Pat's Product Review: Infidel Body Armor

Monday, Feb 4, 2013

In the past, working as a police officer, security officer and private investigator, I used to wear soft body armor - it only made sense to give myself every advantage available, and to afford myself a better chance of going home safely at the end of the day. Body armor isn't anything new, I believe it was used as early as the 1920s - in a more modern form than the armor that knights used to wear into battle.

Richard Davis, who started Second Chance Body Armor (now out of business) paved the way for much of today's soft and heavy body armor. If memory serves me correctly, Davis started selling his soft Kevlar body armor in the early or mid-1970s. He made quite a name for himself, by actually demonstrating the effectiveness of body armor in live-fire demonstrations. He would fire a .44 Magnum handgun (with full power loads) into his own chest, while wearing his body armor. Needless to say, it was a very effective marketing tool. I still remember when I owned a gun shop in Portland, Oregon, and I bid on a large quantity of body armor for the Salem, Oregon police department and won the bid. However, I didn't have the funds to purchase the Second Chance Body Armor, so I contacted Davis and explained the situation to him. He told me to add his name on the awarded bid, and he sent me the armor, and I sent him a check.

Today, there have been many advances in the design and effectiveness of body armor. Many police officers, wisely wear some form of soft body armor under their uniform shirt. The only problem I see is that most police officers still attempt to wear the same size shirt, and you can clearly see the outline of the armor under the shirt. This isn't rocket science. Get a shirt that is a size or two bigger! And, for some strange reason, I see many police officers wearing their "concealable" body armor over their shirts! Come on! The idea is that, the bad guys don't know you are wearing the armor, so if they shoot, they will shoot a center of mass. But if they see you are wearing body armor, they will go for the head. This is common sense!

Recently, Infidel Body Armor sent me a sample of their hard body armor for testing. This is super-tough stuff to be sure. A complete set-up, with a front and back steel plate and a vest make up the set. The hardened steel plates are made out of AR500 steel - this is the same stuff they use to armor Hummers and other light military vehicles. This is 1/4 inch hardened steel that has a polymer coating on the front and back and comes in a vest. They offer several different styles and designs of vest you can pick from. Each steel plate is bent at a 20 degree angle to conform to your upper torso. The polymer coating on the front and back of each plate is worth note. This coating prevents bullets from splattering off the armor and into your face or arms or lower body. In effect, it is something akin to a sponge - it traps the bullet fragments in the polymer. Each plate is 10 by 12 inches and weighs 7 pounds. Heavy? Well, not as heavy as you think, when you actually put the armor inside of the vest and put it on. I was actually surprised at how comfortable the entire set-up felt.

Chad Cooper, who owns and operates Infidel Body Armor, also sent me a single steel AR500 hardened steel plate for my testing. And, it had already been shot with a .30-06 armor piercing round. There was some damage to the polymer coating, but only a very slight dent to the armor itself. Cooper told me that he didn't know if the polymer coating would stay on the plate - he attempted to re-coat the plate with more polymer coating - so I had been warned ahead of time. If you'll go to the Infidel Body Armor web site, you can see the steel plates being tested, and not with just a few rounds, but with many rounds - as many as a hundred rounds fired into a single plate. The standard for testing the effectiveness of any body armor is that it will withstand 7 hits from the calibers of ammo it is meant to stop. Infidel goes above and beyond in their test. No, their armor is "certified" by the big name company that does this sort of certification, but that means absolutely nothing to me!

Cooper has designed his line of hard body armor for the Prepper crowd, not for law enforcement. Law enforcement requires a certain certification for armor, and that means you pay a lot more for that certification. Cooper's intent is to provide the Prepper with the most effective hard body armor, at the most affordable prices around. He has reached that lofty goal!

Look, the last thing you need in a SHTF scenario is having yourself or a member of your group taken out of action by being wounded or killed. You don't have an endless supply of replacements like the military does, so if a group or family member takes a hit, or is killed, it can put your group in serious jeopardy. A lot of Preppers don't take this into consideration - losing someone to a bullet to the torso. Sure, we all want to think it won't happen to us, but we all know better than that, don't we? You can have all the latest gee-whiz gear and weapons to aid you in your survival, but if you are shot, what good will you be to the rest of the group or yourself? Something to think about!

