The Box O’ Truth #29 – The Helmets O’ Truth

Several people have asked me to shoot a new Kevlar helmet. My old buddy Ponyboy finally found a couple and sent them to me to test.

Before we start, let me explain that we are not conducting “scientifically valid” tests on these brain buckets. It is my understanding that the military requires these helmets to withstand a round of 5.56 Ball at 200 yards. I am not certain of all the parameters, but it doesn’t really matter, because I will not be repeating their tests. They already do that one and the helmets passed. We’ll do something different.

Helmets are mostly designed to protect against shrapnel. I don’t have any hand grenades, but I do have some handguns. Today, we’re going to shoot the helmets with some common handgun calibers and see if they will be stopped.

First, the set-up. We will be shooting from about 25 feet.

I’ve placed the helmet on a gallon of water, just to catch anything that penetrates the helmet.

29-1

We’ll start small.

First a round of .22 Long Rifle.

29-2It made an exterior hole in the helmet…

29-3…but didn’t punch through.

29-4Next, a round of 9mm Ball from my Browning Hi Power.

29-5

It also failed to punch through even one side.

We were a little surprised.

It only made a bulge on the inside of the helmet.

29-6How about a round of .45 ACP Ball from my Kimber?

29-7Tman caught the water jug falling, but it wasn’t punctured. Again, a big bulge on the inside, but it held.

29-8

Let’s raise the bar a little.

A round of .357 Magnum, 158 grain JHP, out of my S&W Model 27, with an 8 3/8ths inch barrel.

29-9We expected this one to make it through, but no joy.

Tman caught the helmet in the air, as it bounced a few feet in the air.

But when we checked it…

It didn’t penetrate even through one side.

These things are pretty tough

29-10

Several folks, me included, were surprised that the .357 Magnum didn’t penetrate the helmet.

So, I decided to give it another try.

I loaded up some .357 Magnum, 125 grain JSP (Jacketed Soft Points) to top velocity.

I loaded a maximum charge of Blue Dot to give this bullet it’s best effort.

Here I am shooting it. Ear splitting muzzle blast.

Here I am shooting it. Ear splitting muzzle blast.

It didn’t penetrate, but did something surprising.

The spall that blew out the back caused the water jug to leak.

Look at the water jug in the picture.

That hole was caused by spall blow-out.

I then tried my best effort, a 158 grain hard-cast, gas-checked SWC at maximum velocity.

Loaded Hot!

29-10b

It made a huge bulge in the helmet, but still did not penetrate.

When we got home, we used a Dremel tool, razor knife, and pliers to try to peal back the kevlar to find the bullets, but after about 15 minutes of cutting, we gave up.

One thing for sure, the bullets weren’t even close to penetrating the helmet.

Now, with the 125 grain JSP, the helmet was in contact with the water jug and the spall caused a hole in the jug.

But it did not penetrate the helmet.

Bottom line: These helmets are tough.

Too tough for the mighty .357 Magnum.

A bunch of folks are always asking me to try a CZ-52 in 7.62 X 25.

I got one and we will try it today.

These are supposed to be excellent penetrators.

Here it is.

Here it is.

Here's Tman shooting the helmet. I caught him in full recoil.

Here’s Tman shooting the helmet. I caught him in full recoil.

And here's the results.

And here’s the results.

A hole in the front…

And complete penetration through one side and a busted water jug.

I looked for the bullet, but couldn’t find it.

Just a note on the CZ-52.

We expected a hard kicker and ear-splitting muzzle blast.

It actually wasn’t so bad.

It kicked about like a 9mm +P, and shot pretty accurately.

And it seems that the rumors of good penetration are valid.

29-14

Well, to wrap things up for today, let’s move the helmet back to 50 yards and try a couple of rifles.

First, a round of 7.62 X 39, out of my new SKS.

29-15

As expected, it went through both sides and the water with no trouble.

Notice the exit on the helmet.

29-16Then a round from an AR-15, a M-193 Ball, Tman on the rifle.

29-17

It went through both sides and the water jug.

Notice the small exit hole and the water jug.

Ugly.

29-18

Lessons learned:
  1. Pistols are pistols and rifles are rifles. (Seems like I heard that somewhere)
    The rifles had no problem penetrating at these short ranges.
  2. We were surprised that the 9mm, .45 ACP, and the .357 Magnum were stopped by the helmet.
  3. The 7.62 X 25 seems to be the big penetrator that we heard that it was. We’re going to have to shoot this one some more.
  4. These helmets were tougher than I would have thought. They’re not designed to stop pistol rounds, but seemed to do the job just fine.

It was almost 100 degrees today with 110% humidity here in Southeast Texas. But it was still a fine day at the range.

Thanks to Tman for the photo help and the use of the Truck O’ Truth.