Iraqveteran8888: AR500 vs .50 BMG

501

A few days ago you guys took a look at Iraqveteran8888’s video showing AR550 up against 12-gauge rounds, and a repeated comment was the desire for bigger, badder rounds. Well, ask and ye shall receive – sort of. Although it isn’t the .45-70 one reader asked for, it’s still a big rifle round: .50 BMG. Granted, this isn’t AR550, now it’s AR500; even so, here’s a look at a big round going up against body armor, coming to you once again from Iraqveteran8888.

If you could sling lead at body armor, what round would you use?



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Mark

    Backyard experiments are always fun. Fun video.

  • Wetcoaster

    That’s impressive! Also possibly worrying for any SWAT units were relying on using the .50 to allow torso shots on armoured bad guys since if doubled AR500 plates will stop an API round, it’s a good bet to stop the regular old match ammo a sniper would use.

    • ostiariusalpha

      I doubt they’re all that worried. The bullet hit the plates hard enough to crush the chest cavity of anyone that might be wearing them. Penetration isn’t always strictly necessary.

      • nobody

        >The bullet hit the plates hard enough to crush the chest cavity of anyone that might be wearing them.

        It looks like there’s barely any backface deformation on that second plate, the force is going to be spread out evenly over the whole surface of the plate and you would feel it less than the recoil of the rifle (assuming it was shot without a muzzle brake).

        • nova3930

          Still I think it’s a moot point. A 10×12 Ar500 plate is what, 7 or 8 lbs? So double that and it’s 14-16lbs. Go front and back and you’re toting between 28 and 32 lbs of just armor. That’s really in the not feasible range IMO….

          • Wetcoaster

            Not for a soldier, but for a bank robber or crazed gunman? Well within the realm of possibility, I think. One of the Box ‘o Truth tests with layered soft vests was inspired by a reader’s story about a SWAT incident with a gunman wearing layered vests.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You’ve made an error in your thinking, even if the Barret that Eric was firing didn’t have the recoil management system and muzzle brake he still is only experiencing the relatively drawn-out acceleration of the bullet through the barrel, whereas the armor wearer experiences the nearly instantaneous deceleration of the projectile. These are massively different in terms of momentum tranfer. Also, the separation of the plates did a lot to spread the focused energy of the bullet penetrating the first plate onto a larger area of the second plate; putting the plates right up against each other would have ended in more penetration on the second plate. Still, you’ll note that it was the frame that gave out in the test, much like the underlying ribcage would have on the wearer.

          • nobody

            >You’ve made an error in your thinking, even if the Barret that Eric was
            firing didn’t have the recoil management system and muzzle brake he
            still is only experiencing the relatively drawn-out acceleration of the
            bullet through the barrel, whereas the armor wearer experiences the
            nearly instantaneous deceleration of the projectile. These are massively
            different in terms of momentum tranfer.

            A .50 BMG bullet has about as much momentum at the muzzle as a 20 lb weight dropped from 2.6 feet in the air (traveling at about 13 FPS), spread the force of that impact over a 10×12″ area of your chest and you’ll shrug it off.

            >Also, the separation of the plates did a lot to spread the focused
            energy of the bullet penetrating the first plate onto a larger area of
            the second plate; putting the plates right up against each other would
            have ended in more penetration on the second plate.

            Steel
            generally will have very little backface deformation anyways, if it
            still stops the bullet it’s likely that there won’t be much difference.

            >Still,
            you’ll note that it was the frame that gave out in the test, much like
            the underlying ribcage would have on the wearer.

            Yes, and the
            frame is held together by some nails and isn’t a single continuous
            structure designed to continue functioning if struck with a lot of force. That thing doesn’t look like it would hold together well if
            you were to strike it with the butt of a rifle.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Neither would your ribcage, that’s why you hit people with rifle butts, ’cause it hurts.

          • nobody

            Do you think people’s bones are made of glass or something? There is a difference between a continuous solid structure and one that’s held together by some nails through metal strapping. If one applied a decent amount of force to that wood box with a rifle butt it would fall apart. If the human rib cage was that weak then you would be able to easily kill someone by kicking them in the chest.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The human skull is considerably stronger than rib bone and can be cracked by a buttstroke; a fleshy foot is not a rifle butt, moron, but well built mixed martial artist do get their ribs broken by kicks. Now as to the AR500 armor, MOA Targets tested 1/2″ AR500 plate (that’d be two of these plates) with 750gr. Amax .50 BMG. The plate did fine at 1000-800 yds. with minimal pitting and no deformation. At 400 yds. it had some slight deformation, but at 300 yds. they stopped the test because the deformation was too considerable. At 100 yds. two stacked plates of AR500 body armor will not evenly distribute the impact, it will deform, it will focus the energy transference onto the deformation center, and the wear will die. Period.

          • nobody

            >The human skull is considerably stronger than rib bone and can be cracked by a buttstroke
            Guess the amount of area that the force of a buttstroke is concentrated on as opposed to a 10″x12″ metal plate. Especially if the force is concentrated on the edge of the stock instead of the flat back.

            >but well built mixed martial artist do get their ribs broken by kicks.
            And that’s focused over a much smaller area than a 10″x12″ steel plate.

            >Now as to the AR500 armor, MOA targets tested 1/2″ AR500 plate (that’d
            be two of these plates) with 750gr. Amax .50 BMG. The plate did fine at
            1000-800 yds. with minimal pitting and no deformation. At 400 yds. it
            had some slight deformation, but at 300 yds. they stopped the test
            because the deformation was too considerable.
            Googled it and couldn’t find a video or any other testing, unless you can provide an actual source I see no reason to believe that as I have yet to see vidoes/pictures of anything small and fast causing considerable backface deformation on steel without penetrating. Also, what is considered unacceptable deformation on a target that is expected to be able to be shot regularly, where even .25″ of deformation per shot would drastically reduce the life of the target, is quite different from what is considered unacceptable on body armor that’s only expected to take a couple hits max.

