How to Bulletproof Your Car - Survival Sullivan (2023)

There are many reasons why you’d want to bulletproof your car. Perhaps you are getting your bug-out vehicle as ready for its mission as it can be. Maybe you just live in an unsafe neighborhood where shattered windows and stolen cars are the norm, or perhaps you want some extra peace of mind for your bug out vehicle.

Commercially available, low-profile armored cars are one option, but even the most rudimentary of these options will cost an order of magnitude more than a normal, unarmored car in the same class.

Proper armored cars are huge, ungainly vehicles and more expensive still. One option that more than a few preppers consider is DIY armor in the form of a homebrew solution or aftermarket armor kits for select vehicles.

You might not need a full-bore heavy armored vehicle to get safety! If you’ve already done basic preparations such as loading your BOB, and planning your bug-out routes, we’ll show you how to take your preps one step further and bulletproof your car.

Table of Contents

Fundamentals of Ballistic Protection

For worn armor or vehicle armor, protection is rated for specific threats, meaning your armor has been tested to stop certain rounds travelling at a certain velocity and do so for so many hits.

This rating is usually described as an “NIJ Standard” for National Institute of Justice metrics. This system is outdated, flawed and does not make allowances for more modern rounds in common use, but it is still the only widely familiar rating system available and so most manufacturers and agencies use it.

To ensure you have enough ballistic protection against the threat you are most likely to face, you’ll go up the scale of NIJ ratings from Level IIA all the way up to Level IV.

Levels IIA and II protect you from common handgun threats, while Level III can protect you against some rifles. Level IV armor will protect you from some otherwise armor piercing rifle threats.

As a basic rule, your armor gets heavier, bulkier, more expensive or all three as you increase protection rating. While bad enough for personal body armor, this is especially daunting for vehicles since weight and cost skyrocket as you have much more surface area to protect in order to keep bullets from reaching the occupants of a vehicle.

Also do not forget that windows and windshields will need to be replaced with bullet-resistant alternatives for complete protection.

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Ultimately, installing real-deal armor on your vehicle will be a costly undertaking but it can be done if you have the coin.

Additional Considerations

With anything but the lightest of commercial or homebrew armor solutions, your vehicle will become heavily laden. It will ride noticeably lower on its suspension.

It will feel like it has lost a lot of pep, and braking will be sluggish, as will maneuvering. Armor protection always comes at a cost to mobility and agility. Always.

To maintain even a respectable baseline of performance you will need to enhance and strengthen the suspension, brakes, engine and potentially some structural members and hinges that support the soon-to-be-much-heavier doors.

This is an entirely separate undertaking and adds even more cost to the endeavor. Failure to do this can result in a vehicle that is way outside its nominal performance parameters for the sake of ballistic protection, and potentially dangerously. Driver beware.

Tires are the other and obvious major concern, and one of the most vulnerable elements of any wheeled vehicle’s motive system.

If you’ve watched any action movies, you know that in a shootout, everybody aims for the wheels of the quarry in a car chase.

If it’s going too fast, then the driver will likely lose control because of the sudden damage to the tire.

While shooting out a tire rarely causes a catastrophic loss of the tire in real life, a puncture will definitely bring the party bus to a halt eventually. Not ideal if you are bugging out.

Your primary concern is making sure that your car can still roll even if one or more tires are punctured. This is accomplished on bigger, much more expensive armored vehicles through use of an onboard tire pressure control and sealing system.

Smaller, less expensive vehicles can just use run-flat tires rated for their vehicle’s curb weight.

Most of these tires will allow you to roll on for about 50 miles or so at a modest speed of around 25-30mph, hopefully enough to get clear of immediate danger so you can enact repairs or pop on a spare.

By using run-flat tires, you also minimize the risk of death in a car crash. Run-flat tires enable your car to survive a whole lot of sharp things from nail beds to knives and bullets.

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While they do not offer complete protection against catastrophic wheel or tire loss, they go a long way to mitigating the most common weakness of wheeled vehicles.

