Friday, May 10, 2013

Shooting Through Automotive Glass

Automotive glass is actually tougher to shoot through than you might think. Unfortunately, practicing shooting through the glass from the inside out to an attacker, is something most of us never get a chance to practice before we are actually confronted by such a scenario.

    Many of us spend a significant amount of time commuting, running kids from one activity to another, or on errands for our business. In some states, commuters spend several hours in their cars each day.  For nurses who travel, salesmen, drug representatives who deliver samples to physicians offices, we sometimes travel into neighborhoods which can be problematic. Road rage incidents can sometimes descend into someone approaching you in your car, with a firearm in their hand. There you are sitting in your car, in traffic, unable to run, and with your most precious cargo, your family and children sitting in the car with you..   All of us should therefore know something about shooting through automotive glass.  I was watching NCIS Los Angeles this week and I was wondering how they always seem to compensate for this, and avoid getting shot to boot.  Suffice it to say, television makes shooting and the consequences of doing so, simpler for storyline's sake.

 1. First of all, I wish to say that this is not information to be used when you have road rage or are angry yourself. Firearms do not belong in the hands of anyone but the stone cold calm, and sober. This information is for use when a.) you have no option of retreat (like me stuck on Interstate 29 South of DC but in Virginia, pinned in the front and in behind, but with an angry man exiting his car and walking over to me, for example, or approaching me with a tire iron while I have kids in the car, for example)

2.  Glass deflects a round somewhat and can alter the bullets course, and so it may be necessary to fire multiple times in order to vanquish your threat.  After two rounds, your own glass will be gone and deflection is no longer a factor.

3. Here in the South most of us drive with sunglasses anyway. When we fire through automotive glass, this may also result in some level of eye protection.  Sunglasses are also a good idea because we are more likely to see a threat approaching.

4. After watching some of the videos, at the link below,which unfortunately will not embed here,  please do the mental preparation for someone approaching your car with lethal force, and think about your alternatives from BOTH your driver's side, and your passenger side of your car.
Several years ago, a homeschooling Mom was accosted while driving her minivan with her young son in a Richmond, Virginia, McDonald's. A man and two women appeared to be trying to abduct her young son. The car was locked but the women continued to try to get in through a minivan side door near the boy, which was not completely closed.  The woman hit the man with her car, and sped away.  These three persons have continued to try to abduct children, and remain at large.   Please mentally prepare as to what you would do, if a similar circumstance befell you, with either a child or a grandchild.

5. In the scenario of being approached by someone planning to use deadly force while in your car is a difficult situation as you are being required to meet deadly force with deadly force more quickly than many of us feel comfortable in terms of retrieving our weapon.  In addition, this is an uncomfortable scenario for many of us because in a vehicle, we are unable to line up a hot quite the way we normally would in practice.  This can also be difficult for those who are left handed (As the approach from your driver's side would cause you to need to fire with a right hand, when your right hand may not be dominant.  This is one reason we all practice with both hands.

6. We need to realize that in this scenario, we will likely need to fire more shots than normal, because the glass itself can not only deflect the round, but may alter its effectiveness otherwise. (It can actually damage the round itself.)

7. There are striking differences in glass deflection potential from side windows as compared to windshields. Please watch the video carefully. There is also variation in terms of the type of car.. Through the windshield, the initial round will tend to arrive at the target much higher.  The second shot, through the ruptured windshield should arrive closer to the target.  Keep in mind that once again, you will likely need to shoot more rounds than you normally would to vanquish the threat.

8. For those who are interested, the caliber round in the video is a 40 smith and wesson.

9. You have multiple challenges in having to fire at someone who approaches your vehicle with potential to use deadly force.  a.) You will need to retrieve your weapon and use it in a position in which you have never used it before, and do so quickly.  b.) the noise of firing your own weapon within the car, so close to yourself and potentially your children may be intimidating, and could cause a hazardous intimidation with hesitation.  c.) shooting through auto glass may also diminish your shooting accuracy, even at close range.

10.) Many states have special laws which add penalties to shooting from a car.  These were designed to make criminals think twice about drive-by shootings.  However, self defense in your car in the face of a mortal threat is legal in the US.  Make sure you check into the laws as they apply to your state with regard to this scenario.  Remember that it is still better to go to a coroner's inquest and be ultimately judged by 12 than be carried by 6.

Personal Defense Network has a number of videos on this and related firearm and other issues.


BBC said...

