Special Report: Bulletproof Backpacks

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In an effort to protect children from an increasing number of guns in schools, a Massachusetts company has developed a backpack it claims can stop bullets.

The bulletproof backpack is manufactured by Bulletblocker, a company founded by two Massachusetts fathers who got the idea for their invention after the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings.

Recently, incidents in locals schools have Mid-South families thinking about security in the classroom.  In recent weeks, guns have been found at Hamilton High School, Vance Middle School, and at East High School on a day when metal detectors were in use.

A total of ten guns, including six that were loaded, have been found at Memphis City Schools this year.  And in a Shelby County school, an unloaded pistol was recently confiscated from a student.

"It's very disturbing that we have the weapons and incidents that are being committed," Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said last month.

Bulletblocker has lined the back of its bags with a bullet resistant material they say can stop 90 percent of bullets.  At first glace, the bulletproof backpack appears very well constructed.  It's light, with plenty of pockets and straps for large items.  In fact, it looks like a common, everyday backpack, except according to its creators, it can stop a bullet.

But the bags don't come cheap, and at a cost of nearly $250 dollars, we wanted to find out if they really work.  To conduct a test, Action News 5 contacted Will Abbott, a certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor.

First, Abbott shot at the bulletproof backpack with a .44 caliber revolver, which is the largest type of bullet the manufacturers claim the backpack can stop.  The bag was worn by target dummy.

"We had some blunt trauma," Abbott said as he inspected the dummy.

The force of the bullet ripped the target's shirt, and could have shattered a rib, causing massive bruising.  But it stopped the bullet, which did not penetrate the backpack.

So what if Abbot fired multiple times?  Next, over rounds were fired from various weapons.  Each result was the same.

"The bullet did not penetrate the dummy," Abbott said.

Since this bag costs nearly $250, we wanted to know if we could get the same bullet-blocking results from a regular bag filled with school books.  

"It was pretty much destroyed, and did nothing to stop the bullet except maybe slow it down a little," Abbott said after firing at a typical, book-filled backpack.

In fact, the bullets Abbot fired at a $20 backpack tore through everything inside, including nearly five inches of books and school supplies.

Abbot said it was enough proof the bulletproof backpack really does work.

"I think as much as you have invested in your children, and as much as you love them, it's a pretty good investment for parents," he said. "Because if you're going to carry a book bag anyhow, why not carry one that stops bullets in addition to just carrying books?"

  • For more information about the bulletproof backpack, click here to visit the manufacturer's website.
  • Click on the video link on this page to see behind the scenes video from Range USA during Thursday night's report.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.