Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Body Armor: A Tale of Two Vests

Well my rifle plates finally arrived yesterday from Spectre. From  making the order to my doorstep took a day short of 7 weeks. The plates are covered in this thick foamy stuff which isn't a bad thing.

In the meantime I kinda stumbled into a nice set of soft body armor.

I was going to write a post about body armor but realized I have already done that. We will hit some new points and rehash the older ones.

Some folks folks argue that armor slows them down. Sure there are some situations where you are best off with a rifle, camelback, 2 spare mags and an IFAK but those are few and far between. Long fast movements with a very low probability of contact like say an old school foot messenger in a pretty safe area would be a good example. To put it into perspective a PC with a set of plates weighs about 20 pounds. Assuming you are of a healthy weight and in shape it is pretty doable for most situations.  Everyone makes different choices but there are few situations where I would choose not to wear armor.

It is true that body armor will not stop everything. It is not a magical talisman that prevents being shot in the pelvis, face or extremities. That being said it is the best compromise between protection and mobility for most scenarios.

A plate carrier with rifle plates is a good option for a rather crazy scenario. They probably would have sold really well during the LA Riots or Katrina. Max Velocity said something worthwhile on the subject "Overall, I feel that anytime I am going to be carrying my battle rifle, for whatever reason, I want to be wearing at least a plate carrier with load out to carry my first line ammo scales plus IFAK and ancillaries. I could be wearing that in the low profile way I described, or openly in a tactical way."

 Anyway here is the Shellback Banshee PC with plates. To put the cost issue into perspective I am into this PC and plates for somewhere between $450 and $475. Not cheap by any means but doable with a bit of planning or by selling a gun that has been collecting dust in the back of the safe.

I think the reason body armor gets no love from a lot of the survivalist community is that it isn't sexy. Folks have no problem spending 300-500 dollars on a gun. Heck some folks do not have a problem spending that much on accessories for a gun or even on a new knife.  A blog friend of mine who no joke has well over 50 grand in guns described body armor as "ruinously expensive". He would be infinitely better off selling a couple guns and getting a PC for every family member.

As shown it is currently wearing a Condor double Kangaroo pouch because the cost was less than half the price of a set of HSGI double taco's. This is set up for home defense. (Yeah my load out is 3x rifle and 3x pistol mags. If I can't handle the job with that it's not getting done.) Not shown are a pair of pants with a holster and an IFAK stuffed in the cargo pocket. It is easy to take off that pouch and I am still kinda fiddling with whether the mags are best suited on the PC or belt.

You aren't going to conceal a PC with a bunch of pouches on it though a slick one is relatively doable. Worn under a sweatshirt or wind breaker (obviously in appropriate weather) somebody would have to be looking for body armor to see it. Keeping your mags and such in a chest rig lets you go slick PC, only mags/ kit or both which are options that suit a lot of scenarios.

The soft armor's role to me is for a variety of more mundane scenarios. Stuff like buying/ selling things or otherwise carrying around large amounts of cash. Maybe a trip to a stop and rob to get a few things when the situation is a bit iffy. There are a variety of scenarios that fall short of running around with an M4 and a full OEF style load out but aren't quite normal either. A glock, soft armor and a couple 33rd Glock mags in the cargo pocket or murse would be about as ready as you can be and still look fairly normal/ fit into normal society.

A line I wrote that Commander Zero quoted is worthwhile in terms of where body armor falls in the grand priority list. "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."
 
Where does body armor fit into your defensive setup?

Are you one of those guys we talked about with a safe full of guns but no body armor? If so why?

5 comments:

Chris said...

We have soft vests with war belts right now for bump in the night. Upgrading to level III rifle plate carriers.

I am getting some extra armor too. Obviously the soft armor is fairly redundant with the plates although you can layer so that is an extra. But some extra armor is fairly cheap.

The nice thing about armor is that while I don't necessarily want to hand anyone who shows up at my place a firearm I can hand them armor. Bugging out with the neighbors in a 3 vehicle convoy to a Holiday Inn Express 300 miles away from the Hurricane Zone? Loan 'em armor. In-laws from a blue state who don't know anything about guns show up on your doorstep because their Blue Urban Metropolis is in riots? Hand 'em armor. Thirteen year old neighbor is helping watch your generator? Loan 'em armor.

Armor requires some physical fitness to wear but no training or skill... There is also little risk of it being misused or of an accident occurring in unskilled hands. Perfect for loaning to friends and family who will inevitably be present when Bad Things happen.

Commander_Zero said...

Seven weeks? Mine took three. Wonder what that was all about.

Ryan said...

Chris, Interesting point. I certainly wouldn't pass up a good deal on a decent set of soft armor that was within the budget.

Max said...

My banshee armor is in, but the carrier is on back order. I'm pleased that it's super light and not bulky at all. Wish the front and back were bigger.

There may come a day, very soon, when you can't buy it without credentials. It might save your life.

AM said...

Honestly? I figure if things ever get that bad I'll just let the .gov charge me for the IBA on my hand receipt.

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