Letter Re: Advice on Body Armor and Helmets

Dear Jim:
You are spot on with your recent recommendation to think about concealable body armor first. As we say: “the best vest for you is the one you’re actually wearing when shot!” And being easy to wear and concealable makes a vest much more practical and used more often. It is analogous to self defense with pistols vs. rifles. Rifles are indeed superior protection – but pistols save more lives because they are actually carried and available most often.

I must add a caution to your advice about relying on two Level II vests to perhaps stop a rifle bullet. In some cases, where the rifle bullet is slowed down by cover, yes. We have had a concealable Level II vest come back from Iraq, after saving a service member who was hit with AK-47 fire–but first the bullet had been slowed and deformed by the back of an unarmored vehicle.
Generally soft body armor will never stop direct [rifle] fire. Rifle bullets are travelling at 2 to 3 times the velocity of pistol bullets, and have a more pointed-penetrating tip, and thus will likely penetrate even two Level II or III-A soft body armor vests. Two times Level II does not equal Level IV! 😉 Better to save the money from the second vest and spend it on Rifle Plates and a modular Carrier, or Rifle Plate Pockets as a second outer shell carrier for your vest.

Your advice on helmets is wise – I’d rather have the older, heavier PASGT Kevlar Helmet with the MICH blunt trauma pad system, than a newer helmet with no pad system.

Finally, thank you for your kind words about our dedication to sizing and fitting. We work very hard at this as there is a delicate balance between the amount of protection and coverage vs. comfort and concealment. It is really worth spending the time to get detailed measurements, and to discuss trade-offs between protection levels, models and sizes.
Yours truly, – Nick, BulletProofME.com Body Armor