Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Plate Carriers and Body Armor at Large

As mentioned yesterday I threw down some electronic bucks to order a set of Ceramic class IV Plates. If and when to purchase body armor is a topic worth discussing.  The if is pretty simple to me. If you are preparing for a seriously violent encounter then you want body armor. This is really painfully obvious. We sort of forgot about this after the whole invention of firearms made old school chain mail or metal armor useless. In the last few decades (not willing to actually look it up) progressively more useful body armor has come into existence.

At this time body armor is available at every man type prices. My setup was about $500 all said and done. Going with a cheaper plate carried could have shaved it to about $450. In other words about what a polymer pistol like a Glock or an XD costs and 2/3rds or so the cost of an AR-15. Certainly not pocket change but doable for most people with some planning and saving. If you have at least 1x fighting pistol and 1x fighting rifle per adult family member it might be smart to get body armor before buying some more guns that are going to get buried in a PVC pipe in the woods left in the gun safe. By the time you are reaching for that 3rd AR that's been collecting dust for awhile odds are you're in a situation where a person may shoot at you.

 When is a much more interesting question. As I said about a recent post over at Commander Zero's place 
"There is a time for everything. If somebody asked me whether they should get a couple hundred rounds of buckshot and pistol ammo for guns they have less than a hundred rounds for and put the remaining bucks into a currently empty pantry or get a plate carrier I would say food and bullets. On the other hand if they were looking at getting a 4th handgun/rifle/whatever or a new optic vs body armor I would say to get the armor for sure. That 4th handgun/ rifle could certainly be useful but a plate carrier could save your life.

Finally to close I will paraphrase John Mosby aka Mountain Guerilla “If you have 6 AR’s in the safe but not body armor and night vision you’re screwing your friends and buddies."  Somewhere between getting ready for a short term natural disaster and Red Dawn is about the right place.

 A plate carrier with rifle plates doesn't fit into every scenario. Then again neither do buckets of wheat or solar panels or anything else. Also they are absolutely the right tool for  high threat environments. Also I believe being equipped for individual combat is a good thing. Soft body armor is easier on the budget and can often be found for $200 or less. Soft body armor can also fit a lot of more common moderate threat type scenarios. Scenarios like selling a used car for cash or moving large amounts of cash around. I would say in a perfect world having both is a good option.

Well those are my thoughts on that. As always input is welcome.


Chris said...

I cannot agree more.

I'd prefer to have a shotgun, a decent pistol, and a soft vest than a top of the line 1911 and a tricked out AR. When you live in a bad neighberhood or something goes bump in the night it is very comforting to have armor.

It is also useful for other things -- armor should be effective against, say, flying debris in a tornado, too.

We have soft vests reinforced with K-30 chest inserts but I may have to look into a plate carrier too with some rifle plates. They make a huge difference.

As has been seen in Canada and Connecticut, body armor can be restricted just as easily as standard capacity magazines or AR lowers. Remember all the hoopla about the CO shooter's "body armor" (later proven to be a chest carrier with the ballistic protection of a tshirt, but whatever)? Right now you can order it cheaply direct to your door with almost zero hassle...

Oh, yeah, and all that TC3 stuff is pretty much predicated on the presence of body armor.

Anonymous said...

And as I pointed out at Cmdr. Zero's, a surplus PASGT vest is pure kevlar, and equivalent in protection level to any vest (short of rifle plates) the local PD is wearing.

I've seen 25+ yr old vests shot up, and they still stop multiple 9mm and .45ACP hits. So much for "expiration" dates on kevlar.

The local surplus marts vend them for a C-note.


Anonymous said...

I got my PC/plates in a barter for a shotgun. I had bought a Saiga 12, and unloaded one of my pumps, as I don't need forty-eleven shotguns.

The PC was a Condor, (laugh, but I train and do PT in it, and its GTG) and came with rifle plates and hand-cut and re-sewn soft armor inserts, so I can do either/or, or both.

I like the setup a lot. It can be stripped of mag pouches and rifle plates and go under a coat or a large hoodie with just soft armor inserts, or it can hold a combat load, rifle plates, and a hydration bladder.

I completely agree with the thought that one should outfit the family for defense, and move on to armor and NVGs.

Ryan said...

Chris, There are pouches in some soft armor carriers (like the thin concealable ones) to hold rifle plates but they seem pretty small.

Might not be a bad idea to get a PC or two.

Aesop, Interesting. The downside is they are not concealable. Suppose if the budget is really tight it's better than nothing.

AP, That is a good setup.

Kang said...

Ryan, I was wondering if you purchased side plates with your rig, and your opinion of these in "the grand scheme" of prepping gear? I have a carrier, and very nice (& large) front and rear plates, and have been contemplating buying side plates for a while. Thanks in advance.

Commander_Zero said...

"Somewhere between getting ready for a short term natural disaster and Red Dawn is about the right place."

That's quotable gold, right there.

Ryan said...

Kang, I haven't purchased any to date. Probably not a bad idea.

CZ, Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

Be carefull, Over the last 4 years we tested about 3 dozen plates.All of the test plates stoped 5.56 +7.62x39+7.62 nato. ALL of the ones we tested with M-2 Cal.30 AP(30:06) FAILED. I'm told by a frend who is a LEO that the Government says they were all defective military surplus. None of this was sientific;BUT....

Chris said...

Kang - Based on my experience wearing them for work, side plates are ok if you're mounted or doing static ops. They suck if you have to walk around in them, especially if it is hot out. For defense of a strongpoint inside your residence, sure, they'd be useful.

Ryan -- it is hard to find 5x8" rifle plates and honestly I'd prefer to put the money towards plate carriers and normal sized rifle plates for now I think. Unless I can get them to double as side plates -- that seems like good double function. With such a setup you could have:

(A) Full wrap around rifle protection on top of a soft vest for maximum protection
(B) Rifle plates for one person and a soft vest with small rifle plate for a second (or for a "higher than low but lower than high-profile" type event)
(C) Rifle plates for one person, a soft vest for a second, and the small 5x8 plate for a third.

The 5" width just seems hard to find, and that's what many soft vests and their carriers are sized for...

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