Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gainsaid By Hobbits? What Fresh Humiliation Waits Tomorrow?

OK, OK, so apparently several things I said in reply to the crazy e-feminist wannabe were not true. And I checked, and I'm not registered as a Democrat, so it all counts.

Our correspondent from Hobbiton, John Shirley, informs me that he has shot a Level II-A vest with a 12-gauge shotgun using 1 oz. slugs, and although the slugs did push the vest material about two inches into the target (broken ribs) they did not break through the material--but only if you miss the trauma plates, which apparently stopped 'em cold. Shows what I know--I didn't consider plates. I didn't think most patrol officers wore them.

So, if you're keeping track, it's actually very hard to get a "silencer" legally in Sweden, and a police officer's vest will stop a 12-guage slug, at least the 1-oz. vaned kind I use in a smooth barrel. I wonder whether John tried the saboted slugs, which would have much less frontal area? None of this is a big deal really, just technical details (I don't anticipate a need to shoot through body armor any time soon, and I haven't lost an confidence in my 12-guage) but I know more today than I did yesterday, and that's always good.

Standard slugs will not defeat common level 2 body armor. I know this because I have tested it, at about 2 meters. (Unless hitting the trauma plate, you will have a section of armor about as wide as a small maraschino jar pushed at least 2" into the target, though. Certainly more "impactful" than standard 00 buck, which didn't even dent the railroad tie backstop.

.223 will penetrate, at least the front side of the vest, and probably most of the "body". .44 Magnum will sometimes penetrate at least the front armor. .45-70 300 grain SJHP at about 1650 fps will blow through the front armor, railroad tie, back armor, and keep on truckin'.

Vest tested was a 10-year old Second Chance.
--John Shirley

The point stands despite my sloppiness. Notice that the calibers that penetrated--.223, .44 Remington Magnum, and .45-70 Government, all predate the widespread use of personal ballistic armor. They were designed for penetration, yes, but none of them were designed to defeat body armor.


Kilgor said...

If a 300 gr. 45-70 will penetrate it, then a sabot 12 gauge should too.

12 gauge 1 oz sabot slug - 440 grains at 1,550 w/ a 0.500" solid copper bullet.

45-70 - John claims 350 grains @ 1,650 fps w/ a 0.458" semi jacketed lead slug.

They are pretty synonymous.

Matt G said...

I suspect that Kilgor is correct, but I wouldn't swear to it until I'd tested it.

Most cops that wear body armor wear the small trauma plate. I chose a soft trauma plate, because I don't like to take soft body armor and make it rigid. But lots of cops do. They range from hardened steel to kevlar and steel to kevlar only to ceramic, to ceramic and kevlar, to titanium, to titanium and kevlar to... well, you get the picture.

NIJ has some very rigid standards on backface deformation, and they claim that more than 1.5" of BFD over soft clay would be fatal or incapacitating. NIJ has made some very, very stupid decisions on vest certifications over the years. One of the dumbest is that kevlar vests, which are less effective when soaking wet, must have a waterproof cover over them. Richard Davis, the founder of Second Chance, has railed against this for years-- if a vest is ensconced in a vinyl sack, it's going to feel like you're wearing a Hefty bag on a hot humid day. And it won't get worn.

Davis also does some fascinating demos on how effective vests are at turning edged weapons, despite their NIJ ratings. Turns out, almost any Level 2 or even 2A vest will turn a slashing attack from any handheld knife, and even swords. The NIJ knife-resistence rating is based on the ability to stop an icepick driven HARD into a vest against a non-moving surface. But if your vest won't stop that, then it's declared to be of zero worth against edged attack, which ain't so. Why not rate those, too? Just give it a 1-10 rating for slicing attack, and a 1-10 rating for stabbing attack. Think D&D-- the guy with the boiled leather armor may not have been able to withstand a lance attack, but he was damned sure more agile than the guy in plate, or even fine mail armor.

A level 2A, which is the lowest level commonly available, will stop 95% of the rounds that cops are typically shot with. It stops all .22L.R., all buckshot, all 9mm (except the exceedingly rare and quite illegal AP variety), most .357 magnum, all .45 acp, and some .44 Mag. No, it won't stop rifle fire, but neither will a Level 2, or a Level 3, both of which are supposed to be much better stoppers, but make you less agile.

To those who wear body armor: Get the thinnest, lightest, most-wearable stuff you can. To those that want to shoot us who wear body armor: Please don't. I understand that it hurts like the dickens, and then you've got that whole Attempted Capital Murder thing to deal with.

J.R.Shirley said...

"I wonder whether John tried the saboted slugs"

No, but like Kilgor said, I would think they would indeed work. I wouldn't be surprised if the standard Foster slug would effect a stop, I just wouldn't depend on it.

Oh, Kilgor, this was a GA Arms .45-70. It was only 300 grains. The 1650 is estimated, since I fired it from a 1895G, with the 18" barrel (GA Arms advertises 1800 fps).
J, from Hobbiton.

Anonymous said...