I am pleased to announce that the highly anticipated D-Rmor Gear Extreme Duty Plate Backers (and Cummerbund Panels) are now available for purchase!

In celebration, during the entire month of July, I will be offering extras for all Plate Backer/Cummerbund orders over $100:

Your choice of one of the following:

Free Shipping
Upgrade to FR 500D Cordura Outer Shell
D-Rmor Gear PVC Touchmark Patch
D-Rmor Gear Armometer
D-Rmor Gear Armor Material Field I.D. Guide

Check out all the options available here:

https://drmorgear.wordpress.com/coming-soon-d-rmor-gear-extreme-duty-plate-backers/

For those that have read my Body Armor: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly series, you know that identifying the composition of your soft armor ballistic package is of the utmost importance.

Unfortunately, without examples of what each of the multitude of materials looks like, it becomes a virtually impossible task. With certain materials posing a very real risk of bodily harm or even death when used in soft armor, proper and timely identification becomes even more vital.

My Version 1 Armor Material Field I.D. Guide was a solution to that problem. And now, by popular demand, Version 2.1 incorporates improvements and enhancements over and above the original.

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The Guide is a pack of rugged, compact laminated cards, packed full of important information and stats on all the most common body armor materials, from first generation woven aramid, all the way up to the most cutting-edge fifth-gen “wovenates.” In addition, each card contains an actual swatch of the material in question, to make identification simple.

Available in limited quantity, the D-Rmor Gear Armor Material Field I.D. Guide is only $15 shipped anywhere in CONUS. Get yours today!

https://drmorgear.wordpress.com/d-rmor-gear-armor-material-field-i-d-guide-v2-1/

One of the questions I get asked frequently is “can you recommend a good source for SPEAR/BALCS cut soft armor panels?” and “do you make custom SPEAR/BALCS armor?”

Well, up until now, there were not many options. SPEAR/BALCS cut armor is a well thought out concept, giving plate carriers a greater area of armor coverage. But they tend to be expensive $750-$900 per set), and usually difficult to obtain.

If I get enough interest, I will be offering these panels on a limited basis. Pricing for a level IIIA equivalent set in Medium would be around $410. Pricing would adjust up or down for size Large and Small sets. XL may or may not be offered on a custom-only basis.

Features these would offer:

Fifth-Gen Advanced Woven Aramid
Thin- ~.24″ Thick
Light- ~1.18 AD
Ruggedized- Construction methods to minimize hard use/wear
**5-Year Replacement Guarantee**: If used in verified/documented Duty/SD scenario, will be replaced for free. Nobody else offers this.
Superior materials and construction to any other currently available BALCS panels out there.
-NO SPECTRA
-NO inferior Aramid Laminates
-Would be the BEST BALCS panels in all categories.

If you would like to see these become reality, contact me via email, or post comments. In one month, I will announce whether there was enough interest to go forward. Stay tuned!

In the previous post, an oft-repeated Internet legend regarding .22LR and light body armor was examined. .22LR has a reputation as a very high penetrating round, more so than .45 ACP. In this post, the results of an objective shoot test to determine the validity of that legend are posted.

The outcome was quite informative

As mentioned earlier, four panels (two 7-layer Level I equivalent, and two 12-layer Level IIA equivalent) were constructed. A block of #1 Roma Plastalina modeling clay was used as the backing, both to provide the requisite yielding surface for proper functioning of the armor, and to act as a witness panel for purposes of backface deformation/penetration evaluation.

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Round used was the Remington Viper Hypervelocity 36gr. copper-washed truncated cone round, with a listed MV of 1410 FPS (out of a 20″ barrel).

Test platforms were a 4″ barrel and a 16″ barrel.

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First up was the 4″ barrel and level I panel. Not surprisingly, the round was stopped by the first layer of material. Backface deformation was 11.65mm (for reference, the NIJ allows soft armor up to 44mm of backface deformation and still pass). Note the unburned powder near the impact.

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Next up was the 4″ barrel and level IIA panel. Even less surprising, the round was stopped in the first layer. Backface deformation was 11.23mm. Note the crater was wider than the level I impact, showing that the force was spread over a larger area due to more fibers being involved in the arrest of the round.

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Next up was the 16″ barrel and level IIA panel. Out of a 16″ barrel, this round is really moving (at least 1300 fps). The round penetrated four layers of material, and was stopped by the fifth. Backface deformation was 12.55mm.

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Finally, the test everyone was waiting for: the level I panel and 16″ barrel. To dispense with the suspense, the round penetrated. It penetrated all 7 layers, with major fragments caught by the 7th. A surprisingly deep cavity was created (most likely due to fragments and expanding muzzle gases) 68mm deep into the clay.

