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New groin protector 'eats' bullets

Technology designed by former Marine could soon protect troops

May. 23, 2013 - 12:19PM   |  
The Nutshellz Level II Armored Cup, developed by a former Marine, will be tested by the Army. It retails for $125.
The Nutshellz Level II Armored Cup, developed by a former Marine, will be tested by the Army. It retails for $125. (Courtesy of Jeremiah Raber)
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A former Marine has devised a protective cup capable of repelling direct bullet strikes from 9mm and .357 magnum pistol rounds.

Dubbed “Nutshellz” by its designer and producer, Jeremiah Raber, the Level II ballistic cup is set for review by the Army this August. If Program Executive Office Soldier, the command responsible for developing gear, gives Nutshellz the thumbs up, it will proceed to more rigorous testing and could one day be fielded for combat.

Raber is a Missourian who served in the Corps in the late ’90s as an 1833 Assault Amphibious Vehicle crewmember out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. The mixed-martial arts enthusiast began efforts to develop a stronger athletic cup after seeing professional fighters reduced to quivering jello after a shot to the groin.

About three years ago, he bought a $15,000 press and began using it to form athletic cups for professional MMA fighters out of a ballistic material called Dyneema, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.

“I wanted to make it out of bulletproof material because these guys are bulletproof guys,” he said referring to professional MMA fighters. “It is just a grueling, tough, grinding sport.”

He quickly realized the cups could save service members’ lives. After firing a few shots at them to see if they would stop rounds, he sent product samples off for ballistic certification at a laboratory. Some of his cups have stopped three, even four direct hits from a pistol, he said.

The key is the use of Dyneema, which he said “eats” bullets. By absorbing the round, rather than deflecting fragments, it prevents potential injury to the femoral artery. And they are perfect for troops who need to be fast and mobile, he said.

With thousands of troops sustaining serious lower-­extremity injuries during recent wars, the Defense Department has made genital protection a priority. Nutshellz retail for $125 at■;

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