The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Preview – Vehicular Gun-fighting

Photos by Matt Stagliano

We Go to School to Polish Our Vehicular Gun-fighting Skills. Myths Get Busted, Egos Bruised, and Oxen Gored.

We don’t know what we don’t know until something lets us know we don’t know it. Vehicle combative tactics are an excruciating example of this, but better to suffer a painful education in training than during a carjacking or at a convenience store on the embarrassing end of some asshole’s gun.
Phrases become aphorisms because they’re true. We most recently had our eyes opened, quickly learning just how much we didn’t know, at an outstanding VCQB (Vehicular Close Quarters Battle) course taught by Will Petty. Other such classes attracting attention from serious students include those offered by Viking Tactics, Graham Combat, Sage Dynamics, Talon Defense, FPF Training, Costa Ludus, Sentinel Concepts, FireBase Combat Studies Group, and others. We recommend you take one of them. Take someone else’s if you prefer, but if you spend as much time in a vehicle as most Americans one thing is certain — a course such as this should be next on your list of priorities, right after a good medical/trauma class.

Petty defines VCQB as a short duration, high-intensity conflict, characterized by sudden violence at close range, in and around, through, over, or under one or more vehicles. Whether you’re a responsible armed citizen or an LEO, gun-fighting around a car is gun-fighting around a car. While it’s ultimately about the gun, not the car, you should be aware of certain realities, as opposed to conventional wisdom that’s more than likely inaccurate range lore.

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Take Cover!
The first and most obvious of these is the truth of cover. Like many of you reading this, we were taught that only the engine block, wheels, and axles of a vehicle are cover. Only there were you safe from incoming merriment. However, that is absolutely not the case. As you should learn in quality training (because seeing it for yourself is always better than reading about it or taking someone’s word for it), cover does not have to be something that can completely block a round. It can be something that deflects a round or causes it to deviate reliably and consistently, or something that will absorb large amounts of kinetic energy before failing.

Know what absorbs huge amounts of kinetic energy? Most of your vehicle. It’s designed from the ground up to absorb massive amounts of energy. Put simply, a vehicle is a container designed to get us from one place to another and to protect us while doing so — think of the A-pillars of the car, which are designed to absorb the crushing impact of an engine during a rollover. A single pillar can be cover in some cases; two in most others. We watched Petty prove his assertions by putting nearly an entire magazine of 5.56mm ammunition into the side of a vehicle, targeting the B-pillars. Twenty-two of 24 rounds failed to penetrate the latitudinal axis of a Suburban, pillar to pillar, and they were stacked on top of one another. If you can put one more pillar between yourself and a threat, you have effective cover because you’re stacking intermediate barriers. They’ll provide protection all the way up through heavy rifle calibers, including 7.62×54, for a time at least — you can use this to your advantage, of course, and should be aware of these facts before you begin laying down the hate in return.

It’s obviously just as important to understand what is not cover and again for rounds traveling in both directions. Depending on where the bullet impacts, a typical vehicle door, for instance, may not stop even a small caliber round by itself, and certainly not several rounds stacked atop one another. Matt Graham of Graham Combat pointed this out to us last year at another course; we used the knowledge to engage targets from a seated position through the metal rather than the window, scoring effective hits on nearby hostile targets without getting a face full of glass.

The pillars aren’t the only cover available, of course. Counterintuitive though it may seem, vehicle glass can be outstanding cover relative to your position, whether you’re giving or receiving. Note that it’s always better to give than receive. Even large-caliber rifle rounds and 12-gauge slugs will deviate significantly if they have to penetrate multiple layers of glass. This might be good to know if you’re standing down by the trailer hitch when some asshole up by the hood ornaments starts laying down the hate.
The same holds true laterally. Every windshield has some degree of rake and curve. The rake of the glass is its angle in relation to the vehicle’s lateral plane. Because a bullet will find the path of least resistance, as it strikes glass its path will deviate. It’s science.


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