How Does Bullet Resistant Glass Work?

Bullet resistant glass is a fairly modern invention with a lot of interesting uses. While it is marketed as protection against bullets that is only because that’s the most effective metric to properly convey its true properties: shatterproof, strong, and see-through . In truth there are a number of different modern uses for bulletproof glass though admittedly the most common fall under protection, self preservation, and safety.

History

Bullet resistant glass was first discovered, interestingly by accident, by French chemist Edouard Benedictus. As the story goes while working with a liquid nitrate solution he dropped a beaker which while broken had not shattered. He attributed this interesting find to the thin layer of plastic coating the beaker which would go on to lay the foundation for bulletproof glass of the future. In 1909 Benedictus filed a patent in France for laminated safety glass which was composed of a layer of celluloid between two sheets of glass. From there the story is one of regular innovation until we get to what we see and use today.

Uses

Historically war has been the great driver of innovation and this may not be too far from the truth for bulletproof glass as well. During World War I bullet resistant glass was used for the eye holes of gas masks to prevent the glass from shattering or breaking and exposing soldiers to harmful chemicals. Later, in World War II a stronger and bulkier innovated bullet resistant glass was used in vehicles to protect soldiers in trouble areas. From there it’s seen uses for high profile potential targets of assassination. The Popemobile is one example. Bullet resistant glass was used during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Additionally all of the windows of the White House were equipped with bullet resistant glass after Pearl Harbor.

How Does it Work?

The basic idea behind bullet resistant glass is a polycarbonate material that is layered between two ordinary panes of glass in a process of lamination. Polycarbonate is a basic tough and flexible plastic that you might know by some of its brand names: Lexan, Tuffak, or Cyrolon. All bullet resistant glass uses two panes of thick glass because the first is designed to absorb the initial impact and distribute the force among the flexible plastic between the two panes so that the projectile doesn’t have enough energy to make it through the second pane. Bullet resistant glass because of its multiple layers is usually at least 4 inches thick but may be thicker depending on what power of rounds it needs to be able to stop.

How Are Safes Fireproofed?

Fireproof safes are quickly becoming the industry standard and can offer a great amount of utility in the preservation of documents and other potentially flammable materials. However, have you ever wondered exactly how these safes are fireproofed? It’s not quite as simple as it may seem and there are a lot of different methods as well as regular innovations to the fireproofing methods. Here we’ll look at some common ways a safe is fireproofed as well as the pros and cons of particular methods. Next time you are interested in purchasing a fireproof safe you can be more informed and make a better decision to get exactly what you want out of your safe.

 Fireproofing safes has a bit of a history and has been a primary concern for safe manufacturers since the late 19th century. Henry Brown is credited with the first fire retardant safe in 1886 built from forged metal. Since then we’ve come a long ways and pioneered a lot of different techniques to maintain low internal temperatures.

Gypsum Board

The most common method for fireproofing safes is the use of gypsum boards (drywall) placed between sheets of metal on the exterior of the safe. The reason why gypsum board is so effective in combatting fire is because it contains hydrates that when exposed to sufficient heat release in the form of vapourized water or steam. This means that so long as the gypsum board contains hydrates the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed the boiling point of water. Interestingly, when a fire resistant safe is exposed to fire the water vapor will fill the inside of the safe and act as both a way to maintain a low internal temperature (raises the flash point) but also works as a pressure seal against the external heat of the fire. The trick here is maintaining a proper balance between humidity and heat inside the safe for a predetermined amount of time.

Concrete Composite

In addition to gypsum boards there are a number of more high tech solutions to build effective fire resistant safes. Another method that is becoming more common is using a concrete based  composite material to fill the voids in a fire resistant safe. This offers a very different approach to the fireproofing method and usually relies on sealing the safe with intumescent tubes rather than venting it like with gypsum. Basically this material is engineered to seal off the interior and conduct heat very slowly and thus protecting the interior of the safe for enough time.

While concrete composite safes are generally considered to be higher quality they are also usually much heavier and much more expensive. It’s a reasonable trade off and something to consider when you are interested in purchasing a fire safe. One last important detail to note is that fire safes constructed with gypsum board need to be replaced after being exposed to fire. Usually the manufacturer will guarantee a free replacement but just another thing to keep in mind.

