Would Your Car Doors Protect You from Bullets while Driving?

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

A couple of weeks ago, when the Los Angeles police were searching for Christopher Dorner, the ex-cop who went on a shooting rampage, they mistakenly shot at innocent civilians who had a similar truck to the suspects.  See a photo here.  

This incident made me think about how much protection your car really gives you, should you get shot at while driving.  In the same way, I wondered about bullets and apartment walls, I had to look into cars as well.  We’ve all seen cop shows where the characters hide behind an open car door to avoid getting shot during a gun fight.

Concealment or Cover?

Concealment is just being able to hide from view, while cover means you are protected from getting hit.

This is not something I’d want to test myself, so I did some research online and watched a Mythbuster episode where the the hosts fired into an old Cadillac.

It turns out, most pistol calibers will pass right through a car door, possibly even through to the opposite side.  See Pistols and Car Doors from The Box O’Truth

The truth is, car doors do not offer protection against bullets.  Car doors only give you concealment but not cover.  Glass windows may or may not shatter immediately, but will weaken enough that subsequent bullets fired will most likely get through.

Short of bullet proofing your car, how do you protect yourself?

  • Be aware of your surrounding at all times
  • Wherever you are, have an exit plan.  While driving, keep an eye on the positions of cars around you and where you can maneuver to get away from the shots.
  • Avoid driving through unsafe areas, especially at night.
  • In a SHTF situation, body armor while driving through dangerous areas may be a consideration.  It’s not a guarantee of safety, but offers some degree of protection.

© Apartment Prepper 2013


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  1. You’ve made several excellent points. I would note that cover and concealment are relative terms. Something that might stop a .25 ACP bullet may not even slow down a .308. It also depends to some degree on bullet type (e.g., FMJ is more likely to over-penetrate than hollow points) and weight. When I lived in an apartment some years ago I relied on a shotgun loaded with bird shot and frangible bullets (e.g., Glaser Safety Slugs) in my handgun.

    The need for alertness cannot be over stressed. Some years ago we had a case where a college co-ed drove for about 3 miles without apparently noticing that two garboons were following her in a van. When she stopped they pulled in behind her, grabbed her, and drove to an elementary school parking lot where they raped and murdered her in a very brutal manner. They left her body there. The point of all this is that all of the driving and assault happened in one of the nicer, low-crime areas of the city. You have to be alert all the time.

    The only part of a car that really provides a degree of cover is the engine block. A bullet can be deflected depending on angle and what it hits, but you can’t rely on that.

    1. Hey Kalvan, There is really no substitute for situational awareness. Scary story there but this happens every so often and you just never know where danger turns up. Thanks for the comment.

  2. As a police officer, they teach that the car doesn’t provide any cover, only concealment. The two best places for cover on a car are the engine block and the tires. It is better than nothing but not 100% guaranteed. But the car door does nothing to protect you.

    1. Hi Adam, I had suspected the car does not provide much cover. Good to hear from someone who knows these things – thanks for explaining!

  3. If you notice that in some police shows and movies the cops take cover behind the front wheels of their car. This is actually the best place to be because a tire rim will block a 9mm bullet and an engine block can stop almost anything.

    It would seem like a rational idea for most police forces to add a steel plate to the door to protect their officers. I don’t know if any forces do this though. Most just call in the SWAT or ETA teams if there is any gunfire.

    1. Most don’t. It’s an added expense and the administrators don’t care enough about their people to add it on.

  4. Amendment II, (www.amendment2.com) sells bulletproof panels that you can easily put inside your car door panels. They also sell bulletproof backpacks and bulletproof vests that are carbon nanotube based. They are lighter, thinner, and last twice as long (10 years of active, every day wear) as Kevlar body armor. No problems selling to civilians.

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