View Full Version : Body armor, what will it stop?

February 22, 2007, 12:51 PM
Have been wondering for some time just how effective bullet proof vest actually are. I was watching these ATF guys testifying on the stand during the trial for the Waco incident and there was this one guy (actually in tears) saying that their vest weren’t stopping the bullets from the people inside the compound. So I’m thinking they must have been using stuff like .300 MAGs or better. So just what will a bullet proof vest stop? Ruger has now come out with this .375 Ruger that will throw a 300 grn. bullet at 2750 fps. I’m thinking that’s a monster of a round. Even if it did stop it, would it mater?

Ben Swenson
February 22, 2007, 01:04 PM
Vests are rated based on what they stop.

Level IIA vests willl turn into Swiss cheese at the mention of rifle rounds of any sort. On the other end of the spectrum, you can get heavier armor (Level IIIA, III and even IV) that will stop rifle rounds using hard plates and plenty of weave.

Without knowing what level of vest you are talking about, no one can say for certain what it will stop.

Let me see if I can find what armor the BATF agents were wearing at the time.

February 22, 2007, 01:26 PM
Don't know much about this, but here's a video of some sort.


February 22, 2007, 01:51 PM
Most vests worn daily by police officers are flexible body armor that will stop most handgun rounds and some rounds from long guns. But a medium to high-powered rifle round will typically penetrate.

Without trauma plates (steel or ceramic inserts worn in front of the kevlar) rifle bullets will likely penetrate one side of the vest. The trauma plates don't guarantee a stop if hit by a substantial (.308/.30-06) AP round, however.

Given the debacle called Waco, I can't muster too much sympathy for the ATF agents who were in charge.

Indrid Cold
February 22, 2007, 04:22 PM
I've had this for a while. Should give you a good idea of what vests can stop what projectile.

However, there's a new type of body armor out (maybe it's been out for a while) made by a private company that's supposed to be vastly superior to the normal stuff. It's called Dragon Skin, and it's composed (if I remember correctly) of little ceramic discs woven together. In the initial testing, the stuff survived, on average, 120 rounds of MP5 fire before a round got through. Pretty impressive...

EDIT - Here's some other info as to what a level IV vest will stop (generally this is on a single-round basis. Most vests aren't made to take continuous punishment, and should be replaced once they've been damaged). Info courtesy of Security Pro.

7.62 × 54mm lead core ball ammunition, Dragunov Sniper Rifle at 0 meters
7.62 × 54mm AP, Dragunov Sniper Rifle at 0 meters
7.62 × 51mm NATO ball ammunition at 0 meters
7.62 × 51mm AP M-61 at 0 meters
7.62 × 51mm Swiss Munitions AP (WC Core) at 0 meters
7.62 × 39mm mild steel core, AK-47 at 0 meters
7.62 × 63mm AP at 0 meters
5.56 × 45mm SS109/M855 at 0 meters
5.56 × 45mm M193 ball at 0 meters
5.45 × 39mm Russian ball at 0 meters
12 gauge slug at 0 meters

February 22, 2007, 04:30 PM
Hmmm… so in that example I’m not seeing anything like a .300 Mag. Though I don’t know how the 12ga. Slugs compare to a rifle cartridge like a .375 H&H Mag. or even a 300 Winchester Mag.

February 22, 2007, 04:35 PM
I think your post updated as I was making my post. Those numbers weren’t there when I clicked “submit” So OK a level IV will stop common 7.62 ammunition.

February 22, 2007, 05:08 PM
I knew a guy that worked with NIJ testing vests. He said a 12ga will not penetrate a type III or IIIA vest. Rather it makes a hole by pulling the vest into the cavity. This was at less than 10 feet. He said at that range it doesn't matter what the load is, slug or shot as the shot is generally still in the wad and has not spread. I don't recall if he said how deep the the cavity was but it was deep enough, several inches.

February 22, 2007, 05:38 PM
This is something I had always wondered about. There was a picture in some magazine many years ago. It was an article about Elmer Keith and it showed a 55 gal barrel full of water just as it was hit by his 44mag. The front side of the barrel was pushed flat against the back side of the barrel and the water was geysering up about 15 ft. in the air and the barrel was cocked over at about a 45% angle. So I’m thinking that depending on the round it may not make a lot of difference if you are wearing a bullet proof vest. In fact it might be better if you weren’t.

February 22, 2007, 06:48 PM
Not nessesarily. the bodies organs move around and your skin stretches to accomodate, and the barrel wasn't as rigid as a human body. And if you have the plate armor it won't poke as much

Edit: I am by no means saying it won't hurt. Also there is a slight chance that if your chest is struck at the right instance the heart will stop anyway. Has happened in martial art tournaments. Some kid got barely whacked once stepped back and three seconds later keeled over and died cause no one knew what had happened (if they had administered CPR he would have survived).

February 22, 2007, 08:56 PM
The Branch Davidians were armed with the following that were found in the remains.

