Saab Self-Healing Ceramic Ball Soft Armor

This is cool:

Saab’s Soft Armour system offers protection against ballistic penetration up to NATO 7.62 mm AP ammunition (STANAG level III). The system is a box concept filled with hard ceramic balls. The system is especially designed to enhance survivability and can be fitted to any structure prior to missions, or even retrofitted to existing structures in operational theatre.

A unique ceramic material protects against ballistic penetration. Soft Armour is a patented ballistic protection technology that provides security for people in vulnerable environments. Soft Armour also protects critical equipment and facilities. Soft Armour protects against all small arms ammunition including armour piercing. The system has a lower total cost than ceramic and composite protection, with reusability, multi-hit capabilities and high flexibility.

Less marketing, more demonstrating in this video:

WTF is with the warning at the starting? – “Despite our effort this video may contain violent content, viewer discretion is advised.”

Saab-soft-ceramic-armorAfter watching both videos, I think the “hack” is to repeatedly hammer the target lower down in order to sink the balls… then go for the new unarmored top section. Unless someone is pouring new balls in, I see that as being its Achilles heel.

You can read more about it on Saab’s website. Nice site btw… real clean and functional.

Thoughts? In ball you trust?


16 responses to “Saab Self-Healing Ceramic Ball Soft Armor”

  1. 2wheels Avatar

    Seems like you’d have to put an awful lot of rounds through the same general area to lower the balls enough for you to get a good shot at someone behind them. That gives them plenty of time to leave or shoot back at you.

    1. ENDO-Mike Avatar

      Yea? I don’t know… They seemed to be lowering it enough in no time for headshots anyway in the video!

  2. great idea but i bet the balls cost $1 each or more. lol

    1. ENDO-Mike Avatar

      Haha yea probably

  3. I’m pretty surprised that stray .50 round that impacted the top framework of the target didn’t end up going through.

  4. Bro-ham Avatar

    This would be almost useless on the battlefield. Anything able to make a fist size or larger hole in the “self healing” wall (think direct 40mm HEDP, RPG) would basically allow the balls of to fall right out of it.

    For just small arms protection though, say in a bank or in your dream SHTF bunker, I see potential as long as the costs remain reasonable.

    1. ENDO-Mike Avatar

      Ya and if not, someone will create a round called “the ball buster” which would kill those walls.

  5. JohnnyCarcinogen Avatar

    So, essentially, their “system” is just really expensive sandbags?

    I’d rather shovel.

    1. derpmaster Avatar

      But it’s Saab! They built a jet once! Their mastery of mid-1970s aerospace technology means that this must the best solution!

      1. Beardy Avatar

        Well, our JAS is up and flying despite it only has an embarrassing unitcost $69 mil. Also the 37 Viggen was a pretty macho plane, being the only plane that had confirmed radarlock of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

    2. ENDO-Mike Avatar

      Good point. Sand actually seems to work better in some cases. Not to mention you won’t have to wait on supply if your ball level gets low.

  6. The same thing can be accomplished with dry, settled / compacted pea gravel, at least until the front retaining panel is sufficiently holed to permit draining. The old NRA Range Manual mentioned that 3 1/2 inches of gravel would stop nearly all handgun rounds, turns out it will also stop 5.56 and a lot of 308 loads. For a while……Pro tip: don’t use wood 2X4s – they’re the weak point. C-shaped galvanized steel studs allow filling the interior space with gravel and plywood holds up much better than OSB. Pea gravel weighs about 25% more than Saab’s ceramic balls, but Saab’s solution is 4.7 inches thick, a 3.5 inch thick “gravel box” of the same area would weigh about the same.

    I’ve wondered if mixing something with the consistency of ballistic gelatin in the gravel would help prevent drain out.

    1. Jerimiah Avatar

      I doubt gel would be a good idea. It would probably stabilize the balls too much and not allow for them to replace what’s broken.

    2. line the inside with a rubber sheet. theprojectiles would only male tiny holes in the rubber so the rubber woulkd keep the balls in :*)

  7. Llewelyn Avatar

    I actually think, and this seems silly. But this would be really cool in a video game. A player having an impenetrable shield that after a some rounds becomes weaker around the head area, sounds fun.

  8. Very interesting technology, I can’t wait to see how this develops in the next 2-5 years.