Police officers are often forced to fire from outside a vehicle into the passenger compartment through the laminated windshield glass.

As I said earlier, a car is actually an incredibly effective lethal weapon, a fact violent suspects know and exploit.

Sometimes to keep from being run over or to keep a fellow officer from being run over, and officer is forced to fire into the passenger compartment to try and stop the driver.

So how does this scenario play out?


First up, a 9mm.


The target is seated in the passenger seat in this instance, and there is a red dot painted in the center mass of the target that the shooter aims for.

Look carefully at the target.

A single round was fired, but there are three holes in the target.


Because laminated glass is particularly hard on bullets.

It can sometimes strip parts of the bullet jacket off of the lead core, reducing the bullet's effectiveness on the anatomy of a human being.

The red pen is marking the impact of the main part of the bullet.

Notice how much lower it is than the point of aim...


In this case, the bullet did not penetrate the passenger seat.

buickwshieldo4Next up, the .40 S&W.


And the resulting target.

Notice again that we see several points of impact from a single shot.

The bullets tend to partially fragment when fired through laminated glass, meaning that the bullet, several fragments, and even pieces of glass might impact the target inside the vehicle.

Also notice that the bullet is still below the point of aim of the shooter, but by a smaller margin than the 9mm round.


The .40 S&W round penetrated the passenger seat completely.


Even striking the target in the back seat of the vehicle.buickwshieldo8

Next up, a .45 being fired through a MK23 SOCOM pistol.


Notice how the main point of impact (which is indicated by the red pen in all the pictures) is at the point of aim.

Again, the bigger the bullet, the less deflection you are likely to see.

The .45 also had less fragmentation than the 9mm or the .40 S&W rounds.

So I bet you are wondering where the photos are of the .45's passthrough, right?

Well, it didn't penetrate the passenger seat.

Before the .40 S&W fanatics start to post about how superior the .40 round is to the .45, a word needs to be said about the seats in this Buick.

The seats in this car are built around what appears to be a VERY sturdy metal frame. This frame is, quite literally, bulletproof, heavier than I have seen in just about any other vehicle.

I have done vehicle shoots before, and the .45 and .40 normally penetrate that seat fairly easily, while the 9mm and 357 sig sporadically penetrate it.

The .40 round in this series just seems to have hit a sweet spot that didn't have any steel in it.

People talk about how poorly GM cars are built, but as the shoot wore on we found that this particular Buick was actually a pretty tough cookie.


As before, we will also look at what happens when you put multiple rounds in roughly the same spot.

Here as in the inside example, a 9mm Glock is used.


Again, if you put multiple rounds through the same hole in the laminated glass, the deflection factor goes away.


As does the limited protection offered by the seat frame.

Lessons learned:
When shooting through the windshield into the passenger compartment of a vehicle, you need to keep three things in mind:

1. Laminated glass and the angle of the windshield may cause your round to deflect lower than your point of aim. How much depends on the angle of the windshield and the weight of the bullet you are using.

2. When fired through laminated glass, bullets tend to partially fragment, reducing the effectiveness of the bullet and causing there to be secondary projectiles (bullet jackets, glass, etc) that can impact the target OR other people in the vehicle.

3. When firing a bullet into a passenger compartment, there is no guarantee that it will hit ONLY the target you intend to hit.