This article is a great one for urban preppers or super hardcore folks anticipating major conflict in and around their homes. We want to explore some of the considerations surrounding the idea of bulletproofing a car.
If you came to this article because you’re interested in how much it costs to bulletproof a car You should CLICK through to the link, and read an article more specific to the question of “How Much to Bulletproof a Car?”.
Otherwise, we are going to take a broader, conceptual approach about various aspects of bulletproofing a car, namely why it’s expensive, and why it’s hard to do. Additionally, how you can begin to think of defense in a vehicle from a different perspective by understanding the underlying components required to bulletproof a car.
Why someone may want a bulletproofed vehicle
What kind of person, except a head of state, is looking into a bulletproofed vehicle?
That’s easy, it’s not too far-fetched to think that we live in a world where an extra insurance policy could make sense – the human body is fragile – why not protect against bullets in your daily commute?
If you are a business owner that transports a lot of cash , or other valuables, or operates in a dangerous area, a bulletproofed vehicle might make sense.
If you have a significant piece of property next to a hunting area, and you need to be in your vehicle on that property often, it might make sense to look into a bulletproofed vehicle. A luxury, sure, but not a super stretch.
If you have bodyguards, or have kidnapping threats, or are a public figure, or a person who is in the public spotlight, an armored vehicle might be a relatively easy choice to make.
If you have extra money and you want to increase your overall security during travel, a bulletproofed vehicle might make sense.
If you live next to a border town, like Juarez, Mexico, and you are constantly in the middle of Cartel disputes by way of your geographical positioning, it might make sense to look into an armored vehicle.
There are a hundred other reasonable excuses to research vehicle armoring. You don’t have to be in law enforcement, a billionaire, or a drug dealer for consideration. In fact, quite the opposite, as innovations and technologies improve in the vehicle and armoring spaces, it makes more sense than ever as a prepper or pragmatist, to consider using your excess income from your business as a capital expenditure to invest in a bulletproof vehicle.
Short of being a business leader, you could also make some practical home-based modifications on a vehicle to help it become more “bulletproof”. Simply asking questions about vehicle armor used to be met with a side-eye, but today it’s a much more mainstream conversation. Read on for more about the concepts surrounding vehicle bulletproofing.
Why is a bulletproof car so expensive?
This article is broader in topic than just “how much does it cost to bulletproof a vehicle”, so CLICK THAT LINK, if you just want to talk about finances and cost structure; it’s a much more in-depth look on that topic.
We’d rather talk about the underlying components and the design ideologies that drive the bulletproof vehicle in this article.
Here are some reasons why a bulletproof car is expensive:
- Almost every car you might want to bulletproof has to be custom armored – it’s not like you have off the shelf components that are available to plug-and play
- It’s a lot cheaper if you want everyone to know you have an armored vehicle – it’s more expensive if you want to keep it a secret
- Bulletproofing materials are not cheap – whether we are talking about AR500 plate steel, or sandwiched plexiglass windows, or spectra or kevlar paneling, it adds up inch by inch
- You are adding significant weight onto the chassis and that requires proper considerations, including reinforcements
- The interest outside of law enforcement and military customers is negligible, and so the demand is met with huge price points generally
- It takes hundreds of hours of fitting and replacement work to armor a vehicle properly
What does bulletproof really mean when it comes to vehicles?
You will never be able to cover every single possibility. Planning and understanding defense in depth, and layering security concepts is the only way using an armored vehicle ever really makes sense. If you are trying to outrun a helicopter with a precision shooter on board, you are not going to win. If you are being followed by 5 cartel members on motorcycles, you aren’t going to be able to shed them easily.
There are real world concerns that simply armoring a vehicle cannot accommodate for, and risks that cannot be mitigated fully, through bulletproofing a vehicle alone.
Explosives can render a vehicle inoperable quickly, no matter how bulletproof – that goes for EMP’s and other “off the shelf” problems.
Additionally, OpSec is important, if you’re in the realm of considering bulletproof vehicles. OpSec means you have to have support, but also support that can be trusted. It’s a much more complicated equation. So know what you’re getting into. And OpSec is only one of many variables. There are a dozen other variables outside of the armored vehicle part.
Some additional considerations:
- Wheels are not able to be effectively bulletproofed without significant accommodation
- What is it you are trying to defend against? A vehicle can only take so much lead on target before it effectively loses too much value to keep you safe – is an armored vehicle the best solution to the concerns you have?
