A common and clichéd line from everything from old westerns to sci-fi television shows and movies to even some cartoons. But while entertaining, it is a tactical issue to be understood in the event of an SHTF event that leads to WROL. Even without this it’s just possible to be caught in the middle of a crime or other act of violence. Knowing the difference can truly save your life!
“Concealment” is something that will hide you from being seen. A bush, a garbage can, an overturned table, a blanket – anything you can hide in, under, or behind that will hide you from immediate view is concealment. It may be possible to see you upon second look (like under a blanket or behind an opaque screen) however, especially to a trained eye. However, concealment does not necessarily include things that will protect you from ballistic attack.
“Cover” is anything that will readily stop a bullet. A metal dumpster, a fire hydrant, a telephone pole or lamp post, a car’s engine block (in most cases anyway), a mound of sand or dirty, a boulder, — anything that is dense enough to readily stop a bullet from reaching you. It may absorb the bullet (i.e. the bullet becomes imbedded in it) or deflect it away, but the result is the same.
The most important thing to remember is:
Cover can be concealment, but concealment is not always cover!
For example, crouching down behind a fire hydrant is good cover (a hydrant is a rather solid case of metal). But even a small adult will likely still be seen with exposed arms and legs while keeping the head and torso protected.
By contrast, as frequently shown in old ‘Wild West’ movies, hiding behind an overturned table will block you form view. But no way that will stop even a small caliber bullet! (Much less the 30 and 40 calibers commonly used in the 19th century!) And don’t forget that most walls and doors in a home are not bullet proof even for a .22LR unless by shear change it strikes a pipe or a very solid stud.
This difference is important as the term “cover” is frequently used to mean “concealment”. That’s OK as long as you understand that hiding yourself from view doesn’t mean you’re safe from ballistic attack. If you are part of a group, or even just your own family’s plans, everyone must know this difference.