Hardcore Defense believes in metal. Hence, "hard" core. While our engineers have significant experience with the full range of ballistic fibers and ceramics, we use metals for our shields because it's the optimum choice.
Aramid (Kevlar®, Twaron®), UHMWPE (Spectra®, Dyneema®) and other ballistic fibers make excellent soft body armor, where light weight, flexibility, and breathability are essential to providing all-day wearability. However these materials have some significant disadvantages for ballistic shield applications:
- Flexibility. A hard armor application requires the fibers be cast in resin to provide rigidity, which adds weight and reduces ballistic efficiency. Many shields are further molded with a curve to provide extra structure and necessary stiffness, which adds bulk and requires more storage area. Our shields are flat, for ease of storage and deployment.
- Strike absorption. Fiber armors rely on a weave to “catch” the bullet. If there is insufficient length of fiber extending out from the site of an impact, the bullet can pull the fibers out of the matrix. Strikes near the edge of the panel or at the handle anchor holes may penetrate. Multiple hits in the same area may penetrate. NIJ test standards require at least 2” spacing between any hit and the edge of the panel or another hit. This 2” spacing reduces the effective protected area of a standard 16”x24” fiber-composite shield by 45%! Even a 1” spacing drops protected area by 21%. And that’s only against the first hit. How superior are Hardcore Defense shields? Check out our Testing page.
- Durability. Ballistic fibers degrade over time, especially when exposed to heat, moisture/humidity, or UV light. Products often have a shelf life of just 5 years and should be replaced after that. Hardcore Defense shields will provide full protection for generations.
The use of metals for the ballistic panels in our shields allows us to offer products with unrivaled multi-hit and edge-hit capabilities, minimal backface signature, and without the storage, shelf life, and drop concerns of other materials.
Numerous ballistic metal candidates - steels, aluminums, magnesiums, and titaniums - are evaluated and tested as part of the design process for each of our products. We've tested single layers, single and multi-metal laminates, and combinations with fiber panels and ceramics. For some products we have even tested some exotic superalloys. Each design we finalize is THE best overall solution to the user needs we identify and performance goals we specify.
The Alpha Shield™ is made from a single layer of ballistic steel. Against NIJ IIIA (handgun) threat rounds, the more expensive materials evaluated were no more weight efficient than the best top quality steel. We didn't choose steel for the Alpha Shield™ because it was among the least expensive and most common materials available; we chose it because it was the best. We use a proprietary chemistry, specially heat treated to provide the optimum balance of hardness and ductility. Harder steels may shatter when hit, while softer steels tear and require additional thickness to stop the threat round. Our steel was designed specifically for our application. This isn’t some off the shelf AR500 target steel plate with a handle bolted on; this shield is the product of significant engineering R&D and product optimization. When you buy an Alpha Shield™, be confident that you're getting the best.
The Bravo Shield™ is made from our patent pending steel and titanium laminate and was optimized to stop 5.56x45 mm rounds at real world velocities. Steel alone at reasonable thicknesses can reliably withstand repeated 5.56 mm strikes up to about 3100 fps, but hot ammo out of a 20" barrel can well exceed this. Therefore we added a titanium facing layer to the Bravo Shield™ to slow and break up high velocity threats, which together with the use of ultra-premium ballistic steel allows Bravo Shield™ to stop the 55 grain FMJ round at 3275 fps and the 62 grain green tip "penetrator" round at 3200 fps. It will also stop the standard NIJ Level III .308 FMJ test round.