Cover is any object that protects you from gunfire. Concealment is an object that hides you from an aggressor. Question: if you were in the Stop ‘N Rob (notice the bars “protecting” the employees) where’s cover or concealment? Concealment would be the shelves in the middle of the store. Cover? Nope. There ain’t none – as the employees discovered. Three things about that . . .

1. Very few objects provide cover

In your home, walls and doors are highly unlikely to stop a bullet. As in fuhgeddaboutit. Your refrigerator is about the only object capable of stopping a bullet. That’s not a sure thing. And trying getting behind it in an emergency. If you’re attacked in your home, you need to find cover, stop the assault – by counterattacking – or leave.

Out in the real world, thick cement walls work as cover. Your car’s engine block can stop all but the largest bullets. (But certainly not your car door.) Trees are excellent cover, depending on their width and position. Look down! Dirt – hills, berms – are also a viable option. If you’re getting the impression that there’s not a whole lot of cover options available in a gunfight, you’re right.

2. Concealment is everywhere

There are plenty of objects behind which you can hide: walls, doors, store shelves, tables, counters, cars, trees, etc. If a bad guy or guys can’t see you, chances are they can’t shoot/stab/bludgeon you. Chances are. Remembering that bad guys can shoot through concealment and kill you dead.

3. Escape is your best option

You are not a cop; you don’t have to stop a bad guy or guys. If you’re in a dangerous situation and you’ve decided that you’re not going to defend innocent life (the store could have allowed their employees to arm themselves) leave as quickly as possible. Run!

It’s best to have an escape route in mind when you enter a new environment. Look around. Keep in mind that you can go out the back of a restaurant or store if things go pear-shaped.

In any case, don’t get married to cover or concealment. If it’s compromised – if your assailant figures out how to get to you – your proverbial goose is cooked. Unless you move. Your end goal: GTFO. And carry a gun whenever possible, understanding the difference between cover and concealment for your attacker, as well.

19 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Know the Difference Between Cover and Concealment

  1. A somewhat decent form of both cover and concealment is other people. Bullets can tear right through people, but they can also ricochet off bones, fragment and stop, or even get redirected and spiral downward through the body. Pretty much anything’s possible, as any ER personnel can attest to.

    NO, I’m not suggesting you use people as human shields. I am suggesting, though, that once gunfire erupts, people will panic, stand up and run in all directions. If you stay down and make your way quickly directly to your pre-identified escape route, having maintained your composure could pay off.

  2. “You are not a cop; you don’t have to stop a bad guy or guys.”

    Neither do cops, actually. They have absolutely no legal obligation to protect anyone in any circumstance ever. (just saying…)

    • This point needs to be made repeatedly and often whenever someone post something that posits that cops have any legal obligation to actually do their jobs.

      • “Can’t if your dead” That’s what the chalk is for! Cops sometimes carry up to 20 lbs. at a time, to get them through the night, in a bad neighborhood!

  3. Perfect example – your local bank (many of them). That thick ballistic barrier between you and the teller is NOT concealment, but it IS cover.

  4. Paper is concealment, but in sufficient quantity, becomes cover. A full bookshelf the short way is probably concealment, depending on the type of books and the type of rounds. The long way, it’s cover.

  5. There were like 5 items on the shelves in that store. How much money did those morons think they were likely to be able to steal from a place like that?

  6. Some cover is better than others. I’m sure most of us would rather be behind our gun safes rather than our refrigerators, just saying.

    • I’d agree with that. A refrigerator’s cover value seems to depend on being crouched behind it, with the compressor and major mechanical components taking the shot. The sides and door are just thin sheet metal, some plastic and some insulation.

      • heh, my mothers fridge IS cover. always full, lots of meat, milk, juice, condiments, leftovers in Tupperware, veggies in the bins… I bet its a level 2/2a coefficient for armor. Oh yeah, dont forget all the bills and stuff magneted to the front of it. My dad brought home some neodymium magnets that had flaws and got trashed at work, they will hold .5 inches of paper to the fridge. also, as kids we learned NEVER them too close, or you had to wait for dad to get home to pry them apart.

  7. Keep the flip side of that in mind as well. Bad guys might think they are taking cover, or might expose themselves only partway, but you might still be able to drill a crucial part of them through concealment. Think “No Country for Old Men.”

  8. Ayoob suggests strategically placing a book case for the purpose of cover. In a hall just outside your bedroom, etc.

  9. When the SHTF, get behind the biggest guy you can find for both cover and concealment. And don’t feel bad about it because if he could, he’d get behind you.

  10. Good advice. Get off the x. Scoot to cover, and id the threat, and your safe exit. GTFO, if you can, with good description of the situation, and the bad guys. Call 911 and pass that along, for that will be invaluable in the first couple of minutes. You dont want to risk blue on blue, gun out being the hero, unless you really have to…

  11. I have an old oak desk that if tipped over would work as cover. The two inch thick slab of oak might not stop a bullet itself, but for some reason it has a steel frame the oak is built around — and a 1/8″ steel sheet under the oak top.

    Other than that, well… there are two chimneys built into the walls that would do, but that’s all the cover I can think of in the place. OTOH the basement pantry has concrete walls — maybe I should build an escape from it to the back yard.

  12. I think it’s also worth noting that the engine bay in the car is much much larger than the actual engine block, so know where you engine sits and it’s approximate size. I mean it takes one look while changing your oil. Note that if you drive a 4-popper like me you are getting very very little coverage from the side of the car. 🙂

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