Ballistic Plates: Yes or No?

Texas Classes 2016: Update + Comment
July 29, 2015
MVT Rifleman Challenge September 4-6
August 3, 2015

The purpose of this post is to discuss the use of ballistic plates as part of your loadout gear. This tends to be a polarizing topic but it really shouldn’t be – it is more aptly about assessing threat / benefit alongside the balance of firepower / protection / mobility. Also, we are discussing this primarily for the purpose of a civilian audience and therefore it is not simply the case of procurement of a type of gear, and employment thereafter. Equipment costs money, and therefore there is a cost / benefit analysis to be done.

(NOTE: all images are pulled from Google, unless otherwise captioned)

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So let’s look at some of the factors here:

  • If we employ ballistic plates in a Plate Carrier, they are likely to be 10″ x 12″ size and thus likely to only cover that portion of the front and rear of your body. You can increase that coverage with smaller side plates, thus increasing weight. Plate Carriers (PC’s) also provide the best protection when the carrier is upright, and thus provide less utility when the wearer is prone, although this is balanced against the fact that your profile is significantly reduced when prone, and thus you are less likely to be hit.
  • A PC comes with a penalty in weight. This is the balance of protection vs. mobility. You can reduce this penalty by spending more money, and thus getting lighter weight plates. This becomes a balance between what you can spend to get a lighter plate that has the highest level of protection. You may end up with a lighter plate that is level III, not level IV, and thus will (for example) not stop M855 Green Tip. Is there therefore no point in wearing the plates? It won’t stop .50 Cal either, so it is balance between what you can (or are willing) to spend and what level of protection / weight you will end up with.
  • As well as the penalty in weight, a PC also covers up a significant part of your torso and thus traps heat. It is currently the height of the summer and thus the time when you are least likely to want to wear this gear. In the winter it is just weight, in the summer you will be a permanent sweat ball. However, you will be a permanent sweat ball whatever you wear in the summer, when outside without the benefit of AC. If you are going to wear body armor, you have to get used to being wet with sweat underneath it at all times. You can mitigate that by staying in the shade (also tactically beneficial for other reasons!) and carefully timing when you run any operations. This is also a planning factor in running night operations, something that will also cost you an investment in night vision gear and aiming lasers.
  • There is no doubt that if you are facing a kinetic environment where people are shooting at you, it is beneficial to wear a PC. It doesn’t make you invincible, but it has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of penetrating trauma to the torso. Always good! A PC validates itself the moment a round hits you in the plate. Simply ask yourself – if you had to go on a raid right now, and had a PC available, would you put it on?
  • Because of the balance between mobility and protection, tactical fitness is a HUGE part of this. If you are training and considering even the outside chance that you may have to fight in a survival / combat environment, and you are not maximizing your tactical fitness, then you are living in a fantasy world. The ability to MOVE YOURSELF and your combat load in a combat environment is VITAL. If you are not sick or lame, and you have not reorganized your daily  life so you can do some day to day fitness training, then you are living in denial and there is no point you reading any of this. The better your fitness is, the better you are able to deal with any survival situation, let alone combat. There is too much denial over this simple fact in the prepper/survivalist community.
  • Given that you have now added the weight of plates to your loadout gear, you now have affected that balance between firepower / protection / mobility. You still have to carry the ammo, because ‘ammunition is time’ under enemy fire. The answer is to carry a realistic ammo load and to increase your PT so you can handle it. You want to have a philosophy of being as light as possible, but you have to understand that as, effectively, an infantryman, you will never be ‘light.’ You will have to carry a load on and about your person and you need to be able to move with it. We are not extras in ‘Falling Skies’ or ‘The Walking Dead,’ simply carrying an odd pouch or two or wearing some empty chest rig.
  • Because you are a civilian prepper / survivalist you are able to make your own decisions independent of a corporate risk assessment. You may want to have  a PC available but you may take a decision to not wear it all the time, given a decision making process balanced against the factors. What is the greater threat? Maybe you can’t afford a PC anyway, or some members of your group can’t? If the heat and task at hand are such that you are at risk of heat exhaustion, then maybe a PC is not a good idea? If you had to do an insertion march over hard terrain in the heat, and your fitness or the group was not up to it, then maybe ditch the PC’s? This is one of the reasons why the heavy steel ‘patriot plates’ are not a good idea – you are simply not mobile in them, particularly when balanced against the atrocious average state of fitness out there in the ‘community.’ However, if at the end of the approach march you had to go heavily kinetic into a raid, I would want to plan it so I would be wearing my PC for the raid. If instead the mission perhaps was an attack by fire or some form of snipe, or where the success depended on being able to move fast and ‘light’ (there’s that word again, and it ain’t true) then maybe the PC is more of a hindrance than a help and needs to be ditched? But here’s one thing: a PC is always a hindrance until you get hit in it, then it isn’t.

