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The headline above is the videographer’s advice for YouTubers considering replicating his experiment into homemade armor. Your thoughts?

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  1. Knowledge is rarely wasted but quality armor is cheap in comparison to the cost of your life.
    AR500 and Infidel are good ones

      • Shelf life is an issue for soft armor and ceramic hard armor. AR-500 and other quality steel plates don’t have that issue and are cheaper than quality soft armor use to be. The only trouble with steel is the weight.

        • What is it about ceramic plate armor degrading over time?

          Is the ceramic not like tile, but in a somewhat flexible matrix to keep it from shattering?

        • @ Geoff PR

          Basically, ceramic armour isn’t (usually) a single cast piece of ceramic. It’s a very high density lamination of multiple layers, bonded together under pressure.

          The advantage of this is that the plate retains at least partial integrity through multiple strikes. With a single piece of ceramic, shatter lines would travel three-dimensionally throughout the plate on the first strike. Imagine shooting a BB pellet rifle at a china teacup – it probably won’t go through, but it will smash the cup to pieces. By contrast, multiple laminated layers effectively contain the shattering effect to “two” dimensions (OK, three, but the Z axis is very shallow on each layer). So even if the outer few layers are completely wrecked by the first hit, deeper layers survive with enough integrity to stop follow-up shots.

          The issue with lamination is that environmental conditions cause it to break down over time – even with high quality armour. Heat, humidity, micro movement during normal use, etc. etc. The “valid until” dates are there for a good reason!

          We recently tested a whole bunch of high quality ceramic armour (from some reputable US, UK and South African manufacturers) one year beyond validity but otherwise in very good condition, to demonstrate to one of our clients in Afghanistan why they should pony up for new armour. The results were pretty compelling:

          All equipment tested was end of service life, plus one year, but otherwise had not been abused. All equipment was fired upon from a range of 30ft. All shots were taken on a “new” target, eg. penetration data is on first strike rather than follow-up shots.

          NIJ L-3A PASGT helmet

          9x19mm ball – clean penetration through one side
          12ga. slug – clean penetration through both sides
          5.56x45mm – clean penetration through both sides
          7.62x39mm – clean penetration through both sides

          NIJ L-4 ceramic chest plate / L-3A soft armour

          9x19mm ball – no penetration
          12ga. slug – partial penetration, plate delaminated, slug stopped in soft armour behind the plate
          5.56x45mm – partial penetration, round fragmented but several sections penetrated soft armour behind the plate
          7.62x39mm – partial penetration, round fragmented but several sections penetrated soft armour behind the plate
          7.62x39mm AP – full clean penetration through hard and soft armour

          The real surprise for me was the 12ga. on the NIJ Level 4 plate. I expected it to dump a whole heap of energy and make a real mess of the plate face, but to see it consistently penetrating or partial penetrating was remarkable. Most times the wadding would be caught up in the middle of the plate, but the actual slug would have penetrated right through and stopped in the soft L-3A armour behind, or hung up just as it exited the rear of the plate.

          In any case, it makes the point that plate-carrier PPE absolutely cannot be relied upon for anything higher rated than pistol calibres unless you know it’s new and has been kept in good environmental conditions – and that’s still a lot of trust to place in your kit.

        • “In any case, it makes the point that plate-carrier PPE absolutely cannot be relied upon for anything higher rated than pistol calibres unless you know it’s new and has been kept in good environmental conditions – and that’s still a lot of trust to place in your kit.”

          Thanks for the info, kinda scary.

          Myself, I don’t have any body armor, but I do know a few folks who have it “just in case”, I’ll pass that along to them.

          From what you’ve shown me, “just in case” armor should probably be simple AR500 plate, in terms of long term storage…

    • +1
      What’s a set of AR500 cost? $200 or so? Once you factor in the costs of testing multiple revisions of your home-brew armor and trips to the store, you’re probably not only ahead in value, you’re still alive should you ever depend on the armor.

    • The “good ones”? Not exactly….

      At impact angles of 40 degrees and steeper (off perpendicular), the entire rifle round deflects off steel, guaranteed. Put yourself in a combat stance and make believe you’re holding a long-gun. Look down at your chest and imagine wearing a curved hard steel armor plate – then imagine the angles of incoming rounds from the side, above and below.

      Project where a deflected round will go, paying close attention to the vulnerability of your inner arms, groin and underside of where your neck meets your chin. I’ll keep my ceramic.

      • Please look up paxcon coatings. I’ll stick with my steel. I’ve seen full auto 30 rounds of green tip not penetrate with no, zero, frags in gel head. Paxcon contains the frags.

        • Paxcon (poly urea) coatings contain the “splash” (lead & copper jacket fragments) of a round that impact the hardened steel armor plates at less than a 40 degree angle off perpendicular. Coatings and/or Kevlar wraps do not capture any mangled projectiles that impact the plate at angles steeper than 40 degrees. That’s the big secret of wearing inexpensive steel armor plate, ricochets are normal and expected at very common angles of impact (greater than 40 degrees).

