I have been looking at body armor lately, mainly because of two incidents that I witnessed over the past year. The first was a really close up encounter when I was struck in the lower chest by a bullet fragment that ricocheted off of a steel target . Did it hurt? Hell yes!!! Was it serious? Not really. My family doctor pulled the fragment out with some Lidocaine and a small forceps. One stitch later I was good as new. The other incident was a little more serious but, thank goodness didn’t directly involve me. A man do0wn the firing line from me was shot in the abdomen when his son’s .22 rifle accidentally discharged. The paramedics carried him away and after surgery he was fine, but what a scare that was for him. There are two professional pistol instructors at the range that I frequent and they both wear vests full time. They both wear level IIIA concealable vests, but they explain that they don’t pay for them. The range provides them for them.
As I said I’m looking at body armor and trying to decide what I really need. I started with:
1. I want a concealable vest.
2. Level IIA protection just isn’t enough to make me feel safe. It will protect you from a 140 grain bullet at 1025 fps. Even a 9mm is faster than that.
3. Level II seems better to me. It will protect you from a 158 grain at 1400 FPS (think .357 Mag.)
4. Next comes level IIA. O.K. it will protect you against .44 Mags. at 240 grains at 1400 FPS. That sounds great until you realize that most .44 Mags leave the barrel faster than
5. Then there is Level III, but it requires that steel plate to reach that level
I am at the range a lot and there are a real mix of guns that just might shoot me, but 90% of the time I’m over in the pistol range portion of the range. So I have to make a decision or rather a compromise between feeling safe and secure psychologically and feeling comfortable physically. Personally I see the big difference between level IIA and level II. The difference between II and IIIA is significant, but then again they cost two to three times as much as a level II vest. Another thing that I’m considering is that the level II vests for sale are almost exclusively used and out of warranty vests and the new level IIIA vests are just as thin and light as the old level II vests. So, I’m hoping to hear from some of you out there that wear a vest. I really want a new level IIA, but the cheapskate in me keeps screaming Level II. Someone save me from myself!!