What Are the Best Materials You Can Use to Stop a Bullet?

It’s doubtful you’ll ever find yourself in a live shooter situation, but it does and can happen from time to time. This is why it’s vital to know what kind of materials can stop a bullet. 

After all, you never know when you may need to hide behind something to ensure your safety. Knowing which objects to hide behind and which you can’t, may just end up saving your life. But what’s the best material to stop bullets? 

Kevlar is the best material for stopping bullets and is commonly used by the military in various applications. Other materials that can be used to stop a bullet include wood, steel, polycarbonate, polyethylene, ceramic, and spider silk.

Some of these materials may be difficult or expensive to obtain, but at least you have a variety of different options you can use to stop a bullet if needed.

If you want to learn more about the types of material that can be used to stop a bullet then simply continue reading below.

Materials That Can Stop a Bullet

Kevlar is used the world over by both militaries and civilians as ballistic protection. The plates are made of tightly woven synthetic fibers that can endure incredible amounts of punishment. The plates are also lightweight (as far as armors go) and heat resistant. 

Other benefits of Kevlar include its versatility, low weight, and durability. There is no wonder why Kevlar is the number one choice of material for armor used by military and civilians across the world. 

However, while it’s the most widely known material, it’s not the only material that can stop a bullet.

Let’s learn about these other materials. 


Once, there was a common misconception that 7.62 rounds could penetrate trees, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

An adult-sized tree will stop just about any bullet. However, as far as flipping over a table and using it for cover like in the movies, I wouldn’t try it unless that table is at least 5 inches thick. A full metal ballpoint 9mm will likely get right through it. 


A few millimeter thick plate of steel can stop the average bullet right in its tracks. The problem is it’s heavy, bulky, and inconvenient as body armor. 

So, you may want to think twice about grabbing that medieval suit of armor at the renaissance fair. Not only is the steel suit of armor not thick enough to be bulletproof, but it’ll also quickly wear you down and cause you to stand out in a crowd. Bad idea.


Polycarbonate is tough and a thick enough piece can stop multiple bullets with no problem. In fact, Polycarbonate is what bulletproof glass is made of and it’s a highly effective way to stop a bullet.


Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene is a highly durable material and has even outperformed kevlar in some ballistic tests. If you ever owned a Tupperware plastic container before then you’ve seen Polyethylene first-hand. 


Ceramic is an ultra-hard material that rates close to diamond in terms of hardness. It’s even harder than the metals used to craft bullets! 

Unfortunately, while ceramic is tough, it’s also brittle. This means it may be able to stop a projectile, but the bullet’s energy will often shatter the ceramic at the same time. 

Spider Silk

Spider silk is one of the strongest natural fibers known to man. Amyloid silk is a synthetic version that is much stronger than even kevlar. While the material is still in development, we can expect to see the new ballistic material hit the market in around a decade.

 What is the Best Material to Stop a Bullet

In overall performance, polyethylene (PE) is the best material to stop a bullet, at least in terms of personal protection. While it isn’t as light as kevlar, its strength to weight ratio is about 15 times that of kevlar. The material is used to make plates similar to steel plates, only a lot lighter. 

Polyethylene is water-resistant and won’t degrade as fast as ceramic or kevlar. Another attribute that makes Polyethylene the best material for stopping bullets is that it can take multiple hits, where a plate of ceramic or kevlar would shatter or crack. 

 The Lightest Material That Can Stop a Bullet

Kevlar is the lightest material for stopping bullets; before its discovery in 1971 by Stephany Kwolek, bulletproof vests were heavy and constructed entirely of steel. The first all kevlar ballistic protection was produced five years later in 1976.

Kevlar ballistic protection isn’t just lighter and more manageable than its steel counterpart; it’s about five-times stronger in strength to weight ratio. It’s lightweight and can absorb incredibly high amounts of energy, making it the ideal material to make a bulletproof vest.

 The Cheapest Material That Can Stop a Bullet

Steel is the cheapest material on the market that will protect you from a bullet, which is why it’s still popular. While the steel body armor of today is vastly superior to its predecessors, it’s still much heavier than kevlar or PE. 

Another reason steel is still widely used today is that it’s a low-maintenance material that doesn’t have to be cared for as ceramic does. It can also take multiple hits without losing too much of its protective quality. Plus, it lasts a long time. 

 Household Objects That Can Stop a bullet

The truth is, unless you’ve prepared, there isn’t much in your home going to stop a bullet. You’re not just going to be able to run into the kitchen, grab a pan, and tuck it under your shirt. Even taking cover behind the average wall found in houses isn’t going to protect you. 

What will stop a bullet:

  • Trees
  • Brick or block walls
  • Your vehicle’s engine block
  • Thick stacks of computer paper will stop smaller calibers
  • A full hot water heater can at least stop a handgun round

What won’t stop a bullet:

  • Tables  
  • Cabinets
  • A pantry 
  • Most doors
  • Walls, including exterior walls

When you’re looking to take cover from an active shooter, you’re going to want to find the closest tree, vehicle, or thick block wall. 


Many materials can stop bullets, but they aren’t all created equal. Some are best for armor, while others are best for cover. Whereas others like amyloid silk have yet to be truly tested. 

If you’re looking for ballistic protection, it’s best to stick with the methods of the professionals and get yourself some kevlar. Should the unthinkable happen, position yourself behind something such as a thick tree, concrete wall, or the engine block of a car.