What Can Break Bulletproof Glass?

When it comes to security, the efficacy of bulletproof glass is critical for protecting physical assets, infrastructure, and, most importantly, people. 

So, what can break bulletproof glass?

The term “bulletproof glass” suggests impenetrability, a reassuring notion that requires nuance and transparency. 

It is within this context that the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 752 standard was created. UL 752 applies clearly defined standards to measure resistance against ballistic impacts like bullets, rocks, debris, and other projectiles. The widespread recognition and adoption of the UL 752 standard prove that it is a trusted source for grading security solutions. 

By classifying bullet-resistant materials into separate, distinct levels of protection against ballistic threats, UL 752 enables decision makers to navigate security planning with informed precision.

Each level of UL 752 specifies the type of firearm and ammunition the bullet-resistant material can withstand, including the number of shots fired, bullet speed (feet per second, ft/s), and bullet weight (grain).

Below is a detailed breakdown of UL 752 ratings:

  • Level 1: Protects against a 9mm full metal copper jacket with lead core.
    • Details: 3 shots; 1175-1293 ft/s; 124 grain.
  • Level 2: Designed to stop .357 Magnum jacketed lead soft point.
    • Details: 3 shots; 1250-1375 ft/s; 158 grain.
  • Level 3: Stops .44 Magnum semi-jacketed hollow point.
    • Details: 3 shots; 1350-1485 ft/s; 240 grain.
  • Level 4: Can withstand one shot of .30 caliber rifle lead core soft point.
    • Details: 1 shot; 2540-2794 ft/s; 180 grain.
  • Level 5: Protects against 7.62mm rifle lead core full metal copper jacket, military ball.
    • Details: 1 shot; 2750-3025 ft/s; 150 grain.
  • Level 6: Stops 9mm full metal copper jacket with lead core, specifically designed to defeat high-velocity rounds.
    • Details: 5 shots; 1400-1540 ft/s; 124 grain.
  • Level 7: Designed to resist 5.56mm rifle full metal copper jacket with lead core.
    • Details: 5 shots; 3080-3383 ft/s; 55 grain.
  • Level 8: Protects against 7.62mm rifle lead core full metal copper jacket, military ball.
    • Details: 5 shots; 2750-3025 ft/s; 150 grain.

After reviewing UL 752 standards, it becomes clear that the term “bulletproof glass” does not fully capture the nuances of protection. 

The more accurate terms would be “ballistic glass” or “bullet-resistant glass”.

Ballistic glass is designed to provide a specific level of resistance against bullets, as outlined by the UL 752 ratings. It is engineered to absorb the impact energy of bullets, thereby preventing penetration through the glass. 

However, it’s crucial to recognize that ballistic glass is rated for specific types of firearms and ammunition, reflecting its capacity to resist penetration up to a certain threshold.

The importance of questioning (and understanding) the strength of ballistic glass extends beyond technical details. It ensures that expectations are aligned with reality. This prevents a false sense of security, which can endanger lives. 

The Myth of “Bulletproof Glass”

It is critical to understand that there is no such thing as infallible “bulletproof glass” or ballistic glass. Every material manufactured to resist bullets has its limits. The Hollywood-like idea of impenetrable bulletproof glass gives a false – or even deadly – sense of security. 

The reality is that given sufficient firepower, caliber, or repeated impact, even the highest-rated ballistic glass can be compromised. Awareness and education about the capabilities and limitations of ballistic glass are essential for setting realistic expectations.

Here’s the encouraging news: while “bulletproof” glass in the absolute sense does not exist, bullet-resistant glass laminate offers substantial protection. This advanced material is designed to provide significant resistance against a wide range of ballistic threats. 

Bullet-resistant glass laminate combines multiple layers of glass and polycarbonate materials. This layering creates a composite that can absorb and disperse the energy of the impact of bullets.

Because it is an “invisible” layer of protection, it also catches the attacker off guard and interrupts the attack cycle.  

What Can Break Bullet Resistant Glass Laminate? 

