There are several types of bullet resistant glass products available, each offering unique qualities and characteristics.While there’s no truly “bulletproof” glass that can withstand an unlimited amount of ballistic impact, these bullet resistant solutions are made to provide a strong source of protection.  Each product varies in thickness, weight, material type, optical and thermal properties, as well as level of bullet resistant protection it provides. There isn’t a singular solution that is going to work for every situation, so it’s important that you carefully consider the exact requirements of your application before making a purchase, be it for company headquarters, government building, educational facility, or financial institution.  Listed below are a few of the most important things to consider when selecting the right bulletproof glass options.

Level of Protection

No glass or glazing system is truly bulletproof. However, there are many types of bullet resistant materials available that provide extra protection from specific types of ballistic threats. Some materials are tested to withstand projectiles from small arms weapons, while others provide protection from higher velocity assault rifles.  Levels 1 through 3 protect against small arms weapons, such as a handgun, and stop projectiles up to a .44 magnum, while levels 4 through 8 offer protection from rifles and higher velocity projectiles up to a 7.62mm.

The UL 752 standard defines the testing requirements for each level of protection and is used to test bullet resistant components, including glass, framing, doors and the like. The test is conducted in a controlled laboratory environment in which 12” x 12” samples are shot from 15’ away.  In order to pass, the projectile must not penetrate through the material and cannot create spalling (or fracturing) on the protected side. The type of projectile, as well as its weight, velocity and number of rounds used during testing, determine the level of protection. Before searching for bullet resistant products, it is important to assess what type of protection is needed for your specific application.

Interior vs. Exterior

To determine the threat level, you will need to consider precisely which part of your building needs protection. For example, in a government facility with windows on the ground level facing the exterior, it creates a vulnerability.  Let’s say the windows are facing a poorly lit parking lot with little to no shrubbery, it is likely an assailant could easily walk up without notice and without obstacle, and would not be seen carrying a higher powered assault weapon or could even fire from long range distance.  In this scenario, a higher level of protection would be recommended. In comparison, if you need to protect an employee at a payment window within a courthouse with a metal detector or where armed guards are on duty, it is less likely that a shooter will be able to gain access through the entrance with a large rifle without being noticed. So in this case, glass products that meet the lower levels of ballistic protection, UL 752 levels 1 through 3, may suffice.

After completing a threat assessment and determining the level of protection, you may also need to include other characteristics of the glass.  For instance, exterior windows may require insulation or thermal protection which may reduce the type of products to choose from since not all bullet proof glass can be insulated.  On the other hand, for an interior application, clarity may be most important, so you also may want to choose a product offering water-like clarity instead of glazing materials with a slight tint.

Practical Needs

Of course, you must also consider the specific form and function that the glass system must offer in order to meet your needs. For example, financial institutions that require tellers to interact with customers likely need a system that allows for voice transmission as well as a secure way to pass paperwork. Other types of businesses may also require a larger pass through for products or packages. For these needs, you can find accessories to include with your bullet resistant glass system, such as package passers, speak-thrus, and transaction windows.

If you’re in need of a bullet resistant glass solution for your building, call Insulgard today. We offer a wide variety of solutions custom fabricated to suit both exterior and interior settings and with an array of products tested to the various ballistic levels. Our team of experts can help you determine the needs of your facility to ensure that you find a solution custom tailored for your specific project.

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