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Posted: 9/1/2008 3:37:22 PM EST
I'm looking to add a bullet proof vest to my SHTF supplies... but I'm a little clueless when it comes to what I need or what I should look for. This is what I think I know so far... please correct me if I'm wrong...

First... I want something newer than older.. as the older a vest gets the less effective it becomes.. correct ?

IIIA is the better protection out there... and will stop all handgun rounds ? But not rifle rounds... thats where the plates come in... ?

Now here is where I get foggy... you can buy a IIIA vest that will go under clothing, jackets, etc.... or under a plate carrier. Now do they also make IIIA armor with built in compartments for plate carriers ?

So if that is correct... which is the better way to go ? Having two separate vests... this way you could put your vest under more normal clothing... and add a separate plate carrier if need be... or something all built into one.. and just add the plates if need be ?

Someone help ... or tell me what has worked for you.

Thanks !!
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 3:44:13 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/1/2008 3:44:53 PM EST by IShootPics]
I'll share the little that I know.


First and foremost, its all HEAVY. No matter what, its going to add some good weight, something to think about for bugging out on foot. Privately owned Interceptors are pretty plentiful around, and the molle outer carrier can be useful without adding too much weight, but add DAPS or SAPI plates and you just made things interesting.



IIIA without looking it up is NIJ for 9mm up to 1400fps, cant remember if that also includes .44mag. USGI inserts are not NIJ-rated but are comparable to IIIA without the official cert. Neither provide guaranteed stabbing protection.


Then you get into trauma plates, stand-alone vs soft+hard setups, etc. I'll let the pros here answer the rest.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 4:12:55 PM EST
3A is a standard for soft body armor. Most police use the 3A vest as a compromise of protection and comfort. I wear one daily and it gets awfully hot and uncomfortable. I often pull off a soaked T shirt at the end of the day and wish it were an option to wear sometimes. Not all 3A vests stop the same thing, it's merely an NIJ standard. Some do better than others at different things and defeating knives and such.

There's also backface deformation ( trying to remember the specifics ) IIRC in excess of 44mm is considered as a failure even if the bullet does not pass through the material.

In short armor can be confusing and you can be misled by sellers trying to make a buck. I'd ask for independant test data on anything you choose. Pick what you think you'll need to stop and look for something that meets that standard. Dont try to guess at rated levels, be specific.

I know it's not much help but it's a much more in depth subject than can be addressed in a single post here.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 4:17:50 PM EST
I'll share what I know but keep in mind it is from 8+ years ago when I actually put on a uniform.

First, a good vest is not that uncomfortable but it is hot. Most P.D's (at least 8+ yrs ago) issued vests that were rated to stop the round that the officer was carrying since the gun he/she carried was guaranteed to be on scene. I wore a safariland level II which is/was rated to stop .357 mag/158 gr/JSP/1395 fps and 9 mm/124 gr/FMJ/1175 FPS (We carried 9's). All (I believe) vests have pocket on the front chest for trauma plates. In mine I had a Second chance K-30 hard insert rated to stop 7.62 Ball and all other .30 carbine soft point ammo as well as 12 gauge slugs, 44 magnum and some 9 mm armor piercing rounds. ON TOP of the hard trauma plate I also had a soft trauma plate (The soft plate is important on top of the hard plate because there were people that were shot with a rifle round in the hard plate and ended up dying of bullet fragments that shot up into their neck - the soft plate (in theory) would absorb the fragments. Also, buy the newest armor you can afford and stay away from stuff issued to police because it is probably worn everyday and absorbs sweat and body fluids which speeds up the degradation of the armor. Let me know if I can offer anything else - i'm sure someone will chime in with more up to date info.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 4:19:05 PM EST
Mr45auto: Not an expert, but I have seen in catalogues special t-shirts that you buy that is supposed wick away perspiration, and they little ribs that will lift the vest off your skin to let air circulate.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 5:18:06 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 5:18:48 PM EST
I have a IIA vest that I took with my from a previous job. It is hot in the summer and not super comfortable, but armor has come a long way in recent years. I never wore the plate in mine, but I do still have it. It is nylon covered curved metal and about 5" x 7". LE type vests (the cloth carrier portion) generally have pockets for plates, but these plates are much smaller than the military Interceptor type plates.

