BulletSafe has just released their ARAK ballistic shield for law enforcement and other individuals interested in protection from common AR-15 and AK-47 rifle rounds. The new ARAK (“AR” 15, and “AK” 47) ballistic shield is designed to provide Level III ballistic protection while remaining lightweight, and very affordable. NIJ Level III ballistic protection requires vests, armor plates, or shields to protect the user from lead core 5.56mm, and 7.62mm rifle rounds. This includes cartridges from the extremely popular AR-15, and AK-47 style rifles, but also includes .308 lead core rifle rounds as well. For protection against steel core (armor piercing) rounds, the user would need to upgrade to Level IV.
The desire to provide inexpensive ballistic armor protection is one of the founding principles and motivations behind CEO Tom Nardone’s entrance into the ballistic armor field. Nardone helped develop bulletproof fuel tank liners for a Defense helicopter provider using Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWP). The polyethylene that could provide just as good protection as Kevlar, but at a much lower price. When soft body armor vests continued to stay high in price using Kevlar, Nardone decided to start his own company and offer protection at prices often half as much as competitors.
BulletSafe ARAK Ballistic Shield
The BulletSafe ARAK ballistic shield is designed to address the overly burdensome weight issues, while still providing outstanding Level III ballistic protection. If you’re thinking the ARAK is missing out for not achieving Level IV protection, you might be surprised to know that most ballistic shields on the market are also only Level III protection. BulletSafe has already produced a handgun ballistic shield with Level IIIA protection, that has been a success on the market at only $599.00.
BulletSafe ARAK shields are made from lightweight UHMWP (polyethylene), and not Kevlar. This significantly reduces weight while increasing mobility and endurance without sacrificing protection. As someone who was a shield operator for several years, I can attest to the physical exhaustion carrying a heavy ballistic shield on operations causes. Ballistic shields can be awkward, heavy, and burdensome. Having a lighter shield can be a game-changer for fast response with protection.
The need for lightweight armor for personnel, vehicles, and portable shields has been known to law enforcement personnel for decades. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have really highlighted those needs on the battlefield. However, once again, most ballistic protection has used heavy Kevlar reducing troop efficiency and mobility. This same problem has been found in ballistic shields. Any officer who has hefted a shield knows endurance is short-lived, especially in high-intensity stressful situations raising heart rate and breathing.
BulletSafe ARAK Ballistic Shield Specifications
- Material: UHMWP (Polyethylene)
- Ballistic Protection: NIJ Level III (5.56mm & 7.62mm soft core ammo)
- Overall Height: 23 inches
- Overall Width: 15 inches
- Overall Weight: 11.2 pounds
- MSRP: $749.00.
Ballistic Shield Necessity
Though overall crime rates remain at historic lows, the increase in some violent crimes (especially assaults on law enforcement and mass casualty incidents) really highlights the benefits of having a ballistic shield nearby and ready. Ballistic shields have traditionally been assigned only to specially trained Tactical Teams (SWAT).
However, with the introduction of Active Shooter Training after the Columbine High School massacre, law enforcement agencies have recognized first responding patrol officers are the ones most likely to encounter and end an active shooter/mass casualty incident. Current training models train officers to respond to the incident location, and rapidly advance towards the killer to capture, control, or eliminate the threat. With this in mind, equipping Patrol officers with the best equipment to confront these critical incidents has become much more common and accepted. This has included rifles like the AR-15, armor plate carriers, helmets, breaching tools, and even ballistic shields.
In addition, rifles have sadly become more popular with criminals desiring mass casualties. Having a lightweight and compact ballistic shield to provide protection while responding to such events, or providing protection to potential victims is critically important. This opens up potential uses and users to school staff, event staff, high-profile businesses (banks, government offices, theaters, etc.), sports arenas and more. The BulletSafe ARAK could provide excellent protection and be affordable enough most agencies or even individuals could easily acquire one or more ARAK shields to field at the Patrol level.
The selection of ballistic armor should never be taken lightly. The protection of officers and civilians is of the highest importance, and agencies should thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of their ballistic armor selections while recognizing cost management. BulletSafe ballistic armor vests and shields have had some naysayers due to their manufacture in China.
However, these BulletSafe vests and shields have been independently evaluated to ensure they meet stringent NIJ standards. Meeting the protection standards and offering a greatly reduced price is definitely worth considering. Though we have not participated in a ballistic test of the BulletSafe products, we have evaluated and reported on their ballistic vests and rifle plates in the past. They appear well made, lightweight, and a viable option in protection.