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Facing a BG in body armor. Insights?

Discussion in 'Carry Issues' started by RedsoxFan4Lyfe, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. RedsoxFan4Lyfe


    Jul 16, 2007
    Florida USA
    Well the shooting in Colorado got me thinking about this I must admit.

    I have seen the videos where the guy shoots himself point blank with a .44 Magnum pistol to demo his vest and nothing happens to him.

    Do people hit with body armor on even feel it? I carry a Glock 19, 9mm loaded with +P Gold Dots. This incident got me thinking about something bigger I must admit.

    I wonder if a hot 10mm or a hot .38 Super would effect someone in armor at close range. Some reports say the shooter was wearing a bullet proof helmet. So would a hot 10mm or .38 Super in the head have dropped him? All that energy has to go somewhere right?

    I'm not an expert in body armor so forgive my ignorance. I'm just curious as to what one can do besides a Mozambique drill, which in a dark, smoke filled theater with screaming innocent people running for their lives is not really a viable option.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Caver 60

    Caver 60

    Jun 12, 2007
    I certainly don't know much about body armor either. Except there are different levels of body armor. The lightest being what the average officer working a normal shift every day all week long would wear. The heaviest being what some SWAT teams and military wear (even in the military I suspect there are different levels of body armor.) It's all at least somewaht uncomfortable to wear, especially in hot weather.

    It's all designed to be effective in defending against varying threat levels. Some can be penetrated by hot handgun loads or even a bow and arrow or knife. Other stuff will stop or slow down some rifle ammo. The wearer stands a risk of some kind of injury with much of it. But hopefully it will save their life in many cases, or reduce the injury they sustain.

    Probably be someone along shortly, with much more expertise than I have.

  3. TactiCool


    Feb 1, 2012
    Southeast LA.
    It is a popular myth that wearing body armor makes you invulnerable to the damage of being struck by a bullet. Even if the bullet is stopped by the vest, there is still the blunt force trauma to contend with, and that does not just magically disappear.

    It is very possible that important blood vessels could rupture, ribs could be broken, and even the processes of the internal organs can be disrupted by blunt force trauma. Despite the fact that many vests have trauma plates, and more layers of bullet resistant fabric than necessary in order to lessen the trauma, life-threatening injury is still a serious possibility. Bottom line, BFT can kill.

    Even if one is wearing the best level IIIA vest money can buy, getting hit by a .357, 10mm, or .44 mag will most certainly take a man out of the fight. Even getting hit by the lowly .380 will result in having a very bad day.

    So if a kevlar-garbed BG comes after you, and you put a high-powered 9mm round into his chest, he will not likely be able to respond with any degree of proficiency. Very likely, the BG will be doubling over in crippling pain and could even go into shock. Only someone high on a drug like PCP would be able to just shrug it off.
  4. smokeross

    smokeross GTDS Member #49

    May 15, 2011
    Talking with some cops today, and recent training is for 'center of mass' then 'two to the groin'.
  5. plasticslap


    Oct 16, 2006
    FN Five-Seven. Case closed. Don't care what they're wearing now.
  6. If I'm on the deck then perhaps I'd aim for an ankle or lower leg. No matter how you cut it, that should drop the BG and maybe stop him briefly from continuing to fire. Is this unrealistic? Maybe but if I was firing from cover then this might be my only option to catch his attention.
  7. Wurger


    Oct 9, 2010
    Broken pelvis will take perp of their feet. Very painful injury that will make it less likely for continued return fire. Bigger target than a head shot.
  8. Wurger


    Oct 9, 2010
    If you get a side view of the shooter, you can slip one into the boiler room with a shoulder shot too (on most vests).
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  9. Wurger


    Oct 9, 2010
    If he has a hard plate behind the vest he will feel very little when shot and will continue to fight unabated.

    Increased use of body armor by bad guys has made me consider this topic before. Home invaders are starting to realize that not all victims are defenseless.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  10. magiaaron

    magiaaron Low Speed Ops

    May 27, 2008
    That's not necessarily true. If you remember the North Hollywood shootout, the two guys involved in that took many a round in their armor. The lack of penetrative power in that shootout is part of the reason so many departments moved to having AR15s in the patrol cars. In fact, even shotgun rounds were not enough to cause a "bad enough day" to stop the fight. In fact, that shootout lasted nearly 45 minutes despite the insane number of officers involved. Ballistic armor really did a lot.

  11. TactiCool


    Feb 1, 2012
    Southeast LA.
    And what was their armor made from? They didn't buy their armor at a store, they made it, so it will not necessarily have the same characteristics as the commercially available armor to which I am referring.

    Hard armor/ rifle plating will not have the same characteristics as soft armor, of course. With steel, there will be less deformation but the trauma plates used in soft armor are not made from the same AR 400-500 steel that rifle plates are made from, and will still deform. Take a high-powered pistol round like the .44 mag, which delivers, on average, 800+ ft./lbs. of energy, and it will put a serious dent in that thin steel 5X8 trauma plate. Such a hit, even on the trauma plate, will end the fight unless BG is on PCP, or he is superman.

