CROM USA 616 Personal Ballistic Forearm Shield: When Batman Meets Captain America

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By Waysun Johnny Tsai

Not all of your EDC gear goes on your belt or in your pockets, some may may require a backpack.

Maybe it has been the last couple of years’ political climate, with riots and burning cities, but the idea of a shield…a piece of ballistic armor that could just be picked up and used to save lives when seconds count, just makes sense to me.

And while there are several companies that currently make them, one recent company collaboration caught my eye with a product that fills all of the requirement that I would personally want in this type of gear. CROM USA (Rob Sotelo) and Armorer’s Choice.

CROM; Made in America

The “616” personal shield was designed for Armorer’s Choice by Rob after finishing several ballistic armor advancements together. The new carbon fiber design opened up the world to a lot of new (or in this case, very old) techniques.

Aside from being a career police officer, Rob Sotelo also has an extensive background in the martial arts and shooting, both as a competitor and as a certified instructor. He wanted to do two things with the 616.

1) Create a shield that was small and light enough to encourage use and deployment, but still of a size/shape that’s viable for carry and defensive use.

2) And, just as important, it had to be shaped and strong enough to be used as an impact weapon. People forget that the Aspis / Hoplon used by ancient Greek warriors like the Spartans, was as much a weapon as it was a defensive tool.

As militaries built bigger and bigger shields to defend against projectile attacks, we lost our way with the ballistic shield. The 616 was CROM USA’s the answer to what they considered the missing link.

The 616 ballistic shield was designed with the intent to be built up to NIJ IIIa+ standards for body armor. That means it will stop 9mm, .45 ACP, .44 mag and even 5.7×28 rounds. Rob and his team have tested the armor against 12ga 00 buck and 12ga 1oz slugs at close range.

The shield has been certified by an independent lab and will come with the appropriate documentation. The base model comes with a forearm strap for a MSRP price of $405. The shield can be also equipped with an extremely powerful B70 Taker light from Fox Fury and the armor rating can be increased up to NIJ IV (at an additional cost and increased weight).

Each shield is made to order, so that you know you are getting the most recent model and the maximum amount of life span from your product.

Designed for cops and civilians alike

Rob has been a police officer for nearly 20 years. In his career he has served as a field training officer, defensive tactics instructor, impact weapons instructor, less than lethal instructor, patrol rifle instructor, pistol instructor and shotgun instructor.

During his time on patrol, Rob was assigned to the motorcycle unit for 15 years. It was during that time that he came up with the idea of a small shield that could be mounted on the motorcycle and easily deployed during a higher risk vehicle stop. He also wanted something that a mom could carry in a backpack, a large diaper bag, on the back of a baby stroller.


CROM started out as a firearms manufacturer and still makes a range of gun parts. The company set out to design new firearms with enhanced ergonomics and employ new technology in materials.

Rob says that he absolutely loves the design phase of making new firearms. He also has a handful of prototypes that are in different phases of construction. The most notable prototype is an AR platform .50 BMG that weighs only19 lbs. That sounds like a lot, but it’s almost 10 lbs. less than the competition.


One of the cool things about making cool products is that cool people tend to take notice. Retired professional MMA fighter and actor Cung Le has been getting more and more involved in the gun industry.

CROM supplied Cung with his own personal 616 shield. Cung Le liked the 616 so much that he has not only incorporated it into his own firearms training regimen, but he is featuring it in an upcoming zombie film that he will be starring in.


A Chicago native, Sijo Waysun Johnny Tsai is an internationally recognized combatives and survival instructor. He is a published book and DVD personality with over 35 years experience in teaching practical street defense and combatives to the military, law enforcement agencies and civilians alike. SIJO is also the founder of the C.U.M.A. Survival School.

When not teaching classes, writing, or doing crazy thing with knives, SIJO likes to enjoy his downtime with his wife and three children. He also likes drinking beer.



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  1. You know an even better idea? Shoot back. With two hands on the gun. And eyes open.
    Seriously, how are you going to open a door? Reload? Clear a malfunction? Pick something up? Put something down? See?

    • For all the reasons you mentioned, this isn’t viable as a self-defense tool. But for those looking to engage in street fights against mobs like antifa, etc, with this in one arm and a melee weapon in the other, it has great potential.

      • If you think it’s time to engage the fascist thugs in the street then it is time to ditch melee weapons and copy Kyle Rittenhouse.

        • Antifa are not fascist. They are anti-fascist, hence the name “Antifa”. People have been brainwashed to use “fascist” as an insult because Antifa’s creators/supporters, mostly Jews, are the ones who create mainstream culture.
          Antifa are subhuman scum, but they are not fascist.

        • Hey, t, just because they CALL themselves anti-fascist means nothing. They clearly use fascist thug tactics, just like Hitler’s Brown Shirts, the SA. You need to learn what fascism is. You could also call it Communist tactics, but Communism and Fascism are evil twins, more alike than different.

        • “Antifa are not fascist. They are anti-fascist, hence the name “Antifa”.”

          If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, It’s a duck.

          They can claim they’re not fascist, because that’s one of the oldest tricks in the totalitarian playbook. Accuse your enemy of being what you actually are…

        • Several Communist/totalitarian countries stuck “Democratic” into their name: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, German Democratic Republic, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, etc. It doesn’t make them paragons of free and fair elections.

        • Hey T: See Geoff’s definition. You can call a pig a cow but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.

        • t : you outed yourself when you blame ANTIFA evils as a product of “mostly jews”.

