ASTM F2656 – Most Common Test Methods for Crash Testing of Vehicle Security Barriers

testing a crash barrier

Perimeters of controlled areas such as embassies, factories, military bases, and others need the highest levels of security to prevent breaches. In the past, attackers have used vehicles to ram through gates and into these vulnerable areas, sometimes with deadly effects. Over time, organizations have implemented increasingly more robust perimeter security and crash gates to prevent these kinds of breaches. 

Government bodies and organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM), the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of State (Dos) have implemented standardized tests for crash gates to ensure that they can withstand rigorous crash testing before they are installed in the field. 

The ASTM standards have replaced DoD standards as the most common standard for crash-testing gate or barrier systems. All crash tests will now be tested under the ASTM F2656 standard. This article will a more in-depth look at the testing process, common terms, and how vehicle security barriers are proven before installation. 

Related: Why to Invest in Vehicle Barriers 

How ASTM Ratings Are Determined

The ASTM ratings are judged by the vehicle’s weight and maximum speed on impact with the barrier or crash gate. The P-rating in these standards is the penetration rating described as how far the vehicle will push past the barrier after impact. These are equivalent to the DoD’s L-ratings. 

With penetration ratings, the highest-rated barriers will be able to stop vehicles from penetrating in the shortest distance possible. A P-1 rating is the highest level, which denotes that the barrier can stop a vehicle within 3.3 feet of impact or under, P-2 is second at 3.3 feet – 23 feet. The lowest rating is P-3, which encompasses 23.1 feet to 98.4 feet of penetration. 

Crash Terminology


Engineered crash barriers and crash gate systems have been designed to withstand crashes but have not been physically tested for durability. Engineers will use tools such as computer modeling to best judge how large an impact a barrier will be able to withstand. These will still be designed to meet the standards, but they are not as proven without physical testing.


An A-rated barrier will have been tested with a received rating from an accredited testing official while following ASTM F2656 guidelines. Rated barriers will have a solid expectation of performance during any crash applications. 


“Tested” is a general term that organizations should be careful of as their “crash tested” designation may not be up to the ASTM standard unless otherwise stated. Ensure that if you are seeking an ASTM-approved test, that the barrier or gate manufacturer has ready access to certification along with the data of exactly what occurred during the testing process. 


Those looking to implement a crash-tested barrier for their perimeter will often find a satisfactory product rating with a similar DoD “L” rating, which is equivalent to the ASTM standard. So, a rating of L-3 should be equivalent to the P-1 rating. 

The same will be true of the “K” ratings (DoD) and the “M” ratings (ASTM). These K and M ratings are both used to identify a standard weighted vehicle being used for the test of 15,000 lbs. 

Crash barrier entry

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Certification Testing to ASTM F2656 

If a crash barrier or crash gate manufacturer wishes to gain the ASTM F2656 certification for their physical security products, they must be tested by an accredited and recognized independent lab. These testing facilities will have the needed experience to judge the readiness of security equipment successfully. They will be able to judge a range of vehicle types and impacts to products as well as test with the standard 15,000 lbs vehicle weight and needed penetration levels for the ASTM. 

The ASTM testing method standards were implemented to account for various conditions, velocities of impact, vehicle types, and other factors that can play into an attack or incident. These testing sites are an excellent place to define any penetration limits and come with a maximum range in mind that is specific to your facility. This will help you establish a more secure perimeter or indicate that you need additional security layers

Related: Counter-Terrorism and Your Commercial Building 

Testing Process And Rating System

Formerly the ASTM test is conducted with a standard 15,000 lb flatbed truck only, but the testing has grown to include small passenger cars, full-size sedan cars, standard pickup trucks, and a heftier heavy goods vehicle. The impact velocities will be tried on the barriers at 30, 40, 50, and 60 miles per hour. 

For example, certification of M50/P1 rating would indicate that the barrier system would have achieved the highest ASTM rating of withstanding a 15,000 lb vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour while preventing it from penetrating more than 3.3 feet into the facility. Once your product has been crash-tested, it can safely be installed in your facility entrance.

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Controlled crash barrier entrance to the facility

B&B Roadway Security Solutions provides the sturdiest physical security measures for facilities and compounds all over the world. Ensuring that your facility is protected at all times with access to the highest-rated security products is our highest priority. Our team of security experts provides technical support to facility perimeters globally while maintaining preventative maintenance, servicing, and any concerns with our products. We provide the highest quality crash gates and bollards to keep your people and your facilities safe from harm. Contact us today for consultation on your property and the security best practices that will fit your operation.

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