Body Armor Rant: Common Misunderstandings & Misinformation
Body armor is a complex subject and the amount of bad information floating around on the internet/social media can make the topic even more confusing. As a manufacturer that offers products made of nearly all types of proven body armor materials, we just want you to get the armor that’s right for your situation. Forget the marketing smoke and mirrors, forget the opinions of paid “influencers”, let’s just have an honest conversation about body armor. Selecting body armor should be driven by your personal needs and body type, not keyboard commandos.
Myth: Level IV Ceramic Body Armor is Superior to Steel Core Armor
In what way exactly and for who? This is the most debated issue we see on social media and it’s getting old. As a company that manufacturers both steel and ceramic body armor, we’re going to tell you that if you’ve staked a firm position on either side of this argument then quite frankly, you’re wrong. Steel and ceramic body armor couldn’t be more different from one another. Try shooting ceramic armor in a 1-2" groupmultiple times with a high velocity rifle round and you’re sure to get a pass-through, regardless if the armor is a so called “multi-hit” plate. The ceramic strike faceis designed to destroy/fragment the round on impact and a polyethylene backer is used to catch the resulting fragments. When a bullet makes impact with the ceramic, that section of material explodes leaving a big gaping hole where the ceramic used to be. On the other hand, steel armor can continuously absorb punishment in the exact same spot, round after round. However, steel armor can deflect fragments of bullets (aka spall) if it’s not properly coated with a full coat of fragmentation mitigation coating (such as our proprietary Encapsaloc™ formula) or covered with a spall containment sleeve. Even with a full coat, a plate that absorbs numerous edge shots could see spall escape outside of the plate coating (which could still be stopped by a quality plate carrier and/or spall containment sleeve). However, contrast this with ceramic which will most likely fail completely in the event of multiple edge impacts in close proximity to each other. To get the elephant out of the room, level III and III+ steel core body armor cannot stop 30-06 M2 AP (armor piercing) rounds where ceramic level IV body armor can. Ceramic plates also tend to be lighter than steel body armor plates.Steel and ceramic body armor have pros and cons, anyone that tells you either material is superior probably doesn’t fully understand the nature of how these materials respond to impacts. If this brief discussion has put you on the fence as to which type of body armor is “better” then you’re right where you should be. Until the day comes where we all have personal force fields or some other sci-fi type of protection, you will have to choose your body armor based on your own personal needs. This is why it’s common for many of our customers to own multiple plate carriers loaded with different types of armor. You need the right tool for the job, whether it be concealment IIIA armor for every day carry (EDC), a lightweight ceramic kit for situations that demand faster movement and agility or a steel core kit to defend a position such as your home. This is the real conversation that needs to be had and a decision that needs to be made on a personal level.
Myth: Stopping A Bullet Is All That Matters
Do yourself a huge favor and read this article about blunt force trauma. Just as uncoated steel armor increases the risk of secondary injury from spall, blunt force trauma is more likely when wearing body armor made from ceramic, UHMWPE or aramid fibers. For the sake of YouTube views, some body armor manufacturers will strap a vest onto a rubber dummy and show their armor stopping a round, but never show how much backface deformation resulted from the impact. Legit body armor manufacturers always have their armor tested at an independent NIJ credentialed laboratory and that’s our standard for proving body armor. You can watch this scientific testing process in the video below.Backface deformation measurements are taken to determine the amount of backface deformation which can be used as an indicator for blunt force trauma. It might be cool to see someone dump 100 rounds of 9MM into a vest, but if blunt force trauma takes you out of the fight then maybe it’s not so cool after all.
Myth: Body Armor Is Too Expensive
Compared to what? It’s funny when you see people drop $2k on a tricked out AR15 and complain about a $200 - $500 investment in body. People commonlyget stuck on idea that they have to have the best of the best of the best body armor (which is very subjective to begin with). This false assumptioncan put body armor outside of anyone'sbudget, especially when you look at the cost of high-end ceramic plates. In reality, body armor is a very easy product to get into as it requires a fraction of the knowledge required for other defensive tools such as firearms. However, similar to an AR15, you can always start small and upgrade accessories later. It’s very common to start out with a entry level plate carrier package and upgrade to a more advanced plate carrier in the future. The worst body armor is the armor you didn’t buy andnow you find yourself smack dab in the middle of an emergency wishing you had it.
Myth: Civillian Body Armor Is Just For LARPers And Guys Who Want Play Rambo
If you’re reading this article then chances are you don’t have this mindset, but it’s common to see this misconception on social media. People will make comments like “what, are you trying to be Rambo of something” or “it’s not like we live in Afghanistan”. Many people prefer to stick their head in the sand and keep believing that nothing bad will come to their neighborhood. Just as with firearms, owning body armor isn’t about preparing for full scale war, it’s about protecting yourself and your loved ones. Anyone who gets uppity about the subject is probably ignorant to the fact that we have numerous cities in this country with higher murder rates than some of the most dangerous third-world countries. This isn’t fear mongering to sell product, there is demand for our product because crime is getting worse. The year 2020 had roughly 8-9 months of SHTF events sprinkled across the country and the rule of law has been severely diminished to say the least. Changes in Police funding,unequal application of the law and many other festering issues have resulted in major crime spikes in cities across the country.
Myth: Once You Buy Body Armor, You’re All Set
At the very minimum, you should practice/train with your body armor. This doesn’t mean you need to join a local militia. If you buy concealment body armor, then take the time to practice wearing it with different types of clothing and wear it out in public. If you buy a full tactical plate carrier package with body armor, then don’t let it just sit on the corner of your closet. If you buy body armor just for emergencies, but are woefully underprepared to wear it in the event of an emergency, then you didn’t really prepare for an emergency now did you? Regardless of what type of body armor you decide to purchase, you need to have a realistic understanding of your capabilities and limitations while wearing your body armor. How fast and long can you run? Are you able to move freely and comfortably? What skills and motor functions are negatively impacted? Be honest and don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re safe now just because your shipment of body armor arrived on your door step.
Inexpensive Plate Carriers Are Bad
No, poorly constructed plate carriers are bad. If you have the money to drop on a pricier plate carrier from the get go and you know exactly what you want, then by all means. The reality is that most people getting into body armor don’t know exactly what they want out of a plate carrier until they’ve had a chance to train in one. This is the case with most things in life, so don’t beat yourself up(or blame the carrier) if you later find it doesn’t meet your specific needs. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. Some folks prefer a minimalist carrier such as ourSpartan DL carrier or Hydra carrier. Others find themselves happier with a full featured carrier that has more real estate for side plates or placing molle accessories, such as ourLeonidas,Achilles or Sentinel plate carriers. If you’re just getting into body armor then it’s perfectly normal to buy an entry level plate carrier body armor package and just move your plates into a new carrier once you fully figure out the best plate carrier setup for your purposes. There are some caveats though. At minimum, a plate carrier should be constructed of a quality material such as 500 denier(or higher) and well stitched together. If you’re actively training with your plate carrier, then make sure to periodically check the stitching in the shoulders and cummerbund for any signs of failure. These failures are often a result of something specifically being done to the carrier, but on rare occasion can be the result of something that went wrong during the manufacturing process. We understand this reality and always make it right for our customer if ever a manufacturing defect is discovered. We stand behind all of our products full stop.
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