Special Report: Putting Bulletproof Backpacks to the Test
Lynchburg, VA - What are you willing to do to make sure your kids are as safe as possible when they go to school?
After the Sandy Hook shooting that was a question many parents began asking themselves.
We have one answer; A bullet proof backpack.
Sound too strange for you?
Well, you may want to reconsider.
Following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, bullet proof backpacks became a hot commodity. One company that sells them reported record sales.
We put the backpack to the test, to see if it is really worth all the hype.
Jeff and Jamie Martin are the proud Mom and Dad of two elementary aged kids. They have one wish for their children when they leave to go to school.
"Pray that nothing would ever happen to one of them, or anyone's kids" said Jeff.
But the events of December 14th make every parent think twice.
The Martins' daughter Madison is in the first grade, the same as those students taken at Sandy Hook.
"Worried, you know? Scared, obviously, being that we have children of that age. I mean, it could happen to anyone I guess" said Jamie Martin.
Introducing the Bullet Blocker "Escape Two" back pack. It's valued at $250, and considered reasonable.
Bullet Blocker, its manufacturer, sells a variety, ranging anywhere from $200-$500.
It comes complete with a removable bullet proof panel, weighing in at just 12 ounces.
The one we bought is designed only to take on small arms, such as pistols. According to bullet blocker, this one allows for more comfort and concealability.
"It's peace of mind; knowing that if they went to school they'd be safe if they had that around them" said Jamie.
The Martins say they'd consider a purchase, "If I knew it was going to save their life, I would. Because $500, we have two kids, $500 is nothing compared to their life" said Jeff.
So, we took our bullet proof backpack to the shooting range and put it to the test.
Bobby Arrington, a manager at Lynchburg Arms and Shooting Range walked us through the types of guns we'd be testing.
"Bobby, these are the guns we're going to be shooting today, right? Explain to us what we have here" said ABC 13's James Gherardi.
"This is an AR-15 and .223 caliber, a 1911 .45 ACP, and here we have a Smith and Wesson .38 Special" said Arrington.
"Three guns, we'll be shooting all of them today right" said Gherardi.
"Correct" said Arrington.
Together, we took aim to see if our product's claims were on target.
"This is our bullet proof back pack" said Gherardi.
"Inside of it, we have a few books; this is a thicker book that you provided for us; a couple of notebooks, a couple of folders. You know stuff that you might have in your back pack if you were a student" he said.
First up, the Smith and Wesson .38 Special; from seven yards away, the minimum required at the range.
Bobby fires three rounds, "One's in the book" he said.
One round was stopped by the textbook and the backpack stopped the remaining two.
Next up, the .45 ACP hand gun; smaller but stronger than the Smith and Wesson.
This time, we removed the big book, and all that stood between, was our bullet blocker.
"Those are pretty well shot up" said Gherardi as he looked at the books and folders inside the bullet blocker.
"It penetrated it" said Arrington of the backpack. "It didn't go through" he said.
Even without the book, the bullet blocker lived up to its name, and stopped all three.
Finally, the AR-15, designated by the U.S. government as a military style assault weapon.
Again, our back pack is not designed to withstand a bullet from this type of weapon; but, we decided to give it a try.
This time, Arrington shoots the assault weapon from the range's required rifle distance of 25 yards.
"It penetrated" he said.
All three bullets went through the backpack. We tried again, this time, with that thick textbook,
And the bullets were stopped.
"All three were stopped" said Gherardi.
All said and done, the Martins were impressed; saying now, they'll consider more than ever, buying a bullet blocker.
"I think it's up to your decision. I mean obviously it's worth it for our children to survive, then yeah, I would spend the money, definitely" said Jamie.
Bullet Blocker offers a variety of backpacks at a variety of prices. There are also many other companies to consider when making a purchase like this... more expensive back packs offer more protection.