Bulletproofing car Windows and the Windshield

Standard cars aren’t equipped from the manufacturer with bullet proof windows, and the quickest way to get any car to stop is to shoot the driver through any window you can.

Auto glass is notorious for impeding and deflecting handgun rounds but will rarely stop them. Rifle rounds and shotgun slugs sail through them like tissue paper. No good.

The solution is to remove the safety glass and install composite polycarbonates instead. This is most often a piece of polycarbonate sandwiched between standard pieces of auto glass. Advanced examples can even be “one-way” allowing you to shoot out but preventing shots from coming in.

Keep in mind that if you install bullet-resistant windows and glass it might be more difficult for you to escape from your car if need be in case of a fire or being submerged.

It is no easy thing to break these composites and conventional glass breakers will not work. You’ll need a specialized plan for dealing with this or you’ll just need to accept the risks.

Presently there is no great solution for DIY bulletproofing of auto glass except, possibly, some thicker Mylar appliqués.

Exterior Armor

Armoring the exterior, really the intermediary spaces of the car body is done is zones. Typical light protection covers the doors and spaces around the pillars and potentially the rear cabin wall.

The engine is often left unarmored and its bulk is counted on to stop rounds fired from the front. More extensive protection will increasingly wrap around the passenger compartment, engine compartment, and drivetrain to ensure its integrity against gunfire.

This is done with polymer or synthetic fabrics like Kevlar and Dyneema if resistance to handgun fire is all that is desired, but protection from rifle fire will mean that UHMWPE or good old steel will need to be installed.

Any of the latter options means that weight and bulk will become serious issues, bulk with UHMWPE and weight with various grades of rolled steels.

For preppers bangin’ on a budget and who want protection against the most common threats, handgun rounds, you could look to install an aftermarket Level II armor package. This will afford you protection from even large magnum handguns.

Another part of the car that you will have to worry about it the gas tank. Just as the windows and the tires are bullet magnets, so is your gas tank.

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Gas tanks don’t often explode when shot, contrary to popular depiction, but a shot to the tank will quickly drain it, and you should protect it with armor if it is not place within the protection envelope afforded by the cabin’s armor.

Protecting the Engine and Other Concerns

If you want your car to go the extra mile, literally, consider armoring the engine compartment. Modern engines are comparatively fragile things, and even seemingly minor penetrating damage can lead to a breakdown in short order.

The engine, radiator, fluid reservoirs and electrical systems are all vulnerable and packed together in the engine bay.

Wrap-around protection will add considerably more weight where you don’t want it- way up front- but if the alternative is having to hoof it away from your now wrecked hard car the choice is clear.

Bulletproofing your car doesn’t just mean adding a layer of protection to the parts that you can see. You have to remember that by adding armor, you’re adding a substantial amount of weight to the car.

Thus, bulletproofing a car properly includes making sure that you car is able to handle the extra weight.

Horsepower upgrades will ensure your vehicle remains peppy and quick when you hit that skinny pedal on the right. Consider that the more powerful the engine, the more gas it consumes.

In a post-collapse situation, your bulletproof car may be your downfall if you failed to correctly reassess the amount of fuel your newly bullet-absorbent ride will take.

Your brakes should also stand some upgrading since they will be laboring to stop a drastically heavier vehicle. Consult a professional or your armor installer for advice and don’t skimp on them!

Aside from the engine, go an extra step and make sure that suspension of your car can support the extra weight. Consider the springs, shocks, struts, bearings and just about anything that connects one part of your car to another.

What about DIY Armor?

Alright, we are getting into junkyard war territory now! People have been armoring automobiles since shortly after cars became a thing. Their chief antagonists, firearms, had already been around for a while.

Enterprising or just desperate souls have long sought to afford their cars invulnerability or at least some protection from bullets, and when proper armor was not available people have made due with all kinds of materials.

Anything that will impede a bullet will start to reduce its effectiveness. I have seen civilian “soft cars” uparmored with wood planks before.

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How much protection this afforded the occupants from rifle and machinegun fire, well, probably not much. But it would help against low velocity rounds and possibly fragments.

