INVESTIGATION: Bulletproof backpacks, can they stop a bullet? Kevlar shield and insert tested

TULSA - Children are sent to school thinking they'll be safe.

But tragedy can strike anywhere at anytime, and that's why some parents have spent big bucks for a bulletproof backpack.

Ed Burke, VP Sales and Marketing for Bullet Blocker , says sales are skyrocketing. He told 2NEWS his business has grown 200 percent over the last year.

But the backpacks aren't cheap. We bought a pink one with a DuPont Kevlar shield built inside listed for $250 on Amazon.

We also purchased a bulletproof shield insert to fit inside any backpack for $110. Both claim to withstand a 9 mm bullet and the insert is also supposed to be able to withstand a .44 Magnum.

We met up with Officer Perry Lewis at the Tulsa Police Department gun range to test the products. Officer Lewis agreed to shoot the backpack and insert using a 9 mm, 40-caliber and an assault rifle.

RESULTS FROM ABOUT EIGHT YARDS AWAY

9 mm pistol

  • Backpack with built-in shield. Bullet entered but did not exit. Product passes the test.
  • Bulletproof insert. Bullet entered but did not exit. Product passes the test.

40-caliber pistol

  • Backpack with built in shield. Bullet entered but did not exit. Product passes the test.
  • Bulletproof insert. Bullet entered but did not exit. However, there was significant damage to the insert. Still, the product passes the test.

"That kinetic energy would put a pretty good wallop on you, but the whole idea of this is to keep the bullet from passing through your body and so far I'm impressed it's stopping it," said Officer Lewis.  

We took our test a step further.

Since many school shootings involve a high-powered rifle, we had Officer Lewis step back to 25 feet using a .223 AR15.

RESULTS OF AR15 FROM 25 YARDS AWAY

  • Backpack with built in shield did not pass. The bullet entered and exited through the back.
  • The bulletproof insert did not pass. The bullet entered and exited through the back.

Officer Lewis wasn't too surprised.

"You almost have to have ceramic plates to defeat those rounds, just like our military wears."

We shared our test results with Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent,Dr. Keith Ballard. He says he's not opposed to students carrying the bulletproof backpack but says ultimately it's up to the parents.

"As a parent, grandparent, superintendent we have to work together on this and parents have to go to whatever extent they feel they need to feel safe and I would certainly cooperate with something like this."  

Back in 1999, a 12-year-old opened fire outside a middle school in Fort Gibson. No one was killed but a seventh grader later found a bullet lodged in his algebra book, which was inside his backpack.

With that in mind, we put two large books inside one of our backpacks. And Officer Lewis took aim with the assault rifle. To our surprise, the second book stopped the bullet from exiting.

We talked to licensed counselor Claudia Arthrell about the potential dangers of giving your child a bulletproof backpack.

She fears the product could give a child the illusion of being 100 percent protected, which they are not.

Arthrell says parents should ask their children if they're comfortable carrying a bulletproof backpack and give them the option to say no.

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