Where Do Cars Offer Cover? (as Opposed to Concealment)

Cars are not the magical bullet shields Hollywood leads us to believe.

People often confuse cover for concealment. No, flipping over a table and hiding behind it will not save you from an old west shootout and diving behind a couch won’t save you from a shooter in a home invasion. Bullets are designed to penetrate and destroy, naturally, they will penetrate many objects in our average environment.

Concealment means the attacker cannot see you, but can still shoot through the object you are hiding behind and hit you.

Cover means bullets cannot penetrate the object you are hiding behind.

Cars are awful for cover

Once again, this is where Hollywood has lied to us. Bullets will penetrate through standard vehicles in most places with ease, hitting whoever may be hiding behind them. But there are a few points on a vehicle that can be used for cover, while the rest is concealment.

Paul Harrell takes on the enjoyable task of shooting a vehicle over and over to see where bullets will penetrate all the way through the car, and where the bullets will not.

If you’ve explored this topic before, this news might not be a surprise to you. The only reliable form of cover behind a vehicle is the engine block. Handguns and rifles have no issues penetrating the rest of the vehicle. The exception is shotguns, both birdshot and buckshot, and .22lr.

Other than that, don’t count on safety behind a vehicle unless you get behind the engine block. Even then… there are nooks and crannies in the engine block that a bullet could still get through.

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Brian Purkiss
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Brian Purkiss is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, proponent for individual liberty and Second Amendment rights, and a web developer. He enjoys competing in and organizing Run and Gun Competitions, as well as shooting in USPSA, Outlaw matches, and 3 Gun.