Dressing a water bottle in a bullet-resistant vest may not be a scientifically correct way to measure the impact of various rounds on the wearer, but it’s visually illustrative and certainly entertaining. The takeaway from BulletSafe’s promo video seems to be that taking a big boy round to the chest while protected by one of their products is roughly equal to absorbing a good rap with a rubber mallet or a Louisville Slugger. You’re probably going to have the breath knocked out of you and may very well end up on the deck, but it sure as hell beats a sucking check wound and critical organ damage. “Bullet proof” vests aren’t cheap, though, and most people figure that their odds of taking a round don’t warrant dropping that kind of coin, let alone the hassle and discomfort of wearing one on a regular basis. Would you buy one? Have you?

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82 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Own a Bullet Proof Resistant Vest

  1. Uh, none of those were “big boy” rounds.

    Use a 12ga slug for the start of “big boy” rounds. Or even a .30-06 with a 180gr bullet. Those are big game energies in North America.

    Then use a .338WM or .375 H&H, which are (IMO) the starting point for dangerous game cartridges.

    People should see that even if the round doesn’t penetrate, high powered rifles shot into a vest will likely result in death from a flailed chest.

    Would I buy one? No. Would I wear one? No. Too much weight, too much hassle, too restrictive of movement and then there’s wardrobe considerations.

    • Pretty much any rifle round will penetrate your average vest. Even .223 is too much, to the point where it would likely penetrate multiple vests. Unless you have a plate carrier it’s not going to do much good against rifle cartridges.

    • I think its because its soft armor, IIIA from the website, so theres very little doubt rifle rounds would zip right through. I too would like to see some demonstration of what happens to the tissue from the impact of different rounds stopped by a level IV plate. Because Science and guns are more fun together right?

    • No flexible bullet proof vest will stop conventional rifle bullets, so the test is actually better without such a comparison. Cops don’t wear metal (or ceramic) plates because they are bulky, heavy, and inconvenient.

        • Even SWAT guys don’t wear their plates to the grocery store…but wear them only when breaking down someone’s door, and while holding an AR-15 or UMP in their hands.

    • How many gang bangers use .338 Win Mags or .375 H&H’s? Glock 9mm? Definitely. And I have no argument that a 12 gauge slug will ruin your whole day.

      Cops wear vests to protect against handguns – both the ones bad guys carry and the ones in their own holsters. Vests also have the occasional fringe benefit of stabilizing body organs in high speed crashes. They also offer some protection against fire and edged weapons.

      Vests are hot as he’ll and have zero ability to breathe. Some can also protect against Tasers. I have a Second Chance IIIA and an Extreme Armor IIIA.

      • I understand that.

        I’d like to see II/IIA vests labeled as “handgun bullet resistant” vests and get rid of the term “bullet proof.”

        • Again, no argument. We refer to them, on an internal basis, as soft body armor. Policy discourages us from mentioning soft body armor to the public, although it is obvious that we have it, particularly to the more educated POTG. The DOJ standards and limits are still public domain. Our recent vest upgrade are ridiculously stiff to reflect the way that the standards are measured. Even cops who don’t know anything about guns are trained about the vest limitations.

          It’s pretty much just the media who refers to them as “bullet proof,” and they clearly do not suffer from excessive intelligence.

    • I got a level IIIA vest when I was working as a cash handler. It says very clearly on the inside label that it is not adequate protection against shotgun slugs. The armor will stop the slug but the blunt trauma is fatal.

  2. Ive wondered about getting level IIA kevlar sewn into a jacket or other overgarment. I just don’t know where to start or if it would even work.

  3. I have a class for level SWAT entry vest with the large 10 by 12 plates. Completely cover the front of your abdomen and upper thorax and rear chest.it’s got neck collar protection and growing protection weighs a ton along with my ballistic nylon helmet it’s just in case the s*** hits the fan type of thing. But it will stop 30 odd 6 armor piercing rounds and 12 gauge buckshot and slug point blank even though I wouldn’t want to be wearing it when that round hit it lol!

  4. If AR500 ever gets their CN IIIA soft armor back in stock I’d buy a front and back insert. But they have been OOS for 4+ months thanks to the ban body armor panic.

