As we’ve discussed in past posts, fake “bullet proof” glass is not as rare as one might hope. But how do stores end up with these useless installations? Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards has found that there are three roads that end in a fake bullet resistant glass system: fraud, incompetence, and ignorance.
UNQUALIFIED BULLET PROOF GLASS DESIGNERS
Fraud, surprisingly, is the least common in Jim’s experience. He’s seen all sorts of things installed under the delusion that it would stop a bullet–from 3/4-inch hardware-store acrylic to wire-mesh security glass–but rarely any indication that anyone was purposefully pushing below-grade materials on confused on unwary proprietor.
Incompetence is a much bigger problem. As in all things, a little bit of knowledge is often more dangerous than none at all. Contractors with some experience installing bullet resistant glass will be comfortable saying they’ve done “bullet proof installations,” even though they don’t necessarily appreciate the difference between 1” polycarbonate (which will stop a .357 Magnum) and 1” acrylic (which won’t stop anything). These contractors and glaziers are highly likely to inadvertently cut corners or miss important details. For example, even a contractor that properly sources UL-rated Level 1 acrylic (which will stop at least five 9mm bullets) might then frame that bullet proof glass in standard aluminum channels bought at Home Depot (as opposed to using appropriately rated ballistic steel frames). This can totally compromise a bullet resistant system.
IGNORANCE OF BULLET PROOF GLASS
Ignorance, both on the part of contractors and facility owners, is the biggest problem Jim Richards sees. Movies leave everyone with the impression that “bullet proof is bullet proof,” with no difference between a Level 1 system (stops a few 9mm bullets), Level 5 (stops a burst from an AK-47), and a car door (in the movies it’ll stop everything shy of an RPG; in reality it can’t reliably stop a Boy Scout’s .22).
Jim points out that an uninformed buyer is totally at the mercy of the market: “Once it’s installed, if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be hard to notice. That’s the biggest thing we see. Customers haven’t necessarily ever really looked at a bullet resistant glass product before, and likely don’t have a clear idea of what a good or bad installation looks like.”
TRUE BULLET RESISTANT GLASS
The first step for anyone considering a bullet proof glass installation is to get educated. Total Security Solutions offers a variety of free tip sheets and other resources to help business owners, property mangers, and schools come up to speed on the basics of modern bullet resistant security.
- Learn more about bulletproof glass by downloading our 8 Levels of Bullet Resistance infographic
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