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.)

  1. 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 movement difficult, and it makes carrying anything around difficult, especially if you’re wearing a pack or anything like it. If you’re planning on being foot mobile (or even if you aren’t), you’re not going to be moving fast at all. Take a look at the movies Restrepo and Korengal and see how the troops there equipped themselves. This armor combination is really only appropriate if you’re doing vehicle-based patrols in a high-threat environment, like Fallujah.
  2. Try wearing that stuff and getting into a vehicle. Better yet, get into a vehicle designed to carry troops wearing that stuff without putting any of it on. You’ll notice you have LOTS of room. Now, imagine getting into whatever vehicle you’re using to bug out wearing that stuff. Can you reach all of the controls? Can you see out of the windows? Can you move your head and body effectively to see out of the windows? I’m not confident I could put on my armor from Afghanistan and fit into my truck and drive effectively if I had to react to a dangerous situation–or even change lanes during rush hour.
  3. Most people see body armor as their way of carrying their stuff. There are tons of pouches and other bits you can mount to the PALS panels. RESIST THAT URGE. What happens when you have to squeeze into a spot and you have to drop your armor to do it? You’ve lost your primary means of carrying that stuff. When I rolled in Afghanistan, I used a chest rig hooked to clips I mounted onto the armor with zip ties. If I had to dump the vest, I could unhook the rig quickly and keep my main ammo supply (plus my radio, binos, pistol ammo, flashlight, et cetera). Also remember, you’re carrying that ammo and other stuff on top of a 30-ish pound vest.
  4. So, say you’re not going to wear it all the time. Now you have to have a place to store it, and it’s something to remember to grab and make a place for if you should have to bug out. Were you going to keep it in your daily commuter car all the time? I think that qualifies as a bad idea ™.

Look, I’m not saying body armor is a terrible idea, but keep some perspective when you think about adding it to your preps. You’re not going to be assaulting an ISIS stronghold or running patrols in Afghanistan any time soon after SHTF. At best, you’ll need it to check out a noise during a watch period or to fend off an assault on your homestead. Think about how you’re likely to react and design this prep appropriately.

The idea that you’ll be wearing it 24/7, or even during large portions of the day, really is fantasy land. Keep that in mind. Body armor should probably be one of the last things you pick up, unless your threat assessment dictates otherwise.

And, if that’s truly the case, maybe that money would be better used to relocate you and your family NOW, rather than after SHTF. – K.C. “Frag”, Maj, US Air Force (Ret)

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