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Testing Body Armor

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:25
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Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog

Bullet resistant body armor is one of the greatest modern marvels. It has saved thousands of lives and protected people from serious injuries. And while it is part of the standard work equipment for law enforcement officers, military operatives and security personnel, gun enthusiasts are also discovering its many benefits.

Gun enthusiasts are well aware of the deadly power of guns and proper safety starts with securing tactical armor to protect yourself in case a dangerous situation comes up. Plain and simple – wearing body armor can save your life. With modern advancements in production and design, bulky and heavy armor is no longer an issue and there are many levels and styles to find your optimal fit. Manufacturers offer a large selection of lighter and more effective body armor that can protect you from life-threatening shots.

Understanding the different levels available helps you determine which one is most suitable against certain pistol and melee weapons and choose accordingly.
The most commonly used is Level IIa. Rated for pistol rounds and light fragmentation, it is soft armor, and is good against 9mm, 40 SW and 45 ACP. However, many consider this level to be the bare minimum armor protection. Types I, II–A, II, and III–A armor are required to prevent penetration from the impact of six bullets per panel, for two complete samples (front and back panels) at specified velocities and locations for two types of ammunition. Two of the impacts in each six-shot sequence must be at a 30-degree angle. A total of 48 shots are completed on four samples. Furthermore, the deformation of the backing material (a measure of blunt trauma protection) must not exceed 44mm (1.73 in). Deformation readings are taken on each panel at shot location 1, then at either shot location 2 or 3, whichever one had the highest shot velocity. The armor must meet these requirements while wet.

When it comes to a decent array of pistol weapon threats, versatility and affordability – the best choice is Level IIIa. This armor is considered as standard armor for law enforcement at this time. If offers enhanced protection over level IIa up to a 44mag and it also stops 357 Sig, which is a high velocity round for a handgun. Type III armor requirements are identical to those for types I, II–A, II, and III , except that only one type of ammunition is specified, and all six test rounds are fired perpendicular to the surface of the armor. A total of 12 shots are completed (6 shots per sample).

Apart from levels, there are two types of tactical body armor styles – overt and covert (concealable). Gun enthusiasts generally find that the latter offers greatest advantages as t is usable in any scenario as opposed to hard armor which is impractical for daily use and high-risk situations. Covert body amor offers reduced chances of detection, which is particularly important as it won’t draw anyone’s eye.In some cases keeping your body armor out of sight may actually end up saving your life as attackers won’t specifically aim for those body parts left unprotected by your armor.

Another feature you need to consider is the inclusion of plates – most commonly paired with Level III, and Level IV for stopping armor piercing rounds. Level III offers a more than decent protection, as it will stop the majority of rifle rounds in circulation in the US today.

As a general rule tactical armor makes you feel like you are more capable of handling a situation, although it can make you overconfident in your abilities. The bottom line is that all guns are deadly and you can, at best, minimize your chances of getting seriously hurt or injured, which can be the difference between getting yourself killed. However, equipping yourself with tactical body armor is a process and should not be taken lightly based on word-of-mouth advice or trends. Sit down, do some research and make an informed decision based on your risk expectancy, physical attributes and skills.

This article was written by Emma Lown. Emma is one of Safeguard’s Leading ballistics experts. She spends her time updating partners on the developments within the industry and is instrumental in driving the company’s research and development.


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