When you need one, nothing else will do.
The Latest in Ballistic Shields
By Jim Weiss and Mickey Davis
Ballistic shields and portable bunkers offer the first responder an effective tool for incidents where a rapid response is necessary or when a building or area has to be cleared. They allow individual first responders to make a difference in the early stages of critical response incidents.
If pre-staged in schools, airports and malls, these tools could fill a gap for first responders regardless of the level of their training or equipment they have at the time. While shields and bunkers have already been tested and proven as a valuable asset for hostage negotiation, barricaded subjects, and crisis response, the majority of critical response incidents occur prior to a SWAT response.
Baker Ballistics, LLC
The new PatrolBat™ ballistic shield is specifically designed to protect a fast-moving, single responder to an active shooter. Stored in a vehicle front seat, it can be grabbed and instantly popped open so the officer can exit the vehicle with ballistic cover.
Baker Ballistics designers, under the direction of retired NYPD ESU Lt. Al Baker, have developed and promoted the concept of personal ballistic shields specifically for use by the patrol officer. Numerous North American police agencies have adopted various models of Baker Batshield® lightweight portable composite armor for daily patrol duties.
The Kevlar® composite PatrolBat is the most compact and affordable of all the Baker Batshield versions.
Identical in features and operation to the other Baker Batshield models, the PatrolBat enables the user to place both hands on either a pistol or rifle, and shoot accurately with conventional center-line aiming techniques. Short-stocked patrol rifles, such as the M-4, are ideal, and grant the first responder a dominating presence in a running gun battle.
Additionally, the shield absorbs shock. The torquing and twisting inherent in conventional bunker shields when bumped is non-existent, as the outboard wings of the PatrolBat absorb energy from hits and bumps without degrading the user’s aim and focus on target. The PatrolBat has a Threat Level IIIA rating. It measures 21 inches by 31.5 inches and weighs 13.5 pounds.
First introduced at SHOT Show 2013, Baker Ballistics has developed the world’s first NIJ Threat Level IV ballistic shield that does not require wheels: the MRAPS-IV. Sticking with the theme that Al Baker refers to as the “high-speed option” approach to tactical operations, the MRAPS-IV allows the operator unlimited mobility and use of a long gun while safely positioned behind this advanced ceramic / composite matrix ballistic shield.
Not intended to replace slow, methodical bunker shield clearing operations, the MRAPS-IV is intended to protect the user from armor-piercing rifle fire during high-speed operations such as hostage rescue, active shooter, and MACTAC tactics, while simultaneously providing an accurate long-gun shooting platform.
This design, like the larger and lighter original Baker Ballistic Level III MRAPS™ shield, gives users the ability to “wear” the shield via two unique, load-bearing bungees, attached to a novel, quick-release device. The majority of the weight of the shield is carried by the twin bungees anchored high on the shoulders, providing exceptional weight carrying ability (including hands-free), plus an instant and positive release of the shield from the wearer if needed.
The majority of the strike face surface of the MRAPS-IV defeats, at muzzle velocities, armor-piercing threats from common rifle calibers. The outermost perimeter regions of the shield, not faced with ceramic reinforcement, are made of a Threat Level III (non-AP rifle calibers) composite material, thus the double Threat Level rating of Type III and Type IV. The MRAPS-IV measures 15.5 inches by 30 inches.
Daw Technologies is a Utah-based research, development and manufacturing company established in 1952. Daw Technologies Ballistic Products is a division of Daw Technologies and has developed a line of ballistic products that includes special operations bunkers and concealable armor plates in various sizes and levels that include NIJ Level IIIA, III Plus and Level IV protection.
Their Collapsible Special Operations Bunker is 20 inches by 73 inches high when set up. This is similar in size to a non-collapsible unit, but less than 14 inches tall when collapsed. It requires just 30 seconds to set up. When folded, it makes a small bundle that can store under a coffee table or in a cabinet, and since it is only 14 inches tall, the unit can be transported easily in the trunk of a car, SUV, APC or van.
The bunker has caster-type wheels with large, run-flat tires that permit its movement over rough terrain. The wheels rotate 360 degrees and can be locked into an orientation for front to rear or lateral motion. Because they are retractable, they can be pivoted into a nesting position for low-footprint storage.
