Bulletproof vs Ballistic-Resistant: an End to the Debate

If you’ve spent any time researching hardened or robust buildings, you’ve more than likely come across the terms “bulletproof” and “ballistic-resistant.” And, if you’re like most people we know, you have two major questions:

  1. Do bulletproof and ballistic resistant mean the same thing?
  2. If not, is one better than the other?

We feel you.

At CoverSix, we’ve produced hardened and robust buildings for customers all over the world and the confusion between “bulletproof” and “ballistic-resistant” is universal. To help clear things up once and for all, we’re here to definitively define these terms to make the search for your next modular building as painless and as straightforward as possible.

Breaking Down Bulletproof and Ballistic Resistant


To get started, let’s take a quick look at the first two words in each of these terms.

A bullet is obviously something we’re all pretty familiar with, but for clarity’s sake, the dictionary defines it as, “a round or elongated missile (as of lead) to be fired from a firearm.”

The word ballistic, on the other hand, is a little more vague and is defined somewhat generally as “a projectile in flight.” So basically, a ballistic can be anything from a rocket mortar and shrapnel caused by an explosion to a rock and, yes, even a bullet.

To put it simply, all bullets are ballistics, but not all ballistics are bullets. This is obviously an important distinction to make for anyone whose worksite faces numerous ballistic threats—beyond just bullets.

That said, the main hang-up for most industry professionals between the terms “bulletproof” and “ballistic-resistant” is in the second half of each phrase.

“Bulletproof” basically implies that the material is 100 percent non-penetrable—regardless of the projectile, type of weapon, distance from which the projectile was fired or the number of times the material is hit.

Unfortunately, that just doesn’t exist.

Even if it did, as soon as a bigger, more powerful weapon was developed, anything that had previously been touted as “bulletproof” would no longer be reliable.

The word “resistant” on the other hand, simply implies that the material can withstand the impact of a projectile—providing a level of protection that would give its occupants the chance to escape to a safer location.

It basically comes down to truth in advertising.

If you see the word “bulletproof” don’t believe it, the product is simply promising something it cannot deliver.

The history of “ballistic-resistant”

The term “ballistic-resistant” came into play during the 1970s when the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) began testing protective police office vests which weren’t performing the way they should. As a result, the NIJ standardized what the term “bulletproof” actually meant and began transitioning to the term “ballistic-resistant” instead.

Today, the NIJ and United Laboratories (UL) sets guidelines on materials labeled “ballistic-resistant” with UL setting standards to determine the ballistic-resistance of building components that do not fit the definition of equipment, such as windows, walls, or barriers made out of ballistic-resistant materials.

The Final Word on Bulletproof and Ballistic Resistant

In conclusion, no, “bulletproof” and “ballistic-resistant” are not the same. 

At CoverSix, we proudly label our buildings as “ballistic-resistant”—with the live, in-field tests to back it up—and we strongly recommend that you look for the same in whoever you end up working with. Not only does a ballistic-resistant building offer you the widest range of protection, it also doesn’t promise something it simply can’t deliver.

To learn more about the robust and hardened “ballistic-resistant” buildings produced by CoverSix, contact us today and speak to a representative.