Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Body Armor and real world use for it in the city

I’d like to take this opportunity to somewhat try to clarify a few things and explain what my country is like.
Argentina is not a devastated wasteland were looters roam the ruins and people live in a post apocalyptic world.
This is a country in many ways similar to any other country, downtown Buenos Aires looks like any large European or American metropolis, with a few differences of course but similar none the less.
Busy yuppies going about their business, cabs, malls, hotels, lots of shops and restaurants, what you’d expect in any mayor metropolis.

There are differences of course, the city is much more dirty. There no control over pollution, and cars are in awful state compared to 1st world countries. Make more noise and fumes.

For some reason, women (and men) are unusually slim and good looking, people here are 98% white, and of course, this is south America, there’s a Latin flavor to it all. So its in some ways and odd and unique combination tourists quickly appreciate.

Buenos Aires.

What I mean is, even with certain incidents of social unrest now and then, roadblocks protests, some incidents getting out of control and erupting in burning and lootings of stores or train stations , people are no different regarding most aspects. Job, school, education and culture ( still higher than the average Latin American) . One of the differences being, people here do not get their panties twisted if there a protest or even some social unrest, it takes a LOT of social unrest to disturb the average Buenos Aires citizen, given everything we’ve went through.
What would otherwise cause a nervous brake down to a tourist not used to it, is a minor inconvenience for us.

Then yes, you have suburbs and even many parts within the city of Buenos Aires that are simply disastrous. Places like villa 31 (shanty town) just a few blocks away from the down town capital district of Buenos Aires, and thousands of other places that are what you’d imagine in your worst, 3rd world south American rat hole.
No sewer, illegal electricity connection or no power at all, and so bad even police need to go in there with the military as backup.

Argentina is better described as a country of strong contrasts. You have fancy Puerto Madero with it’s world class hotels, restaurants and entertainment, and across the river you have Avellaneda and Docksud where cops have been known to shoot people first and don’t even bother to ask questions later and dump the bodies on the river to avoid paperwork, and people still live all across the country, both good and bad neighborhoods.
What you get to see as a tourist is mostly good, but taking into account the entire country, you’ll have a hard time finding a single spot that I truly safe from the harsh reality of Argentina, in terms of security.

This is not Mad Max or the postman, ok? It’s people going through their daily lives facing VERY complicated financial and political times, still suffering the effects of the 2001 economical collapse( and we will suffer it for 10 more years to come, at least) and dealing with extremely high crime, in some places it can only be described as rampant and out of control.

And crime brings us to body armor.

I cannot find the address to ask you a question so I will do it in this comment section. You once wrote of the importance of buying body armor. Do you and your family wear/use body armor on a daily basis? Is a level 2 armor sufficient? Thanks.


Good question SED, thanks.

Fantasy: You strap on your webbing and armor, go scrounge the remains of what was once a city, looking for some canned food left behind by looters and the subsequent zombies that came after, with your faithful dog “Dogmeat” running along your side. O yes, don’t forget the leather jacket and sawed off shotgun.

Reality: First start by accepting that Fallout is just a RPG and Mad Max was a fun movie, but there’s no connection with reality whatsoever.
Situation; Crime is a problem, it’s a HUGE problem. You try not to worry to much or else you go nuts but you can’t stik your head in the sand an pretend nothing is wrong, at least I can’t.

Before I go own, I’d like to say that this is what I do, in no way can this be considered common practice for Argentines, just like you cant consider common practice for the average American Six Pack Joe to make a risk assessment analysis of his personal situation, become proficient in armed and unarmed self defense, stock up food, have savings in case SHTF, worrying about investments, and have an emergency contingency plan.

What I personally determined was that there were certain situations I couldn’t avoid that, given current events, were very risky and based on what happens to others, there a much bigger possibility of getting targeted by criminals and , maybe involved in a gunfight.

Moving large amounts of cash for some reason, receiving payments of large for real estate transactions.
Sometimes encountering possible clients, or even meeting people to sell your car, these are all situations you can’t avoid that involve a much higher security risk.

Body armor is not something a lot of people think of. Even people that carry guns, most of them don’t own or consider they need body armor.
But as violence gets worse, as the possibility of a gunfight gets closer and you hear about neighbors, people you know getting shot, you have a much better picture.
You understand how ridiculously stupid it is to think that you’ll get into gunfights, carrying a gun yourself for such an event, but for some mysterious reason you wont be the one getting shot.

