Three Letters Re: Surplus Interceptor Body Armor (IBA)

I noticed the letter you posted about the man who bought his interceptor armor from eBay. Much of the Interceptor [Body] Armor on the market is stolen property.
Many times it was stolen through supply [channels] and that is one of the reasons so many troops had to buy their own.
On many of the tactical forums you have to be able to produce proof that you bought the interceptor armor legally.
The interceptor armor itself is outdated. It is very heavy and bulky. Dragonskin is also not available to civilians. You have to have a end user certificate to even get the stuff. Thanks for the great site. – Meerkat, Murfreesboro Tennessee

Dear Jim:
Dr. Richard makes a critical point about avoiding defective Zylon vests on eBay, but I must add some cautions to his suggestion about buying used Interceptor armor. For the sake of full disclosure, here at we are about to advertise a $500 special on our brand-new Interceptor Outer Tactical Vests on SurvivalBlog. But the following information is factually verifiable for any skeptics.
Beware of Stolen Interceptor Armor
Unless the armor was bought with private funds, it is U.S. government property and should have been turned in by the user. The Army criminal investigations unit has been aggressively confiscating undocumented armor from both military and non-military personnel, and prosecuting dealers who knowingly bought stolen armor. This has been such a problem, we simply won’t buy Interceptor armor without verification of it’s title – just like a car.
Beware of Damaged SAPI hard plates
Unless it has been abused, there shouldn’t be a problem with the protection level of the aramid (i.e., Kevlar) soft ballistic panels in the Interceptor. Aramid does not degrade noticeably just from age.
Be very, very careful with SAPI Rifle Plates
These Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPIs) are made out of boron carbide and are more fragile than Ceramic Rifle Plates. Some will have hairline cracks not visible unless X-rayed. Even just improper packaging for shipping can leave them damaged (I swear a lot of the delivery drivers are former shot putters, the way they throw packages around! )
Also, unless it is an Enhanced model (E-SAPI) it is not full AP protection like Level IV Ceramic Rifle Plates, the original SAPI mil spec called for M-16 and AK-47 threats to be stopped – but not AP rounds.
Finally, regarding the “better” Dragon Skin. Well, Pinnacle has an impressive public relations machine, but they have only had the vest certified to Level III standards (to stop .308 FMJ) by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). If I really had a superior product that was being ignored by the Army, I’d have it Level IV certified (stopping .30-06 AP) and sell it to police customers – why hasn’t Dragon Skin done this? They only have a Level III certification on file.

We have customers in The Sandbox who bought Dragon Skin, but just couldn’t take the extra weight. Just like everything else, take the time to dig below the marketing hype and know what you are buying. Thanks, – Nick, Manager, Body Armor


I am a new reader of the your blog. (About two months now) I even submitted a story [to the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest] about raising chickens for survival protein. It did not win, but hey it was fun to be published, and maybe it can help out someone else. Maybe I can try again next month I would love to have a copy of your book. It sounds good. And I am addicted to the blog. I read it almost every day.

The reason I read it is because I do most of these things any way but now I can learn to do it the right way. Thanks for all this great info. You may even see a few dollars in snail mail in a few weeks.

I was looking at the info about body armor and how some of the good stuff from Iraq is showing up on eBay. That got me thinking. Do you have any past info about body armor, what the rankings mean? What the ball park prices are and how to find used stuff. (I do love eBay) I think this would be a great Item to get a hold of but I need more info before I make any purchases. I looked over the web but all I can find is info from the sellers and some times I have trouble believing every thing the sales person tells me. Any info would be great. Thanks, – Korey

JWR Replies: A good description of the NIJ body armor protection standards numbers can be found in this primer. I have no idea about current auction pricing on IBA. Just be sure that what you buy comes with an original receipt or military Statement of Charges. (Items that are misplaced by soldiers are often paid for via Statement of Charges.)