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  1. #1

    Up-Armoring a Vehicle? Some tactical tips

    I saw a question that someone had asked about up-armoring a vehicle (it was elsewhere) and the response was to say that it was impractical and not worth it. Now, if you have the ability to do it and you assess that the threat is sufficient to warrant it, up-armoring a vehicle is very practical. I am not advocating that you do this, and I have not done it (at the current time, but I would consider it), but if the threat and situation warrant it you may find that up-armoring a vehicle is a very sensible proposition.

    Now, I think the confusion in the response to the question I saw was over the cost and weight of fully armoring a vehicle to the standard of a civilian close protection vehicle. This can be done, and usually is termed level “B6”. What this equates to is either a production vehicle, or an after-market version, where steel plate is added and armored windows added to make the vehicle appear normal but to provide a level of protection. This level of protection (B6) usually means that the armor will stop up to 7.62 NATO (.308) rounds incoming, and with therefore provide a level of protection against IED shrapnel and blast as well. I can personally vouch that these production vehicles will prevent breach by the blast of a suicide bomber throwing themselves onto the hood and detonating. The armored glass will eventually be degraded by strike and technically it has some standard such as it must stand up to a certain amount of strikes in a certain area to pass the armor test. When hit, there will be a “snowball” effect on the glass from the striking round.

    So, why consider an armored vehicle? An unarmored motor vehicle provides very little protection from incoming fire. Rounds will cut through like a knife through butter. Protection will only be provided by the engine block and wheel hubs. If you have to move in your vehicles in a post collapse situation, for whatever reason, and you are carrying personnel including loved ones, and you expect to encounter ambush or any form of harassing fire, then you should consider ballistic protection to your vehicles.

    This is not going to be a technical how to article, it is just going to raise the idea. When working in Iraq at one point in the early days in 2004, we had pick-up trucks that we were using to escort convoys. We up-armored the sides of the cab with steel plate and built steel boxes in the truck beds to protect gunners. We created pintle mounts for PKM machine-guns for the gunners in the back. It was a simple process for which you just need the ability to cut and weld steel. You find suitable steel and test it by firing rounds at it. You then decide how you are going to armor the vehicle (the design) . We took the interior door “furniture” off and welded or bolted steel plate to the inside of the doors, shaped to come up above window level to provide a higher level of protection. This way of doing things will increase your ballistic protection; particularly from roadside threats such as ambush or IEDs.

    The key thing is that doing this kind of “hobo” armor job can be done relatively cheaply and easily and could be done in a workshop or garage post collapse. You are not attempting to build a B6 fully armored vehicle and you will not be fully protected. But this has an advantage: you will be able to return fire from inside the vehicles, over the top of the side steel plates, which you can’t do from the inside of a fully sealed production armored vehicle. With the addition of run-flat tires you will significantly enhance your protection and survivability, particularly if you wear Kevlar helmets to protect your heads as they are above the plates.

    Another thing to consider is that if you have vehicles other than pick-ups, and you are not in the game of mounting pintle mounted guns in the back but instead want to protect loved ones and kids, then simply look at your vehicle and figure out a way to put a steel box in the back passenger compartment. You may have to fold all the seats down, such as a minivan, then cut and weld a steel box to protect the passenger compartment, which will have the advantage of giving you more front and rear protection from the box effect. You will have to put simple doors in the sides so you can access the box from the normal vehicle doors and get people in or out in a hurry. If you have to put seats down, then you could for instance lash kid car seats down in the back at a height lower than the steel. If you have no seats, then don’t worry because you should not be going at any kind of fast speeds as you move anyway (another tactical topic…)

    Sunroofs? I have seen some comments and assumptions that you could put someone up through a sunroof. I don’t recommend it, for many reasons, including raising your profile with an obvious armed man sticking up through the roof of a vehicle. If you have up armored your vehicle, then stay lower to take advantage of the steel plate protection. If you have not armored it, then keep a generally low profile and stay physically low anyway and if you need to return fire you can do it through windows or even with the window in place or through the body of the vehicle – the lack of protection of a vehicle body works both ways. BTDT. If you drive around with weapons sticking out of windows you will look like an Iraqi Police car, which is not cool. That touches on profile (high or low) and professionalism that is another topic also.

    Even if you cannot weld, and you have some ballistic protection such as steel plates, soft “ballistic blankets” (which won’t protect against high velocity rounds) or even extra sets of adult body armor or plates, then you can wedge or prop this on the inside of the vehicle alongside where your passengers and loved ones will be. Think outside the box. If you have to drive through or away from a situation where you are receiving incoming fire, then you will significantly enhance the survivability of your people. It may also make the difference between a situation where you feel you have to stop and surrender to them because they have such fire superiority, and one where you feel you have a good chance of being able to drive out of there.