Granted, if things are SO bad you need to use BA ( body armor from now on) every day, you better start using it and find a way to get out of there because it’s certainly not safe, but hey! You still need to use it until you get out of there, don’t you?

I use mine only on certain situations, like the ones described above that are known to be particularly dangerous. Moving large sums of cash around, meeting people I simply must meet but I’m not so sure about them, when going to bad parts of town for reasons I can’t avoid.
There are all situations that are typically dangerous so I take the extra caution of wearing BA.

Also, my BA is in my closet ready for use ( only one side closed, the other one left open for putting it on fast) so if something goes “bump in the night”, or there’s trouble of any kind, I get my gun and flashlight an put my BA.

Other situations where you might want to wear BA: For example while evacuating the city for any given reason ( Katrina) when violent encounters are more likely, or wearing it during times of civil unrest, lootings and outbursts of violence, protests gone out of control, etc.

Just like your firearm or your fire extinguisher, BA is the kind of “insurance” you need to buy before you need it.

What kind of BA?

Soft body armor by bulletproofme.com. Good people to do business with, specially if you are on a tight budget.

Soft boy armor can conceal under regular clothes. Level II BA is an ideal balance between concealabilty and protection. Will stop most handgun rounds, except for FMJ 9mm submachinegun ammo (higher velocity) and 44 magnum. You’d need III-A for that kind of protection.
But if you are worried about that kind of threats, maybe hard body armor (plates) is better for your situation.
Level II-A, II and III-A is soft body armor, flexible material, more comfortable and will stop most common handgun caliber but will not stop rifle rounds, which will zip righDrt through it ( unless you have exotic armor such as Dagonskin, made by Pinnacle)
Level III and IV( stops armor piercing rounds) are hard armor plates, this stop rifle rounds.

In my situation, rifles are not that commonly found being used by criminals. Happens but its not that common.

Ideally, get good level II armor and then get some armor plates.
If things turn ugly, you’d be glad you bought it.
Even in much more common home burglaries, taking a couple extra seconds to put on BA can make the difference between life and death.



Bukko_in_Australia said...

Posts like this are why I like your blog, FERfal. You write about what's REAL, situations that all too many of us are actually going to live through, rather than the apocalyptic fantasies of the "shoot-em-up" survivalists. You might actually save someone's life, mate, or save them from needlessly shooting someone else.

Anonymous said...

Ditto bukko!


aps said...

Hi Ferfal,

I studied for a semester at Universidad de Belgrano in '98. I had an opportunity to travel throughout the north west provinces as well. I really loved Argentina. I would love to go back. The people are great, and everything was very nice. One thing that the world has no shortage of is poor governments. I remember trying to unload the "bonos" of the provinces like they were hot potatoes. It took some getting used to the mindset of not accepting "dinero lavado" in change. I love your blog, and it saddens me to think that the country has fallen on such hard times. It also concerns me to think that the USA is on its way to the same fate.

Take care, and keep posting.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. I live in the US and am lucky enough to own armor, thanks to a friend who thought that I needed it. I bought second chance's deep cover model, and I love it.
Not cheap, but cheap insurance.

Now I have to convince my friend he does not get to test it. :)

FerFAL said...

Thanks Bukko and GSJ:)

Hi Paul
UNivesity of Belgrano? Oh, the women you must have come across there!:)

Beautiful part of town, nice people.
Belgrano is still one of the safest parts of Bs As.
The worst change was seen in the suburbs, the "provincia"

The north has a lot of natural beauty, places like Iguazu falls and teh Valle de la Luna, were you walk around adn find all kind of dino fosiles ( and many get stolen by both locals and foreigners )
As you might have noticed, it's also very poor, some of teh poorest provinces like Chaco and Tucuman,

Take care, and let me know if you ever come back to visit, we'll get some coffee.:)


Anonymous said...

Love your posts, Ferfal. I am an older person 56y/o and my husband is 64. Other than getting healthy and in shape, what recommendations. Have a little saved up but not enough for the real problems staring at us and the United States. Give me any bit of knowlege or opinion you can. We are retired and have a fixed income. Is it time to turn on Eric Clapton as loud as it goes and drink the real koolaid? I don't care what you say, I know it's just opinion.

Jean & Vic said...

This is not the first time I have visited your blog (and I doubt it will be the last), but I have to say thank you for the good info. I got to use body armor in the past, but it was nothing near so nice as what you are describing here. I also plan to get some for my wife, as she doesn't have any yet.
You have written a number of good posts, and I will look forward to seeing more of them in the future. stay safe, and stay armed.