“What is “Cover” in the Home? Part 2



Last time I fired a variety of the more popular 556 rounds commonly stockpiled by shooter and one of the most popular defense loads through a variety of things inside of a house to see what happens. The idea was to maybe get and idea what could go wrong if you had to fight inside a house or take cover behind things or you are just worried about over penetration. Just like I said last time ( though some of the more illiterate seemed to not have read)  this is not a scientific test and I make no claims it is.  But it is something to help you think. I hope.

This is the next part to what may be a series of at least 5 “test.”  I am going to show the results of what happened when I fired  5.45 from a AK74 type rifle, 7.62×39 from AK47 type.some ballistic tip rounds from a  5.56 AR15 carbine and  ball and Ranger T  HPs from a  45 ACP.

The first rounds I fired are the 5.45. The ammo is the standard round  as used by the Russian Mil. A lot of people like it because it is cheap and they feel it more deadly then a 5.56 in ball ammo form. Or at least the same if just cheaper.

The rounds punched a nice entry hole going in. But, one the got to the opposite side,they keyholed. You can see they stayed pretty much intact. Look how lean the holes are in the picture below.

They went on through the target, and the wood board behind holding it up and struck a cooking pot behind and stopping.

  The light makes it look like  a hole but it is not.   It did seem in one out of 20 rounds to  have fragged.  With the core some how bouncing off the pot and coming back to stick in the back side of the cardboard target.

You can see the core on the far left. This is the only evidence of fragmentation from the 5.45 I could find all day.

Next I fired some of the ballistic tip 5.56  to see how it would compare to the m193 , m855 and TAP used the last time.

A lot of people will say that ballistic tip will not over penetrate and like to keep it as a home defense round.

Hole by the paster is a perfectly cut hole left by a 55 grain ballistic tip fired through a fridge. This was pretty normal I found. Other damage was parts of metal from the fridge skin.   This surprised me enough to  fire the BT  through an outside window that was double pane into another target 10 yards behind the glass.

  The large hole in the target in the upper left  and bottom are from the ballistic tip 5.56 fired through a double window.  The glass deflected it a few inches from center line where I aimed. Rounds continued on through the  double 2 x 4 door frame it rested against before splattering on the wall behind.  Middle hole in target is from 45 ACP ranger T hollow point fired through same glass.  45 stopped inside the double 2x4s behind target with almost not real deflection.

I also fired the 45 ACp  through the fridge. HPs and ball.

  HPs and ball went through fridge and target. Punches through wood prop, then went deep into stove behind the target.  HPs no doubt caved in on itself and turned effectively into ball.

   I also fired from and outside wall, through a TV entertainment center stand at a target “hiding” behind and through  3 walls to see what would happen.  I used the HPs in every case since I had a pretty good idea what ball would do. I thought anyway.

TV center.

and exit hole after going through wall and 3 layers of the stand.

Below is target after 45 ACP was fired through  3 inside walls and one closet wooden door.

  Exit holes are seen in wall and one of the hits on the target paper. All shots continued on  through cabinet and another wall. This was all done with HP ammo.

Next is from the  much vaunted 7.62×39  ball ammo.  I expected the rounds to go through the fridge destroying it and deep penetration into the stove behind.

  This is what was left of the only round of 30 fired of the M43 round that made it through the fridge.  I fired from 5 feet from the fridge. One made it through and was badly fragged. It did not go through the wooden backer. No other round got through or even bulged the back side of the fridge much to my surprise.   The ‘x39  would go through walls but keyholed and had limited penetration once  it did.   None made it through the book case or dryer either.  GLass deflected the M43 so much I could not get one on the IDPA target so I am not sure what it would have looked like. I ran out of the ammo I brought before I could land a hit. Did not matter since I ran out of glass anyway.

The book case defeated all other rounds just as I expected.

  More holes on one side, but not more exits. Books remain undefeated.  Though all rounds tried would penetrate sometimes up to 10 inches of books alone. When shot through case and books stacked tight, few things seem to have the power. Am going to try a  308 round next on the bookcase.

I am not going to bother showing all the pictures of the dryer since nothing made it clean though.  The 5.45  made it into the dryer but not out the other side. The balistic tipped 556 came closest to a through and through. The 45 ACP did not punch clean through but made some impressive damage before coming to rest on the far side guts on the dryer.  Internal exit holes from the 45 ACP can be seen below. The ranger T tore large gouges through the dryers insides. Does not mean anything, but it is something to ponder.

