At a law enforcement conference not long ago, one of the ad sales folks from Officer.com approached me and asked if I would be willing to perform a field test on a product and write up some editorial if it did well. My reply was, "Sure, as long as I get two so if the one I test passes everything I put it through, I have a new second one to use." She said she didn't think that would be a problem. A couple months later I received two Ballistic Clipboards from Impact Armor Technologies. Now I thought this was a pretty cool idea for cops but my first thought was, "If this passes all the testing, I'm putting the second one in my son's backpack." Given the increase in active shooter incidents in the past decade, I felt it would be a good idea to provide him some armor if I could.
Now, before I go into the testing I performed and how it did, let me share some info about the ballistic clipboard - direct from the Impact Armor Technologies website.
Developed by request for local law enforcement agencies the ballistic clipboard provides protection where you need it most – by your side. Designed to be always available the clipboard is there when you need it, not in the trunk, not 20 minutes away. For routine traffic stops, first responders, or serving a warrant, the clipboard provides discrete protection at all times.
Designed to exceed NIJ IIIA specifications the clipboard has undergone extensive testing to ensure it performs. From a standoff distance to point blank, hot and cold, the clipboard provides multi-hit protection against 9mm, .357, .40, and .44 mag rounds. Most importantly, this protection is available in an ergonomic design that weighs under 2.0lbs.
As I weigh it, the ballistic clipboard weighs right about 1.5 pounds. As you can see from the included photo(s), it has handle (I'm right handed so the handle is on the left) and the requisite metal spring clip at the top. MSRP on their website is $150 and that's a pretty darned good price given what I now know.
Yes, I'm a skeptic. "Ballistic armor" is often accompanied by sales pitch that makes it seem like the latest greatest everything. I've seen Level IIIA vests fail to stop 9mm ball rounds on the range. I've seen the same vests fail to stop .40S&W jacketed hollow point ammo. Needless to say, I like to see things perform before I'm willing to bet my life on them. With that in mind, I headed to the range with my test unit.
I had two handguns I intended to test the unit with: My Kahr CW4543 .45ACP and a fellow firearms instructor's Beretta PX4 in .40S&W. The test ammo included American Eagle 230g FMJ .45ACP ammo and Federal HydraShok 155g JHP .40S&W ammo. On the range we took a couple pictures of the pristine (not yet shot) clipboard and then braced it against a target stand about three yards down range. The first two shots were with the Kahr .45ACP. It not only stopped those rounds, the bullets didn't even break into the kevlar layers.
The next three shots - placed as close to the .45ACP impacts as we could manage - were with the Beretta PX4 .40S&W. The lighter, faster and smaller diameter jacketed hollowpoints did cut into the clipboard's face but did not go through. In fact, after some effort, I was able to dig out two of the badly deformed rounds. As near as I could tell they had cut through only the first layer of Kevlar.
The permanent backface deformation looks to be about one-half inch. I had no way of measuring with the backface deformation was on impact of the rounds.
At some point in the future I will take the shot-up clipboard back to the range and see how well it withstands shots it's not designed to stop. I intend to shoot it with .22lr, .223, .30-.30, 7.62x54R and 12g 00. I will report on all that after the fact (obviously).
Suffice to say, for this test, the clipboard performs as advertised. $150 clipboard may sound extreme but then you have to weigh in the fact that it might just save your life. How can you put a dollar amount on that?