View Full Version : Soft Trauma Plate testing...

February 12, 2012, 12:39 AM
I have two vests for two different purposes. One of the vests is a ABA model level IIA with a place for an 8x10 trauma plate on the front and rear. It came with a two thin metal plates. These metal plates were very uncomfortable and people could tell right away that I was wearing a vest. Therefore, I switched to two soft trauma plates by Point Blank. My purpose with the IIA vest is maximum concealment and the two metal plates were horrible.

I was told by someone at the company their soft trauma plates are made with the same material their vests are made of. In fact, the two large 8x10 soft trauma plates seemed even a little bit thicker then the panels of the vest itself. The company representative said the soft plates would probably be IIA if properly tested.

I was wondering if anyone on here has tested soft trauma plates. I would test out the trauma plates myself, but there is a budget nowadays and I cant be destroying my equipment. I have googled away and havent read about anyone testing their soft trauma plate. If the soft plates are indeed IIA then I would be very happy because it would make the areas most likely to get shot at on my ABA vest more inline with a IIIA vest.

BTW, my other vest is a Second Chance Monarch SPA-FRP Level II. I also have some other trauma plates such as the T15 and two PPI Speed Plates. If you go from soft to hard, it gets tougher to conceal and uncomfortable. I know when I have been outed when people start staring at my chest...one time someone even asked me if I was wearing a vest. I didnt want to blow it and so I told them I was wearing a back brace as a result of a car accident.

February 12, 2012, 12:34 PM
So does your job require you to wear a vest?

Id your soft trauma plates have not been tested I'd be leery of their rating. Usually companies will broadcast how great their product is if it barely passes some test.

February 12, 2012, 01:19 PM
The purpose of the soft trauma plate is to provide a pillow, so to speak, against the incoming round. I know its not supposed to be able to stop anything. So if a round hits you in the chest without the trauma plate then you will be hurting and probably hurting enough to the point where you wont be able to put up a defense. However, with a trauma plate, you will still be hurting, but the hurt will be less. You might avoid a broken set of ribs with a good trauma plate and just have some bruises. I have seen medical pictures, read different reports, etc., but I havent actually ever had any first hand experience and Im not volunteering for testing of that nature anytime soon;)

The trauma plates in vests are not typically tested for some reason. It may be because of cost or because the NIJ standards dont allow for such testing...I dont know, but I do know that I have never seen formalized laboratory testing on a trauma plate. On rifle plates, I have seen formalized testing, but as for a trauma plate in an actual vest all I have is youtube videos from certain manufacturers like PPI Speed Plates and the Protech HT. I have read in forums about other departments doing some informal testing on trauma plates.

So Im just curious if anyone has done any testing on a vanilla soft trauma plate (not the Speed Plate or the other exotic plates). Like I said, according to Point Blank, their soft plate is made of the same stuff they make their vests out of and the plate feels as thick as the IIA vest from ABA with the same consistency.

If someone were to send me a spare vest and a soft trauma plate then I could blast a few rounds at it myself and upload it to youtube. However, I cant perform such testing because there are no spares here and there is a budget issue. So I cant be purposely destroying equipment for an unscientific test just to satisfy my curiosity.

Ill throw up pictures of what I got later on. I have the soft plate from Second Chance, the soft plates I bought from Point Blank, the metal plates that came with the ABA carrier, two speed plates, two T15 plates, and two custom made Level IIIA soft plates. This is just a collection of different plates I have had over the years which I have thrown in the drawer and use from time to time depending on what I have to do.

February 12, 2012, 03:25 PM
Here is my collection of soft trauma plates. Well, its not really a collection.;) To the left in the Yellow (5x8) is the soft plate which comes with the Second Chance vest. In the Black (8x10) is the Point Blank soft trauma inserts. Both of these inserts feel just like the vests themselves and seem to flex in a similar manner.


These are the PPI Speed Plates (7x9). Im not sure what they are made of, but I have heard its a Dyneema-like substance. They feel like two plastic pieces in the hand and hard to the touch. If you punch these plates, I think you will hurt your hand and they seem very strong. For me, these are the perfect sized hard plates. Ive tried the (8x10) hard plates which were uncomfortable and certainly not concealable in my opinion. These are lighter then metal plates and certainly lighter then the old fashioned T15 or K30 plates.


Here is a youtube video which demonstrates the abilities of this plate:


The PPI Speed Plate will not stop a rifle round, but it will add an extra layer of IIIA+ protection to a vest and it could take a bat or baton strike without you really feeling it. It has the same ability as the T15 plate, but in a lighter package which you can better live with from day to day. However, like all hard plates, they will print through your clothing unless you are wearing something baggy and loose. However, I do not trust my life with manufacturer's claims therefore I always use these plates in conjunction with a vanilla soft trauma plate.

