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Letter Re: Recommendations on Body Armor?

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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 [4]. 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 [4] 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 [5], 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 [5] 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 [6] (which is operated by T. Allen Hoover) and BulletProofME.com Body Armor. [7]  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.