This week I have had a lot of down time waiting on new guns and products to arrive and have not had the time for my usual long articles on firearms history. And squirrel season came in last weekend so I admit in the evenings I have been doing that. So today I am reposting another one of our articles from the early days no buried under a mountain of ever growing new posts. This is one of those that a lot of new readers likely never saw.
Most of us know that using a vehicle for cover comes with a few caveats. We know to use a car as cover, we need to get behind the engine block or try to snuggle down behind a wheel and let the metal of the wheel protect you if that is all you got, but a lot of people do not know that thanks to movie and TV. On the other hand, we are also told the 5.56 is not very good at penetrating anything thicker than a cotton T-shirt without AP bullets or something made to do so. Anything short of a bonded bullet or M995 just will not do anything against a car.
Today while doing some training at the local Police range, my friend and I decided to do a little impromptu testing that is not scientific in any way, but it does reflect our experience from doing this quite a few times in the past. We did not use any ball ammo or M855 or specialty rounds. We decided to use his department issue ammo. The round is the Federal 55 grain soft point Tactical Rifle Urban round. We fired from 25 yards using a 16 inch barrel Colt 6920.
I set up a FBI “Q” target behind the car and he shot through both rear doors to see what would make it through. Five rounds were fired to have the best chance to see results and to account for anything that might go wrong.
The rounds did make it through both doors. There was of course lots of frag, but the lead core did make it through and still had plenty enough left to go through the cardboard backer and to kick up dirt and gravel on down range. The rounds did deflect to the left from a foot to a foot and a half. Still very dangerous and enough to kill a TV cop or robber.
Next I set the target behind the trunk/read. Another popular place people who do not know better assume is a safe place ( on TV mostly).
No big surprises here for us. The rounds made it through in enough shape and weight to do serious damage and deliver serious wounds at the least. Rounds of course deflected once again.
A lot more fragmentation this time from the car and the jacket. This is due to a few rounds hitting the gas cap area. Some of the holes were very cleanly cut and showed no signs of key holing. The soft points did show signs of significant mushrooming with the diameter looking more like a .30 caliber bullet.
Last we fired through just one door.
We both have fired a lot of rounds through single car doors and knew pretty much how this would turn out. Once we had even fired 40 grain ballistic tips from 100 yards and go penetration through single car doors so we got what we expected.
Every round fired made it through the door with a large amount of upward deflection. But they did make it. Large amounts of fragmentation and bullet deformation, but very deadly. A 5.56 is not useless when shooting through cars at what would be distance used in most police stops or what have you, and I would not want to have to hide behind a car only when some one was shooting at me even with SP bullets. I hope this will demonstrate just how crappy a car works as cover and shows how a 5.56 is nothing to laugh at when used on a car. Keep in my the ammo used was meant for anti personnel use only and was not a load meant for better barrier penetration. Had they been something like a bonded bullet or solid copper HP Barness TSX,, the results would have been even more significant.
After the results of shooting through a car on the range with a 5.56 a few weeks ago, I decided to test some more with a variety of rounds.
We used the same car as the 5.56 test and shot the target from the same angles and through the same amounts of barrier. Those being one door, two doors and through both sides of the rear trunk area. I did not bother trying to shot through the engine block because it will stop just about anything you can carry and fire not crew served.
The first up was the 9mm round. The round was a NATO ball round. The caveat is , it was from a Colt 9mm carbine. This adds significant performance to the 9mm FMJ round. I do not advise anyone to base the performance of their 9mm handgun on what can be done with a rifle firing the same round.
First up we fired the 9mm through both rear doors.
Five rounds where fired from 25 yards. Only two made it through and into the target. Two more holes that seemed to be hits turned out to be fragment from the bullet jacket or car door.
Next we fired form the trunk side to side with the 9mm.
Out of five rounds, two made it through both sides of the trunk.
Last we shot through one door with the target hidden behind it in the classic “movie cop” positioning.
We thought more would make it through in better shape then before when using the same 9mm round.
Only two rounds out of five made it through. They did stay on path and hit where aimed. The other three shredded as frag for one reason or another I have no idea why.
Next we fired the 5.45 round form the AK-74 in all three of the same positions as the 5.56 and 9mm.
Almost all made it through both doors. But as you can see they keyholed. There was not much energy left after they hit the target and did not penetrate the plastic barrel the target was leaning against. But they did go through both doors and hit where we intended them to hit. Rounds were fired through a AK74 “krinkov” with shorter barrel so it would be interesting to see the different from the full length AK barrel. Range was again, only 25 yards.
The 5.45 was nothing but frag when shot through the trunk/rear of the car with five rounds.
The 5.45 went through the single passenger side door very easy with lots of fragmentation. Most rounds hit were aimed but at odd angles showing the start of the tumbling seen when fired through two doors resulting in obvious key holes in the target.
Last we fired the 7.62×39.
Two rounds out of five, fired from 25 yards from a AK47 , made it through both doors. The M43 round held together twice but the rest became a fine enough powder to just pepper the target with dents.
When fired through the rear trunk of the car, one round of five made a solid hit, the rest became frag that just made it through the cardboard of the target and made no mark on the plastic barrel behind it that we could spot.
The last 5 rounds were fired through the “movie cop ” one door position. This had us scratching out heads a bit. Most of the rounds fragmented bad enough to not leave any hole that looked like a clean hit. Large chunks of the round did puncture the target but only maybe two at most. Lots of bullet jacket did cut through the target though and would obviously make a bad day. My guess is that 2-3 rounds tumbled or where deflected off target. Though, I don’t see how sense that target was only about 5 inches behind the rear of the door we shot through. Gun was the shorter barreled version so make of that what you will.
Once again this shows that most popular common rounds fired at a car being used as cover will give you a large medical bill or a trip to the grave. Very little of the vehicle offers up real cover and protection. All rounds fired were ball ( FMJ ) and would theoretically give better penetration, but that obviously not a given. The reason we used ball this time, is because it is the most common round to find in all of these rounds and soviet type arms with ball ammo is the main weapon many people will face in certain parts of the world doing certain jobs. Do to its cheap price, it is also likely to be the choice of some bad guy wanting more firepower. Most LE and civilians with ammo for self protection would be more likely to have hollow points or soft points or some such so this time we were more interested in seeing what a person could expect to face in such an encounter. We will be doing this test with more rounds to come to give an idea just what you might expect if your day suddenly goes very badly.