Just finished watching a cops and robbers film where the hero crouches behind a standard car door and survives against two guys throwing 7.62 X 39 mm AK 47 bullets at him from about 20 yards.
He would have been shredded in real life and it got me thinking, what is taking cover all about for John and Jane Doe sat in their nice little suburban home?
I could get all technical and start by saying a number of factors come into play i.e.
- Caliber, Type, angle, and velocity of the bullet.
- The amount of bullets thrown at you
- The range from the shooter to you.
- Building construction.
Yet cutting straight through all the B.S. it’s down to the TYPE of materials, the THICKNESS of MULTIPLE LAYERS, and the method of CONSTRUCTION.
That and the knowledge that anything over .22 happily goes through brick and most general materials.
If it ain’t conventional brick it will have little resistance to bullets.
The mortar that holds the bricks together is a weak point though and concentrated fire at a mortar line will open up a wall with little effort. There again by including layers with metal ladder wire in with the mortar helps to control that disintegration. That’s not generally a typical form of construction though.
12 inches of brick thickness (typically 3 bricks thick) is OK at stopping most standard auto handgun loads and the occasional light load rifle round. Again not a normal build in the UK where you get two layers plus air gap at best.
Remember we are talking about conventional building materials and construction techniques here with timber frame, plasterboard, hollow building blocks, and even full thickness logs just ain’t going to stop a lot.
I had to laugh about Doomsday prepping when some guy “tested” his shipping container against bullets. They didn’t actually say what caliber was used yet it sounded a lot like a 22 (ish) round AND he shot at the framework and not the skin. Yet another bit of TV theater.
A NATO 5.56 x 45 mm is capable of punching through a 3 mm steel plate at 600 meters, so a brick wall is easy meat. If that “upgrades” to a 7.62 x 51mm NATO round, that will also happily punch through the same steel at 600 meters and will just keep on going through brick with little loss of power. Little hole one side, masses of brick shrapnel PLUS the lead spalling round the room.
Before you start wondering about penetration, there is an argument about size and speed i.e. Is thin and fast as good as thick and slow?
The one thing thin doesn’t do is well is KNOCK DOWN with 5.56 x 45 mm NATO working poorly at close ranges and better at longer ranges. The 7.62 x 51mm NATO works best at 600 meters!
I once watched a couple of bad guys duck behind a wall, the section MG opened up, 7.62 GPMG. Nice job, cut through the wall and dropped a full yard of bricks onto the bandits below in one LARGE slab. For some reason they didn’t put up much of a fight after that.
Little note to the unknowing there,
Projectiles don’t usually fly in straight lines passing though material and as the wall is penetrated, weakens, and fragments, bullets can fly in all sorts of directions.
What about sandbags?
I can just feel you all building a 3 layer closely “pounded” sandbag wall round your dwelling.
Confident are you? It’ll stop something light and the army says its OK against AK rounds YET in urban / suburban areas, people might think it a bit extreme. Hardly covert.
What’s the options?
Get a level 4 safe room built. OK it won’t help you unless you are sat in it the whole time AND if you leave the door open, a simple stun grenade will reduce your brains and ears to what will feel like jam.
S.O.P. for being under fire is to get low and behind cover.
In the absence of you building that level 3/4 building proof against .44 (1250 ft.lb) and 7.62mm (3100 ft.lb). Your best option is to hit the ground and stay there. One guy I knew said lay down feet towards the shooter. Ummm, brick spall may not damage your boots a lot but the bullet generating that spall doesn’t give a toss about your steel work boots.
Besides, so far I’ve been talking about TAKING fire!
No one said you just had to lie there cringing did they?
The one thing a shooter hates is hot lead coming back at him / her. For some reason they take it VERY PERSONALLY. Just imagine, now they have to seek cover and all that time them laying down accurate fire is “unlikely”.
As for a vehicle,
Always think ENGINE BLOCK! Forget the crouching behind a vehicle door although a wheel rim and brake disk are “useful”. Contrary to popular belief, bullets can pass under cars and occasionally set off spilling petrol (gasoline) from newly penetrated fuel tanks. A round (especially from a pistol) through a car battery can get spectacular.
In the open, think DEEP ditch.
Forget the “I can’t see him, he can’t shoot me” attitude.
You need plenty of earth, LOADS OF EARTH between you and the shooter.
If there is no cover, your best defense is DISTANCE.
There again if the shooter is running full auto, you can only hope they run out of ammo and are lousy on reloads.