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Ten Things That May Just Stop a Bullet

Yesterday I watched an entire season of the FX network’s Justified. The show’s protagonist engages in a remarkable number of shootouts. He never appears to miss what he aims at and he always emerges (unscathed) at the end. He employs a Glock 17 concealed carry gun, shoots with astounding accuracy and, most importantly, never deals with any of the myriad of consequences that unfold following a defensive shooting encounter.

Those (intimately) familiar with pistol shooting find Hollywood shoot outs naïve at best or dangerous at worst. Many gun owners/casual shooters see what’s on the screen and interpret this as “realistic”. In fact, a failure to understand defensive shooting realities could kill them. Placing basic shooting fundamentals aside for a moment another common mischaracterization is the need for an effective, defensive barrier. How many times have we watched Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Liam Nelson, or Dwayne Johnson blasting away on the silver screen with little regard to personal safety. Looks cool right and hey, they don’t die. Obviously, real life is different. For the rest of us understanding basic considerations like cover and concealment are critical in the event of a home defense or concealed carry encounter.

So, what are cover and concealment? What’s the difference? The U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-21.75 definitions are;

Cover - made of natural or man-made materials, gives protection from bullets, fragments of exploding rounds, flame, nuclear effects, biological and chemical agents, and enemy observation.

Concealment – anything that hides you from enemy observation. Concealment does not protect you from enemy fire….

Admittedly the definitions above may exceed the need of our average pistol permit holder. That stated, pistol owners whether in coastal communities like Bridgeport, Stratford, Milford and West Haven to Trumbull, Shelton and the surrounding Valley region should have a realistic expectations of what may stop a (common) handgun projectile. So without further ado;

Ten Things That Won’t Save You (Concealment)


  • Vehicle (car/truck) door

  • Vehicle windshield

  • Street post office box

  • Newspaper dispenser

  • A human shield (Don’t try this. Ever.)

** Distance (anything less than 1.5 miles between you and the shooter)


  • Desk (or file cabinet)

  • Dining room table

  • Exterior walls

  • Interior walls

  • Couch (or other household furniture)

Top Ten Things That Just Might (Cover)


  • Vehicle engine block

  • Brick/Concrete wall (generally 12” thick or greater)

  • Telephone pole

  • Tree (a pretty think one)

  • Fire hydrant

** Street curb (when lying prone facing shooter)


  • Water heater (full)

  • (Long-term) gun safe

  • A (large) protective dog

  • Hiding so you can’t be found

  • Escaping as rapidly as possible

Contrary to the movie or home theater screen there are very few items in our everyday environments that provide sufficient cover in a defensive shooting encounter. Remember being a responsible, and prepared, gun owner means more than shooting a box of ammunition at the range a couple times a year… or learning shooting techniques from the television screen.

Interested in practical demonstrations of items that may stop/reduce bullet penetration? The Box of Truth website is a fantastic, informative site with a collection of video and photo demonstrations.

Want to learn more practical defensive shooting? Check out the International Defensive Pistol Association or contact me about our local chapter. Stay Safe! Stay Secure! Stay Informed!!

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