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Most people trying to secure a small office start with bulletproof glass but quickly discover it’s an intimidating topic. Not only is the rapidly changing threat landscape scary, but there is also a disorientingly broad array of bulletproof solutions. When you take into account the varying levels of security, performance capabilities, materials, and compositions, there are hundreds of options available. Fortunately, most offices—utility payment offices, local units of government, credit unions, small banks, even private businesses—need basically the same windows.
Bulletproof Office Window Basics
Here’s what you need to know:
First things first, no window is truly bulletproof. “Bulletproof” is a casual term. People slap it on everything from heavy hoodies to coffee recipes to blackjack schemes. Ballistic building materials are “bullet-resistant.” They are lab tested against the UL 752 specification “Standard for Bullet-Resisting Equipment.” A given material or component (such as a bulletproof window) is rated 1 through 8. In a nutshell: Levels 3 and below stops bullets fired from pistols; Levels 4 and above stop those fired from rifles as well as those fired from pistols.
Almost every office needs Level 3 LP-1250 or below. LP-1250 “glass” is made from polycarbonate—a dense plastic. In contrast to more rigid bullet-resistant plastics, polycarbonate tends to “swallow” bullets, rather than deflecting them. It doesn’t chip when shot, and bullets tend not to ricochet off of it. In addition to stopping bullets, it also carries a forced-entry rating, and even has some inherent blast-resistant qualities. In other words, in addition to easily stopping every sort of handgun, LP-1250 also offers some protection against explosions, extreme weather, vandalism, and looting.
Bulletproof Glass, Office Windows, and Assault Rifles
Many offices come in saying they “need to be able to stop an assault rifle” (i.e., “go Level 8”). Although you see a lot of tactical rifles in the news, we want to stress that it is extremely unlikely that a small office needs Level 8 ballistic security. Level 8 materials are extremely thick and heavy. This doesn’t just make the materials more expensive but increases the overall cost of the installation. If you’re going Level 8 with a renovation, you’ll need to reinforce walls and counters to handle the additional weight. We design, fabricate, and install many Level 8 systems. Such systems are almost always for government facilities, foreign dignitaries, and the like. These individuals and organizations face specific known threats with high-powered assault rifles.
If it helps you rest easier, please keep in mind that Total Security Solutions embraces an extremely high level of construction and quality. As a result, our bullet-resistant windows, doors, and barriers regularly perform well over their rated capacity. When we sell a door that “stops three shots from a .44 Magnum,” that is the bare minimum. In practical terms, that door will generally stop dozens of shots from significantly more powerful guns.
Buyer Beware: There Are No Shortcuts
Finally, a word of warning: In recent years, as security concerns have mounted globally, there’s been a great deal of interest in low-cost “bulletproof films.” These are after-market window treatments added to existing standard glazing. They’re akin to privacy films or full-window decals.
To be blunt: These treatments do not stop bullets. Labeling them as “bulletproof” is extremely misleading. They do so based on very casual use of the term or very unrealistic testing conditions. Aftermarket films are an excellent way to increase the security of existing glass by making it more resistant to vandalism, forced entry, blasts, and extreme weather. But there is no film on the market that has been tested and rated to any meaningful bullet-resistant standard.
You can learn more about our bullet-resistant security products and their varying protection levels on our product page.