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How do bulletproof backpacks work?

Posted: 7:57 PM, Sep 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-13 15:42:16Z

SAPULPA, Oklahoma — Bulletproof backpacks have seen a rise in sales since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Two major designs are backpacks with a bulletproof plate sewn into the material, and a loose bulletproof plate that can fit in a student's bag. But would the bags actually stop a bullet heading toward a child?

Guard Dog Security  reported a 150 percent spike in its product sales after the Parkland school shooting. The backpacks it manufactures are designed to stop a bullet before it reaches a student's back.

Firearms instructor Ryan Hart took aim at the backpack with a Glock 19 and found the bulletproof insert would, in fact, freeze the bullet in its tracks. But when he fired five shots with an AR-15 at the empty backpack, all five rounds exited out the back.

Bulletproof backpacks can be pricey, listed at roughly $250. Inserts can cost more than $100, but neither is guaranteed to stop a bullet from a rifle.

That's exactly what Tulsa Police Officer Perry Lewis found when he fired a 40-caliber pistol at one of each, and then rounds from an AR-15 at each, and found very different results.

"The true test, on the back side, no penetration," Officer Lewis said of the bullet from the 40-caliber pistol to the backpack. On the insert, "it didn't penetrate, but you can see with multiple hits how this starts to come apart."

At 25 feet, Officer Lewis took aim with the .223 AR-15.

The bullet exited out the back of the backpack, but Lewis wasn't surprised: "you'd almost have to have a real large ceramic plate to defeat those rounds, just like the military wears."

But students wouldn't realistically be carrying around an empty backpack in school, so Officer Lewis added two textbooks to the test backpack. The bullet from the AR-15 entered the first textbook, but the second stopped it in its tracks.

The books did what the backpack alone could not. Officer Lewis says while the backpack loaded with books can't guarantee a student won't be hurt, the extra bullet-resistant layer provides a much better alternative on a student's back.