Steels have been widely used as armour materials in defence applications, but they have the disadvantage of a relatively high density. Hence, they are not suitable for lightweight armour production. On the other hand, laminated composites have important potential on the reducing armour weight compared to steels for the same ballistic protection. This study presents the ballistic performance of steel against 7.62 mm armour piercing projectiles. High strength low alloy steel (50CrV4) was chosen as steel armour for ballistic testing. Three areal density values were kept constant to compare ballistic performance of steel armour specimens with alumina/aluminum laminated composite specimens. In addition, in steel samples, the effect of hardness on the ballistic performance was examined. Furthermore, failure mechanisms were investigated after ballistic testing. According to the experimental results, laminated composites maintained 26% weight saving compared to steel. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.