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Ok, so we just covered some of the factors. Let’s look at practical use of the PC. There are many different ways to approach this. You may decide that a PC is what you are going to wear all the time, and thus it becomes part of the foundation of your gear loadout. Or you may decide that you want one available that will mesh with the rest of your gear. If you go for the former, there is no reason why you wouldn’t just festoon it with pouches, job done, there is your loadout gear. Then, you are stuck with the plates all the time. Make your own decision on how you want to roll with that. If you decide you will wear plates all the time, the PC becomes the basis of your gear, and everything then revolves around how to attach your gear to it.

I prefer a layered approach with gear. As a general background, in current times you want to be wearing a light belt under your concealment garment that holds your concealed handgun and spare mags, multitool etc. Once the situation steps up, I like to have a light external battle belt that holds various items such as: handgun, tourniquet, knife, 2 x rifle mags, 2 x handgun mags, folding dump pouch, small IFAK, multitool. This is the basis of my gear, it will be worn all waking hours, and I will either be carrying my rifle or it will be close at hand, or in the vehicle, dependent on the situation.

I think one of the issues is not knowing what any form of disaster or collapse will actually look like. I have often talked about making sound decisions as to what your ‘posture’ will be. It may not be the right time to roll out the multicammies. It may be a more ‘grey’ form of collapse where you are still moving about but facing higher threats/greater lawlessness than we face today. If you are able to carry a rifle and PC in your truck, perhaps with or without your lightweight battle belt, then you will deal with any initial  situation with your concealed handgun, your everyday carry gear, and then if you get to the truck you have the option of the rifle and throwing on your PC. Most PC’s will take 3 x single stacked 5.56 magazines across the front. More if you also have pouches going to your sides around the cummerbund. If you are keeping a PC in your truck/house for self defense, but you are adopting the layered approach to your gear, it is useful to keep the PC fairly slick and run collapsible mag pouches on the front/sides. For example, some PCs come with integral single stack mag pouches, and/or you can get the elastic MOLLE pouches from Blue Force Gear that will collapse to nothing when there is no magazine in them. Thus, if you have the PC rigged simply with a basic ammo load but no extraneous pouches, it can be thrown on and used in a situation as referred to above, or the mags can be taken out so you can throw your chest rig over/on to the PC.

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For my personal gear plan, once I am wearing my lightweight battle belt, my next layer is my chest rig. We are now offering the MVT VERSA CHEST RIG (Purchase here), which was designed to my specifications. The VERSA, just like the single caliber designs that are on the way, or most other chest rigs, can be worn with or without your PC. You can wear it without any PC underneath, or throw it on over the top. This is why a slick PC is advantageous if you are not sure you are going to want to wear it all the time. The VERSA also allows you to detach the h-harness and clip the VERSA directly to the front of your PC. This is the most versatile option, where you are able to wear the PC, or not, mission/situation dependent.

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Above: MVT VERSA Chest Rig. 5.56 insert shown.

The ‘VERSA‘ name is due to the ability to exchange the magazine insert for different calibers of weapon.

Given the gear that you will need to carry on any form of patrol, ranging from a water bladder, to some food, spare magazines, TC3 items, and night vision gear/spare batteries, you will need to carry some form of assault/patrol pack. This is why I prefer my PC to not have any pouches on the back. I base this on the fact that I will pretty much always be wearing some form of assault/patrol pack, the size and weight of which will depend on the mission. If you see guys with pouches all over the back of their PC, they are probably set up for short term direct action missions with little requirement for a sustainment load of any sort.

