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What to look for in armor.

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by UrbanOps, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. UrbanOps


    Jan 5, 2007
    I'm about to go to the detention side from Reserves. Very little is issued and it's up to me to purchase most items, including body armor if desired. What should/do I look for? I've looked at but I'm not sure what's good and not.

    I figured I wanted a IIIA with some spike/stab protection. Sidearms are .40 so level II should resist that. Am I going overboard on the IIIA? The patrol guys all had something issued to them different from the next guy so it's tough to get a feel for what is liked from a wide spectrum of deputies. They have a mix of II and IIIA.

    Of course I want to keep the cost as low as possible; however, I don't want to skimp on quality/protection.
  2. spyd3r05


    Jul 25, 2008
    IIIA, It's not about what you have but what they have :) I have Armor Express I think its ok, I have heard complaints from others tho.. the revolutioon...
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

  3. Generally, ballistic/stab combo packages are the most pricey. I would look for a Spike II/Ballistic II Package. You have to determine what your real needs are and your aspirations. Are you going to work strictly the corrections side? Stab armor. Are you going to be working the road? Ballistic armor.

    While the ballistic armor has a disclaimer that it is not INTENDED to protect the wearer from stab threats, it does offer a certain amount. Stab/ballistic packages also often end up be the thickest. Ice pics and improvised weapons that mimic ice picks are the greatest threat to defeating ballistic armor. Talk to a manufacturer's rep who can provide you with additional info.

    Point Blank rep for your area:
    Greg McCain.
    Mobile: 719-553-9393
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  4. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    Ideally, IIIA in a woven aramid.

    Fit and form are more important than other factors (like name) IMO. If the vest passes the NIJ standards, it provides protection just like another vest that passes the standards. Be measured for it, and make sure that the length and girth are right for you.
  5. Not to disagree, but spend time talking to sales reps and be advised...there are some unscrupulous sales reps out there that are just looking for the sale. NIJ, under the 0101.06 standard has done a decent job of incorporating some special threats as testing protocol rounds...BUT, ask the sales rep specifically about "Special Threat Testing" and ask for copies of live fire shoot demo reports.

    Under the 0101.05 interim standard, there were plenty of vests that met NIJ standard but rounds like Winchester Ranger 124g +P and 127g +P+ would cut right through. Again, this vest had met the NIJ standard but was not Special Threat Tested.
  6. UrbanOps


    Jan 5, 2007
    Thanks guys. As far as "needs", I think the "need" is always there for ballistic protection. My opinion is if you're in uniform, armed or not, you're a target. Why risk it? In the jail, it's mixed between vests and no vests. Only a couple of the corrections officers (non-sworn) wear stab vest and about the same number of deputies (sworn) wear a ballistic or stab vests.
  7. UrbanOps


    Jan 5, 2007
  8. pal2511


    Sep 15, 2002
    Might be cheaper to find a stab proof vest and then get a different ballistic vest maybe?

    Harder to find a ballistic vest..

    Funny thing was I worked 5 years in a jail with 200 inmates and never worried about getting stabbed.. We had only one person that wore a vest.

    You should wear a vest and should have one for sure if you are on the road. Check galls and see if they have any stab proof vests.

    I like my usarmor vest now that I got the sizing mostly worked out. My reps service sucked though
  9. IIIA armor certified under NIJ 0101.06 is heavier and thicker so think about you climate. I am in east central FL, hot, muggy most of the year. I advocate a IIA armor package around here as I would rather have an Officer wearing a IIA than keeping a II or IIIA in the trunk. Agencies wishing to participate int he DOJ Vest Partnership Program to receive grant funds for armor will have to show that they have a mandatory wear policy. I personally think that this will cause Officers to violate policy and not wear if the agency issues IIIA package, IMHO. Bear in mind to that the heavier and thicker, the hotter, muggier environment, the better the opportunity for the vest to degrade faster if not properly cared for.

    Goldflex and Goldshield??? If built as part of a hybrid package with a woven aramid like Kevlar or Twaron they are okay. Comprised totally or largely of, NO. This goes back to an ealier post I made regarding performance against special threats. I have seen 100% Goldflex packages that stopped NIJ protocol testing roounds under 0101.05, but Special Threats zipped right through.

    My current, favorite hybrid....wearing as I type this about to head out the door for work....Twaron and Dyneema in a IIA package.


    Sep 29, 2005
    I personally don't really think II or IIIA makes much difference in temperature under the vests. Especially with the newer water tight ballistic pannels on the .06 standard vests. A vest does not breath period, rather it be the old Nam issued flack vest or the latest and greatest of level III or IV protection. They all trap in the heat like you're wearing a garbage bag over your chest.

    On the other hand weight may be a deciding factor. I wear a .06 standard IIIA US Armor vest. My last vest was also a IIIA under the .05 standard. The new one is slightly thicker and a tad bit heavier but not heavy enough for me to notice much of a difference. The new one is actually more comfortable and seems to a little more flexable even though it's thicker. It does get a little more "muggy" under there due to the water tight pannels though....

    I will always go with IIIA over the II just for the extra blunt impact protection. Our greatest risk day to day does not involve getting shot.... It's the one ton plus hunks of steel we're around all day. You're way more likely to be seriously hurt in a car crash then you are to be shot. The extra blunt impact protection is what might save your tail during that crash even if it is a little bit heavier.

    To the OP I'd look more for a dedicated stab vest if you're going to be doing the corrections side. It will be a lot cheaper then getting a dual purpose one. Your chance of coming across a gun in a jail is probably pretty slim. Even the cops take them off in most parts of the facility.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  11. We are issued level IIIA. Our force options unit tested our armor (without a trauma plate) and found it provided good stab resistant protection. The only ones that go through were ice picks and knives and tanto blades with a considerable amount of force.

    If you can afford two vests get one of each. If you can only afford one I would get a ballistic vest. Even though they are not rated they provide a considerable amount of stab protection. Consider how long you will be working in your jail and can you afford a second vest when they put you on the road?