We've said this before and we will say this again -- being comfortable and having confidence in your body armor can and will save your life.
Picture this -you are a 20 to 30-year old active duty service member serving overseas.
Your everyday wear involves lugging 8-10 lbs. of armor plates for your front and back protection, a rifle, ammunition, a couple of mags, pouches, and other necessary equipment for any situation that may arise.
That's already a whopping 20lbs.(or more) of equipment on your shoulders.
Imagine having to carry that weight for weeks, months, or even years while engaging in combat and completing missions.
Sure, you are physically fit and have undergone intensive training to prepare your mind and body for the challenge.
But carrying that much weight can have an impact on your speed, agility, and mobility. Worst of all, your gear can weigh you down and obstruct your movement at any time and in the most inconvenient of situations.
Aside from that, several studies have shown that for the past few years, spinal impairment and chronic back pain have been the leading causes of disability among our veterans.
These are the issues that prompted ShotStop Ballistics, LLC. engineers to develop their own patented innovation behind the world’s lightest, fastest and most durable advanced body armor plates -but we'll get to that in a second.
Who is ShotStop Ballistics, LLC.?
ShotStop was founded in 1979 by Vall Iliev, PhD, PE, the same founder of Vallmar & Co that specializes in the lead and support of product developments and engineering innovations for Fortune 500 companies and smaller businesses for over 30 years.
Mr. Illiev and his team of engineers made a name for themselves in the development of disruptive innovation solutions when no other design companies could deliver -from providing industrial designs to clients such as Gojo, P&G, 3M and Cleveland Clinic, to redesigning gear attachments for cost-effective railroad maintenance.
In 2008, they collaborated with the FBI and Honeywell technology executives to design, engineer, and develop a lightweight, bullet-resistant, and foldable shield.
The FBI wanted the shields to weigh less than 4lbs. as the materials and technology available to them during that time could only allow 12-14lbs. of armor.
This, combined with their partnership with Wynn Resorts to develop safe room ballistics sheets, led them to recognize the industry's lack of technology for creating lightweight, yet extremely durable armor for the personal protection of our law enforcement and military, and thus Duritium® technology was born.
What is so different about Duritium® Technology?
The team at ShotStop ballistics describes Duritium® technology as a next-generation polyethylene having extremely high tensile strength and is capable of distributing and disbursing kinetic energy.
This ability works well with body armor and ballistics projectiles, including multiple rounds.
Of course, I'm sure you've heard that from almost every other body armor manufacturer by now.
So how exactly is it different from steel, ceramic, and UHMWPE?
The materials listed above have long proven their protective capabilities as present in our modern protective gears.
They can be in the form of armor plates, bulletproof vests, backpack inserts, and every other bullet resistant item you can think of.
True innovation, however, is more than just coming up with a solution to a problem. It's also about examining what works and coming up with something better, eliminating disadvantages, and raising the bar in order to protect and save more lives.
Duritium® vs. Steel
Duritium® technology allows the reduction of weight and thickness by up to 30-50% in ballistic products.
That means you can now have a 5.1 lb. Level IV armor plate than being weighed down by a 10 lb. steel armor plate of the same protection.
Steel also absorbs energy, which means it can deflect the bullet's trajectory, putting you at risk of injuries from spalling, fragmentation, or, worse, the bullet bouncing off your arm, body, or face.
Duritium®, on the other hand, slows the bullet down and dissipates its energy throughout the plate by pulling fibers from all directions, similar to a spider web.
Duritium® vs. Ceramic/Poly
For some skeptics, Duritium® is just another blend of ceramic and polyethylene, similar to other rifle plates.
While this is a valid point of view, it is still a broad generalization that lacks the molecular management standpoint about how the technology is made and how it actually works.
Duritium® combines UHMWPE with composite materials to make the lightest, thinnest, and most durable body armor by undergoing a complex process of vulcanization of the poly sheets with patented computer navigated layering.
This process ensures all Duritium® plates can withstand multiple hits in the same location, one of the major shortcomings of ceramic plates.
It also allows ShotStop to offer their products at a highly competitive price point while also providing a 10-year warranty for their Level III plates, and 15-year warranty for Level IV plates - a first in the industry where the standard is only 5 years.
This is because the last thing you have to worry about is how long your body armor can last.
Below is the current specs sheet for ShotStop Ballistics armor plates:
Interview with Max Gucik of The Armor Shop
To understand more about this exciting innovation, we spoke with Max Gucik, CEO of The Armor Shop which is the official distributor of ShotStop ballistic plates.
We learned more about the ins and outs of developing and introducing new technology in the ever-competitive body armor industry as well as some exciting news that we can all look forward to.
Check out our interview below:
1. Let’s talk about ShotStop’s Duritium® technology — what was the inspiration and development process behind this innovation especially where PE, Ceramic, and Steel plates have been dominant for years now?
The incumbent technologies are simply not meeting the ergonomic and functional needs of the operator and warfighter.
Steel plates are just too damn heavy, it's holding mission success back that much and what all that weight does to an operator over an entire career, tough on the joints and body.
