15 Fighters: Thoughts On Body Armor?


Open thread on body armor.

Vendor links appreciated.

And check out this table from a reader:


57 responses to “15 Fighters: Thoughts On Body Armor?

  1. I gave up my soft armor when I left the PD. But I have been keeping an eye out for some this week as a matter of fact. I just found this this morning. Seems like a pretty good deal.
    There have been some nice sets there this week. This one is new.

  2. i like patriot plates myself. maingun.biz

  3. just curious, who has 15 people they would trust and equip? i must be living in the wrong area.

  4. Guys I’ve got ar500 plates, I made a bad choice, ” spall” off the steel, must be a huge concern. I went out and purchased ceramic plates after I recognized my mistake. thicker, lighter, just better.

    I should have just spent the money on them in the first place. Everybody close now has ceramic.

    Please think thru purchasing the steel plates, a bullets impact sends perhaps 100s of pieces of metal shrapnel , your throat, your face, your arms, are all subject to a booboo. A fatal booboo.


    • Old Gray Wolf.

      ^^^This. Steel is cheap(sort of). It is resilient. Those two qualities made me look at it when it first became a thing. But it is HEAVY. Mobility is, shall we say, key. Especially in situations where rifle plates are indicated. Heavy means slow.

      And then there is the spall. So you get hit. Center mass. Your heart and lungs are relieved and all is well…. Not. Ever look at a steel target after it is used? See all the little lines 360 degrees from the bullet strike? Those are fragments, moving away from the strike point at high velocity. If the plate is on your chest, and you are standing up firing a weapon, these fragments will impact the following, at least: throat, underside of jaw, upper arms, and depending on your lean angle, perhaps the legs. Sensitive items in these locations include: the carotid arteries and jugular veins, the windpipe, the tongue/palate/sinuses/brain, the brachial arteries, the subclavian arteries, and perhaps the femoral arteries. Nerves all over, too. No nerve, no worky. And of course, if angled well as in leaning forward over a barricade or kneeling, your wedding tackle is fair game, as well. With all of that, I don’t care if the plates only weigh a couple ounces apiece, I am not interested in trusting a thick coat of truck bed liner compound to keep me from sufferimg the innumerable leaks I may acquire from the bullet that my plate just turned into hundreds of high speed fragments. It an’t worth it, guys. If you need plates, spend the cash to get ceramic or the Israeli HDPE. Really. It is imperative.

      I have the Israeli stuff. It’s light, and effective to level III. I use a IIIa vest under it as the design calls for. It can still be useful after being hit, which the ceramic has a shortcoming with. If I have someone shooting at me with black tip or a 338 Lapua or larger, the plates I wear are the least of my worries, and are unlikely to change the outcome on their own. So I use lighweight armor that allows me to move, and protects against the vast majority of threats(AK, AR, M80 ball and lesser) that I could envision facing. The soft vest gets worn fairly regularly as it is, the plates are for training and more sporty times.


      It should be noted, that anything one can do to slow a rifle bullet significantly will be helpful in lowering the lethality and trauma of the strike. Even if your armor does not stop the projectile cold, and it does penetrate, a bullet moving at 1000 fps will do a LOT less damage than one traveling at 2000 fps or above, which gives you a lot better chance of surviving the experience. In addition, ricochets and shrapnel can be stopped by lower rated armor, which is surely better than getting laid low by such.

    • get yer plates coated. mostly solves the spalling problem. rhino lining, etc. look up patriot plates on youtube.

    • Just get you some spray on bed liner and build up a thick coating on the AR500 plate. It stops the spall.

    • SemperFi, 0321

      I wondered how to make plate covers (pouches) with kevlar material so as to keep the spall off my softer parts.
      Anyone know anything about the plastic cutting board type material? I can’t deal with the weight of a full plate carrier, 2 steel plates, mags and other misc gear, it’s ridiculous what the whole thing weighs. Forget about the side plates.

    • Regarding spall, order the PAXCON coating of your plates:

      Ceramic for lightweight:
      AR500 Armor® Multi-Hit Lightweight (4.4lbs) Level IV 10″ x 12″ Body Armor
      $699 per plate

      Steel for price:
      Testudo Gen 2 Plate Carrier x 1
      AR500 Armor® Level III 10″ x 12″ Curved Plates x 2
      AR500 Armor® Trauma Pads x 2
      $252.45 for the package

      • SemperFi, 0321

        Coating varies.
        I have one set of plates with bed liner applied, very thick and looks like it will do the job.
        Another set of plates that was highly touted here a few yrs back looks like they put a light coat of black BBQ paint on, not worth the trouble.

    • Johnny Paratrooper

      No offense Dirk, But it clear states that stand alone plates do not provide full protection and require supplementary spall protection.

      A standard kevlar insert OVER the plate will catch spalling.