  5. Body Armor Outfitters in Hampstead, New Hampshire supplies a lot of armor to police and security forces. They sell used vests that they buy en masse from police stations. I wandered in one day thinking they’d have firearms and walked out with a 10 year old 3A vest for $150.
    And yes, they do quality check all of the used stuff they sell. As for the stuff they’re not willing to sell, they shoot the hell out of it in tests, and at the time I had puchased my vest last year they didn’t have any penetrations even on the stuff they weren’t willing to sell.
    Great service, and they provide body armor at an entry level price point.

  6. I want to get a Level III vest to throw on at 3 am when someone is breaking into my house. Nahhh, the real reason is to wear it to the range so everybody would know I am an operator who operates operationally. Oh yeah I already have the mechanic gloves

  7. No I am not to that point of concern as a private individual- YET. I wore one in my military and police work. They are a bit uncomfortable but necessary in certain occupations.

  8. Given some of the behavior I’ve seen at the shooting range, yes, there are days where I wish I had an EOD suit.

    • +1000 this … some days I want one of those lovely MRAPs and I’ll just shoot at the 25 yd target through a gun port 🙂

      I have a Level II from Galls that I wear when I RSO at the pistol range, especially if I have an evening shift when it’s quite dark and lonely out. Under a shirt and even a light jacket I’ve never had anyone ask or mention anything. It’s a little like carrying a gun in the first place – I don’t think I’ll ever need one but needing it and not having it – catastrophic.

      Side benefit – I often wear it under my motorcycle jacket for extra blunt-force trauma protection during my commute. But do I wear it “out and about” on a regular basis? No.

    • + 1001 ++ ^ I read a really great article in an old shooting/gun magazine at my dentist’s office (wish I could cite the author, please forgive the bogart if you find your work here) but they basically said ‘don’t just take your kids out shooting in the woods and let them have-at, take them to a proper range and let them see the level of care exercised by the range personnel and the people shooting around them. This way you can introduce them to safety (something obscure and boring to most youngsters) “like proper etiquette and decorum, in the same way that you would teach someone the rules of golf, i.e., you would not wear your glove while ‘on the green’ because you would not need or use it there…”‘ [Meaning basically] that you teach safety in the presence of others who may or may not be exhibiting great practices themselves, and you do it in a way that removes it from the idea of immediate personal safety, as a youngster may feel somewhat invincible.

      A bit of a ramble away from the OP (please pardon). YES get a plate carrier, get ceramics with soft-armor covers, get the shoulder pads and helmet, sweat-thru them, live there. Yep, anything worth getting shot with, is worth giving (the offending round) the toughest job possible. (Just don’t rely on it).

  9. Nah. I wore one for many years.
    My old one acts as a clearing barrel out in the shop. (Backed up with a couple phone books)

  10. Theyve got a level IV plate for $169 on their website, not a bad price, curious as to where it is made.

    “The Bulletsafe bulletproof vest really is a great vest.”

    That is some effective advertising right there.

  11. I live in the Nashville area and the only person I have ever seen wear body armor is Leonard Embody. He has his reasons…..

  12. Personally I loved the information guys. Sometimes its the only way us older ones can learn about stuff. A friend looked at me one day and said what do you need Israel bandages for? All I could think of if someone got off a lucky shot and winged you or anyone with you you would want one then. I probably wouldn’t buy one as from what I’m hearing I couldn’t handle the weight. At 63 I can work out all I want but I won’t build up any muscle the
    way a guy would it’s a genetic thing, never was built like a brick s___house any way. Husband won’t even let me try a 45 as he says I’ll break my wrists. Anybody know the best solution to cross dominance? Would definitely appreciate the help.

    • I’m cross-dominant but it doesn’t seem to affect my rifle shooting much. I can switch hands with a shotgun. I hold my handgun with both hands and keep both eyes open; sometimes I cock my head so that my right eye (non-dominant) is blocked out by my nose. I pretty much concentrate on point shooting anyway.

    • You hubby is bullshitting you about the .45. A full size .45 (5″ barrel) is one of the sweetest shooting guns around. After I rented one at a the range, I had to have one. The recoil is a slow push, not a hard snap like a .40 or even a 9mm +P.

