By Mike Keleher
If you did not see it last month, Senator C. Schumer, Nancy Pelosi’s best pal and star of many public fiasco like the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, announced he will introduce a bill to restrict the sale of body armor when Congress goes back in session. To make it even “awesomer” he would like the much maligned FBI to be in charge of regulating who could purchase or possess body armor.
He claims this is motivated by the small number of criminals who have been caught wearing body armor during crimes like the Dayton OH shooter in August. (Remember that shooter? He dropped off the media radar when it was found he was a socialist, would vote for Elizabeth Warren and also a satanist. ) That evil shooter killed 9 people and wounded 23 more-but despite wearing body armor, was killed by police in exactly 32 seconds.
Big Chuck, like many current wildly liberal politicians, thinks he knows what is best for us all, and the Government will “take care of us.” Well he kicks up a familiar middle finger chord for a lot of Americans with this announcement he is going to protect us from body armor… and there is now a huge run on sales of body armor.
High volume U.S. seller AR500 armor, has posted notices on their web site in the wake of Ole Chucky’s “asinine comments”, demand for privately purchased armor has had a huge increase and they are anticipating a couple month backlog getting new orders filled.
I am reminded of some time I spent living in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia ,when Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a ban on possession of .50 rifles (a weapon which had never been used in a crime). Well I never wanted a .50 caliber rifle…until Arnold said I could not have one! Chuck’s body armor announcement may have spurred on similar responses all across America.
If you are now interested in purchasing some armor, I wanted to pass along some information which may be of some use to you.
The manufacturing processes and the prices have changed dramatically in the last 30 years when I started wearing Level IIa pistol rated armor while working as a federal agent in Los Angeles. Products are much lighter, and much cheaper than in the bad old days where I routinely smelled like an old tennis shoe at the end of an armor session. We were also highly aware back then of the proliferation of AK and SKS steel core ammo on the street that could shoot through a telephone pole…and a vest behind it.
The one thing about personal armor, is you can have light and flexible or you can have more protection but heavy and clunky armor. This goes way back to the Romans soldiers with leather “armor” or wearing metal plates on their arms and a metal helmet. In medieval times you could wear a chain mail outfit, or go full on suit of armor like the Bud Light knight. In Japan you could have some bamboo protection, or you had Samurai armor made of steel, leather and wood with a huge honking helmet with a NFL style facemask!
In America you still had light or heavy going all the way back to Clint Eastwood wearing a steel plate under his serape in “A Fist Full of Dollars” and of course the complete opposite of Clint and opposite of heavy, Michael J. Fox/Marty McFly repeating it in “Back to the Future III.” See how I make this all entertaining and such? Well actually, in America in the prohibition era curved steel bullet resistant vests were available to both the police and gangsters, but the weight was prohibitive and was never very popular. Today police and the public still have to weigh the odds of the bad guys they face-pistols are the most commonly faced weapon, not rifles. More people are killed by clubs each year than by rifles.
Relatively light weight police style wrap around soft body armor is currently available to the public for a fraction of the original $1000-$2000 prices. Check with suppliers like Galls.com, Body Armor Direct, and Safe Life Defense (which has a payment plan available.)
Armor is still hot when it is hot, but it is much more flexible and lighter than it was when Rich Davis from Second Chance started marketing these modern vests in the 1970’s. Remember Rich? He was the guy who would shoot himself as a sales technique to prove his armor would work. Please kids, don’t try this at home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIhyETXW1u0
There are a lot of internet sellers, and if you are serious about shopping some armor, you will see it is either government National Institute of Justice (NIJ) rated or “in accordance with NIJ standards” for levels of resistance. Obviously actual NIJ rated would be best, but it can add to the price point.
NIJ level IIa rated products stop .38 spl, 9mm and .40 short barreled pistol bullets.
NIJ Level II stops 9mm and .357 magnum.
NIJ Level IIIa stops .357 Sig and 44 Magnum.
NIJ Level III will stop lead core 7.62 rifle ammunition.
