Daily Digest: Bulletproof Backpack Panels Edition

Rocket Cat illustration courtesy nbcnews.com

There are those who think that civilians should be allowed anything the government/military has, including tanks, RPGs, and even up to and including nuclear weapons (if you can afford them). But would that include Rocket Cats? Or Dove Bombs? A military manual from the early 1500s shows illustrations of doves and cats that seem to have some sort of rocket pack or small cannon attached to their backs. The text, which is in German, helpfully advises military commanders to use them to “set fire to a castle or city which you can’t get at otherwise.” The author, Franz Helm of Cologne, Germany, suggests that the idea is to affix a burning sack to the back of local cat. . .

which would then hopefully run home and hide itself in a place where it could ignite other flammable materials, sending the whole castle up in smoke. University of Pennsylvania research Mitch Fraas could find no evidence that birds or animals were actually used in this way, which he says is a good thing, as it’s “very unlikely the animals would run back to where they came from. More likely they’d set your own camp on fire.”

Your Lockdown of the Day™ comes from San Antonio, Texas. Hidden Forest Elementary on the city’s North Side was placed on lockdown for about two hours on Tuesday due to a distraught woman in a home across the street who reportedly had a gun. According to police, she received some relationship-related news from a man she lived with, and the man then left the house, leaving her home alone. A family member reported to police that she had a gun and was suicidal, so the school was locked down, with no one allowed in or out. The lockdown also temporarily stopped voters from entering the school, which was being used as a polling place for the statewide primary election. It is unknown if any voters were trapped inside at the time. The woman was taken into custody after a two-hour standoff, and was held for a psychological evaluation. No criminal charges were filed.

Iowa is taking steps to legalize suppressors, which are currently prohibited to private ownership by state law. A bill just passed through the Iowa House by a vote of 83-16, and now needs to be approved by the Senate and the governor to become law. One of the representatives who voted against the bill in the House was Cindy Winckler from Davenport, who said, “When a gun is fired, the sound it makes is a warning signal to those around that weapon. And if we muzzle that sound, we have a chance to muffle that warning signal.” She used the example of a school shooting incident, where if an active shooter used a suppressor, she feared that not everyone would hear the shots and react to them. The bill’s sponsor, Matt Windschitl, said that not passing the law based on possible future crimes is dangerous thinking. He pointed to the 39 other states in which it’s legal to own a suppressor, and the lack of statistical data showing any increase in crime due to the ownership.

James at Montactical sent us this neat video of DIY Kryptek Camouflage for your AR (or anything else, really). He’s using an airbrush, and he says you can do it with rattle can, but I can tell you from experience that doing stuff like this with rattle cans is definitely something that will take a time or four to get solid, consistent results. Still, it’s pretty neat to see what you can do with a weekend to kill.

The press release headline reads, Do Children Need Protection From Bullets? A New Indiegogo Campaign Will See. BulletSafe, whose products have appeared in these pages in the past, is floating the idea of bulletproof panels for children’s backpacks, and they’re using Indiegogo to gauge the interest. The panels can reportedly stop up to a .44 Magnum, and are made from the same materials as BulletSafe’s NIJ level IIIA Bulletproof Vest. They’re 12×10 inches and weigh 1.25 pounds. The eventual retail price of the panels will be $99 plus shipping, but you can have one for $89 through the Indiegogo campaign.

New from Trijicon is the VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight). The VCOG is a 1-6×24 first focal plane optic, illuminated by LED instead of the tritium used in the ACOG. It uses a standard AA battery, has an integrated base with large thumbscrews, and has a big meaty focus knob that looks like it’d be easy to manipulate with cold hands or gloves.



  1. avatar William Burke says:

    They look like propulsion devices. Nothing about their appearance seems to suggest weaponry, except for the “setting fire” part. They’d be as likely to run home and set something afire than the enemy.

  2. avatar Johannes P. says:

    If you outlaw rocket cats, only outlaws WILL have rocket cats. [rimshot]

  3. avatar Kyle says:

    In WWII, the Russians tried training dogs that had bombs strapped onto them to run underneath tanks as a way of attacking the Germans. The problem was that in practice, the dogs couldn’t tell the difference between the German tanks and the Soviet tanks.

