Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reply: Practical use of Body Armor?

In reply to: Practical use of Body Armor?

Anonymous said...
I wonder if buying this stuff over the internet gets official notice. I also wouldn't be surprised if a zealous prosecutor used your body armor against you after a home burglary gone bad. Wouldn't they try to convince a jury you were looking to have a shootout with the criminal?
I'm not opposed to body armor, I'm seriously asking questions and would love to hear other people's opinions.

I think that while you may come across a stupid prosecutor in the case of body armor, there should be no doubt: It literally catches a bullet that would probably kill you if it didn’t, so its clearly better to explain yourself while alive than avoid the possibility of explaining something that you are legally entitled to do anyway, and be dead.
You are right though about something. The second amendment covers guns, not armor, so regulations are very much possible. I’d get armor while I can and if anyone comes asking, which is highly unlikely, then there’s a chance you may have sold it by then, or lost it in a fishing trip.
Anonymous said...
I'm confused about the life-span of the soft vests. Kevlar, although it expires in 5 years or so, has been tested to be good many years later. There are complaints on the internet, however, about some of the laminated fabrics like Goldflex and Twaron delaminating.
If I convinced myself and my wife to get a vest, I wouldn't want something that's going bad in a few years. Especially if body armor is legally unavailable some time in the future.
Does anyone know where to get well built kevlar vests for a reasonable price?

Zylon is the material to be avoided. It has some serious failures and NIJ decertified all vests containing Zylon. Goldflex® is an aramid like Kevlar®, and makes for thinner (up to 35% thinner) yet effective vests. It tends to be more expensive than Kevlar as well, but due to being thinner and flexible its well suited for concealed armor. The debate on laminated or not is rather academic. No matter what brand name of aramid its made of, no vest is intended to take multiple shots in a same area anyway. If you’re lucky enough to survive getting shot a bunch of times, then count your blessing and buy a new vest.

Don Williams said...
1) I think the 5 years refers to 5 years of police-like use --i.e worn constantly 8-10 hours per day soaked in perspiration and in contact with a 98.6 deg F human body. I would think that Intermittent use would extend that working life well out past 5 years.
2) To mimick such usages, the latest NIJ Testing protocol --NIJ 0101.06, adopted 2006 -- added a conditioning treatment to body armor in which it is tested for bullet resistance after 10 days of being tumbled in a
drum, 5 revolutions per minute for a total of 72,000 tumbles. At 80% humidity and 149 deg F.
3) Maybe Fernando would like to give his opinion/experience on some details of selection criteria for body armor. A lot of police get killed wearing body armor --as shown in the FBI report -- because crooks now know they are wearing it and go for head shots. So it seems to me it would be important to conceal the armor because it loses much value if an attacker can see you are wearing it.
4) On the other hand, level IIIA is not much thicker than level II and IIIA can stop some penetrating rounds like 357 Magnum in FMJ (level II just tests 357 in JSP), 38 super, 357 sig. I don't know if IIIA can stop the 7.62 Tokarov round but I would think it would do better than II.
5) In hot climates, however, Level II would probably be more easily concealed under hot weather light weight shirts. Some argue it is not as hot as IIIA but I wonder whether heat is more a matter of whether the sides are left open for ventilation. Some armor wraps around to cover the sides below the armpit but I would think that adds heat while the shoulder opening to the heart is left unprotected.
6) Level II vs IIIA is Tough decision -- like the 45 vs 9mm argument. One survey of USA police that I've seen indicated 41% of police use Level II and 35% use IIIA. No indication of whether the IIIA people are in the colder north and II people are in the South. Or if regular patrol police in uniform wear IIIA while undercover cops wear II since body armor is a tipoff that one is a policeman (US law bans convicted felons from owning body armor.)
1) True. Police officers wear their vests all the time. Lots of wear and tear, sweat and sunlight exposure. For the average person, you wont use and abuse a vest nearly as much and it will last decades if properly taken care of (avoid moisture, too much sunlight)
3)There is a chance of getting shot in the head if armor is being visibly worn. My advice is to keep it concealed as much as you can so as to avoid just that as well as attracting unwanted attention in general.
4)IIIA would do better against all rounds including 7.62 Tokarov. The 7.62 Tokarov is a small, fast round that has a good chance of penetrating level II armor. When possible I would go for IIIA.
5)Armor can get really hot, but then again if you’re not a cop its no big deal and you can just suck it up when you consider its important to wear it. For everyday carry though, it can be an issue and its better to get armor that fits well but allows enough ventilation.
6)Most police officers are likely to go for II because it is still enough to stop the threats they are likely to come across while being less bulky and more comfortable to wear in general. Now as a civilian that isnt wearing armor every day you may not have such concerns.



Don Williams said...

Level IIIA might do a better job of handling blunt trauma from a double 00 shotgun blast as well, although I wouldn't want to try it out.

Blunt trauma is not just a boo boo -- a cracked sternum is no joke. And multiple people have died from heart attacks when struck in the chest by baseballs, nightsticks,etc.

But concealment is important as well. Head shots are easier with a shotgun if you show you are wearing body armor.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for the info. Looks like I may have to find a way to convince my wife now. She humors me, but body armor is a big step.


Don Williams said...

I'm stating the obvious but
One thing to note is that some women need body armor tailored for their physique -- more available now because of female cops.

There may be two armor sections in a female vest -- one that folds over the breast and joins with another section the covers the stomach.
One source I've seen says that there should be a 1 inch overlap at the seam where the two sections connect below the breasts

However, other makers take other approachs. NIJ has special requirements that female vests have to pass (re integrity of seams,etc) so if the vest has NIJ 0101.06 certification I would that it would be okay.