      You can find expired inserts online for almost nothing.

  5. (File this in the FWIW column…I am not a medical professional nor have I played one on TV or in the movies….I do have some experience in the field as well as with old school armor, however…)

    Armor in a SHTF situation is the devil in disguise to the average prepper or survivalist, IMHO, having more negatives than positives attached to their use in that scenario that I would only recommend its use while manning a defensive position (a vehicle choke point or other static position for example) and not any sort of patrol (long range or otherwise) because:

    First, unless the wearer gets hit smack dab in the plates or are otherwise very, VERY lucky and get hit in a non-vital area, get a through and through while not subjected to bullet trajectory change because the projectile glanced off or otherwise changed direction due to smashing into a bone and then piercing something important, the wearer is going to be hosed due to the inability to get to a friendly medical facility or trauma center. As most know, there won’t be any ‘dust offs’ or other med-evacs. Care will, at most, be limited to making the individual comfortable as can be done in the situation (after the gun fight is won, of course). But let’s say for a minute that the wearer did get hit smack dab in the plate center – the blunt force trauma is going to incapacitate the wearer for a bit, which could be enough for the shooter to finish the job. Either way, the team member is not effective for a period of time, either due to the GSW or blunt trauma.

    Second, armor has a tendency to provide the wearer the emotional/psychological fallacy that personal risk can be increased by doing things he/she wouldn’t otherwise do without the armor (old school called it, ‘The Superman Syndrome’). Armor, in combination with whatever kit the wearer is carrying, slows down the wearer (remember, ounces equals pounds and pounds sap speed and strength – a Level IV vest can weigh over 15 lbs usually – 10 lbs for 2 plates; 5 pounds for the vest). Additionally, SHTF scenarios will also be accompanied by significantly reduced intake of nutrients, which will result in a cumulative sapping of speed and strength as the situation is prolonged.

    Third, having armor in, say, a semi-permanent defensive position makes more sense because the defender will have whatever medical support capabilities (defined by available supplies,, the number of trained medical professionals in the group and what facilities have been jerry-rigged together for the purpose of treating GSW’s and trauma) the defended area has available to get to if not hit right in the plates, and the wearer is not using his/her stores of stamina to move over long distances while draining Adrenalin reserves at the same time.

    Now, for peace time or pre-SHTF times where hospital trauma centers are available along with ambulance or other first responder availability to get the individual to the hospital, Level III/IV vests make perfect sense. Especially with advances in the armor making it thinner (more concealable) to dissuade a bad person choosing to attempt the more difficult head shot at the wearer. To that end, I’m very close to recommending the following to close associates (H/T to Aesop for his suggestion):


    Very affordable, even when getting the base vest (IIIA) and the plates (brings it to a IV (if using the ceramic plates. The company provides an interest free, four month payment, as well.

    • Everyone has the right to there own opinion but if I’m not purchasing armor because it might me feel like I’m Superman and take unnecessary risk then I’m a dumbass and deserve to get shot…WTF over…Good thing I come here for the entertainment and not looking for info…Sad That…

      • I said or implied nothing about not purchasing body armor, only its use in application. I also supplied a link to a vendor. Either you didn’t read it completely, or your reading comprehension is lacking.

        As you are wont to say, “…Sad that….”

        • Armor in a SHTF situation is the devil in disguise to the average prepper or survivalist…
          Second, armor has a tendency to provide the wearer the emotional/psychological fallacy that personal risk can be increased by doing things he/she wouldn’t otherwise do without the armor (old school called it, ‘The Superman Syndrome’).

          How is that not implying to not purchase armor because it might make you feel invincible…My reading skills are fine maybe it should of been worded better…Sad That…

          • You make my point for me: No where did I say don’t buy it; I said it wouldn’t be useful in a particular scenario, implying patrols. I also said it would be FINE on static defense positions (also implied SHTF scenarios…) Extrapolation…it’s all the rage.

            No harm, no foul.

            • If you would of said the devil is in the details instead of the devil in disguise then I would have agreed with you….I assumed you were a Christian so my bad but me I don’t want anything to do with the ol devil…And your right no harm no foul and I hope you can make it to the DSR…

    • SemperFi, 0321

      Fully agree on all points, including the soft level IIIA vests. Those can be worn all day long, some even have pockets to add a plate if needed.
      Heavy vests just can’t be worn for any period of time or physical activity, they’re for driving or guard duty only.

    • I agree with you. In a SHTF scenario, when patrolling, one needs to adapt
      the unseen silent ninja mindset, which is the exact opposite of the bulletproof superman mindset. Being ready to snake under culverts and fences and through streams and ditches is a critical ability, and it is surely not helped by being loaded down with armor. For vehicle ops or defensive positions, sure, armor up all you want. But the key to defending your location will be patrolling, and you must do all in your power to avoid being seen, much less shot. A shot in the hip or shoulder is going to be as fatal as one in the heart, it’s just going to take longer for you to die. I’d invest even more in silent weapons. Think of a suppressed pistol-caliber carbine as your weapon of choice: get the job done in silence without giving away your position. If possible, the opfor should not only not see you, they should not hear you. Stealth ninja all the way.

