Choosing the Right Ballistic Protection for Your Windows and Doors

This guide can help you figure out your needs and options for bullet-resistant windows and doors.

1. Determine the threat level

The two most common ballistic standards are put forth by UL and NIJ.

  • UL 752 is written solely for barrier certification.  
  • NIJ 0108/0101 is focused on testing body armor and materials.
  • EN 1063/1522 are the most common standards used in Europe. 1063 applies to transparent materials like window glass, 1522 applies to opaque materials such as doors, shutters, and blinds.
  • EN1063/1522 ratings have rough equivalents to the UL standard but differ at several levels for grain weight, velocity, and shot quantity required.

For this reason, most ballistic barrier providers focus on applying the UL standard, of which Levels 1 to 8 cover the ammunition types that would most likely be encountered.

2. Choose the right bullet-resistant material

A variety of options exist: fabric, glass, plastic, metal, or fiberglass.  Looking at the application can help determine the best choice.

  • Is rifle fire a concern?
  • Is the surrounding wall already structurally engineered for product weight and ballistic impact?
  • Could this be installed during the school year?
  • Is the window/door on the ground floor?
  • Does the window need to act as emergency egress?
  • Is finger pinch safety for doors a concern?

3. Compliant vs. Certified vs. Listed

Ballistic materials will often show three different tiers of product verification, which have three different confidence levels.  Ask the supplier how the product is verified.

Compliant: self-tested, analyzed, or evaluated by the manufacturer to meet a standard.

Certified: an independent test facility with proper authority to certify to a given standard is used to verify product performance

Listed: UL (a certified lab with renowned expertise) conducts the test.

  • Ongoing independent monitoring and auditing of production processes to ensure compliance with the original product certification.
  • The product will receive a specific UL logo and file number and must mark the product with it, such as the BBP UL mark, shown to the right.

4. Achieving full ballistic integrity

Unless the product and the installation have BOTH been certified, it is extremely rare for an existing window frame or door jam to support ballistic impact.  Structural reinforcement of the wall, frame, and jam is normally required for these installations.

Materials such as polycarbonate or protective films can be laminated to glass; however, the glass itself may stop the threat from passing through, but the entire window may break free

A window film, pane of bullet-resistant glass or certified ballistic door must be supported by a wall, frame, and jam that are also engineered to withstand a ballistic event.