Can Milk Jugs Stop a Bullet?

An empty milk jug seems like a pretty flimsy thing, but when you cut several milk jugs into pieces and melt them into an homogeneous block, it starts to look a little more substantial. Still, can plastic stop a bullet? High density polyethylene, or HDPE, is used in a variety of products because it is strong, light, and cheap. Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE is used in some rifle plates because it is tough and light. While the two are not the same, they are chemically similar and although HDPE is not as tough as UHMWPE, it is tougher than you might expect.

This seems silly and it is, but there is a more serious purpose to this test. Every few years, some dullard statist politician gets it in his or her tiny head to place restrictions on body armor because banning the things for the children has worked so well in the past. There already exist some jurisdictions where body armor is regulated. Some countries do not allow private citizens to own body armor at all. The purpose of the Open Source Armor Project is to establish a standard for homemade body armor that is effective, cheap, easy to make, and constructed of easily sourced materials. It is not intended to be an alternative to proper body armor, but rather an option for those who may not have access to “real” armor as well as a counterpoint to any arguments in favor of banning personal body armor. The goal of this test was as a proof of concept. Further testing will explore the stand alone capability of a 1 1/4″ thick slab like this as well as its usefulness as a backing material for floor tiles. In previous testing, we have established that porcelain floor tiles are more than up to the task of stopping intermediate rifle cartridges when backed by a tough material.

The questions that remain to be answered are:

  • How effective can the HDPE slab be on its own?
  • What is the optimum thickness?
  • How many tiles is optimum to achieve a favorable balance of weight and protection?
  • What adhesives are both inexpensive and effective?
  • What material works best to contain fragments?

Once these questions are answered, we can establish a standard configuration or set of configurations that can then be independently tested. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact The Chopping Block on YouTube.