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Old October 28, 2005, 10:40 PM   #1
Doug.38PR
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Bullets hitting car windshields

The other night, I was watching AMC and they had some cops and gangster movie with Michael Douglas and (I think) Andy Garcia. The scene I saw was some Japanese moffia thugs were holding up some place and Douglas and Garcia were two plainclothes cops in there and they got into a shootout. Douglas (who looked like he was armed with a 2 inch Highway Patrolman or some kind of N frame S&W and a Detective Special backup) runs outside and shoots at a fleeing car. He fires one shot at the back window and the entire window falls to pieces as though fired from a shotgun...(would even a shotgun do that?) .
Seems silly to me. I see this in movies all the time.

How would one bullet cause a whole windshield (or any kind of window) to fall apart? Wouldn't it just go through and make a hole and hit whatever was on the other side?

If a car was flying at me and I pulled and fired at the driver, would the bullet's trajectory be altered by the slant of the windshield (especially on something REALLY slanted like a corvette? Would it richoche?
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Old October 28, 2005, 10:48 PM   #2
noone
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I think that in old cars the back window would shatter like that, maybe even if hit with a .38 or something similar. modern side windows will do the same. windshields can be hit with hammers or bullets repeatedly and stay intact. they have somekinds of glue-plastic combo to hold them from shattering. the rake of a windshield will not richochet rounds unless the velocity is low. If say fired from a long distance. at least from my at home tests. some car manufactures may have different windows my tests where conducted on american cars nothing new then 2000.
I have read test that say that the trajectory is not altered much at close distances even with something like a nine millimeeter. the reason they did this test was because some where worried that the 9 was to weak and would deflect.
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Old October 28, 2005, 10:50 PM   #3
springmom
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Unfortunately, THIS I know about.

I drove into my church parking lot in my old Windstar van last year and from SOMEWHERE, God knows where, BAM, the driver's side window (not windshield, though) gets hit. I believe the slug went past me and into the seat next to me....certainly, that was the trajectory, from the hole and from the direction it had to be travelling. (No, I did not mess myself, but I tend to go "cold" in crisis and get emotional later when I have time.) At any rate, I was COVERED in glass. It went in AND out of the car. The entire front area of the van was showered in it, and there was quite a little "puddle" of it on the pavement as well.

I have not a clue what it was. There was, as I said, a small hole in the passenger side seat; however, I didn't cut open the seat to look for the slug until months later and who knows where it was at that point, if indeed it was even in there. I called the police, they came, said the window didn't seem to have broken on its own or anything, said it was most likely a shot, took a report, and left.

I went back into church and conducted the choir. Service was starting....

So, at any rate, it shatters, but it shatters into little pebbly type bits, for the most part. Not entirely; I got cut on a few shards, because it sort of radiated out from the little hole. But mostly yes it exploded.

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Old October 28, 2005, 10:53 PM   #4
kennybs plbg
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The rear and sides are a special safety glass ment to crumble in small pieces upon impact.

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Old October 28, 2005, 10:55 PM   #5
Capt Charlie
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Well... this just isn't a yes or no question. There are a lot of factors involved. First off, the front windshield is a different type of glass, and much harder to break than the other windows in a car. The windshield is actually two pieces of glass sandwiching a film of something or other that prevents it from falling apart. All the other windows are safety glass, and is made to shatter without sharp edges (have no idea how that's done). You can't shatter a front windshield with a bullet, and whether or not it will penetrate depends on the angle, the type of bullet, load, and caliber. The deflection angle for a .45 FMJ may be considerably different than, say, a 9mm JHP. The side windows are a piece of cake. I have a gizmo in my duty case that has a spring loaded pin. You just press against one corner of the glass and press the button, and presto! Completely shattered! Being that glass is so brittle, impact shock waves travel through the glass in predictable patterns. The idea is to hit the window at that point whick will send the shock wave through the entire sheet, and the whole thing shatters.
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Old October 28, 2005, 10:59 PM   #6
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Jeez, Springmom!

Glad you're okay....!

I've had my car window bashed in before and it shattered in the same way you described... I imagine something with as much energy as a bullet would do that even more easily.
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Old October 28, 2005, 11:28 PM   #7
Half-Price Assassin
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ok here is a stupid question, about this topic, i was watching the movie, Heat, and in it, robert denero, has a bad guy in front of his car, and takes his pistol and starts shooting through HIS windshield at the bad guy. in another scene he has a colt commando, and starts shooting through his windshield again at cops infront of them. other then going deaf from the the ar-15, being shot inside a car, would this work, is this a good idea, or just a hollywood movie moment that looks cool?

another point is, that high way patrol, and some state police, like the .357sig, for going though cars. is this the best handgun round for defeating windshields, or just stick with .30-06 when shooting at windshields?
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Old October 28, 2005, 11:43 PM   #8
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Well in both scenes, when he was shooting his P220 and when he was shooting the AR-15 variant (whichever one it was), it was under extreme duress and I would probably prefer not to lean out the side of the car window and shoot. That particular movie actually portrays the handling of firearms better than average as far as Hollywood goes. In two separate scenes you see both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro check to make sure they have a round chambered - they do not rack the slide, they just pull it back a hair. Michael Mann had a lot of technical feedback on this one. I just watched this movie tonight for the umpteenth time.
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Old October 29, 2005, 01:51 AM   #9
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It's tempered auto (or other) glass that breaks into 'crumbs' rather than into large, dangerous shards. In cars it is usually found in the side windows. While it can withstand pretty heavy blows from blunt objects, even a relatively light peck from something hard and sharp pointed can shatter it. A lot of rescue tools take advantage of this fact in various ways- see examples at
http://nicnac.net/en-us/dept_78.html .

