I swear I don’t mean to pick on Gabe Suarez’s mob. What did Jim Croce say about Superman’s cape? And yet, here we are. One of the Suarez crew who knows more about gunfighting than I know about preparing deli platters (and I know a lot about preparing deli platters) has some excellent advice for people faced with the “challenge” of shooting an attacker from the driver’s seat. Staff instructor Ryan Acuff starts with the basics: drive away or over the bad guy. After that, Acuff acknowledges there’s no good way to bring your firearm to bear on a bad guy without putting the family jewels in harm’s way. “My advice is don’t shoot yourself and you’ll be OK here.” My advice: pepper spray.

I’ve tried drawing my holstered gun whilst strapped into my truck. I practiced using a variety of inside-the-waistband and outside-the-waistband holsters. [NB: I did not try a penis-pointing holster.] There are advanced yoga poses that require less contortions than removing my weapon from under a seatbelt and clothing. Trigger and muzzle discipline are an issue at the best of times; I have no doubt an in-car defensive gun use would be the worst of times. In short, I reckon drawing from the driver’s seat and firing accurately and efficiently would be asking way too much from myself.

Now I could keep a gun in the glove box, the between seat console or some specialized automotive holster thingie. But I’ve got a thing about gun safety; a gun’s either in my hand, on my hip or locked in a safe. The transition between these states is particularly dangerous, both in terms of negligent discharges and non-admiring glances from hoplophobes. I’m not in love with the idea of transferring my concealed carry gun from my hip to a car stash and back on a regular basis. Nor would I want to leave a BUG in the car.

So I’d either have to contort, draw and take my chances or hit ’em with my Kimber PepperBlaster II. That I don’t mind leaving in the car console. For one thing, it has a safety device. For another, I’ve told my kids what it is, and that they’ll never see Facebook again if they play with it. But if they do, it’s not the end of the world. Or my hearing. Or their hearing. Or my right to keep and bear arms.

Of course, you can’t fire pepper spray through a closed window (or so I’m told), whereas bullets go through glass like a bullet through glass. But it behooves armchair warriors to keep in mind that a weapon is only a means to an end: getting the hell out of (a?) Dodge. If you can drive away, pepper spray MAY give you the time to get your ass in gear. If you can’t, it may give you the time/distance you need to get out of the car and draw your weapon or run away.

Dare I say it? Your mileage may vary. And the general rule suggested here—don’t shoot a gun from inside a car—can and should be ignored as necessary. But if you have the option of pepper-spraying the potential perp, it could save you a lot of paperwork. And your life. And if you do end up drawing your gun, no matter what does or doesn’t happen, remember to call 911 immediately afterwards. Lest the bad guy does it for you.

42 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Shoot a Gun from Inside A Car

  1. If you can drive away, do so.

    However, all the shooting ranges near me are cold ranges, meaning any firearm I walk in there with has to be unloaded.

    However, there is a de facto “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in place regarding guns in cars at all the nearby ranges. I consider constantly unloading and loading a gun to be an invitation to an AD and don’t like driving around unarmed, (and I definitely don’t like driving around unarmed with unloaded guns in the car), so I’ll drop a pistol in the console or door pocket if I’m headed out to the range.

  2. That picture is just so wrong. It hurts to look at it. I agree drawing a pistol from a body situated holster is very awkward. And firing inside a car will cause some serious ear ringing. If someone is getting the drop on you when you are in your car, I’d think that you weren’t being observant as you headed out to your car or as you were pulling up. I would think that good situational awareness would take care of this scenario most of the time, so that you either don’t head to your car if you see a potential perp close by, or you keep going if you see a potential perp at the locale you intend to stop at. The best tactic is not to put yourself in a place where you have to use your pistol. And if you’re in a job where you are constantly in such a situation you probably have an alternate location for your pistol when you are driving (IE. Some sort of seat holster, or a passenger who is literally riding ‘shotgun’ for you.)

    • RAN says:
      June 27, 2011 at 12:52

      “If someone is getting the drop on you when you are in your car, I’d think that you weren’t being observant as you headed out to your car or as you were pulling up. I would think that good situational awareness would take care of this scenario most of the time, so that you either don’t head to your car if you see a potential perp close by, or you keep going if you see a potential perp at the locale you intend to stop at.”

      One can be alert and still be surprised by someone (stalking) unexpectedly coming from anywhere out of sight. You can be vigilant and aware, of your surroundings, try to posture or park in a “perfect spot”, but a perp can still have the element of stealth and surprise, regardless of what one does do avoid them.
      Having a troop or security force surrounding us as we go about tending to our lives would be great, and would no doubt make situational awareness nearly perfect. But I am just a poor sap trying to do the best we can. That makes one somewhat vulnerable no matter how alert.
      You can’t be about life and constantly be on patrol at the same time. You do the best you can to stay away from questionable situations, but try to have a (whatever) means to protect yourself, just in case.

