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What is the lightest available armor if budget is not a factor?

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Choktaw1, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Choktaw1

    Choktaw1 USA New Member

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    I'm looking to acquire body armor. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where budget is not a factor. The way I figure, if I pay over $5k a year for health insurance, it's worth paying for the best body armor. I'm in reasonably good shape for an old farmer. I want rifle protection in the lightest configuration possible. More importantly, I intend to buy a kit for my wife and two sons, so it needs to be LIGHT.

    I have been researching for a while and level IV does not interest me. That pretty much leaves me with a level III solution. Can anyone tell me what the lightest level III solution out there is? My skills with search engines is not that great.
     
  2. ThePhonMan

    ThePhonMan Spokanistan Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    The NIJ web site has a ton of data on body armor: https://www.justnet.org/body_armor/ballistic_le.html

    It's pretty much all testing related data so there won't be prices but you should be able to find just about anything you need. I never really paid attention to the rifle-class armor but the few I had tried were heavy so you may have to compromise between weight and protection.

    Good luck.
     
  3. liquidsys

    liquidsys North Bend, WA Disciple of the Gun

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    If you move to Level III vs IIIa, then you're outside of what soft armor is going to do for you in any reasonable size outside of someone like a DKX Armor. You're looking at either using a plate carrier and going ceramics or AR500 plates.

    Do you require multi-hit capability? Are you looking for side plates as well as front and back?

    In my mind, you have three real choices. (Disclaimer: I use and love AR500 plates, so I might be entirely full of bubblegum on anything outside of those =) )

    Ceramic plates:
    Heavy, but lighter than AR500. In a full set you'll likely save 3-5lbs total. Really depends on the mfg.
    Basic multi-hit capability. The plates fracture and essentially turn to sand when shot. Multiple hits in the same area, or edge hits near previous strikes can result in penetration depending on caliber, range etc.
    Up-side of the reduced multi-hit capability is that the impact trauma is absorbed better in the ceramics then AR500.
    Durability: Dropping or roughing up these plates can destroy their ability to function when needed. Some people have had decent luck with drops and chips / cracks, others have had total failures. You can't predict what you'll get, see Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Everyone can agree that you're not going to be throwing your plate carrier around if you're using ceramics. It's not smart.

    DKX Armor:
    Light weight, a little over 3lbs per plate for Level III... It also floats, oddly. :p
    Thick
    Weaker edge protection
    more backface deformation than either of the other options (broken ribs much?)
    Suspect multi-hit capabilities (more research needed). I've seen videos where it can stop multiple shots fairly well if they're space out nicely, but close proximity hits didn't look good at all.
    Durability: medium, you can beat the hell out of these physically, but I haven't seen anyone testing these panels when they're essentially covered in salt water (sweat) for 10 years. They have a 7 year warranty on them... are they also worried about them over that span? I suspect they'll lose some of their capabilities but it's anyone's guess.


    AR500 Armor:
    Heavy. Full-size front + back + side plates weighed in at around 20lbs for me. On a 6'2 male in a halfway decent carrier, I don't notice it. YMMV. Not a good option for smaller frames or you plan to already have a large load to carry.
    Excellent multi-hit capabilities. Lots of youtube videos online for you to watch.
    NIJ states Level III, but independent 3rd party show it taking up to .338 Lapua Magnum, 6.5 Creedmore, etc.
    Durability: You could use these for target practice prior to putting them in your plate carrier, and they're still going to do their job.
    Spall: They have a higher chance of spalling than the other two armors. Only use Line-X coated plates or even better, add them to a soft armor carrier / flak to gain that spall protection.

    Hope it helps. If you move down to Level IIIa armor, you'll lose rifle capabilities but you'll open the door to a flood of additional options at much lighter weights.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  4. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    Armor will be heavy, especially if you want level IV. I have a set of level IV and it weighs over 20lbs for front, back and the 2 side plates.

    Might be off on the weight, its only a guess. I also have the XL plates so they weigh a bit more.
     
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  5. Choktaw1

    Choktaw1 USA New Member

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    Thanks for all the help so far. I'm not looking for level IV. I want the lightest stand-alone level III's that money can buy. Something my teenage sons and wife can wear for hours.

    I researched DKX but their site is apparently gone and what's more, they don't seem to have a very good reputation around the web.

    While searching for DKX stuff, I found this link to a Midwest Armor:

    Midwest Armor VENTURE FM3

    Does anyone know anything about this company or it's products?
     
  6. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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  7. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    Looks like good stuff. I don't have any info about the company and id also find out if that cost included a set of plates and not just 1.
     
  8. Choktaw1

    Choktaw1 USA New Member

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  9. simon99

    simon99 Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Just as a note, have you searched this topic on this forum?

    It has been discussed at great lengths, so you might get some reasonable answers to your question.

