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What Stops Bullets and What Does Not? Part 2

What Stops Bullets and What Does Not? Part 2

Part 2: Outside The Home

In my previous article, I said it’s easier to find protection from bullets outside the typical home than inside. However, outside the home, the odds of needing it are much greater, so it’s worthwhile understanding what ballistic protection is available.

Outside the home, no object is more omnipotent than the automobile. Hollywood movies create a lot of misconceptions about the ballistic properties of things, and cars are no exception. In the movies, you see cops fling the car door open and crouch behind the driver door with their gun over the top yelling,
Freeze! Put your hands up! That is not real.

I saw firsthand how easily bullets travel through car doors while training with members of Navy SEAL Team 6. They demoed it, shooting straight through a car—in through one door and out through the other door.

Cover Vs. Concealment

In the training, the Seal Team Six commander discussed the difference between cover and concealment. Most people mistake concealment for cover. Concealment simply hides you. It could be a cardboard box. It could be a thin wall, or a curtain. Concealment is good for certain tactical situations. But if you want protection from bullets, you need to find cover.

A concrete or brick wall can stop a bullet. A big enough tree can stop a bullet. Those are cover. Car doors do not provide cover, but the engine most certainly does. So if you’re on the street and need cover, try to get a car engine between you and the shooter.

Hiding behind the rim and wheels of a large vehicle, such as a dump truck or pick up truck with big wheels, also provides cover. In most cases, a heavy duty steel dumpster is cover, because bullets will not penetrate through multiple panels of a steel dumpster—and if they do, there won’t be much power left in them.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly

When you hear a shooting, e.g., you're at a parade, you need to make a quick decision. Do you seek concealment or do you seek cover? You have to decide very quickly. Most people in those situations don’t look for cover or concealment: they start to run, and just keep running. That might not be the wrong thing to do. But it helps if you can make the smartest decision about what you’re going to do and as quickly as possible—to know if you’re running, hiding, or finding cover.

In a shooting situation, the first thing you should look for is the most solid, impenetrable object you can find. If you’re in a mall, look for a heavy steel fire door, or a brick wall. If you’re outside, look for steel dumpsters, or the engine bay of a nearby car. A large tree might be your only option, but it needs to be large enough to cover you. Part of cover is also minimizing your physical exposure, e.g., it may be a good idea to lie down.

Practice making quick selections. Practice with family members. You can make a game of it. You have an agreement with your children that at any time outside, perhaps in a mall, you might yell,
threat! And then see how quickly they can identify the nearest cover, how quickly they can find the best options.

If you do this enough times, it becomes second nature. And should you or they find themselves in an active shooter situation, the chances of survival will be much greater because you'll act smarter and quicker than everyone else.

Professional Equipment 

Professional ballistic armor can play a role in your preparedness outside the home. The options may surprise you.

For example, our Civilian Riggs Shield is compact and portable enough to keep in your car.

You can grab it quickly and hold it with one arm and hand to protect yourself. We also carry the LEO Riggs Shield that’s a little larger and can be mounted to the inside door panel of a car in the gap between the console and passenger seat.

221B Tactical makes bags and backpacks specifically designed to hold ballistic plates. These are high quality and provide great utility without the armor, which is optional. But with the armor, the bags becomes a shield with ballistic properties you can rely on for being tested and certified.

One popular product (and
unique, as far as we know) is our PF-1 Armored Fast Access EDC CCW Bag. It’s designed for CCW, for quickly accessing your weapon, and then turning into a ballistic shield that provides coverage from your neck to below the hips. It’s also just a highly useful small EDC bag. So you don’t even need to carry a gun with it. It works brilliantly as an EDC bag and portable ballistic shield. It’s something a child could bring to school and it looks perfectly normal.

You can use whatever bag or pack you already own and prefer, and simply get a standalone armor plate to put inside and use as a shield in an active shooter situation. We have soft armor panels in many different sizes that are Level IIIA bulletproof and stab proof that can be inserted and carried unobtrusively in many different bags. We also carry hard armor plates
that will protect against assault rifle fire.

Please let me know any questions or concerns.

Suresh Madhavan

Founder and CEO, 221B Tactical

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