A good bit of large glass surfaces you see are tempered glass as well- I had a sliding glass door in my home shattered from being struck with a rock thrown by a lawn mower.

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Old October 29, 2005, 10:38 AM   #10
AAshooter
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The technology in windsheilds has changed dramatically over the years. I believe now they are often designed as part of the car to provide structural integrity. In the past that was not the case.
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Old October 29, 2005, 11:53 AM   #11
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Shooting from inside a car??? Ouch! I went to the range a few years back to sight in my mini-14. It was raining, wet and muddy, and I forgot my ground cloth. Now I have a pick-up with a cap, so I set up from the bed of my truck. Never thought to open the windows in the cap, but I did put on extra ear protection. Wasn't enough. The concussion felt like Mike Tyson had hit me from all directions at once, and my ears rang into the next day. Trust me, I won't do THAT ever again!
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Old October 29, 2005, 02:04 PM   #12
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The Movie: Black Rain

That's the movie you saw:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096933/
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Old October 29, 2005, 03:24 PM   #13
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We keep getting reports of car windows "shot out" and what we found is that some installed side and back windows shatter under the stress of movement and scare the Bejuses out of the drivers who think they are being shot at. I think it has something to do with how they are installed, mayhaps wrongley.
+1 on the Capt's comments the front windows seem to be able to take multi hits sometimes but the back and sides give it up easy..

The thugs around here found out about using ceramic to shatter side windows, a tiny amount thrown against the glass causes it to shatter and it was a mess for a while until the fad died down...
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Old October 29, 2005, 05:00 PM   #14
Doug.38PR
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Quote:
Shooting from inside a car??? Ouch! I went to the range a few years back to sight in my mini-14. It was raining, wet and muddy, and I forgot my ground cloth. Now I have a pick-up with a cap, so I set up from the bed of my truck. Never thought to open the windows in the cap, but I did put on extra ear protection. Wasn't enough. The concussion felt like Mike Tyson had hit me from all directions at once, and my ears rang into the next day. Trust me, I won't do THAT ever again!
I had the same thing happen to me about a year ago. You described it perfectly. I was at a small indoor gun range...like your case it was raining and nobody else wanted to come out and shoot. I was there alone. My eye protection kept fogging up, no matter what I'd do. I kept taking them off (along with my ear protection to get them back on) and wiping them or spiting on them. I forgot to put my ear protectors backon and picked up my OP .38 and BAM!!!! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG (From then until the next day)
It was VERY distracting and made me tired as you couldn't close the ringing out.
IC people in movies do things like that all the time. Firing off their guns in closed in areas with no seeming effect on their ears. (A scene in Dirty Harry: Magnum Force comes to mind when one of the crooked biker cops is chasing Harry through the closed in metal corridors of a ship rapid firing off all 6 of his Python .357 rounds at Harry. No problem, he just reloads and does it again)
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Old October 29, 2005, 05:12 PM   #15
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I was beaten to the punch. Black Rain - I don't know a damn thing about bullets and the affect on moving cars but I do know just about everything about Asian films - if only I could get paid for all this useless knowledge....

Anyway, I took a course on Terrorism with cops and one of the state cops in the class mentioned he carried a .45 (Sig 220) because "it's the only caliber that will shatter a windshield of a car." I thought it was an odd thing to say because we had someone in our city shattering everyone's windows with a B.B. gun and I don't think too many folks would feel comfortable in sitting in their car with one of my Berettas pointed at them....
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Old October 29, 2005, 05:26 PM   #16
swmike
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Side and rear's are heat treated and will shatter with any stress if the window has a flaw such as a nick or scratch.