Actually, how well a bullet with go through a front safety glass window depends on the slug you choose. But it's not likely I'll ever shoot at someone driving toward me. And if I did I wouldn't give my bullet selection a hell of a lot of thought being as shit hitting a windshield is going to pretty much get the drivers attention anyway and the fucking idiot is going to be ducking and maybe drive into the ditch for a Darwin award. :-)

If I shoot at a side window no problem, the first shot shatters the glass and the rest of the shots have a clear passage to another Darwin award. :-)

I've been in many discussions over the years about what is the best gun to have if you are only going to have one gun. Here is a fact, .22's have killed more people and game than all other calibers.

My .22 rifle will spit out 14 shots as fast as I pull the trigger, go ahead motherfucker, make my day.

JaneofVirginia said...

Actually, shooting at anyone inside a car is generally dangerous and illegal. We are expected to flee as a gun fight from two cars holds a high chance of richochets and collateral damage to others. The photo at the top of the page is showing someone practicing through a totalled car, learning the feel of windshield glass as they shoot.
Yes, the round is very important, as many rounds (like a 22) won't necessary penetrate a normal front windshield. Both my carries are a 40 s&w caliber for this and some other reasons.
Yes, 22s have indeed killed more people, partly due to prevalence, and partly due to the fact that when the rounds do enter the human abdomen, they bounce around considerably leaving multiple organs leaking and multiple intestinal injuries which lead to recurrent peritonitis and ultimately death.
Still, I do not carry a 22. My objective as a woman seeking only to protect myself and my family and to instantly vanquish a clear threat to us, is to stop the threat as quickly and with as few rounds as possible. A 40 s&w caliber will knock down even a drug energized large man, often with only one double-tap.

BBC said...

I talk about guns a lot but actually seldom pack one, hope I'm not sorry for that someday.

BBC said...

If I was shooting through a windshield at someone I wouldn't be worrying about the legality of it being as I would only be doing that in self defense anyway.

BBC said...


JaneofVirginia said...

BBC, Thanks for all your comments. This was a good exchange. It will spur thinking about this scenario for all of our readers, which is why we are all here ! Thanks again.

russell1200 said...

Some of Hornady's TAP rounds have a penetration aspect to them. And you can buy reloads fairly readily that also have a barrier penetration aspect to them. For the police it is worth worrying about, for civilians I suspect that it is a marginal issue at best. Sheet metal is better than nothing, but problematic cover at best.

BBC said...

"Unfortunately, practicing shooting through the glass from the inside out to an attacker, is something most of us never get a chance to practice before we are actually confronted by such a scenario."

It would never occur to me to do that, do you know how much a frigging windshield costs these days? LOL

BBC said...

But I would shoot into the other assholes window. :-)

lotta joy said...

Were you talking about being on the OUTSIDE shooting IN?

I hope not.

My biggest worry is being on the INSIDE, shooting OUT, and the percussion on the eardrums.

JaneofVirginia said...

Lotta Joy, Yes, I am talking about the scenario where you are pinned by other cars ahead, behind and on the sides, and then approached by an armed person, who will likely do harm. The picture at the top of the page shows a person practicing on a junked car in order to understand at least, how a round might behave if shot through a windshield rather than side windows, which I am told is easier.
Yes, being on the inside shooting in, is a concern and this was the reason for this post. Whatever advance prep, mental or otherwise, that we can do would be beneficial. Yes, in the car shooting in LOUD, but it is survivable, and may someday be necessary.

JaneofVirginia said...

Police tell me that they often fire through a windshield FIRST before delivering a fatal shot.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, I do. Most of my driving is interstate driving, and most of our cars get windshield damage from rocks and trucks annually. The only one that hasn't is my diesel Volkswagen. I don't know what kind of windshield that is, but it stands up well. I think I would need a second mortgage to replace it though.
Practicing this scenario would be confined to those who had access to a totalled car, and permission to practice shooting out the windows. Since this would reduce the value of the car for parts, very very few of us ever get the chance to explore how side and windshield glass break out in such a scenario.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Russell, That's an interesting point too. I carry hollow point rounds and I really wonder how or if they would be damaged by that first encounter with glass. Of course my third and fourth rounds should hit their targets at close range just as we would expect. Thanks for the input.

Dina Hady said...

Great concepts on this page. This is really a nice post.I really like the way you start and include your thoughts. Thank you so much for this information. keep posting such good stuff.
showlow auto glass

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting, Dina. I hope none of us ever need to shoot at someone while we are still inside an automobile, but it's better to know how it should be done, and to have put in some mental effort. Please come back again soon.