Scot’s Product Review: JRH Enterprises Armor, Helmet and Carrier

DKX Max III Body Armor I like having body armor. I first bought some to wear while covering civil disturbances, but I was always happy to have it around in case of trouble around my home. My early stuff was soft armor that could be worn concealed and was intended to stop handgun rounds. Choosing body armor is a great conundrum, however. You have to consider the threat you might face and how much weight and bulk you can carry as well as how it affects your mobility. We will be looking at armor here that can protect you from most rifle fire rather than soft armor to defeat handguns. This means we’ll be looking at hard plates that are bulky and heavy compared to soft armor. The plates in question today are the DKX Max III ones available from JRH Enterprises. Before I talk about them, though, I want to go over the options for this sort of protection so you can better determine the best answer for your needs. Steel Plates The most common plates in prepperdoom these days are probably steel ones made from AR500– a tough, hardened steel alloy often used for targets. It usually comes … Continue reading

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Product Review: Infidel Body Armory – Level IV

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 armory. 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 … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Armor Plate

The thing about armor plate on a vehicle is it’s really heavy. The point of a vehicle is that it moves. Also, the engine, transmission, and suspension are all built for the specific weight of the vehicle, not a couple thousand pounds of steel. If you add the weight of armor, you have to upgrade everything, or modify it to go slower with the existing system, without flipping over or disabling itself. Top Gear, a car show in the UK, actually tried this with SUVs a couple years ago. It did not work well. DIV Bond Car Pt. 1 video The Math: 3/8 inch steel plate weighs 15.32 pounds ref: http://www.turnersteelcoinc.com/html/plates.html A school bus is up to 46 feet long and 10 wide. If you ignore the roof but armor the floor and engine compartment, that’s around 46 long * 10 high * 3 sides + 10 * 10 * 2 (front and rear) = 1380 sq ft longways + 100 each front and rear ends = 1580 sq feet total, leaving the roof unarmored. At 15.32 lbs per square foot of 3/8 inch steel, that’s 24,205 pounds of steel. That’s more than 12 tons. The bus itself weight between … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Armor Plate

Hugh, Let me say that at one point I was the sole North American distributor for the German Wiesel 1 AWC. I never sold any, so that and a ten spot will buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks. However, it did afford me an education in lots of bits and bobs. First, figure out what your engine is rated to haul. Then halve that number to be able to haul it around under harsh conditions. Lots of early armored cars and tanks suffered from a fine automobile engine being stuffed into a vehicle at the upper edge of what the engine could carry. There were lots of overheated vehicles, and in some 1930’s reports you could follow an armored column doing peacetime maneuvers by following the broken down tanks and armored cars. Second, look at layers of armor vs. a single monolithic block. To give an example, the side armor on a WW II M5 was on average 1 to 1 1/8 inch thick or 40 to 45 pounds per square foot. This was considered sufficient armor to stop all light arms and artillery splinters. This is using RHA or rolled homogeneous armor, which is still the standard … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Armor Plate for a Bus

Hello, I’m looking at putting plate steel inside the walls of a bus that I am converting, and I was wondering how thick of steel I should put in there for effective armor from rifle fire up to something like .30-06. Can you provide any guidance in this area? Thank you – T.K. Hugh Responds: If you are talking mild steel plates, there isn’t any thickness that I would recommend. Mild steel (the most common plate steel) is so soft that thicknesses of greater than 1” may be required. Many today use abrasion resistance steel (steel intended for large earth moving equipment) with AR500 being the most common, but it is still less than optimal. 3/8” seems to be about the thickness for standard .308 (not armor piercing). To have true ballistic armor, you are going to have to do some research and find plate rated for such use. A word of warning: It will be pricey.

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Letter Re: Prepper Armor

Hugh, One point concerning body armor I have always wondered is if the NIJ testing is done at shorter ranges. In theory shouldn’t armor offer higher levels of protection at longer ranges than the NIJ certification due to velocity loss (and with it, reduced energy)? I know it’s not as simple as looking at energy, but a 240 Grain, JHP .44 Magnum round has about 700 ft-lbs at 25 yards, while a M193 round has the same energy at about 250 yards (according to my iSnipe app). While a .44 Magnum projectile is a lot heavier, slower, with more surface area in the tip of the projectile compared to a .223 projectile, if for example the NIJ rating for a level IIIA plate or panel defeats a .44 magnum at near muzzle velocity, does it not stand to reason that, in theory, at extreme distance (say 400-500 yards) a piece of IIIA could similarly defeat a .223 round? If so, hypothetical speaking, as JWR portrayed in his book Liberators, lighter armor might benefit a shooter with a long range .30 rifle engaging an enemy with a .223 rifle at 500-600 yards. – HTC Hugh Responds: It is a complex issue, … Continue reading

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Three Letters Re: Prepper Armor

