old expired soft body armor

Discussion in 'Firearm Related' started by gunsmoker, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    585CB432-1820-4B7F-B7DC-ABED5BD4FDF9.jpeg

    Pic of my vest, taken 2 years ago. 5" barreled XD-9 for size comparison.

    30 years ago, when I was in the private security business, I acquired a vest of soft body armor. Point Blank was the brand. Level 2a was N.I.J. threat level. it was good for 22s, 38 special, 9 mm from pistols, and even some 357 magnum (provided that the impact velocity was not more than about 1225 ft./s). It's soft body armor made with Kevlar (aramid fibers).

    And like all Kevlar body armor sold from the 1970s to today, it came with a five year expiration date; I read from multiple sources that that expiration date is not only based on use but age. If you put the vest away without wearing it and never get it damp with sweat, it would STILL expire with age after five years --or maybe 7 or 8, but the cut off is five to err on the side of caution + safety .


    (more in next post...)
     
  2. Nemo

    Nemo Man of Myth and Legend

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    Might want to link in the post from the thread you resurrected.

    Nemo
     

  3. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    No, hold your horses. I'm typing.
     
  4. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    376DEF0B-79CD-4298-BDDA-64783AD8F013.jpeg

    This vest has some examples of what it's rated to stop on a label sewn onto the vest's nylon shell.

    It says it is good for 9 mm 115 gr. JHP at 1160 fps, fired from 4" bbl. gun.

    124 gr. FMJ (NATO & other mil load) is good for 1090 fps from 4" bbl.


    .357 Mag is stoppable with 158 gr. JSP, or an all-lead bullet, up to 1250 f.p.s.

    For .22LR, it says from a 6" bbl gun it's good for 40 gr. bullets at 1050 f.p.s.


    This is what Class II A ( or NIJ threat level IIA ) meant in the late 1980's.

    They didn't even list calibers like .40 Smith & Wesson and 357 Sig. hadn't been invented yet.
     
  5. Nemo

    Nemo Man of Myth and Legend

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    I don't have a horse. Let alone plural horses.

    Nemo
     
  6. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    This Kevlar (aramid) vest was supposed to expire after five years --which would've been the summer of 1994.

    In the summer of 1999 when this vest was 10 years old I tested it with three shots of three different caliber weapons aiming at the side-protecting panels on your left and right rib areas.


    1-- .22LR, CCI Stinger, fired from rifle. 30 grain bullet at 1600 f.p.s. Oh, and that bullet was slightly oily as it was fired through a freshly cleaned and oiled barrel. So maybe the gun oil gave it some lubricating properties?

    Well, that bullet didn't defeat the vest. 1600 ft./s just wasn't enough velocity when the mass of the bullet was so little.


    2-- 45 ACP, 230 grain hardball fired from a full-size Government model 1911. That stopped in the vest and only damaged maybe 1/3 of the Kevlar layers. It did not make much damage to the back side of the vest but it did make the back of the vest poke out at the stack of newspaper behind it and it actually cracked the newspaper to a depth of about 2 inches. no penetration by the bullet, but there was damage to the newspaper from the transferred shock & energy.


    3-- .357 Magnum, 158 gr. jacketed soft point (or hollow point, I forget ). fired from my cousi's 8 inch barreled Rossi 357 stainless revolver that he used for deer hunting. This was one of his deer hunting loads, and it was pretty hot.

    The vest stopped the bullet, but the damage to the vest was considerable. Most of the layers of Kevlar had been either ripped or pushed aside. The vest was bulged-out badly on the back side and, like the .45 hardball, it cracked the newspaper and made a big dent in the densely packed flat stacked newspaper pile behind the vest.


    4--- USGI .30 Carbine.
    110 grain full metal jacket bullet at 1950 ft./s fired from the 18 inch carbine barrel.

    Naturally, I did not expect the vest to stop this bullet especially from a distance of about 6 feet, which is the distance I fired all of the shots that day in 1999. That bullet went right through the vest like a hot knife through butter and it went completely through the telephone book I had behind the vest and a few more inches into the stack of newspaper behind the phone book.

