The Buick O’ Truth #1 – Windshields Inside/Out

People often wonder and debate about cars and how they react to being shot with various types of weapons and ammunition. The best way to find out the answer to those various car-related shooting questions is to actually shoot some cars. 

First, let’s consider a situation sometimes faced by police officers, military personnel and even civilians.

Shooting inside of a vehicle. Can it be done? What happens when you shoot a round inside a vehicle? 

Yes, shooting from inside a vehicle can be done, and it can be done effectively.

buickwshieldi1

First up, let’s see what happens with good ol’ 9mm ball.

Here we see a gentleman putting a 9mm ball round through the windshield of the Buick.

buickwshieldi2

Here is the resulting target.

The red dot in the center was the point of aim used when firing the weapon.

The hole marked up top is where the 9mm round actually entered the target.

buickwshieldi4

Now .40 S&W.

Notice first of all how windshield glass has reacted to two gunshots at point blank range. 

Windshield glass is a laminate designed not to shatter upon impact.

This laminated glass is much tougher than any other glass on the car and can have dramatic effects which we will discuss later.

buickwshieldi5

 

And the resulting target.

buickwshieldi6

Note the bullet holes made in the glass as seen from the outside.

Now let’s look at the target after yours truly fires a Sig P220 through the windshield using 230 grain FMJ ammunition.

Remember that all shots are being fired with the red dot in the center of the target as the point of aim for the shooter. 

So why are all the shots much higher on the target?

buickwshieldi7

Look again at the bullet holes made by the rounds as seen from outside the vehicle.

They are oblong and not perfectly round.

This is because the bullet is actually deflected by the windshield.

The angle of the windshield causes the top part of the bullet to impact the glass before the bottom part, and effects the trajectory of the round enough to move the impact of the bullet several inches. 

Look again at the target photos: Notice anything interesting? 

The heavier the bullet, the less deflection you see.

My P220 shooting the 230 grain FMJ deflected the least, while the 9mm ball round deflected the most.

Different vehicles have their windshields at different angles so not all deflections will be exactly the same as on this Buick.

The more severe the angle of the windshield, the more deflection you are likely to see.

If you are ever forced to fire through the windshield of a vehicle, generally you should aim a bit lower than your intended point of impact to compensate for the deflection.

buickwshieldi8

Notice how close the target is to the vehicle.

A target farther back would be completely missed by these single shots.

But there is a way to compensate for that.

Since the deflection only happens when firing through the windshield glass, firing repeatedly from the same hole will remove the glass from the way of following rounds, meaning that you can hit your point of aim.

Lessons learned:
Shooting through the windshield of a vehicle is not the ideal way to engage a threat while you are in a vehicle.

The only time one would employ this tactic is if faced with a threat you cannot move away from. A car is a much better weapon than a handgun and should be used if at all possible to evade the threat, or to just flat run the threat over. 

But if your vehicle is immobilized or blocked in, shooting through the windshield might be the only means of defense that you have. 

It should be noted that armored vehicle glass works 2 ways, so do not try to shoot through armored vehicle glass.