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Factors to Consider When Procuring Ballistic Shields

Designed to stop bullets and dangerous projectiles, ballistic shields are used for a wide range of applications by police and military operatives, including search warrant executions, special operations, riot protection, active shooter scenarios, and more. As an essential asset during high-risk scenarios, ballistic shields play an integral role in ensuring the safety of the engaged parties.

The last few decades have seen significant technological advancements within the field of portable armour. Due to their involvement in environments that contain extreme risk variables, knowing that your equipment is able to stand up to the specific demands of your application is essential to optimal performance and safety. Below, we’ll highlight some of the core elements to consider when procuring ballistic shields for your police force or organization. Read on to learn more.

What Are Ballistic Shields?

As indicated above, ballistic shields are used predominately to block weapons fire, projectiles and other dangerous objects. In contrast to riot shields, ballistic shields are typically much heavier and offer a higher level of ballistic protection for the holder(s), with units varying in sizes to either be used by a singular or dual wielder depending on the necessary application and threat environment. In order to perform as intended, you need to consider the following when procuring new armoury assets:

1. Intended Purpose

It should come as no surprise that one of the predominant factors that will determine the best fit for your department is the specific purpose and/or application. More dynamic scenarios may demand a lighter-weight product, whereas frontline defence and fortification may require a more intensive barrier. Knowing your exact needs and anticipated variables will make it easier to select the right option.

2. Threat Level

Ballistic shields are typically designed to handle specific threat/protection levels: LIIIA (handgun/small round) and LIII (rifle). Handgun shields are lighter and thus more maneuverable, whereas a rifle shield will offer enhanced protection but at the cost of a heavier build and less maneuverability.

3. Size

Ballistic shields come in a variety of sizes ranging from small hand-deployable units to larger median line shields used for entry teams and group work in close quarters. Your intended use, as well as your level of necessary protection, will determine your best fit.

4. Visibility

Being able to survey your surroundings while maintaining your protective advantage is essential in the field. Viewports give shield wielders the ability to scout and protect but can add significant weight to the unit, rendering it difficult to use in certain scenarios. Consider how your shields will be deployed and the importance of having a viewport when making your selection.

5. Lighting

Finally, tactical entry often requires operators to be able to operate flashlights or other lighting equipment while wielding protective armour. Consider if your desired light needs a bracket or other light system integrated or if a more utilitarian design is suitable.


The Importance of Ballistic Testing

Ballistic product testing plays an essential role in determining the overall viability and the accurate level of protection offered by any form of armour. To know that your desired shield will perform as necessary when it matters most, it is essential to conduct a thorough ballistic evaluation to understand exactly how each product will perform under pressure, what its “breaking point” is, and what its best applications are for the safest end result. Evaluations for ballistic shields in North America are usually tested in accordance with NIJ standard 0108.01 for ballistic-resistant materials. However, ASTM has released a new standard test method for ballistic-resistant shields for law enforcement (ASTM E3141/E3141M-22). This test method was the result of ASTM Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee E54.04 on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This test method for the ballistic resistance of shields takes into consideration features of ballistic-resistant shields and potential vulnerabilities. Specifically, the tests have been designed to target the face of the shield, the viewports, the handle support structures, and lights or any other attachments to the body of the shield.

At Biokinetics, we know the value of ensuring your protective equipment will perform as promised in dangerous situations. We operate an accredited full-service ballistic test laboratory with state-of-the-art firing, loading, yaw and velocity monitoring systems. Biokinetics’ testing capabilities allow us to launch bullets and fragmentation threats from 2 mm up to 50 cal to provide accurate performance analysis and give you peace of mind. Testing is available to industry standard specifications, as well as to customer requirements, as necessary. With a highly skilled team of professional engineers and technicians backed by over 45 years of experience, BioKinetics makes it easy to get the information you need to enhance your safety equipment with confidence.

Contact us today to learn more!