Vehicles are Deadly. The distinction between Cover and Concealment is an important starting point. Concealment occludes visibility to a target, while cover provides material to protect the target from projectiles. Bushes, curtains and plastic garbage bags could provide concealment, but only eighteen inches of dirt, sand or rock will stop a .50 BMG or fragmentation from a 155MM High Explosive shell. Most homeowners underestimate how soft the drywall and studs are in contemporary homes. In fact, a standard 9mm full metal jacket (FMJ) round fired from a 4” Glock19 can pass through four walls before stopping in the fifth. Some rifles can do the same thing to cinderblock. These results do two things: first, prove that walls do not offer cover; and second, demonstrate that many gun owners are unrealistic about where their rounds will end up once discharged.
The Box-O-Truth Web site is a terrific resource to learn how ammunition really behaves after it leaves the barrel. The Author and host, Don, known to readers as “Old_Painless”, is a retired Police Officer and gun enthusiast. He spends a lot of time to create realistic situation to test ammunition against targets with real-world applications. You can find his work here: http://www.theboxotruth.com/. You should spend some time on his site.
Vehicles are Deadly. They offer the illusion of safety (since so many people think they provide cover – but they don’t), but vehicles are deadly for another reason. They concentrate fire. Let’s use a car with four occupants as an example. Each occupant merges to become one target in the vehicle. One or more shooters will engage a car before firing at a single dismounted target. Vehicle occupants are subject to accidental hits – if the driver is targeted, but rounds hit another occupant, the shot is still a “Hit” but it was accidental. If four suspects ambush a vehicle, all four weapons act to destroy it.
Dismounted targets are discrete and not usually pursued with the same concentrated fire. When an occupant dismounts they will simultaneously draw fire away from the vehicle, and offer a much smaller target. As they move farther away from each other they become separate targets and much less susceptible to accidental “Hits.” Distance is a good defense since people able to double their distance from a shooter will reduce their surface area by 75%.
Vehicles are not a substitute for adequate cover. They offer concealment only, and vehicles tend to draw heavy weapons. If disciplined aggressors have small arms and one heavy weapon – they will put heavy fire on a vehicle before engaging soft-targets. The proliferation of .50 Cal BMG rifles reinforces everything described here. To learn more check out Don’s review titled the “Buick ‘O Truth” a car that gave him a chance to examine damage from small arms fire and penetration by high-powered rifles. The results will encourage you to hide somewhere else, as any bullet can penetrate the car and even the engine offers little protection.