Patrol packs are something I have talked about often before. If you are anywhere other than just fighting from your truck (where you will need a ‘bug out’ patrol pack to take with you) or around your house in a home defense situation, you will need to carry some load on your back, even just for water and some other basics. This is where the realistic balance of firepower / protection / mobility comes to the fore. No man is an island, and you will need resupply at some point. Other than some survival items, your load is seasonal dependent and short term. You will need to carry what you need for the mission, but try and steer clear of large rucks if at all possible. Now we really come back to the tactical fitness crunch. Don’t try and pack your ‘list of lists’ and your ‘two is one, one is none’ into whatever patrol pack you have. Particularly if you have decided to wear plates.

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If I was to go on a local security patrol round my area, I would be wearing my battle belt, VERSA chest rig with or without my PC, and a small patrol/assault pack containing a 3L water bladder, spare magazines (at least 4), night vision gear (Crye nightcap to mount it to), spare batteries for all, some food (‘lunch’) and emergency rations / additional medical items (within reason). I would have some survival items in there such as water treatment / drinking items etc. This is the same small load that would be suitable if you, for example, found yourself as part of a resistance force fighting in an urban environment.

When it comes time to bug out to the ‘sticks’ and hide out / operate in a rural environment, then you need your sustainment load, to which you can attach the small assault pack of essential items (under the lid of the patrol pack). This pack in itself doesn’t want to be too big (45 liters approx.), but it contains essential sleeping items, more ammo, clothing, personal health/hygiene items etc. This can either go in a truck or may have to be carried, in which case none of this load should be beyond your physical capabilities.

I have said before that if you don’t have the physical ability to move in body armor, then you should not wear it. You need to build your skills and capabilities from the ground up. Begin with tactical fitness training, otherwise known as PT. Without this you will crumble, and be incapable of performing in a combat environment. Now, a lot of this comes down to intestinal fortitude. Not just the doing of day to day PT, but the performing in a combat environment. However, don’t think that ‘adrenalin’ will get you through on its own. If you are older or injured, don’t despair. You would think from reading some of my Student Reviews that an MVT training class is an Olympic event. It isn’t, but it requires some basic fitness and intestinal fortitude. I understand the comments though – students manned up,  came and worked really hard, each to his/her own limit, and are rightly proud of their achievement. We have plenty of old guys show up, up to 70 years old, and they can get through it. It’s not really THAT hard, it just gets a little tiring being on your feet a lot and running lanes throughout the day. The main thing for these guys is not pure speed (like a 21 YO) but keeping the momentum up, with accurate sustained suppression and steady movement. We discourage over-fast movement at a sprint anyway, for learning and safety purposes.

As an aside on that, we have improved the medical at MVT beyond the preparations for potential trauma from a range accident. In discussion with a cardiac surgeon alumni, we agreed that the possibility of the most likely incident in training, given the age demographic of some of the students, is a cardiac one. He has now donated an AED and oxygen and we are improving the med bag accordingly. Excellent progress.

Once you are building your tactical fitness, you need training. This previous blog post ‘Buddy Position Awareness‘ highlights one of the huge issues that people who have only ever trained on a  square range don’t get. Believe me, you need training. However high speed you used to be, you need training. We all do. You either can’t sit on your laurels, or if you have never done this before you need to get to a point where you have an understanding of small unit tactics and the dynamics of combat beyond shooting on line at the square range.

Once you are getting the fitness and training squared away, you can think about gear. Because the gear you bought on eBay probably isn’t the right stuff. As professionals we all go through gear evolution ourselves. Some students show up at Combat Team Tactics with really basic gear, on the basis that they will figure out what really works after they have run through the class. This is a good philosophy. It is also where you may figure out if wearing a PC is for you or not. It is probably where you will also find out that wearing those heavy steel plates is not a practical proposition (as they come off after a lane or two).

