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Steel Armor and the Risks of Splattering or Spalling


Splattering and Spalling Image

Steel Armor and the Risks of Splattering or Spalling

Steel armor has long been valued for its affordability and durability, making it a popular choice for personal protection. However, when using steel plates for body armor, you need to be aware of the potential risks of splattering and spalling. In this blog post, we'll explore these two related phenomena and the measures you can take to reduce their impact.


Understanding Splattering and Spalling

Splattering and spalling are terms used to describe the release of fragments or particles when a bullet strikes a steel plate. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they describe 2 separate situations

  • Splattering: Splattering refers to the immediate release of fragments or particles when a bullet hits a steel plate. These fragments can travel at high speeds and pose a risk to the wearer and those nearby. This is commonly referred to as "Spalling" however it is not the same.

Splattering seen with a round impacting uncoated steel
Splattering seen with a round impacting uncoated steel

  • Spalling: True "spalling" occurs when the backside of steel (opposite the impact side) bulges and sheds particles. Spalling is not the threat most people refer to when referencing steel plates, that is "splattering"

Mitigating Risks: Spalling and Splattering

To reduce the risks of splattering when using steel armor, several measures can be taken:

  1. Build-Up Coats: Many steel armor plates are coated with a build-up coat, a layer of material that helps minimize the impact of spalling and splattering. This coating can catch and absorb some of the fragmented particles, reducing their effect. But these coatings are not an absolute guarantee .

From the Armored Republic: Fragments caught inside a spall bag
From the Armored Republic: Fragments caught inside a spall bag

  1. Spall Sleeves: Spall sleeves are protective coverings designed to encase the steel plate. These sleeves can effectively contain and minimize the effects of spalling and splattering, reducing the risk of injury to the wearer.

The Role of Steel Armor

Despite the potential risks of spalling and splattering, steel armor remains a reliable choice for many individuals due to its longevity and affordability. Its effectiveness in stopping ballistic threats cannot be underestimated.


Selecting Steel Armor with Mitigation Measures

If you opt for steel armor, it's essential to choose plates with effective spalling and splattering mitigation measures. Look for armor that includes build-up coats or, even better, spall sleeves, as these measures significantly reduce the risks associated with spalling and splattering.


In Conclusion:

Spalling and splattering, whether used interchangeably or distinctly, describe the release of fragments resulting from the impact of a projectile on steel armor. Regardless of the terminology, understanding the potential risks and taking appropriate measures to mitigate them is crucial when using steel armor for personal protection. Your choice of body armor should align with your specific needs, be it affordability, durability, or other considerations, while prioritizing safety.

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