5 Defensive Scenarios: When To Get Out Of The Car


In many concealed carry courses, instructors will usually advise that when people are approaching your car – stay in the car.  And in some cases, this is a good strategy.  It works really well when you can hit the gas.  We’re going to go through a few different iterations of when it’s a good idea to get out of your car versus when you should stay in.

Carjackings are tricky things.  Sometimes they start off rather innocuous – a man or men approaching your vehicle, then snatching you up out of your car.  Sometimes, it’s far more direct – a guy running up and shoving a gun in your face while he’s pulling you out.

There’s a lot of variations in between and they will continue to happen.  So we might as well work out a few strategies to even the odds a little.

Ground Rules:

  1. Always lock your doors while you’re operating the car.
  2. Always maintain situational awareness while at stop lights everywhere.
  3. If possible, keep your concealed carry firearm on your person.  It should go where you go.
  4. If in close quarters, don’t reveal the location of your firearms unless you have every intention of using them right then.  It would be best if your attacker never knew you had one – ideally because you’ve used it successfully.

1.  You Can Still Physically Drive

If you’ve pulled up to a stop light and you see a few guys approaching your vehicle and it doesn’t look right – hit the gas.  Just hit it.  If you get pulled over three streets later by a police officer, explain the situation.  It’s better to get a ticket than to risk your life.  Even if you don’t get stopped, inform police of the time, date, location, number of potential assailants, and any amount of description.  Even that much helps out.

Even if you’re armed and can get your concealed carry pistol at the ready, there’s no guarantee you do better than them.  You’re a fish in a barrel while you’re in the driver’s seat – your attackers likely have some room to maneuver.

  • Stay In Vehicle? Yes
  • Concealed Firearm Needed? No

2.  You Can Drive And Someone Puts A Hand On Your Steering Wheel

This is actually the best possible thing an attacker could do – for you.  Because you’re going to grab his hand and hit the gas.  No one wants violence.  No one wants some medieval crap to go down.  That wasn’t your call.  That was his.  And for people reaching into your vehicle to take control of it – outside of law enforcementthey’re rarely doing it for your own good.  Hold on tight and roll to a complete stop when you feel the threat has subsided.

  • Stay In Vehicle? Yes
  • Concealed Firearm Needed? No

3.  Someone Jumps In Your Passenger’s Side Seat

Here’s where it gets tricky.  The big question you need to ask yourself is – where is your gun?  If it’s on you – exit the vehicle.  If you can quickly pull it and exit – do so.  Otherwise, if the attacker is closer to your firearm than you are – clear the vehicle and put as much distance as you can between yourself and him.  You do not want to get locked up in a close quarters hand-to-hand fight stuck in a passenger’s seat with your seat belt on.

  • Stay In Vehicle? Yes
  • Concealed Firearm Needed? Yes

4.  Someone Jumps In The Backseat

Trickier, still.  If you have your safety belt on and you’re stopped and someone jumps in your backseat behind you, you’re certainly up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  If the carjacker or attackers don’t know you’re armed – keep it that way.  Use timing to your advantage and wait for an opportunity.  If possible, give yourself as much distance as possible.  If your firearms are in your center console, it’s going to be a hard day.  If your concealed carry pistol is on your waistline and it’s not exposed – keep it there until you have as much time as you need to remove it and use it.  Close quarters with your attacker seated in the seat behind you is extremely risky business.

  • Stay In Vehicle? You probably won’t have much of a choice.
  • Concealed Firearm Needed? Likely…

5.  Someone Has A Gun Pointed At Your Head

Your car can serve as cover.  If you’re behind two car doors worth of material, you stand a decent shot of avoiding the majority of most smaller caliber, non-overpressurized rounds.  Have drivers escaped this sort of situation before?  Sure.  In one case, a guy leaving his bank found himself staring face to face with a robbers pistol while he was in the driver’s seat.  He floored it and ducked down, hoping to use distance and the full mass of his vehicle to his advantage.  It worked out.  It’s also extremely dangerous.  Once guns are already drawn and at close range, your options are very, very limited.

  • Stay In Vehicle?  At that point, you may as well comply.
  • Concealed Firearm Needed? If the opportunity presents itself.

The biggest obstacle to any of these situations is the amount of time you have to react.  That time increases with observation.  If you’re distracted, not checking your mirrors, not keeping your head on a swivel, you paint yourself into a very tight corner.

Of course, every situation will be different. If you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation such as these, use your best judgement and do what you feel is necessary to survive.

About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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