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Will Textbooks in a Backpack Stop Bullets?

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In a recent day to the range, USA Firearm Training decided to answer a question that when revealed led to some results that we did not expect.

School shootings are one of the most fearful and persistent thoughts that go through our head. Whether we are parents, students, or teachers ourselves, the idea of a heavily armed and highly disturbed person walking into a place that has barely any means to defend itself and unleashing carnage is a horrific concept.

Many times over many years, politicians and citizens have sought to even the odds by arming trained faculty of schools in the event of a shooter, but have been met with very little success around the country.

So at our range day, we expected to show just how defenseless students are, by firing shots at the closest thing most schoolchildren have as protection. Their textbooks and their backpack. What we thought would happen, would be a bullet cutting through like there was nothing there, but as you can see in the video below, the results were a bit more than even we were expecting.

As you can see in the video, we fired a .380 pistol at the backpack and six textbooks within, but we were not even able to penetrate through the second book with that kind of firepower. But that wasn't the only kind of firepower that we had with at the range, that day.

Next we tried a shot with an AR-15 and even this powerful rifle, with rounds traveling at over 3000 ft per second could not penetrate through the third book. It was at that point that we knew that there was something to this and like our own at the range Mythbusters, the final test went for overkill. As we shot 5 rounds in quick succession, aiming for the same place and found that not one bullet penetrated past the fifth book and none of them had gotten through.

So interestingly enough, there is a level of protection for your students at their school. Shielding yourself with a backpack full of textbooks can be mighty effective in a last resort scenario.

Is there anything else you would like us to test and see its bulletproof capabilities? Let us know in the comments below. But be sure to take a look at our “What is and isn't bulletproof” article.

Until next time.

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8 Responses to Will Textbooks in a Backpack Stop Bullets?

  1. David Church October 30, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    Schools don’t use text books any more in my part of the country just three ring binders how many of them does it take to stop a 9 milli

  2. Phil Owens SFC Ret October 30, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    In ancient times silk was used as a defensive article, it would be interesting to see how effective it would be when matched with other items normally carried.

  3. Sandy W. October 30, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    A .380 is the smallest of the .38 cal, the AR-15 is simply a .22 bullet (.223) and books wlll stop them, but will not stop a 30.06 which will go through a rail road track with armor piercing bullets, I have seen it at our shooting club’s range, yet the AR-15 is the gun liberals like to demonize and it’s not near as powerful as the reliable old deer rifle 30.30. By the way, we live in ain in twin city of Arkansas and Texas and all 20 schools still use books.

  4. T. Hannibal Gray October 31, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    Yeah, but the two most prevalent rounds in the world are 9mm and .223. While magnum rounds would go through all five, most thugs don’t carry magnums. They are hard to hide in your waistband and they are heavy to lug around all day. I think this test was pretty interesting. There are crazies out there who flip out and start blasting. Its good to know that some kids might be saved by their ever present backpacks.

  5. Charlie Waters November 3, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    The pen is mightier than the sword

  6. John January 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    What about one ream of paper

    • Jacob Paulsen January 12, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      John, 1 ream of paper is probably equivalent to 2-3 of the text books we tested in this video. Should stop most small arms fire and maybe 1 or 2 shots from a rifle but repeated shots would penetrate.

  7. Lee Moore June 23, 2017 at 7:02 am #

    It’s not just the stopping that matters, it’s also the slowing down. In the first test the bullet got stopped by the second text book. Which implies that it got slowed down a lot by the first one, possibly turning a lethal shot into something survivable, even if there’d only been one text book. And if the angle had been more like 45 degrees rather than 90 maybe the bullet wouldn’t even have got through the first text book.

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