AR500 Armor® Spall and Fragmentation Coating
If you’ve ever shot steel targets, you’ve likely seen bullet fragments strike the ground as the projectile shatters on impact. That’s why there’s a minimum safe distance when shooting steel.
Newton’s Laws of Motion
When you shoot something, there are three things a bullet can do:
- It can go through the target (think paper, thin metal, or drywall)
- It can be ‘absorbed’ by the target (soft body armor, larger trees, or similar)
- It can be deflected or shattered by the target (steel armor plates, concrete, or rocks)
AR500 Armor® steel armor plates stop bullets, but the energy has to go somewhere; it’s the third thing we’re addressing here.
When steel armor plates were first introduced, the bullet fragmentation issue became immediately apparent: bullets hitting the armor splattered, much like a tomato thrown hard against a concrete wall.
The bullet might be stopped by the armor, but you could still wind up with some frag in your face, arms or legs. Still, some metal in your face is better than a slug in your chest. How to capture the fragments became the new challenge.
We cover our bases
When we introduced our AR500 Armor ballistic plates in 2012, we knew this was something we had to address. Our base coating gave our armor plates a sealed surface to protect it from the elements and provides some frag and spall mitigation.
When bare steel is shot, frag and spall travel perpendicular to the plate’s surface. Our base coat captures some of the perpendicular frag and deflects the remainder away from you.
We wanted to offer plates that captured more of the frag, so we searched for a material we could apply to our steel plates that would reduce or eliminate the chance of injury from bullet fragmentation or plate spalling.*
After extensive testing of a variety of coatings, we landed on a polyurea formula designed to mitigate any spalling and fragmentation from a round impacting armor plates.
How well does our build-up coat work?
AR500 Armor revolutionized the steel core armor industry by being first to market with our fragmentation and spall mitigation Build-Up Coat. Since then, we’ve continued to master and refine the process...so much so we consider it an art form, utilizing artisan-level craftsmen in its application.
First, we employ a multistep process to clean and prepare the steel armor cores for both our base coating and Build-Up Coat application process.
Then, the craftsmen of the Armor Republic® use a long-developed process to build up the coating to just the right thickness...a thickness our testing has shown to be the best balance of elasticity and durability, about 5x the thickness of our base coat.
After curing, the plates then go through a multi-stage quality control process to ensure the coating has been evenly applied and is free from performance and cosmetic imperfections.
Even with all this, we continually test our current and potential formulas to make sure we bring you the very best frag and spall mitigation coating on the market.
And our testing is clear...AR500 Armor’s Build-Up Coat is the best level of frag containment for the money. But don’t take our word for it. Watch the videos below.
The results speak for themselves.
* While there’s a technical difference between fragmentation and spalling, they’re both bad. Basically, fragmentation are pieces of the projectile created when it hits a hard object, and spall are pieces of the object created by the impact of the projectile, usually off the backside of a ballistic plate (but not always).
The playlist below shows the full capabilities of our protective coating! See slow motion footage of AR500 Armor® Body Armor (with a Build Up coat) containing frag & spall from shotgun slugs; and a comparison of what happens on an uncoated backstop!
Part 1: Steel Armor & Frag/Spall - Can it be contained?? - AR500 Armor®
Part 2: .300 Win Mag & Steel Armor & Frag/Spall - Can it be contained?? - AR500 Armor®
Part 3: Steel Armor & Frag/Spall - Can it be contained?? - AR500 Armor®
Part 4: Steel Armor & Frag/Spall - Can it be contained?? - AR500 Armor®
More Details on the AR500 Armor® Base Coat and Build Up options.
Some may tell you it’s all about the unique primers that make a coat effective. In a ballistic application, such as AR500 Body Armor, any sort of primer has little effect if the receiving end isn’t prepped properly and is often a technique of placing a less functional Band-Aid on an improperly prepared surface – it’s simply a thin layer of paint between two surfaces with little adhesion benefits and no ballistic properties. Each of our armor plates go through a series of processes to ensure proper surface prep allowing maximum adhesion of the Coat making it as effective as possible. Our armor goes through 4 stages of cleaning and prep before it even hits our paint booth. The Base Coat offers an extremely durable finish that is chemical resistant, water resistant, wear resistant, and requires no maintenance. Applied by hand, this coat also provides a high traction surface creating a unique texture on each piece of armor. This texture helps grip the plate and keep it in position while in your carrier.