9 SGW CAR-AR submachine guns (three fitted with silencers), nine other silencers

8 hand grenades and at least 31 other grenade parts and fragments, more than 20 pieces and fragments of rockets (apparently used to make rocket-propelled grenades) along with 1 sight for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

3 Israeli-made IMI Galils

10 Ruger Mini-14 rifles (one with a mounted scope)

A barrel for a M60 machine gun

1 30 mm rocket shell

9 FAL rifles (three were mounted with bipods)

At least 54 AK-47 or AKS assault rifles (some converted to fully automatic)

11 .12-gauge shotguns (one with a sawed-off barrel)

Dozens of pistols

Dozens of barrels for M-16s, AR-15s and other weapons

Gas masks and one chemical warfare suit

Several Kevlar tactical vests and other body armor and eight Kevlar helmets.

So mainly it seems they had been firing 7.62x39, 7.62 nato, 5.56mm nato, .12 gauge shells, probrobly 9mm and .45acp too.

Now it was said that Koresh also had a .50bmg calibre rifle but I never read what type it was and that there were M60s in use but we only found that one barrel but the fire was pretty hot and didn't leave much left.

From all I read when the ATF went in they had no ceramic plates in their body armour. Many of them were armed with H&K MP5s supported by snipers around the perimeter. The ones shot and killed died from 9mm ammuniation. Seems to indicate they were using Type II and IIa body armour so pretty much any rifle round and the more high velocity 9mm round are going to go through it.

February 22, 2007, 08:59 PM
I dunno. How long is a peice of string?

Indrid Cold
February 22, 2007, 09:18 PM
Regardless of whether or not the shell goes through the body armor, if you get something like a slug hitting you and causing indentation, you can still die. You're just going to die from blunt force trauma instead of a bullet wound :P I mean think about it - you're taking the full force of those shells in a localized area which can be ~2700lbs of force. Sure, the vest spreads it out, but that's still going to cause a lot of damage. It's not uncommon to end up with broken bones, and it's absolutely commonplace to have massive bruising and welts from any good shot to the vest. Some of that force will transfer into the chest cavity, you just have to hope it's not enough to bruise/damage your internal organs. Bottom line - it sucks to get shot! :D

February 23, 2007, 09:53 PM
Taking a 12 gauge slug to the chest at 10 meters will not make for a fun day. I've seen the results of that and although the officer survived, he spent 11 months recovering.

Any vest is merely bullet resistant against higher powered rounds. You can build armor to defeat almost any high powered rifle, but it will not be easy to wear or move around while wearing it.

I dunno. How long is a piece of string?
A: Twice as long as half it's length

Just to show there's an answer to smart-a** questions. :D

February 23, 2007, 10:11 PM
If you're willing to trust a used vest, this site gives you details:

February 25, 2007, 10:08 AM
Search the net for a bullet proof vest named "Dragonskin". I'm not sure what company makes it but it IS the best body armor money can buy. It will absorb mutiple 5.56mm AP rounds as well as the highly regarded 7.62 AP rounds. It has even been tested against a frag grenade at point blank range with no perforations at all. This is what our boys in the sand box should have.


Indrid Cold
February 25, 2007, 06:00 PM

^^ Dragon Skin.

February 25, 2007, 06:06 PM
Isn't there a bullet proof suit? Saw it on the military channel and it looked like a ghillie without the 3d effects. Weighed a ton tho so it would have been kinda foolish to equip people with it.

Indrid Cold
February 25, 2007, 09:10 PM
Well yeah. They've got bomb squad suits which are pretty much the same thing as a full on bulletproof armor, except rated to withstand projectiles at much higher velocities (~5700fps+, I think) and you basically look like a robot. Absolutely impractical in any sort of tactical situation. If, however, you want to just get shot a bunch for fun, then sure, wear one, hahaha... Closest thing right now is still Dragon Skin. That stuff is ridiculous, although I'm not sure whether or not civies can buy it...

February 25, 2007, 09:39 PM
The stuff the bomb disposal people wear is hot, combersome, stiff, you need to be real careful if you want to bend over even a little. don't fall down. did I mention Hot? I wore it once I think you would sweat to death in a blizzard. the one uniform thing about the body armor is the heat. it doesn't breath so all your body heat is trapped inside. I'm sure if you ask any LEO that wears it they would say fix the heat problem. If you could do that without adding more weight and bulk they would be eternally greatfull.

February 25, 2007, 10:41 PM
I remember reading an article somewhere (not sure where) about experiments with using viscous liquid inside compartments for body armor. I think it's called "non-newtonian fluid." The thing about it was, these liquids they were testing had a molecular quality that would not allow them to move beyond a certain speed.

There's a video on the net of guys walking across a huge pool of cornstarch and water. As long as they keep walking, they stay on top. When they stop, they sink. Once they sink they can move around in it like its water.


The armor I remember reading about would be sort of like this but more... advanced. Anybody ever heard about this?