Written By: Brittney Phillips | October 28, 2021
With increased awareness of all the security threats commercial facilities face, many building owners are looking for cost-effective ways to reinforce their properties’ glass doors and windows.
If you find yourself in this position, you might be looking into bulletproof security upgrades for the highest level of protection against threats including active threat scenarios, forced entry, burglary, smash-and-grab theft, rioting, looting, storm damage, and more.
But, does bulletproof security glazing really exist? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what options you have for stopping ballistic rounds and other impacts from penetrating your commercial glass and how they can work to protect your people and property against a wide range of common security threats.
Before we go any further, let’s just make sure you understand exactly what security glazing is.
When it comes to buildings, the term “glazing” just refers to the glass components of its exterior and interior surfaces. Glazing can mean windows, doors, storefronts, partitions, or any other architectural surface made of glass.
In the security industry, we use security glazing to reinforce a building’s existing glass to protect it from breakage due to various types of impact, protecting individuals and property inside the building.
Security glazing comes in many different forms, and not all such glazing has to be made of glass, either. In fact, some of the strongest types of security “glass” are actually not made of glass at all, but rather from different compositions of plastics like polycarbonate and acrylic.
There are many security glass and glass-like products that are marketed as “bulletproof,” but the fact of the matter is that no such materials can be 100% bulletproof. No matter what its composition is and how thick it is, a sheet of glass or plastic can always be penetrated by bullets after enough impacts.
That being said, certain security glazing products can provide some level of what you could consider “bulletproof security.” This is because they are rated to withstand up to several ballistic impacts from different calibers of bullets and firearms.
However, the proper adjective to use for these products is “bullet resistant,” meaning they may eventually be penetrated if an attack exceeds the rating of the glass.
The industry standard for rating any type of bullet-resistant security glazing is the UL 752 rating system. This is a system of ballistic resistance grades created and awarded by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global safety and security certification company.
The UL is headquartered in the US and has offices in 46 countries around the world, making their UL 752 ratings an international standard for bullet-resistant security products.
UL 752 ratings range from level 1 to level 8. Bullet-resistant security glazing with a UL 752 level 1 rating has been tested and proven to withstand 3 shots from a 9mm handgun using 124-grain FMJ rounds. Security glass with a UL 752 rating can resist 5 rounds fired from a .30 caliber AK47-style assault rifle firing 150-grain FMJ rounds.
So, now that you understand that no security glass or glass-like products can be considered 100% bulletproof, you might be wondering what your options are for the highest level of protection.
Understanding your anticipated threat level is key to sorting through the options. Our ratings chart indicates the ammunition and firearm each level is rated to withstand. We have all-glass, all polycarbonate, and combinations of glass and polycarbonate to choose from – ranging from level 1 through 8.
Factors used to determine the best fit for your building include thickness, rating, weight, single or dual pane, and window size.
Recently we have seen a significant uptick in all polycarbonate glazing which can achieve a high-level of protection in a lighter weight material. To achieve the same level of ballistic resistance with a sheet of laminated glass, it would have to be much thicker and heavier, which makes it much more complicated (and expensive) to install. With polycarbonate, you can easily retrofit a bullet-resistant glazing shield over almost any building’s existing glass and framing systems.
The polycarbonate looks, feels, and functions just like traditional window glass, creating a virtually invisible barrier to protect employees, customers, merchandise, and equipment inside the building 24/7.
Riot Glass® offers the proprietary ArmorPlast® line of polycarbonate glazing shields. These protective shields are designed for a full range of commercial security applications and are available in containment-grade (non-ballistic-rated) models and in bullet-resistant options with UL 752 ratings up to level 6.
If the primary reason you’re looking into bulletproof security is to protect people inside your property from active threats, a threat assessment can help you determine what UL 752 ratings are most suited to your property’s glazing.
Keep in mind that anything with a UL 752 rating for ballistic resistance still protects against all other types of impacts, including forced entry attempts, vandalism, and storm debris impacts. So, if you’re looking for a really comprehensive security upgrade, bullet-resistant security glazing is something to consider.
If you’re more concerned about property crime, such as burglary, rioting, and looting, containment-grade glazing may be just what you’re looking for. ArmorPlast® AP25 is the entry level non-ballistic glazing shield in the line and is especially ideal for retailers looking for a cost-effective way to protect their merchandise.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding about what bulletproof security options are available for your property’s glass surfaces. Remember that there is no such thing as completely bulletproof security glass, so always make sure to check any type of security glazing’s UL 752 rating to understand how bullet resistant it really is.
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