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Old 07-17-2003, 08:31 PM
DanDean316 DanDean316 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Dakota County, MN
Posts: 351
Shooting through car doors and the windshield

I was at a gunshop the other day and 2 guys were discussing shooting through cars. One guy said the it was harder to shoot through a windshield with a .45 ACP because the bullet is moving slower. He claimed that the .40 is a better round for this situation.

Is this right? It makes sense a faster bullet (the .40) would bust through a windshield better, but does anyone have any experience with this? Would a lighter, hotter .45 load be a good choice if I was concerned about this? There was some training in this area recently on situations like this involving cars, but unfortunately I was not able to go due to the high cost - $400.

I was already to load up with Federal Hyrad Shok 230 grain for my carry load, but maybe a lighter load is better.

Any comments and opinions are welcome.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:08 PM
ietrash ietrash is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Louisiana
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I don't have any experience with windshields, but I've got 35 + years hunting experience. Whether it's windshields, walls, deer, or people, your talking about penetration ! Speed is not nearly as important as bullet design. Heavy for caliber, well constructed bullets are the key to penetration.

Last edited by ietrash; 07-17-2003 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:48 PM
Scooter .45's Avatar
Scooter .45 Scooter .45 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: AZ
Posts: 473
I've never shot a car, but I'm thinking a windshield wouldn't stand a chance against most any lead bullet. BB gun maybe. Don't try it with my car though!
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:04 PM
gusterdog gusterdog is offline
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Location: East Texas
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Why would you want to shoot your windshield?
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Old 07-17-2003, 11:39 PM
gudel gudel is offline
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Location: Santa Barbara
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you could go to a junk yard and ask if you can start shooting.
that would disprove or support his theory. and if you do, be sure to report back here!
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Old 07-18-2003, 07:37 AM
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STRIKER27 STRIKER27 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Michigan, U.S.A.
Posts: 151
I've thought about the junk yard obtion myself. See how much it would cost to purchase an old car door or something from the yard. Then take it out back in your or a friends yard and plug away. I was going to do this myself, but ended up not having the time to hit the junk yard. So I ended up doing my own ballistic tests with various thickness pieces of wood.

As far as windshields, I know it's corny, but I can't help but think of the Dirty Harry movie, "The Enforcer". When he's asked why he uses a 44 instead of a 38 or 357 like most. And you'll have to read this in your best gravely tough guy voice. "Well, .357 is a good gun, but I've seen 38's bounce off windshields".
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Old 07-18-2003, 08:29 AM
DanDean316 DanDean316 is offline
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Location: Dakota County, MN
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On thing I forgot to add about the conversation I overheard. One guy said you need at least 1000 fps for a bullet to bust through a windshield.

Originally posted by gusterdog
Why would you want to shoot your windshield?
No not MY windshield, the bad guys. Honestly, in a CCW situation, this will rarely come up (hopefully). But thinking about all the sickos and perverts out there who try to steal kids, and having a daughter myself - you never know.

I like the idea of getting parts at a junkyard and "testing". Ahh another project...
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Old 07-18-2003, 08:32 AM
BarbWire BarbWire is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 250
windshields tend to deflect pistol ammunition period. it is due to bullet design. round nosed bullets tend to deflect more than pointed ones like u find in most small rifles like .308s and 30-06. penetrating car doors has more to do with where the bullets hit in the door than any other factor. a .22LR will penetrate a door better if all it hits is door metal than a .308 that hits the internal mechanisms of the door. if u want REAL reliable penetration of cars and whatnot ur gonna have to graduate up to something like a .338winmag or bigger large game round. my .458winmag has no difficulties at all punching through most types of structure u find in civilian locations. shooting old junk cars with very large rifles is great fun.

the difference between pistol rounds in penetration of cars and other items is negligible and can be accounted for by random chance of strike angle and whats in the way inside of the target. 9mm will go deeper into 2x4's than .45s and 40's go a little deeper than both but its such a small margin that it really amounts to no difference. my thinking on things like this is i prefer a round in a pistol that doesnt overpenetrate a target and hit who knows what or goes off in wierd angles to injury innocent bystanders. if i need to punch thru a large object i yank out ye olde elephant gun and have at it. but in a defense situation i dont want a speedy round that punches in and out of a target and zips off to land in some kid. so i use a .45ACP with hollowpoints to limit that from happening. if i should ever have to use it in self defense i want to minimize the chances of a round going somewhere other than my intended target.
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Old 07-18-2003, 06:09 PM
C.R. C.R. is offline
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Location: North Carolina
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MOST handgun calibers are only marginal at best at windshields. Some will go through but will be severly deformed and many will separate from their jacket. The secret service went to .357 SIG after some good results in testing for car windshields. Side glass in cars in not much of a problem but results are still unreliable. 12GA slugs work fine at close range, .308 works at medium range, .338 lapua works at 700 yards .
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Old 07-18-2003, 06:46 PM
scubie02 scubie02 is offline
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Well, I happen to have shot a few cars, and as someone said, most handguns will have problems with a windshield because of the angle. I guess I'd have to say the 357 mag is probably about the best I have seen, or a 44 mag would do better than a 45acp, and I could see the 357 Sig doing ok too (I have a sig but don't happen to have tried it). I wouldn't gladly use any of them though if I could avoid it--awful big chance for deflections...

