Testing bulletproof protection options for students in school

HOUSTON – It’s 6:30 in the morning, and Daniel Smith and his sister Larissa are getting ready to start a brand-new year at school.

Today, they’re packing something new into their backpacks.

It’s a bulletproof clipboard, a ballistic shield meant to protect them if there were ever an active shooter scenario taking place on their high school campus.

“It really does make you feel safer. You pretty much have a bulletproof shield that you can, you know, guard yourself with if something were to happen,” said Daniel.

Across town, Natalie Cramer is teaching her two kids, Carley and Tyler, how to use the very same kind of device.

She sees it as an extra layer of protection the schools just are not providing.

“It’s very unfortunate, but at this point I feel parents need to take the initiative, and we have to take charge and provide the safety for our own children,” Cramer said, holding a ballistic clipboard that she paid $200 for in her hand.

Right now, more and more companies are starting to produce their own versions of bulletproof shields meant to fit inside your child’s backpack.

Now, with help from two former United States Secret Service agents, Jim Napolitano and Thom Bolsh, we at Channel 2 Investigates are going to put four different bulletproof shields to the test.

Lightweight, bulletproof shields, small enough to slide into your child’s backpack, are designed to save your child’s life.

First up, it’s the Guard Dog Security Ballistic Shield, priced at $189.

This is a bulletproof backpack with the bulletproof shield already sewn into the pack itself. It looks just like any other backpack from the outside.

Now, using a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, Napolitano pumps several shots directly into that backpack.

Afterward, you can clearly see all of the bullet holes in the front of the backpack as it sits strapped to a plaster dummy’s chest

, but when Napolitano and I check the back of the pack, there is nothing. Not one single round made it through the ballistic shield.

“There is nothing there, not one hole, zero penetration,” Napolitano said.

Next up, it’s the Tuffy Packs Ballistic Shield.

It slides into your child’s backpack and retails for $129.

This time, we are firing at the device using a .357 Magnum and also a .44 Magnum.

These are two very powerful handguns.

The bullets fly and hit the backpack dead-on, but when we check our dummy, there is no damage whatsoever.

Again, not one bullet makes it through the ballistic barrier inside the backpack.

“It’s great, it’s great, it does exactly what it’s designed to do, keep children safe,” Napolitano said.

Which brings us to the next product, the Veteran’s Manufacturing Hyperlight Ballistic Clipboard.

This device retails for $199 and looks like any other student clipboard.

This time we fire at the device with a 9 mm handgun.

We hit the target square with multiple rounds, but in the end, the shield does its job. Again, nothing gets through.

“The lightness of this shield is amazing, and you can see all of these rounds we shot at the bag did hit the mark, but none of these rounds penetrated. Nothing got through,” Bolsh said.

Lastly, we take a look at the Veteran’s Manufacturing Backpack Plate.

This backpack shield is much thicker than the others and weighs a lot more, almost four pounds.

Whereas the other shields we tested were soft and flexible, except for the bulletproof clipboard of course, this shield is hard-sided.

There is one other big difference. Retailing at $300, this device is the only one we tested that promises to stop not only any handgun, but powerful rifle fire as well.

We test it out, firing at this shield, which also fits inside your child’s backpack, with first an AR-15 and then with the even higher-caliber AK-47 rifle.

“So look at this, these are our original AR-15 rounds and here are the AK-47 rounds, and there is nothing, no penetration,” Bolsh said.

After firing a whole list of different weapons at these shields, every one of them performs just as promised by manufacturers.

“I am very impressed,” Napolitano said. “If it were my kid, I would want them to have something just like this when they go to school.”

As for Daniel and Larissa, just knowing they are carrying these shields with them now is making a difference.

“It just makes you feel safer, that’s it,” Daniel said.

WATCH: Testing bullet-proof backpacks

The video below will teach you the best ways to use these ballistic shields to protect yourself in an active shooter scenario.