    If the situation goes fully “Mad Max” and you don’t care what your vehicles look like, then you could bolt the steel on the outside. You could also armor the area of the engine sides and radiator to enhance vehicle survivability and perhaps enhance ramming ability. This way, if you created armored “technical” gun trucks, you would have ideal patrol vehicles perhaps to protect the area of your retreat, compound or small town. Such vehicles, with suitable mounted firepower, would be ideal as quick reaction defensive vehicles. Under those circumstances when you are going fully high profile, you may want to consider putting a mesh screen across the windshield (rock/projectile protection), or even more plate with a viewing slit cut out. You may consider either pick up’s with pintle mounted guns in the truck bed or alternatively an SUV with some sort of turret mount on it, or protected firing port in the roof. Use your imagination….
    Last edited by max velocity; 08-20-2012 at 11:10 AM. Reason: typo
    Max Velocity

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  2. #2
    If you need some ideas on how to up-armor you rig look up pics of Contractor, PSD, Convoy Gun trucks from Iraq.
    During the first 3 to 4 years of the war most of the Ford f350 and Cheve Suburban’s were not armored.
    The ones that did had home built armor. Some cool ways to rig up armor.

  3. #3
    Site Supporter and Beta Tester
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    Jul 2011
    SE LA
    Sounds good, until you realize the vehicle won't pass an ant going downhill. To even consider a "lightweight" armor-up, forget a half ton truck, suv's are out, and don't even think about a car (well, maybe a 1969 Bonneville with a 455) . The stock suspension is marginal and overloading the vehicle is not a wise idea if you need the armor to begin with.

    Up armored Suburbans in Panama weighed in over twice the stock weight...unloaded.

    Speed, agility and avoiding the conflict is the key IMHO.

    Remember, the key to surviving is NOT to put yourself in a "survival situation."
    This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis

  4. #4
    Power chipping, turbos, etc are options to use in power help. Also don't forget the braking system as many light duty brakes will fail soon after the added weight and the wrecks can cause as much damage or more than incoming too.
    Good article and comments

    Now to get me some spiked shoulder pads
    Knowledge is Power, Practiced Knowledge is Strength, Tested Knowledge is Confidence

  5. #5
    some interesting info...

    in another thread I mentioned an associate who is considering a fast trip to Canada as an option if the shtf.

    so here's the situation and question.
    what if.... you do not weld. you have a 2500 diesel with crew cab. diesel transfer tank in bed which fits under your aluminum tool box. you have a small hobby farm and have been doing a lot of building and therefor has lots of wood on hand... and no scrap metal but several pieces of common farm implements, 1 small metal utility trailer with 4 x 8 bed. you must make improvements with material on hand.

    you and family are leaving in 3 days. you figure you have 2 days to rig truck.
    what would you do to up armor as best you can?

  6. #6
    Site Supporter and Beta Tester
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    Jul 2011
    SE LA
    First thing...shame for waiting to think this through

    Probably the quickest, easiest "armor" would be to use the discs from a plow. Rope, cable, bolts, etc. to hold them in place. Protect the radiator too, but make sure to allow for ample airflow. Wood isn't going to do much good against rifle rounds (or any serious pistol rounds) so use it to enclose the truck bed and trailer...it'll help protect gear/supplies from the weather if nothing else and prying eyes will have to be up close & personal to know what you actually have.

    Just my $0.02
    This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis

  7. #7
    I have seen a film on the net and on the science channel that goes on car windows and house windows. On cars supposed to stop 223 from coming thru and house stop glass from fragmenting during hurricanes . Any one have a link for this stuff called glass armor/vehicalgard, armor film. Several co's show up on net. ALSO American acrylic make hard panels of a boat type layup of fiberglass and Kevlar. This is used in banks and PD front desks fairly light weight about 1 grand a 4x8 sheet and be cut with a carbide saw. Or that is what I paid a few years ago. Put that in the hand grenade bunker at the post.

  8. #8
    tool boxes....
    I have a regular aluminum tool box.. on my 1500 truck. associate has aluminum on his 2500.

    a few years back when I was buying the aluminum... salesman tried to get me to upgrade to the delta brand.
    the cost was a lot more... I asked why. his answer...
    all of the dnr guys get delta because the heavy steel has some protection from a gunshot through the back of the truck.

    I have some dnr contacts but have forgotten to check out above info.

  9. #9
    2015 Silver Site supporter Rmplstlskn's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Charlottesville, VA
    Yeah, to armor up a vehicle ~~SAFELY~ and still keep handling performance, one will need to upgrade suspension and brakes without a doubt. Minimum. Door hinges replaced. Additional structural support...

    If I had the $$$ to do all that, and the time, I would find an OLD armored car or SUV on the market, one worn out with high miles, then rebuild that. The engineering would already be done. The steel already in place.

    The downside of farm implements and scrap metal laying around (I do not keep my property like a junk yard, like some of the Doomsday Prepper homesteads I saw on TV, so I do not have a lot of junk steel laying around, rusting) is that they are often to thick and thus too heavy. Too much steel (weight) in places like spindles, bearing housings, etc.... Often very bulky too, leaving less room for gear.

    An armored vehicle is just HARD to pull off without a lot of specialization and customization...

    -=> Rmplstlskn <=-

  10. #10
    In talking to a friend that owns a Linex trk bed coating shop. HE advised that they are using chopped Kevlar/fiberglass mix with Linex spray to make a bullet shrapnel resistant panel and he said it would cost some one about 1000 bucks for a small suv/if you did the labor of panel remove. I do know we were spraying regular Linex on our army vehicles prior to shipping from our post to ???. Not sure what the Linex would do by itself but they claimed it would reduce fragment injury.

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