    1. avatar Daniel H says:

      Actually thats technically not true. The Russians trained the dogs dogs using their tanks, which were diesel. The problem was that the Germans used gasoline powered tanks. When the dogs were released they went to the tanks they knew,

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        “…were pulling the pins and throwing them back…”

      2. avatar Another Robert says:

        I don’t think that’s correct. The Americans used gasoline-powered tanks, but as I understand it the Germans used diesel.

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          Negative. Germans used petrol.

          US actually during WWII made large number of diesel M3 Grant/Lee and M4 Sherman. Nearly all (along with thousands of Studebaker deuce and a halfs) went to Russians under “Lend lease” (and saved their worthless commie butts). US Army used MOGAS.

        2. avatar SD3 says:

          And how many rocket cats did they have?



          And then they lost the war.

    2. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      Germans developed remote control tracked vehicles to carry bombs under tanks. Not sure if they were used in combat or not. I would have to check again.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        A couple of replies in one go.

        The Russians did try to use the “Dog-Mine” in combat but the dogs panicked and ran for the Russian tanks forcing a hasty retreat for a Russian Armored Division. When the Germans found out about the plan, they issued an order that dogs encountered on the Eastern Front were likely to be rabid and were to be shot on sight. The dog population on the Eastern Front took a sudden downturn.

        But the Russians kept the idea in their training manuals and even in the 60s the idea was being suggested to those receiving military aid and assistance.

        The Germans had the Goliath remote control demolition charge:


        But anecdotally they were rarely used. There were reports of the Allies capturing piles of them.

  4. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

    FWIW, Hardwire LLC has had NIJ IIIA bulletproof backpack inserts for a while. They also make NIJ IIIA bulletproof clipboards, handheld whiteboards, and whiteboards that you can attach to a door, among other things. They even make really a bulletproof whiteboard that is rated NIJ III, although it’s quite expensive.

    I saw someone on youtube run a test on one of the clipboards. They shot 18 rounds of 9mm ammo into it as well as 5 shotgun shots (slugs IIRC). The board was pretty [email protected]#%ed up, but none of the rounds got all the way through.

    All of that said, some competition is not a bad thing.

    1. avatar The Original Brad says:

      Good luck holding on to a clipboard getting hit by a 12ga or repeatedly by a 9mm.

    2. avatar Daniel S. says:

      I can see it now..A kid with one of these shoplifts, gets in a fight, or something then gets jailtime for commiting a crime while using body armor.

      1. avatar Scottlac says:

        That’s what I was thinking. Some localities have dumb laws prohibiting the possession of “body armor”. It’s bad enough when a school kid gets busted for having a fishing knife in his tackle box out in his truck.

  5. avatar Ken Hagler says:

    As someone who has lived with cats, I can state that giving them rockets is a Very Bad Idea.

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      So is giving them the car keys. Remember Toonces?


    2. avatar Maineuh says:

      Abso-friggin-lutely correct.

    3. avatar H.R. says:

      I’d trust a cat with a rocket, but only if a background check is performed.

  6. avatar Kris says:

    I watched the DIY camouflage and while it looks neat, that is WAAAAYYY more elaborate than necessary. He could’ve spent 1/3 the amount of time and effort to achieved the same functional advantage. But then again, there’s a lot to be said for making a gun “yours”. All things considered, he came out ahead. Nice.

  7. avatar great unknown says:

    Not much different than what the Navy is doing

    Also, Samson did the same with foxes about three thousand years ago.

  8. avatar Sam Spade says:

    Wasn’t it Samson who tied foxes tails together and set them on fire to burn his enemies fields up?

    EDIT: Sorry g. u., wrote the same time as you.

    1. avatar Sam Spade says:

      Here it is:

      And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.–Judges 15:4-5.

      1. avatar great unknown says:

        Just to be pedantic, the word “corn” in the translation doesn’t mean the kind used in tortillas and popcorn – that didn’t come over from the New World for another 2500 years. In old English, “corn” means any grain, as in “kernels”.

        1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

          Interesting, this must be why we have the term peppercorn. Always happy to learn something new. Or old, in this case.

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    I asked my cats about this “rocket cat” thing (actually, I once had a cat named Rocket). My cats gently reminded me that they have never been de-clawed and were perfectly capable of turning my man-suit into a well-shredded ghillie suit in about three seconds.

