Shooting Through Glass

Spec Ops Shooting

Ultimate Firearms Training Guide

Get Instant Access

The medium through which a sniper most often could be required to shoot is glass. Unlike other barriers, you can actually observe and verify a target through glass, and this would seem a reasonable shot to attempt. But

Bebe Gun Shooting Through Window

placing an effective, neutralizing shot through glass is no simple matter, for it's more complex than it appears.

Consider the glass itself. It can be 1/8-inch, soda-ash glass in an old urban house, so brittle a BB gun would penetrate, or a multilayered, half-inch, laminated door at a supermarket. A car windshield's safety glass is a sandwich of glass holding a layer of Butacite PVB, yet the same car's side windows are thin safety glass that shatter to bits when struck by a bullet. Newer snowbelt homes have double-layer glass windows with the space benveen filled by inert gas as an insulator. Then there's tempered glass, heat-treated to make it stronger, which also gives it a harder surface. And how about so-called, "bulletproof" glass, made from Lexan polymer? All these can have varying thicknesses, too.

Here's the first rule of thumb in glass penetration: do not plan on using a hollowpoint, match bullet. Many tests have been conducted—including my own tests at Gunsite and shots I've observed with the Minneapolis Police Department—that leave no doubt that this round is not suitable because it's likely to break up or deflect due to its bullet design. The 168-and 175-grain BTHP Match bullets offer superb accuracy, but they were never intended to penetrate glass or barriers.

I used to advise the same when it came to glass shooting with any .223 bullet, but the fielding of new penetration ammo has persuaded me otherwise. I've personally tested the Federal .223 Tactical Load at the factory, live-firing it through a windshield into a gelatin block at 100 yards. As shown in the accompanying photos, this 55-grain bonded bullet retained 99+ percent of its weight (54.5 grains) and deflected less than 1 MOA when fired 90 degrees into the windshield. My second shot, fired at a more ballistically challenging 45 degrees into that laminated glass, retained 29.5 grains, then penetrated a gelatin block some 10 inches.

Both Federal's .223 load—also available in a 62-grain version—and its bigger .308 Tactical Load use a special bullet that's molecularly

This bullet hole through a glass window in Ramadi, Iraq, marks where U.S. Marines shot an insurgent sniper. Note HMMWV through bullet hole.

bonded to the jacket so that, even though it mushrooms, the lead corc remains nearly whole after impact.

At Gunsite we tested die .308 Tactical Load extensively, requiring that each law enforcement student fire it cold-bore using the same zero as his normal 168-grain Match. About half our students experienced some degree of zero shift (almost never more than 1 MOA), and they found their groups opened up to about 1 MOA. Thus, each student learned, he could switch

rounds the author fired through a car windshield.

Shooting Through Windshield

At Gunsite. about half our students saw a zero-shift when switching from 168-gram Match (right group) to 165-grain

Tactical Load (left group). Note larger group, too.

Police sniper Chris Mayer and the author inspect results of firing a 165-grain bonded bullet into passenger window.

Federals 55-grain ,223 bonded bullet, showing (L-R) lead core, jacket, cutaway view, assembled bullet, and two

rounds the author fired through a car windshield.

At Gunsite. about half our students saw a zero-shift when switching from 168-gram Match (right group) to 165-grain

Tactical Load (left group). Note larger group, too.

Police sniper Chris Mayer and the author inspect results of firing a 165-grain bonded bullet into passenger window.

thai—after taking into account the zero shift—it didn't vary from the match more than 1/2 MOA out to 300 yards.

One interesting glass-piercing load I received from a German police sniper is a .300 Winchester Magnum with a 155-grain solid-copper alloy bullet with grooves cut into the dp, sort of like a drill bit. There's nothing like it in America. Another interesting European bullet is Lapua's Forex, available in a 185-grain .308 load and a 260-grain .338 Lapua Magnum round. The Forex bullet is precision-machined on a CNC lathe and incorporates a hollowed base to ensure it flies nose-heavy to reduce deflection when it hits glass.

Actually, all the barrier-penetrating rounds covered in Chapter 5 offer glass-penetrating capability, especially the military ball rounds. Additionally, however, ball ammo raises the issue of overpenetration, which may endanger hostages or bystanders beyond your target.