Due to the ballistic bunker’s rolling mobility, it can be fully deployed at a safe location and then rolled into position, providing full ballistic protection during that movement. An apron of ballistic material may be connected to the lowermost panel to extend to the ground, reducing the threat of skip-rounds. It is free-standing once in position, therefore freeing up both hands of the operating personnel. This collapsible bunker can pass through a 3-foot doorway without exposing personnel or compromising its ballistic integrity.
For situations requiring broader ballistic protection, two or more Twin Collapsible Special Operations Bunkers can be latched together or separated as needed. Removable side and center panels are easily lifted onto the bunker to increase its width and are interchangeable. A standard twin bunker with all optional panels measures in excess of 7 feet wide.
DeadStop (LCOA Composites)
The DeadStop® ballistic shields series was developed in cooperation with SWAT teams. According to DeadStop, their police shields are made with FeatherPlate™ armor technology. FeatherPlate offers the lightest-weight composite technology available for a Level IIIA shield.
The Equalizer shield provides a tactical advantage in live fire scenarios that is not available on any other shield on the market. Originally developed in conjunction with the St. Petersburg, Fla. Police, the unique firing port cutouts were designed to allow the operator to use his/her weapon in a more natural shooting position. This position keeps the arm straighter and more stable, while allowing much easier target sighting through the viewport.
Also, in this position, there is less chance of recoil causing the weapon to impact the shield surface, avoiding possible weapon jams. DeadStop says the Equalizer is the only shield that offers this functionality without sacrificing head protection area at the top of the shield. It also offers upper body protection while on the move, and full body protection in the crouched or kneeling position. At just 17 pounds with a viewport, the Equalizer provides 24 inches by 40 inches coverage with minimal weight.
The Transporter shield was specifically designed for tactical teams in restricted space scenarios such as airline, bus, train, or other mass transit vehicles with limited aisle space. During training and simulated scenarios, it was found that when using a normal, full-width shield for breaches into these vehicles, the shields needed to be turned sideways to avoid bumping into seats, thus exposing the officer. The size (17 inches by 40 inches) and shape of the Transporter allows the team to advance through the seating area by creating a protective area across the entire aisle during the breach, without turning and compromising ballistic coverage.
The Transporter provides full upper body coverage when standing, or full body concealment when kneeling. Other teams are now finding applications for the more compact Transporter, such as tight, narrow hallways, and as a shield that can be easily stowed in the front of a patrol car. The reduced weight (14.5 pounds with a viewport) and versatility of the Transporter make it a solid choice. DeadStop shields come with a variety of available accessories, including a 900-lumen LED light package with multiple modes (momentary-on, continuous-on, turbo strobe) for flexibility in each scenario.
PROTECH Tactical, a brand of The Safariland Group, has been a leader and an innovator in the ballistic shield business for nearly 30 years. The company boasts the largest offering of shields in the industry, including the Body Bunker®, a type IIIA shield whose name has become synonymous with the term “ballistic shield” in the law enforcement community.
In addition to the well-known Body Bunker, PROTECH Tactical manufactures the popular Intruder™ HS Type IIIA shield. The Intruder HS is made of 100 percent polyethylene material with a state-of-the-art, vacuum-molded outer skin that eliminates the need for drilling holes in the body of the shield to attach the viewport, lens cap, and handle. The shield body features an 18-degree curvature for increased protection against angle shots.
The multi-layered viewport design contains overlapping polycarbonate ballistic laminate in the front and back of the shield, which reinforces the seams and provides multi-hit protection from handgun threats.
The Intruder HS also features a standoff platform and padded forearm rest on the body side of the shield to provide additional ballistic impact standoff protection against backface deformation; horizontal, ambidextrous handle, which allows the shield operator’s arm to be kept vertical in a strong-arm position utilizing skeletal support; and high-intensity, strobe-capable LED or halogen lighting systems to provide the operator with the ability to illuminate darkened areas without the use of a separate light.
The PROTECH Tactical NATO Enhanced family of Type III (rifle-rated) shields offers protection from high-velocity threats. They are made of 100 percent unidirectional polyethylene material with a rugged, non-ricocheting, metal alloy-aluminum outer skin, which integrates added impact and fragmentation resistance to the shield. The multi-layered viewport design contains overlapping ballistic glass and polycarbonate laminate ballistics in the front and back of the shield, which reinforces the seams and provides protection from rifle threats.