NIJ Level IV is modern combat rifle armor to stop .308, .30-06, AR and AK type of bullets.
What about stopping FMJ .223 or 5.56? You need Level III or above. Green tip (steel core) 5.56 or the old Russian and Chinese steel cored ammo isn’t going to stop until you get to Level IV armor. It is kind of like back in the medieval days you could wear that heavy knight’s armor, but one peasant with a pesky iron tipped arrow off a long bow or crossbow could still penetrate all that expensive and heavy armor and take out that oh so expensive and brave knight.
You still have to decide in this era, will you need to move and groove with less protection, or be human bunker in heavy armor?
One of the most inexpensive type of modern armor is currently two plates or shields mounted inside a military style carrier type of vest that does not offer side protection. You slip on this type of pistol or rifle rated armor (Generally Level III or Level IV) in a flash. It is not the most all encompassing type of armor, and certainly not the most comfortable, but it would up your chances of surviving direct bullet strikes and is not meant to be lived in day after day. If you have an issue put on your armor. When the issue is over take it off. Simple.
Carrier type armor is perfect for carrying in your car or keeping at home or office for when things go bump in the night or when drama boils up. The protection is over the critical organs and back with the idea of presenting best protection while facing a threat and angle cut to allow you to shoulder a long gun or use a pistol.
AR500 Armor.com is currently offering this carrier type package called the Freeman Plate Carrier with two included Level III plates for $99. That is a price hard to argue with. The plates weigh 5 lbs each, but that is a lot of protection for very little money. They also offer more expensive and customizable carriers and armored backpacks and plates to slip in to back packs.
Rifle rated armor is heavy, even if it only adds 10 lbs, and you won’t wear it a lot if you don’t have to. My gov issue Level IV armor with crotch plate and neck protection and a helmet weighed about 30 lbs. I can tell you it is however quite a comfort to slip some on if you anticipate facing rifle threats-you won’t worry about the weight for a while.
Some people might not feel comfortable travelling around wearing plate carrier armor, and some companies talk about conceal ability with carrier plate vests, but having a plate inside a backpack is a much easier sell to me. So many people carry back packs away from home, they are pretty much invisible in plain sight, and if you have a plate, in an emergency you could slip the pack onto your chest and proceed to get to cover or evacuate. The AR500 people have a Level III plate already installed in a backpack at about $100 and weighing only 3 lbs that is some pretty cool emergency and on the go protection, which will stop a lot of pistol and some rifle rounds. If I was still travelling to international hot spots, or to the south side of Chicago I would have one of these bags, or retrofit one of my own bags.
You don’t always know who to trust with armor claims, and I do look at independent tests. One of my fave internet gun guys is Mr Gunsngear.com, and on YouTube he tested out some bargain priced armor plates sold by Botach.com and shot them with ridiculous ammo like an armor piercing .30-06 on a $99 level IV 5 lb ceramic and polyethylene plate, and a $40 Level IIIa soft armor panel that weighs one pound with a .500 Magnum pistol-without penetration. https://youtu.be/lWEn5ufEWZM
For $40 you can drop one of those soft Botach panels in the computer sleeve in a backpack, a brief case or computer case -one pound of insurance I hope you never need. Botach is also offering a carrier type Level IIIa two panel vest for $99 and an XL version for bigger torso protection for $119. Botach is also selling already installed Level III backpacks for $70.
There is a personal decision point for everyone about whether they think spending the money to buy personal armor is “too much” or “silly.” They have to hear criticism in their own heads “You will never use it.” But everyone reading Guns Save Life or who own firearms for their own protection have had similar decisions to make, and if you can envision having to use a gun to survive potential deadly force encounters you can see how having some armor on would be a plus up.
I remember putting on a vest for the first time thinking “Well that’s cool, I have my own vest.” then right behind that thinking “Wait a minute I’m putting it on because someone might try to shoot me today…and I’m a nice guy!”
Every time after that, putting a bullet resistant vest on made me quite comfortable and I would think “Ahhh. That’s better.”