The difference between cover and concealment is one of the most misunderstood principles in the self defense. When evaluating the use of cover and concealment, we need to understand what they mean and how to identify them. Let’s look at the difference between cover and concealment.

Cover: Will stop/deflect rounds for at least a small time. This splits it into two categories, hard and soft. The method of use would be to expose as little of yourself as possible and never fight from the same side twice in a row, if you have a choice. Keep it random and keep your eyes open to your surroundings. Security is 100% for a reason.

Hard Cover: Will reliably provide protection/deflection against most types of projectiles for a while, if not indefinitely. Some manmade forms of cover such as steel can protect against small arms indefinitely. This is evident by the heavily armored vehicles that the military currently uses. The best hard cover comes in the form of natural cover, which would be good old earth. This is why sandbags are preferred when protecting stationary structures. Nice compact earth has been the best choice for protection for centuries.

Soft Cover: will provide some protection/deflection from projectiles for a certain time. Good for quick response in-between hard cover positions. The best example of man made soft cover would be a vehicle. Some parts of the vehicle offer good protection, but they tend to be very small and generally should be considered only temporarily. A natural example would be boulders and even trees in some cases. Boulders are a deflection risk and should only be used for a short time. Boulders can be shattered by high enough calibers.

Concealment: Provides visual obstruction from target. There is partial concealment and full concealment. This is visually based and has no effect on the bullet. This is merely good for you to spring an ambush or for a way to distract while moving. If they can’t see you, they can’t hit you unless you just stay still. Movement is your friend when working with concealment.

Partial concealment: Your pattern is partially broken up and they can’t quite make out your whole body. If you are still, you won’t easy to spot. It is best to wear a camouflage that blends with your specific environment. There are few examples of manmade objects that provide this type of concealment. The best natural example is light to medium foliage within a tree line.

Full concealment: Your pattern is completely concealed and are invisible to the naked eye. Not as necessary for camouflage patterned clothing. Best concealment would be a field of grass or brush, but the bad thing is that you can’t see through the concealment either. Not the best situation to be in if your relatively close to your contacts.

Recognizing cover and concealment and using them quickly and correctly has saved more than one life.  Learn and live.

by David Donchess

David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.

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