A couple of months ago the good folks at infidel body armor, contacted me about reviewing one of their products on TheSurvivalistBlog.net , and despite my being upfront and letting them know that with my scheduled (and a number of projects that I want to get done before the heat of summer sets in), that it might be a few months before, I could find the time to put the plates to the test, and to actually write and publish a review – well they still agreed to send me one free of charge.
The first thing that I look for in a company, is shipping speed and customer service (I hate to wait 4-6 weeks for a product to arrive), and I’m pleased to say that with infidel body armor my “wait” was just over a week and their customer service was fantastic.
The armor system that they sent me featured an Atacs plate carrier made by Condor and two AR 500 steel plates, with each plate measuring approximately 10 x 12 inches and weighing in at approximately seven and a half pounds each with each plate curved to help them “mold” to your body and provide more comfort and protection.
Each AR 500 steel plate came with an “anti-spalling coating” on the outside of the plates – this coating looked like the same stuff that is used in the spray on bed-lining process that you would get for your pick-up truck, but I’m not sure if it’s the same process or not.
I know that some of you are probably, asking, what in the heck is spalling and what does it have to do with this review and infidel body armor. Well spalling as related to armor plates has to do with shrapnel that can (and often does) fly everywhere as a result of these plates being shot – this shrapnel or spalling can cause injury or even death depending on the size of the shrapnel, the speed and where and how it penetrates the body of the person wearing the plates.
The flying shrapnel or spalling that can result from armor plates being struck by bullets can end up striking the person wearing the plates in the throat, under the chin, the arms or any other place that might be in its path and exposed. Never, ever, use any armor plate that does not have the “anti-spalling coating” applied to the outside of the plate.
From my research and tests performed on the plates that infidel body armor sent me, the “anti-spalling coating” works pretty well at preventing shrapnel from exploding all over the place (and into your face, neck and body) when struck by bullets.
To test the effectiveness of the coating at preventing spalling, I first placed the test plate inside of a T-shirt and then placed both inside a cardboard box, so it would be easy to see the effects or lack of spalling if any, after being shot.
To test the bullet stopping effectiveness of the AR 500 plates, I shot them with several different firearms of different calibers and power, including .22 long rifle, 9mm, .223 and .308 and none penetrated the plates, and there was only one incident of spalling and that was with the .22 long rifle that went to the right side and through the cardboard box.
Apparently, the little .22 long rifle followed the slight curvature of the plate and took the path of least resistance – folks the .22 long rifle is the most unpredictable round available – a round that strikes the shoulder bone of a human could end up in the victim’s neck, or a hit to the collar-bone could go down and into the body or just about any other combination that you can think of.
My main complaint with the AR 500 steel plates are their weight – they are heavy. Wearing this vest is like having two concrete blocks, one in front of your body and one in back, that have been tied around your neck. This isn’t something you would want to wear all of the time “just in case” a threat pops up, as you’re tending your tomato plants or feeding your chickens – this is a vest that would probably be held in reserve and only worn when you know that an attack is imminent.
Remember no matter the rating or bullet stopping ability of any body armor, vest or plate system, you have to actually be wearing it when you’re shot before it will help to keep you from being penetrated by the bullet, and subsequently being injured or killed.
Body armor is needed and recommended, but instead of starting out with the AR 500 steel plates like those that come with the infidel body armor, I recommend that you invest in good quality concealable level II body armor. Sure level III-A offers a little more protection (but not much), but is heavier and bulkier and costs more – and like I mentioned above, any body armor must be worn before it can be effective.
A good company for level II body armor is Bullet Proof Me and they sell to civilians, and even offer police surplus vests at very reasonable prices averaging at around $250 each for surplus level II body armor… Get concealable body armor first and then if finances allow, invest in some AR 500 steel plates via infidel body armor for when the stuff really hits the fan and you know that the “zombies” are heading your way…