Bullet Behavior, Part II


Picking up where we left off last episode, we had determined that shooting AT a person in a STATIC not to mention, MOVING vehicle is a precarious and delicate affair. So many things can go “Sideways” in a situation like this… so it is of utmost importance that your reasoning be SOLID in wanting to take this shot.  As already discussed, the probability that other by-standers in the cab, not to mention innocent pedestrians OUTSIDE and/or near the vehicle will be wounded or killed either by flying bullet shards or over-penetration is fairly high. Not to mention the possibility of an errant ricochet coming back and hitting the shooter. ALL of this must be factored in before the trigger is ever pulled! This is why in Private Security it is almost NEVER authorized to fire on a vehicle with a VIP or HVT inside or anywhere near it.., it is just too risky a venture.

OK, so you have been duly warned that these are DANGEROUS Activities. My lawyer has also asked me to repeat my Disclaimer clause which is stated on my Home Page of this Blog:

The information contained in the articles posted to this site is for informational and/or educational purposes only. HammerHead Combat Systems and its staff disclaim any and all liability resulting from the use or misuse of the information contained on this site.


Shooting at Static Vehicles

We will assume that you will be using a semi-automatic handgun in  a proper modern defensive caliber (9mm or better) for both scenarios. We will save the rifles article for another day. We will also assume that you are fully aware that the person behind the wheel of this 2 ton+ vehicle you are going to be shooting at has you out-gunned and out-maneuvered. They have you Out-Gunned simply because a 2 ton+ mobile vehicle trumps a puny hi-capacity pistol any day of the week, plus Sundays! He has you out-maneuvered because regardless if you can run like Carl Lewis on crack cocaine, that gas-powered engine can go faster! So having said All that, let us hope your reasons for taking this shot are well founded and SOLID!

So let’s approach the static vehicle first. Of course, this is going to be the easier of the two not only because the variable of MOMENTUM is not in play, but also the fact you can now POSITION yourself much easier to take HIGHER PERCENTAGE SHOTS through the side windows versus the windshield. As we discussed and as the B.O.T. showed, us,  Auto Windshields because of their construction and the angle in which they are installed (all makes and models have varying degrees of slope) tend to retard a bullet greatly as it passes through. As the B.O.T.’s examples showed, the point of aim and point of impact varied according to the bullet’s weight. We also saw varied fragmentation impacts from bullet shards and other interior material as the bullet came apart as it passed through.

So, to get the best HIGH PERCENTAGE SHOT we need to position ourselves to the flanks of the vehicle, either the passenger or drivers side windows. Now before we talk about taking the shot through the glass, we first need to review what we talked about previously on how bullets react going through most vehicle doors. The main reason you need to consider this is the probability that your target will MOST LIKELY MOVE when you start shooting!! (duh!!) So be prepared to shoot through the doors to get the hit also.The final verdict on vehicle doors was that overall, most bullets cut through them like “Shit through a cat” (forgive the crude southern humor) however, there is the “Murphy’s Chance” that the bullet will strike either a cross-bar,  panel, motor, pulley or many other types of assorted shit you might find inside a door frame. In this instance, the only way to increase our odds of success is to increase the number of rounds fired (aka VOLUME OF FIRE).

Finally, the only question remaining is How will the side window glass effect the bullet? Since most vehicle side windows are safety glass and not laminate glass like most windshields, you will not have the same issues we discussed previously. However, since there are no B.O.T files showing this experiment, and most of the YouTube vids out there attempting to demonstrate it are garbage made by in-bred alcoholics, you guys will just have to take my word on this. Based on my experiences while operating in some of the “armpits & assholes” of the world, most all hollow point and ball ammo have no problem with side window auto glass, passing right through with no deviation in flight, regardless of distance, with the farthest shot I have seen personally being around 25 yards with a .45acp pistol.

So with that, there is not much left to do but break the shot. Remember what he have talked about thus far:

  • Be mindful of your background and by-standers, as it is likely they will be hit if they are in the car

  • Aim where you want to Hit

  • VOLUME OF FIRE is key! If your gun holds 17 rounds, be ready to fire 17 rounds!

  • Shoot until the threat is down

A real world, yet grisly, example you can look at is how most cartel assassinations are carried out south of the border. The standard MO is 2 guys on a fast motorcycle, the back rider as the shooter. He is typically armed with some type of machine pistol or sub-machinegun. The motorcycle simply negotiates the congested traffic, pulls up to the stopped or parked car (at a red light or stuck in traffic, whatever) and empties the mag into the cab through the side window. Of course most cartels are now hip to this tactic and are riding around in armored, hard skinned vehicles now, but a lot of your low-level grunts that can’t afford this luxury still get bumped off like this every day.

Police detectives investigate a shooting incident involving a truck in Torrance

Shooting at Moving Vehicles

OK, this is where shit gets tricky and where in this writers humble opinion, you really need to ask yourself some soul searching type questions. One of them being “Do I REALLY need to take this shot?” The safety concerns obviously increase 100 fold from shooting at a static vehicle due to you are now throwing a 2 ton MOVING vehicle in the mix, not to mention that it is being driven (by I am guessing) one or more HIGHLY pissed off and agitated enemies! If all of this was not enough, you are also firing high velocity pistol rounds at a target made of angled metal and glass that can cause the rounds to ricochet, deflect & separate and become small, flechette like projectiles, that can tear through human flesh with little effort.

