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Is a VW Polo Cylinder Head Strong Enough to Stop an AK47?

SVI Engineering, leading specialist manufacturer of armoured products, has released the fourth episode in its innovative Shoot Through series of videos, this time investigating what happens when a Volkswagen Polo cylinder head takes fire from an AK47 (watch Episode 4 here).

“In Episode 2, we shot a cast-iron Volkswagen Polo engine block, which stood up quite well. This time, we turn our attention to the same vehicle’s cylinder head, which is fashioned from aluminium. Will the result be the same?” asked Jaco de Kock, CEO of SVI.

As shown in the footage captured by a Photron Fastcam SA4 high-speed camera – kindly supplied by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and set at 30 000 frames per second – the 7.62×39 mm conventional steel-core round strikes the cylinder head just below one of the valves but fails to make it all the way through, ending up coming to a rest inside a water jacket.

“So, now that the Polo block and cylinder head have each stopped an AK47 round, it’s 2:0 to the engine! That said, the safest place of all, of course, is inside a vehicle fitted with one of SVI’s meticulously engineered 360-degree armouring packages,” concluded Nicol Louw, SVI Business Development Director.


Conceived to both inform and entertain, the full Shoot Through video series – an episode will be published on SVI’s YouTube channel approximately every two weeks – sets out to answer whether various (mostly standard) automotive components can stop a round discharged by a firearm.

The subject of the first episode in SVI’s Shoot Through series was a ventilated steel brake disc from a Toyota Land Cruiser 79 bakkie (watch it here), while the second episode featured a Volkswagen Polo engine block (watch it here) and the third a shock absorber (watch it here).


Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa