Friday, April 06, 2007

Bullet Stopping Ipod?

I noticed that both Malkin and the Puppyblender are showcasing the story of Sgt Garrad of the 3rd ID who claims the Ipod he had in his pocket slowed down an AK round enough that his armored vest stopped the slug. The armored vests are designed to stop shrapnel and pistol bullets, not close range rifle rounds.

There are many comments claiming this is impossible, the AK is too powerful. I seriously doubt that the Ipod would seriously slow an AK round down to any useful degree but I suspect it did make a difference.

I have some small experience with the 7.62x39 round from back in the '60s. Like the 5.56mm NATO round the bullet of the AK is not well balanced, it's center of mass is way back from the point. As soon as the round hits something it starts to tumble end over end. This makes for interesting wounds. As we know, it is against the Hague Conventions to use expanding bullets in warfare, among other things. So, no soft points allowed. A bullet that tumbles does the same thing, for part of it's path it is sideways, tearing a big hole.

Then the bullet continues, base first. Assuming sufficient velocity that base can expand, the base has exposed lead. Usually, though, there will be little or no expansion, the jacket metal is pretty thick. The key here is the bullet tumbling. Instead of hitting the vest point on and then beginning to tumble the bullet was already near sideways when it hit the armor. This would limit penetration, a lot.

In the comments to these posts I saw a lot of pure hooey, that our troops are poorly equipped because their normal armor won't stop a rifle round, for one thing. Well, yes, we could put the troops in armor that will stop a high powered rifle at close range, really we could. They wouldn't be able to walk or shoot and would die of heatstroke in the desert but they wouldn't get shot. I also read that an AK round will melt a railroad rail. Sigh.

The body armor our troops are wearing is the best we have, it is proof against pistol rounds, grenade and mortar shrapnel, even *some* rifle fire, say a ricochet. To get better armor we need either a big breakthrough in the compounds that will be far more resistant for the same weight or some kind of powered exoskeleton to where a hundred and sixty pound GI or one o five pound GI Jane can wear two hundred pounds of armor and gear and still function.

Me, I'm just pleased that Garrad is okay.

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