    Oddly, the vest material did not look badly damaged. It looked like a hole had just been drilled through it. The 45 and the 357 magnum mangled the Kevlar fibers a lot worse over a much wider area.

    That was the end of my 1999 test cycle when the test was 10 years old .

    I pushed the damaged fibers back together as best I could and then wrapped up those side panel pieces with duct tape. Then I put the vest away to be worn only in case of emergencies (or taking untrained beginners to a shooting range for the first time).
     
  7. Craftsman

    Craftsman Well-Known Member

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    Most safety devices have expiration dates. My safety hat from my steel mill days had a five year life span. Part of it has to do with modern fibers that do amazing things but break down chemically over time. Part of it is expected ordinary wear and tear. Much of it has to do with resins and adhesives that definitely degrade over time. Look at sneaker collectors who have had their pristine shoes literally fall apart after 10-20 years on the shelf.

    Regardless, I would never go more than 2x the labeled life and expect anything other than cosmetic value from personal protection equipment. Getting old sucks, not just for people.
     
  8. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    C8FD3F86-E7E1-4E68-8923-7CBC238FEA10.jpeg 8B6705E0-CB79-4A40-9368-B450C242A416.jpeg
    In the fall of 2007, after watching others argue online that soft body armor vests are useless against knife threats, I decided to test my own vest.

    Now of course my 1989 vest was never designed to have any protection against edged weapons. The instructions that come with it say it is not supposed to protect you from being stabbed or slashed, and if it happens to have any benefit in that regard it's only incidental; don't count on it.


    Here's a link to that October 2007 thread.
    https://www.georgiapacking.org/threads/question-for-leos-regarding-bg-with-knife.174665/page-3


    I broke the blade of a lockback knife with a very sharp pointed tip during this test. The blade did not break at the tip, however, it broke back closer to the handle. I thought that the vest would be likely to be defeated by such a narrow pointed tip that I had honed quite sharp.

    But only a fraction of an inch of the tip made it all the way through the vest, which was then over 18 years old .

    C8FD3F86-E7E1-4E68-8923-7CBC238FEA10.jpeg 8B6705E0-CB79-4A40-9368-B450C242A416.jpeg

    After the lock back knife broke are used a military bayonet for my M1A rifle. Again, that bayonet had been sharpened by me many times and the point was quite sharp. I did manage to penetrate the vest with a powerful 2-handed downward stab. But only a little more than an inch of the bayonet's blade came out the other side of the panel.

    So I concluded that this vest offered pretty good protection against knife threats, and it still gave good protection at age 18 years. Certainly the Kevlar could not have degraded much considering it was 13 years past the 5-year expiration date.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  9. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    So, this brings us to 2018.

    The vest is over 29 years old. I was going to wait until it was actually 30 before I did another round of tests, but I recently went shooting with several family members and friends and for this group event with a lot of witnesses present I decided to do the vest shoot


    Up first was a Glock 19 with Winchester 115 gr. FMJ ammo.

    I let my niece take the first shot and she nicked the vest at the very edge of the ballistic panel. That caused a lot of damage and the bullet may or may not have penetrated out the side. (It's hard to tell. ) So I let somebody else (who is a much better shot) pop the vest right in the middle (by the way was the center of the front panel we shot at,right over the wearers' chest. But I took out the steel trauma plate.)

    Good hit. No penetration thu vest.
    Behind the vest was a mound of red Georgia clay. Hard clods, big like microwave oven sized. The clay was dented from the impact.
     
  10. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    36A839A6-6DAE-4933-A64C-58B46D4CB9B7.jpeg 001862E0-1678-4FC2-BE16-24C180B55591.jpeg 8CDEED38-9489-47EE-99B9-7A0416E80A3C.jpeg Second shot last weekend:

    A .45 acp round, CCI Blazer aluminum-cased 200 gr. JHP.
    Fired from a Colt Commander 1911.

    Instead of putting the vest over a hard block of clay, I used two breakfast cereal boxes. New and full of frosted mini-wheats. The two boxes together were about 4 inches thick, somewhat resilient, somewhat pliable, and I wanted something that would show backface deformation (or "backface signature").