  All shots fired into dryer first passed through two walls and a bathroom door before hitting the metal of the dryer.

You can see the shredded remains of the rifle rounds laying in bottom of the dryer in the picture.

Once again I was surprised by the results of this very unscientific test. Things I thought that would be stopped were not, and things I thought would penetrate deep did not do much.  Maybe if I did it all again it would be the opposite of this. Who knows?  One thing is becoming pretty clear to anyone who wants to pay attention. Nothing can be depended upon to be “safe” or “safer” from over penetration when talking about being used inside a home.  DO NOT assume your pet HD load or round is going to work like we are told it will be ammo companies.  The only thing you can depend upon is that the worst possible thing that can happen, is likely to happen if you take it for granted and maybe even if you do your best. You just can not know.  the best policy is to do your best not to have to zip off a round in your house if anyone else is inside you do not want hurt.  The best choice in a perfect world is to call the cops and  barricade your self in  a safe room or get out of the house.  We do not live in a perfect world though. So , spend as much time thinking about this as you can if you seriously think you may one dark night need to shoot inside your home. Or re think where you may point your muzzle when loading/unloading your weapon.  Draw your own conclusions because I am not going to make any claims about firearms ammo  doing anything for a fact when it hits anything other then air.


  1. Most folks with any common sense regarding home defense guns realize that a high velocity rifle round regardless of caliber will over penetrate. It should be noted that unless your home is made of concrete or good brick, not cinder block. You endanger others inside of your home and your neighbors when using these guns for home defense. Handguns with the proper ammo are a somewhat better proposition. They do require lots of practice to be truly proficient with them. A shotgun with a short barrel and the proper load, I prefer #4 buckshot, work well for home defense. Less likely to over penetrate and easier to operate for most people in a high stress situation.

    • I can not stress enough how much I disagree with you about using a shotgun for home defense. Few people can operate a shotgun under stress, in the dark at 300AM. without a lot of training, Buck will over penetrate greatly as you will see soon, I tried number 4 buck.. And a shoguns recoil and size are hard for a lot of people of smaller size to manage. Muzzle blast and the fact you DO have to aim it despite what is said by some. I would never advise anyone to pick the shotgun if they can choose something else

  2. xrrider, I also have to disagree with you assumptions. It’s all about ammo and shot placement. As you can see from the article 7.62×39 did not do that well and in some cases did not penetrate all the way through barriers. A shotgun is also not the best choice in my opinion. When you are talking about penetration in a house you have to think about what rounds will be less lethal when they go through a wall, if you are concerned with penetration. As the article suggests, even if you buy a round with a specific intent, in might not work the way you were told. As a general rule, fast moving small projectiles should be less lethal after hitting a barrier. Slow moving large projectiles usually retain more mass after going through barriers, thus they are more likely to have more lethality. But this is not always the case.

  3. Also as you can see the large slow moving .45 ACP went through a lot of barriers, the target and objects behind the target. Out of the two articles, 5.56 seemed to be the less lethal after going through some of the barriers, excluding M855 and M193 that are not good home defense rounds.

  4. Shawn,

    Thank you for this article, I am going to share this on my site again – I appreciate the .45ACP test, as that is my main defense weapon at this point. I guess I am not surprised at your result, I always planned on making sure I did not shoot toward my children in a “middle of the night” home defense situation – but this really made me see that I do not have a choice. Scientific or not, it should open people’s eyes!

  5. Just want to say thank you for this article. I’m a rifleman all the way, and not fond of handguns. I maintain a supply of M193, but have since switched to 223 varmint 45 rounds, and annoyed the local IKEA with constant purchase of AS-IS bookshelves =)

    • your choice of 45 grain varmint rounds is a terrible one. I dont understand your reason for using them when you can have 75 grain TAP or a large variety of anything better than military ball ammo and varmint bullets. if you got them to cut down on over penetration. you are using a round with terrible terminal effect.

      • I realized this after reading up more with Ironman8 @ M4Carbine. I’m actually still reading as I reply to you. @M4C I discovered this article: http://concealedcarryholsters.org/wp-content/files/FBI-Analysis-on-PA-Police-Shootout.pdf. I’ve since then ordered some CBC 5.56 77gr OTM MK262 MOD 1 Clone. The choice of 45 grain, was mainly due to uneducated salesmen (and myself) at local Bass Pro and Gander Mountain where I purchased my supply. I’ll just use the 223 for target practice at local range. Your article is must-read, hence, I’m sharing this as much as possible. Again thanks.


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