Diz Sends: You and Body Armor
You and Body Armor.
Should you be wearing body armor? That’s a good question. What I’d like to do is examine some scenarios that we, as armed citizens might encounter. Then we’ll take a look at what equipment you might want for each encounter. And finally, what are the requirements you must meet in order to use said equipment.
This is neither a tirade for, or against, BA. It is simply a discussion about what we may likely face, and how BA may fit into that equation. As in: let the mission drive the gear.
First let’s look at “street” crime or a violent encounter you may face. This could be an attempted mugging, a road rage incident, or anything similar. Of course we all live in different places, and face different threats, but suffice it to say, this is generally the first level of threat we may encounter. So within that context, what is your “EDC” kit? Does it include BA? Unless you’re a cop or soldier, probably not. It would be “nice to have” in this situation, to protect against likely handgun calibers, or even just blunt force trauma, but probably just not practical for the vast majority of folks.
Next up, an active shooter incident. Again, a wide range of places this could occur. And again, does your EDC include BA? Probably not, although it would be extremely useful, as you may be facing rifle caliber fire. Perhaps a back pack with BA in it, to either use as a shield, or deploy at least a plate around the front. But probably not practical for most.
What about a violent home invasion? This could include a wide range of lethal weapons not to mention mental states. If you have the time and space, BA would be a very good idea. And the good news is since you are at home, you can have practically anything available since you don’t have to carry it. A long hallway to a locked upstairs bedroom might give the time to jock up. Ideally as a buddy team covering each other (just like class, right?). So here we begin to see a practical use for BA. And since you are basically stationary, no extraordinary fitness is required to wear it.
This basically covers a range of possible events, within the context of “normal” times, i.e., Rule of Law. Other than a violent home invasion, in which there’s time to jock up, BA isn’t really very practical, to us, in our every day lives.
What about short-term emergency events? This could be anything from man-made to natural disasters, where EMS is temporarily over-whelmed, and you’re on your own for awhile. Thus begins the possibilities of times Without Rule Of Law. Lots of possibilities here. All kinds of cretins taking advantage of the situation. Depending on your estimate of the situation, you may decide that wearing BA is a good idea for awhile. Or maybe not. Again you are basically stationary so only basic fitness required.
And then we get into the zombie apocalypse realm. Depending on your estimate of the likelihood of something like this happening, and if you’re on this blog, then I assume you have considered the possibility, you may be facing violent threats from a variety of sources. Wearing BA would definitely be a very good idea, in most cases here. The threat level has now ratcheted up to the level possible for a cop or soldier. So wearing it, or having it readily available could become SOP. At this point, depending on your situation, you may be mostly static, but you may be mobile, to one extent or the other. As we practiced at the VTC, you may want to extend your area of influence out as far as possible, to try and interdict threats before they are on you doorstep. So for static guard posts, and short range security patrols, BA could become SOP. For longer range patrols, BA may still be worn, or at least carried, to be donned for actions in the objective area (point ambush, raid, etc.). And to be honest, there are times when BA may not be practical, such as extended, long range missions. When you are literally carrying everything on your back. Depending on mission requirements, you may not be able to carry the extra weight.
OK, so we have finally arrived at the point where you, or I may be wearing BA on a more or less regular basis. So what do we need. And what do we need to use it. There are basically two choices here. Level III multi-hit steel plates, and level IV ceramic or hybrid ceramic/fiber plates. The level III steel is capable of withstanding repeated hits, so it’s very sustainable. It’s also very economical. But it’s also very heavy. And only really practical for static or short-range use. The level IV ceramic or ceramic and fiber mix is really the best choice, as far as protection, and practical every-day use are concerned. But they are expensive, and may only be one-use. But they are good for a complete range of missions. So really the solution may be to employ both, with steel as a low-cost solution to protect most, while in a static position, and ceramic for selected personnel who will be mobile beyond the wire.
But let’s not dick around about it. You need to be fit to wear BA. Yes, you can wear it for short periods, or static situations, but in the end, you need to be in shape to wear this stuff. Wearing it (or something similar) while doing cardio or strength training is a must. You cannot appreciate the difference it makes when you are trying to manage extra weight. A combination of weighted and unweighted runs/hikes, along with calisthenics should be a regular work out routine. If not, you are simply deluding yourself. A basic routine would include 2 runs, unweighted, one for speed work, the other endurance, and two runs/hikes weighted, one with hill repeats, and one for endurance. Two strength training sessions of calisthenics and functional weight lifting, alternating weeks with BA on.
So we have arrived at a point in time where wearing BA might be a good idea. You have bought some, and trained in it. Good to go. Now let’s look at what the actual situation may look like if you are shot. If you are lucky(?) the rounds impact on your BA. All that time and expense preparing for this moment, MasterCard. If not, you now have a wound to an arm or leg. We apply a TQ and stuff the wound. Now what? You need to be evac’d for definitive medical care. This may or may not be available, in a timely manner. So along with BA, consideration needs to be given to what medical care is available. Grid up, should be no worries. Grid down, another story. Don’t be thinking BA is a panacea of protection that solves everything. It may give you an edge, but it doesn’t make you 100% bullet-proof. Just a consideration in mission planning.
So there you are. This is my estimate of what may happen, and how BA fits into it. We have had various discussions both here and on the forum about this stuff. This is an attempt to put BA in perspective, as far as our likelihood of needing it, what level you need, and what shape you need to be in to use it.
So to answer the question: do you need to be wearing BA? If you are out there training, like Max and company, yes, you should give it serious consideration. But as in all things, you need to figure out what YOU need to be doing. This is my estimate of the situation for your consideration. Hopefully it will help you form your own estimate, and train accordingly.
Diz is the MVT Gear Designer, and former Marine.