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A sheet of Level Three ballistic glass can stop a .44 Magnum bullet, but what if that glass is being held in place by an aluminum frame that can’t? Under normal conditions this is probably OK: It’s rare for even a single shot to be fired during a robbery. But some locations–such as government installations and police stations–face a much greater threat level than your local 24-hour gas station. Surprisingly, many of these facilities end up with bullet proof systems little better than the corner store.
Framing Systems Secure Ballistic Glass
The framing system–those sections of aluminum channel holding the ballistic glass in place–is one of the very few possible failure points in an otherwise seamless bullet resistant installation. But almost none of the nation’s bullet proof companies offers a framing system with true Level 3 stopping power.
As Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards explains it, most fabricators content themselves with “packing” standard aluminum frames and using them in Level 3 applications. “They take a strip of fiberglass, wedge it inside the channel, and glue it with epoxy or construction adhesive or whatever they’re using.” This, theoretically, imparts some bullet stopping–or at least bullet-deflecting–power. But it’s also far too easy to imagine that fiberglass splintering and crimping to the side under the force of a fusillade of bullets, making it possible for a high-caliber slug to squeeze around the edge of the Level 3 ballistic glass.
The True Level Three Framing System
To secure Level 3 ballistic glass, Jim favors a true, rated Level 3 framing system. Drawing on decades of experience gained over the course of installing thousands of custom ballistic glass systems, Total Security Solutions engineers designed the industry’s first and only true Level 3 bullet-resistant framing system. It is made from specially tempered extruded aluminum or 14 gauge milled steel with demonstrated bullet-stopping characteristics. “There’s additional cost–there’s more aluminum than in your standard aluminum channels, for starters–but you have a real product: It’s been sent to UL, it’s been shot, it’s been tested.”
The Right System for the Right Location
Jim worries that there’s a lack of commitment within the industry to the highest level of security and transparency. He recalls being asked to bid on a project retrofitting a police station in California. In doing so, he noticed that a competitor intended to install Level 3 ballistic glass using standard fiberglass-packed aluminum frames. Jim was appalled. “I’m not gonna put two-piece channel packed with fiberglass into a police station.” He allows that there are appropriate settings for a fiberglass-packed frame–for example, it might be suitable in a retail setting, where a cost-conscious customer needs ballistic glass more for its deterrent qualities than bullet-stopping power. “But when you’re dealing with some of these government buildings, GSA buildings, or police facilities, that’s not the place to nudge the bottom line down at the cost of security.”