Written By: Brad Campbell | December 16, 2021
The term “bulletproof” gets thrown around a lot in the security glass industry. The reality is that there are no glazing or security framing systems that can be considered 100% bulletproof — and this goes for glass doors as well.
However, there are bullet resistant doors and windows that offer varying levels of ballistic protection. This means that they can withstand certain types of ballistic impacts. When it comes to bullet resistant glass doors, the doors must include both bullet resistant glazing and steel or aluminum security framing.
Bullet resistant glazing can be made from different materials, but the most effective are typically made of a glass-like material, such as polycarbonate. The reason for this is that polycarbonate is much stronger, stiffer, and more efficient at dispersing the force of impacts than an all-glass security glass of a comparable thickness.
Ballistic-grade glazing will stop several bullets from specific types of firearms before it weakens enough to be penetrated. After penetration occurs, a bullet resistant door will still remain in place to prevent an armed attacker from gaining entry to the building.
This protective barrier is vital in giving those inside the needed time to react by calling the police, barricading themselves inside somewhere secure, and giving the authorities time to arrive and neutralize the threat, thus saving lives.
Ballistic glazing can be made in many ways including all-glass, all-polycarbonate, acrylic, or a combination of glass and polycarbonates. A highly proficient security glazing consultant is needed to determine the best type for a given property and perceived threat level. For example, to get the same level of ballistic protection from a piece of all-glass ballistic glazing as you do from a laminated sheet of polycarbonate, the glass would have to be significantly thicker and heavier and may not be advisable where weight is a factor.
A ballistic rated framing is recommended for superior protection rather than retrofitting into the existing framing, and this is required for the system as a whole to be considered a “rated system”.
These are only a few items that need to be considered when evaluating materials needed to achieve adequate protection, so working with a fenestration-specific security expert is highly advisable.
So, how exactly do you know how bullet resistant a door and frame are? Well, all bullet resistant glazing and fenestration security products typically receive a ballistic rating from the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), known as a UL 752 rating. Ratings from the Underwriters Laboratories are the global industry standard for all types of safety and security products.
In order for a glass door to earn a UL 752 rating, its accompanying steel or aluminum frames must also be able to resist the same level of ballistic attack as the glazing.
A ballistic glass door and frame can receive a UL 752 rating from 1-8. A UL 752 level 1 rating means that the system can resist 3 shots from a 9mm handgun firing 124-grain FMJ (Full metal Jacket) rounds. A UL 752 level 8 rating means that the door and frame can withstand 5 rounds fired from a .30 caliber AK47-style assault rifle using 150-grain FMJ rounds.
Bullet Resistant Doors from ArmorPlast®
ArmorPlast® is the proprietary line of polycarbonate glazing shield and security frames from Riot Glass®. These systems are available for windows and doors and are available in containment-grade and ballistic-grade versions with up to a UL 752 level 8 rating.
ArmorPlast® ballistic doors and frames are designed to be retrofitted into or onto almost any existing framing system. The polycarbonate glazing looks and feels just like regular glass, providing ballistic protection without significantly altering the appearance or functionality of the doors it’s applied to. Full vision is still possible through the existing glass and natural light doesn’t get blocked.
Ballistic-grade door, window, and frame systems are ideal for any property where a high level of security is required or desired. For example, ArmorPlast® is frequently retrofitted onto government buildings, schools, luxury retail stores, religious centers, correctional facilities, and office buildings.
Ballistic doors don’t just provide protection from active threats. Their extremely high level of impact resistance also makes them an ideal solution for forced entry protection, blast damage mitigation, and storm damage mitigation.
For instance, if a piece of ballistic door glass gets impacted by a piece of flying storm debris or the shockwave from a nearby bomb blast, it can protect occupants behind it from shattering glass that can fly dangerously inward. An inner no-spall coating is recommended to further increase protection.
So, in short, almost any type of commercial property owner may want to consider ballistic doors and windows in order to reinforce their building’s existing doors and windows and protect against a full range of security threats.