The question “What can break bulletproof glass laminate?” should be replaced by a more strategic query: “What level of protection does our building need?” 

This acknowledges the reality that while no material is invincible, the right application of bullet-resistant laminate technology can elevate security and safety. 

Clear-Armor’s suite of products—SL-15SL-31 Riot, and BR Laminate—offers a range of solutions designed to meet diverse security needs, from deterring burglaries to defending against high-level ballistic threats.

SL-15 Laminate: Robust Protection

The SL-15 laminate represents a foundational level of security, designed to fortify buildings against smash-and-grab incidents, shooter entries, and other forms of forced entry. This laminate:

  • Resists common burglary tools such as baseball bats, rocks, and hammers, effectively buying critical time until authorities can respond.
  • Enhances training outcomes by buying time for the people inside to implement their crisis plan, fostering a resilient environment against threats.
  • Technical Specifications: With a 420 psi breaking strength, 28,500 psi tensile strength, and an 8 psi peel strength, SL-15 significantly outperforms standard safety glass in durability and resistance. It achieves BMAG Level 1 for blast mitigation and meets CPSC 16 CFR for architectural glazing, among other certifications.

SL-31 Riot Laminate: Advanced Defense

Elevating security measures, the SL-31 Riot laminate is engineered to protect environments from more severe threats, including riots and other prolonged attacks. This laminate:

  • Is designed to resist extreme threats, including prolonged and targeted attacks, riots, forced entry, shootings, and smash-and-grabs. Its 31-mil thickness and 1,100-psi breaking strength provide unparalleled protection.
  • Extends protection to riot control scenarios, providing additional time to implement security protocols against organized and prolonged assaults.
  • Beyond its primary protective functions, the SL-31 laminate also offers energy-saving properties, UV protection, and scratch resistance. These ancillary benefits contribute to a more comfortable and efficient environment.

BR Laminate: Highest Level of Security

The BR laminate stands as Clear-Armor’s most advanced security solution, designed to offer the highest level protection against a broad spectrum of ballistic threats. This state-of-the-art laminate embodies the pinnacle of protective technology:

  • One-Way Bullet ResistanceInnovative design allows defensive shots to be fired from within the premises without compromising the laminate’s integrity. This feature is critical in disrupting attackers’ plans, providing a strategic advantage in hostile situations.
  • Diverse Threat Protection: Capable of stopping most common handgun rounds and double 00 buckshot, as well as offering tailored solutions to withstand specific threats, including high-caliber rifle fire. This adaptability ensures that facilities can be fortified against both opportunistic and sophisticated threats.
  • Technical Superiority: The laminate boasts a minimum breaking strength of 1,500+ psi, with thickness and composition designed to meet the security demands of different types of environments. Its tensile strength reaches up to 28,500 psi, with a peel strength of 8 psi, showcasing its robustness and resilience.
  • Ancillary Advantages: BR laminate offers 18% total solar energy rejection, 87% visible light transmission for clear visibility, and 99% UV rejection to protect occupants from harmful UV radiation.

Selecting the appropriate level of protection involves an assessment of potential threats, the value of what is being protected, and the physical vulnerabilities of the premises. 

Bullet-Resistant Glass Laminates: What Are They Really Up Against?

When it comes to defense, bullet-resistant glass laminates are on the frontlines – literally. 

The adversaries of these barriers are not only the high-caliber threats often depicted in the movies. Rather, the threats encompass a broad range of scenarios that pose significant risks to businesses, institutions, and facilities. Among these, forced entry and vandalism stand out as common challenges.

Forced Entry: The Most Prevalent Threat

The most common threat to premises secured by bullet-resistant glass is forced entry. 

This scenario typically involves an assailant’s attempt to breach a barrier with the intent to harm, commit theft, or cause property damage. Commercial retail spaces, religious facilities, and political establishments are often vulnerable, targeted not only for their assets but for the nature of their operations or affiliations. 

This vulnerability demands a security solution that can withstand aggressive attempts at entry while providing a window of time for response measures to be activated.

