Letter Re: Question on Body Armor “Expiration” Dates

I hope you or some of your readers can help me. I am looking at getting a bullet proof vest. The more I learn about it everyone says that they are really only good for about five years. Then you should replace your vest with a new one. That is fine if I were a police officer and used it everyday, but I am not and would only wear it during my training drills. My questions is, is the five year limit just a way for the companies to limit there liability and get you to buy a new vest every five years, or do they really go bad? I did order a test panel from BulletProofME.com and when I did some testing it seemed to stop everything it should have and then some. This panel was over 10 years old. The other problem is that this equipment is very expensive and I really do not need it unless something bad happens. My fear is that I invest a large sum of money now and in five short years the investment is no good and I have to replace it. I also realize that you cannot even test shoot it to see if it is still stopping bullets because that will weaken the vest. Please let me know your thoughts on this. How long do you keep your bullet proof vests, and how should they be cared for? Thanks, – Korey

JWR Replies: The five year figure that you heard cited was a very conservative manufacturer’s estimate, and was based on the assumption of daily wear in a harsh environment. Such estimates are published primarily for liability reasons. The much greater useful longevity of Kevlar vests has been well documented at BulletProofME.com and other body armor web sites. I recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers take the time to read through the extensive information on body armor vests and helmets that is available there, free of charge