Posted on December 14 2015
Marble Armor 2
The Saga Continues
by Jason Ross
It’s not every day that you discover something ultra-badass. One day last year, I pawed through the internet researching “how to armor cars and ATVs.” All the answers I pulled could be summed up with: “lots of AR500 steel.”
If you know AR500 steel, then you know that it’s not a great answer. Adding AR500 to your car or ATV always requires a near-complete adjustment of the suspension and a lot of other things.
But two tid-bits came together in my mind: a YouTube video where a couple guys stop a 9mm round with layered fiber glass PLUS a tiny comment on survivalistboards.com where some guy wondered out loud about how marbles might do as armor.
I stuck those two pieces of internet chatter together, and now we have Marble Armor. Nobody was more surprised than I to see it actually work.
By now, we’ve shot the living heck out of our marble armor and the jury is in: this shit works!
With the help of Rich Ryan, the wunderkind behind the YouTube sensation, FullMag and Rated RR, we filmed the marble armor doing its thing in super slo-mo.
We’ve received a lot of wonky comments about the first marble armor video, but as internet trolls often do, those guys miss the point. Marble armor is light, effective armor that you can make in your garage that’ll stop a freaking AK-47 round! That’s a big deal. Up-armor your Honda Civic like a drug lord for a hundred bucks, and you don’t even need to beef up the suspension!
Sounds like a good deal to me.
Here’s why our marble armor rules:
- It’s light. The one-layer of marbles plus resin plus fiberglass weighs in at less than half of 1/4 inch AR500 steel. It works for cars and ATVs without changing the suspension.
- It’s easy. AR500 is a bitch to machine. You can’t cut it, except with a plasma torch, and it’s almost impossible to drill holes in it.
- It’s Do-it-yourself. Without any special tools, you can make car or ATV armor in your garage with supplies you can buy from Home Depot and WallMart.
Here are a couple questions we get asked:
Can Marble Armor be used as body armor plates? I wouldn’t. Using fiberglass resin as the binder between the marbles, we’re getting a LOT of resin “splash.” The fragmentation all flies backward from the plate, but some of it’s bound to get in your face. We developed marble armor as car armor, not body armor. BUT, we’re still working on possible body armor applications — strictly as a DIY option.
Why don’t you put a steel plate over the marbles? We actually think that putting anything over the marbles will cause the armor to fail. The reason marbles can defeat a bullet is because of the shape of the marbles. The bullet turns (yaws) when it hits the hard spheres causing the bullet to strike the fiber glass “catcher’s mitt” from a blunted side instead of a sharp nose. A proper bullet causes a massive amount of force to concentrate on a very small spot — the bullet’s nose. A bullet flying properly can easily penetrate fiberglass and almost all other materials. However, when the bullet turns the tiniest bit to the side, it then strikes with its force spread across a cross-section that is dozens, if not hundreds, of times as large as the bullet’s nose. Ergo, defeating a bullet becomes much easier once it’s turned.
What happens to the bullet once it has turned, striking fiberglass? As you can see in these slo-mo videos, the bullet vaporizes. That’s not a big surprise considering the nature of lead. Under that amount of compressive force, lead turns to a liquid. Splat!
If we were to place any type of plate OVER the marbles, the bullet would stabilize and NOT turn. The bullet would punch through the plate and that hole would hold the tail of the bullet in line with the nose, thus forcing the bullet to fly straight no matter what the nose struck. We want the tail to yaw, allowing the body of the bullet to turn from its flight path. A cover plate of any kind would reduce the amount of yaw, or turn, thus concentrating force on the nose.
What’s next for marble armor? My dad’s going to make another round with truck bed liner instead of resin. We think the truck bed liner will reduce the number of marbles that fall off when the plate flexes, plus, there won’t be as much splash. He’s also running tests on how light we can get the fiberglass and how thin the binder. Stay tuned for his upcoming video. Also, we want to test long rifle bullets against the armor: 30-06, .308 and .300 Ultra mag. Last, I saw my dad measuring our Ranger side-by-side ATVs yesterday, so I assume he’s looking to make marble door plates and front armor for our Rangers.
Marble armor embodies ReadyMan. It’s cheap. It’s clever. And, since we’re not a manufacturer of armor, we can offer this killer DIY trick to members without worrying about how it hurts our bottom line. Nobody else really has a reason to do this.
Please comment and send us pictures of your own experiments and share your ideas in the comment field or on our message board.