      • “If possible, the opfor should not only not see you, they should not hear you. Stealth ninja all the way.”

        Truer words were never written/spoken. +100!

      • Johnny Paratrooper

        1) I have fired an M4 (Unsilenced) from the inside of a closet, through a bedroom, out an open window. No-one heard the shot. No-one called the police. I called my neighbor right next door. He was watching TV. Heard nothing. I told him to turn his TV off. He did. I hung up. Fired again. Called him back. He heard NOTHING.

        2) You can wrap a large towel or a blanket around a pistol and it is as quiet as any silencer. Maybe even more quiet.

        3) A modern crossbow is an Amazing weapon. Although bulky, it is very, very powerful and accurate. It is also almost completely silent.

      • SemperFi, 0321

        All that low crawling thru mud and sand served a purpose, I still remember to act like a frog. We learned from amphib ops to travel light, can’t do a 5 mile night swim encumbered with heavy gear, and then patrol.
        I’ve had that same idea today, low and slow. Anytime you’re observed, you just fukd up.

    • Johnny Paratrooper

      My friend was shot in the plate and he didn’t even notice during a hard knock.
      Cracked the fuck out of the plate.

      Too bad for him, he was also shot in the pelvis and it ruptured his bladder.

      He hit the ground screaming “MY DICK, MY FUCKING DICK, I JUST GOT SHOT IN THE DICK”

      Needless to say those two Jihadi fucks are dirt.

  6. Highcom armor is good people, but heavy for being ceramic. Hence the good price: https://highcomarmor.com/collections/products

    What are the chances we use armor anyway? Political guerilla wars are plainclothes, street-level sneaky stuff.

    A set or two would be good for the neighborhood checkpoint guards given some sort of major economic depression. Response team members could probably do without.

  7. Here’s another resource: https://bulletsafe.com/

    • Old Gray Wolf.


      Good source. Hdpe plate Style I was referring to. Note the lowest spall risk with this style plate. As well as very lightweight. As well as multi-hit capability. Spend the money. If you need plates, you need the best you can get.

      • SemperFi, 0321

        Looks like a good product for std rifle rounds.
        However, it won’t stop 7.62 NATO AP (like the ceramic/steel plates), even though they claim “steel jacket” M80. Never run across steel jacket M80 before, most steel jacket 7.62 is Soviet/Chicom, so I’m not a big believer in products that fudge the truth a bit. M80 FMJ is NATO spec, not Soviet bloc.

        Pretty fukn expensive though when you consider this is the same material they use in cutting boards.

        • Old Gray Wolf

          My rationale was, most threats I am likely to face will not be AP, and the light weight and low spall potential sold me. 3 lbs. front, 3.5 lbs. rear, and I am the only one I know with any AP ammo.

          Put another way, if I am being shot at with AP and/or heavier calibers, any armor is the least of my worries, and it is time to break contact, because I messed up. I am not intending to use armor to remain in contact with folks using medium to heavy AP rounds. Its general purpose for me is some protection when dealing with armed adversaries using the generally held weaponry of civilians and similar, and usually in defensive situations. So I bought for protection from a large percentage of threats, with an emphasis on mobility and minimal spall potential. I assessed the risks, and am comfortable with the system I use. Getting shot at is not something I plan to do regularly. In fact, if the opponent is shooting at me, I figure that’s a fair fight, and I try to avoid those.

          • SemperFi, 0321

            Wasn’t picking on you or your choice of gear, but rather the company. They seem to have a somewhat misleading wordage there, “steel jacket” vs armor piercing or steel core.
            Reminds me of “military type” vs military issue.
            I try to use reading comprehension to the best of my ability. Saves wear and tear on the long run. And wallet.

        • The WretchedDog

          I have an amount of German (FRG), 7.62 NATO (originally?) machine-gun ammo that truly is steel jacketed. Weird stuff; not wanting to fire it out of my rifle I have relegated it to trade goods.

          Cross-sectioned a few of the bullets some years back. Outer jacket is steel-colored and really is steel (passed magnet test); inner core is lead or lead alloy. Interesting round; I expect it is going to act much like AP (better penetration than simple ball), but I haven’t comparatively tested it. But I expect it to punch through staff that is rated to stop ball.

          The Wretched Dog

  8. I’m old and sick. But The kids can still dig us old boys a good fox hole. We can hold that first dirt line while they get the women and kids out the back way ahead of the air strikes (yes they will). We can do this. We oldsters can show the kids the way. And with the grace of G_D we can stack up some bodies.