      “The best tactic is not to put yourself in a place where you have to use your pistol. ”

      I guess maybe we should all stay locked up in our house.

  3. Years ago I had a guy try and run me off the road. I pulled over at a Subway and, thinking maybe it was some old high school friend cutting up, I yelled “what’s the deal?” before he completely got out of his car. He started walking towards me, still seated in my car, with crazy looking eyes and fumbling with something in his back pocket. Before he could get to me I yanked a Star PD .45 out of the console and leveled it at him. I got him to stop and then drove off. He didn’t follow. Ever since then I carry a “spare” handgun in either the center console or the glove box. Since it’s miles of woods either to my swamp to shoot or to see my Mom at “The Compound” out in the boonies, I usually have several mags and my very accurate Beretta 90-TWO as my truck gun. It never stays in the truck at night, and it’s a ready weapon when seated. I also carry the excellent Kimber Pepper Blast II OC gun.

  4. RF says: “Of course, you can’t fire pepper spray through a closed window (or so I’m told), whereas bullets go through glass like a bullet through glass.”

    If you mean like standard plate glass, no. Windshields are laminated glass while side and rear glass are tempered. Both types of safety glass will alter a bullet’s trajectory considerably. Laminated glass will also commence the expansion/fragmentation process in JHP and similar bullets. Tempered glass shatters violently into thousands of pieces and can put some glass shards in your face and/or eyes if you are close enough — say, sitting in the driver’s seat. It is much better to be shooting into a car from the outside than shooting out of a car from the inside. It’s not that you can’t shoot through automotive glass, but it should be considered a desperate measure.

    This is one area where I have first-hand experience — I was the subject of an attempted carjacking. This was one of the experiences that led me to my current opinion that a gun is a hell of a lot less useful for self-defense than people tend to believe it is. A gun would have been useless for me in this case. Worse than useless, actually.

    • Gun is not panacea. But if it could help, why not have it? You wear hardhat not to catch falling brick with it. Same with “safety reflective vest” when perform some operations near motor vehicle on road’s side. If you have right to bear and use it, but think you don’t need it – do not use it. Why ban it to others? IMHO better have access, but have no need, other than have need, but have no access. I have no need for car, but I’m not running around requesting ban them in favor of public transportation. Or tobacco – “sniff your socks instead of smoke – same knockdown effect”. 😀
      Anyway, isn’t bullet “alteration” during glass-piercing stage of flight irrelevant at point blank range?

    • I believe they shot up a car at the Box O’Truth and verified a couple of your claims. Shooting through a windshield alters the bullet trajectory pretty significantly. This has to do with the composition of the ‘glass’ and the angle at which the bullet impacts.
      I am not sure that tempered glass will effect much of a change on the path of a projectile that is moving like a bullet. Especially when said bullet contacts normal to the surface of the glass.

  5. If you want or need to access a pistol and you want or need to remain in a sitting position, don’t use a belt holster. Use an ankle or shoulder instead. All things considered, a shoulder holster has the greatest tactical flexibility, but with todays casual clothing trend, is the hardest to conceal.

  6. A little off subject, but does anyone have their trunk gun? Having often lived in remote areas, I began the practice of always having a tool kit, a lantern and flashlight, repair gear and my handy 90 MPH tape and a trunk gun with spare ammo. It usually has always been a pump shotgun in a waterproof or proofed by me case (silicone spray) and 20-30 rounds of buckshot. Having to change a flat in the boonies sucks. Having to change one in the dark sucks even more. Not having a handy weapon and a carload of drunk rednecks roll up could be the last sucky day you’ve had. For obvious reasons of now having a truck with a camper rear top, I now have one of those molle gear scabbards, waterproofed, an Ithaca Stakeout 12 ga (pistol grip only) and a Cabelas’ neoprene shell belt locked in the back of my truck. The leather ones always draw moisture to the shells, as did the molle shotgun scabbard until I soaked it inside and out with Walmart silicone waterproof spray. Yes, I always have a handgun or two or three about, but nothing says loving like a pump shotgun. Think of it as zombie protection on the road.

  7. Mas Ayoob has recommended a gun in an ankle holster for vehicular defense in the past. If you’re sitting in your car getting to a gun on your ankle is actually very easy. Obviously if at all possible you want to use the more powerful weapon (the car) first. But that may not always be an option.

    As for glass shattering into your eyes. I refer once again to an article written by Ayoob for L.E. where he advocates ALWAYS wearing some form of protective eyewear when in a vehicle.

  8. What about a stun gun or taser? Pepper balls are nice, but what about blowback, especially at close range. There are times when I would prefer a big-ass knife.

