There will eventually be a day …

when materials science renders conventional small arms largely obsolete, or at least makes it so you have to aim better.  That’s almost the case now, except that body armor capable of stopping a rifle bullet, and even some more energetic pistol bullets, is heavy and expensive.  Not something your average cop, criminal or citizen is going to wear around casually.  But what if you could make conventional soft body armor stop a rifle bullet?  That would have serious military implications.  I suppose that’s when we move to particle beam weapons.  But remember, particle beam weapons don’t kill people, high energy neutrons do!

15 thoughts on “There will eventually be a day …”

  1. “…high energy neutrons do”

    Pfft, I’ll stick with high energy photons thank you very much.

    Woot, a whole new way to get into ‘heavy and slow’ vs ‘light and fast’ arguments! :P

  2. If making holes in an enemy becomes too difficult, one could deliver a a toxic chemical along with the bullet. Stopping the enemy’s aggressions might be delayed compared to a bullet’s wound track, but this would be better than nothing.

    While current ethics and international law prohibit this type weapon, there is nothing technical standing in the way from personally delivering nerve agents along with your bullets to an individual.

    Particle beams – too fussy. How about lasers for blinding the enemy, (sometimes done with “rangefinders” during the Cold War), or dropping personalized cement blocks on them? If a 250 pound cement bomb can be rigged with a smart bomb package to take out a tank next to a mosque without collateral damage, why not a cluster bomb with heat seeking bomblets about 10 pound apiece?

    KISS works.

  3. Chemical weapons are too indiscriminate and dangerous to use in such a manner. What happens when you have a malf? Or if the bullet misses and releases the gas when it ricochets?

  4. Seems like a great product, but I’m skeptical of its utility in the rifle context. They mention only the speed of the projectile it stopped, not its mass. Rifle rounds have much higher kenetic energies than pistol rounds and its the kenetic energy that is as much a problem for soft armor as penetration… Its great if this stuff provides much greater protection against handgun rounds, but it seems very unlikely this will provide rifle protection that “your average cop, criminal or citizen is going to wear around casually.”

    Carbon nanotubes could lead to much better ballistic plates, but that seems like another area entirely…

  5. This seems to me more like one-half of a very effective combination. A thin layer of bulletproof material over another thin layer of super-material shock absorber would essentially be the modern equivalent of chain mail and leather.

    Obviously personal shields would be better, but there’s always the chance that someone will use a laser weapon to cause an atomic explosion. It’s just too risky.

  6. Nice Dune reference, Wolfwood.

    Also, why bother when upgrading projectiles when you could just design a “lightning gun”? Doesn’t matter how well armored the guy is, if he’s grounded, he fries.

  7. Shoot for the head and the inner thighs.

    Use Hollow Points.

    Nex ut Tyrannus.


    P.S. Remember “they” line up on each side of the door and drywall etc. does NOT stop Hi veliocity rounds.

  8. If the current heavy armor, which I believe is only rated to stop three close hits of 7.62mm ball ammo, becomes widespread, it doesn’t mean the end of conventional small arms. It just means the end of small caliber automatic weapons like the AK-74 and M-16.

    Larger caliber (though slower firing) rifles are likely to keep ahead in the race with body armor for some time.

  9. Brad – My argument every time I hear a Pentagon drone swearing the M16/M4 in 5.56 is the right choice for years to come.

    One day, we’ll get into a real war with a real military that wears real body armor. We better have rifles that are far more accurate than M4 carbines or far more powerful – preferably both.

  10. Oh, it will stop a 9mm fine. But what about a .45 long, with its increased diameter, mass, inertia and momentum? From a bull barrel? What about that, huh?

    I’m working on a vest made of 14″ of ballistic gelatine, since nothing seems to get through that in the comparison tests.

    And that M4 bullet with a nanotube core can’t be far behind. Think I’ll have Izhmash run me off a batch with my next order.

  11. Eventually we’ll have to fight to get AP handgun rounds back, simply because cheap, comfortable body armor will have made conventional ammunition effectively useless…

    But let’t take our fights one at a time. ;)

Comments are closed.