Musket vs. Medieval Armor

  • By Drew Gannon
  • Posted 10.25.17
  • NOVA

Knights and firearms clashed on the battlefield for over 200 years. Did some of these warriors have armor strong enough to stop bullets?

Running Time: 02:58


Musket vs. Medieval Armor

Published October 17, 2017

On Screen: Medieval armor

Beautiful and strong

But could it stop bullets?

Knights and firearms clashed on the battlefield for over 200 years.

Did the knights stand a chance?

First, historians and ballistics experts fire a musket at the breastplate of a common foot soldier.

The bullet goes right through.

Next, they test the painstakingly reconstructed armor of the elite.

Jonathan Tavares: It’s just it’s a little scary you know… all this months of work on this piece and then… you know.. you just gotta be a little bit nervous that’s all…

Wesley Mason: My gut tells me it’s not going to penetrate.

John Cronin:It’s significantly thicker armor, right? You have an air gap between the two plates… and you may have the opportunity for deflection... so you really have a lot working to your advantage on the next shot.  That doesn’t mean that it will absolutely stop it…

Tavares: The musket is not… You know, this is the super-weapon of the time… It’s this, the next step is getting hit by a cannon…

Cronin:Pan’s open.Just wait a few seconds… gotta let the range clear…

p>Tavares:Oh man… right through?  No?! Wow! It held up! Held up pretty good actually! Oh wow! There’s just a dent, just a little bigger than my thumb!

Cronin: Look at that! The whole system, everything that we’ve looked at has been impressive, everything from the firearm all the way through to the breastplate. I think they have all performed incredibly well.

p>Tavares:Whoa… the bullet is gone. Armor: 1, Bullet: Nothing

  p>Mason:See how the curvature deflected it away from the…

  p>Tavares:Yeah, yeah… Goes to show you the peascod belly is not just fashion, it’s function… 

  p>Mason:I mean there’s no question about it. This is something where the soldier wearing this armor gets to go home.




Digital Editor
Drew Gannon
Secrets of the Shining Knight
Producer and Director
Peter Yost
Anna Auster


Erin Harvey
Stefanie Nirschl
Jerry Rsuis
Thorsten Thielow



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