Question about heavy carry or body armor


October 5, 2007, 12:59 AM
My question here is that I hear talk about carrying a large caliber heavy weapon (weight) if you can conceal it, but why not just wear body armor?Some large caliber guns weight over 35 oz so why not carry a lighter gun and wear body armor? Do many of you here on THR wear body armor that are not LE, if you do, do you wear groin protection too, I'd think armor and a lightweight gun would protect you better than a large caliber gun would.

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Jimmy Newman
October 5, 2007, 01:19 AM
Here are a few of my opinions as to why most people do not agree with you:

Body armor is bulky and not very comfortable.

Body armor does an ok job of protecting your torso, but doesn't help you if you're shot in the pelvis or head (both of which can kill you pretty quickly).

Body armor protects you, but it does not protect your family or those around you.

Also, most body armor doesn't help much against rifle rounds, unless you go for heavier, bulkier, more expensive armor, and then only really where you have trauma plates (at least as I understand it).

October 5, 2007, 01:27 AM
My experiences with body armor have been: stinky, heavy, sweaty, constrictive, expensive, bulky (even the good ones still aren't made by Hanes), dorky, and stinky.

I have no desire to wear body armor, ever again. I went so far as replacing the panels with pieces of an old quilt to maintain the appearance that I was wearing my required vest. (I figure the guys that make the rules don't work in 130 deg hell holes, they work in 68 deg corner offices and play tennis at lunch.)

October 5, 2007, 01:51 AM
is there such thing as non stinky armor like fruit of the armor or hanes his armor. can i wash it or dry clean it or how bout febreeze it (like the stinky football stuff commercial), but really is there a non stinky vest out there?

1911 guy
October 5, 2007, 07:53 AM
In short, it's not practical for most of us to wear body armor. The wardrobe changes would leave us looking like the Michelin Man and it's still many times as heavy as a handgun. The protection does not extend to your family, the armor will not stop a threat, just (some) bullets and decent armor costs as much as a handgun. I'd find it easier to conceal another handgun and a few more reloads than body armor. As for the heavy handgun statement, I carry a 5" steel 1911, minimum of one reload, two knives, flashlight and mini-baton. Body armor seems excessive, even to me.

October 5, 2007, 11:45 AM
I think you misunderstood me, I was implying that even the "breathable" (read ultra-expensive) are a long long way from breathable garments like a cotton t-shirt.

All armor smells like s#!% because you can't wash the panels without degrading their performance. So if you wear your armor regularly it will smell like a dirty jock-strap after a while. Some folks rinse their panels with soapy water, or spray them with febreeze, I never found either to be very successful and mostly you smell like B.O. and eu de Italian shower afterwards.

My heart goes out to all the beat cops that must wear that stuff every day. As 1911 guy said, all but the extreme, obsessive compulsive, tactical, paranoid,"well prepared" type of guys find armor to be impractical.

October 5, 2007, 01:15 PM
Tales from the front line. Body armor in Texas.

I wear body armor to work ever day under a buisness suit. It's not fun. It's supreamly not fun when it's August. Most estimates I've seen say that wearing body armor effectively raises the environmental temperature by 20 degrees. It will itch in places you can't scratch, and cause you to drink more water than you thought possible... while making everything you wear slightly soggy. Babby powder will become your new best friend if you decide to wear armor. You will have rashes, rubs, and hotspots in places you never thought existed before.

There are anti-microbial sprays designed to specifically counter stinky armor, and you had better use them every night or you will smell. And you should own three or four carriers because they will cycle through the wash every time you wear it. There's nothing quite as amazing as the ability of a brand new deep navy carrier to become a faded pasty blue in one or two weeks of use.

Now for the actual practice of wearing armor. If you dress right, most people will never know you are wearing armor. If you can conceal a 1911, radio, handcuffs, magazines and flashlight under a blazer, the vest really doesn't pile on much more to the unsuspecting eye. Professionals, however, will mostly pick it up right away. Want to see a LEO get real suspicious real fast? Wear armor. Want to see a LEO get suspicious and paranoid to the point of stopping you? Wear armor under a T-shirt.

Random question answer: No, most concealed body armor does not offer groin protection.

Continuing on. Body armor by itself is not a terribly good idea. The BG will just keep plugging away until something gets through. Body armor, with a defensive firearm is a good idea.. if you are willing to put up with the not very plesant realities of wearing armor. Personally, I don't recommend it for most people unless your job or particular situation puts you at an elevated threat risk. Armed security? Yeah, wear a vest. The unfortunate guy who has to make a money run to the bank after the buisness closes at 1AM? Probably good idea to wear a vest for that too. Going for a walk in the park in the middle of the day? No so much. As with most things, it's a trade off. Increased defensive ability versus on heck of a pain in the butt.

