What is Barrier Blind?

This is a guest post by Andrew Bettsbarrier blind

What is barrier blind and why does it matter?

Selecting defense ammunition can be a daunting task. Aside from the suspect “advice” you might receive from the smelly hill folk who like to hang out at gun shops and share their wisdom, manufacturers sometimes make some literally incredible claims.

To make it worse, there are very real attributes of ammunition with which you may be unfamiliar. One of those attributes that has been tossed around quite a lot lately is the ability of a projectile to be barrier blind.

The common misconception is that it means that refers to a projectile’s ability to pass through a barrier. What “barrier blind” really refers to is the ability of a projectile to perform in roughly the same way after passing through a barrier as it would if it did not have to pass through that barrier. It is “blind” to the barrier in the sense that it acts about the same whether or not it has to pass through it. Here is an example:

Despite passing through a windshield, both projectiles were able to still expand. This is notable because, although we think of glass as fragile, it is also very hard. Hard materials such as glass can easily deform a bullet and some bullets will fail to expand and/or fragment appropriately if they have been deformed before striking tissue.

In this case, the bullets performed properly. They expanded well and penetrated adequately, so they would be considered to be barrier blind. The performance was not identical to the bare gel performance, but it does not need to be identical. It simply needs to be similar and meet some of the same benchmarks of expansion, penetration, and weight retention. Here are the bare gel tests of those same bullets for comparison:

Now that you know what it means for a projectile to be barrier blind, how important is that for home defense? It is a perfectly sound argument that the average homeowner is unlikely to face the necessity of shooting through auto glass, sheet metal, and wood. From that perspective, whether a projectile is barrier blind is of little importance. It is always possible, though, that a fight develops into something unusual.

From a more pragmatic perspective, bullets that are barrier blind are also usually some of the very best defense bullets on the market in other metrics as well. An immense degree of research and development has gone into the Federal Fusion in the test above or the Speer Gold Dot or the Barnes TSX.

These bullets are not just barrier blind, they are engineered to perform at a wide range of velocities and yes, they are designed to function properly when they encounter heavy clothing, drywall, bone, wood, or even auto glass or sheet metal.Perhaps the ability to perform well after passing through a windshield is not a high priority for you, but it is indicative of a quality bullet.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.


  1. Smelly hill folk? Those people are the ones using guns more than any of the namby pamby types that populate gun ranges and internet sites. They do something you may be familiar with. They actually shoot stuff including living stuff that needs to be dead stuff. For you to discount their knowledge out of hand reeks of bigotry just to be honest. I’m sick of people bashing country people who work to provide the food you eat among other things. Like your electricity much? Much of it comes from coal which comes from – you guessed it – the hills where people mine it and probably don’t smell rosey when they finish a day’s work. How about the wood for your house? You think it grows on trees? Of course it does. But those trees don’t just fall over and make you a house. Those “smelly hill people” have a hand in that too. And since you brought it up I’ve met some people from those wonderful things you call cities that grow up never knowing what a bar of soap is. You don’t see them on the streets too much because the government rounds them up and ships them out to what amounts to concentration camps for the terminally uncivilized. I’ve been to those places. My wife worked at one for a while. It’s called Edgemeade Of Ohio. Look it up. All you’ll find are pretty pictures of the surrounding national forest (they hid it as deep in the woods as they could) and no mention at all of what goes on there. It’s a secret your smelly city types like to keep so you can pretend your free of such atrocities. Trust me, you aren’t. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a fresh, new “student” at Edgemeade that may not have ever been let out of the closet (literally). You make me sick with your bigotry sir. You don’t have a clue what the real world is like.

    • One more point. Just being in the service doesn’t make you a specialist by any means. My brother in law was an army veteran. He barely knew which end of the gun to point away from shoulder. I showed him an AK once and he about messed his drawers. Maybe you did serve your country honorably and maybe you were a pencil pusher that gets credit for being something you really weren’t. I just know your attitude about “hill people” stinks. I probably knew more about guns by the time I was 10 than 99% of the people you meet. I was one of those “hill people”. We had a trap range in our back yard that attracted shooters from several states. It was actually pretty rare to have a true trap machine in that part of the world in those days. I saw multi-thousand dollar Italian shotguns (and got to handle them) before I was 5. I saw 8 ga. shotguns. I saw people shoot doubles with a single shot shotgun. See if you can do that. Yeah we don’t know a thing about shooting. We just did it as our major pastime for decades. Why would we learn how to shoot a running squirrel’s eye anyway? Probably because you didn’t spoil the meat with a head shot. My uncle was poor. My mother’s family was poor. He was given TWO .22 rounds and told to bring home dinner. And he did it. The wild animals we dealt with are something I can almost assure you are things you have never known. The invading thugs who either tried to rape my mother or tried to kidnap my uncle (to drive the getaway car for a gang of bankrobbers) – that stuff didn’t give us any reason to know how to use a firearm. The cops were 3 days away where I grew up. First off you had to leave the farm to find a phone to call in then the dispatcher had to wait until a cop came in to tell them about your problem and then they had to make time to get out to your house which by then they knew the trouble was over so speed wasn’t really an issue. And my dad’s best friend was one of two state policemen in the county and that’s the kind of service we got. Later in life they didn’t bother coming out at all. They told us we could come in and file a report if we wanted “but it wouldn’t do any good.” The bad guys were long gone. We were on our own pal and we better know how to defend ourselves and every one of us did. Smell that.

      • Andrew Betts says:

        Try not to get upset about things you read on the internet. Also, if you are a smelly hillperson who is in the habit of lending unsolicited advice at the gun counter, your advice is likely not to be as sage as you think it is.

        Blasting at Bambi with your grand pappy’s thutty-thutty doesn’t make you any more qualified an expert than enlisting in the armed forces (or writing a blog article). If you believe there are any technical errors in the article, I would be grateful if you could point them out.

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