Bullets & Cars!

Bullets & Cars!

I read a forum post where an instructor (not one of ours) questioned the logic of civilians (concealed weapons permit carriers) taking a “vehicle tactics class”. His perspective being that “it’s just a car people, get out of the car and fight with your pistol the same as anywhere else”.

Ignoring the fact that we civilians spend a LOT of time in and around vehicles and that statistically your gunfight is likely to happen going to or coming from a vehicle…Just putting that one aside…lets focus on the presumption that fighting with a pistol is JUST “fighting with a pistol”

It’s an interesting perspective and yes, once you are out of the car, gun fighting is gun fighting BUT… gunfights never go the way you plan them, because you don’t get to make all the decisions. A gunfight normally involves two or more people (otherwise it’s a murder or a suicide)…The bad guys get to decide the where, when and how many.

Question: What if you have loved ones with you going to, or coming from the vehicle? What if you have a small child in a car seat? What if you have your whole family with you? What if there are two bad guys, one on either side of the car? What if you and your wife / husband or significant other BOTH carry guns? How are you’re going to address each of the above scenarios and more…to increase the chances of winning and not endangering each other?

What if the bad guys are already on you and have you in their sights BEFORE you get your gun out? What if…what if…what if! How should we negotiate the car seat belt? Sounds simple right (we have seen more than one “operator” fail miserably and therefore lose the fight by getting hung up on the seat belt.

What do bullets actually do when they hit windshields, door panels, car seats etc? What tactics can we use to get out of our seatbelt, engage through the car, get out of the car, what to use for cover or concealment. What is it like to shoot a handgun from the inside of a closed vehicle, to the left, right, forward or rearward?

So yes its gun fighting, but there are skills to learn that are specific to vehicles. In short there are MANY reasons a civilian should take good vehicle tactics class. But ultimately the choice is yours, on whether you recognize the value in adding these skills to your fighting toolbox or not.

Here is a video of what I mean:



There are a lot of variables in those questions.

If the family is in or near the car and we are not the immediate focus of a nearby threat, we’re high-tailing it out of the area. I’ll stop when I’m out of the kill zone and fix the seat belts.

If we’re already on the road and have a threat, my first response is not to return fire. I’m using the tools available to me to escape the threat: brake pedal, gas pedal, steering wheel. Someone in the vehicle is also calling 911. I will prepare to return fire in case I run out of options.

If we’re not in the car and we are the focus of a nearby threat, we’re hiding behind the car. If possible, I’m getting the rifle out of the trunk. At the very least, we’ll have concealment. In a crowded parking lot, we may be able to play hide-and-seek. With enough engines, we’ll have some reasonable cover. If need be, I can return fire.

Family is always a consideration. I make very different decisions when my children are with me.

As far as protection afforded by cars: it’s not like the movies. The engine block offers considerable cover, but it’s hard to hide behind it 100%. Every other part of the car is “better than nothing.” You can hide behind it (concealment), and it may offer you some degree of protection, but don’t count on it. Bullets do weird things. One might hit your windshield and go right through it. Another might hit your windshield and deflect due to the angle. Either way, don’t count on it to protect you unless you’re driving an up-armored military vehicle that you bought from a government auction.


The mrs and I have taken that specific course, in our area. Shooting thru car, windows, are huge eye openers. Assessing threats, reactions. Tons of info to think about, learn, and train for. If one gets a chance to take a course as this, well recommend!


The bad guys know more info, that is why training,muscle memory are so important!


@Ouade5 makes good points all around.

Notes on car glass.

Windshields and back glass on CARS are finiky buggers buggers with respect to where the boolets go. They are made up of compound curves and the angle of attack (of the boolit) in relation to the window is really the determining factor. Curved back glass on most cars is similar. Both can sustain multiple impacts as they are laminated so you can get extra training value if you place your shots carefully.

Flat glass like the side windows and the back windows of trucks EXPLODE on impact. The bullet GENERALLY goes straight through unless the angle of attack is extreme

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of windows (car and building) that I have shot for our beloved government while testing various flavors of ammo rifles and rounds. The general rule of thumb for shooting a car windshield is to aim low. On a building, structural double pane air gap windows are a total crap shoot. Plate glass, have somebody else shoot it first of have a follow up shot ready.

As to the whole car thing. Too many variables. But in general if you are in the car you have a 4000+ lb weapon at your command and a loud pedal that can either get you into or out of a situation. I’m all about break contact and run. That said if they are chasing you NEVER let them get to your rear quarter panel. If it looks like they are getting to that point stand on the brakes and let them over shoot. If you are real ballzy stand on the brakes and hit THEM in the rear quarter panel as they go by then drive through them as their car is flipping and rolling down the road.




At Gunsite Academy, their B.R.A.V.E. (Ballistic Response Against Violent Encounters), nearly an entire day was devoted to responses in and around your vehicle. You are correct, much of your outdoor at a higher risk of an encounter time will be at the modern day watering hole, the gas station.

It is very important to know this and take or provide training for this possible encounter.