Letter Re: Prepper Armor

Dear Hugh,

The recent article, “Prepper Armor,” by J.J. was good but needs clarification. It seems a lot of faith is put in the statement that Level III armor “stops 5.56mm,” but this needs to be explained further.

We have two basic 5.56 x 45mm rounds– the 62 grain SS109/M855 and the 55 grain M193. The former travels at 2,970fps when fired from a M4 16 inch barrel, while the latter is 3,200 fps at the muzzle.

Most body armor retailers distinguish the “stopping power” of their product between these two rounds by categorically stating the SS109/M855 WILL be stopped.

But, that’s not the whole story; many expressly deny their products will stop the M193, because of its greater projectile velocity.

So, a blanket statement like: “stops 5.56mm” may only be half-true and that ain’t good enough if your adversary or the “bad guys” against you have M193 in their magazines. “Half-alive” after being shot by a M193 while wearing body armor is not acceptable.

Not being an expert, I am to understand that once 5.56mm rounds exceed 3,000 fps at the muzzle, they WILL penetrate body armor rated less than Level IV. So M193 ammo seems to be an issue.

I have seen actual non-scientific tests (at 25-50 m) on YouTube where some Level III rated armor stops M193, while others do not; it’s very confusing.

Can someone knowledgeable in the M193 vs Level III armor take me up on this and give us lay people some clarity? Thanks! – K.W.