Letter Re: Recommendations on Body Armor?

I’m a newbie at preparedness. I have some nitro-packed storage food and I’m working on buying a few guns and getting training.  I think I’ll start with a course at Front Sight. But for immediate needs, I’m about ready to buy some body armor for “just in case.”  Are the mil surplus flak vests that I see advertised for +/-$80 a good deal? – T.Y.

JWR Replies: I highly recommend the training at Front Sight it is top notch! About body armor; first things first: Forget about the older-vintage military surplus “flak” vests” that you saw advertised. These are primarily designed to stop shrapnel, but not bullets. Most of the pre-1985 military issue vests would barely rate Class IIA.(Which is lower than Class II, if you aren’t  familiar with the rating system–that numbering system confuses a lot of folks.) I do not recommend them. About their only advantage is that some have a collar, which provides better neck protection than typical law enforcement (concealment) vests. IMHO, you are better off buying a law enforcement trade-in vest, Class II or higher. (Which would be: Class II, Class IIIA, or Class III.) Used Class II vests start at around $200.

My personal approach: For myself, I bought a pair of slightly used Class II vests, with one of them slightly larger than the other, plus a trauma plate. This cost less than buying a new Class III vest, and they are more versatile than a single heavy-weight vest.  I can wear either of  them alone for concealment, or I can wear *both* plus the trauma plate in between when the Schumer really hits the fan. This will provide better than Class II protection.

BTW, the Memsahib has a Class IIIA vest, contoured for ladies. It also was a trade-in vest, which she got for a bargain price at a gun show.

Two body armor dealers that I recommend are: Y2K Body Armor (which is operated by T. Allen Hoover) and BulletProofME.com Body Armor.  Of the two, Terry Hoover seems to have the best prices. He specializes in vests that come from police academy wash-outs.  These are “low hours” vests that are in great shape and very reasonably priced.