Barbed tape

Barbed tape

Barbed tape or Razor Wire is a mesh of metal strips with sharp edges whose purpose is to prevent passage by humans. The name "Razor Wire" is a registered trademark of Allied Tube & Conduit Company, although through long usage the term is generally used to describe the barbed tape products of other manufacturers ("see Genericized trademark"). While razor wire is much sharper than the barbs of standard barbed wire, it is not actually razor sharp. Even so, the multiple bladed edges of a razor wire fence are designed to inflict serious cuts on anyone who attempts to climb through one, and therefore have a strong psychological deterrent effect. In high security applications, barbed tape supplanted barbed wire, which could be circumvented relatively quickly by humans without tools. In contrast, getting past razor wire barriers without tools is very slow and difficult, giving security forces more time to respond. There is little difference in the breaching time for a well equipped opponent.Fact|date=June 2008


Starting in the late 1960s, barbed tape was typically found in prisons and long-term mental hospitals, where the increased breaching time for a poorly equipped potential escapee was a definite advantage. Until the development of reinforced barbed tape in the early 1980s, it was rarely used for military purposes or genuine high security facilities because it was actually easier than barbed wire to breach with the correct tools. Since then some military forces have replaced barbed wire with barbed tape for many applications, mainly because it is slightly lighter for the same effective coverage.

More recently barbed tape has been used in more commercial and residential security applications. This is often primarily a visual deterrent since a well prepared burglar can breach barbed wire and barbed tape barriers in similar amounts of time. A simple defeat technique is to cut the wire or throw a piece of old carpet over the strands. Residential usage of barbed tape has been criticised by some as the aggressive appearance of the barbs is thought to detract from the appearance of a neighborhood.

Due to its dangerous nature, razor wire/barbed tape and similar fencing/barrier materials is prohibited in some locales. Norway prohibits any barbed wire except in combination with other fencing, in order to protect domesticated animals from exposure. Some local jurisdictions further regulate or prohibit barbed wire altogether. [§ 29 in Lov om dyrevern (Animal welfare law). Accessed August the 4th, 2008, at:]


Razor-wire has a central strand of high tensile strength wire, and a steel tape punched into a shape with barbs. The steel tape is then cold-crimped tightly to the wire everywhere except for the barbs. Barbed tape is very similar, but has no central reinforcement wire running down the middle.


Like barbed wire, barbed tape is available as either straight wire or concertina wire. Unlike barbed wire, which usually is available only as plain steel or galvanised, barbed tape is also manufactured in stainless steel, to prevent the points from rusting to bluntness. Typically the core wire is galvanised and the tape is stainless, although fully stainless barbed tape is used for expensive permanent installations or underwater usage.

Barbed tape is also characterised by the shape of the barbs. Although there are no formal definitions, typically short barb barbed tape has barbs from 10 mm to 15 mm long, medium barb tape has barbs 20 mm to 25 mm long, and long barb tape has barbs from 60 to 66 mm long. There does not seem to be much available research to indicate whether longer barbs are actually more effective in resisting penetration, but they provide a stronger psychological deterrent.


Barbed wire became common in the American West in about the 1870s. It was in the First World War that it was first used widely for fortifications.

Barbed tape was first manufactured by Germany during World War I, as an expedient measure during a shortage of wire. Since it was simply punched out of a rolled ribbon of steel tape, it could be manufactured much faster. This early barbed tape had triangular barbs and no reinforcing wire. Consequently it was harder to cut with ordinary wire cutters, although it was easier to cut with shears, and was generally weaker.

Commencing in the early 1970s unreinforced barbed tape was commonly used in perimeter barriers in US prisons. Several manufacturers of barbed wire and barbed tape began to offer barbed tape with a reinforcing wire in the early 1980s. The first to be manufactured was probably around 1981, although this has been subject to a patent dispute.Fact|date=May 2008 Early brand names of reinforced barbed tape included "Man Barrier" and "Razor Ribbon". The latter probably lent its name to the modern slang term.

In Germany, this form of wire is also known as Nato-Draht (NATO Wire) or S-Draht which is short for Stacheldraht meaning barbed wire.

See also

* Access control
* Environmental design
* Physical security
* Security
* Wire entanglement


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • barbed tape. — See concertina wire. * * * …   Universalium

  • barbed tape. — See concertina wire …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tape (disambiguation) — Tape refers to a strip of long, thin and narrow matter, usually rolled up. Most commonly, it refers to:Recording media* Magnetic tape * Digital Audio Tape (or DAT ) * Digital Compact Cassette (or DCC ) * Digital video tape * Compact Cassette (a.k …   Wikipedia

  • Tape — refers to a strip of long, thin and narrow matter, usually rolled up. Most commonly, it refers to:Recording media* Magnetic tape * Digital Audio Tape (or DAT ) * Digital Compact Cassette (or DCC ) * Digital video tape * Cassette Tape, a magnetic… …   Wikipedia

  • Barbed wire — For other uses, see Barb wire (disambiguation). A close up view of a barbed wire barb …   Wikipedia

  • Barbed wire match — A barbed wire match is one of any number of professional wrestling matches that utilizes strands of barbed wire in some capacity.TypesHardwired MatchNamed by fans ( Hardcore and Barb Wired combined), this match was an ECW Classic match, where all …   Wikipedia

  • Concertina wire — Concertinered razor wire Concertina wire or Dannert Wire[1] is a type of barbed wire or razor wire that is formed in large coils which can be expanded like a concertina. In conjunction with plain barbed wire and steel pickets, it is used to form… …   Wikipedia

  • Wire obstacle — In the military science of fortification, wire obstacles are defensive obstacles made from barbed wire, barbed tape or concertina wire. They are designed to disrupt or delay an attacking enemy. Depending on the requirements and available… …   Wikipedia

  • Burglar alarm — Silent alarm redirects here. For the album, see Silent Alarm (album). Burglar (or intrusion), fire and safety alarms are all electronic today. Sensors are connected to a control unit via a low voltage hardwire or narrowband RF signal which is… …   Wikipedia

  • Mississippi State Penitentiary — For the song, see Parchman Farm (song). Parchman   Unincorporated community   Mississippi State Penitentiary …   Wikipedia