Ceramic - heavier as well, and also thick, so that will affect mobility. The fragility of old classic ceramic plates can also really be nerve-wracking, you have to do X-rays every 2.5 years. With our new technology, you never need to do that and they come with a 15 year warranty.
Buoyancy positive - Our level III plates are in fact buoyancy positive and do float in water. This is a game changer for maritime operations.
2. As with any new technology, there will always be skeptics, “experts,” and commentators abound. What do you think is the biggest impact of the Duritium® technology and how do you persuade a regular citizen or consumer to change their perception?
ShotStop is all about the data, most armor companies are fantastic marketing machines and we encourage every consumer to look at the 3rd party accredited ballistic lab reports. You will see that no armor companies are sharing that info.
We encourage our clients to get really educated so that they can't be influenced by misleading marketing, that is why we post all the lab reports proactively.
Every batch of our armor goes through 3rd party accredited ballistics laboratories for compliance and standardization.
It's important to do your own data research, look at the lab reports. This isn’t some impulse buy, this is your life, take a minute to educate yourself on what you are buying.
3. What is your company’s philosophy in innovation, particularly in the field of body armor, where competition is fierce and materials aren’t cheap?
Innovation : we are direct manufactures, we have strong supply chain relations. There is a lot of competition out there and a lot of them are good but our mission is not to beat the competition, 100% of our focus is to optimize the operator's mission success.
The variables that we are most focused on are threat protection, weight, thickness, durability, while maintaining affordability.
4. We’re particularly interested in your newest product, the SHOTSTOP DURITIUM® LEVEL IV+HA BALLISTIC PLATES; many body armor manufacturers have already claimed to have the lightest, most effective Level IV plate in their line, but how does yours differ from the other Level IV plates currently on the market?
Level 4 - Again I will have to reference the data, look at the accredited formal data and please show me a lighter plate at this threat level.
Honestly, this ballistic market has to get out of the option mode and into the data mode. We're dealing with life and death here and we can't let the marketing influence our emotions, do that with candy bars but not with body armor.
5. What other innovative products is your team currently working on that we can perhaps look forward to in the next 5 years or so?
Ballistic board - advanced armament for vehicles, homes to large-scale buildings, modular quick application ballistic protection is coming to market. It will revolutionize the war fighter.
If you want to stop a rifle you need a wall that weighs about 1,000 pounds and I'm going to hand you a 50 pound piece of plastic that will have the same stopping power.
Imagine your car is armored at level 3a by only adding 45 pounds?
Duritium® Plates for Every Need
For active duty/high-level threats
ShotStop's newest armor plate, aptly named HA (short for Hybrid Advanced) boasts an unprecedented 4.5lbs. total weight and only 0.85" thick for Level IV protection.
The strike face configuration falls within the current NIJ 0101.06 standard fair shot six-shot pattern and is rated for Special Threat testing against 5.56x45mm 55 grain ball (M193), 7.62x39mm PS ball (MSC), 7.62x51mm 149 grain M80 FMJ, NATO M855 (SS109) 5.56x45mm 62 grain steel core (SS109), M855 A1, 7.62x63mm M2 AP.
Comes in options of SAPI cut, Shooters cut, or Full cut, it's also designed to be Multicurve to give the operator maximum comfort and the most mobility possible, allowing them to complete their missions while also building confidence in them that will save not only their own lives but also the lives of others.
It's 10-year warranty guarantees the longest life span amongst other armor plates of the same level in the industry.
For personal protection
ShotStop's BallisticBoard® line offers a variety of ballistic solutions for every type of situation.
With the Level III rifle protection backpack insert, you get an ultra light, ultra thin ballistic material to withstand multiple shot impacts from high-powered rifle fire.
At just 3.75lbs for the 10x12x0.7” (4.75lbs for the 11x14), you can obtain instant protection by adding it to your backpack, computer bag, or luggage.
This is your answer to safety, security, and the confidence that you or your loved one is protected.
This is definitely not your typical armor panel.
No one would guess that this clipboard, which is designed to be inconspicuous, can actually protect you from multiple hits from handgun rounds up to a .44 magnum.
Weighing only 1.3 lbs. and 0.26" thick, it is light enough (just like a regular book) to be carried by young children, who, unfortunately, are the most vulnerable in dangerous situations, especially with the rise in active shootings in schools.
In cases of emergency, you can crouch down to as small as possible and hold the item up to cover your head and chest for added security.
The Next Generation of Body Armor
In the world of body armor, researching new methods, discovering new materials, and developing new protective solutions for every possible scenario is a never-ending challenge that the team at ShotStop Ballistics and The Armor Shop has taken head-on.
With this mission and the promising potential of the Duritium® technology, our team here at Bulletproof Zone can't help but anticipate the next line of body armor products that they are working hard to create.
We hear that aside from traditional ballistic items like shields and armor plates, they are already poised to develop protection in everyday attire like fashion clothing, handbags/backpacks and other applications.
So, how about you? Share us your thoughts about this new technology and tell us what everyday materials you wish could be bullet-resistant by leaving a comment below!