There are only three real choices if you want to do some “hillbilly armor” on your car. Let it be known that your results will vary, and this should only be undertaken if you have no other choice or are desperate to harden your car against a known threat or dangerous run.

1.) Steel

Steel and other metals that are welded, bolted, glued or otherwise attached to your car will vary wildly in effectiveness against various ballistic threats. Enough metal of the right kind is always a serious impediment to most bullets, it is true, but you will be dealing with an entirely new threat, that of spalling.

Spall is what results from a high velocity bullet hitting a piece of steel and getting stopped by it, although it can result from penetrations, too. Spall is the metal flakes and slivers that literally peel and fly off the backside of the struck face of the metal, like shrapnel.

This spall has long been a major threat to occupants of all kinds of armored vehicles, and will definitely be a threat to you.

The good news is steel is abundant and you will likely be able to rig up enough of it to make a difference against handguns and low-velocity rifle rounds, so there is that, though the weight will be tough on your vehicle.

2.) Sandbags

Sandbags are effective against all kinds of bullets if you can stack them thickly enough! Since you have no easy way to attach them outside your vehicle you’ll be placing them inside, and this will quickly gobble room from the interior.

The good news is that you can fill sand- or earthbags no matter where you are, and placing them in strategic locations can afford you decent protection. When the threat has passed, you can remove them.

3.) Homebrew Composite

One old trick that has come out of long-running warzones and other austere places is what is known as homemade composite armor. Consisting of ceramic tiles or other flat pieces of fired earthen ware taped snug and flat to the outer “strike face” of a thick books (phonebooks, hardcover books, etc.) one is able to create an armor package with surprising effectiveness against some threats,

Now, this will never be top of the line ceramic armor, no way no how, but the materials are all around us in most places and with a little notice and minor demolition, it would be not too much work at all to raid your bathroom and home library in preparation for surviving a perilous SHTF journey.


Bulletproofing your car takes time and effort. It’s not easy, and most of the time, there are parts that you won’t be able to do on your own. Thus, if you want the best results, consider investing in a professional installation.

If you do the installation of a kit yourself, take care that you upgrade the car’s other systems if at all possible for best results. No matter what, armoring your vehicle makes sense if you are anticipating travel through hostile places.

How to Bulletproof Your Car - Survival Sullivan (1)

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How can I bulletproof my car? ›

Recommended options are Armormax, fabric consisting of ballistic nylon, steel, polymer, and armored glass. The ballistic glass is definitely not your typical dinnerware but rather a specialized bulletproof to withstand greater compression, pressure when bullets would hit the car.

Can you bulletproof your own car? ›

Yes. Some vehicles, however, are more conducive to be armored than others. We have a portfolio of vehicles (see here) but can apply our armoring technology to almost any vehicle brand. Armormax® has patterns on over 80 different makes and models (from Range Rover to Tesla to Cadillac).

What is the cheapest bullet proof material? ›

Ballistic Fiberglass

It is the most cost-effective and convenient option for bulletproofing walls.

How do you make a bulletproof door? ›

The most efficient way to create a bullet-resistant metal door is to make it from solid steel and hang it from a solid steel frame. Because steel is so much denser than aluminum, solid steel doors can provide a high level of ballistic protection.

Can you get a bomb proof car? ›

Can civilians buy a bombproof car? Yes, they can buy armored vehicles. In this article, we will talk about civilian versions. Due to the recent increase in violence and threat, many civilians are looking at bulletproof cars for protection from different assaults and explosions.

What vehicles are bullet proof? ›

  • Mercedes-Benz S-Guard 600. Mercedes-Benz S-Guard 600 is one of the most common armored vehicles available for civilians. ...
  • Audi A8 Security. ...
  • Cadillac Escalade. ...
  • Bulletproof Lexus LX 570. ...
  • Genesis G90 Sedan. ...
  • Bulletproof Dodge Charger Hellcat. ...
  • Bulletproof BMW 750i. ...
  • Ford F150.
Jul 7, 2022

Are bulletproof cars safe? ›

A heavily armored vehicle with proper reinforcement, armor plating, and perfect welding procedure has more chances of surviving an accident. Armored vehicles are safer at low speed during accidents because of not having crumple zone to absorb energy at high speed.

