Is Aluminum Bulletproof? Demo Ranch Tests

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While your standard tin foil is, of course, not bulletproof, there is a long history of using aluminum for armor in fighting vehicles. Its relative strength to density (and therefore weight) makes it ideal for a variety of applications that need rigidity and strength. Given this, it’s easy to see how it’s proliferated across the firearms industry with the AR platform being the prime example.

The most commonly known is the M2 Bradley, Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which had an early reputation for being a bit, shall we say, “easily penetrated?” Since its introduction, various steel and laminate reinforcement has been added to the weapons platform to increase its resistance to ballistic penetration, though many would argue that this armor is unnecessary as combat losses have been relatively minimal.

The video is a fun expose into terminal ballistics especially into soft materials (as the aluminum is cast, not forged), but it is sadly missing many details such as the type of aluminum. For example 7075 is stronger than 6061 as (both commonly used in the industry), but there are a fantastical array of alloys that have not been tested.

Still, it’s a fun expose into the behavior of materials to ballistic threat and how the depth of material has a significant impact on handling impact. Fortunately for us viewers, Matt and friends unfortunately accuracy shows the impact behavior on the edge of material.

Check it out below. Calibers shot range from .22LR to full API .50 BMG.

 



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • MIKE

    Didnt the atf change their mind on the question of shouldering a pistol with a sig arm brace. Hope he doesnt get a visit from them due to this video.

    • Jacob

      He doesnt shoulder it. He puts it against his cheek. Ive followed demo ranch for a while and one of his earlier videos when he first gets his scorpion covers this

  • Lawbob

    What does tin foil have to do with aluminum?

  • Perry

    The aluminum armor alloys are 5456, 5086 and 5083, but in each case has to be certified as armor. Some of them are rated only for blast resistance, others for direct impact. All take variables of impact type, thickness of material and the way in which the material is fabricated. Neither 6061 nor 7075 have any sort of armor ratings.

    • Secundius

      Both 6000 series and 7000 series Aluminum are Load Bearing Aluminum’s. Not Meant as a Armor Protection…

  • JumpIf NotZero

    “Is X bulletpoorf? questions are the lowest form of gun posts.

    Because cotton and feathers are sometimes bulletproof while sometimes Kevlar is not.

    • derpmaster

      Especially when the tests are completely and totally unscientific. This dude lacks even the most fundamental knowledge of materials science.

      I used to be a fan but his videos have gone down in quality so much that I just skip them in my youtube feed.

      • Drew Coleman

        I’m wondering how long before he hurts himself by shooting metal targets so close.

    • raz-0

      The answer is always: How much of it do you have and how is it packaged?

  • Don Ward

    Are bullets aluminum proof? Come here next week as we lazily rehash someone’s YouTube channel and find out!

  • noob

    what if you had an aluminium plate faced with a laminate of hard ceramic?

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      I am nowhere close to experienced enough to answer that question. It would be pretty cool if it would work though.

      • Tom Currie

        Ceramic facing is great, provided you can convince the enemy to only shoot at you ONCE before changing to another target

  • ZEBRA-wit-RABIES

    Is it bullet proof??

  • Ranger Rick

    I may be mistaken but I believe that aluminum armor was utilized first on the M113 series of APC’s, years before the Bradley AFV’s.

  • Badwolf

    test like these, as long as they are done safely, should continue and i think we should support it (or at least not ridicule it). more knowledge and information is always better in my opinion.

    im not saying you should use it, not when proven quality armor is available. but youll never know. someday useless information might become useful.

  • Steve

    What fun and what an interesting collection of weapons used in the test. Sure it is not a lab test but it never was to be. Keep it up.

  • Secundius

    1.6-inches (~41mm) of ALON (Al2O3) aka Aluminum Oxynitride, will STOP an AP (Armor Piercing) 12.7x99mmR/BMG at Point Blank Range…

  • махатма ганди

    Russian Aluminum helmet ZSh 1-2. Protects from a Tokarev pistol. Weight – 3.5-3.8 kg.