    We agreed that the whole rocket cat business was stoopid.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Trust me, Rich, if you got near my cat’s ass with anything, he’d hand you your eyeballs.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          That would be a cat-astrophie

        2. avatar Kris says:

          TTAG gold right here…

        3. avatar Gurney Halleck says:

          Make it a gold cat-ass trophy!

        4. avatar Rich Grise says:

          I can’t imagine any real cat allowing a lowly human to get within pouncing range packing one of those things! =:-O

  10. avatar Defens says:

    Let’s not forget the aborted project by the US Dept. of War to produce “bat bombs” – bats outfitted with incendiary devices on timers. The notion was that they’d pack the bats into bomb casings, drop them over Japanese cities, and the bomb casings would pop open at a designated altitude. The bats would then scurry to take shelter in the flimsily-constructed Japanese homes, ignite, and burn the city down.

    As it turns out, the testing didn’t work out all that well. And it turn out that splitting atoms made a much more effective incendiary device – so the caves of Carlsbad were again safe for the bats.

  11. avatar C says:

    We did some work on a pigeon guided missile during The War.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      And they’ve been taking it out on our cars ever since.

    2. avatar Rich Grise says:

      “pigeon guided missile”
      They did some experiments with pigeon search and rescue:

  12. avatar g says:

    Cats with flaming backpacks?! What madness is this, arming an animal that’s notorious for devouring the corpse of its owner when hungry?

    Can’t we just get back to catapulting diseased cows? LET LOOSE THE BUBONIC BOVINES!

    The armored backpacks is a good, if not unoriginal idea. I was the under the impression several companies are offering backpacks that are carrying bullet-resistant panels of varying construction and weight… though back when I was in high school, our bullet-resistant gear was called “AP HOMEWORK”.

    1. avatar Todd S says:

      The AP Chem homework I assign can stop most old Soviet AT rounds…

      1. avatar peirsonb says:

        I was an AP Chem student, and I endorse this message.

    2. avatar Rokurota says:

      Fetchez la vache.

      1. avatar scoutino says:

        Monty Python’s Grail.

  13. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:

    There’s some kind of sight device on that beautiful weapon? Didn’t notice.

  14. avatar anthony o. says:

    I wonder if those panels could be used as an impromptu insert for a load bearing vest? Or sewn inro regular clothing? Might be cool to see non-silly uses for a silly product

  15. avatar H.R. says:

    A bulletproof backpack wouldn’t do much good for kids who are forced to leave their backpacks in lockers, lest one of them decide to carry a gun into class in a backpack.

    Catch 22.

    I also question the idea of having a ten year old kid wield his backpack as though it were a shield, blocking bullets at close range as he whips and flips and parries. It’s just a little too much mall-ninja fantasy for my tastes. A better solution is an armed peace officer getting between the attacker and any ten year old children, then stopping the attack with whatever force is necessary.
    But if you were that ten year old with a bulletproof backpack, you’d be the class stud. I bet you’d get a lot of cards on Valentine’s day. So by all means, let’s get the damn things in circulation!

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      ” little too much mall-ninja fantasy”

      That’s about the right phrase.

    2. avatar Skyler says:

      Backpacks are heavy enough for kids when they only contain school books. And the books would probably be more effective than these panels. I doubt a 1.5 pound panel would stop a rifle round, either.

      1. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

        Generally, anything that can stop a rifle round is going to be very hard and heavy. There’s a substantial difference between NIJ IIIA and NIJ III.

        This is a video I mentioned in an earlier post. The product being tested is made by Hardwire LLC (a company that has also made armor for the military). They do sell a backpack insert, but they also make clipboards that are roughly the same size as the backpack insert. This is one guy testing the clipboard:

        After 18 rounds of 9mm + 5 rounds of 12 guage “home defense round” (a few buckshot + slug), the clipboard is badly deformed but has yet to be penetrated fully. I’m sure if one was wearing a backpack with an insert and the insert takes a hit, the person could be knocked down, but it does appear to provide some protection.