So, thus ends (hopefully) internet rumors surrounding soft armor penetration by .22LR. What can be gleaned from this test: level I armor will stop what it is rated to stop, at least as far as .22LR.

Even though HV rounds were used, out of a 4″ barrel they cannot achieve a full powder burn, and so the velocity does not exceed the 1050 fps limit stipulated by level I. However, level I SHOULD NOT be relied upon to stop .22LR from a barrel longer than approximately 10″ (the point at which the velocity threshold is exceeded). As this test demonstrates, reading the specs for your armor is VERY IMPORTANT.

I do not recommend the use of level I armor, unless there are NO other alternatives. As can be seen, the extra layers of level IIA make a tremendous difference in terms of round-stopping ability. IIA should be considered the absolute MINIMUM for soft armor, and level I be retired as a ballistic rating.

For several years it has been debated whether or not .22 LR could or could not penetrate soft armor vests.

Originally, in the 1970’s, Kevlar soft armor was developed to protect Officers against common street threats, which typically were .22 LR LRN, .32 ACP LRN, and .38 SPL LRN. Threat level I vests were certified to stop these ubiquitous, low-velocity threats. As time went on, the threats escalated, and more powerful rounds became common, necessitating thicker vests. But, with the advent of the internet, rumors persisted and spread that called into question whether or not the .22 LR could pose a valid threat to lower level soft armor (I and IIA).

Level I soft armor is seldom seen in this day and age. Typically comprising between 6 and 10 layers of woven aramid, it lacks the thickness to provide sufficient protection against backface deformation. Surprisingly, Level I armor will often stop rounds such as .45 ACP hardball @ 850 FPS, or even .40 S&W. However, these rounds leave a very large backface signature, regardless of whether they are stopped by the armor.

.22 LR has the distinction of being a very good penetrator, primarily due to basic physics- it has a very small frontal area, and can achieve relatively high velocities (1400 FPS from a 16-20″ barrel is not unheard of in certain loadings, I.E. CCI Velocitors). However, it is not a jacketed round, and therefore deforms fairly easily.

The NIJ specifications for Level I call for it to be able to stop .22LR LRN at or below 1050 FPS. Now, it is very important to note the velocity threshold- most longer barrels (above 10″ or so) push .22 LR above this velocity, and therefore can be expected to defeat level I armor. The ongoing debate on the Interwebs rages, but without paying much attention to the distinction between .22 out of a short barrel (handgun) vs. a long barrel (rifle). In order to (hopefully) put this debate to rest, I am posting a test.

This test is aimed at settling the longstanding debate on whether .22 LR is a threat to lower rated soft armor (I and IIA) Furthermore, it seeks to establish whether it is a viable threat only in longer barrels, or both long and short barrels, when faster ammo/more pointed rounds are used.

For this test, the ammo used is Remington Viper 36gr. Hypervelocity round, which features a solid copper washed truncated cone lead bullet and a stated MV of 1410 fps (out of a 20″ barrel). This round was chosen as the shape is more conducive to penetration (smaller frontal cross section). This is fired from a 16″ and a 4″ barrel, from 12 inches.

The panels (two level I and two level IIA) are identical, and will each be shot only once to allow for their full ballistic potential to be evaluated vs. each barrel length. The level I panels comprise 7 layers of Kevlar 29, while the level IIA panels comprise 12 layers of the same material. The backing material is Roma Plastalina #1 modeling clay, to allow backface deformation/penetration to be evaluated and observed.

Stay tuned for the results.

Due to many requests, I have now added two new options: custom work, and raw materials for those interested in DIY armor projects.

If you have a specific need for an article of gear, modifications to existing gear, up-armoring or even a complete article made to ballistic specifications, please contact me and we can discuss your requirements.

If you are looking for ballistic material (100% woven Aramid) for your own armoring projects/tests, please contact me to see what I have available. I do occasionally have extra armor panels, usually in excellent or like-new condition (NOT the rode hard, put away wet garbage panels that you usually find elsewhere). I don’t always have them, but check in regularly to see what I do have.

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time is probably aware of my opinion of laminates (not great). UHMWPE laminates are not recommended for use in soft armor at all (due to heat degradation and contact-shot issues), while Aramid based laminates have problems with delamination, heat/sweat retention, and similar difficulties with muzzle-contact shots.

Despite several generations of laminates being produced since the original iteration was released back in the 90’s, the problems remained- limited lifespan of the armor package due to creeping edge delamination, feeling like you were swathed in plastic shrink-wrap (which, essentially you were), and poor performance against shots that allowed hot muzzle blast to melt the plastic film holding the unidirectional layers together.

These glaring deficiencies have prompted the major developers of aramid-based ballistic materials, Teijin and DuPont, to create a new generation of materials that attempt to combine the admitted advantages of laminates (extremely thin ballistic packages, greater flexibility, good edge and high angle hit resistance) with the known advantages of woven aramids (breathability, no delamination worries, greater ballistic package longevity).