            >At 100 yds. two stacked plates of AR500 body armor will not even
            distribute the impact, it will deform, it will focus the energy
            transference onto the deformation center, and the wear will die.
            44mm is considered the maximum safe backface deformation on body armor, that is 1.7″, I would love to see a 1.7″ deep divot in a .5″ thick piece of steel left be a .50 bmg bullet without the steel getting penetrated. It is quite clear that you really don’t know much about body armor.

          • Dan

            False .50bmg instantly turns people to liquid even if it doesn’t hit them. 😉

  • nero

    try using the .408 cheytac

  • Wetcoaster

    In terms of further testing, I’m sure .338 LM and .300 WM would of interest to many.

    And for novelty’s sake, how about a muzzle loader?

  • TJbrena

    The spacing between the two plates may have had an effect on the failed penetration. After seeing the round failed to penetrate the second plate after going clean through the first, my mind automatically went to spaced armor used in AFVs, where the first layer alters the trajectory of the penetrator so it tumbles a bit between layers and then hits the inner layer in a less-than-optimal fashion.

    Granted, these plates weren’t sloped to help induce deflection and tumbling, but the effect still remains, though diminished. Then again, .50BMG M8 AP-I isn’t exactly APFSDS in shape or composition, so that theory may be more likely or less likely.

    If IV8888 used some .50 M903 SLAP, that’d be a better test of my theory.

    Maybe try a three layer test of single AR500 plates with spacing (AR500-space-AR500-space-AR500), and then a similar three-layer test with each plate in direct contact with another plate behind it (AR500x2-space-AR500x2-space-AR500x2).

    The Leopard 2’s armor is a good example of spaced armor. Its first armor stage deflects/alters the penetrator’s trajectory, a specially hardened second stage shatters the penetrator, and a softer third stage with high ductility catches the fragments and spalling.

    • Phil Hsueh

      Agree, next time they need to test it with the plates stacked against each other and braced better as well. I think the round lost some of its energy from knocking the plates askew which probably affected its trajectory which would help explain why it didn’t penetrate more than 1 plate and lodge in the second.

    • Dan Kim

      Pretty sure the Leopard 2 is not spaced as in air gapped. It has layered armor of different densities that they refer to as spaced.

      Ar500 space ar500 space ar500 isn’t really a good analog for the leopard 2 but might be for the leopard 1

      • TJbrena

        Good point. I was dealing with a bad internet connection that was dropping every 15 seconds the morning I posted that, so I didn’t have the option or patience to double-check. I had to get to college soon too, so I didn’t have time to troubleshoot either.

  • Zebra Dun

    Personally, 45/70 in an M-14 package please.

  • Lance

    Unfair for AR550 steel 50BMG will defeat any body armor on the market.

  • nobody

    >steel barely deforms
    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    >I hope your ribs are stronger than steel chain, genius.
    I seriously doubt the strength of that chain considering part of it is held in place by tape, also note that the chain failed at a point where it was designed to quickly detach.

    • ostiariusalpha

      My god, your really just going to take the dumb-shovel and dig your way to China, aren’t you? Do you honestly think there’d be LESS back deformation at 100 yrd.? On a 1/2″ of AR500 steel that amount of deformation is grotesque, if you think that’s “barely deformed” then you need to get your eyes checked. The tape job on the right chain link was to hold a steel alan wrench in place, which snapped like a twig when the plate was struck. The left link was whole, but ripped apart just the same. Are you really so incredibly stupid as to continue to maintain that “a 20 lb weight” “travelling at about 13 FPS” could have done the same amount of damage? Anyone that watches the video would know you’re full of horseshit. And the 44mm measurement you mentioned is from the standard set by the National Institute of Justice; it doesn’t refer to the back deformation of the armor plate, but to the depth of indentation in the ballistic clay behind the plate, which even at this 200 yd. shot would go easily past the 44mm standard. Even at that distance, getting shot by a .50 BMG while wearing two 1/4″ AR500 plates would have resulted in a crippling injury at the very least. You sure as hell wouldn’t shrug it off.

      • nobody

        >On a 1/2″ of AR500 steel that amount of deformation is grotesque, if you think that’s “barely deformed” then you need to get your eyes checked.
        Maybe if you plan on using it as a target, as body armor that is perfectly acceptable, you should see how much kevlar deforms.

        >And the 44mm measurement you mentioned is from the standard set by the National Institute of Justice; it doesn’t refer to the back deformation of the armor plate, but to the depth of indentation in the ballistic clay behind the plate, which even at this 200 yd. shot would go easily past the 44mm standard.
        The steel barely bowing out isn’t going to make a 1.7″ dent in the clay.

        Would say more but I don’t feel like editing the quotes so I can actually post.

  • Evan

    Not sure if this is true or merely urban myth, but I was always told that shooting SLAP ammo through a rifle with a muzzle brake like that is an excellent way to injure yourself severely when those sabot bits blow back through the brake. This might not apply to the M107 as opposed to the M82, and it could just be nonsense, but that’s what I learned in the Corps.

  • nobody

    Ceramic plates are made of a mix of ceramic and ballistic fabric and will flex when shot due to the ceramic cracking in that area but won’t necessarily stay deformed. You can see this layered construction if you ever watched any videos where a ceramic rifle plate was cut open after it was shot.

  • Leigh Rich

    AR500….the 500 Beowulf is already here

  • jcitizen

    Now this is the kinda stuff I really grub up! Keep ’em coming TFB!!