Duckbill Lock Breaker – By: Andrew Brassard

Nowadays firefighters tend to become over reliant on saws during forcible entry operations and often forget some of the most basic of fireground tools. The Duckbill Lock Breaker is one such a tool that has become a forgotten tool that tends to sit in a compartment on the truck. But what about the times when, the saw does not start? Or you have to change the blade? Or you have to remove locks inside of a building where the saw will be choked out by the smoke? The duckbill is a tremendous secondary tool for these situations.

The Duckbill Lock Breaker works by driving the lock shackle off the body of the lock. The lock breaker will remove an American 700 Series Lock with no problem, in fact there are very few locks that can not be defeated by the lock breaker. One lock the can withstand the forces that can be applied with the lock breaker is the disc type lock. If a disc type lock is present a different forcible entry method should be utilized.


The Duckbill Lock Breaker is a single functioning tool, meaning it's only function is to force entry into padlocks.

The duckbill is made of soft metal, usually brass. The reason for making it out of soft metal is so that as it is driven down in between the padlock body and the shackle the lock will "bite" into the soft metal of the wedge and hold it's position until it is struck again. Every time the lock breaker is struck it is driven down a little further into the lock, this places more and more pressure on the lock until it finally fails. If the wedge was made out of a hardened metal it would simply bounce out every time it was struck.  

To use the Duckbill Lock Breaker, simply place the wedge into the lock. This is where mistakes get made! The only way the duckbill will work is with the top edge of the wedge on the shackle and the bottom edge of the duckbill on the body of the lock, do not put the duckbill into the lock with the top and bottom rails on both side of  the shackle! Once the lock breaker is in place use the 8 lbs forcible entry axe or a 12 lbs Maul to drive the duckbill into the lock, continue driving it in until the lock fails. It is that simple!

So dust off the duckbill lock breaker, dig it out from the compartment, or buy one to include to your forcible entry arsenal. It is a great tool that can prove to be extremely valuable on the fireground.






  • Larrence McCormack says:

    Nice job Andrew. This tool is not appreciated until you have a city block of taxpayers, roll-down gates with multiple padlocks and only a couple of saws. We are big fans of this tool on the "South Side". Thanks for your hard work.

  • Steve Gilles says:

    Great article, but two observations. One, unless something has changed, the Duckbill is made of steel, not brass. I just checked ours and it has rust where the paint has chipped and a magnet sticks to it. I do agree, it's certainly not hardened steel. Second, you mention that it only works with the flat side on the padlock body and the wedge toward the shackle. Technically speaking, it would also work just fine reversed since you are still forcing the tool in between two solid points that cannot bend but will ultimatley yield and break.. Not sure in what scenario you would ever be forced to use the Duckbill with the wedge on the lock body and the flat side on the shackle, but i would imagine it would just the same? I agree completley that putting it sideways between the shackle will do nothing because we tried that as a test. The best we could do was bend the shackle but it would not break. Great article, keep up the good work!

  • Tom B says:

    Here is a video I shot with the duckbill.

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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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