When a bullet impacts glass as an angled shot, police sniper tests reveal, it tends to turn somewhat inward into the same angle it was traveling instead of being deflected. Theo-Federal and Hornady offer special glass-penetrating, retically, one edge of the bullet touches first, bonded bullet loads in .223 and .308. which probably causes friction and pulls the

This German .300 WinMag, 155-grain copper alloy solid has drill bit-like grooves cut into its nose.
Sniper Solid Edge

least two simultaneous shots. The first breaks glass—losing much of its lethality, it's theorized—while the second projectile passes through cleanly to neutralize the suspect. The only problem is that it depends on the kind of glass—great against a car windshield and probably ordinary window glass in a home, but not as certain for the thicker glass in a commercial building, which can vary considerably.

Actually, when it comes to penetrating glass in commercial buildings, multiple snipers ready to back a sniper's initial shot with instant follow-up shots may be the surer strategy. Perhaps this is the second point I should emphasize: a sniper taking a shot through glass should, whenever possible, be backed up by at least one more sniper.

A Special Ops friend familiar with overseas incidents brought to my attention the very real danger of secondary missiles—glass shards and pulverized fragments—that can injure or kill


J; i 'Jj^E

% * * *

* •

A high-speed camera captures the instant that a Federal Tactical Load bullet pierces this plate glass. Hazards of secondary shards and pulverized glass are very clear.

bullet slightly inward. To minimize this effect, it's best to shoot dead-on, as close to perpendicular to the glass surface as possible.

Another suggested technique is to employ at hostages. Recent tests have found that these secondary missiles generally follow the path of the bullet and must be taken into account when planning a hostage-rescue shot. I recall a live-fire training exercise with the Minneapolis Police Department's Emergency Response Unit, where a sniper fired a round into a condemned house's living room. Though his bullet flew true, a jacket fragment penetrated 1 inch into a sandbag quite a distance laterally— which could have caused a serious or lethal soft-tissue wound.

According to the U.S. Marine Corps, a 7.62mm ball round generates a shotgun-like cone pattern of fragments and shards after penetrating glass. Elaborate tests determined that the bullet's copper jacket rips away, while the lead core remains largely intact and continues generally on the same path after penetration.

My knowledgeable sniper friend Neal Terry believes that in addition to firing perpendicular to the glass surface and aiming for the largest target area on the suspect, it's best to shoot when the suspect is as close to the glass as possible, both to reduce the possibility that deflection could cause a miss and to lessen the danger to hostages from secondary missiles.

Before attempting a shot through glass, I'd recommend that you know exactly what kind of glass is involved and experiment with similar material so you can anticipate the likely results. I've found that local glass suppliers often will provide samples gratis for such worthwhile experiments.

Should a police sniper attempt a shot through glass? If hostages are at risk and there's no better solution, absolutely. My recommendation is not that you avoid such shots; it's only that you understand the risks and idiosyncrasies when forced to shoot glass so that, to the degree possible, the odds are with you.

Was this article helpful?

+3 -4
Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

Get My Free Ebook


  • tomacca
    How often do police shoot through glass?
    8 years ago
    How to do a bullet shooting through glass experiment?
    8 years ago
  • bradley
    Can a sniper shoot through glass?
    6 years ago
  • mildred
    How do snipers shoot through glass?
    4 years ago
  • CAIO
    What kind of ammunition makes bullet holes in car windows?
    3 years ago
  • ruaridh
    Can a snioer gun penetrate into a bullet proof car?
    3 years ago
  • Bruna
    How does sniper bullet penetrate glass without breaking?
    2 years ago
  • habaccuc
    Can 175 gr lapua scenar penetrate glass?
    2 years ago
    How to shoot through a loophole?
    2 years ago
  • iiro
    How effective is shooting through glass?
    2 years ago
  • j
    Can total stations shoot through glass?
    2 years ago
  • Arturo Bergamaschi
    Do you need to aim high or low when shooting through a windshield?
    11 months ago
  • rosamunda
    Can you shoot a rocket through tempered glass?
    9 months ago
  • Aija
    Can tempered glass separate copper jacket from lead core?
    7 months ago
  • amie
    How accurate is a snipers shot through glass rather than open view?
    5 months ago
  • kerr
    Can a sniper bullet go through tempered glass?
    3 months ago
    How accurate is shooting around through window?
    3 months ago
  • ailidh
    How thick of glass can a 22 shoot thru?
    2 months ago
  • lalia
    Can a sniper's bullets break double reinforced glass?
    2 months ago
    When shooting through glass which hole is bigger entry or exist?
    1 month ago
  • Larry Ramsey
    Can you shoot a sniper bullet through glass?
    18 days ago

Post a comment