Supplemental Home Security

Home security when used properly should be a thorough network of tools and preventative measures working together to keep you, your family, and your home safe and secure. A good security system is the sum of a variety of small and simple precautions. There is no catch-all when it comes to home security and there are always additional supplements that can bolster your security system. Even if you have an all inclusive security system there are a lot of ways to further secure your home. Here we’ll look at some easy ideas that you can implement to keep your home and family safe.

Get a Guard Dog

Owning a dog can be a great way to deter intruders and give you some advance warning if there is an intruder. You don’t need the toughest dog around but you do need your dog to be well trained and loyal. If you have young children it is important to find a dog breed with a mild temperament and ensure that it is comfortable and not aggressive around your children. Most breeds will work fine as a backup alarm system but some breeds may be better suited for home security because of their protective nature and natural loyalty.

Prepare for Self Defense

A personal firearm is one form of security that can be effective in protecting your family in a dangerous situation. If you do purchase a firearm be sure to take the appropriate training courses to be able to use it safely and always keep it locked up in a secure gun safe. If you are squeamish about the fatal potential of a gun there is a wide assortment of non-lethal ammunition available. Additionally there are a number of non-lethal firearm alternatives like pepper spray or tasers that can be equally effective in thwarting a home invasion.

Join the Neighborhood Watch

One great preventative measure for home security is to maintain an active presence in the security and protection of your neighborhood. Joining or creating a neighborhood watch is a great way to get your neighborhood interested and active about home security. Doing so will both discourage theft and crime in your neighborhood as well as help you develop positive relationships with your neighbors. Good neighbors can be one of the greatest assets in supplementing your home security and you never know when you’ll need them.

Concealed Carry Permits

While the majority of firearm owners may have no need for a concealed carry permit there are some that desire to exercise their freedom or have reason to need a concealed carry permit. As with most gun laws there is a lot of variation from state to state. While the majority of states in America handle concealed carry permits via the ‘shall issue’ licensing stipulations there are some states with no restrictions and others that simply will not issue a concealed carry permit.

Unrestricted

This means that there is no permit required for a concealed carry permit. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘constitutional carry.’ These states are Alaska, Vermont, Arizona, Wyoming (for residents only), and Montana (outside of city limits).

Shall Issue

A ‘shall issue’ stance on concealed carry permits means that gun owners that desire a concealed carry permit need only to meet the requirements and pay a small fee in order to get their permit. There is no need with the ‘shall issue’ stance to demonstrate a good cause or give any reason for wanting the permit. The basic guidelines (bear in mind these may vary from state to state) are:

Residency in the state of application

Fingerprints must be taken and kept on file

A clean background check

Attend a firearm safety class

Pass a firearm proficiency test

Pay a fee

May Issue

A ‘may issue’ stance on concealed carry permits requires the same qualifications as the ‘shall issue’ states but with the addition of proof of good cause. The issuance of a concealed carry permit in ‘may issue’ states is partially at the discretion of the local law enforcement. However, some states are much more willing to issue a concealed carry permit than others. Permissive ‘may issue’ states include: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, parts of California and parts of New York.

No Issue

There are only 2 states that are strictly ‘no issue.’ These states include Illinois and the District of Columbia. However, there are some more states that, while technically, are ‘may issue’ in practice are ‘no issue.’ These are referred to as restrictive ‘may issue’ states and include: Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, certain counties of California, and certain counties of New York.

Furthermore there are some places where it is illegal at all times to carry a concealed weapon regardless of permit. These places include: federal government facilities, state government facilities, venues for political events, educational institutions, public sporting events, amusement parks, businesses that sell alcohol (night clubs), hospitals, churches, mass transit vehicles or facilities, and airports.

As a responsible gun owner always remember to stay informed and take note of local laws pertaining to gun ownership. The above information should offer a brief overview of concealed carry permits in America but be sure to consult your local authorities before going in public with a concealed firearm.