      • Antimarxist Action: If you wind up hand-to-hand in the streets with anyone, your tactics suck.

      • Antifa has been around for a hundred years -same flag, even. So long, in fact, I’m not sure there was an actual fascist government in power before they started “opposing” them (when did Mussolini come to power?). It has always been a violent communist insurgent group who’s name is nothing more than a semantic spin trying for a positive image of a group so destructive to humanity they should be shot on sight. They are absolutely fascists themselves. There is all St no difference – fascism = national socialism, communism = international socialism. Tomato/tomato…

    • Antifa uses the tactics of fascists, sing the praises of Mao and some of Marx. The Maoist say the Marxist are counterfeit and say to use them as fodder.

      Antifa are technically a mix of fascists and Communists. The use of the name Antifa is from calling the Right fascists so long they needed to be anti whatever they call us. The most committed of them are Maoist at heart, and that makes them evil. They believe Mao was correct and pure and he is a deity.

      Before many of the Antifa web pages “closed” they were a source of intelligence of their ideologies and core beliefs. Many of those pages still are available, but not updated for a long time. They moved to other platforms similar to Jihadis where you need passwords and know where to access them.

      • “They believe Mao was correct and pure and he is a deity.“

        Really? I would love to read more about their delusions regarding imaginary deities.

  2. So if you’re shot at & the shield tilts down you get the splatter on your legs & feet?

    • The ‘rough’ coating on the “This side towards Enemy” side is an anti-spalling rubber coating. It’s better than nothing, but…

      I question this claim as well – “Rob and his team have tested the armor against 12ga 00 buck and 12ga 1oz slugs at close range.”

      I’d like to see the test video of that with a human holding it, a 1-oz. slug at 1,000 + FPS has the impact energy to break the arm holding it…

      • I would hope it would be on the “friendly” side. I see what looks like a pad in the middle, but lots of un- / barely-coated carbonfiber around the edges on the back.

        I’ve worked with CF quite a bit. My understanding is that, even though it’s considerably stronger than Kevlar, it isn’t suitable for applications like this because of its stiffness and sudden, brittle, catastrophic failure mode. I’d hate to be the test dummy full of CF needles after “protecting” myself with this.

        • “I would hope it would be on the “friendly” side.”

          You want it on the front, not the back side. A projectile striking a hard plate will at the least, somewhat shatter sending fragments across the surface of the hard plate in all directions. You need the rubber-like anti-spalling coating to ‘absorb’ some of those fragments…

        • You may. I want to control fragments on the side I’m on. That’s the way it works in tanks, and carbon is much more likely to spall than steel.

  3. By the seven Devils of Crom, will this shield withstand the mighty blow of a broadsword?

    • Are the ‘Seven Devils of Crom’ Leftist scum like yourself? 🙂

  4. If you think you need body armor wear it. Keep both hands free. You may want a more effective weapon than a handgun.

    My free opinion on the matter.

    • They are? Could have fooled me. I’d always thought they were an elite paramilitary group similar to the Japanese Samurai.

    • Possum, you said, “Pretty damned sad when you have to have this kind of stuff in Our fine country.” FYI, you don’t “have to have this kind of stuff” in America. If you want to look like a cross between Captain America and Batman, you can CHOOSE to buy this kind of stuff. I think it’s great that we’re living in such a free country that you can buy this stuff and have it delivered straight to your door (except for Connecticut, where the Constitution is null and void). Then you can choose to either cosplay Batman, paint it red white and blue and cosplay Captain America, or even pair it with your own custom superhero costume and go out at night to fight crime.

      It might be useful in Chiraq (Chicago), or other places with overly strict gun laws like my state of New Jersey (where all law-abiding citizens have been disarmed for the convenience of the criminals!), but elsewhere it’s just an expensive toy, nothing that anyone “has to have.” Also, it was designed primarily for cops, who have long used ballistic shields, but other police ballistic shields are too big and heavy to do much of anything except stand behind and advance slowly like a Roman legionary, and definitely too big and heavy for motorcycle cops.

  5. Make one the size of a [i]Scutum[/i] , and add a couple of firing ports for my Beretta, and I might buy.

    As it is….to me, this is a lot like the “Bullet proof whiteboard” some company came up with a few years back in response to school shootings. It’s a neat idea, but its practical usefulness is probably not all that great.


  6. Silliest thing yet for civilians. Sorry, if you think you need one of these, you probably shouldn’t own a gun. If you get that close to me and I am in fear for my life enough to have a shield, I will have enough will to fire and fire again.

  7. “Their chief is CROM. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send dooms, not fortune. He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of gods?” – Conan the Barbarian when asked about who his people worshipped.

  8. Fascists are National Socialists. They use Nationalism as the glue to institute Socialism. Italian Fascists were not Racists. Italian Fascism actually had an outsized number of Jews in the Party.

    NAZIs are similar but use Race, not Nation. Their glue was Race, but the goal was Socialism.

    Comunists are International Socialists who use Class warfare as a means of Solidarity to create a Socialist Society.

    International Socialism has always been a Jewish thing. Jews being a minority, yet being the Ruling Class hate any other group but themselves from organizing.

    Communism was invented and nutured mostly by Jews. Which is why it is not villified as much as NAZI/Fascists are. Because Jews are our Ruling Class.

    ANTIFA members think they are Archo-Communists but they are just the Ruling Class’s thugs to beat down anyone who opposes what they want.

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