    The 1911 fired that big fat 45 slug into the front vest panel (away from the edge and away from any other hits on it) and the vest easily stopped it!

    Only a couple layers of Kevlar were damaged or penetrated but it ripped up and crushed that cereal box behind it.
     
  11. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    The third and final shot of last weekend. 357 magnum fired out of a 6 inch barrel revolver and using a Remington 140 grain all lead projectile (a real magnum round, not a .38. )

    Fired straight down on the vest and the cereal boxes from about 2 feet. I actually got powder stippling on the vest itself.


    Result: this 29+ year ild, long-expired, vest stopped the .357 round despite its much higher velocity then either the 9 mm or the 45 .

    But, again, that's cereal box behind the vest panel was severely damaged. I would not want to be wearing this vest and take a hit from a 9 mm, a 357, a .40, or really any centerfire caliber above 25 or 32 ACP .

    But the age of the vest does not seem to be an issue. It stops what it supposed to stop and what it was rated for when it was built 30 years ago.
     
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  12. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    that concludes my report last weekend's test. Based on this, I don't have a problem recommending that somebody buy used body armor if they can't afford new stuff.


    If they have the option to buy a used police vest for $50-$150 instead of buying a new one for $250 to $750, and if that price difference is what would stop them from having any body armor at all I say get the used stuff even if it's old.

    5-year expiration even if it's not seen heavy use and gotten soaked with sweat regularly? Puh-leeze.

    (My vest saw daily use from 1989 to about 1993. During that time it got sweated on regularly and I was constantly in motion while I was wearing it, so the fibers were flexing back-and-forth all the time.

    but I've probably only worn it three days in the last 25 years. It's been in my gun safe or ammo locker that long .)
     
  13. moe mensale

    moe mensale Well-Known Member

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    An important caveat if you're going to consider buying used armor is knowing how it's been stored. Storing it in an dry, air conditioned environment is one thing. Throwing it in the garage for your Cane Corso to sleep on is another.
     
  14. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Somebody on another forum, critiquing some other guy's shooting test of kevlar body armor, pointed out that using 115 grain full metal jacket bullets in a 9 mm round is not acceptable when 124 grain 9mm NATO is both a military standard and the deeper-penetrating round .

    His point was that just because a vest defeats 115 grain 9mm ammo does *not* mean it will defeat 124 grain ammo in the 9 x 19 cartridge .

    So, tonight I picked up a box of Winchester 124 grain NATO. This is advertised as having a 1200 ft./s velocity. Tests from people who post on YouTube (people who own chronographs) show it will reach that velocity from a 4" or 5 inch barreled handgun.


    I had to buy this 9mm NATO , ammo because my other 124 grain ammo either did not have any published velocity or it was lower ---in the 1050, 1100, or 1150 ft./second range.

    Tomorrow I'll shoot the vest again. Using my 5" barreled Springfield XD9 from 10 feet.
    I have two new boxes of raisin bran cereal for a backer, and just in case the bullet goes through I will have a big stack of newspapers behind that.
     
  15. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    The 124gr at 1200fps also will not penetrate it.
     
  16. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    46B4131B-369F-4654-9C3E-FD40B86289EE.jpeg 32AA0F9B-30BC-4334-A810-AA96528C33F7.jpeg And, that's an accurate prediction.

    The 9mm NATO bullet performed a lot like the lead-round-nose .357 magnum.

    Stretched the layers of Kevlar and broke thru about half of them, but didn't even come closs to fully penetrating vest.

    The impact tore open the cereal box, too. Big messy wound to the Raisin Bran.

    (Does this make me a cereal killer?)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  17. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    4017ADAF-7FCA-4881-ADE1-A9E218867FA6.jpeg 1374BCB3-FE84-4EB0-97A4-E56B8410AF61.jpeg cereal killer's victim:
     
  18. Wegahe

    Wegahe NRA Instructor

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    Yes...
     
  19. Nemo

    Nemo Man of Myth and Legend

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    You have mentioned cereal boxes from way back on this. I have been expecting it. And yes, you are.

    Nemo
     
  20. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Test .357Sig from Underwood using the screwdriver tip round. Forgot what it's called.