Civil War Weaponry

The Civil War is an incredibly important part of American history and with it comes some interesting wartime innovations, tactics, and weaponry. This war, above all others, yields the most American casualties and has a definitive part in defining some of the basic principles of equality that this country is founded on. To this day there are still very popular reenactments and trade shows to go along with this piece of history. Here we’ll look at some of the basic weaponry that would have been used by both Union and Confederate soldiers alike and what they meant for the wartime effort.

The Springfield 1861

This is one of the favorite weapons of most civil war enthusiasts due to its prevalence, accuracy, and reliability. With a 40 inch barrel that fires a .58 Minie ball this rifle weighed a total of 9 pounds and was the most common weapon used during the civil war by the United States Army and Marine Corp. Originally called the Springfield due to its place of manufacture there were over 250,000 produced between 1861 and 1863. It has an effective range between 200 and 300 yards and came equipped with a triangular socket bayonet. Though this weapon did not see much use in the beginning of the war it came to prevalence over time to be used later for much of the war. In terms of sheer impact this may be the most important weapon during the civil war simply due to its prevalence and widespread use during the later battles.

Cannons

The Civil War saw a lot of unique use of cannons with some modern innovations to make them more accurate and effective. The principal innovation was the ability to mass produce rifled bores which greatly increased the accuracy and range over their previous smoothbore counterparts. Some of the common cannons used include the ‘6 pounder’ gun, the M1857 12 pounder ‘Napoleon,’ the 12-pounder Howitzer, and the 10-pounder Parrott Rifle. An additional innovation was the double barrel cannon which fired two simultaneous payloads connected by a chain. This cannon, however, is more famous for backfiring and causing more friendly casualties so it never saw much use and is famous for little more than its novelty.

The Minie Ball

This ammunition was a revolutionary advancement that allowed for more range and accuracy for many civil war rifles. The basic idea was a payload that expanded during its trajectory through the barrel (due to its composition of soft lead) which allowed for a much higher muzzle velocity. Though it was actually conical and not a ball at all it retained such a name due to the commonality of round ammunition of the time. Many historians attribute this advancement as one of the main reasons for such high casualties during the civil war.

Seasonal Gun Storage

For any gun owner it’s important to be aware of how a changing climate can affect the integrity of a weapon in storage. This means changing temperatures, humidity, dryness, and other factors that come with the changing seasons. The last thing you want is for some summer humidity rusting your firearms or fluctuating temperatures warping your pistol’s grip. Here we’ll look at how to care for your firearms in light of changing seasonal weather changes and what you need to know to ensure your firearms remain in top notch quality.

Humidity

One of the most detrimental elements one has to deal with when storing firearms is humidity. Humidity has the potential to rust metal parts of a firearm as well as deteriorate wooden stocks over time. It is imperative for all gun owners and especially those that live in humid climates to combat humidity in their gun safe. This may become more important during the summer time when humidity has a tendency to rise. It’s also important to note that very few climes have no humidity and a small enclosed space will exacerbate the little humidity there is. How does one do this though? There are a few common and very effective methods to managing humidity that you can use to rest easy knowing your firearms will remain in good condition for extended periods of time. The most common method is simply to put in desiccant packs. These are small packets filled with an absorptive material that will ‘catch’ any moisture in the air. These need to be replaced regularly and it may also be a good idea to use more during especially humid months. Another option is investing in an electronic dehumidifier which is a bit more of a permanent solution but does require a power source. These can be picked up relatively cheaply at most places that sell safes. Lastly, in a pinch, cat litter will work though it might add a weird smell that’s not especially ideal.

Temperature

Another important factor to consider is the inside temperature of your gun safe. While hot and cold are not ideal the most important factor is limiting drastic swings in temperature. This will mostly affect wood as it can cause it to contract and expand which may eventually lead to warped wood. Typically this isn’t as much of a concern so long as your safe is located indoors but it does warrant mentioning nonetheless. One example of a situation that may cause damage is keeping your safe in the attic with direct sunlight during the day and especially cold temperature at night. The best you can do is keep your home at a reasonable temperature and your safe will be fine. The thick metal will already make temperature a bit slower but it’s important to mention nonetheless.

