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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been inspired by talk of homemade bulletproofing to consider the question of how it might best be done.

The basic challenge behind bulletproofing is that you have a fair amount of energy coming in on one narrow front, and you want to absorb, disperse or redirect that energy without greatly affecting what you want to protect.

Plastic deformation is one option, with a bullet deforming as well as a plate of steel (for example) deforming. Both items convert the kinetic energy into the work of deformation, and when the energy is exhausted penetration stops.

Dispersion is another option (although we can presume that in most cases significant plastic deformation of a bullet will occur as well) when a bullet hits something like water, gel, or even sand. The part which receives the impact transmits energy in all directions, rapidly reducing the concentration of incoming energy.

Deflection, often interpreted as a ricochet, changes direction but doesn't necessarily greatly reduce the projectile's velocity, so in the absence of something else to take the impact it is probably not wise.

I had some notion of slips of steel sandwiched in a quilted kevlar (or other aramidic cloth) garment, but then I thought of layering steel scales to get good coverage, and then my mind filled with a million ideas.

Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The way I was thinking, penetration is a function of a number of factors. Sectional density and momentum are big ones.

So in principle, if I could somehow catch the entire momentum (this is not realistic) and distribute it across someone's entire frontal profile, even a .50BMG would mostly just feel like a shove. Uncomfortable, but in no way lethal. Alternatively, if I could hold a five pound cast iron cannonball directly in front of the round, it would probably not penetrate at all, and the motion of the cannonball would be easily handled.

So let's say I had a couple of material technologies:
  • An easily distorted but substantially impenetrable tissue or fabric. By itself, not very helpful because a bullet on hitting it would simply drag the material into my tender, tender flesh before it comes to a halt. Still a nasty wound from my perspective.
  • An ablative item which shatters, or flies around like birdshot on being hit by a bullet, but which in the process sucks up a lot of kinetic energy by turning it into work. Not great by itself, but maybe it will convert a deep wound into a shallow one.
  • An elastic layer which can catch and absorbe light impacts, or by plastic deformation greatly reduce penetration.

Somehow combining these technologies sounds more useful than bulking up any one of them. First, a layer of the cloth over the ablative layer, holding it together (kevlar and birdshot, perhaps) over another layer of the cloth, which then encapsulates a plate of the third (suitably tempered steel, perhaps). The bullet flies along, hits the kevlar, tears it up, but also flattens a lot and loses a bunch of energy hitting the birdshot. If a spitzer bullet, it might even start the bullet yawing. The birdshot and mangled bullet tear up the second layer of kevlar, and deliver their momentum to a steel plate which buckles and distributes the bullet and birdshot's reduced momentum over a wider area, perhaps four square inches.

If the bullet was a .50BMG three feet from the muzzle, it wouldn't help much. If it's a .17 varmint round, it might not even raise a bruise. A .44 Magnum might crack a rib but I don't think it'd penetrate.

Anyway, that's my line of thought.
 
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