4 Investigates puts bulletproof backpacks to the test | KOB 4
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4 Investigates puts bulletproof backpacks to the test

Nathan O'Neal
September 22, 2019 10:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M— More families are taking drastic measures to protect their children, which explains why sales of bulletproof backpacks have nearly tripled following recent tragedies.

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The backpacks are marketed to parents as a way to keep their child safe in the event of an active shooter – but how effective are they?

To find out, the KOB 4 Investigates team ordered bulletproof backpacks from two of the most popular online vendors. 

            -Proshield Scout backpack from Guard Dog Security ($125)

            -Junior Pack from Bullet Blocker ($160)

Both backpacks came with an independent lab report which labels both bags with a NIJ (National Institute of Justice) level III A grade, which means both bags should stop gunfire from common handguns including up to a .44 caliber handgun. The backpacks are not advertised to stop gunfire from any rifles.

The KOB 4 Investigates team enlisted the help of firearms instructors Andrew Steele and Tony Bieniek, who also provide active shooter and security training in Albuquerque.

“The first thought that came to my mind is Sandy Hook and if we can avoid things like that with these products that would be a wonderful thing,” Steele said.

The firearms instructors performed a gun-range test with a variety of handguns and rifles for each backpack.

From a distance of about 7 yards, The Guard Dog backpack passed the test with a variety of handguns ranging from a 9 mm handgun to .45 caliber. The bullet resistant material successfully stopped the rounds from penetrating the back of the backpack.

“I’m very happy that it does perform as advertised and I would recommend it for my nieces and nephews,” Steele said.

In an identical test, the Bulletblocker backpack passed the test with a 9 mm handgun; however, the bag failed the test with other handguns including the .44 caliber, which the company claims it should have stopped.

“It does not perform as advertised. It does not perform at the level it says it should perform,” said Steele of the Bulletblocker bag.

As expected, neither the backpack withstood gunfire from an AR-15 rifle, which has been the weapon of choice for some of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history – including at schools in Parkland, Florida and Newtown, Connecticut.

Both companies point to their independent lab testing and claim that their backpacks are tested against standards developed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which is a research branch of the U.S. Justice Department.

A spokesperson for Bulletblocker said in an email: “Our products are tested and certified by a NIJ recognized and certified laboratory… we stand by our certified and official testing.”

However, the United States Justice Department told the KOB 4 Investigates team those types of claims are misleading.

Justice Department spokeswoman Mollie Timmons said “The National Institute of Justice …. has never tested nor certified bulletproof backpacks, blankets, or briefcases, other than body armor for law enforcement. Marketing that claims NIJ testing or certification for such products is false."

While both the Guard Dog Security backpack and the Bulletblocker backpack were marketed to withstand the same type of gunfire, they did not perform the same in our KOB 4 Investigates test.

Security experts urge parents to read the fine print before buying anything.

In fact, a quick check of the Bulletblocker waiver that came with the backpack reads: “The entire risk as to the quality of and performance of the product is with the consumer.”

While some companies sell backpacks that are supposed to protect against both handguns and rifles, they can be much heavier and, in some cases, impractical for small children. Those options also tend to be much more expensive.

Credits

Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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