Hugh, In response to K.W.’s concern, posted December 18, 2014, about M193 5.56 ball ammunition vs. Level III plates: It should be noted that two things defeat body armor– velocity and mass of the bullet. The NIJ 0101.06 (the most current) standards rate a Level III hard plate to stop a 7.62mm 147 grain steel jacketed bullet at 2780 feet per second. Considering the M193 travels right around 3000 fps (close to the NIJ standards) and the mass is significantly less, that should put you on the safe side. Incidentally, it seems some companies understand this concern and make sure some of these cartridges that don’t quite fit into the NIJ standards still won’t defeat their armor. AR500, for one, states on their website: “Third party testing has been performed with calibers up to 5.56 XM193, 7.62x54R, 30.06, 6.5 Creedmore, and .338 Lapua Magnum. Results with higher calibers may vary as they are typically over the threshold of Level III rated armor.” Hope that helps – E.W. o o o Hugh, There is a difference between police armor and military armor, and it has nothing to do with the NIJ rating. What the Major is talking about are things like … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Prepper Armor

Hugh, Just a few thoughts on the article about body armor. “The idea that you’re going to be wearing full-on body armor 24/7 during an SHTF situation is fantasy land.” That’s me, as accurately as I can remember, on a Facebook prepper group page. Yes, I’m one of those guys who doesn’t think body armor should be a high priority item. Certainly it shouldn’t be one before you have more basic preps squared away. Why is that? Well, having spent a decent portion of my life wearing the stuff, I know just how inconvenient it is. So, here are some thoughts on the recent article about “prepper armor.” (NOTE: In the interests of clarity, I have worn the Interceptor armor with full plates–front, back, and side, as well as the relatively “new” body armor with the cummerbund and full plates. I have not worn many of the police-oriented models and never worn or owned any soft body armor. Your mileage may vary.) The armor combination the author suggests for someone “in fairly good shape” is pretty bulky. A IIIA vest with plates, the codpiece (groin protector), and batwings (upper arm protection) is a lot of stuff to wear. It makes … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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Prepper Armor, by J.J.

As a former military and police tactical officer, I want to write a bit about armor, why consider using it, what are the types, and best choices for various budgets. Why Armor? Many Preppers do not believe that armor is a needed part of their preparations. However, after spending a combined 30 years in the military and in police work, I can assure you that when things break down people will act badly. People will take your stuff, rape your family, and kill you and your family. Weapons and armor will be vital. Armor is expensive. However, if you or a family member are shot, stabbed, or slashed in an attack in a TEOTWAWKI situation when you may not have access to an emergency room and a trauma surgeon, the injury could be life ending. Armor also gives you the ability, if shot while in the armor, to stay in the fight and provide additional firepower to aid your teammates or family. In addition, armor is an important force multiplier. If an enemy has to try and shoot you where there is no armor, it makes it that much harder for them to take you out of the fight. Types … Continue reading

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Letter Re: To Use Body Armor or Not

My sincerest condolences to the author. It’s always tragic to lose one of our own, especially as young as his father was at 42. Concerning the author’s questions, his Dad was wise on the policy of armor usage in a given AO. My personal combat experience, and lessons learned from others have taught me the following: Armor is a great tool, and only plated armor (lvl IV) counts when you have rifles pointed your way. Getting shot with armor/plates suck. There’s a lot of kinetic energy getting transferred from the bullet, to your armor, then to the sack of meat that is your body. A friend who got shot via 7.62x54R from an unknown distance square on his SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert, lvl IV) plate was knocked off his feet and alluded the experience to that of getting hit with a sledge hammer. He was bruised badly but lived to smoke again. Armor is not perfect; it is there to buy you time and nothing else. By time, I refer the means to get acceptable levels of trauma care. Take my aforementioned friend for example. Had he not been wearing his plate carrier that day, the time required to … Continue reading

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To Use Body Armor or Not, by J.O.

My father, MDL, was a long-time follower of SurvivalBlog. He spent his life in a constant but relaxed state of preparedness. When he found the website, he found kindred spirits from which he could learn and help learn through several articles he contributed. Often I would find him on his tablet reading old articles at odd hours when he couldn’t sleep. He and I would discuss what he had read and try to apply points not just to preparedness plans but to everyday life as well. I have many fond memories of quality time spent with him gardening, canning, dehydrating, hunting, and shooting, as an investment into our family security and survival plan. Sadly, my father has recently passed away, at 42 years of age, after losing his battle with an aggressive cancer. So here I sit, lamenting the loss of my father– my friend and my mentor– while wondering how best to honor him. After some serious self-reflection, I’ve decided I’m going to take up the standard and continue his legacy, not just because it’s his but because he opened my eyes, and I can’t “un-see” what I’ve seen. His stores, his firearms, and his various odds and ends … Continue reading

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