Because I have to tell you, wearing this gear takes effort. When you have it on, you will feel it. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, but you feel the weight of it. You have to be fit enough, and determined enough, to perform while wearing the gear necessary for the task. You need to strike that balance between firepower / protection / mobility. Personally, I feel the weight of my gear as a comfort, it’s a sort of psychological comfort blanket. Putting it on is part of the ritual as you contemplate the threats and visualize the mission.

Max_Fallujah_2005

Above: On contract as a paramilitary contractor in Iraq (Al Anbar) 2006.

Firepower is provided by the amount of ammo you can reasonably carry. In my opinion, you should not have less than 8 mags on your person plus the one in your weapon, with some extras on your back (assault/patrol pack), the number depending on the mission. Give some thought to the PC/chest rig/battle belt means to carry this ammo load.

Protection is provided by a balance of any ballistic plates you are wearing versus your ability to move to and between cover. Your maneuverability. This is a balance between your ability to conduct rushes from cover to cover, which will never be like it would if you were just wearing street clothes, versus being so weighed down by plates and gear that it actually makes it hard to move and an easy target. PT is king!

Mobility is the balance between your strength, cardio fitness, and the weight of gear you are wearing. Given that I want to be wearing plates, if I have a choice, in a combat situation, I want my PT to be sufficient that I can sprint from cover to cover. I will always work hard on that. If you get injured, work around it with alternatives as best you can. Remember, it’s not about looking big and impressive that counts, but whether you have the endurance and functional strength to weight ratio to move your person plus gear around without becoming easily exhausted.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought in your gear planning process, and allows you to weight the many factors associated with the purchase and use of ballistic plates.

Till Valhalla!

Max

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28 Comments

  1. Diz says:

    Excellent post.

    I have pondered this idea at length.

    I have come to the conclusion, for me, that BA is just not feasible, in most circumstances, where I will be foot mobile.

    There may be special circumstances where I would use it, as in static defense, or maybe even vehicle ops, but out on patrol, especially with a ruck, I’m afraid it would just be too much.

    That is not to say that for other, younger individuals, who can handle the additional weight, that it can’t be used. But with full load of 65+ lbs, it takes a guy in really good shape to pull it off.

    So yeah, like many others, I’m an older man playing a younger man’s game. I have to modify the load out accordingly. And accept the additional risk.

    The one caveat is if you can afford those new lightweight synthetic plates.

    On the sustainability issue. Any ceramic or synthetic plate is going to take major damage when stopping rounds. So unless you have a supply of spares, they may not last as long as you may need them. From this standpoint, steel multi-hit plates make the most sense, in that they will probably take a lot of damage but still be serviceable.

    While not a consideration for armies with huge logistic chains, it may be for us. Unless the opfor has them in abundance, and you are able to obtain them.

    • Max Velocity says:

      I always wondered about the multiple hits thing. If you keep going out and taking multiple hits (and luckily only to the plate covered areas!) then you may want to change things up!

      I see plates as an low incidence insurance policy, where they may protect you that one time. Hopefully.

      Ceramic is designed to take multiple hits, unless it’s all in the exact same spot. It’s a common misconception. If my ceramic takes a hit, I can still wear it. They have to take something like 5 hits in testing, depending on the specs and caliber.

      I have very little time for heavy steel plates.

  2. Robert says:

    I’ve shot the military ceramic plates multiple times with an M1A and an AK at 15 yards, they are NOT one hit wonders. The DKX plates I currently wear are multi hit also. Like Max said, if your taking multiple hits in the same location, it’s probably time to get the fudge out of there!!

    Wore a set of DKX Max III 10×12’s in a Banshee carrier for the last CTT I did (June of this year), the weight was definitely not an issue. The heat? Your going to sweat like hell in just about any gear in summer.

    I think it’s boils down to what Max wrote- “if you knew you were going on a raid, would you wear your PC?” Hell yes! Then we should probably train like that. Robert

  3. Baldrick says:

    Max,

    Thanks for the informative post.

    I have seen in this post as well as previous ones that you dislike steel for the weight and potential spalling. I have two questions.