These are the two plates which came with the ABA carrier. Im not quite sure what they are made of, but they seem like two thin pieces of metal inside a cordura sleave. These are the most uncomfortable of what I have. Not really concealable. They do seem hard enough where someone will hurt their hand if they punch it and could probably take a strike with a bat. I dont use these. I suspect they do not have the same ballastic potential as the soft inserts. Sure, it might slow something down traveling through it, but I think whatever hits it will go right through.


I have the T15s and a IIIA insert someone made for me once, but not sure where they are. I used them at one time, but fell out of using them. Those are probably sitting in a drawer around here somewhere.;)

February 12, 2012, 08:23 PM
I have seen IIIA trauma plates tested the hard way and can verify they will not stop a 7.62X39 or 7.62X54R rifle round. Never got to see one vs. a pistol round.

(Of course they were Mushriqi so they might not have even stopped pistol rounds either.) They were useful vs. Shrapnel which may or may not be helpful for you.

February 12, 2012, 09:13 PM
CaptainObvious is your IIa fairly comfortable? I've heard they don't retain heat as much as the higher levels.

Do you consider it to be fairly light weight?

February 13, 2012, 08:09 AM
Well, most vests consist of three items which are:

1) A carrier which is oftentimes made of Nylon or a durable Cordura-like cloth.

2) The permanently sealed moisture proof bag the ballastic panels reside in.

3) The actual ballastic panels, i.e.several layers of yellow Kevlar sheets.

The only thing that changes from IIA to II to IIIA is the quantity of layers. The carrier and moisture proof bag stay the same. So all of them are relatively hot and uncomfortable. The II seems just as hot as the IIA in my personal opinion. Others may have a different perception.

In order to change how cool or how hot the vest gets is to:

1) Change the carrier. A differently designed carrier, looser or lighter carrier. A while back there were these white cloth mesh carriers which were the norm, but those carriers have disappeared. Now all I see is the Cordura-like carrier which is harder to conceal and naturally warmer. The Cordura-like cloth doesnt breath. I had a Second Chance Deep Cover white mesh carrier which seemed more comfortable then the SPA-FRP, but it wore out which is probably why I dont see them listed anymore. I was able to find a sporting goods store online in North Dakota which had a pile of them and he is going to mail it out to me. Only paid $40. I dont see those deep cover carriers listed on the Second Chance site so Im not certain if they make the anymore.

2) Wear a polyester undershirt. I find wearing a polyester undershirt makes a big difference...i.e. underarmour.

3) Fit. Was your vest properly fitted for you by a distributor? Have you changed in size and shape since that time?

4) Wearing the vest loose. Some folks really tighten these things on themselves, but if you ask the distributor they will tell you its really made to be worn loose.

The biggest difference between the IIA, II and IIIA is bulk and weight. There is a big difference between how the IIA feels and the II feels. As you move up in threat level, the vest is going to be bulkier, not as concealable, and harder to move around in. The IIIA feels more to me like one of those dentist X-Ray vests.

A 9mm round hitting you in the IIIA will produce less trauma effect then when it hits you in the IIA meaning you will probably be able to respond faster to the threat...i.e. draw your pistol faster or dive for cover instead of being buckled over holding your gut for a few seconds. However, if the vest is so big to effect how you move and it distracts your thinking then it could be more of a threat then anything else. You have to take everything into consideration.

As for rifle rounds, the idea is that someone walking down the street with one is going to attract a lot of attention so there will be lots of warning. If a man were to walk on the street here with a rifle then he wouldnt get 50 feet before the police are alerted. So you wont really need rifle plate protection for the majority of tasks while on the street in the USA because only the craziest will attempt to walk down the street with one. Even in the most firearms friendly places, the police will still question a man walking down a city street with a rifle. Therefore, a IIA, II or IIIA is the tool for the job unless you are on some type of tactical team or you like to go out hunting with it on just in case you get some incoming from a misplaced hunting round. You are worried more so about the guys with concealed pistols. Rifle plate is also about 5 lbs per plate give or take. I see soldiers on television with it on and I wonder how they could possibly move around from day to day like that. When I was in the Army a while back, it seemed like we had enough equipment weighing us down without plate armor. I would rather retain the ability to sprint and move fast then be weighed down by all that.

The newest NIJ 06 vests are going to be bulkier, stiffer and less comfortable then the 04 or 05 ones of yesteryear. More protection comes at a cost...