How Thick is Bulletproof Glass?
Bullet resistant glass is actually layered material that offers the visibility of glass with enough strength to stop a bullet. How thick does it need to be for a specific application? It depends because the product you need depends on the weapon power being resisted, material type and level or grade but it can range anywhere from 0.25 to 3.5 inches.
Types of bullet resistant glass
Let’s start with the material itself. There are four types:
- Acrylic plastic: weighs half as much as glass and diffuses impact more effectively. Acrylic is tough but can be drilled, cut and otherwise provide stability in bullet resistant systems. It’s typically used indoors.
- Polycarbonate: layered with acrylic and other materials; it’s stronger but weighs 80 percent less than glass and offers greater visibility than acrylic. Polycarbonate intercepts bullets, performing like a catcher’s mitt to absorb impact, and it’s typically used inside facilities.
- Glass-clad polycarbonate: layered polycarbonate sandwiched between glass, giving it high visibility, greater strength, and overall durability. The power of glass-clad polycarbonate is in the layering: at 1” thick, it can stop M16 or AK-47 ammunition, so it is used in dangerous outdoor scenarios, including areas prone to explosions, dangerous weather or other high impact intrusions.
- One way bullet resistant glass: contains an outside layer of glass and interior of polycarbonate that works together to diffuse impact and continually absorb force; used most often in armored cars.
Levels: What type of bullet and force do you need to resist?
Protecting against hunting rifle ammunition requires a different approach than deflecting a 9mm Glock. That’s why glass thickness can range from 0.25 to 3.5 inches to protect against different categories of firepower, for example:
- Small handguns: require level 1 protection for gas stations, retail outlets, and pharmacies
- Large caliber handguns: require level 2 protection for financial institutions
- Super powered handguns: require level 3 protection for high-risk and high-occupancy buildings, including schools and government
- Automatic weapons, assault rifles: require level 4-8 protection for use in military, embassies and high-level government buildings
The art of creating bullet-resistant products for specific applications lies in how material and levels are combined. For example, ¾” of polycarbonate may provide level 1 protection, but another ¼” could elevate protection to level 2. Adding more layers and greater thickness can increase protection up to level 3. What’s critical is to understand your specific industry, patronage (who visits your location) and common and potential threats. It’s this information that helps experts construct the best solution for you.
Analysts expect the bullet resistant glass market to grow nearly 10 percent between 2017 – 2021, accompanied by more sophisticated technology and applications. If your organization is vulnerable, we recommend exploring options in bulletproofing. We’d be happy to discuss your needs; contact us today!