If you take a 17-year old microwave out of storage and pop in your favorite frozen dinner, would the microwave perform like it was in its prime? I’m not sure; I’ve never attempted it.
But, if you take a 17-year old ballistic shield and decide to shoot a variety of handgun rounds at it, would the shield perform like it was in its prime? Actually, I do have an answer for this one!
A few months ago, Tony Gonzalez, a certified shield instructor with the Safariland Training Group, received an email from Officer Jacob Gaines of the Ruston Police Department in Ruston, LA. Gaines completed our Shield Instructor’s Course and was excited to share the news of a shield class he taught his department.
Prior to the department training, the Ruston SWAT team discovered a PROTECH® Defender Type IIIA shield they purchased in 1996. “Naturally”, since the warranty was expired, the team decided they should take it out to the range and see how the 17-year old shield would perform. (This reminds me of my childhood days when I would take my GI Joe and see how it would perform under extreme conditions - know what I mean?)
Excited to rip apart the 17-year old shield, the team didn’t hold back and they first shot the shield with approximately 150-175 duty rounds including a 9mm, .40 cal and .45 cal. Thinking that perhaps they had penetrated the shield, the team examined the Defender and realized that it had stopped every round, demonstrating multi-hit capability not only in the shield body, but also in the viewport.
Feeling pretty confident and eager to put the shield to its limits, the guys took an MP5 9mm on full-auto from about 12 feet away, pumped four rounds of a 00 Buck and fired two 1300 fps high velocity slugs and again, the Defender stopped every round, including multiple hits to the viewport. Talk about impressive!
Finally, the team decided to push the shield beyond its limits and shot the shield with two rifle rounds that the handgun-threat Defender shield is not rated to stop - a .223 55 grain round at a velocity of approximately 3,000 fps and a .17 HMR round traveling at approximately 2,500 fps, which ultimately penetrated the shield.
“Needless to say, everyone including myself was very impressed and has even more confidence in the use of the shield,” said Officer Gaines.
Dan McNeil is Director of PROTECH® Tactical, a brand of The Safariland Group. Through various roles including sales, technical support and category management, he’s been a leader in the hard armor and tactical armor industry for more than 20 years.
Tony Gonzales is a 30-year veteran of the Houston Police Department with 17 years as a full time SWAT team member. He started with The Safariland Group in 2008 and is currently a Senior Technical Training Instructor with the Safariland Training Group.
Jacob Gaines has been an officer with the Ruston Police Department in Ruston, Louisiana for four years starting in patrol. He is currently a member of the SWAT Team.