October 5, 2007, 01:23 PM
Out of uniform, I could never find a summer outfit that I could wear armor underneath and not look suspiciously disproportionate in the body compared to my arms. Even concealed body armor makes you look like you're shoplifting 5 t-shirts.

October 5, 2007, 05:18 PM
Of course, body armor comes in different levels of protection as rated by the NIJ. I will not go in to too much detail for various reasons, including space. But you might be suprised to learn that the threat level is normally determined by your own"heavy" weapon. For example, we know that Shooter429 carries a .44 Magnum as his primary (heavy) arm and lighter guns (like .357 magnums) as BUGs.

So Shooter should wear a level 3A or higher, depending on circumstances. His buddy, however, carries a little G17, 26 with standard velocity loads, so he wears a level 2. If either went up against a rifle, however, they would need something heavier. Also, if you knew you were going up against, oh say a .460 XVR, you would also need a heavier vest.

You might ask," why not just wear the heaviest vest all the time" ? The answer is, of course, heat, weight and comfort, not to mention "printing". The level 2s tend to be favored in hot weather, because generally, the better the protection, the heavier the body armor.

A gun is never a substitute for LBA and vice versa. They are both part of the uniform, and both are important.


October 5, 2007, 06:38 PM
Here's my take: About 80% of all pistol wounds are survivable if you get to treatment in time. Better to be on the move & not get shot at all, but it is critical to make sure you stop the threat immediately.

I'd rather have the speed and mobility + effective gun & caliber.

Better to stop the other person from shooting you in the first place than to plan on absorbing bullets and trade-off rounds.

October 5, 2007, 07:12 PM
I cannot understand how any LEO or armed citizen, for that matter, can think that it should be one or the other. CWL, yes, but action is faster than reaction. Depending on many variables, it could take you .5 seconds or more to react to an assault. Bullets travel a little too fast for you to perceive an attack, run, take cover and fire before the lead hits you. If the BG had the jump on you you r SOL, gun or no. That is why both are so important. The LBA gives you a possible margin of safety so you can mount a counterstrike. I guess it is your life, but I would encourage everybody to wear their armor, because that is why it was issued (or purchased) in the first place.


October 5, 2007, 07:39 PM
Get a nice, thick glad trash bag and cut holes in it for your arms and head so that you can wear it like a shirt. Put it on and wear your cloths over the top of it. That gives you a general idea of what it is like to wear level II body armor.

Unless you have a profession where you are likely to encounter firearms, you're better off staying comfortable and mentally focused on your surroundings.

October 5, 2007, 08:53 PM
I wore body armor for years when I was in uniform. Kept my latest issue when I retired. If I knew for sure I were going to a gunfight, I'd wear it. Otherwise, It stays in the closet. Kinda laughable to me that anyone not required to wear the stuff would consider it for everyday casual wear.

October 5, 2007, 09:54 PM
I have to wear the full deal everyday. Trauma plates and all the whole thing weighs 55 pounds. It will stop 7.62X39 for sure and probably 7.62X51/63 if we are having a good day.

Don't get me wrong it is really nice to have when being shot at, but if that is not happening than there is nothing good about wearing it. Most shooters shoot center of mass so as in the Tyler Court House Shooting so you could likely survive a good long fire fight with the armor on. But unless you live in Beriut, Iraq, East Timor or East LA there likely is no point.

And sooner or later someone will realize- "Hey he has armor on, shoot him the head!"

October 6, 2007, 01:11 AM
Kinda laughable to me that anyone not required to wear the stuff would consider it for everyday casual wear.

If you live in so dangerous an area that you need to wear body armor all day, maybe you should consider moving. Unless you're a LEO.......or of course a Mall Ninja.

October 6, 2007, 01:17 PM
Kinda laughable to me that anyone not required to wear the stuff would consider it for everyday casual wear.

Amen to that. I'm still waiting for Dune style personal Holtzmann shield generators. :D

October 6, 2007, 02:29 PM
The thugs are sometimes donning it now . . . but probably only while doing a "mission."

It didn't help this one at all in Thursday's metro Atlanta robbery when a thug pistol whipped a Hampton Inn clerk (sending her to the hospital) in order to steal some money.

He didn't get far. The Douglasville police and county deputies got on his tail and it was "off to the races" at high speed towards Atlanta on I-20.

