10 News tests bullet
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10 News tests bullet

Sep 26, 2023

Brittny McGraw, Anchor

GOODE, Va. – 10 News is your Back to School Authority and we are working for you, putting bullet-resistant backpack inserts to the test.

“Most often the weapons used, primarily 9mm handgun and then an AR-15 and most of them are within 20 feet, 25 feet. They’re fairly close shootings,” said Marko Galbreath, owner and operator of T4Tactics, LLC in Lynchburg.

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Galbreath’s mission is to teach people how to stop these attacks from ever happening.

“It’s all about prevention,” Galbreath said. “Active shooter attacks, most of the time, they’re preventable.”

But he also trains people how to survive if the unthinkable happens.

“The shots are being fired, let’s mitigate. Let’s put something on to protect ourselves to stop the bullets if we can, and let’s get out of here. Let’s respond,” Galbreath said.

Statistics from the K-12 School Shooting Database show the rise in school shootings since 1966. One response has been an increase in products created to protect students, such as bullet-resistant backpacks and backpack inserts.

“Some of them are made of Kevlar. You can have plates in there that are made of different types of steel,” Galbreath said. “It’s material that’s going to capture that bullet and not allow it to penetrate.”

But do they work?

To find out, 10 News asked Galbreath, who is also a firearms instructor, to help test bullet-resistant inserts from three different manufacturers. Galbreath is not affiliated with nor does he sell any of these products.

10 News used the same style backpacks filled with typical school supplies: one spiral notebook, one coloring book and two binders.

We then added a Level 3A insert to each backpack, one each from Atomic Defense, Safe Life Defense and Spartan Armor Systems. Level 3A inserts are designed to protect against handgun bullets. For this test, Galbreath used a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with two types of ammunition.

“We’ll be using FMJ, which is just a full metal jacket. It’s a common practice round. And then we’ll transition to the 9mm Luger, which is a defensive round. It has a lot more stopping power,” Galbreath said.

We started with the insert from Atomic Defense. After shooting it with both rounds, the insert remained intact with no penetration on the backside of the insert.

We then tested the insert from Spartan Armor Systems. It withstood the force of both rounds.

“Nothing on the backside. So it did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Galbreath said as he examined the insert.

The insert from Safe Life Defense was the third insert we tested. It also remained intact after shooting it with both rounds.

In our tests, every insert stopped handgun bullets, but what if your child is faced with a threat from an AR-15?

“Sometimes they’ll start with a 9mm, transition to an AR, or vice-versa. They may transition to another gun,” Galbreath said.

10 News put one insert to the test that is rated to protect against AR-15 and AK-47 rounds. Wednesday on WSLS, see how it performed. We will also share what safety experts and researchers say can be done to prevent gun violence in schools.

“Once a gun makes its way onto campus or into the school building, it’s too late,” said David Riedman, founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database.

Click here to rewatch the first story in this three-part series.

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