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Old November 23, 2007, 04:55 PM   #1
Para Bellum
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Let's talk about Concealable Body Armor (Level IIIA or SK I)

My job made me a witness in a criminal case. As a consequence I received a threat and was advised to carry Concealable Body Armor. That made me think a bit. So, folks:

1.) When do you / would you carry it?

2.) What are your experiences with it?
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Old November 23, 2007, 08:34 PM   #2
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If I thought my life were in danger, I'd wear it everytime I left the house. I have a 3A vest and hope to never need it.
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Old November 23, 2007, 10:03 PM   #3
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Wait till you wear it every day. It will not be comfortable. Carry a gun it is way more comfortable.
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Old November 24, 2007, 11:41 AM   #4
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I carry Glocks 24/7 for years. I intend to wear the armor only in high-risk situations, e.g. at said court hearing or when aggressive confrontation is likely.
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Old November 24, 2007, 01:22 PM   #5
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Body Armor

I have a little experience in Florida and my advice is to not go cheap. Compare and get the lightest and most breathable for the money, and lighter is costlier. In the old days we wore level IIa, and thought II was too heavy to conceal. IIIa was for SWAT raid vests. Now the light and fancy stuff made of godknowswhatium is lighter in II than the old IIa. Depends on what the likely threat is, pistols or AP .30-06. The IIa stops most everything on the streets around here, YMMV.

Bottom line, if it's not comfortable, you won't wear it when you should. If you don't wear it, it won't protect you. If you knew you were going to need it, you would be better off not going there than stopping to put your vest on.

There are lots of good used, LEO surplus vests and such online with a bit of looking. Even Ebay has them.
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Old November 24, 2007, 02:31 PM   #6
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what I am thinking about is a German SK-I that is stronger than IIIA

Thanks for the advice.

I won't go for cheap here. Just imagine how deeply one could regret saving on the quality of body armor....

So, what I am thinking about is a German SK-I that is stronger than IIIA.
Something like that:



here's what the manufacturer gives warranty for:
Quote:
The lastest version of COP® concealable body armour:
"COP® Specialist FL" - flexible + light (FL)
TR 12/2003 certified.
Extremely light! Only 42 g/dm² weight.
Material: 100% Aramid
The average trauma depth only 27 mm
Penetration during the V50 test occured at 485 m/s.
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Old November 24, 2007, 03:36 PM   #7
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Sizing.

The trick to body armor, concealable or otherwise (I've worn Point Blank IBA and SAPI plates through two Iraq tours now) is sizing.

Your regular shirt size IS NOT THE SAME! Would be great if it were so, but there a too many places a vest must fit and fit CORRECTLY if it's going to work.

Buy in person if you can. If not, at least try and get a chance to try some on somewhere. Find out your sizing requirements before you buy, especially if you buy online.

Also, your style of dress may make a difference. A vest that will conceal under a shirt and tie will also conceal under a sweatshirt, but likely not vice versa.

The key points are the chest, abdomen, and side closures. If you get hit wearing one with too much room in the chest, you risk broken ribs (you'll probably have a few even with a properly fitted vest) and impact trauma to the heart/lungs. If it doesn't fit in the abdomen, you risk impact damage and internal bleeding in the guts. No one wants a ruptured liver. The side closures are the biggie. If you have too much excess, they'll bunch up under shirt and not conceal. Too short and you A) leave your kidney area exposed, and B) have a vest that is likely too tight or won't stay closed, again causing comfort/concealment issues.

Just some thoughts. Might be different for you, but things to consider nonetheless. Hope that's helpful.
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Old November 24, 2007, 06:44 PM   #8
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These people are at the local good gunshow everytime. I bought 3 vests (me and friends) from them. All IIIa's. They also have 4's, plates, etc. Like said above, get fitted in person if you can.
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Old November 25, 2007, 03:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Just some thoughts. Might be different for you, but things to consider nonetheless. Hope that's helpful.
Thanks a lot 38Splfan. I'll get it fitted in person. The shopowner is a friend and takes time for that. Hope you got back from Iraq well!
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Old November 25, 2007, 09:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
So, what I am thinking about is a German SK-I that is stronger than IIIA.
Given that it is made from the same material many IIIA vests are made from, aramid, then my guess is that if it is "stronger than IIIA" then it must have more layers than American vests and hence be heavier.

I am not sure what "stronger than IIIA" means actually. Just what rounds is the German vest made out of the same stuff used by American companies going to stop that American vests will not stop?

It may be a fine vest, but you don't get much better ballistic protection from a soft vest (made of the same material) unless you start adding layers (hence increasing weight), or adding additional materials such as hard armor. They may be using a different weave for the aramid fibers that might change things a bit, but not a whole lot.
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Old November 25, 2007, 11:25 AM   #11
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IIIA vs SK-1

Here's a table specifying the classes and requirements. It is in German, but the neccessary info is easy to understand (meters/second etc):



Additional to US IIIA, German SK-1 requries its standards also the "aufgesetzte Schuss" which is a shot where the muzzle touches the vest.
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Old November 25, 2007, 03:53 PM   #12
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So it is tested differently and they use 9mm fmj that is clocked 15 m/s slower? Okay. Since it is made of the same materials as US vests, what is the catch if it is supposed to be better? Do you have more layers and a thicker vest?