    Have you seen these?
    http://www.ar500armor.com/ar500-armor-body-armor/level-iii-lightweight-body-armor.html

    Also, one other benefit to the “slick” plate carrier layered concept IMO is that you can wear it concealed under regular clothing depending on the conditions, thread level, etc. This has to do with the posture you often discuss. Maybe you want to be ready for a fight but don’t want to look that way, or maybe you want to get close to something to do a little recce and don’t want to look threatening. Some of these PCs, even with a chest rig on the front can be concealed under winter clothing.

    Have you worn ceramics in a concealed capacity before, maybe as a contractor? The weight differential between the level III+ lightweights linked above and the ceramics seems to be nonexistent, but the spalling concerns me. That said, I was hoping you could shed light on concealment.

    I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I am looking to buy some in the future and welcome the info.

    Regards,

    Baldrick

    • Max Velocity says:

      Concealment:

      Yes, I have worn body armor, low profile type but with both soft and hard plates, in a concealed manner as a contractor. What you are saying about concealing it under outer clothing is perfectly legitimate. If you are in a vehicle, you can wear body armor even with a chest rig, with a shirt over the top, and it won’t be obvious until you get out. Did that a lot at one point. Even with a shemagh (where is First Sergeant?!) You could wear plates under a shirt and carry concealed handgun in order to do some sort of close target recce, or meet with someone.

      Steel:

      This is each to his own. I took a quick look at the steel. They appear to be anti-spall coated and level III, but claim to stop M855 (green tip). Sounds pretty good. My main beef was with those monstrous ‘Patriot Plates” which appeared to be simply steel targets (they sell steel targets on their site, looks just like the plates LOL). I would rather wear no plates at all than those. I have vision of OPFOR knocking down wearers like it’s a steel target falling plate gallery shoot: Piiiiinng……Piiiing……there goes another one…..;-)

      I took a quick look at DKX Max III. I don’t have them but they seem all the rage. They are well cut and weight 2.9lbs against the 5.5lb for the light steel you linked. So almost twice as heavy for the steel. DKX are also buoyant. They are also multi hit. There may be a question that they don’t stop green tip, but that is not specified on the site.

      Also, you know that steel gets really cold in the winter, right?

      Do what you think is best.

  4. Bluegrasssir says:

    What are you guys using for an assault pack these days?

    -BG

  5. Baldrick says:

    Max, I’m guessing you remember the dehydration issues a student had during my patrol class (THAT class, May 2014). I tried on his plates for a bit just to check it out, and they were the regular ones you talk about that weigh 8-10 lbs ea. I put them on for about 30 seconds and then took them right back off. With the issues he had later in the course, it was case in point for PT before armor (or any gear you don’t have the PT to carry with and fight).

    Thanks for the answer.

  6. Max Velocity says:

    Here is an explanation of the armor levels. Levels III and IV are for the hard plates to protect against rifle fire. Interestingly, when I purchased a set a long time ago in the UK, the guy talked me out of the level IV and steered me to the level III. Note that in the table not all calibers are listed, but if you look at the number of hits the armor must sustain, you can see that it is only 1 hit at level IV, whereas at level III it has to sustain 6 hits. So facing mostly 7.62 x 39 threats at the time in Iraq, I opted for the level III. Level IV is tested to protect you against 1 hit of AP, level III will, protect you against 6 hits of standard rifle calibers.

  7. Pinky says:

    My two cents…I’ve done all of Max’s classes with plates. The layered approach (belt, slick plate carrier then chest rig) seems to offer the most flexibility. Some of the PC’s offer “kangaroo” pouches that you can leave installed in the front pouch and they flatten out under a chest rig. If needed or you don’t have your chest rig, you can slide 3 mags in them (mayflower APC offers this). So, even more flexibility.

    The PT comments are spot on. I own 2 x PC’s, one with ceramic and one with steel. I train with the steel and feel oh-so-light and happy wearing the ceramic. Then, just running the chest rig alone is a walk in the park. Sometimes I mix and match, or you could use on PC with both and swap. Whatever spooks your mule.

    My thinking is “train like you would fight” or a bit further, like “train with more than you would need” to ensure fitness.