Here is the worst part in my opinion; As we discussed earlier, a puny pistol is no match for a 2 ton mobile vehicle with a highly pissed off driver at the wheel, with the vehicle mobile, two distinct possibilities exist:

  1. They are going to try and run over you once or repeatedly (ever see Death Race 2000?)

  2. They are going to do the Wise Thing and EGRESS out of the kill zone!!

Combine all of this with the LOW PERCENTAGE chance you will actually hit what you are shooting at and it is a huge LOSE/LOSE!

OK, I feel I have done my best to dissuade you, on to the job at hand.

I want to discuss three primary things:

  1. Understand that shooting through the windshield is your WORST, LOW PERCENTAGE SHOT for many reasons:

  • You have to be positioned in front or near the front of a moving vehicle to take the shot (not good).

  • A moving car’s momentum combined with the deflection potential of a modern windshield makes an accurate shot difficult.

  • If you have no other choice and must take the Shot, your best option (if the vehicle is MOBILE) is to aim LOW and keep your volume of fire up until your threat is down. You may wonder why I said Aim LOW, when the B.O.T.’s files showed that most pistol rounds are deflected down by a windshield? The reasoning is this:  You must take the car’s momentum into account (Remember the skeet shooting analogy?) By the time the round is fired, the object (car) would have moved from the original point of aim, now putting the impact of the bullet higher on the windshield (if the car is moving toward you). Of course, many variables can effect this: bullet caliber/type, speed of vehicle, wind etc.

A short experience story on this: I would say 3/4 of the occurrences where a moving vehicle was fired upon with a sidearm (9mm and .45acp) with the vehicle moving anywhere from 50-65 mph from a distance of anywhere of 15 to 30 yards away, when I aimed near the bottom of the windshield, my rounds hit 2-3″ near the top of the glass, sometimes striking high, near the top gasket, sometimes hitting the roof  and some missing all together. Most of these rounds penetrated the glass, deflected down, and either hit or wounded my target, some did not of course, but more times than not the target was wounded more times than he was killed. This is just the reality of firing at moving vehicles with a handgun..extremely high-risk combined with a extremely small chance for success.

2. Second, as with the static vehicle, do your best (right out of the gate) to try and position yourself to the flanks to get a shot through the side windows, which is your BEST, HIGH PERCENTAGE SHOT.

3. As I mentioned in Part I, shooting at moving cars from a static position can be likened to skeet shooting; you have to shoot where the target is going to BE, not where it IS.

  • Depending on the vehicles speed, you are going to have to gauge how far you must “lead”  or “trap” your target. This type of shooting is not nearly as hard as the windshield shot, as you are just shooting at a moving target moving horizontally.

  • Remember: Volume of Fire until the threat is down!



Moving on from vehicles, let’s address a subject that is more likely to have effected (or WILL effect) us all at one time or another. Ricochets are both a training safety issue and legitimate real-world problem that if not addressed and trained for, can put you “Horizontal and 6 ft under”. But like all problems we encounter in the field, there is often a bright side if we look hard enough. If we filter out all the garbage and “urban myths” about ricochets and look at them for what they are, we can train both to AVOID them and USE them (to a degree) with some effectiveness.

Since their is an unlimited amount of scenarios for ricochets, and just a limited amount of time and blog space, I want to cover two scenarios that I think are the most applicable to the CO:

  1. Ricochets in a parking lot and/or an asphalt

  2. “Bullets Follow Walls”

Parking Lots and Asphalt

Since a majority of us live and/or operate in the urban jungle, it makes since to know how bullets react to the most indigenous substance in an urban jungle; ie, asphalt and/or concrete. When thinking back to all of the civilian CCW shootings I personally know or have read about, a majority of them occurred in an urban environment, ether on an asphalt highway or parking lot. Think back to all of the police shootings you have seen on YouTube via dash-cam video, where did most of them occur? Same places I would bet the civilian ones did: Asphalt Highway or Parking Lot, right?

So now that we know the likelihood of a ricochet incident is high around asphalt, what do we need to do to be Safe? First, if at all possible, NEVER fire into asphalt if you can help it, the likelihood you will hit a bystander or injure or kill yourself  from bullet fragments is high. Second, Negate the effect of possible ricochets by always using solid cover when possible.

Bullets Follow Walls?

We have all heard this at one time or another either in training or in the field, but what does it mean? Simply put, where we were aware of ricochets off the ground with asphalt, the same principle applies with walls. Lead bullets can “skip” off hard surfaces and carry right along a wall. This is why in structure clearing and MOUT Training,  it is often emphasized to “Stay off walls”.  Don’t run along the walls and NEVER stick your head, hand or foot beyond cover for any reason.

The following article by the guys at Valhalla explain it pretty well.

So there it is guys, a small snippet into the wild and unpredictable world of Bullet Behavior. Stay Safe out there and use your head, because it is a good chance the other guy isn’t!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

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