The Box O’ Truth #58 – Homemade X-Ray Film Bullet Proof Vests

I short while back a friend of the Box O’ Truth sent me an email.

“I’ve been a fan of your site for a long time and wanted to reach out.
I recently visited the antigovernment protests in Bangkok and was able to talk them into selling me some of the homemade body armor that they make using old x-ray film for plates.
I would like to send one of the vests to you for testing.”

I told him I would be glad to test it.

He also sent me this short quote from a newspaper:

“Violence towards protesters, especially their guards, has prompted rally-goers to find new ways to protect themselves. Anti-government protesters make homemade bulletproof vests from used X-ray film at their protest site. The vests are on sale for 700 baht.”

I checked in Wiki and found that 32 baht (their local currency) = $1 US dollar. That means these vests cost about $22 US. That’s fairly cheap as bullet proof vests go, if they work. That’s a big “if”.

Well, I got the vest and here’s what it looks like.

It has panels in the front and in the back that have approximately 50 x-ray negatives in them.

They are approximately ½ inch thick in total.

We have seen a vest made from multiple layers of Kevlar in this post.

But that was Kevlar, a material manufactured to stop bullets.

This vest is made of old x-ray negatives. Will it work?

Only one way to find out.

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We set up a big sand bag as a back-stop and mounted the front of the vest over the bag.

First, a .22 pistol.

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It was stopped and did not penetrate through the front of the vest.

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I found the bullet.

Here it is.

Here it is.

Next, a low velocity .38 Special full wadcutter, doing about 750 fps.

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It was also stopped, and did not penetrate the x-rays at all.

I was surprised.

Here’s the recovered bullet.

Here’s the recovered bullet.

How about a 9mm JHP?

Here I am shooting it with my Glock 17.

Here I am shooting it with my Glock 17.

It penetrated the vest…

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and then made a hole in my old sand bag.

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Next, a let’s try an old standard, a lead 158 grain .38 Special RNL bullet at 850 fps.

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To my surprise, it didn’t make it through.

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Here’s the flattened bullet. Who wodda thunk it?

Here’s the flattened bullet. Who wodda thunk it? 

Well, how about a 9mm Ball round?

I turned the vest around and shot the back.

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It punched a hole right through the vest.

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It also killed my sand bag. I’m gonna need more duct tape.

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While not designed for high power rifle, let’s try a 5.56 NATO out of our favorite rifle system.

I placed some old tee shirts between the front and the back…

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and shot it with standard M-193 Ball.

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It went through both sides of the vest, and was on its way to Oklahoma when last seen.

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Here’s the hole as it exited the second layer.

And here’s the hole it ripped in the x-rays.

And here’s the hole it ripped in the x-rays.

 

Conclusions:
  1. I am always learning things about guns. I honestly expected it to maybe stop a .22 LR, but never thought it would stop a .38 Special.
  2. It stopped the lead bullets that were going less than 900 fps. My friend had asked me if it might stop buckshot. It might, at 50 or 60 yards after the buckshot has slowed down a bit. That is, the vest might stop the buckshot that hit the vest. Of course, at 60 yards, there is going to be a big spread with buckshot, and the pellets that miss the vest and hit you in the throat are going to ruin your day.
  3. Jacketed center fire cartridges tested had no trouble penetrating the vest. I guess you get what you pay for, and you don’t get much for $22.
  4. And, as we all know, pistols are pistols and rifles are rifles. It takes a lot of vest to stop a center fire rifle.

Thanks to my friend that sent me the vest. And thanks to doc540 for the help with taking the pictures.

It’s fun to shoot stuff.

 

3 Comments on The Box O’ Truth #58 – Homemade X-Ray Film Bullet Proof Vests

  1. The answer of an exterp. Good to hear from you.

  2. Dario Pedrajo // June 5, 2016 at 8:40 am // Reply

    Very interesting test. I wonder if you doubled the x-ray film to 100 whether it would make a big difference. 1 inch would not be too thick to wear it.

  3. Karl Knechtel // October 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm // Reply

    I notice you didn’t try any .38 jacketed or semi-jacketed bullets. since the 9mm jacketed penetrated, I’m wondering if the .38 jacketed or semi-jacketed would penetrate as well (I’m thinking that they should).

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