War Reenactments

A popular American pastime is the reenactments of popular wartime battles. These war reenactments can be found all across America and spanning any and every war that the United States has fought in. Aside from an actual faux battle there is usually an accompanying trade show of some sorts where the gun collectors out there can pick up unique historic weaponry and learn more about these definitive moments in history. There are a few that are more popular than the rest that can boast near full-scale mock battles with thousands of participants. Here we’ll look at where you can find the biggest war and battle reenactments in American if you would like to get involved. It’s also a great way to learn more about a specific time in history.

Annual Gettysburg Reenactment

This is one of the most famous and popular Civil War reenactments to date and takes place every year at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. This year the reenactment will take place over the 4th of July weekend (despite the actual battle being fought on the 1st – 3rd of July) and boasts three full filled days of awesome history presentations, speeches, concerts, and of course reenactments with thousands of performers in full era military costumes. This event requires tickets so be sure to buy early before they sell out and enjoy an awesome weekend of mock wartime fun and some living history.

WWII Reenactment

One of the biggest WWII reenactments takes place the first weekend of June every year at the Reading airport in Pennsylvania. This reenactment includes over 1,000 people playing in mock battles as well as setting up bunkers, watch towers, and barracks which they will live in for the weekend. This is a great place to find antique weaponry as there are over 250 stalls selling all sorts of military paraphernalia from World War 2. Additionally, you’ll find over 200 vehicles including jeeps, tanks, half tracks, scout cars, and even era artillery and field guns. Additionally, you’ll be able to find a lot of unique history through speeches and presentations and should be a lot of fun for anyone interested in seeing some American history.

Vietnam War Reenactments

While these don’t quite take the grand scale that you see for some of the other American wars (perhaps due to the guerrilla warfare tactics largely used) there are still a lot of different Vietnam War reenactments all across the United States. While the others are usually more of a treat for the spectators these are usually done for the reenactors who spend a few days trudging through various forests using slang not heard since Nixon reigned. Sometimes these events will even use paintball guns for full tactical mock battles.

Antique and C&R Firearm Licensing & Certification

Collecting antique guns is a great hobby for both gun and history enthusiasts alike. How exactly do you go about making sure that they are the real deal though? The last thing you want is to get swindled by a smooth talking salesmen or buy something online before you really know what you’re getting into. There’s a lot of different licenses and certifications that you should be aware of before you get involved in pricey antique firearms. So, here we’ll look at some of the different classifications of firearms, any licenses required, as well as how to get a firearm appraised.

What is an Antique?

This is one question that merits some consideration when getting into firearm collecting. What exactly makes a firearm an antique? How old does it have to be? The basic premise for antiquity as outlined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is such: Any firearm manufactured in or before 1898 (including firearms with matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap ignition systems) as well as any muzzle loaded rifle, shotgun, or pistol which is designed to use black powder. Also included by the ATF in determining antiquity are replicas of antique firearms so long as they do not use modern ammunition.

Who Needs a License?

A license is only needed if you plan to make interstate transactions in curio or relic firearms (C&R) without going through a certified dealer. A C&R federal firearms license can be obtained for $30 every 3 years by simply applying on the ATF website. Curio or relic firearms are defined by the ATF as being either 50 years old or more, certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum, or considered novel or rare because of their association with some historical figure or event. However, no license is needed if you plan to collect antique firearms as they are considered by the US government to not be inoperable firearms and do not fall under regular gun law jurisdiction.

Antique or C&R Firearm Certification

The best way to know the value of an antique or C&R firearm is to take it to a certified firearm appraiser. They will be able to tell you accurately when and where it is from as well as how much it is worth. They will give you a certificate of authenticity which ensures that their information is correct to the best of their knowledge. If you are interested in purchasing an antique firearm it is important to check its certification or get it appraised yourself by a third party before purchase.

Firearms in the American Revolution

While we’ve already looked at some of the early history of firearms there are a lot of unique niche moments in history that have been decided by interesting and unique innovations in weapon technology. For now, we’ll look at one moment in history in particular: the American Revolution and see just how new developments in firearm technology may have been a deciding factor in how the war played out. There are a lot of fun and unique history tidbits to be found in the very early military history of America that we can investigate through subtle changes in weaponry.