  9. themagicbusguy

    I like vetsmfg.com their dyneema plates will stop .50 cal.

  10. Tree Top Flyer

    I have Spartan 11×14 ar500 shooters cut with all whistles & bells, Tasmanian Tiger carriers…
    I really was thinking of my spouse etc… while inside of my compound… lol. Totally agree with Bracken.. if im going out on the ranch snooping… im traveling light with my Scorpion evo 3 w/silencer…. im an ageing dog now but still a Devil Dog
    70’s era
    Lima 3/9
    Fox 2/8
    Great post… Great site

    • SemperFi, 0321

      H&S 1/9 73-74
      2nd Recon Bn. 74-76 (TAD to 1/2 for 1 yr.)
      C Co. 4th Tanks 80-83
      Still only 15 lbs heavier than when I got out. Work out and hike constantly. Being a grunt stays with you.

      • Tree Top Flyer

        Love to have some Chow with you sometime Semper Fi… I was at KKMC on the Saudi/Kuwait border a year before we had boots on the ground… lol
        Contractor pre Black water days… still have all my old base passes exit te-entry Visa’s … left there in 1993 , i made front page of Arab News in 1989 on a EVAC from Turkey! I hate getting older ! it would-be great to talk with you about the old days

  11. Soft armor level IIA-IIIA concealable, everyday wear.

    If you think you need to plate up, get the HDPE.
    It’s 1/2 the weight of steel.
    $185@ for front or rear plates.
    $100 for 4×4 side plates.
    They also sell frag bags to catch spall from steel plates, and IIIA soft panels that can be affixed to steel and soak up splatter as well.

    There’s a place for AR500 steel plates: your vehicle.
    Doors, firewalls, seatbacks, trunk blocking back seat, and possibly a plate hinged on the rear deck to pop up.
    Also in luggage, like a briefcase or backpack. That’s also a great place for HDPE or just heavy Kevlar, and gives you a non-descript everyday item to use as a shield if the necessity arises. Like active shooter in the mall, or somebody going Aloha snackbar with a vest full of hardware. Having something you could hunker down behind would be better than trusting the inshallah method of bullet and fragmentation avoidance.

    The problem with ceramic is one or two hits, or one heavy drop, and you have some expensive former armor plate(s).

    Even a IIA concealable kevlar will stop most common pistol rounds, make a knife attack a lot less of a problem, and stop shotgun pellets and any fragments (grenade, IED, whatever.)

    But it’s not as hot and heavy as steel plates, so should curtail your Rambo fantasies.

    Outside the Box:
    Work up some ad hoc improv armor from everyday objects:

    Don’t just build it, build it and take it to the range to test and see what it’ll stop.

    Improve, adjust, and work out a recipe that can be made from everyday items like phonebooks, etc., ceramic floor tiles, and duct tape, that works for you.

    You should get plate and soft armor, even if you think you’ll seldom use it. If you’re behind a wall, or in a fighting hole, running isn’t a problem getting shot or fragged is, and even with minimal care available, PPE like that could drastically reduce how many places you get hit, and how serious the damage is.

    Being a ninja is cool and all, but once the shooting starts, it’s also cool to be able to be the knight, and have nasty stuff bounce off ya.
    YMMV, but I’d keep my options open.

    • Johnny Paratrooper

      There is no way that improvised vest will stop anything but a pistol round.

      Looks like a waste of duck tape and literature IMHO.

  12. Johnny Paratrooper

    My Mosin-Nagant 91-30 with Steel Core 7.62x54r 147 grain has blown clean through everything I have fired it at. To my surprise it managed to penetrate the following

    -Cast Iron Radiators and steel farm tanks

    -2 twelve inch Poplar tress in a row( center shot on the first tree, and a near center on the second)

    -And no doubt it will penetrate a soft vest at any range

    I have not tested it on an AR-500 plate or a Ceramic Level 4

    True Story, My friend’s AK and RPK did penetrate both of those using the surplus Steel Core Com-Bloc ammo. 123 Grain bullet.

    The armor didn’t even try to stop the round. The ceramic plate was almost completely destroyed FYI.

    That was just ONE ROUND. We had 29 more rounds ready to try again.

    A Ghillie Suit is better Armor than a plate.

  13. Tree Top Flyer

    The Art of cover, concealment, stealth should be basic skill sets… in any enviroment.
    But i bet 99% of folks here on this site if they suspected an opponent of wear any armor the last place the first shots would be is in that extremely small clumbsy 11×14 inch area… Taking a player out of the situation is still the objective… insurance rds later absolutely
    Semper Fi my friends

  14. Up close, grab a human shield and fire away. Watch the panic explode.

    • Johnny Paratrooper

      A struggling hostage will make your one armed return fire relatively pointless.