    Good luck on your purchase!
     
  10. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    "Floating Armor" is made from Kevlar and Polyester and it does work

    DKX Body Armor: It Floats! [Nutnfancy SHOT Show 2013] - YouTube

    Blowing the Crap Out of DKX Armor Plates: Fail? - YouTube

    .Published on Oct 24, 2013


    Can the DKX take six hits at 20 yards from a .308? This lightweight armor is cutting edge, highly recommended in TNP. However if it fails to stop rounds who cares? We put it to the test in this data point and use up four DKX plates in the process. This is a non scientific approach but you should find interest on how this dyneema performs. The TNP barricade takes a pounding as .308, .223, 9mm, .45 ACP, and .357 are launched in real time. Watch the video for the close up action and the gratifying results.////////////////////////////////*////Purchase using nutnfancy discount code at Firearms Pro - Full Service Gun Shop - Tactical Gear - Visit Our Webstore or at his store on 1596 N Hill Field Road, Suite G, Layton, UT 84041
     
  11. ocarolan

    ocarolan Portland, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Remember armor is best suited for team scenarios. You get hit, your partners take out the opponent and the armor saves you.

    Solo? If you get hit by a rifle round, will be down for a while. In Iraq, soldiers reported wheezing on the ground for 15 minutes after hit with 7.62x39 on the SAPI plate. No injuries, just shock and blunt trauma.

    So a savvy opponent will simply keep shooting you until he sees blood. As Clint Smith says, "If you shoot him and he lights up like sparky, just shoot him again somewhere else."

    Therefore, soft armor (II-IIIa) has less value in a SHTF situation. It still requires a defensive partner and medical help, even from pistol rounds.

    A ceramic plate, backed by soft armor and trauma pads (eg OTV) is ideal. That way you'd have a chance of returning fire and saving your life, instead of becoming a sponge for more bullets.
     
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  12. Stomper

    Stomper Oceania Rising White Is The New Brown Silver Supporter

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    A very good point was made about getting a cracked rib. I've had the "pleasure" of that sensation and I'm here to tell you... You have to CONSCIOUSLY FORCE yourself to breath, and even then it's through snarling clenched teeth and an almost paralyzing burn like you've never felt before.

    I don't claim to be some "ironman", but I have an exceptional pain threshold and I never want to experience that again.
     
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  13. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention how long a cracked rib(s) continue to hurt.
     
  14. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me if I step out of line here, I am not an expert in physics- but what you guys are describing (trauma even after the plate stops the bullet) is one of the main reasons why I decided to switch from my IBA to AR500 plates.

    Here me out-

    Soft armor might catch the bullet so it doesn't penetrate, but it is still using your ribs as a trauma plate to disperse the energy (otherwise the plate would basically turn into a catcher's mitt). The problem with steel is that energy has to go somewhere. So instead of the bullet being caught, it shatters and spalls into pieces...going back the way it came and to the sides. AR500 coats their plates with LineX to catch the spalling.

    I'm not saying AR500 is perfect....that crap is heavy and restricts your mobility. However, I'm pretty confident that if the plate gets hit I can still stay in the fight without a broken rib or clavicle
     
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  15. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    I had 3 cracked ribs from going over a waterfall It is a painful memory and took months to heal, yes it did hurt with every breath. I have 9.5 pounds of SBA, due to a back injury I doubt I could carry plates as well
     
  16. liquidsys

    liquidsys North Bend, WA Disciple of the Gun

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    Riot, you are correct. People here are way overblowing the issue, claiming a rifle round to the chest at a reasonable engagement distance will knock you out of the fight and make you a bullet sponge. This is simply untrue. There are so many videos of members of our military taking rounds to the chest on YouTube that I can't believe we're discussing it. One famed video even shows a member of our own Army taking 3 (maybe it was 4) rounds to the plates and still moving until he found a tiny bit of cover behind a rock. He was not injured.

    Additionally, there are a lot of videos online showing the force behind such hits by putting plates in front of soft targets. You guys are blowing it way out of proportion, lets do research / show your evidence, don't just spout what you heard from the guy at the gun shop.

    I'm at work currently but if anyones interested, I can throw up videos tonight showing active engagements with our own soldiers taking plate hits and staying in the fight.
     
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  17. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    I'm still laughing at 'bullet sponge'. Apparently, so are others.
     
  18. liquidsys

    liquidsys North Bend, WA Disciple of the Gun

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    Martini_up, this is what these posts are making me think of: auto-sponge-bob-lego-brick-345540.jpg

    auto-sponge-bob-lego-brick-345540.jpg
     
  19. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    :laugh:
     
  20. ocarolan

    ocarolan Portland, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. The "bullet sponge" claim was regarding pure soft armor (II-IIIa).

    Would like to see those videos though. :)