Understanding the distinctions between cover and concealment is crucial for self-defense and effective defensive firearms use. Here we’ll explain what these terms mean, how to identify each and the importance of choosing the right option in a dangerous situation.

What Is Cover?

In simple terms, cover means placing yourself behind something that hides you and protects you from enemy fire. It’s important to consider the type of weapon you’re up against. Cover that works against a concealed carry gun might not be enough if the attacker is using a rifle. Your goal is to choose the most accessible option that offers the best protection possible.

An example would be a large tree as opposed to a parked car. Both may obscure a person’s presence from an attacker, but, in almost every case, the tree will do a better job overall in stopping incoming rounds from reaching the covered person’s position than a car will. To put it as simply as possible, cover stops bullets.

What Is Concealment?

Concealment serves as a hiding spot to keep you out of sight, similar to cover, but it doesn’t offer protection against bullets. While concealment is not as beneficial as cover, it’s better than being fully exposed. Concealment can have its advantages too. For instance, you can engage a known target while staying concealed without impacting the accuracy of your shot.

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On a fundamental level, knowing the difference between cover and concealment, as well as what in your immediate environment presents the best options for protection from incoming rounds, is a significant advantage in a gunfight.

How to Use Cover vs. Concealment

Knowing how to effectively use cover and concealment can be the difference between safety and vulnerability during a high-stress situation. There are some key tactical strategies to keep in mind for cover vs. concealment.

When using cover, maintain an arm’s length distance or about 3 feet from the cover object. This helps you minimize exposure and improve mobility, allowing you to move and react more quickly to changes in your environment. Avoid hugging the cover too closely, as it can actually put you at risk. When you’re too close, you may unintentionally expose more of your body when returning fire, which can lead to unnecessary injuries. Additionally, keeping your distance from cover reduces the risk of injury from ricochets and flying debris, keeping you safer in a gunfight.

As for concealment, the goal is to stay out of sight of your enemy. Choose concealment that hides you well while still allowing you to effectively engage your target from a safe shooting position. Opt for places that offer plenty of opportunities to skew your position but also give you a clear line of sight to your adversary. Being smart about your concealment choices can give you a significant tactical advantage by providing the ability to strike when the moment is right.

Incorporating good habits in using cover and concealment can significantly enhance your tactical effectiveness and safety in high-stress situations. Understanding the advantages of each and choosing the right option can increase your chances of returning home uninjured. Train regularly and apply these principles to stay prepared.

This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by George Harris and Kevin Michalowski.