How much does it cost to put bullet proof glass in a car? ›

It may cost you between $3,000 to $20,000 to get bulletproof car windows. The level of protection a bulletproof glass provides can be directly linked to its thickness, so the thicker the glass, the more expensive it will be. If you have a newer car, this might be less expensive compared to an older car.

Are bulletproof cars real? ›

Tesla Model S P100D. The electric hatchback is getting the armored treatment via International Armoring Corp. The Utah-based company, which developed the lightweight passenger-car armor known as Armorex, says it's bulletproofed more than 8,000 cars since its founding in 1993. 7 of 24 International Armoring Corp.

What fabric can stop a bullet? ›

Perhaps one of the better-known bulletproof materials, Kevlar is a synthetic fiber that's heat resistant and incredibly strong. It's also lightweight, making it a popular choice for wearable bulletproof items. Kevlar is used in both military and civilian applications.

What material can bullets not go through? ›

They may be complex, such as Kevlar, UHMWPE, Lexan, or carbon fiber composite materials, or basic and simple, such as steel or titanium. Bullet resistant materials are often used in law enforcement and military applications to protect personnel from death or serious injury.

Is bullet proof plastic a thing? ›

Bullet resistant polycarbonate is available in a variety of grades and strengths. While no material is truly “bulletproof”, it is a great option for added safety and protection. Bullet resistant polycarbonate meets all security requirements with regard to protection against forced entry and ballistic impact.

Can bricks stop bullets? ›

Most household objects won't reliably stop a bullet. Bullets easily puncture most walls, doors, and floors. However, brick, concrete, and cinder blocks effectively stop most common calibers.

Does sand stop bullets? ›

Bullets penetrate water, and can keep high speeds up to 10feet. On the other hand, bullets can't penetrate sand at all, they stop completely almost with no real penetration.

Can a wood door stop a bullet? ›

Bullets, especially from high-powered rifles and machine guns, could easily travel through most wooden doors. When a bullet hits wood, it causes splintering, which can slow down, but not stop it.

What is the number one bullet proof car? ›

Mercedes Benz Maybach Pullman Guard

This Maybach offers protection against handguns, ballistics, explosive devices, bombs and hand grenades. The car is sure to disappoint any attacker who is trying to get through the vehicle with a weapon.

What is the most theft proof car? ›

However, in recent years, automakers have made good strides, and most of the modern cars have incredible anti-theft systems in place.
15 Cars That Are Almost Impossible To Steal
  1. 1 Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster.
  2. 2 Google Self-driving Car. ...
  3. 3 Lexus HS 250H. ...
  4. 4 The Knight XV. ...
  5. 5 Hyundai Tucson. ...
  6. 6 Volkswagen Tiguan. ...
Jan 8, 2022

Who has bomb proof car? ›

Shah Rukh Khan's Bomb-Proof Mercedes Benz S600 Guard

It has a very high protection level and can sustain bullets and even bomb explosions.

Can bullets go through car doors? ›

That same . 223 round easily penetrated car doors and wheels at distances up to 100 yards. A shot from a . 45 handgun at a distance of 15 yards penetrated a car door.

How much does it cost to armor a car? ›

The cost of bulletproof protection depends upon the level of protection it comes in. It can start from around $14,000 and exceed $100,000 based on the customization you'd like to have on your car. Some civilian armored cars may also be bespoke vehicles with no standard equivalent.

How many bullets can a bulletproof car take? ›

For instance, if you were to get level 1 protection, it would be able to protect you from a minimum of 3 shots from a 9 mm handgun. That's regardless of the material you choose. On the other hand, level 2 protection means that the glass is able to withstand at least three . 357 Magnum shots.