As far as doors...the best round I have seen was the old steel core FMJ 7.62 AK47/SKS rounds (from a rifle obviously). They look like stubby little things, but they literally zip right THROUGH a car--as in through BOTH sides--like nothing. Even the old heavy steel cars from the 30's, 40,'s, 50's. Side windows most handguns even would go through/shatter--they are flatter than a windshield. As far as handgun penetration in doors--sort of depends on if you just hit door or hit the mechanisms inside, as someon else said.

The 45 acp actually has pretty lousy penetration on alot of things, though. I think its a misconception that its a big penetrator. For penetration I think the 357 mag is about the best I have seen for pistols, depending on ammo used. I think its a combo of better speed, better ballistic coefficient, not as big a frontal area, etc...
"I believe if they set aside their law as and when they wish, their law no longer has rightful authority over us, all they have left over us then is tyranny, and I will not live under that yoke".

Last edited by scubie02; 07-18-2003 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 07-18-2003, 09:41 PM
LAK LAK is offline
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My own experiences with car windshields are that faster/harder bullets do better than slower/softer ones. A hardcast .357 125 grain at about 1,500 fps will likely do better than a jacketed hollowpoint .45 230 grain bullet at 850 fps, and so on. The same generally holds true with metal sheet and other materials in layers. Other things being equal, velocity is a significant factor too. BTW; the cars in question were already dead
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Old 07-19-2003, 07:39 AM
jacketch jacketch is offline
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Location: Richmond Va.
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Some testing has been done....

Look here
for more info.
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Old 07-19-2003, 10:13 AM
scubie02 scubie02 is offline
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wellll...the windshield test was done using trucks--which tend to have more upright/less angled glass than point blank range fired from the front bumper directly in front of the vehicle though. Its an interesting test but probably not super realistic for real world performance, since they were getting the most direct hits possible and least liklihood of deflection. Understandable to do it that way for safety reasons. But in the real world you'd more likely be at some angle where deflection was more likely, and assuming the vehicle was moving and you wanted to stop it, if you were directly in front of the front bumper you'd be getting run over at about the same time you fired...

Interesting though nonetheless--thanks for the link!
"I believe if they set aside their law as and when they wish, their law no longer has rightful authority over us, all they have left over us then is tyranny, and I will not live under that yoke".
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Old 07-20-2003, 10:27 AM
jmeray jmeray is offline
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we shot through my buddies old hood and doors with the windows down
american eagle 230 grain out of his glock 21 and my g 20 175 winchester silvertips both of the rounds blew through the door and hood like it was butter.
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Old 07-20-2003, 06:43 PM
Dhlw Dhlw is offline
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Go to the Vehicle Defense class at ITTS taught by Scott Reitz. You will get a chance to shoot through car windows and doors. Furthermore, keep in mind that the glass for the rear is different from the rear, and again, different from the sides.
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Old 07-20-2003, 07:34 PM
BB 4XL BB 4XL is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: North East Ohio
Posts: 408
Once at a match that had cars for props, we shot up the cars before they where towed away. With the old black talons in 45acp 230gr they would go thru the windshield, seat, back seat losing the jacket somwhere in the seat stuffing , then ending up in the trunk. The car was a Chevy caprice early 80s.9mm in fmjs would go thru but not every time.This was before the 40 was real popular so no one had one. I read that the FBI did tests because a lot of the shootings they have are thru car windows and they liked Hydrashoks. I cant recall what magazine had the artical but I think it was in a Glock anual mag.

Last edited by BB 4XL; 07-20-2003 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 07-21-2003, 12:18 AM
superc superc is offline
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Posts: 380
When going for penetration you want hard construction. FMJ does better than an identical weight and velocity softpoint or hollow point. Any bullet will glance off hard angled surfaces unless striking dead on. This should be taken into account when aiming.

Lead bullets doing less than 900 FPS will almost always bounce off hard objects regardless of the approach angle. I have seen slow bullets of many calibers bounce off or barely imbed themself in tree trunks.

In my observation, save yourself some aggravation and don't use 9mm Silvertips either. They had no penetration after going through either a front windshield or the car body. The projectiles lacked enough remaining velocity to penetrate a sternum. I suspect 9mm FMJ would have done a much better job.

Years ago Remington made a .45 acp round called the Hi-way Master. Supposedly designed for cars it was dropped from the Remington line. I still have ost of a box of them and they are best described as a pointy 173 grain FMJ bullet. I never had an occasion to use them in the fashion they were designed for and do not have any specifics on their velocity. I have tried them on deer however and can confirm they went in one side of a shoulder, and right out the other side of the animal and it went over 200 yards before bedding down and bleeding to death. That ended my hunting experimentation with that round.

Of course KTW made an excellent bullet and their old green .38/.357 round worked very well on any part of a car. Also good was the French Arcane round Supplies of either one of those are usually carefully hoarded by the owner as any bullet designed to penetrate automobiles usually penetrates kevlar also and is therefore currently illegal to manufacture in the US.

Additionally, firing at vehicles is no longer in vogue in the US and you could be fired if you do it in the line of work, and you will probably be sued or jailed over any bullets that bounce and hit someone 3 blocks away.

If you have a bullet you are going to test on an old car (town dump?) remember that bullets tend to slide and bounce off angles and pick a dead on angle. Remember sometimes they bounce straight back. Remember also to put a few inches of pine lumber inside the car. The US Army experimented on corpses during the civil war and found out that any bullet that won't penetrate at least 1 inch of soft pine can't make a lethal wound. Today's windshield glass is tough stuff and a bullet loses a lot of energy when punching through even if you are only 5 to 10 feet away when you shoot. (See silvertips above.)
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