    All soft armor vests certified by NIJ have a maximum allowable backface signature of 44mm's, which is right on the edge of damaging bones and deep bodily tissues. Taking a hit in such a vest, even IIIA, will most likely result in a potentially life-threatening injury and requires an immediate visit to the ER.

    To think otherwise is patently foolish and could get someone killed. It is NOT some magic form of protection and does NOT make a person anything close to being invulnerable. Bottom line, it might keep you from dying, but armor is in no way guaranteed to keep you in the fight.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  12. chemcmndr


    Aug 23, 2008
    Beavercreek, OH
    To the OP: It is very difficult to say what will actually happen as it depends on several factors such as body armor type, weapon/caliber being used, drug/adrenaline level, and also willpower.

    To give you a breakdown on ballistic armor, you have different levels ranging from 1 to 4. Level IIA is what is commonly worn as concealed body armor by most police officers. It will stop a variety of handgun rounds such as 9mm, and some of the magnum rounds. Level IIIA provides the greatest protection in soft, or concealable, body armor. This rating will stop .357 SIG, 9mm rounds from submachine guns, and .44 Magnums. Levels III and IV require steel/ceramic plates and will stop rifle rounds up to .30-06 AP rounds. These vests are not concealable and are typically what our military uses.

    As far as what happens when someone is shot wearing a vest, that depends on the gun, vest level, and vest wearer's mindset. I've personally taken a 147 grain 9mm round from a Glock 19 to a Level IIIA vest from about 5' away and it felt like a stiff punch to the chest, but I wasn't on the floor or crying in pain either.

    Even without the vest, I remember hearing that after about 2-3 rounds, the human body starts to not register any additional hits, so aiming for center mass will be less effective.

    Given that you probably wouldn't be able to tell beforehand that the guy was wearing a vest, the best thing that you could do in that situation would be to place two aimed shots (controlled pair) to the center mass. If that was enough to stop the threat (due to either hitting vital organs, or BFT from multiple hits to the vest) then you're golden. However, if the threat is still there, then start taking carefully aimed shots at the CNS to shut the proverbial machine down.
  13. also depends on drug use. ive heard of suspects with no armor taking 17 rounds from a 40 and still fighting. PCP helps the pain go away. with the higher uses of meth, its not unlikely that they might not feel much.

    i have long agreed with the pelvic shots. they are very often overlooked but contain a large flat bone to absorb the impact of the bullet as well as a couple of the largest arteries in the body. i broke mine in a couple places when i got hit by a car so i can attest to it putting you down for quite awhile. actually i should say after the adrenaline wears off a bit. i landed on my feet but was unable to walk away.
  14. carbuncle

    carbuncle is not cool.

    May 27, 2006
    Nashua, NH
    I made this point to a friend, a new shooter, who was considering getting his carry permit as a result of the most recent mass shooting. Inertia cannot be denied: even if the bullet stops, it's energy gets dumped into it's landing zone. If an armed citizen could even just clip the shooter with a couple of 9mm rounds it would disrupt his rhythm significantly by creating blunt force injuries. And bullet-proof helmet or not, a head shot is a life-threatening event no matter what you strapped on your brain bucket.
  15. NEOH212

    NEOH212 Diesel Girl

    Mar 25, 2008
    North East Ohio
    Funny, I didn't know the 5.7 would defeat soft body armor without AP ammo....:whistling:
  16. SgtScott31


    Jan 17, 2011
    With regards to the North Hollywood shootout, many of those 9mm rounds shot by LE came from a significant distance, losing their velocity in the process. I agree with the others regarding blunt force trauma. It's definitely going to play a role, especially at close distances. My agency just switched to the Gen 4 Glock 21 (.45). If that's not bringing them down, it's slowing them down enough for me to get to my M4 or 870 in the car.
  17. happyguy

    happyguy Man, I'm Pretty

    Shoot him in the gas mask.

    Happyguy :)
  18. It won't. Most armor packages easily defeat the commercially available 5.7x28 rounds.
  19. 100% correct on all counts

    There are level III plates that are very light, though a little thick, made of 100% poly materials. Generally they will not defeat AP rounds but are multi-hit rated against .308 and 5.56.

    There are also plates that are known as IC (In-Conjunction) plates. Typically I hybrid of ceramics, glass, poly, etc. that by itself may be level III but when worn in conjunction with IIIA soft ballistics becomes a 1 or may 2-3 hit IV. Level IV are rated for AP.
  20. Somebody should have told this to Platt and Matix, the two bank robbers that the FBI had a shoot out with in Miami. One of them took a 9mm round into the thoracic cavity very early in the fight. ME deemed it a non-survivable wound, yet he continued to fight and kill FBI agents for somewhere around 3 minutes. No drugs in their system, just determined. One of the FBI Agents was shot early on with a 5.56 round which shattered his forearm....he kept fighting. Another agent who had been shot continued to fight and scored the fight ending shots....determination.

    You are correct, body armor does not make you superman, but by the same token getting shot with or without armor also doesn't necessarily take you out of the fight immediately.

    Every shoot a deer with a 30-30 or 30-.06? Ever see it run upwards of a mile afterward? They do. Do you know why? They have never been to the movies or watched TV and learned that you are supposed to fall down and die when shot.