In most bank robberies, the bandits claim to be armed. In roughly one-quarter of these robberies, bank workers, bystanders, or law enforcement are able to verify that the assailant has a firearm. These percentages have remained relatively stable over the last decade, stubbornly refusing to budge despite ever-harsher penalties associated with using a firearm during a bank robbery.
The one silver lining is that in the vast majority of these cases–over 95 percent–these firearms are handguns. Conventional ballistic transaction windows offer cost-effective protection against handguns and valuable deterrence to would-be bandits.
INSTALLING BANK TRANSACTION WINDOWS
A modern bullet resistant transaction window consists of bullet resistant glazing held in place by a ballistically rated frame, mounted over a counter with an integrated steel deal tray (both are often backed with bullet-stopping DuPont™ Kevlar® fiberglass).
Such transaction windows are often produced as prefabricated drop-in units that can be installed during off-hours by any competent carpenter. In addition to the ballistic transaction window itself, financial institutions reinforce adjacent walls and counters with bullet-resistant fiberglass panels.
TRANSACTION WINDOWS STOP .50 BULLETS
A Level 3 transaction window will handily stop several shots from the most common pistol calibers, including 9mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum.
But what about a .50 caliber pistol, like the famed Smith & Wesson Model 500? These are large handguns–generally weighing in around five pounds and measuring 18 inches from hammer to muzzle–and shoot a bullet almost half an inch in diameter. These hand-cannons have little practical use outside large game hunting and target shooting, but they increasingly turn up at crime scenes–largely because of their reputation in video games and action films.
Although the .50 caliber pistol is intimidating, the bullet’s specs are in the neighborhood of the familiar .44 Mag:
A .50 caliber bullet weighs 20 grams and leaves the muzzle at 1,400 feet per second. By comparison, a .44 Magnum bullet is 16 grams (just a few grams lighter) but likewise travels around 1,400 feet per second. Upon impact, both bullets deliver comparable amounts of force.
According to Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards, although Level 3 ballistic systems are not rated to stop .50 caliber pistol loads, it’s highly likely that a transaction window that can absorb three shots from a .44 Magnum will perform similarly in the face of the cartoonishly outsized Smith & Wesson 500 and its ilk.
Next Steps To Protecting Banks
- Read other blog posts about Bank Security
- Get some information about Transaction Drawers
- Download our Ultimate Guide to Bulletproof Glass and Bullet Resistant Barriers
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