- You need a robust system of solutions if you are genuinely looking to be in a position to benefit from an armored vehicle
- Do you have offensive considerations and healthcare and aid considerations factored in?
- What level of protection is reasonable to assume? Do you legitimately need to handle fire from a .50 caliber bullet? Are you overthinking the actual baseline needs?
- If you are traveling with a capable security operation around you, you may be able to get away with selective armoring around crucial components and crucial areas of the vehicle
- Often, better security planning can mitigate the absolute need for bulletproofing a vehicle
What are some things about bulletproofing a car that aren’t normally considered unless you are in the vehicle armoring community?
The following should offer some insights into bulletproofing and its various considerations:
- You’re going to be adding about double the weight that is currently on the vehicle frame/chassis, that means you need to reengineer things a lot
- Buying windows and panels means buying and fabricating windows and panels – it is not like you can call up and order a 2012 Camry bulletproof windshield
- Bulletproofing takes up space – the right window might be 1.5-3 inches thick depending on what you need. Car doors and body panels aren’t built for that – not for the weight, and not for the thickness
- Sourcing materials is very difficult, even with the rapid expansion of distributors because it goes to demand driven clientele first, and the retail market is miniscule compared to the government market
- If you’re doing it yourself, the shipping alone will scare you – even if you have set aside an appropriate budget for the process
- How bulletproof do you need it? You can’t simply put an NIJ protection level of IIA in place if you need to stop a 7.62 (the minimum standard would be III)
- You’ll need a mix of materials, some steel, some composite, some glass, some even aluminum, depending on your vehicle
- There is a lot of fabrication work involved, and a lot of changes have to be made on most vehicles because of the fabrication needs and the size of the material components.
- Maintenance, fuel and upkeep costs are significantly increased with an armored vehicle
Can you bulletproof a car yourself?
Absolutely you can bulletproof a car either partially, or fully, depending on the tooling and time, and financial resources you have. Whether or not that end product meets your exacting standards is a different question.
Some considerations if you plan on bulletproofing your vehicle yourself:
- If you can allow for external and internal mounting onto existing frameworks you will save yourself a lot of time and money and headache – but it won’t be covert from an aesthetic perspective
- The more steel you use and the less composites you have to shape and mount, the easier it will be to get it done in a timely manner because procurement is harder for layered bulletproof composites than it is for steel – but you better be prepared to handle the weight and know a good welder
- Windows are thousands of dollars and unless you know how to laminate properly, you’ll want to find a reputable dealer/distributor and have proper tooling to cut and mount them
- You don’t need to bulletproof the entire vehicle sometimes. If you aren’t carrying passengers, you can focus on front cabin areas, gas tank, motor and drivetrain components, and not worry as much about side windows (except in your driving area), etc.
- Wheels are a weak link on car bulletproofing, make sure you are prepared to handle the nuance of finding ways to protect not only the rubber, but specifically the hub areas and the axle connections
- The undercarriage is a different beast – you don’t need to worry about bulletproofing the underside of your vehicle, but you may need off road, obstacle, bomb or spall protection
Some final notes about the concept of bulletproofing a vehicle
It’s important to note that for a few thousand dollars you can buy personal body worn ballistic armor and other components that can keep you pretty shielded from an attack, that may be much more inline with actual needs, instead of having a moving bunker built. Besides: What is the cost of an armored vehicle?
The best bet if you are wanting to explore vehicle armoring seriously, is to dial in the exact need for your day-to-day situation. Plan around the security operations in place, and if it’s more than just a novelty, realize you can’t go it alone.
That statement goes for doing the actual armoring work, but more importantly, the fact that defending against a violent and deadly threat is often not realistic in a solo fashion. Sure, person against person you might be able to mitigate the threat, but if you are constantly under threat of bullets flying towards you, there are a lot of things that need to be considered, and a bulletproof car is not the number one point of concern.
In combination with proper planning, proper security operations and proper resources, an armored vehicle can be a nice to have, but again, it comes down to tempering expectations with reality.
For all others, the novelty of having a bulletproof vehicle is cool, and you can accomplish a lot with some ingenuity, elbow grease and a decent budget. But if you want to explore it in the most in-depth sense, you should be looking at how you are addressing security from a holistic perspective, because vehicle armoring satisfies only a tiny portion of the threat mitigation spectrum.