    Max has harped on this many times, but coming from a non-military background (tier 1 college athletics then some tier 1 after college), the key is to make your fitness a NON ISSUE during competition. Meaning, if you have to think about how hard you are breathing, you are not focusing on the task at hand. Eliminate the need to focus on your breathing and life gets a lot easier.

    Do your PT.

    Pinky

  8. Pineslayer says:

    So has anybody used a PC as their base set up and pulled the plates out? It would be warmer than a chest rig, but gives you the ability to plate up and only have one up front cost.

    I picked up a British Desert DPM PC. Osprey I think. It is a bombproof unit with uber options.

    Just thinking out loud.

  9. Diomedies says:

    Check out the Midwest Armour plates. Like the DKX plates they are light BUT they do stop green tip. They where what I was wearing last CTT course. They are awesome and light.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Which one do you have? I’m still seeing around 5lbs per plate? It’s a balance between stopping ability, weight and cost. An individual decision. This kind of info to help people find the right plate is very useful.

  10. Diomedies says:

    I have the venture. 4.8 pounds a plate. Better then steel though.

  11. PJ says:

    “Plate Carriers (PC’s) also provide the best protection when the carrier is upright, and thus provide less utility when the wearer is prone, although this is balanced against the fact that your profile is significantly reduced when prone, and thus you are less likely to be hit.”

    The latter is also true if you are not wearing plates, so the correct statement is that plates provide less, almost no utility when prone, period. Keep also in mind that in prone, you may receive a minor grazing round on your shoulder which (if plated) can ricochet off the rear plate back into the body.

    All other things being equal, carrying plates means carrying that much less ammo.

    Also, even if you have plates, a hit *off plate* will not be followed by your sorry ass being picked up by a helicopter. So an off-plate hit is more lethal for a resistance action than for a member of an army in some war somewhere. Given that off-plate hits are more lethal, the question is why bother with plates then? The tactics will be different for the resistance – shoot a magazine, then get the hell out. Mobility requirements will be MUCH more important.

    What will the resistance be doing in the cities, where probably most of the action will be? Probably carrying .22LR pistols with silencers, like the Mafia hit men use. Or a TC Contender carbine, that can be broken down and concealed after shooting some lowlife in an ambush. Plates make no sense in these “hit and run” scenarios.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Hmmm. Much assumption to this that I don’t agree with. Some points,not all:

      1) Plates still protect you when you are prone from plunging fire. This is significant in very mountainous, or urban terrain. The battlefield is 3D. Also, when you are moving, kneeling, standing etc.

      2) The chance that a round that would not have been lethal, ricocheting off the inside of the plate and re-entering the body is so miniscule that the benefit of plates from scenario #1 above, vastly outweigh the exceedingly small, if non-existent liability of a ricochet off of a shoulder, into the inside of a plate, and back into the body. Ceramic would certainly not ricochet like that anyway.

      Furthermore, is there a single documented example of this “inner plate ricochet” happening? Even one?

      3) If you don’t have helicopters, you likely don’t have hospitals either. What you really cannot afford, is a penetrating chest wound. The point of plates is that they provide protection to those most sensitive, lethal areas, such as the heart. TC3 protocols and some sort of aftercare will likely keep you alive from minor wounds, situation dependent.

      Tactics do not change just because someone is wearing armor. The way to survive a gunfight is to not get shot. The only thing that armor does is increase your survivability rate, in the event that you do get shot DESPITE all your best efforts to not get shot in the first place.

      Off plate hits are not “more” lethal. All evidence points to the contrary.

      Your visualizations on ‘resistance’ and urban ‘tactics’ are not sensible. We are interested in keeping good folks alive in the face of a potential collapse, not assassinating anyone in cities. …..?

  12. Tex says:

    Cannot emphasize enough how important it is to PT, especially if wearing plates. They are ridiculously hot, so I’d also add plan on carrying some extra water during the summer months to offset the added dehydration. If you don’t run them now, don’t count on being able to when it counts. It’s an decent weight penalty, so get fit!

    Plates or die! ( nod to you Skittles)

  13. Murooka says:

    Max, do you believe that hard/soft armor combinations (ala Interceptor, or other vests with plate pockets but full soft kevlar coverage) have a place in the modern patriot’s gear load-out?

