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Is frying pan bulletproof?

Shootings and gun violence have sadly become common occurrences around the world. With active shooter situations on the rise, people are looking for ways to protect themselves in their homes and everyday lives. A question that sometimes comes up is whether ordinary household items like frying pans can stop a bullet and act as makeshift body armor. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether frying pans are truly bulletproof and provide some quick answers to related questions.

Quick Answers

Are frying pans bulletproof?

No, standard household frying pans made of aluminum or stainless steel are not thick enough or durable enough to stop a bullet. They may slow or deflect very low velocity bullets but will not stop most gunfire.

Can a cast iron pan stop a bullet?

Cast iron pans are thicker and more durable than regular pans. There are some videos showing cast iron skillets stopping lower velocity rounds like .22LR. However, they cannot be relied upon to stop most handgun or rifle bullets.

Can bulletproof armor be made from frying pans?

While not bulletproof on their own, some DIY body armor projects have layered multiple steel plates from frying pans and welded them together. This can potentially stop small caliber rounds, but would likely fail against high velocity bullets. Professional armor is better.

What household items can stop bullets?

Thick books and dictionaries, concrete bricks, car engines and transmissions can potentially slow or stop lower velocity pistol and .22LR bullets. But no common household items can reliably stop high velocity rounds from most guns.

Ballistic Tests on Frying Pans

To really determine if frying pans can stop bullets, we need to look at some ballistic tests that have been conducted. These experiments shooting real bullets at frying pans give us hard data to assess their bullet resistance.

Rifle Rounds and High Velocity Handgun Testing

In testing by the Mythbusters TV show, a steel frying pan was placed in front of ballistics gel and shot with a .30-06 Springfield rifle round. The high powered rifle round went straight through the pan and 20 inches into the gel. A 9mm Luger handgun round from a Beretta pistol also easily penetrated the frying pan.

This demonstrates that common metal frying pans do not have nearly enough mass or thickness to stop high velocity rifle or handgun bullets. These will penetrate right through a frying pan just as easily as they would pass through a car door or other thin metal barriers.

Shotgun Slugs and Buckshot Testing

The Mythbusters team also tested if a frying pan could stop common 12 gauge shotgun loads. At close range, a steel pan was completely penetrated and shredded by a 12 gauge rifled slug. The pan was also easily penetrated by a load of 12 gauge 00 buckshot, with several buckshot pellets still retaining enough velocity to cause significant wound damage.

Shotguns project many large pellets at high velocity, or single heavy rifled slugs. A household frying pan does not have the thickness or strength to meaningfully slow or deform these before they pass through.

Low Velocity Handgun Testing

Against lower velocity handgun rounds like .22 Long Rifle, a frying pan begins to show some slight bullet resistance. In the Mythbusters testing, a .22LR round dented a cast iron frying pan but did not fully penetrate through. At very close range, the pan slowed and deflected the .22 bullet enough to prevent exit through the back side.

Several other YouTube videos show similar results of cast iron skillets being able to stop a .22LR round at very close range. The low mass and velocity of the .22 bullet allows a thick cast iron pan to absorb its kinetic energy without penetration. However, beyond a few feet even a .22LR begins to penetrate through frying pans.

Birdshot Testing

Light birdshot loads used for hunting small game may also be slowed or stopped by a frying pan. The small diameter and low velocity of birdshot allows a metal pan to absorb the energy without penetration. A frying pan would likely remain effective against birdshot even at 10-20 yards, unlike the .22LR.

Key Factors in Bullet Resistance

Looking at all this ballistics testing gives us a good idea of when a frying pan can provide some protection versus high powered guns that will go right through them. There are a few key factors that determine how effective a metal barrier will be against bullets:

Metal Hardness and Tensile Strength

Harder metals like hardened steel can deform and flatten bullets better without cracking. Softer metals like aluminum tend to dent, fragment, or rupture when impacted by bullets.

Tensile strength indicates how well the metal stretches and holds together. Higher tensile steels can stretch more before breaking, allowing them to absorb bullet energy.

Metal Thickness

Thickness is crucial – the thicker the metal, the more it slows the bullet. Household pans are much less than 1/8″ thick, while bulletproof armor uses hardened steel or ceramic plates 1/2″ thick or greater.

Bullet Caliber, Mass and Velocity

The bigger the bullet, the more energy it has. High velocity rifles like a .223 or .30-06 impart much more kinetic energy than a low velocity .22LR bullet. Armor must be thicker to soak up the energy of large, high velocity bullets.

Angle of Impact

Normal impacts perpendicular to the plate are best stopped by armor. Angled impacts can tear through more easily by fragmenting the metal.

Can You Make DIY Bulletproof Armor from Pans?

Considering that metal frying pans can provide some bullet resistance against lighter rounds, some people have attempted to take the concept further and make DIY armor from stacked metal pans. Here is an assessment of frying pan armor viability:

Steel Plates Layered and Welded Together

DIY projects have used multiple steel plates from old frying pans, range backstops, or other scrap steel, layering them together and welding into a solid block of metal. This gives greater thickness to potentially stop handgun rounds.

Against .22 LR and .38 Special rounds, this type of homemade armor made from 1/4″ plates has shown some success when angled. But spalling and bullet fragments still pose a risk. It cannot stop higher velocity threats.

Weighs Too Much Compared to Polymer Armor

A usable sheet of steel pan armor would weigh 30-50 pounds, making it extremely heavy and tiring compared to modern 10 pound polymer plate armor. It’s also thicker and more cumbersome.

Spalling Danger

Bullets fragmenting against the plate can cause spalling – flakes of lead and steel that break off and act like shrapnel into the body. So even a bullet that doesn’t fully penetrate can cause significant injury.

Not Reliable Against All Threats

While possibly effective against .22 and some handguns, homemade steel plate armor leaves the wearer vulnerable to higher velocity threats that will penetrate. It cannot reliably stop all handgun and rifle rounds at typical combat ranges.


In summary, while metal frying pans can potentially stop or slow very low power firearm rounds like .22LR birdshot under optimal conditions, they do not provide reliable bullet resistance. Standard household pans made of thin aluminum or stainless steel are easily penetrated by almost all gunfire. Even cast iron provides marginal protection at best.

Attempts at making body armor from DIY stacked plates suffer from lack of multi-hit durability, spalling dangers, mobility issues, and inability to stop high velocity threats. While an interesting thought experiment, frying pans do not make viable bulletproof armor compared to commercial alternatives like ceramic and UHMWPE plates. They are not a recommended substitute for use in dangerous situations involving firearms.


Frying pans should be relied upon for cooking delicious meals, not for use as makeshift ballistic protection. While they can deflect very low power rounds in best case scenarios, they cannot stop most gunfire threats. Purpose-designed body armor tested to stop specified threats is necessary for defensive applications. Although interesting to test their limits, frying pans do not provide adequate protection compared to commercial armor rated for rifles and handguns. Don’t trust your life to cookware when reliable NIJ rated alternatives exist! Stay safe out there.