    • I’m right handed, left eye dominant, and shoot a Glock. If you present with a normal stance the gun will basically align with the eye on the same side as your dominant hand (i.e. – Right handers have the sights lined up for their right eye). All I do is rotate the gun to the left so it lines up with my left eye – and as an added bonus my right eye can no longer see the front sight post – it’s blocked by the blocky Glock slide.
      I then just shoot both eyes open. It works great for me – I actually kind of pity the regular people.
      Now, I do still shoot rifles with my right eye – but I usually shoot those both eyes open also (irons and red dots, not scopes).

  13. I wore a IIIIA vest for a year, not bad @ -5 degrees, a real pain @ +60 when in the woods and humping operator airsoft stuff, but I’m dam happy I have it

    • : ) as opposed to the (any other) kind. Well, if your doc thinks you’re worth a three-sided bandage drill, you’re doing ok, LAUS DEO!

  14. I would like a vest. I haven’t yet spent the money for one. I do have a bullet resistant panel I keep in my backpack. I have my back pack almost everywhere I go. I have friends that tested the panel and shot it 10 times with various calibers with zero penetration.

    I would hope that I would see a bad guy coming and be able to turn around in time.

  15. Have I ever bought one or do I have one? Nope. Would I ever consider buying one? Yep, absolutely if I worked 3rd shift in Chicago, or Newark, or Oakland. I would want one if I worked at a public range, or drove an armored truck or had some other high risk job. But thankfully so far, not too many 58 year old draftsmen getting shot at in the news.

    • I’m a drafter as well! Clients can be d!cks but haven’t felt the need for a vest either 😉

  16. I have a low-profile plate carrier and two slabs of curved, anti-spalling coated ar500. I don’t wear them out too often.

  17. Wore one for years. I’ve spent a lot of time in cities and states where that was the only protection you could legally have (Massachusetts, Chicago, etc.). Also great for those not so nice work environments where you’re dealing with crazies but you can’t carry a gun due to workplace rules. For those who say ‘won’t stop a rifle’, my response is: ‘street thugs generally don’t carry a .30-06 or even a .223 rifle to do a stickup’. Usually you’re faced with a joker with a .38 special or a stolen wonder 9, and soft armor works just fine for those. I figured it would give me space to run like hell if it came to that as opposed to being dead right there. Any chance is better than nothing.

  18. If I did, it all went overboard in the tragic canoeing accident.

    Plates are heavy and sink quickly. 😉

    Definitely not recommended as a personal flotation device.

    • Between the heavy vest and all those guns and ammo you overloaded that boat and contributed to it’s sinking. Expect a citation from the coasties. 🙂

      • Coast Guard isn’t your problem. Inland water are OWNED by the EPA fascists. Mess with their intermittent or permanent streams/river/lakes and they will own you. And their SWAT team will take care of your dog.

      • 7.62×25 is better than 5.7. More energy and 5.7 is best with AP ammo (that is illegal because it is pistol ammo).

        If you need AP for some SHTF scenario then you can easily make them by gluing a steel ball bearing in the cavity of a Hollow point. You can also go for the .224 Boz, 9x19mm necked down to 5.56.They managed 670 m/s velocity with 9×19 case and a 50 grain bullet. Or you could use sabots in 7.62×25.

      • Ball 7.62×25 will get through a vest. Ball 5.7 won’t. There was a youtube video put up recently that tested this with the various 5.7 loads and only the real AP stuff got through. There was a second one that came out (around June/July?) that had 22LR, 357 mag and tok. Seeing the “little” tok go up against the mighty 357 mag was a real eye opener.

        • Yup, saw one of those little devils go right through an oak 4×4 and bury itself in a second one. On youtube that is. Besides, a Tok would complete my accidental Russkie military handgun set (already have the Nagant and the Mak.) Not that I set out to get one, it just kind of happened that way.

        • That’s what I meant. 5.7s magic is dependabt on LEO only AP ammo. 7.62×25 doesn’t depend on that.

          Also as a sidenote: Norinco makes a Sig clone in 7.62×25, 17 round mags. Think it is called the P762. Dominion Arms in Canada has them too.

  19. Nope. I don’t live in a large urban area, nor visit large urban areas with any frequency. I don’t do stupid things in stupid places with stupid people. I don’t frequent bars or 7-11s. For me, such armor plating is essentially useless.