    • Now you’re talking my language! Two of my big knife favorites are the Cold Steel Natchez Bowie and the Cold Steel Tai Pan dagger. The Tai Pan is so sharp I had Blade Tech make me a kydex IWB/OWB sheath. As for tasers, I had one fail on a guy who was mental, and so did a cousin of mine. We both ended up using OC/pepper spray on the suspects. Besides the Kimber pepperblast, I also highly recommend Cold Steel’s Inferno spray. It uses red and black pepper, and the propellant is medical grade. It really, really hurts.

  9. I know where you can learn the skills necessary to shoot from a car whether stopped or moving. You will get to shoot a couple of thousand rounds during the weeks instruction. I understand it’s a blast. I believe the location is a farm in Virginia…

    Just saying

  10. How many of y’all have fired a pepper blaster without getting some on yourself? I never tried spraying pepper from inside a car, but I’m thinking that if the wind direction is “wrong,” I might be peppering myself, or at least sharing the pain. Is that possible?

    On the other hand, I can cross draw in a car with no penile lasering, so Little Ralph is secure. Since I shoot right handed, the cross draw doesn’t flag any of my passengers, either. I use a Remora holster, so I can slide the holster from 4 to 10 without flashing. Actually firing a gun from the car, however, sounds like the last thing I’d ever hear.

    • The Kimber Pepper Blaster shoots at 90MPH, and I’ve fired one-it’s pretty much straight out there. A spray-stream or fog can give you some cross contamination, but usually not too bad. Then again, I’ve walked into the mist after spraying some BearGuard before, to try and get my sinuses to clear out.

    • Pepper spray blowback is a concern of mine, so I carry a ‘fire extinguisher style’ foaming pepper spray can next to the seat. It has a 30ft range and the foam sprays in a stream that expands once it hits its target. If the BG tries to wipe it away, the foam collapses into a liquid and works its way in. I haven’t had occasion to use it yet, and I hope not to, but I have sprayed a wall with it to verify the can pressure. I would hate to confront someone on the side of the road who is swinging a bat with a worthless, unpressurized can.

      • The Cold Steel Inferno comes out like a foam and with a process of liquefaction becomes a pure liquid on contact. It comes in sizes from a “pen” and all the way up to A “fogger” size, like a small fire extinguisher. I keep some of the in between sizes around and keep a fogger in the pouch behind my passenger’s seat in the truck. A fogger’s advantage is that it also deprives the aggressor of air, temporarily. I’ve sprayed people around 150-200 times in my former career, I think Inferno is the best. You can buy it directly, or save money by going to some knife outlets on line. knifecenter.com is one of them.

  11. I carry in a shoulder holster when driving (Still looking for The One True Holster though, any suggestions?) long distances. When just running errands I use a T-shirt with the underarm gun pocket and a soft leather pocket holster inside of that. In winter/early spring/late fall I wear a half-zipped jacket over it. In summer a light shirt buttoned halway up. I am also usually wearing an IWB, and I move the gun into that before exiting the vehicle just because I am much better at drawing from the IWB.

  12. I saw a company at the NRA conference that makes a car holster that actually seems pretty practical (except the impracticality of having to holster and re-holster the weapon). The holster attaches along the length of the steering column by the means of two hooks and it is nearly on size fits all. The steering column is merely their suggestion, but they said if you can hook it, you can do it. If you’re interested I have their business card somewhere, just reply to the post and I’ll fish it out.

  13. There’s a trick I learned in Iraq.

    Don’t be afraid of your gun.

    Of course as mentioned driving away or over a bad guy is preferable, but if it comes to popping a BG with a firearm, I’m not going to think twice about covering myself with the muzzle to employ it, that’s what all the tens of thousands of “finger straight and off the trigger” draws are for. Practice for the real thing. Muscle memory for the day the rubber hits the road.

  14. Bond Arms makes a neat little .410/.45LC derringer that comes with a cross draw holster. I believe you can even snap it around the seat belt’s lap band and have it handy for use.

    Still… I can’t imagine firing a gun inside of a vehicle without the proper PPE. No thank you.

    • I have the same thing, the driving holster, for my Bond Arms .45 ACP derringer. It’s fast. I like it too because I can change to .44 special in minutes.

  15. First, what are the chances of being in such a situation? Considering all of the stop signs and intersections with lights, and the number of times such a situation occurs, it is the odds are astronomical against.
    Second, these situations usually happen at night, in a city. If someone is approaching me at night, and especially while sitting at an intersection waiting for a green light, I will be prepared before the perp reaches the door. The gun would already be in my hand. If one pays attention to his surroundings, such a scenario would not reach the point of no return. Prevention is 95% of preparedness. One can not be prepared for every eventuality dreamed up by someone trying to sell something. Possibilities and probabilities should both be weighed when getting prepared. Peace Robert Walker

  16. First of all, to say that you “drive on your merry way” after you have just shot the BG removed all credibility from this presentation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *