Mythbusters Wiki
Paper Armor
Mythbusters Episode K-12

Kari Byron delivers an attack to the lamellar armor.[1]

IMDB Ref tt1980597
Season 9
Episode 12
Airdate 29 June 2011
Previous Episode Transmitted Let There Be Light
Next Episode Transmitted Bikes and Bazookas
  • The Myth - Ancient Chinese armies used armor made from paper that could give the same protection as steel armor.
  • Verdict - Plausible
  • Notes - Kari spoke with antique armor expert Greg Martin, who explained that paper armor was in use as early as 600 BC and was built up from layers that may have been impregnated with resin or shellac. The Build Team tested several formulations for penetration resistance and found that a thick layer of folded paper, with no resin, gave the best results.

    Using an armor sample (1⁄2 in (13 mm) paper vs. 1⁄32 in (1 mm) steel) placed over a block of clay, they tested resistance to blunt force, swords, and arrows. The paper did as well as steel in the sword and arrow tests, failing only the blunt-force test, so the team built a full suit of paper armor to match against a period-accurate steel counterpart.

    Each team member ran one of three timed courses in both armor types to evaluate speed, endurance, and agility; paper outperformed steel in all three. Finally, they attacked the suits with arrows, swords, and two different firearms - an 18th-century flintlock pistol and a 19th-century .45 revolver. Both armor types resisted every attack except the .45, leading the team to classify the myth as plausible. They pointed out, though, that the paper armor could quickly begin to disintegrate if it got wet or took repeated blows (both of which happened during the full-scale tests).

This myth appeared in the 2011 episode Paper Armor - (Original US air date: June 29, 2011).