Hardcore Defense believes in metal. Hence, "hard" core. While our product development team has significant experience with the full range of ballistic fibers and ceramics, we use metals for our shields because they are 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.
- Blunt Trauma. Ballistic fibers can stretch backwards significantly as they absorb the energy from a bullet strike, much like a soccer ball being kicked into the goal net. The NIJ test standards permit armor to allow up to 44 mm (1.75") of backface deformation and still pass, and for weight and cost reasons most fiber armors are designed to be just under this limit. 44 mm of blunt trauma would be like being hit with a hammer, causing major bruising and possibly broken bones. In comparison, at their limit the metals used in Hardcore Defense products only allow about 6 mm (1/4") of blunt trauma, which is easily absorbed by the foam pads.
- 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 need replacement 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, titaniums, and even some exotic superalloys - have been evaluated and tested by the Hardcore Defense design team as part of our product development activities. We've tested single layers, single and multi-metal laminates, and combinations with fiber panels and ceramics. 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 top quality ballistic steel. We use a proprietary chemistry, specially heat treated to provide the optimum balance of hardness and ductility. Harder steels may crack or break when hit, while softer steels tear and require additional thickness to stop the threat round. Our steel was designed specifically for our application and is the product of significant R&D engineering and product optimization. This is not AR500 or another off-the-shelf industrial grade. When you buy an Alpha Shield™, be confident that you're getting the best.
The Bravo Shield™ is made from our proprietary steel and titanium laminate and was optimized to stop 5.56x45 mm rounds the highest likely 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 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.
The Delta Shield™ is our newest shield design, and combines simplicity of the steel-only Alpha with some of the rifle-fire resistance of the Bravo. It uses the same ultra-premium steel as the Bravo, but thinner and without the titanium faceplate. The Delta protects against 5.56x45 mm strikes up to 3100 fps and 7.62x39 mm strikes up to 2400 fps. We've also added a thick and robust Rhinoliner coating to provide maximum durability if it's bouncing around for years in the back of patrol car. For users who don't require the level of protection provided by the Bravo, the Delta provides for a lighter and less expensive alternative.