Do bulletproof tires exist? ›

Technically there is nothing like bulletproof tire, but there are tires resistant with rubber or metal band inside. There are some other tires having an insert around the inside of the rim to provide control and degree of traction when the tire is shredded.

How long does it take to bulletproof a car? ›

The armoring process depending on the package selected can take anywhere from 30 – 45 working days on a majority of vehicle models. International Armoring Corporation® is able to accomplish this due to the volume of vehicles being armored and by keeping in stock armor components for most of the popular luxury vehicles.

Are bulletproof cars fast? ›

What is the fastest bulletproof Audi? The Audi RS7 is the world's fastest bulletproof car. It can go from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds.

Do bullet proof car windows go down? ›

Often times we get asked, if I buy an armored car from you can you still make my windows operable? In other words, can you roll down bulletproof windows after the armoring process takes place? The quick answer is yes.

Do bulletproof windows crack? ›

Can Bullet Proof Glass Crack? Yes, although the glazing that is used on bullet resistant glass is tested to stop bullets from penetrating, the material can still be vulnerable to cracking if it isn't properly maintained.

Does bullet proof glass roll down? ›

Yes – see also, can armored car windows go up and down? Can my bulletproof car have operable windows? We have several specialized motors depending on your vehicle where we can get our ballistic glass to go up and do in your armored vehicle.

Can I put bulletproof glass on my car? ›

Yes, the installation of bulletproof glass in private cars is entirely legal, and anyone can install bulletproof glass for protection in their vehicle (we recommend professionals who can properly seal and install the Armormax® materials).

Do armored trucks get robbed? ›

According to the FBI, about 25 to 35 armored trucks and drivers are robbed each year, compared with about 4,000 banks. Banks are hit more often because criminals know that armored car robberies are far more dangerous: Unarmed bank tellers are trained to fork over the cash with no questions asked.

Do armored car drivers carry guns? ›

As armored truck drivers are typically classified as armed guards, they usually wear bullet proof vests and carry firearms.

Will bullets go through water? ›

bullets can travel 60 meters through water or penetrate 2 cm of steel through 17 meters of water.

Can magnets stop a bullet? ›

Typically, no. Most bullets aren't ferromagnetic – they aren't attracted to magnets. Bullets are usually made of lead, maybe with a copper jacket around them, neither of which sticks to a magnet. These magnets made a bullet tumble on Mythbusters, but didn't change where it hit the target.

Can aluminum foil stop a bullet? ›

Aluminum armor can deflect all the same rounds from small-caliber weapons as traditional bulletproof glass. But while traditional bulletproof glass warps, fogs, or spiderwebs when shot, transparent aluminum remains largely clear. It also stops larger bullets with a significantly thinner piece of material.

Is anything truly bulletproof? ›

In the real world nothing is absolutely bulletproof. The Kevlar made bulletproof vests are actually bullet resistant and graded to a specific level of protection according to the international standards for ballistic resistance, one of the most used is NIJ 0101.04.

What is the strongest bullet? ›

500 S&W Magnum is considered the most powerful commercial sporting handgun cartridge by virtue of the muzzle energy it can generate.

Can a bathtub stop a bullet? ›

Maybe. A slow (low velocity) lead bullet would probably be stopped by some iron bathtubs. A ceramic bathtub might be as bullet-resistant as a dinner plate. It might not do a bad job at catching fragments from a grenade, but it might generate some more from the blast.

Is bullet proof knife proof? ›

A bullet proof vest works by trapping and flattening a bullet within protective fibres, dispersing the energy across the vest. An edged weapon like a knife will impact in the same way, but will cut these protective fibres, rendering the vest useless.

How thick is a bulletproof window? ›

The index of refraction for all of the glasses used in the bulletproof layers must be almost the same to keep the glass transparent and allow a clear, undistorted view through the glass. Bulletproof glass varies in thickness from 3⁄4 to 31⁄2 inches (19 to 89 mm).

What plastic can stop a bullet? ›

The most popular form of bullet-resistant plastic sheeting is polycarbonate sheet. A&C Plastics stocks both containment grade polycarbonate sheeting and bullet resistant polycarbonate sheet. BR polycarbonate has an extremely high resistance that does not shatter even when exposed to violent impact.