Non-ballistic wings give the shield a free-standing capability, while a stand-off strapping system on the body side of the shield provides additional skeletal support for the operator’s vertical arm position when carrying the shield. The shield and viewport have been independently tested to defeat the M80 7.62 NATO 147 grain FMJ and the AK47’s 7.62 x 39mm 123 grain MSC (mild steel core). The NATO Enhanced Shields are available in three sizes: 1) NATO 1™ Enhanced 17 inches by 32 inches; 2) NATO 2™ Enhanced 20 inches by 34 inches; and 3) NATO 3™ Enhanced 26 inches by 48 inches.
Patriot3’s Minuteman Folding Ballistic Shields are versatile, handheld ballistic protection that are easy to use and can be stowed anywhere a laptop computer would fit. They are available in NIJ Level IIIA (handgun) and III (rifle) and are stored folded in non-descript laptop-size carry cases. Once deployed, the unit becomes a rigid ballistic shield; most are available with viewports.
The Minuteman’s size, carry case, and minimal weight allow users to move through crowds discreetly, all the time providing immediate ballistic protection without drawing attention. It provides immediate ballistic protection in the stowed position and can be deployed into its rigid configuration in seconds. Each Minuteman Folding Ballistic Shield comes with a grab handle, carry case with strap, and stiffening rods.
In the Patriot3 XPS-G2 (X-treme Protection Series) is the first high-threat ballistic shield designed for ease of use and superb mobility. Its unique, patented design incorporates the first-ever Folding Ballistic Wings, providing a wide area of coverage beyond that of any ballistic shield available today. With this wing-deployment mechanism, the Ballistic Wings can be folded backward to reduce the width of the shield, enabling passage through commercial doorways.
Once through the door, the Ballistic Wings are immediately re-deployed, providing an area of coverage of up to 66 inches or three operators wide. In addition, each of the XPS Ballistic Wings can be removed instantly with one hand, allowing the XPS to split into as many as four separate handheld shields (NIJ III), allowing team members to break away with ballistic protection to simultaneously clear additional areas.
The XPS unit has several options, such as ballistic gun port, lighting system, folding Ballistic Wings, Ballistic Wing viewports, and Ballistic Wing handles (NIJ 3 only). The Patriot3 XPS-G2 won the coveted GovSec Security Products Homeland Security Award a few years ago.
United Shield International
The United Shield E.R.T. is the latest addition to the company’s range of multi-functional shields. This shield was designed in close collaboration with tactical operators to satisfy the need for a shield that is both light and versatile.
The E.R.T. provides multifunctional, dual-sided shooting platforms utilizing an ambidextrous tri-support handle. This adjustable, three-position handle allows for vertical and left- or right-hand 45-degree hold while transferring the weight of the shield to the user’s skeletal structure. The complete rear face of the shield is covered in a soft Velcro® to allow for the attachment of ancillary items such as ammo pouches, backup weapons.
This shield is manufactured with advanced ballistic composite technology providing multi-hit Level IIIA performance at a very light 15.4 pounds. Available in sizes 24 inches by 36 inches and 24 inches by 48 inches. The E.R.T shield is also available in United Shield’s new “Next Generation” Spartan Shield Technology (SST). SST provides a 30 percent weight reduction, yielding a 24 inches by 36 inches shield with a weight of only 10 pounds. Available options include a 500-lumen multi-function LED lighting system, Police/Sheriff logo, shoulder strap, and hydrographic paint transfer.
To deal with the increasing active shooter trend, United Shield developed the Police Tactical Shield. This shield is micro-sized, highly maneuverable, lightweight, and ergonomically designed to ensure maximum protection in active shooter tactical response scenarios. The compact shield measures 20 inches by 16 inches, and provides a balance between protection and ease-of-use in confined spaces.
The key features of this shield include ambidextrous and collapsible handle for easy storage, integrated weapons mount that allows one-handed operation of rifles and handguns, compact design, and lightweight NIJ Level IIIA protection at 3.7 pounds. It also provides balance between area protection and accessibility in confined spaces. The asymmetrical configuration of the handles ensures the shield hangs in the vertical position when being used. Other levels of protection are available on request, including rifle, armor piercing, and special applications.
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.