Front windows have been sandwich type since the 20's/30's. The sandwich will actually strip the jacket from a Hollow Point slug. I have seen targets that were placed in the front seat and when shot at through the windshield, two holes appear in the target. One round and the second is usually a "Keyhole" shape. Lower powered rounds will often ricochet off the windshield even though they will make a big splatt. This happened to me once on Portland, OR freeway. Some guys were trading shots on the other side and a stray hit my winshield. Lots of glass but no penetration. VERRRRY LUCKY!!!
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Old October 29, 2005, 05:45 PM   #17
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Well I don't know much about MOVIES , I DO know a thing or three about bullets and car glass. I just finished a 3 day "Vehicle Assault" course with carbine (AK-47 ) and handgun (Beretta M-9) conducted by Mssrs. Louis Awerbuck and Scott Reitz. We shot all the types on auto glass with ALL kinda weapons. We even sat in the drivers seat and fired thru the windshield at Targets about 21 feet away.I could write a lengthy paper on all that was learned BUT; just sticking to glass, the side windows crumble in one good hit with a centerfire at least most the time being tempered glass. The rear windows are USUALLY laminated to some extent but may be tempered, at any rate at few hits and they are pretty well gone. The windshield takes LOTS and LOTS of hits from whatever to go away, it is however hard to see out of after a hit or two!
The best way to shoot a gun from INSIDE the car to the outside target is to hold the muzzle and inch or two away from the glass and aim at the target. Sure it may be defleted, but most of the shots we did were not deflected much at 7 yards. 9mm, .40 and .45 did about the same As did the .223,7.62 and ..308 at such a short range. Were talking glass here NOT metal!
Oh yeah good eyeprotection is a MUST (wrap around) as a mist of glass powder is produced from shoot thru the winshield.
Scott related that the north hollywood bandits shot thru windshields andtagged a few people, among a few examples!
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Old October 29, 2005, 09:14 PM   #18
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Any front windshield glass is going to be a composite glass with a sandwhich of plastic in between glass panels. Depending on the type of glass and the manufacture determines how thick the plastic is going to be. The front glass is made to deform but not break under stress from an impact to help protect the front occupants. We have special saws in our crash kits to help us cut open windshield glass during extrications. Besides the saws, we can also use a flat-head axe to help cut away the windshield glass in order to do a roof-away extrication. Windshield glass is extremely durable and very tough to punch through unless you have an RPG.

Side glass is different. Side glass is typically tempered glass which is designed to shatter on impact. Tempered glass is made to shatter into extremley small pieces in order to not "dice up" the occupants. Temepred glass will go everywhere on impact but typically do very little traumatic damage to it's occupants. If we were to try and make entry through tempered glass, we would covert he glass in duct tape before "opening" it in order to help more protect the occupants from flying debris.

Automotive glass nowadays is very high tech and in the coming years is going to become more and more difficult to penetrate..
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Old October 29, 2005, 10:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
All the other windows are safety glass, and is made to shatter without sharp edges
Trust me, the edges are plenty sharp, but the pieces are small and are therefore unlikely to cause large cuts. Also, when they shatter, they don't leave shards in the windows to cut you if you needed to climb out, or if a rescuer was trying to get in.
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Old October 30, 2005, 01:07 AM   #20
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THere were some shards in mine

that radiated out from the hole. The entire top of the window was gone (all over me, the van, and the pavement). An area of more or less a semicircle of shards that radiated out from the hole was still intact in the window until I touched it, and then it crumbled outward.

I wonder, in retrospect, if the projectile actually ever penetrated or whether the hole in my seat was already there (from children, can you imagine...?) It was a hole about a quarter inch, maybe a bit more. At any rate, the glass itself generally turned to crumbs but not entirely.

Not a day I ever want to relive, that's for sure.

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Old October 30, 2005, 09:52 AM   #21
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One of the best posts I have read on TFL! Thanks.
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Old October 30, 2005, 11:53 AM   #22
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Quote:
Trust me, the edges are plenty sharp, but the pieces are small and are therefore unlikely to cause large cuts. Also, when they shatter, they don't leave shards in the windows to cut you if you needed to climb out, or if a rescuer was trying to get in.
That about covers it. The glass will shatter into many tiny pieces so that it sctters on impact instead of acting like window glass where it tears into shards that can cause very serious lacerations. The small glass pebbles are still pretty damn sharp and will cut you easily, but they are so small that they wont make very deep lacerations. It will go everywhere upon impact and very little of the glass typically stays intact in the channel of the window. The stuff thats left over in the track can easily be wiped out with a gloved hand and cleared so you can get in or out of the car pretty quickly in an emergency.
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Old October 30, 2005, 05:54 PM   #23
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Side Windows

I think the question has been answered and answered very well. Only will add that in this town (and perhaps others) some of the mutts breaking into vehicles carry and use a spring loaded center punch (like you can buy at Home Depot) and use that tool to shatter the side windows of locked cars and trucks.

Pretty safe item to have in your pocket as it is easy to explain to anyone who asks. Much like the thugs that carry a Phillips screwdriver and not a knife.

John
Charlotte, NC
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Old October 30, 2005, 08:07 PM   #24
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Quote:
I think the question has been answered and answered very well. Only will add that in this town (and perhaps others) some of the mutts breaking into vehicles carry and use a spring loaded center punch (like you can buy at Home Depot) and use that tool to shatter the side windows of locked cars and trucks.
If you want to do it right without attracting too much attention, then you also carry a role of duct tape and duct tape the window before using your punch on it. The tape will hold all the shards together and keep the window from making a lot of noise when you smash it with the punch. We use tape on the window if we can to help keep the shards from splashing all over the occupants when doing an extrication. Works great when you have enough time to use it...
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Old October 30, 2005, 08:24 PM   #25
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I am a mechanic in Minnesota, the bomb squad here has me save the old spark plugs for them.
They use the white part, ceramic or porcelin, I'm not sure which.
They break apart the old plugs and load shotgun shells with plug remains for the sole purpose of breaking glass.
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