I took the Infidel Body Armor steel plate out for some testing as soon as I received it. I fired 10-rounds of .308 Winchester FMJ ammo at the plate. On the first round, the polymer coating flew off, as I was warned it might do. I taped the polymer coating back on around the edges of the plate, and continued firing. There were some small dents, hardly worth noting. And, I removed the polymer coating and saw all the little bullet fragments that it had trapped under it - preventing what could have been small shrapnel injuries to the wearer. Additionally, most of my hits were dead center on the plate - one round on top of the next, and still no sign of penetration or of the plate weakening. On several more outings, I fired a grand total of 100-rds of .308 Win. ammo at the plate, ammo from Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Buffalo Bore produces some pretty hot loads, and still there were no signs of the plate giving way or failing. On several other tests, I used some Federal 5.56mm 62-grain steel penetrator ammo on the test plate, again, no failure on the plate, and it really just shrugged off the 5.56mm ammo. Handgun rounds? It was a total waste of time firing those at the plate. All my testing was done from only 25 feet! There were no splash-backs from the bullets, they were trapped in the polymer coating.

Infidel Body Armor rates their plates at threat Level III+ and I don't see any reason to question this, even though they are not "certified" by the big name company that does this sort of thing. The body armor is rated to withstand 9mm, .357 Mag, .45 ACP 12 GA shotgun, 5.56mm, .308 Win, .30-06 and many other lesser calibers. Infidel has on-going tests and haven't had any failures in their steel plates. I have dealt with Chad Cooper before, on some of his other products, and find what they sell to be of the highest quality, and they are just good people to deal with, too.

As I mentioned above, Infidel Body Armor is designed and meant for Preppers, or anyone else who might feel the need for very affordable body armor, including police officers, if they can get past the idea that this armor is "certified." Again, a certification means nothing in my book. It's what the armor does on real life that matters to me. When you get something "certified" you are paying a lot more money just to have a name or title associated to your product, which means the cost is passed on to the consumer. The US military won't let their troops wear this armor because it hasn't meet their standards, and that's too bad. Why are we, the taxpayers, paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars more for body armor, just because it has a certification on it, or a certain brand name? You can be getting the same or better life-saving coverage for less money? That's the FedGov for you: if there is a way to waste our tax dollars, they will find it. I'm not expert on body armor, but I know what my own testing has proven to me. Hits at any angle didn't penetrate the Infidel Body Armor. I was totally impressed!

If you are serious about your survival in a SHTF scenario, it's worth checking out the line-up of body armor that Infidel carries. Now for the good news, depending on which plate carrier you elect to buy with your plates, the prices are very affordable. It's way less than you will pay for similar hard armor that may not have the polymer coating on it. The Stryker vest with a front and back plate is only $305, and the Viper carrier and two plates is $375, and the Banshee carrier with two plates is only $425. If you buy elsewhere you can easily pay double, triple, and more for similar vest and plates. The goal was to produce the best hard armor around, at a price point that was affordable, and Infidel Body Armor reached that goal. Their initial goal was to be at $300, and they only exceeded that by a few bucks. You can even use your own vest if it has plate carriers in it. However, the plate carriers that Infidel sells were designed specifically for their plates. I mentioned that the vest with plates was extremely comfortable, and it was. I was really surprised how comfortable the vest with 14 pounds of steel plate was.

I should mention, that even though the polymer coating that had been re-coated came off on my first shot with a .308 Win round, this won't happen when the plates are snuggly inside the carrier. There's no place for the coating to go, and it will stay on the plates!
With all the stuff happening in DC these days, it's only a matter of time before they get around to banning body armor for civilian use. As a matter of fact, there are a good number of locales that already outlaw the use and purchase of body armor by civilians, just like some places won't allow you to put a laser on a firearm. The insanity never ceases to amaze me. So, if you are in the market for some serious body armor that will stop most common high-powered rifle rounds and handgun rounds, I highly recommend the product line at Infidel Body Armor. Why pay more? - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

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