Types and Uses of Ballistic Shields

If Captain America’s use of a shield to fight bullets seems outlandish in modern times, think again.

Shields have been in use for at least 4000 years and have no sign of letting down their guard any time soon. Ballistic shields are protecting soldiers, SWAT, and police around the world and in the USA every day. Some estimates say they’ve saved 3000 or more lives of law enforcement personnel in the past 30 years.

Want to know what types of ballistic shields there are and what they’re made of? Keep reading to find out!

What Are Ballistic Shields?

Ballistic shields are a modern answer for the dangers that law enforcement and militaries face daily on a modern battlefield.

They’re made in a variety of shapes and sizes for different levels of mobility and protection. For an idea about the different shapes or needs, take a look at the Blueridge Armor ballistic shields collection. It’s representative of shields designed for specific needs in mind.

The materials they’re constructed from differ as well.

In the past, they used to be little more than shaped and formed steel plates. Now, they’re made from carbon fiber, woven aramid fiber(also known as Kevlar), ceramic, and UHMWPE.

The “ceramic” material comes from boron carbide. Boron carbide is one of the hardest materials known to man, coming in right behind diamond.

UHMWPE is also called “polyethylene” armor for short. Its long form name is ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.

Ballistic shields are not riot shields, which are typically clear. They’re for military and law enforcement scenarios that risk unusually high levels of threat to life.

National Institute of Justice Threat Levels

There are six rating levels for body armor, given by the National Institute of Justice, or NIJ.

Level II is meant for body armor that can stop most of the common handgun rounds, including soft armors.

Level III is broken into three separate areas of IIIA, III, and III Lightweight.

Level IIIA is soft or hard armors that also protect against most of the same handgun rounds. But it even includes .44 magnum rounds and can stop 12-gauge shotgun slugs.

Level III takes on common military rifle rounds and will stop rounds with speeds and energy up to 2780 ft/s or feet per second. Level III Lightweight is a special class for UHMWPE and adds M193 rounds to the test.

Level IV is the highest rating level, meant for protective equipment that will stop even armor-piercing rifle ammo in its tracks.

Level III and Level III Lightweight are the most common ratings for shields. Level IV is not required in most situations and only comes out when absolutely necessary.

When Are Ballistic Shields Used

Ballistic shields are used in a variety of situations and roles where absolute protection of yourself or numerous other people is a priority. Some of these situations are:

  • Takedown and ruse tactics
  • Breach and hold
  • Dynamic entries
  • Deliberate entries
  • Surround and call-out

Takedown and ruses are scenarios that you try to catch your subject by surprise. If everything goes well, ballistic shields aren’t necessary. However, things in real life often go astray from the plan and it’s good to prepare for that.

Dynamic entries are knock, announce, breach, and clear operations at speed. You are pressuring your subject without giving them time to think or act. Not only are ballistic shields excellent protection in this scenario, but they also help to intimidate the subjects into submission by overwhelming force.

Many shields have clear visors for vision and optional bright LEDs. The LEDs can be used for vision or for disorienting your subjects.

Shielded: We’ve Got You Covered

Now that you’ve read this guide on ballistic shields, you should have a good idea of your needs and what shield will work for you. If this article did help you, wait to see what we have in store for you next.

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