    On one hand, the added weight will definitely be detrimental, but on the other, would the chance of a rifle richochet, fragmentation, or handgun shots being negated be worth it? I don’t see most having a medevac available at a moments notice, as one may have in the military.

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  18. RSR says:

    *Sorry mod — just realized I originally posted this to wrong thread. Feel free to delete the previous posting.

    Living in deep TX with a month or two of 100+ degree days each year, and still in the high 80s to 90s in early oct, I’m hesitant to leave the ceramic and/or dyeema plates in my truck… Both rely on chemical fiber composites to work, much like soft armor, and while I don’t know that they will degrade, I don’t want to take the chance…
    So for vehicle, I go w/ a Grey Ghost Gear plate carrier in wolf gray or fde (depending on vehicle) and the AR500 3+ plates that stop M193…
    Also, I’ve never found a reason as of yet to use the steel armor I have in my truck. In the event of rucking home or whatever, the steel would suck, but I see that as a pretty low likelihood, and I can always ditch the rear plate — and have been considering switching that to one of the lighter (level 3) AR500 steel plates anyway from the 3+… If someone shoots me in the back, I anticipate it to likely be in the head anyways, making armor less important — and presumably a loaded backpack would provide some ballistic protection from further distance shots too…
    With the amount of crap that gets tossed into my truck, I really don’t want to risk damaging ceramic plates either and minimizing their functionality — and that’s another reason there.

    For general use plates, I run the hardwire dyeema NIJ 0101.08 plates (front and back @ $250 per set w/ a free plate carrier right now at botach, 25 year warranty too vs dkx’s 7 — hardwire are 4.5lbs per plate if I recall correctly so a little heavier than dkx advertises but look to be the same width) in a bae systems rbav. For my home defense rig, I also use soft spears/balcs soft armor and then steel side plates as well… FWIW, most of my pouches are multicam. Current setup w/ 2 hardwire plates, soft armor, plate carrier, and side plates ran me about

    For home defense, I’ve been considering adding the AR500 abdomen plate/plate pocket to my home defense setup as well. And I have been plannign to acquire one or two of the AR500 ceramic plates to use in a “super armor” home defense carrier w/ the abdomen, etc, and then keep hardwire in rear. Basically, creating a HD plate setup and then a patrol/ruck one… With the 2nd ceramic to be used/swap out the hardwire in higher risk situations like cqb where likely to encounter projectiles at their max velocity (pun not intended).
    In brief, level 3 steel is defeated by M193 (velocity) and level 3 dyeema and similar are defeated by M855 (penetrators). Ceramic works to spin the projectile/cause it to tumble and then catch in a dyeema or similar fiber substrate backing…Living in deep TX with a month or two of 100+ degree days each year, and still in the high 80s to 90s in early oct, I’m hesitant to leave the ceramic and/or dyeema plates in my truck… Both rely on chemical fiber composites to work, much like soft armor, and while I don’t know that they will degrade, I don’t want to take the chance…
    So for vehicle, I go w/ a Grey Ghost Gear plate carrier in wolf gray or fde (depending on vehicle) and the AR500 3+ plates that stop M193…
    Also, I’ve never found a reason as of yet to use the steel armor I have in my truck. In the event of rucking home or whatever, the steel would suck, but I see that as a pretty low likelihood, and I can always ditch the rear plate — and have been considering switching that to one of the lighter (level 3) AR500 steel plates anyway from the 3+… If someone shoots me in the back, I anticipate it to likely be in the head anyways, making armor less important — and presumably a loaded backpack would provide some ballistic protection from further distance shots too…
    With the amount of crap that gets tossed into my truck, I really don’t want to risk damaging ceramic plates either and minimizing their functionality — and that’s another reason there.

    For general use plates, I run the hardwire dyeema NIJ 0101.08 plates (front and back @ $250 per set w/ a free plate carrier right now, 25 year warranty too vs dkx’s 7 — hardwire are 4.5lbs per plate if I recall correctly so a little heavier than dkx advertises but look to be the same width) in a bae systems rbav. For my home defense rig, I also use soft spears/balcs soft armor and then steel side plates as well… FWIW, most of my pouches are multicam. Current setup w/ 2 hardwire plates, soft armor, plate carrier, and side plates ran me about ran me about $750.