Environmental Challenges and Vandalism

Beyond the threat of human aggression, bullet-resistant glass laminates are also up against environmental damage and vandalism. Damage from natural disasters can lead to significant financial losses and operational disruptions. For many businesses, especially those with storefronts susceptible to repeated vandalism, the cost of damage can be extensive.

A Testament to Preparedness: The Clear-Armor Case

A real-life example of bullet-resistant glass laminate’s efficacy can be seen in the recent experience of a retail store. This store is part of a large franchise that sells items ranging from clothing to outdoor equipment. 

Prior to implementing Clear-Armor’s 31 mil laminate, this storefront was vandalized on nine separate occasions over a span of 1.5 years, accruing losses upwards of $50,000. The repeated attacks emphasized the need for a security solution.

The store’s large glass panes, measuring just over 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide, presented a unique challenge – the larger the glass, the more vulnerable it is to forced entry attempts. 

However, after the installation of Clear-Armor’s SL-31 Riot laminate, the tide turned. 

Surveillance footage captured another vandalism attempt. Assailants can be seen on security footage wielding a Halligan bar (used to forcibly break windows and dismantle structures), a wrench, and another unidentified object.

The assailants struck the glass over a dozen times. Remarkably, the laminate held, with the glass “swaying” in the footage but ultimately denying entry Time was afforded for law enforcement to arrive, who soon appeared in the backdrop to apprehend the perpetrators.

This instance not only highlights the physical resilience of bullet-resistant glass laminate but also the principle of proactive preparation. 

For workplace establishments, the mantra “better safe than sorry” has never been more true. The installation of bullet-resistant glass laminate is not an admission of expected attack, but a declaration of readiness. 

It’s a strategic choice to shield against both the anticipated and the unforeseen, ensuring that you are protected from any threats that come to the doorstep.

Preparedness, as demonstrated by the protection from Clear-Armor’s glass laminate, is the foundation of true security. 

The Truth About “Bulletproof Glass Uses”

When discussing security, the conversation often tilts toward bulletproof glass as a one-size-fits-all solution. 

However, this perspective oversimplifies the nuances of protection. The true advantage of bulletproof, or more accurately, bullet-resistant glass, is more than the physical barrier. 

The advantage is the gift of time — the critical minutes and seconds during the attack. Every second that keeps the attackers from making entry is a second that buys time for emergency responders to arrive.

Bullet-Resistant Glass: A Time Buyer, Not a Solution

The essential role of bullet-resistant glass is to buy time. 

Time for law enforcement authorities to arrive on the scene and manage the threat with professional precision. 

Time that can mean the difference between chaos and order, harm and safety. 

Time to initiate emergency protocols. 

Time to mount a defense from the inside.

Making your glass bullet resistant creates a buffer, allowing those within its walls to activate their crisis management plans, move to safety, or secure lockdown procedures. 

This reframes the value of bullet-resistant glass from a final line of defense to a critical component of a comprehensive and proactive security solution.

Integrating Crisis Training: The Clear-Armor Approach

Clear-Armor recognizes the value of time in crisis situations and extends its commitment to security beyond the installation of bullet-resistant glass. 

Clear-Armor offers crisis training to ensure that organizations are not only protected by hardened barriers but are also prepared internally to face life-threatening emergencies. This dual approach of “hardening your glass and your people” transforms the security strategy of the establishment.

Crisis training complements physical protection by equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills to respond effectively to threats. 

The solution is not about whether bullet-resistant glass can stop every threat, but about how it safeguards and empowers the people within to implement the crisis plan..

In the face of evolving threats, it is the combination of hardened defenses and prepared people that forms the most effective shield — one that buys time, promotes safety, and upholds security.

SOURCES:

https://www.architecturalarmour.com/tech-spec/bullet-specs/ul752

https://www.usbulletproofing.com/standards/ballistics

https://www.intertek.com/building/standards/ul-752/

Clear-Armor. Interview. Conducted by BrandNV. January 25, 2024. 

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