Much has been written and discussed on SurvivalBlog lately about body armor, which is something many people mistakenly refer to as a “bulletproof vest”. There is no such thing as bulletproof vests. There are just vests that are designed to “resist” certain types of ammo of varying degrees of power. I make no claim to being any sort of expert when it comes to body armor. However, over the past 35-yrs or so, I have tested quite a bit of soft and hard body armor. My tests were not “scientific”; I just took body armor panels out and shot them to see how they would react to various calibers of ammo unloaded into them. Most body armor will stop what it claims it will stop, with very few exceptions, and I’m glad those companies are no longer in business.,
In the past, I reviewed some body armor, hard and soft, from the nice folks at Infidel Body Armor (IBA), Bulletproof Vests & Plates for Sale in Texas, Tactical Body Armor, Bullet Proof Vests, AR500 Steel, and ESAPI Plates, and I came away totally impressed with their products. To be sure, I was on-board with Infidel Body Armor when they first started out. The owner of IBA also runs a small survival products website, and I’ve tested some of those products, too. When I tested some of the soft body armor panels from Infidel, they did what they claimed; they stopped certain types of handgun rounds. I also, extensively tested Infidel’s Level III hard body armor plates, and I couldn’t get them to fail, even though more than a hundred rounds of high-powered rifle rounds were fired into it. I mean we’re talking .308 Win and 7.62X39 as well as armor piercing rounds that this armor was not supposed to stop that it handled. I was impressed with their Level III hard body armor plates, and I’ve tested several of them.
Chad Cooper, who owns Infidel Body Armor, told me that his Level III plates were almost classified as Level IV. They only missed this classification by a few millimeters of back face deformation. Yes, they stopped Level IV rifle rounds, but they were dented on the backside just a tiny bit too much to receive the Level IV classification, and when Chad Cooper started out in the body armor business his plates were not certified because he wanted to keep the price down as much as possible in order to sell his armor to the “Average Joe”– folks like you and me. However, there were a lot of people in law enforcement who wanted to purchase his hard armor and couldn’t without certification. Their respective police departments wouldn’t approve Infidel plates for duty wear without being certified. Needless to say, Chad Cooper, spent a LOT of money getting his Level III plates tested and certified.
Cooper kept me informed and up-to-date on the progress of his Level IV hard plates, and they are not made out of AR500 steel, like his Level III plates. They are made out of aluminum and ceramic. His Level IV plates are thicker than the AR500 Level III plates, and they are also thicker than some other Level IV plates I’ve seen and tested. His Level IV plates are a little bit heavier than some of the competition’s Level IV plates, and with good reason. Infidel Level IV plates are close enough to be called Level IV+, if there were such a designation for body armor. So, Infidel’s Level IV plates will much better stop even more high-powered rifles hits than what the Level IV certification calls for. However, Infidel doesn’t advertise their plates as Level IV+.
I received two Level IV plates and a Viper plate carrier for testing. I removed both plates from the carrier and set about testing one of the plates. I fired 12-rds into it. If I recall, to get certified as a Level IV hard armor plate, they have to stand up to 6 or 7 hits; the Infidel plate took 12-rounds of .308 Win without failing. I had planned on keeping the second plate for myself and ordering another plate to replace the first one I shot up; any time your body armor takes a hit, it needs to be replaced…period!
I took the second Level IV plate out at another time, for testing for this article, to see how many hits it would take before it actually failed, and a .308 147-gr FMJ round would penetrate it. In all, it took 15-rds before there was complete failure. I’m here to tell you that, if you are in a position where you have taken that many hits from a bad buy, you are in the wrong place; MOVE positions.
Infidel’s Level IV plates impressed me! They stood up to a lot of shooting for a .308 Win Springfield Armory M1A rifle. Now, the problem I have is replacing both of those plates I shot-up…LOL.
Infidel Body Armor are great folks to do business with, and they are the only hard body armor maker that I’m aware of that actually produce hard body armor for children and small-sized women, too. Right now, their Level IV plates are in great demand; I had to wait two months to get my samples. Unlike some body armor companies, they aren’t afraid to let you shoot their products. I actually had one company contact me and want me to write about their hard body armor without actually shooting it. What!?! That’s like testing a gun without shooting it, or testing a knife without using it to cut something. I politely refused that company’s offer of “testing” their body armor, if they didn’t want me to actually shoot at it. They claimed they had already tested their armor and there wasn’t any need for me to do any further testing. Okay, fine, but I don’t write about any products without actually testing them for myself. Sure, my own, limited testing isn’t “scientific”, but it’s still a real world test of sorts.
Be sure to check out Infidel’s website for their full-line of soft and hard body armor as well as many of the other products they sell. I’m betting you’ll find something you can’t live without. Also, remember, the federal government is trying to ban hard body armor. Oh, sure, they say if you already have it you can keep it (I’ve heard that before), but you won’t be allowed to purchase any hard body armor unless you are in the military or law enforcement fields. I recommend you get your body armor while you can!
– SurvivalBlog Product Review Editor Emeritus, Pat Cascio