To truly conceal a vest, you normally need to wear a loose fitting shirt like a sweat shirt. However, if people don't expect to be wearing a vest, it will conceal well enough under most any shirt. It's sort of like concealing a handgun that way.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 7:15:30 PM EST
From what I have been exposed to the label on the inside will have the date of manufacture and then a place for the date of issue. All of the vest that I have used will have a statement on the label that tells the user that the vest is good for 5 years from the date of manufacture. I will also say that we tested some of our "expired" vest (level3) and found them to stop .38, .40 and .45. If I am not mistaken, the ratings go Level 2A, 2, 3A, 3, and then 4. I may have the "A"'s turned around though.hinking.gif
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 7:26:47 PM EST
Here's a relevant rehash...


This armored vehicle crewman vest is labeled a "fragmentation" vest so technically it is "flak" vest. I bought it for a good price at a local gunshow. I wanted to test shoot it because I needed some type of assurance it is worthy of being worn for protection otherwise I would always wonder.... I know that this damages the integrity of the kevlar material but I tested only the back panel and along the lower edge (kidney area).


The front and the back are each composed of two panels sewn together with 8 layers each like the other poster said. I test shot it with winchester 115gr 9mm fmj @ ~10 feet. The bullet penetrated two plies of the kevlar but stopped.


This is the back side of the panel-no penetration.


Winchester 9mm 115gr FMJ.
Link Posted: 9/1/2008 7:39:44 PM EST

Originally Posted By Stan08:
Here's a relevant rehash...

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/label.jpg
This armored vehicle crewman vest is labeled a "fragmentation" vest so technically it is "flak" vest. I bought it for a good price at a local gunshow. I wanted to test shoot it because I needed some type of assurance it is worthy of being worn for protection otherwise I would always wonder.... I know that this damages the integrity of the kevlar material but I tested only the back panel and along the lower edge (kidney area).

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/stopped.jpg
The front and the back are each composed of two panels sewn together with 8 layers each like the other poster said. I test shot it with winchester 115gr 9mm fmj @ ~10 feet. The bullet penetrated two plies of the kevlar but stopped.

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/backside.jpg
This is the back side of the panel-no penetration.

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/namebrand.jpg
Winchester 9mm 115gr FMJ.


Whatd the vest run you?
Link Posted: 9/2/2008 7:31:17 AM EST

Originally Posted By DernHumpus:

Originally Posted By Stan08:
Here's a relevant rehash...

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/label.jpg
This armored vehicle crewman vest is labeled a "fragmentation" vest so technically it is "flak" vest. I bought it for a good price at a local gunshow. I wanted to test shoot it because I needed some type of assurance it is worthy of being worn for protection otherwise I would always wonder.... I know that this damages the integrity of the kevlar material but I tested only the back panel and along the lower edge (kidney area).

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/stopped.jpg
The front and the back are each composed of two panels sewn together with 8 layers each like the other poster said. I test shot it with winchester 115gr 9mm fmj @ ~10 feet. The bullet penetrated two plies of the kevlar but stopped.

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/backside.jpg
This is the back side of the panel-no penetration.

i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn77/Lance1775/namebrand.jpg
Winchester 9mm 115gr FMJ.


Whatd the vest run you?


$100 dollars! Let me know if you want the email address. Mediums only and its small on me.
Link Posted: 9/2/2008 9:10:46 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/2/2008 9:25:16 AM EST by Russ79]
this is what i'm getting. not high on the priority list but after i got just about everything elese i can think of.
outer vest
i used it in Iraq and have personally seen it take 2 ak rounds.

i volunteered to go on a raid in sader city (neighborhood in Baghdad). my job was to guard the perimeter stop traffic and the like. the interpreter knocks on the door telling the people inside who we were and to come out with there hands up or or we would go in and they would be considered combatives. (policy at the time) he says this as he is standing right in front of the wood door. 3 ak rounds blast through the door, 2 of them hitting the guy. delta co grabbed him by the handle on the back and pulled him to safety then moved inside and killed everything that moved.

i saw the guy the next day. he was walking, talking and in good cond. his chest was all black and blue and had a few busted ribs but in great cond. condensing the fact that a little more the 24hrs before he have been hit with two 7.62 rounds.

that was enough for me. i'm a believer. sure it heaver then the vest i wear for work but in a shtf event i think it would be worth it. yes, it's going to be hot. and heavy but what your life worth to you. and you get used to it.

the 1st thing YOU need to do i figure out what level of protection you whant. thay make everything from stab proff vest like the one i wear when i'm inside my prison to the standard under vests that i wear when on transport duty (and that most cops wear),
to the big boys like the interceptor.
once you figure out your threat level. the rest gets a lot easier to pick out
Link Posted: 9/2/2008 9:25:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By Russ79:
this is what i'm getting. not high on the priority list but after i got just about everything elese i can think of.
outer vest
i used it in Iraq and have personally seen it take 2 ak rounds.


