This is a living and breathing article that we update from time to time to ensure we keep a list based on what has been tested.
To be truthful we are generalizing some for the purpose of simplicity. Here are some disclaimers before we dive in:
- Different firearms and calibers of bullets have unique stopping power and potential for penetration depending on their velocity and construction. There is a big difference between a 9mm handgun and an AR-15
- Some bullets for example are jacketed, meaning they are encased in a shell of a harder metal (generally a steel alloy), where as non-jacketed ammunition tends to be a softer lead
- Items in our list are also generalized since there are different types and widths of trees, furniture, walls, etc
- Also we have to consider that even some things that would stop a single shot may not be able to withstand multiple shots
- While some things wouldn't fully STOP a bullet, they may slow it down significantly enough to make it far less lethal than a direct shot
All that disclaimer aside I think this list is at least directional in giving you some sense between what could be truly considered as cover and what is simply concealment at best.
The Bullet Proof Vest shown in many of these videos is the BulletSafe Vest.
Things that Do Or Do Not fully stop a bullet:
1. The Body, Windows, and Door of a Car
Our testing suggests that auto glass may change the trajectory of a bullet but it won't stop it. Neither will the dashboard or steering wheel. The body of the car, like the door, might stop bullets depending on the bullet and the angle of fire. (Learn more in our Vehicle Firearm Tactics Course)
2. The Engine Block of a Vehicle
Engine blocks have always been accepted as good cover and arguably the only part of a vehicle you can consistently rely on to stop bullets.
3. A Sofa
Your sofa doesn't have much going on in there. A lot of empty space and some fluff… it doesn't stop bullets.
4. Motorcycle Helmet
You trust that thing to protect your head at 60+ MPH against the pavement… but it won't stop a bullet. More here: Will a helmet stop a bullet?
5. Computer Tower
6. Tablets and Smartphones
8. Phonebook or Textbook
We recently put some textbooks to the test. Spoiler alert… 1 book won't do the trick. But enough books together would. Full thoughts here: Will books stop a bullet?
9. Badge (looks like it depends on the badge)
10. Ceramic Tiles
11. ATM Machine
Yeah, if available using an ATM for cover looks viable.
12. Wood frame walls (most homes)
Yeah, I wouldn't count on it
14. Thick winter clothing and coat
This video is a good illustration of how thick or how many layers of fabric are needed to stop a bullet.
15. Cast Iron Skillet
17. Metal Door
Well, as you will see from the video below it really depends on what is in the refrigerator. An empty refrigerator isn't going to stop anything. But a full one is pretty likely to do the job.
19. Kitchen Plates
20: Bags of Ice
Sand is fairly dense but how much do you need? Learn More: How much sand do you need to stop a bullet
22. Enough Ceramic Tiles
23. Human Bodies
25. 18 inches of water
26. 10 Jugs of Water
28. A Filing Cabinet full of Paper
There has actually been a lot of research on file cabinets due to their general availability for cover in a workplace active shooter situation. Our research would suggest that an empty file cabinet will not stop most handgun rounds but a filing cabinet full of paper is likely to be effective. The NYPD conducted a study in which they claim a file cabinet stopped rounds from all handgun rounds but the below video shows some an empty file cabinet.
29. Ballistic “Backpack Inserts”
As you will see in the video below some of these are better than others but they all effectively stop handgun rounds.