Can a mattress stop a bullet? ›

Most rounds got through, but the mattress stopped many smaller-caliber rounds, including . 410 shotgun shells (fired from a Taurus Judge pistol). But if you're being shot at by an AR-15, forget it.

Will ammo go off in a house fire? ›

In a structure fire, the heat produced during the burn activates and causes the bullets to explode; the larger the caliber of the bullet, the more explosive potential.

Can paper stop a bullet? ›

A 2015 story in Popular Mechanics reported on a Demolition Ranch experiment to see how much paper it would take to stop a bullet by firing . 50-caliber rounds into stacks of paper. Surprisingly enough, two sets of five reams of paper — that's 5,000 sheets in total — weren't enough to stop the a .

Can ammo last forever? ›

Ammunition isn't a perishable good - if stored correctly, it can last almost indefinitely. Whether it was stored correctly or not is another matter.

Do bullets get ruined in water? ›

Firearms and ammunition are not intended to be subjected to total immersion in water. They are very susceptible to moisture damage, especially metal parts that will sustain rust when moisture is left untreated.

Can fat stop bullets? ›

14 inches of fat only slows bullet

The 14 inches of gelatine only managed to halve the speed of the ball bearing, but not stop it. The Naked Scientists hypothesised that it would take at least twice as much fat to stop a bullet. “That is 72 centimetres [28.3 inches] of fat and is somewhat unfeasible,” they concluded.

How much does it cost to bulletproof a car? ›

Summary. The cost of bulletproof car windows varies depending on where you live. The price can range from $3,000 to $20,000. The price of the car window will depend on the size of the car, the style of the window, the material of the window, and the level of insurance coverage you have.

Do bullet proof cars help in accidents? ›

Armored vehicles are safer at low speed during accidents because of not having crumple zone to absorb energy at high speed.

Do bullet proof cars work? ›

Despite the amazing breakthrough in technology, there is still no such thing as a completely bulletproof car. Even though this term is frequently used, it's worth mentioning that there is a limit to how much these vehicles can take.

Can you buy bullet proof tires? ›

Technically there is nothing like bulletproof tire, but there are tires resistant with rubber or metal band inside. There are some other tires having an insert around the inside of the rim to provide control and degree of traction when the tire is shredded.

What stops a bullet best? ›

Common bulletproof materials include:
  • Steel. Steel bulletproof materials are heavy duty, yet at just a few millimeters thick, extremely effective in stopping modern firearm rounds. ...
  • Ceramic. ...
  • Fiberglass. ...
  • Wood. ...
  • Kevlar. ...
  • Polyethylene. ...
  • Polycarbonate.

What is the best protection in a car crash? ›

Wear your seat belt: In an accident, a seat belt can mean life or death, so this is absolutely the best thing you can do to survive a car crash. Seat belts reduce serious car crash injuries and deaths by about half, and those are good odds.

Can brick stop a bullet? ›

Most household objects won't reliably stop a bullet. Bullets easily puncture most walls, doors, and floors. However, brick, concrete, and cinder blocks effectively stop most common calibers.

Which country has the most bullet proof cars? ›

The State of Bulletproof Cars 2021

Brazil leads with the highest per capita number of armored vehicles in the world.

How long does bulletproof last? ›

The majority of NIJ-certified body armor vests can maintain their ballistic capabilities for a minimum of five years. There are some Dyneema body armor vests that have a seven-year ballistic capability.

Can a bullet go through a bulletproof window? ›

It is designed to withstand one or many rounds of bullets depending on the firing weapon and the thickness of the glass. Bulletproof glass reduces the velocity by absorbing the energy from the bullets. However, it is not fully impenetrable.

What is the highest level of bulletproof car? ›

The strongest protection often offered, the B7 protection level stops various armor-piercing rounds fired from super high-velocity rifles, even sniper rifles. This is in many cases the highest feasible protection available within civilian-grade armored vehicles.


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