Are safety glasses tough enough to stop a bullet? Most people who ask this question use the term “bulletproof” when they mean “bullet resistant”. To find an answer to the question, first of all we have to understand that bulletproof glass is not indestructible.
With that in mind, let us dive a bit deeper: can safety glasses stop a bullet?
Safety glasses are used for a host of purposes, and these glasses are often referred to as bulletproof glasses. What many people do not know is that bulletproof glass is neither bulletproof nor glass. Polycarbonate is a form of plastic which, if thick enough, can stop a bullet.
A wonderful thing about this material is that it is tougher than glass and other optical plastics. But the surface of polycarbonate is soft, and that is why this material is not usually used for glass. That means, you can not always use polycarbonate when you need to use glass.
Many people think that safety glasses are not very useful, because bulletproof glasses still receive the impact of a bullet, and this impact is enough to cause you serious harm. That is why people are recommended to use a full face protection instead of bulletproof glasses.
Regular or tempered glass?
Before we learn more about bulletproof glass, let us see what happens when a bullet hit glass. Tempered glass breaks into tiny pieces, and they fall out immediately. On the other hand regular glass, also known as non-tempered glass cracks into larger pieces. The quality and thickness of the glass will determine what will happen.
If the glass is laminated, it will craze into pieces, but the pieces will not fall out. Car windshields are usually made of laminated glass. But tempered glass is used to make the side and rear windows. If the windshield is hit by a bullet or a rock, the windshield does not crack apart—it just cracks. But why?
Between two pieces of glass, there is clear vinyl film used as lamination. Tempered glass is used to make the side windows. A small caliber bullet may not be able to penetrate safety glass if it is thick enough. To some extent it depends on the thickness of the glass. So, can safety glasses stop a bullet? It may depend on the type of safety glass.
Does bulletproof glass exist?
Some TV shows and movies give us the impression that bulletproof glass is indestructible. But the fact is, whether a certain type of glass is bulletproof or not is determined by the materials used to manufacture the glass. What is usually known as bulletproof glass is in most cases polycarbonate, a form of hard plastic.
But this material has some limitations. Simply it is tough does not mean that you can use this material for projects that require glass. Part of the reason is that the surface of polycarbonate is much softer, which makes it less suitable for making hard surfaces. But in some cases, this material can be used as bullet resistant, and prove to be very useful.
Out initial question is: can safety glasses stop a bullet? The answer is not very simple. There are some forms of glasses that are used for that purpose, but that does not mean that the material can absorb any type of impact. Modern firearms have bullets with very high impact, which can shatter even the toughest safety glasses.
If you target a normal sheet of glass and fire a bullet, the most likely scenario is that the glass will shatter. To become bullet resistant, a glass must have some characteristics. One of the obvious characteristics is that the glass must be able to absorb the impact of a bullet.
But different types of firearms fire bullets will different levels of impact. If you talk about, for example, AK-47, there are actually safety glasses that can provide you will some sort of safety.
Types of bullet-resistant glass
Bullet resistant glasses are mainly of three types. Now we will discuss them.
The first type is acrylic, a hard plastic that looks just like glass. It can resist a bullet if it has a thickness of just one inch. Acrylic is stronger than glass, and this is a great advantage. This impact resistant material also weighs less than glass. Although acrylic is often referred to a glass, it is not glass at all.
The second type is polycarbonate, which is a bit different from acrylic. This versatile plastic is extremely strong, but soft. It weighs less than acrylic, and it is very easy to work with.
To make something bullet resistant, polycarbonate is used in layers. Let us look at the question again. Can safety glasses stop a bullet? It depends on the type of glass, and of course the type of bullet.
Polycarbonate does not work in the same way as acrylic. Polycarbonate in fact absorbs the energy of bullets while acrylic repels bullets. This is part of the reason why polycarbonate is usually used with other materials.
Another type of bullet resistant glass is known as Glass-Clad Polycarbonate. To get the desired results, some other materials are used with this material. The process of lamination is familiar to most of us. We often laminate paper to protect it against damage. This material also looks like glass but it is not.
Other factors at play
Thickness is an important factor when it comes to a material’s ability to resist the impact of a bullet. A thicker piece of glass can more effectively stop a bullet. But the type of firearm is also an important thing to consider. For example, a rifle is more powerful than a 9mm pistol.
Can safety glasses stop a bullet? As we see, there is no single answer to this question. It depends on a host of factors such as the material and thickness of the glass, and the type of pistol or rifle that fire the bullet.
One Way bullet resistant glass is considered the best of its type. It can really resist the impact of a bullet. There are two layers in a One Way glass. The first layer is brittle glass and the second layer is polycarbonate plastic or other flexible material.
As soon as the bullet hits the glass layer, it breaks. But the plastic absorbs the force of the bullet, and the energy spreads over a large area. As a result, the bullet can not penetrate the barrier.
Now let’s see what happens the polycarbonate is first hit by a fired bullet. The material can not absorb much energy, because the energy gets concentrated on a small area. The glass material receives the force, and breaks outward. As a result, the bullet can penetrate the barrier.
Armored vehicles use mostly one-way bullet resistant glass, because it is the most effective bullet-resistant glass out there.
So what is the conclusion of this discussion? Can safety glasses stop a bullet? Yes they can, but not the way action movies depict the resistance. To make sure you choose the proper safety glasses, learn how safety glasses work, and what materials are used to manufacture these glasses.