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Episode 144 S4-20

Body Armor Options


Special Guest:

Battle for the South Ch 20

~John Green~

In the Battle for the South adventure, Erika and Vince are headed off to take the southern wall with the Texas Militia. Neither of them could have imagined they would ever be a part of a battle of this size and it is their first time in body armor. Here today to discuss body armor options for any survival situation is John Green, PMC and homeland security advisor.

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There are a lot of misconceptions about body armor. Basically, body armor is anything you put on your body that is designed to reduce personal physical trauma. It could be to protect your body from blunt force, slashing, or penetration. It may protect you from being hit with a stick, knife, spear, bullets or shrapnel. There is a huge spectrum of options when it comes to body armor choices. Most people immediately think, bullet proof vest but there is actually no such thing as a bullet proof vest. There are helmets, vests and shields designed to reduce the damage received from a multitude of weapons but none are guaranteed to keep you safe, one hundred percent of the time.  

When you start researching armor options you will see many types and each type is situationally different. Type I armor is made to withstand small caliper bullets. There are many other types along the way but eventually you will get up to type four armor. John suggests sticking with type four armor with metal plates because with anything else you are rolling the dice. Many modern vests boast of high tech weaves, webs, carbon fibers and kevlar. Yes, the metal plates are old school but as John says the only reason you put on a vest is if you think someone is going shoot at you. If you wear anything less than level four you're going out saying "yeah, someone's going to shoot at me, but I hope they are a dumb #$$ and they're going to shoot me with something small." Why take the risk?

Getting shot, even with a vest on still hurts. The hardened iron plates are heavy but they are still superior to newer lighter weight vests. With many of these new materials it may be able to stop one bullet but what about two or three in the same area. It doesn't matter what kind of lightweight ceramic or weave you are wearing, you can't out dance a bullet.  About eighteen months ago, John took three AK-47 rounds to his chest from about twenty five feet away. The metal plates saved his life. If he was wearing a new style vest the fist round would have stopped the bullet, the second one would have gone in about an inch or two into his body and the third would have blown a hole right through him (thank the good Lord above it didn't because John is a really interesting guy to hangout with). 

The trauma the body receives after being shot is significant, even with a vest on. After being shot in the chest three times it took this man, who trains regularly to be physically fit for the intense situations he is faced with, four to six months to return to training! That's a significant recovery time for an impact injury. If you had a lighter vest on and were shot with a smaller caliper, so you survived, it would still cause a more significant blunt force injury than being shot with a higher caliper on a metal plated vest. This is because the metal spreads out the impact of the bullet over a larger surface area than these new lightweight models. 

These metal plated vests do weigh a significant amount. John loads out with about 180 rounds of .223 and .556 ammo, a med kit, trauma kit, and a forty five with ten "clips" (yes, he called them clips. He's been around a while), plus his vest and all hes gear weighs about sixty to seventy pounds. However, every bit of weight is worth it to know that you are going to walk away if it comes down to the integrity of your vest. 


When it comes to purchasing a vest that you are going to keep for the possibility of societal collapse, you want something that is going to stand the test of time. Ultraviolet light is a destroyer and the newer vests can't stand up to it. However, metal plates can stand the test of time. You are more likely to wear out the vest carrying the plates and you will have to replace the vest now and again if you are training in it (as you should be). The metal plate vests are cheaper than the new fancy products and the new products keep driving the price down further. Which is ironic being that the metal plates offer superior protection. 


Even if you are trying to be covert, you don't want the lesser vests. It is true that there are times you want to be the "gray man." However this only stands true until there is a total societal collapse. If you have to enter a town where there has been a societal breakdown it will be all about training and gear. You may think you can be the gray man and blend in wearing your raggedy sweats and sneakers but you may be targeted because you don't look like you can defend yourselves and your nice sneakers would be gone. Even in these circumstances predators will be looking for a return on investment. They will carefully weigh the risks and rewards. If you look like you are fully armored, fully loaded, bad mammer jammer, chances are the risks of starting a confrontation with you will be too great and the predators will look elsewhere. 


You may be complaining about weight and movement right about now. John's suggestion is, if you have to wear it, train in it. Get used to it. You can always switch the plates into a new vest so use it and get it dirty. The key to survival is keeping your body in the right state of physical and psychological endurance. The key here is endurance. Strength is nothing without endurance.


To get ready for a long term survival situation, every able bodied person in your family should have a vest (and a helmet but the vest is primary). I asked John if the plates hold up even after they have been shot and he said that none of them were every overly compromised even after taking ballistic impacts. Even so, you should have some extra plates and vests stored away. John made note though that if you need to use rely on your vest that much, you are probably doing something wrong. If you have to leave your home, it will be very difficult to carry any extra plates but an extra vest may not hurt. When you do take impacts to your vest your body will receive spalding. This is impact to other areas from fragments that are sent out from the impact. Your vest will receive it too so it will wear out faster.  

The bottom line is that the new vests are great. The trend to buy them has made them available in all kinds of camouflage colors, greens and black. When it comes to plates for protection, always choose a level four metal product. It won't wear out. The sun won't hurt it. Shale and other sharp plant that mother nature produces won't tear it. You don't want to invest money in a vest that may deteriorate before it is needed. Train in the vest you choose and get used to it.

John suggests shopping at:

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Battle for the South Ch 20

~John Green~

Entered into the Army at the age of 17 and has spent the last 33 years in combination of Army and as a Private Military Contractor. Currently serving as a PMC and consultant to Homeland Security and other Local, State and Federal agencies. He has served extensively in various theaters of conflict such as the Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia and Brazil. In many cases working closely with indigenous forces or resistance forces. Areas of specialty include: Insurgency, counter insurgency, counter terrorism, urban combat, long range reconnaissance, wilderness survival, and close quarters combat, (armed, unarmed and improvised weapon).

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