These efforts led to the debut of DuPont’s Kevlar XP in 2009, and Teijin’s Twaron LFT SB1 in 2012 and LFT SB1+ in 2013. These materials utilize a hybrid of both woven and laminate technology, and so the term “wovenates” is best used to describe them. Rather than using the traditional, and flawed method of encapsulating with a plastic film, both companies chose to use a very flexible resin to saturate the fibers. This obviates delamination, and also allows for a much thinner overall ballistic package. The two different designs (XP and SB1) rely upon tried and true aramid fibers arranged in unique fashion, similar to standard woven Kevlar fabric. This combination of attributes makes for a highly flexible, yet durable material.

Additionally, these materials have been tested and shown to provide significant reduction in both weight, and backface deformation (particularly SB1+). Sweat management is much better than previous laminates, due to the construction of these materials.

Examination of used ballistic packages made with these materials do not exhibit delamination or degradation even after several years of heavy use, and testing shows that they still provide the same level of protection that they started with.

At this time, I can endorse the use of these materials (Kevlar XP and Twaron SB1/SB1+) as viable options for personal protective gear, comparable to woven Aramids. I have not evaluated their effectiveness against contact shots, but will do so in the near future.

Stay tuned for more information!

The makers of the well-known and excellent Patriot III steel rifle plates have been busy, and I have just gotten wind of a project that has been in the works for over a year, and is nearing completion.

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Just a few details are known at this time:

Most advanced Ultra-Hard steel in the world
4.5mm/.178″ Thick (Uncoated)!
Stops M193 @ 3300 FPS as well as M80 ball and M855, all lesser threats
Weighs ~3.4 Lb.!

This is only .3 lb. heavier than the Midwest Venture STX plate of the same size, is .37″ thinner, and will stop M80 ball (true level III+)!

No word yet on release date or pricing, but even so, it sounds like they have themselves a winner. Keep your eyes on Maingun’s site and this blog for more information!

Have finally had a moment to update the Recommended Armor Database. Alot has changed, and some items have either been superseded (AR680/Ultra-Hard Steel Plates are now best practices in the steel category, Mil-HHS is minimum acceptable, and AR500 should no longer be used for anything except training targets), or even discontinued (Midwest SIGMA III+).

Due to US Armor’s ludicrous “no civilians” policy, I cannot and will not recommend their products until such time as they change, and so I do not have any concealable armor listed currently (The US Armor Enforcer Classic IIIA being the only soft armor that meets my standards).

As always, please contact me if you feel something should be added to the list.

Steel rifle plates are an affordable and effective option for those looking for rifle-round protection, as well as possessing the twin benefits of extreme durability and thin profile. As I have mentioned in previous iterations of TGTBTU, they represent a viable solution to everyone from LEOs to the prepared American.

Their one main drawback, aside from their weight (on average, higher than either ceramic or UHMWPE) was their susceptibility to the very common M193 threat. This round, in general, could be counted on to Swiss-cheese garden variety AR500 steel, if shot at or above 3000 fps (a disturbing fact that has been well-known since 2007).

It has been known to me for some time that there was a solution, but it warranted further investigation. That solution was/is Ultra Hard Steel. Most armor-rated steel possesses a Brinell hardness (BHN) of around 480-510 (the well known “AR500″). This standard steel, used for target gongs, and of late, rifle plates, is hard, but not hard/tough enough to stop M193 at high velocity. This round, due to its energy and small frontal profile, “punches” out cylinders of material, a mode known as “shear-plug failure.” UHS, by comparison, possesses extreme hardness, almost approaching that of ceramic (anywhere from 650-720 BHN).

This steel will easily stop M80 ball, M855, and M193 in 5mm thickness, meaning that rifle plates made with this material are truly triple-threat capable (these three rounds, along with 7.62X39 constituting the main threat spectrum most wearers need concern themselves with both in and OCONUS).

A new company called Armor Wear has become the first to bring an UHS plate to market, and my congratulations to them:

https://armour-wear.com/shop/all/ar680-steel-plate/

Calling their plates “AR680,” in reference to the BHN, these plates can be fully expected to stop M193 at a remarkable 3300 fps. The price point is $134 per plate, which although higher than regular AR500, is very reasonable given the exceptional capabilities. Weight for uncoated plates is 6.2 lb., which is the same or close to some ceramic plates on the market! With the build-up Line-X coating, the weight rises to 7.4 lb. per plate, but that is still a vast improvement over the older, less-effective AR500.

With this sea-change in the nature of steel rifle plates, I can now unhesitatingly recommend steel as every bit as good as ceramic and UHMWPE if weight is not a primary concern. From this point forward, UHS should be considered “best practices” if one is considering steel rifle plates.