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Old July 7, 2012, 06:03 PM   #1
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Join Date: August 25, 2010
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Body Armor????

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!!
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Old July 7, 2012, 07:12 PM   #2
Yankee Doodle
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My first feeling is that I would simply find another place to shoot. Appears to be too many "accidents" for me to think that the range is propery supervised.
Having said that, if you decide to go the body armor route, get the best you can afford. There is no such thing as too much protection.
Just my opinion.
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Old July 7, 2012, 08:30 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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If you don't have to be concealed with the body armor, get the IIIA armor and don't second guess whether you should have gotten something better without moving to hard plates.

The gun range is the only place where I have had shooters with loaded guns who I know have pointed them at me, in almost everycase, simply out of simple disregard for safety. This has happened at supervised ranges and ranges not supervised. It has happened during classes at various gun schools.
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Old July 7, 2012, 08:33 PM   #4
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I'm not debunking the NJ Standards for protection, but I am saying as with all standards they do more than is necessary to be on the safe side. I've shot a lot of vests with a lot of calibers at various degrees of range and angles of entrance and found even the lowest graded kevlar stops stuff the standards say it shouldn't.
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Old July 7, 2012, 08:37 PM   #5
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Find one that fits comfortably well and preferably not used. Used vests tend to stretch and confirm to the original owner and that can be dangerous as the weave or pattern on the Kevlar gets distorted and weakens. Ntm the sweat stains are just gross. Level 2a is what I recommend.
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Old July 9, 2012, 07:03 PM   #6
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I'm with Yankee Doodle...
I've never witnessed even one close call at either of the ranges we frequent.
Did see the aftermath of an M1A blow up- but that's an accident of a different nature.

Shot by an accidental discharge? Impossible unless safety regs aren't being followed- as in, muzzle downrange at all times.

I sometimes get frustrated by all the "calling out" by the RSO's at the line, but then I remind myself that there are some REAL idiots that show up there. Ironic, that I have a concealed weapon permit, but- of all places- can't carry my gun, at the gun range...

But, it's because of the "idiots" that a properly staffed range will have an adequate number of RSO's so that everyone can be watched. Not unusual to see seven of them, on a fifty- position (all pistol and rifle) range. Once they know you, they get a comfort level and feel OK backing off. But if they don't- they'll stick to them like glue- as they should- until they know the shooters understand the rules.

Much of the time, despite the range rules being posted, a lot of new shooters don't read, or understand them. If they're new- and we all were, once- stop and ask the RSO to explain them to you. They'd obviously rather spend five or ten minutes explaining them to a new shooter, than yelling at you or putting you or someone else in a dangerous situation.

Then, some just don't listen. "Cease Fire" means just that...
"Stay behind the red line" on a cold line means just that, yet someone always feels the need to go to the bench to try to tinker with something.

I actually got a bit frustrated with the RSO at the range yesterday. When I checked in at the office, I asked about using a Chrono- and cleared the fact that I would obviously need to have someone handle the rifle on a cold line to get the chrono set in the right place and at the right elevation. "No problem", I was told.

So, there I am with the tripod and chrono on a cold line, one of my sons with the rifle- bolt open and yellow chamber flag in place- with the rifle in the rest instructing me where to move the chrono to line it up with his line of sight and the target beyond. The RSO STILL came up to me and told me we couldn't handle the firearm! So, as politely as I could, I told the range Nazi that he could plainly see the bolt was open, and the chamber flag was in place. How else did he expect me to get things set up? I told my son to gingerly handle the gun by the buttstock only...jeez...

Your examples are due to safety regs not being followed. No way to get injured by bullet frags off steel, unless you're shooting too close, or the wrong types/calibers of bullets for that range. Obviously, that "Dad" hasn't done a good job of instilling the fear of God in his son regarding firearms. Mine were taught the first time they handled one, that every gun is loaded, ready to fire, ALL the time.

If I felt I had to wear a bullet-proof vest for safety at the gun range, I'd go to another range...JMO...

Last edited by tobnpr; July 9, 2012 at 07:17 PM.
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Old July 9, 2012, 07:53 PM   #7
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I usually use my vest at the range until I feel comfortable with the members. At a public range, every time. You never know. I love my vest. Point Blank Vision Level IIIA. Also very thin and I wear it under clothing, no problem. Its supposed to be rated against .357 sig and .44 Magnum. I am not gonna try it though. I would recommend this vest as it seems exactly what your looking for. Another perk is the Thor Shield lining, stops tasers supposedly. Over rated in my oppinion but it comes with it.

They are pricey, but to be honest I didnt even look at other vests. I called my local police outfitting store, said I was looking for a vest as I had a couple handguns "brandished" to me. He said he had one they ordered for someone else by accident in the wrong size. He said the MSRP was around $1500, said he would sell it to me new for $800. I picked it up 20 min later after they received fax and conformation from my company office.

Im not sure how it is around you, but if you buy new from where I purchased, you could NOT be just a civillian. I dont know if that was just their policy though.

Lastly im no expert on Body Armor but i believe a .22 will pierce kevlar. I had heard that and was confirmed by one of my instructors who was ex swat as well as just about everything else who was shot in the back through his armor by a .22. I am unaware of the level of his armor though.

Good luck with the purchase, I recommend it. Ill try and post a picture under clothing but ive had troubles with files being too big before.
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Old July 10, 2012, 06:31 PM   #8
Join Date: February 21, 2010
Location: Near Allentown, PA
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My first feeling is that I would simply find another place to shoot. Appears to be too many "accidents" for me to think that the range is propery supervised.
Having said that, if you decide to go the body armor route, get the best you can afford. There is no such thing as too much protection.
^ This is my first suggestion. And it would be a lot cheaper than buying a vest.

If you do decide to get a vest, I would go with a IIIA. You can find them starting around 400-500, to well over 1000 if you want to pay that much for it. I would also suggest getting a fitted vest instead of a "one-size-fits-all" measured vest. Everyone's body is different and that needs to be taken into account for a vest to cover what it needs to and still be comfortable.

I would also suggest getting 2 carriers. They will need to be washed and it sucks needing the vest without a clean and dry carrier (I'm in law enforcement, so occasionally I get called into work unexpectedly and need my vest at the drop of a hat).
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Old July 11, 2012, 01:22 PM   #9
Join Date: May 22, 2009
Posts: 33
I wear one daily to work and I still hate it in the summer.
I understand the coolness factor and all, but it is uncomfortable at least to me.
How hot does it get where you are? Are you still going to wear it after 2-3 months? Is it that bad at the range you shoot?
Vests are pricey and buying one just for range protection seems a waste of money.
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Old July 14, 2012, 04:18 AM   #10
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Try and make a contact with your local PD. If you already have one explain why you want a vest. There are allot of barely used vest floating around at PDs which are owned by guys who got new ones and didn't like the way they fit and stuck with the old one, retiring guys who got one and retired... You can pick one up at 1/3 of the cost.
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