Custard Armor So Effective It Requires Nonsense-Test

Pop-Sci is all a-gaggle at a vest using shear fluids to support kevlar.


In the tests, BAE scientists used a gas gun to fire ball-bearing bullets at nearly 1,000 feet per second at two test materials — 31 layers of regular Kevlar and 10 layers of Kevlar combined with the shear-thickening liquid.

The shear-thickening liquid stopped the bullets more quickly and prevented them from penetrating as deeply, the BBC says. British media got a preview of the materials at a BAE facility in Bristol, England.

The part that should be making people scratch their heads is “ball-bearing bullets.”  Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over.  Spherical projectiles have terrible ballistics and awful penetration.  That’s why bullets, shotgun pellets aside, are ogival penetrators, not spherical ones.  So the million-dollar, or, Pound, question, as the case may be is, why is BAE having to resort to a test that will at best be realistic regarding certain types of notoriously sub-par 1950s communist ammunition?

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  1. drteine

     /  July 17, 2010

    An excellent point. Since I happen to have a world class ballistics lab where I work, I’ve started to get more familiar with this type of testing and what it means/doesn’t mean in regards to the real world.

    You are correct that stopping a small sphere at such speeds is not 100% relevant to real world munitions/rounds. However, you have two components here – Kevlar and shear thickening fluid. The Kevlar will stop the bullet round from tearing through and penetrating into the skin, but it doesn’t address the kinetic force which bruises and causes all other sorts of internal wounds. But if you just wanted to address the kinetic force (blast wave, shrapnel, anti-personnel mine) then the test is surprisingly relevant. Therefore the combination armor shown here may be much better against stopping parabellum pistol rounds or rounds that flatten and have a lot of kinetic force punch rather than sharp rounds used in rifles.

    All that being said – my guess is that the tests protecting against military grade rifle rounds have been done and the results are now classified, so this PR event for BBC was done in a way that BAE was allowed to present the results.

  2. 1. A very good point. The article only mentions stoppage/penetration, but KE could be a factor in what’s classified or not…

    2. One day I have to secure a grant, get proper medieval penetrator replicas made, and see what a world-class ballistics lab looks like… O.O

  3. blackpine

     /  July 17, 2010

    Excellent. We have finally countered the threat of the New Model Army and their damned muskets. Beware Cromwell! We’re ready!

  4. drteine

     /  July 18, 2010

    Well now that you’re a free agent Mr. Crow….maybe you just need to join an organization where it’s easier to write grants for such activities. I can help pull in some favors to make the work cheaper at where I work – I think the guys who run the ballistics lab would get a real kick out of the work as opposed to small arms, bird strike, and micrometeorites that they normally always work on.

  5. True enough. Just have to figure out what such an organization would be, heh.

  6. drteine

     /  July 18, 2010

    You need to apply to a proper university for a tenure track position. Or – go work at a museum with a decent library. These places, even if they’re non-profits, still do research and can tap into research funding projects. It might even be worth it to start at a military museum, even if it’s out of your exact era of knowledge, just so you can build up into what you want to do.

  7. Yeah.. the lack of potential there is pretty much why I haven’t. No doctorate and no nearby museums that aren’t being folded up. (Most of the TX fort museums are also on the chopping block, sadly).

  8. drteine

     /  July 19, 2010

    I suppose a move out of the TX area is off the table as an option?

  9. It’s something we’re investigating… as is well-known, it’s not a great market to be looking for a job, and the remaining job is here. Short of a leprechaun, it’s TX for the immediate-term.

  10. drteine

     /  July 19, 2010

    Well good luck on whatever you decide to pursue. If I see anything appropriate open up I’ll let you know.


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