Shooting a dead bolt

Via Widener’s:

Mythbusting: Shooting A Deadbolt

We never get tired of watching movies, but we often watch scenes play out that aren’t realistic. Their approach is believable, but the way they go about solving problems defies logic, engineering, and sometimes physics. Take deadbolt locks as an example. When a character shoots a deadbolt lock, it disintegrates and the door busts wide open. It looks good on screen, but what happens when you shoot a deadbolt in real life?

That’s the question we set out to answer with this project: Whether the action we’re presented with on the big screen has any authenticity to it. We wanted to find out what really happens when you shoot a deadbolt with various calibers to see if Hollywood did their homework.

They shot at the lock which never resulted in gaining access through the door and most of the time cause the lock to be inoperable. Basically, shooting a shot or two make it less likely for you to gain access.

I would have thought you could do better by shooting at the doorframe just inside where the bolt engaged the strike plate. They sort of addressed that idea:

Why Not Shoot The Bolt Out Through The Door?

For starters, it’s not that easy to hit it. The bolt itself is only about an inch tall, making it a very small target even from a few feet away. If you do hit it, it’s going to take multiple shots to cause it to fail, and even more shots to cause the door behind it to fail.

In any case, if you are serious about opening a door via a projectile, a few ounces of Tannerite or Boomerite over the strike plate would open the door on the first try.


4 thoughts on “Shooting a dead bolt

  1. This is, sort of, of a piece with some scenes from the movie “No Country for Old Men” in which one character (Anton Chigurh, played by actor Javier Bardem) travels with a pressurized gas cylnder and an air-pressure driven “cattle stunner” (a Captive Bolt Gun) used in slaughter houses. In several scenes he holds the cattle stunner against a deadbolt lock cylinder, presses the cattle stunner button and gains entry as the entire deadbolt assembly is instantly, and completely, ripped out of the door and rapidly propelled across the room.

    During this process his hand holding the cattle stunner never moves.

    I would like to learn what physics were employed by Paramount Studios to negate Newton’s Third Law of Motion; I have a rather light 12 gauge shotgun on which I would like to add the feature. My queries to Paramount and MIT have all gone unanswered.

  2. I recall seeing photos of SAS training from the 70s or 80s where they used a shotgun with slugs to take out the hinges of a door when forcing entry (and didn’t have time to place a C4 charge).

  3. You put the muzzle of the shotgun on the lock or hinge. There is no aiming or missing unless you flinch. I know, I flinched.

  4. Most door frames aren’t that tough anyway. Thus, the breaching hammer. (Which just drives the dead bolt through the door frame.)
    One can make it tough on breachers. But they will get in. Especially with American housing. (Way too flimsy.)
    The weakest link in breaching is the stack. Funnel them with steps and railings. And you will know exactly where their at, at any given point in the breach.
    Flimsy walls can work to your advantage. When one remembers life as you know it will be over for you, no matter what you do.
    And since their there to ruin your day. Why not return the favor?

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