          Regarding the 5.56mm green tip ammo (M-855, SS-109) threat, for some strange reason it is easier to stop green tip on steel plates than the lead filled M-193 rounds (which are more likely to penetrate steel armor plate). Just the opposite with lightweight polyethylene plastic NIJ level III plates – 5.56mm green tip is much more likely to penetrate than M193 lead filled ball ammo.

          Shooting 5.56mm against ceramic plates, the type of ammo is irrelevant – both green tip and M-193 will handily be defeated.

          • >> for some strange reason it is easier to stop green tip on steel plates than the lead filled M-193 rounds

            No strangeness here – the steel penetrator in green tips is softer than AR500, and so doesn’t possess any special penetrating qualities compared to penetrator-less M193. And in the absence of the penetrator, the greater the velocity, the more likely penetration is to happen – and M193 has a fair bit more velocity.

        • @ RickA (and Int19h)…

          See my comment shortly above: age and condition of ceramic plate is a major consideration.

          Yes, NIJ Level 4 should reliably stop both 5.56 and 7.62 – and yet we tested multiple plates from reputable manufacturers that were out of date but otherwise in good condition (used but not abused), and consistently got first strike penetration with both rounds.

          Personally I still prefer ceramic to steel – even coated – due to the reduced weight and reduced likelihood of ricochet. But the tests we carried out absolutely underline the need to renew your ceramic plates regularly.

          • Absolutely! Which is why I would recommend buying new plates, as well. The link that I gave to is to just such a listing. You can see the label on the plate, and date of manufacture is 2015. At this price level ($200/plate), there really isn’t any point to go seek expired plates – they won’t be much cheaper.

            My understanding, however, is that the rate of degradation depends a lot on how the armor is used and stored, and that expiration dates that are listed – typically 5 years or so – normally assume regular use (i.e. daily wear in potentially adverse weather conditions). If it is bought and placed into storage, in a place which doesn’t have major or rapid temperature and humidity variations, it should significantly extend its life.

  2. I think it’s a great idea. I can hardly wait to head out to Home Depot and build my own set. /sarc

    • It doesn’t make much sense for personal use, but let’s say you had to armor a vehicle door, and keep it light.

        • Phone books are what you’re looking for in vehicle armor on the cheap and the weight.
          Seriously, it’s not 1988. I haven’t seen a phone book in ten years.
          Perhaps they can be purchased, but I’m not going to stockpile useless phone books, just in case the exceedingly unlikely possibility of needing to armor a vehicle comes to fruition.
          I have ceramic tiles, aluminum plate and duct tape sitting around in the garage for other uses.

        • You must have missed that MythBusters episode where they “armored” a car up with phone books. Short story: Not so much.

  3. Can’t find any useful info in that video.
    You want armor, use proven materials and products. The research has already been done, and continues to be done. The products are out there.

    What would be more useful is to know what might make effective cover in a DGU.
    Marble top dresser, flipped on its side?
    Solid core door?
    Freezer full of meat?

    Just joking on that last one.

  4. It just needed more duct tape. What if I use the fake carbon fiber wrap? I bet it would stop a depleted uranium round. Yeah… Definitely more duct tape.

    • Proper ceramic armor stops 7.62×51 just as well.

      What it won’t stop is AP. But AP works better in smaller, faster calibers. So, really, they should rather use something like light .243 with tungsten core.

      • I could go with .243 seeing that it is my go to round. But there is more to The superiority of .308 than just body armor penetration. There are many materials that create cover against 5.56 That are rendered ineffective by .308.

        • .243 should handle those, as well. Either the material in question requires penetration – in which case faster velocity will help; or it just needs brute force, i.e. weight – in which case the heavier .243 bullets should really be “good enough” (joule-for-joule, it’s significantly more powerful than 7.62×39, and I haven’t ever heard anyone complain about how that deals with obstacles), especially with a hardened penetrator.

          The only real problem with it is reduced barrel life. But with modern nitrided barrels surviving tens of thousands of rounds and still doing fine, I doubt it is a big problem.

  5. My thoughts on homemade armor?

    As to wearing it, I’d say it’s on par with a homemade parachute.

    But I can easily see improvised armor like that being used to harden a wall for home defense, like perhaps a ‘safe room’…

  6. I suppose if you’re a gang banger on the streets of Chicago, slapping together one of these before walking to the store for a Monster Drink or whatever, might not be such a bad idea. They seem fully capable of stopping handgun rounds and something is better than nothing. Of course, not being a gang-banger on the streets of Chicago would be the first and best choice.

  7. Well for edc I would so no go. If it all you can afford, and keep in home, maybe do something like this. However do not expect it to save you. Maybe behind cover. Nice experiment though.

  8. experiments like this (as long as its done safely) should continue and i think we should support it. more knowledge and information is always better.

    im not saying you should use homemade armor, not when proven quality armor is available. but youll never know. someday the supply might run out, or the government bans the sale.

  9. Experimentation such as this provides information. What someone uses that information for is the key. While it would appear that tile and aluminum are not worth the effort for personal body armor they could be used to create safe zones in a home or other similar uses. It’s not
    smart to assume something is effective… testing is always a good idea.

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