  20. No. Urban grandpa’s don’t need these. In another life when I was young and stupid I went on field trips with my rich uncle. He gave me a steel pot and what was called a “flack jacket”. Hated them near as much as my m16.

    Now I have a choice in the matter my neighberhood is going to have to slide into mogadishu status before I pay to wear that crap.

    • What kind of field trips require flak jackets and helmets?

      Hope I am not prying but that sounds interesting.

      Also, what’s wrong with the M16? Best gun ever made according to people I have never met (I am being a bit sarcastic).

      Personally, while armor sounds like a good idea I am slow enough already (really shi**** runner for some reason).

        • Didn’t know that. Sorry for bringing it up, most vets don’t like stuff like that being brung up.

        • I took no offense, lolinski. I’m not at all sensitive about the less than wise choices I made as a youth. As someone smarter than me said.”I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience. But you couldn’t pay me a million bucks to do it again.”

        • So don’t join the army is your recommendation?

          Here in Norway there is still the whole drafting thing going on. I don’t think I can do it for moral reasons. Risk my life in a war I don’t believe in and a country that only accepted me because it had a quota it had to accept, doesn’t sound very inspiring. That and I am generally not a fan of people, I doubt that would improve with an sergeant yelling my ear off and having to depend on a group of people.

          That, and I consider death sorta intimate. You don’t kill somebody because you don’t care about them, either because you hate them or they hate you. Getting paid for that doesn’t make me much different from a prostitute IMO.

  21. No I don’t own one. Yes I’d buy one, and use it hopefully (for practice).

    I imagine them being pretty useful in the right circumstances. Just like a gun.

    Obviously in many circumstances they are overkill.

    Use your brain is all.

  22. Vests are a great idea. Though not practical for the average guy or gal’s everyday wear.

    But, during the zombie apocalypse you’ll be the most tacticool mofo on the block.

  23. Love to get a plate carrier and plates in case of an emergency. Right now I have a Blackhawk vest all loaded up and ready for a midnight emergency. It’s great for having a flashlight, magazines, etc. on something that I can throw on and use immediately, but I would like for it to have just a bit of armor as well.

  24. After I get all of my reloading equipment and I finish building a .300 Win Mag bolt action rifle that was my intention. Unless the Sig MPX comes out… ooops. Lets make that next June.

  25. If you’re going to wear one on a daily basis, I’d get one
    with knife protection. Running on Fire/rescue I never
    had anyone pull a gun, but I did have more than a
    few pull knives or shanks.

  26. I bought a Second Chance vest many years ago when I was doing some high-profile DJ shows at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit. For a IIIa vest, it was extremely light and comfortable. Unfortunately, it was also made of garbage material that breaks down faster than they warranted the vest for. A cop lost her life wearing a less than 3-year-old vest. A class action suit was filed and, lucky me, I was allowed to join. Got a check for all but $50 of the cost. Having a great carrer and titanium trauma plate, I picked-up some used Kevlar panels at a local gun show. Combined with the “upgrade” kit that Second Chance hastily sent out in an effort to save face, it should offer IIIa performance still. I don’t wear it often, though, since those Detroit shows are long behind me.

  27. I haven’t worn a vest of any kind since three-piece suits went out of style. ‘Memba them? If not, watch reruns of “The Mentalist.”

  28. I have a level II with a stab lining, but thats because I work as a private investigator in a large urban center with a very high propensity for violence. Outside of work I never wear it.

  29. Yes, I do.

    After watching that one Kirsten Joy Weiss video, I bought a whole crate of Peeps, attached them to an old jacket I found in the back of the closet, and voila! Level 4 ballistic armor (cuz it has 4 protective layers of Peeps). Thanks for the idea, KJW.

  30. have an old one just in case the neighborhood goes south, or if i have to take it to work if the city goes south….

  31. FYI – you can get used vests for about $200. Basically, cops can only wear vests within their warranty – when that expires they need a new vest. Well, most vests seem to have a five year warranty, and good kevlar (as long as it’s not badly abused) seems to last about 20-30+ years. America has something like 2 million people in LE – so every year something like 250k to 400k used vests hit the market.
    For private users this is awesome.
    I’ve bought one vest from BulletProofMe.com for a friend getting death threats. At $200 bucks they make great sense. I mean, what’s better in a fight? Two handguns or a handgun and a vest?

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