You mean an interceptor body armor (IBA). No one could fault you for being unprotected especially with the SAPI plates, throat and groin protector. If you go that way you might as well hook up all the pouches to the thing as well. At that point all you need is a kevlar or MICH helmet and you will be one well protected mofo!
Link Posted: 9/2/2008 9:29:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By Stan08:

Originally Posted By Russ79:
this is what i'm getting. not high on the priority list but after i got just about everything elese i can think of.
outer vest
i used it in Iraq and have personally seen it take 2 ak rounds.


You mean an interceptor body armor (IBA). No one could fault you for being unprotected especially with the SAPI plates, throat and groin protector. If you go that way you might as well hook up all the pouches to the thing as well. At that point all you need is a kevlar or MICH helmet and you will be one well protected mofo!


ya i still have my kelvar helmet from iraq. it's stuffed in a bag with my other mill gear thay let me keep when i got out.
Link Posted: 9/2/2008 8:48:40 PM EST
Just a note- IIIA is the best grade of soft body armor, but many LEOs figure Level II is good enough, and a lot more likely to be worn. Quality doesn't make a big difference in stopping power, but a "nicer" vest is far more comfortable. My level IIIA Monarch (Second Chance) is far more comfortable then the issue level II vests, but at twice the price.

Comfort has two factors: 1) weight and 2) flexability. I think you are screwed on the heat regardless. I notice in Puerto Rico all of the uniformed cops wear cheap vests in plate carrier like carriers on the outside. It works as far as comfort, at least as long as all of the female officers are flat chested, and the men don't have really bad beer guts. One of the female cops down there wanted to steal my second chance vest, she said (I think, my spanish sucks) she had to wear nursing pads inside her bra in the summer, the vest chaffed so bad. The vests were so heavy I thought they might be Level III, but they were low end level IIIAs. Nevertheless, they sweated less then I did.
Link Posted: 9/3/2008 7:26:25 AM EST
Thanks again everyone for the great info...

Thanks Russ for the story... Yeah after thinking about it for a few days.. I'm thinking two options... the Interceptor for complete coverage and protection or something I can wear under clothing and then add a plate carrier if need be... My thinking is that the only time I would wear it is in a SHTF situation... but even then... would it be better to have something more concealable so you can blend in... or have something that is full on military look... I don't know... tuff call.

What is everyone's opinion of buying off of Ebay ? Should this be avoided... and just buy new ? I guess the easy answer is how much potentially is my life worth to me... do I want to spend the money or chinch and save a few bucks and risk it. I guess thats an easy answer.

Also If I buy a brand new vest... what is the life expectancy ?

Thanks
Link Posted: 9/3/2008 9:36:52 AM EST
There is no such thing as a Bullet "Proof" Vest!

Only Bullet resistant.
Link Posted: 9/3/2008 9:53:30 AM EST
Ebay can be risky since some people try to sell .mil stuff that was stolen. If you can find what you want new on ebay for a good price it's not a bad choice. Just be careful.

If you havent already check out the tactical gear forum we have here.

www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=6&f=10

Another good place for info is GetofftheX forums. GOTX is a no bs place which consists mostly of current .mil, LEO and PSD guys
Link Posted: 9/3/2008 10:45:30 AM EST

Originally Posted By Gunsmoke1702:
There is no such thing as a Bullet "Proof" Vest!

Only Bullet resistant.

I took two 7.62x39 rounds COM in my Aircrew "Chicken Plate" vest and I'm still here.
Link Posted: 9/3/2008 10:57:03 AM EST
and don't let someone tell you level IIII is better. true it can stop a larger round (308 AP in some cases) but thats just it. it can stop A larger round. while most of your level IIIa can stop multiple hits.


Link Posted: 9/4/2008 9:32:33 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/4/2008 9:33:51 PM EST by deadronin]
Remember, most vests are modular, meaning the carrier is independant from the panels/plates. This means that if you get a compatible cut, you can have one set of soft armor panels that can be used in a concealable carrier and in a more overt plate+soft armor carrier.

If you're not mil/leo you'll likely have troubles finding places that will sell to you. Most have had no issues with bulletproofme.com though

ETA: Also, many level 3 and level 4 plates require a IIIa backing of soft armor to provide their full protection.
Link Posted: 9/4/2008 10:44:25 PM EST
How come so few people wear the "nad" thing with the vest

For me, I'd be wearing a bullet proof diaper and nothing else! If I get my balls or dick blown off, I'm shooting myself in the head in about 2 seconds!
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