Saturday, October 10, 2015

Armor up

Ever consider getting a "bullet resistant vest" as part of your planning for civil unrest, economic collapse...or whatever?

What appear to be some great deals on "new" body armor have shown up on eBay in the past couple weeks. Some listings note never used stuff, apparently government contractor surplus, made by some of the industry mainstays who supply police and other government agencies.

Here's a size medium, said to fit a 42 to 44 inch chest, made by United Shield. New old stock, made five years ago, but never worn, it says. Priced under $180, that's not much higher than a lot of ten year old police surplus sells for.

Same seller has it in larger sizes at slightly higher prices.

There's also this "tactical style" in a small for $170, including soft front, rear and side cummerbund panels.

While I'm no expert on body armor, I've seen each of these styles close up, and they appear well made. They have Level IIIa soft armor panels that are larger, giving much better body coverage, than typical budget civilian sets that make use of stock 10 x 12 front and rear panels.

The two examples I mentioned here are noted as Level IIIa, capable of stopping most handgun rounds. Level IIIa, and the slightly less capable but less cumbersome Level II, are what most cops wear for daily duty. These vests aren't intended to be capable of stopping rifle rounds.

If you dig around on eBay, searching by brand names, there's a few other similar "new old stock" IIIa deals out there right now. Maybe some contractor lost its government contract. Maybe some contractors, for insurance purposes, have wholesaled surplus vests near the end of their 5 year warranty window. Whatever, a deal's a deal (but do your own due diligence in researching your buy).

I've also spent some time tracking a few used armor auctions. It's not uncommon to see what appear to be (without seeing what's been sold) some decent vest rigs going for under a hundred bucks.

Body armor's not for everybody.  When I was a reporter in the 1990s, I borrowed a surplussed police vest from a friend when covering brief bouts civil unrest in Atlanta.  Nobody ever shot at me, but there was a time or two that vest gave a bit of protection when protesters began hurling rocks and bottles.

Body armor's the kind of thing you need to plan for in advance if you think there's ever going to be an outside chance you're going to need it.  You're not going to find in on racks at Walmart or other big box stores. Even if you find some at a local specialty public safety retailer, style choice and sizing's going to be limited, and it's likely going to run hundreds and hundreds of dollars if you buy new.e

With the recent spurt of college campus shootings, I wonder how many students (or their parents) are pondering purchase of a set as a contingency should they ever be under a "shelter in place" directive.

By the way, if you live in Connecticut, it's against the law for you to buy body armor online unless you're law enforcement or military.

Nationally, felons are barred from purchasing or possessing body armor.

Updated: Text revised to delete reference to shotgun slugs, where I find conflicting info on whether a IIIa vest will stop one.  While on the subject, Box o' Truth did some layman's unofficial testing of some IIIa panels a while back, you can see the results here.

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