    • buzzman1

      Helmets are designed to protect from blast fragments and anything extra is nice. New helmets are being designed for ballistic protection.

  • Uniform223

    “The most commonly known is the M2 Bradley, Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which had an early reputation for being a bit, shall we say, “easily penetrated?” Since its introduction, various steel and laminate reinforcement has been added to the weapons platform to increase its resistance to ballistic penetration, ”

    Aluminum (or aluminium as the British people pronounce it) was used as a light weight form or armor on the Bradley and M113 against small arms. The reputation that its armor was easily penetrated didn’t come from the use of small arms against it but rather RPGs and AT Mines. Giving the Bradley IFV reactive armor was to increase its survivability against RPGs and other AT threats.

    • Secundius

      BAE, that Now Owns FMC. Is Producing a Reconnaissance Scout (Bradley) Light Tank of about 42-tons. Armed with a 40Mk.4 1.574-inch (40x364mmR/70-caliber) Bofors Autocannon, with an Indirect Range in excess of 12,000-meters. Cyclic Rate is Unknown at this time, but Naval Version is ~300rpm…

  • jon spencer

    It is bullet resistance not bullet proof.
    Article is nothing but click bait.
    Next time use a engineer with some firearm experience to do some fact checking.

  • marathag

    The big problem with Aluminum armor for vehicles is fire.

    Google on pics for ‘USS Belknap’

    But shooting at Al ‘Mystery Metal’ is a waste of time for all for an armor test.

    You can get Al alloys that are better than HY80, and other worse than mild steel.

    • George

      Aluminum won’t burn under these conditions. What’s inside burns. Steel hulls are ruined (ballistically) by fire but maintain shape. Al hulls melt. Does not really affect the repairability or recoverability. Burned out is wrecked.

      As pointed out below, 5456, 5056, 5053 (newest 5059) are Al armors. Random scrap Al is not useful for comparisons.

      Nor is a thick 7″ block when Al vehicle armor is 0.5 to 1.625″ thick normally. Penetration equations / experiments on pseudoinfinite bodies versus thin shells don’t come out the same at all.

      Better would be something like the 1.5″ 5056 M-113 side/front armor or the Bradley side armor which is that with two thin (0.125?) RHA steel panels spaced out in front of it. Easier to get 4340 if your name doesn’t start with “Major General…”. 4340 and RHA are close enough in specification.

    • Mike Lashewitz

      I was on the USS Ticonderoga CG-47 when we had a 4 deck fire. The aluminum went up like paper. The door to the saluting battery and Super ARBOC melted off anf fell down into the fire. If one of the SARBOC had cooked off it would have been like a grain elevator explosion tearing the ship in two. I was the #1 investigator in that fire.

      I witnessed heroes that day, Mark Zurboc was an excellent team leader. I discovered the fire in the uptake trunk room during a hurricane while going on a missile shoot for Sen Barry Goldwater.
      I lived it.

  • J-

    CIT (cash in transit) armored vans are armored with aluminum with a fiber spall liner. Using steel would weigh so much that the vehicle would be too heavy and wear out the chassis, breaks, tires so quickly it wouldn’t be cost effective. Aluminum provides enough resistance to slow down a bullet and deform it that the liner catches it.

    Then again, armored vans like that are not designed for use in war, and are only rated to about a NIJ Level III protection.

  • Jaun Arc

    It amuses me that so many are taking this as a serious test to the capabilities of aluminum, and not for what it is: An excuse to shoot things on film for entertainment value.

  • buzzman1

    The Bradly was given Spall liners not for protection against bullets to try to minimize deaths from the impacts of RPGs and explosives by containing the metal shards that break free on impact and shoot around the interior of the vehicle but also the liquefied metal that sets off fires in the vehicle after a hit. Even if everyone on board is killed from over pressure, the vehicle can be quickly repaired and returned to the fight.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    I enjoy these guys!

    Fun is fun. Long as nobody loses an eye.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    No Dodges are not bullet proof. I own a Toyota Tundra and I would also be hesitant about claiming a Dodge… Damned cheesy aluminum blocks…