The thug then raced onto I-285, shooting wildly at the LEO trying to stop him. The thug then stopped, pretended to hold his hands up . . . then came out firing.

His body armor was no match . . . for well-placed buckshot to the head and neck!;)

One less mean-azzz thug on the streets of Atlanta.


PS: No decent human beings were harmed during the shootout.

October 6, 2007, 04:13 PM
body armor is strictly for defense. guns are for offense and defense. better yet, "a good defense is a good offense!" Mel from Alice tactical philosophy applicable for the next VT like shooting.

October 6, 2007, 04:33 PM
I had the distinct pleasure of wearing full IBA body armor and helmet yesterday at the rifle range. Not a fan. But glad they finally decided that we were worth trauma plates. when I am (inevitably) deployed, I won't like it, but I WILL wear it.

Back home it's a different dichotomy. In a war environment, you are protecting yourself from imminent hostility. You know SOMEONE is out there RIGHT NOW who wants to kill you. At home, the threat is much less distinct. I think I will regard wearing body armor as pretty much the same thing as "arming yourself on one particular occasion because you suspect a violent thing will happen". Wrong answer. Avoid the event, don't build up in anticipation of it. I agree with others here who have posted that if you are living in a place where violence really is that imminent, maybe you should think about moving.

October 6, 2007, 06:43 PM
Aside from being hot, body armour for civilians isn't legal everywhere. Plus not all body armour is created equal. Some of the soft stuff won't stop every pistol round. None of the soft armour will stop any rifle round. It's all rated according to what it will stop. It's not exactly inexpensive either.

fearless leader
October 6, 2007, 07:02 PM
46 finds me somewhat portly and armor on me is quite obvious. I can only wear it in the winter, and when people happen to find out I'm wearing it, I tell them that it helps hold my back straight (I have a bona fide back problem).
If I go into a heavy neighborhood, I try to stay alert and avoid strangers and carry my Glock 20 or 23 stoked with Mag-safe rounds in case I am not successful at avoiding trouble. Otherwise I carry a Chiefs Special with Glasers and 2 Bianchi Speed Strips with Gold Dots. Gold dots have a reputation with LE as being able to cause casualties on the other side of a windshield while staying together and more or less keeping their shape.
Since moving to Florida in 1990, I have had 2 guns pointed at me by strangers while in my automobile, and been fired on twice while driving down the road minding my business, been in a store that was about to be robbed and stopped it myself. I don't have a real good record at avoiding trouble, but I really try.

Mat, not doormat
October 7, 2007, 04:27 AM
I'm not sure that the OP really understands how unpleasant armor actually is. I carry a pistol that's about as heavy as they get. Right around 48 oz loaded weight. I generally carry at least one reload for it. there's another ten ounces. Now, if I downgrade in caliber alone, I can shave a few ounces. That still doesn't give me a vest's worth of weight. If I shift from steel to polymer or aluminum, I can probably shave another ten ounces. Show me the twenty ounce vest? I haven't seen one, yet. So I still haven't shaved enough weight to make up for downgrading both the useability and effectiveness of my weapon. But I'm still carrying a fullsize weapon, albeit lighter in weight and caliber. maybe if I start shrinking the gun, as well, I can shave down to where I've saved enough weight to make up for the vest. Ok, chop off half the slide, and half the grip. Now, I can barely get a grip on the gun, the sight radius is so short that it's a challenge to shoot the thing well at the range, let alone in a stressful situation, and it's still not very effective in caliber. But, how much weight have I saved? Let's see, we've gone from a 48 oz fullsize 1911, down to a supercompact small caliber weapon. Let's call it a Kel-Tec P32, just because I happen to have one for comparison. It weighs in at about 10 oz. So, I've just shaved 38 oz, or not quite two and a half pounds. I've decreased the effectiveness of my sidearm from fairly decent, for a handgun, to "better than trhowing rocks." It still hasn't given me the weight savings for a vest, as they generally start at about 3 pounds.

This doesn't even begin to address the comfort issues. A big heavy gun isn't really a bad deal, if you've got decent leather to carry it in. In summer, I can hide it under a big t-shirt, if i want to. Not really a lot of change, as far as heat or unpleasantness. Do I really want to trade that in for binding, chafing, smelling and hot as heck armor? Nope. I think I'll stick with my present defense plan. Cell phone, running shoes, and an big, easy to shoot pistol.


October 7, 2007, 01:04 PM
What are your thoughts on incorporating ballistic protection into bags or briefcases? Obviously you can't haul a briefcase around 24/7 but it does offer protection without discomfort. It would seem sensible to introduce its use into ones SD drills, if this was a serious proposition.