With the soft armor, it really comes down to layers, especially when comparing vests made of the same materials. How many layers will it take to stop a round. Weave can come into play as well with some companies suggesting their thread size and weave is better, but there does not appear to be any remarkable differences.
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Old November 30, 2007, 03:03 PM   #13
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...it's juts a different standard, maybe not better than IIIA, although they claim so...
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Old November 30, 2007, 07:56 PM   #14
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Talk to the folks at bulletproofme.com, they know their stuff.

But this is a gear question. Neither training nor tactics.
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Old December 1, 2007, 05:52 PM   #15
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Just realized that I talked about DPI, but didn't post a link. Here you go: http://www.bulletproofvestusa.com/

On a side note, I did a ride-along with Las Vegas Metro on Friday and wore my vest. I have to say it didn't bother me a bit. I decided on wearing one UnderArmor heatgear tight fitting shirt against my body, then the vest over that, then another UA heatgear tight shirt, one size smaller, over the vest to keep it in place. Then a regular long sleeve polo over that. Very comfortable for the day.
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Old December 1, 2007, 07:54 PM   #16
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I wouldn't necessary describe 3A or greater vests as "concealable."

Concealable as can be worn under garments? Yes.
Concealable as in an observer will not notice? No.

Mileage varies. If you're large and your mode of dress allows for it you may be successful.

What will you be wearing to court, by the way? I can't get my regular sport and suit coats over my concealable armor; expect to have to go up in size and have them tailored. The dress shirts, too.
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Old December 1, 2007, 07:58 PM   #17
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What's your reasonable threat expectation, by the way? It will help tailor a less generic answer from the crowd.
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Old December 1, 2007, 08:17 PM   #18
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"The average trauma depth only 27 mm" - German SK-I

Only 1 point something inches? wow. That's alot less than I expected, but then again I don't know much about body armor, and hope to dear God I never need to learn
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Old December 2, 2007, 07:04 AM   #19
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reasonable threat expectation

Quote:
What's your reasonable threat expectation, by the way?
Being shot at with a 9x19mm, .38 , .45 or .357.
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Old December 2, 2007, 11:15 AM   #20
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A reputable maker's 2 or 3a vest should serve you well, in that case.

Follow the measuring instruction provided prior to order carefully if you cannot find someone who knows how to do it.

Best,
Erik
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Old December 2, 2007, 07:07 PM   #21
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27mm

More than enough penatration to break a rib and give a serious bruse
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Old December 2, 2007, 07:58 PM   #22
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Quote:
1.) When do you / would you carry it?

2.) What are your experiences with it?
There are two serious questions that need to be considered. The first you answered - the threat level you expect to face - as a common handgun, probably nothing exotic. That's a good thing in relative terms. A level II vest should do well but a Level IIIA would be better.

The second question is harder to answer. And that question is -- what kind of capabilities do your attackers have? Are they solo actors in jail? Are they part of a gang? Is your testimony a crucial factor for their conviction? Is it likely you could get whacked purely from a revenge perspective?

In other words, how much "worth" do you have as a target of assassination? If it's a personal revenge thing or you are a high value target, consider that body armor should be a constant for a while.

If the arrestee is a gang member and has "friends" who can observe you and plan their attack, body armor AND a weapon should always be worn.

If we're talking a lone actor who's in jail, then his friends or cohorts may try something as a "favor", but amatuers have a way of being spotted thru clumsy work.

Start, of course, by being predictably unpredictable. Go to work early some days, late other days, but never the same day of the week. Take different routes to the office or home. Take different trains or busses. Deprive them the ability to predict your movements. Of course your "weak points" are your home, office and local courts (you are a lawyer, right?). Be extra vigilant around these areas.

Plan on wearing the vest all day long since the focal points for an attack will be at/near these points. Wearing concealable armor avoids alerting the shooter that he should be taking head shots.
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Old December 2, 2007, 10:31 PM   #23
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Good thread. I'm going to move it down to Gear now -- hang on.

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Old December 15, 2007, 01:11 PM   #24
Para Bellum
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Is it likely you could get whacked purely from a revenge perspective?
yep. (it's weird to admit to that)

Quote:
If the arrestee is a gang member and has "friends" who can observe you and plan their attack, body armor AND a weapon should always be worn.
No gang, just menatlly sick adversaries in a court case. I carry a handgun 24/7 anyway. I just wonder when to carry the vest...
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Old December 16, 2007, 02:08 AM   #25
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I carry a handgun 24/7 anyway. I just wonder when to carry the vest...
You just answered your own question. Carry gun, wear vest.

Seriously... mental cases are unpredictable and may attempt retribution even in places you think they wouldn't dare.
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