In order to unravel the damage mechanisms occurring in composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) subjected to crash conditions, a combined experimental-numerical study has been performed. For the purpose of generality and simplicity, quasi-static contacts on filament-wound cylinders are considered in this paper, as a precursor for geometrically complex impacts on COPVs. Rings with different wall thicknesses are tested to assess how failure mechanisms change when transitioning from thin-wall to thick-wall cylinders. The experimental results are used to identify, which mechanisms occur, and the numerical model is subsequently exploited to analyze the corresponding mechanisms. Based on the understanding of the mechanisms, a method to improve the damage tolerance of thick cylinders is presented. The rings are locally pre-delaminated during manufacturing to promote the growth of these pre-delaminations instead of the initiation of fiber failure.