Through the Lock Forcible Entry: Key in the Knob Locks – By Chris Collier

There are several types of key in the knob locks on the market. For the purpose of this drill we will review the Kwikset style locks. Kwikset style key in the knob locks can be identified by the entire lock cylinder being visible on the front of the knob, not just the key-way. Keeping through the lock theory in mind (remove the lock cylinder and replicate its action) we can reasonably expect that if we remove the cylinder we should be able to manipulate the locking device into the unlocked position.

The lock cylinder can be removed using a straight blade screwdriver to pry around the edge of the cylinder. There is a small clip on either side of the cylinder that hold it in place. The light prying force generated with the screwdriver is more than enough to pry the cylinder out.

Once the cylinder is removed look inside the knob and locate the stem that previously sat into the recess on the back of the cylinder. Turn this stem using a straight blade screw driver or a pair of pliers to unlock the lock. Once the lock has been manipulated you can turn the knob as you would normally.

This method of forcible entry is very quick (30 seconds or less) and creates very little damage if you know how to do it properly. I DO NOT let damage dictate my forcible entry tactics. I force entry if the quickest and most professional manner that is applicable to the given situation. If we are forcing entry into a building or area of a building then we must have reason to believe that there is some type of emergency requiring our services on the other side of that door. If this through the lock method fails for some reason you cannot walk away from the door and just say “oh well, I guess we are not getting in.” Having the irons available as a back up plan is always a must.

These and all techniques displayed by Brotherhood Instructors, LLC. are to be used only by emergency services personnel in the performance of their official duties.


  • Mike says:

    Do those clips break or can you pop that lock cyclinder back on when you leave, like screwing the cyclinder back in with a mortise lock? Obvisously if for a fire you could care less, but for something less like a fire alarm where you have reason to make entry but want to do so in a gentlemenly (is that even a word?) manner so that you can leave the door secure when you are done

  • Tim says:

    most likely they will need a new door knob, usually the clips fall out but if they don't the knob is scratched and the plate usually bent. they do this on purpose so their are "signs of forced entry" if someone does it illegally. however, kwikset is a pretty inexpensive lock, cost $10 to replace vs whatever the door would cost…(much more)

  • Chris Collier says:

    Tim is correct. Its about a 50/50 shot whether the cylinder will go back in or not. I've seen instances when the cylinder went back in and worked properly and others where it would not clip back in place. As Tim mentioned this is an inexpensive lock and can easily be replaced. Thanks for the questions and comments!

  • Mike says:

    My thought on if they could go in or not would be so we could secure the door and leave. I recognize that just like when you spin a mortise that the next day a lock smith will have to come out and fix the lock. Thank you all for posting answers and for the great training material.

  • Mike says:

    I'm noticing more and more locks that cannot be manipulated this way. I'm finding locks with the entire face as one piece, in the knob and dead bolts. Is there any way to manipulate these, like with an A-tool?

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Brotherhood Instructors Blog

We specialize in the basic fundamentals of firefighting. While we believe that hazardous materials, terrorism, emergency medical and the various rescue disciplines are essential parts of the Fire Service, we also think that the basic fundamentals of firefighting have been overlooked in recent years. We are here to help turn that trend in the other direction.

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