There are many ballistic protection applications in the current market that are non-ferrous or even non-metallic. Such armor is used throughout. There are a few applications, such as heavily armored vehicles, where steel is the main material of choice due to its advantageous combination of properties like ballistic performance, lower cost, weldability, etc. An optimum combination of strength, hardness, and toughness is essential for good ballistic performance. It is indicated that as the hardness of the steel plate is increased so does the ballistic performance up to a certain hardness level.
Armor systems for (battlefield and tactical) military vehicles were traditionally made of metallic materials such as steel and aluminum. While their superior combination of strength and toughness makes them more suitable for structural applications, these materials could offer adequate ballistic/blast protection, if used in components having a sufficiently high areal density. However, doing so typically leads to excessively heavy vehicles having reduced fuel efficiency, transportability/deployability, and mobility, and often greater susceptibility to mechanical/structural in-service failure.
In recent years, there has been a growing demand for lightweight armor materials with improved ballistic performance, particularly in the military and law enforcement sectors. This has led to the development of advanced armor materials like composite materials, ceramics, and even ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). However, these materials often come at a higher cost compared to ballistic steel and may not always offer the same level of protection as steel. As a result, ballistic steel remains a popular choice for various applications, including body armor, armored vehicles, and protective structures. Moreover, advancements in metallurgy and manufacturing technologies have enabled the production of ballistic steels and blast steels with improved properties, such as higher hardness and strength, while maintaining good weldability and formability. As a result, ballistic steel and blast steel are likely to remain important materials for ballistic and blast protection applications for the foreseeable future.