Considerations on the use of ballistic shields
Like bulletproof vests, hard armor plates and bulletproof helmets, ballistic shield is also a common bulletproof device used in military and police security activities. But what differences between them are that due to the large size and weight, ballistic shields are subjected to many factors when they are used. In addition, the larger protective area brings higher price, and technical skills are needed in the operation of ballistic shields, so operators have to be trained to use them better. Besides, there are many factors that affect the use of bulletproof shield. Here is a detailed account of the factors that should be taken into consideration when using bulletproof shields.
When it comes to the use of ballistic shields, the first thing you should take into consideration is whether the shield “fit” the mission? Cover and concealment can be fairly easy to evaluate, but matching the equipment to the mission can be tricky. Not all operators can use the shield and gun together to carry out effective attack and defense. Moreover, with the escalation of crime, combat environments are increasingly diversified. Using ballistic shields in a wrong combat environment will hinder the operator's tactical actions, bringing about potential life safety hazards.
For example, one after-action critique in a northeastern city found that the suspect had stood at the top of a circular staircase armed with a pistol. When the shield operator led a slow ascent, he had to turn the larger and heavier shield sideways to fit the passageway limitations of the stairs. This allowed a round to miss the shield. Fortunately, it was stopped in the operator’s body armor. Therefore, operators should not use or use a smaller, lighter, and easier-to-operate shield in such a complex and narrow combat environment. But it is more necessary to equip a ballistic shield with a larger protective area and a higher level in a relatively spacious battlefield, which can provide more comprehensive protection for the operator.
At the mention of ballistics of shields, there are two constants involved: What will the shield operator’s ballistic shield stop, and what threat does the adversary pose?
Many people think they must be okay if they have a vest and a shield. The answer is probably not. A shield’s effectiveness depends on whether the level of the shield's protective capability is above that of the bullet threat it is defending. Counting on a Level IIIA-rated, handgun-capable ballistic shield to “slow down” a rifle round enough to capture it by soft body armor is not a realistic or safe proposition.
III shields protect against most lead cored, center-fire rifle threats, including the AK-47 round and the 223 ram/5.56 NATO. IV shields protect against most steel core, armor-piercing, center-fire rifle threats.
IIIA has consistently been the minimum protection level of choice for most patrol and special teams in the U.S. For the nominal increase in weight over lesser levels, prevailing wisdom remains to select the highest handgun rating, such as level III and IV, though a III or IV plate is much heavier than a IIIA one. But some special tactical circumstances ordain we must equip more powerful shields, which accordingly have a huge weight. For example, the 50x80cm III silicon carbide shields made by NTEC weighs up to 16kg, which are too heavy to be hold by hand, so they are usually put on the trollies.
Like firearms, ballistic shields are available in many kinds. Therefore, we must fully study the battlefield conditions, decide whether to equip ballistic shields. If necessary, we must choose a right rating according to the threat it is defending. Finally, we have to practice and learn how to use the shields, so as to achieve a perfect combination of attack and defense in the battlefield.