A Brief History Of Bullet Proof Glass

by | Nov 3, 2015 | Security

The term “bullet proof glass” is bandied about in movies and novels. It is used less frequently within the industry where the more accurate term is bullet resistant glass. However, bullet proof is more romantic and aptly suited to describe a material with a history that includes individuals from Al Capone to the Pope. It is a story full of myths that begins with an accident.

Bullet Proof Glass: A Fortunate Accident

When a beaker falls or is knocked over in a lab, this is usually considered an unfortunate accident. It may set back an experiment or two. In 1903, Edouard Benedictus (1879-1930), a French chemist and artist. He knocked over a flask. To his amazement, the flask did not shatter. It remained whole.

Benedictus was puzzled until his assistant informed him that the flask had contained cellulose (plastic) nitrate. It has evaporated leaving a thin coating which had provided protection to the flask. Benedictus tested the substance and, intending it to be utilized to improve the windshields of cars, came up with safety glass. It took several years, but he came up with the first actual version of bullet proof glass. He called it Triplex.


Benedictus took out a patent in 1909. His was not the only one. Over the years several companies have come up with their own formulation for bullet proof glass. Patents were one thing. Implementation became another. It was not until the advent of World War I that this product came into active usage. It was used in gas masks that the military provided their personnel.

During the 1920s, a few uses were found for the material. It was used to protect bank tellers. Car makers also decided bullet proof glass was perfect for car windshields. Henry Ford led the way in 1919 when he began to employ it in his now famous Fords. It quickly became the standard for all his Ford vehicles. In fact, all Capone’s car, including his now famous 1928 Cadillac, was constructed employing this material for its windshield. This was the same vehicle that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to protect his person following Pearl Harbor when it necessitated he leave the White House to make a speech.

During World War II, bullet proof glass was used in a wide variety of applications. It was a heavier version than what is employed today, but it did what was expected of it. Army engineers utilized it to provide the windows for various battle craft as well as for bunkers windows. This includes the windshields of several aircraft.

Bullet Proof Glass Today

Today, bullet resistant glass is a highly sophisticated substance. It is used widely across the world including by or for the following:

  • Military
  • Police and Public Security forces
  • Private Security Companies
  • Residences
  • Commercial and Industrial Enterprises

All can employ a form of bullet proof glass to ensure that they, their loved ones, employees and/or goods are protected from those forces and elements that may harm them.

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