- The dynamic response of a titanium carbide (TiC)–carbon steel, ceramic-metal composite, was studied in planar impact experiments, using a copper impactor with velocity in the 80–450 m/s range. The composites were prepared by pressureless infiltration of TiC ceramic preforms by molten steel. The metallic component had either a pearlitic or a martensitic microstructure, determined by an appropriate heat treatment. Fully dense composites, consisting of TiC and 1060 steel, in pearlitic and martensitic states, were used as reference samples. Values of the Hugoniot elastic limit and of the spall strength were derived from the velocity interferometer system for any refractor records of the free surface velocity profiles of the impacted samples. These properties are affected drastically by the confining stress that is induced in the TiC particles by the steel submatrix and is dependent on the microstructure of the latter. The results show unambiguously that the dynamic response of the cermets may be controlled by choosing an appropriate thermal treatment. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.