        FYI, Hardwire LLC is here: http://hardwirellc.com/

    3. avatar Chris says:

      I don’t imagine a lot of parents will shell out $100 for one or more depending on how many kids they have in school. In areas where kids could use them [Chicago, Detroit, New York, anywhere they’ll encounter shots fired between school and home] their parents are unlikely to be able to afford the panels on top of other expenses.
      Dropping the price isn’t feasible, bullet-resistant material is expensive. So they’ll cater to over-paranoid suburbanites who need a safety blanket for their peace of mind. They’ll excuse the cost away with ‘school shootings are on the rise, the news told me so’ and ignore that violent crime is dropping.

  16. avatar doctor evil says:

    What’s next, giving sharks fricking lasers?

    1. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

      Ill-tempered sea bass.

      1. avatar Stephen M. says:

        Nah, sea robins. Those sumbitches already have wings and legs, fuck it, might as well give them lasers.

  17. avatar pat says:

    I iz in ur castle, settingz itz on fire

  18. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Concerning bullet proof back packs. Relaying a observation, if a backpack has books, would that slow or stop a bullet?

    There’s an internet, slo mo video test. How many books stop what round?

  19. avatar peirsonb says:

    Coming soon to a CA legislature near you….state mandated armored backpacks.

    For the children. ™

  20. If you buy the VCOG, does it come with the “rifle” shown in the picture?

    : )

    Midway is showing them as “coming soon” for about $2,400.

  21. avatar Kevin B says:

    An armed suicidal person across the street from a school…I’m not sure I see a problem with a lockdown. What’s the right thing to do? Just pretend there’s nothing wrong and hope for the best?

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      “I’m not sure I see a problem with a lockdown.”

      Then you, sir, are a part of the problem.

      1. avatar Kevin B says:

        Tell me more, seriously. I really want to know. What’s wrong with it?

        1. avatar Rich Grise says:

          You see nothing wrong with imprisoning a whole schoolful of innocent children based on nothing but a hysterical paranoid overreaction to the existence of one depressed person across the street?

        2. avatar peirsonb says:

          The generally accepted threat response is run, hide, fight. In that order. If the school were put into lockdown and a threat were to somehow magically enter a building with large glass doors and plentiful windows, the children would all be huddled together in a single location. I’m not an operator, but I believe the term for that type of scenario is “target rich environment.”

          My wife and I are still a few years out from having to make a school selection (it WILL NOT be public) but when the time comes my daughter (and any more children my wife can convince me we “need”) will be taught something along the lines of:

          “I don’t care what your teachers tell you, if something happens at school GTFO.”

    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Not all of my featured lockdowns are bad things or silly overreactions. Just most of them.

  22. avatar Kevin B says:

    How about if they wait till school lets out and then pick off a couple of kids from the attic window? “Armed suicidal person” is very different from “responsible gun owner”. I don’t see the kids as being imprisioned, either. Not all lockdowns are bad.

    1. avatar Kevin B says:

      I guess we’re just gonna have to disagree and leave it there.

    2. avatar Rick says:

      Kevin B,

      My [now] 21 year old came home after his middle school put a lock-down plan in place. He said that if the killer was from/familiar with his school, he/she would barge into a room and find all the people huddling in 1 corner. Easy targets (as piersonb said). I like the run, hide, fight progression. Unfortunately, I had not either heard or thought of that while he was still in school. Hiding as the main response seems much more dangerous that booting it out of there.

      The other problem is that, like zero tolerance, lock downs are initiated for anything, from a holster in a parking lot to a report of a single cartridge in a hall to an anonymous report of a man with a gun down the street. It seems to add to the idea that ANYTHING related to ANY gun is BAD!

      Just my 2¢

  23. avatar warren says:

    In five years of school I have only seen my daughter come home with a text book three times. Now with common core here in MA they are not allowed to bring home any text books. I applauded the early years for getting work done in school. But 4th and 5th grades have been over whelming. The absence of text books makes helping with homework hard But I digress. With no books in her bag it doesn’t make for much of a bullet stop. I’m sure many schools are getting this way. I know when I was in school my book bag probably could have stopped a BMG.

  24. avatar Rick says:

    I have to confess that I’m going on a trip to Israel this summer and I bought a bullet-resistant panel for my tourist-y backpack. Since outsiders can’t have any practical defensive weaponry, I hope that the panel will offer some protection just-in-case.

    Hopefully, it will not be tested!

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