    For home defense, I’ve been considering adding the AR500 abdomen plate/plate pocket to my home defense setup as well. And I have been plannign to acquire one or two of the AR500 ceramic plates to use in a “super armor” home defense carrier w/ the abdomen, etc, and then keep hardwire in rear. Basically, creating a HD plate setup and then a patrol/ruck one… With the 2nd ceramic to be used/swap out the hardwire in higher risk situations like cqb where likely to encounter projectiles at their max velocity (pun not intended).
    In brief, level 3 steel is defeated by M193 (velocity) and level 3 dyeema and similar are defeated by M855 (penetrators). Ceramic works to spin the projectile/cause it to tumble and then catch in a dyeema or similar fiber substrate backing…

    Or I guess I can always get creative, and duct tape some ceramic tiles to the front of the hardwire plates and hope that’ll work… (Not advising that this will work…)

    Or I guess I can always get creative, and duct tape some ceramic tiles to the front of the hardwire plates and hope that’ll work… (Not advising that this will work…)

  19. RSR says:

    *Sorry mod — just realized I originally posted this to wrong thread and one I just posted here was posted twice… Feel free to delete my previous posts, but keep this one.

    Living in deep TX with a month or two of 100+ degree days each year, and still in the high 80s to 90s in early oct, I’m hesitant to leave the ceramic and/or dyeema plates in my truck… Both rely on chemical fiber composites to work, much like soft armor, and while I don’t know that they will degrade, I don’t want to take the chance…
    So for vehicle, I go w/ a Grey Ghost Gear plate carrier in wolf gray or fde (depending on vehicle) and the AR500 3+ plates that stop M193…
    Also, I’ve never found a reason as of yet to use the steel armor I have in my truck. In the event of rucking home or whatever, the steel would suck, but I see that as a pretty low likelihood, and I can always ditch the rear plate — and have been considering switching that to one of the lighter (level 3) AR500 steel plates anyway from the 3+… If someone shoots me in the back, I anticipate it to likely be in the head anyways, making armor less important — and presumably a loaded backpack would provide some ballistic protection from further distance shots too…
    With the amount of crap that gets tossed into my truck, I really don’t want to risk damaging ceramic plates either and minimizing their functionality — and that’s another reason there.

    For general use plates, I run the hardwire dyeema NIJ 0101.08 plates (front and back @ $250 per set w/ a free plate carrier right now at botach, 25 year warranty too vs dkx’s 7 — hardwire are 4.5lbs per plate if I recall correctly so a little heavier than dkx advertises but look to be the same width maybe a little wider) in a bae systems rbav. For my home defense rig, I also use soft spears/balcs soft armor and then steel side plates as well… FWIW, most of my pouches are multicam. Current setup w/ 2 hardwire plates, soft armor, plate carrier, and side plates ran me about ran me about $750.

    For home defense, I’ve been considering adding the AR500 abdomen plate/plate pocket to my home defense setup as well. And I have been plannign to acquire one or two of the AR500 ceramic plates to use in a “super armor” home defense carrier w/ the abdomen, etc, and then keep hardwire in rear. Basically, creating a HD plate setup and then a patrol/ruck one… With the 2nd ceramic to be used/swap out the hardwire in higher risk situations like cqb where likely to encounter projectiles at their max velocity (pun not intended).
    In brief, level 3 steel is defeated by M193 (velocity) and level 3 dyeema and similar are defeated by M855 (penetrators). Ceramic works to spin the projectile/cause it to tumble and then catch in a dyeema or similar fiber substrate backing…

    Or I guess I can always get creative, and duct tape some ceramic tiles to the front of the hardwire plates and hope that’ll work… (Not advising that this will work…)

  20. […] here to view the original post.Ballistic Plates Yes or No by Max Velocity. A very worthwhile post at Max’s place. I talked about this general issue some time back. 3 […]