October 7, 2007, 01:23 PM
Blade Zero,
I have spent my adult life around people who train to fight most every day, the idea of me cowering in back of an armored briefcase is hilarious. I would pass that up for one reason: if it comes to that, I F@##$d up big time, hiding behind that will only prolong my shame for a few minutes.

Fight like a Comanche > Hide like a B*&^%

October 7, 2007, 01:44 PM
A bullet proof shield (or briefcase) works great...if you happen to be Captain America. For the rest of us it ties up a hand, gives you something else to try and think about and move while you should be heading for cover and returning fire, and the odds of you actually using it to shield yourself from bullets are very small. Those full body shields used by tactical teams are a different matter, but I don't see anyone walking around with one of them.

I wear armor every day at work. If I'm in uniform, I'm in armor. It is hot. It tends to stink. It rubs, itches, and is pretty obvious that you are wearing it. That said, my profession requires me to go into situations where the possibility of gunfire is high. Given my situation, the armor is a must and makes up for the discomfort.

That said, I ran a plain clothes task force for a year. During that time I rarely wore armor. It generally stayed in the trunk of the unmarked in case I had to go somewhere where I thought I might need it. I made this decision based on the fact that as a plainclothes officer I was not dispatched to calls, did not have to respond to armed parties, disturbances, or make traffic stops. Since we initiated all our own activity the risk of a gunfight was significantly lower than that of uniform patrol, provided we did our job correctly. Also, if you are wearing armor, you look like you are wearing armor. Forget blending in. A fat guy with skinny arms and legs in a blazer or Hawaiian shirt draws attention in a crowd of young people wearing shorts and T shirts.

I have worn my armor off duty exactly once. I will not go into detail, but I got a phone call from a disturbed trainee and my partner and I had to go to his house and get him some help. In that situation, I wanted armor.

I do not leave my house without a pistol and a cell phone. I carry 2 pistols at work, and have been known to do so off duty. Hell, after 911 I kept a bag in my trunk with an AR and 5 loaded mags. I'm just this side of paranoid (I hope). I do not see wearing body armor off duty (or as a non LEO) as practical or worth the trade offs at this time. Maybe as the technology advances a thin, light, and comfortable vest will come out and change my thinking, but until then I will stick with the age old technique of trying very hard not to put myself into situations where I will get shot, and if lead starts flying will do my best to be faster and more accurate than the other guy.

But thats just my opinion.

October 7, 2007, 02:50 PM
Fair enough,
I was just wondering if it would be of any value to a civillian who uses a bag/briefcase and who may be caught up in a convience store/robery scenario.

Obviously not.

October 7, 2007, 04:32 PM
If someone regularly carries a briefcase or large bag anyway, I see nothing wrong with adding a layer of Kevlar. At this stage of my life, I don't carry such a thing, but if I ever do, I will probably put one of my old panels inside it. I do wear armor as a police patrol officer, but very rarely wear it when off the clock, though a few times when I had to go into a perilous situation, I did so.

October 7, 2007, 06:09 PM
Kevlar is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. If it were up to me, I would stick it in everything....doors, briefcases, seat covers, etc. Stick it in anything that doesn't draw attention. However, as stated above, it sucks to wear it even in uniform, let alone in civilian clothes.

If you get a useful protection level, with full coverage, you will almost hope that you get shot and make it worth your effort. Besides restricting natural movements, it will cause your sidearm to "print" unless you are carrying it on your ankle, which you won't be able to reach.

October 8, 2007, 08:22 PM
I wouldn't sacrifice weapon caliber if I were wearing armor. Last time I checked most vests commercially sold won't stop a knife. Assuming you went out armed with something like a .32 ACP or .25 ACP and a determined attacker came at you with a nice big knife, i'd be betting on the attacker with the knife at least getting to you and getting a stab or two in.

October 8, 2007, 09:19 PM
There are vests that stop knives, only it takes a prison guard, or half-a-**** to want one.

October 9, 2007, 02:05 AM
Being in college and unarmed I have often thought about what would happen if the S hit the Fan. Other than being aware and sitting close to an exit I have decided that my backpack will actually stop most pistol rounds. A FMJ 9mm will penetrate about 7 inches of paper and the .45 acp about 4.25. Thats only three textbooks. Since I normally carry four and a laptop I think I have a decent chance of shielding my vitals until I can get the hell out of dodge. It's a last ditch idea and not exactly the best thing, but since I want an education it seems I must go unarmed.

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