The Musket

This is the basic bread and butter of both the American and British forces during the Revolutionary War. An important distinction to make for the musket is that it is a smoothbore gun which means that there are no grooves inside the barrel to give the bullet spin and extra accuracy. The musket was usually only effective up to a maximum of 100 yards. For this reason armies would line up and fight in a ranks with the first line to fire and then kneel and reload while the second line would fire and do the same. Typically skilled musketeers could fire around 4 rounds per minute. Additionally muskets were equipped with bayonets for close quarters combat. Important to note is that muskets used a flintlock powder ignition system that would not work in wet weather so armies usually avoided combat during rainy weather if possible.

There were a few interesting differences between British and American muskets. The basic British musket was called the ‘Brown Bess’ which fired one ounce lead balls while the Americans got many of their muskets from the French which were lighter and fired a slightly smaller payload.

The Long Rifle

One of the often cited reasons for the American victory in the Revolutionary War is the use of semi-guerilla tactics which avoided the army standoffs that characterized British military tactics. The core of the American hit and run style was the long rifle. This is one of the earlier guns to have a grooved bore which give it much better accuracy than a musket with a range of up to 300 yards. However, there were some drawbacks. The long rifle took much longer to reload and was not equipped with a bayonet. American riflemen were vulnerable to British dragoons (horse mounted soldiers) or close combat musketmen equipped with bayonets. For this reason American riflemen preferred to stay out of the way and shoot from a distance in order to take advantage of the greater accuracy. At one point in the war it’s said that riflemen were so feared that British officers were ordered to remove the gold trimmings from their cloaks

Small Arms

Handguns and pistols were fairly rare during the American Revolution and were almost always reserved for officers as a symbol of rank. Additionally the cavalry would sometimes wield pistols because they could close the distance quick enough to make use of the weapon at a close range. Pistols during the Revolutionary War were even more inaccurate than muskets and were usually reserved for a last ditch close quarters shot of desperation or duels.

That’s Not Illegal!?

There’s often a bit of confusion about what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to the more bizarre and unexpected firearms. For example, did you know that it is legal to own a flamethrower in about 40 states because it is not regulated by federal law? So, this begs the question as to what else might have slipped through the legal cracks and been forgotten just because it’s so strange and unlikely for someone to want to own it in the first place. Here we’ll look at some of the crazier pieces of weaponry and machinery that you can legally own in the United States that you might not expect.

The M134 General Electric Minigun

There is a pretty interesting loophole that has come about as a result of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 that allows civilians to own awesome automatic military weapons that would otherwise be illegal. The basic gist of this is that automatic weapons manufactured and owned by civilians before the enactment of this law can still be transferred and sold among civilians. This means that you can legally own a mini gun capable of dispensing up to 6,000 rounds per minute (the M134). However, weapons manufactured after 1986 cannot be owned by civilians nor can previously military weapons be transferred to civilians. As a result, there are a relatively small number of these weapons available and because they fit this small niche they have typically become wildly expensive and are usually hoarded by the diehard collectors or paranoid recluses. As expected, perhaps, owning one of these mini guns will put you on the radar and you do have to consent to periodic inspections from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms.

Flamethrowers

While the rationale here might be that there are additional uses for a flamethrower besides death and destruction it still comes as something of a surprise that these are not regulated in most states. Originally crafted for the purpose of clearing out bunkers and foxholes in war times they have come to serve the domestic purpose of controlled burns for overgrown brush. I like to think that there may be other ways to accomplish this simple task but probably none as much fun as wielding a flamethrower for yard work. Additionally, flamethrowers can be used to clear large amounts of snow in a short amount of time while having a lot of fun. However, it’s not legal in all states (some might require a permit) but be careful above all else if you’re looking to order a flamethrower online.

Tannerite

Tannerite is a highly explosive compound that is surprisingly legal in the United States. Actually, it is the combination of two different compounds that need to first be mixed before having explosive properties. This is important because it can be easily and safely transported and handled without having to worry about an explosive accident which may be one reason why it is not illegal. Premade charges can be bought or the individual compounds can be purchased and then mixed yourself. Of course, there are a lot of other uses for tannerite but it’s still interesting to know that such a powerful compound is not better regulated. However, buying large quantities might get you on a few NSA lists pretty quickly.