount of force breachers were able to generate with the Pocket Ram defeated locking mechanisms with ease. More often than not, the doorframe was displaced.
Other than minor surface scratches, both tools have suffered no damage at all. There’s no doubt in my mind that these tools will last long past my career.
No matter what the mission is, the breach point is the one part where seconds count. If the team can’t get in, they can’t accomplish their mission. Breachers must have the utmost confidence in their tools and Jersey Tactical accomplishes this with the Claw and the Pocket Ram.
About the author
Harry Fitzpatrick has served as a police officer in an urban police department for 14 years. He is currently assigned to a SWAT/sniper unit.