Avoid the Fatal Funnel: Surviving a Home Invasion

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Avoid the Fatal Funnel: Surviving a Home Invasion

January 10th, 2022

4:57 runtime

Funnels help to channel something through a narrow area. That’s great if you’re adding a little 10w30 to your ’66 Mustang’s small block. It’s a bad thing if you’re a door kicker making a dynamic entry to rescue hostages.

Just as that funnel ensures your motor oil goes into the engine — not on it — so can a hallway or door jam up people trying to move from one area to another. This is sometimes known as the fatal funnel.

Fatal funnel illustrated
Moving to and through the fatal funnel is an important skill to have should you ever need to clear a structure. Image: Shutterstock/Anki Hoglund

Let’s talk about that in a home defense situation.

The Danger Zone

What is the fatal funnel? Well in layman’s terms, it’s a doorway or a threshold. How did it earn the name “fatal funnel”? Doorways began being called fatal funnels by law enforcement and the military whose job it is to clear rooms, houses and entire buildings.

Man moving through the fatal funnel with an AR-15
Having a Springfield SAINT rifle outfitted with a red dot such as the Trijicon MRO is a great choice when room clearing.

A doorway is called a fatal funnel because if you’re clearing a room, for example, you must pass through the threshold at some point. And when you do you are left completely exposed in an area that’s difficult to evacuate if projectiles are sent your way. As a result, skilled operators will never stand in front of a doorway, let alone an open one.

You can imagine how badly this would play out. If you were barricaded in your house and an intruder was coming in after you, you could easily hide and train your weapon on the door. That is exactly why operators facing a bad guy ready to ambush them train on making a quick precise entry to minimize the chance of casualties.

Besting It

So how do you clear the fatal funnel and survive? You and I in our everyday lives don’t have a team of people backing us up, or aircraft waiting for a medevac in case something goes awry. If you are in an unavoidable situation where you must “clear” your home alone, you have to be cautious, clearing your home slowly but then making deliberate, fast, and precise entries.

Man moving through a doorway with a rifle
Once making entry into the room turn and immediately head to the first corner along the same wall as the door.

The big problem with the fatal funnel is when someone is tucked in the corner of the room against the same wall as the threshold. As you pie the doorway and peer into the room, this leaves the threat invisible and unable to be seen by the one passing through the funnel.

Man clearing the hatch
In a doorway, you are vulnerable. Clear as much of the next room as possible before you have to enter.

But remember, if you can’t see the bad guy in this scenario, they can’t see you either. In order to minimize your time in the fatal funnel to a degree, you have to ditch the “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” adage. This is no time to gingerly peek through the doorway and look in both directions before crossing. That is a sure way to get hit.

Man moving through the fatal funnel with a pistol
When making an entry do so quickly and with violent action. Using a door jamb as a source of concealment is a different technique.

The best course of action can be to pie the doorway, seeing as much as you can see of the room ahead then pass through the door as quickly as possible and move toward the first corner along the same wall. While doing this, make sure no threats are waiting there and, as soon as you’re sure, turn 180 degrees and sweep the entire room for threats as you move your focus to the corner opposite of the first one you cleared.

This whole process has to be done quickly.


This is something to think through and practice the best you can. This is a skill that won’t matter until it does. If you hear a bump in the night and are forced to make your way through your home, this is a technique you’ll need to know. Just remember, do not hang out in the doorway. The longer you stay in the fatal funnel, the longer you’ll be an easy target.

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