Any cops/medics/users: Opinion: Second Chance Body Armor


October 6, 2003, 01:16 AM
I am a volunteer EMT in PA and i'm in a rough neighborhood. All the medics i work with (out of the local hospital) are issued body armor and a few of them have had to use it. Because i work for a volunteer organization we are responsible for our own protection. I am also a college student in this same neighborhood and have to walk back from chemestry lab at 9:30PM every monday night. In the past week there have been three muggings at gunpoint. Last year a student was killed for $6. Any armor i get i'll probably wear going out after dark and when on duty (when wearing a badge, no matter what it signifies, it makes you a target)

I have a chance to get Second Chance Tri-Flex Body armor at a very good price It's IIA rated and is generation 6. It was used for 6 months by a reserve officer and had a november 2001 manufacture date. I know they're up to generation 9, but that costs way too much so i think this is a good comprimise as i know there are guys out there still using bulky old gen 3 stuff. What do you guys think?

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October 6, 2003, 01:38 AM
I tried wearing a vest for about three days while working as a paramedic. The company got in on a massive order along with the police department and we got to make payments on them. I of course over-bought. I forget what threat level it was. Anyway, the vest was very heavy, super hot, and pulled my shirt out of my pants every time I bent over. It was just too much for me, I quit wearing it and ended up selling it to someone else.

As a firefighter, we were issued military flak jackets during the whole Rodney King debacle. These also were heavy and hot and also would not stop a bullet. A friend and I went to the warehouse and talked them in to letting us have a flak jacket off the books. We then took it out and shot it with various caliber handguns and an AR15. The only thing it stopped was a .22LR. Every Monday we have to acknowlege that we still have one and I am sure we will have to turn it in upon retirement.

On New Year's eve we are issued a full entry vest or whatever it is called. The biggest thing they make. Looks like a big coat. Ours are orange and have PARAMEDIC on the back in big letters. It has pockets all over it which we carry very basic first aid stuff. We are assigned to a strike team with about 10 police officers and two firefighters. At least when we wear this stuff, it is winter.

I know all that didn't help you at all. I don't think I would buy one for use in the fire service, but I am not there and don't know what it is like. We have had very few incidents of being shot at and no one has ever been hit, although we have had apparatus hit. It sounds more reasonable to wear going back and forth to school, but will look crazy while you are in class, but I guess that isn't a good reason not to wear it.
The bottom line is, if it makes you comfortable and allows you to sleep at night, buy it. Money shouldn't be an issue.

October 6, 2003, 01:40 AM
I'd ask over at Tactical Forums. (

October 6, 2003, 01:47 AM
Check at tactical forums some of their vests are not working as in stopping bullets.The material zylon which is used by many vest companies is breaking down with heat and moisture causing failure with the vests.

October 6, 2003, 05:56 AM
A vest that old shouldn`t have Zylon in it so that won`t be a problem. Older vests are tested by dep`ts and so far they seem to hold up well.

I had 4 vests, one dep`t issued and 3 I bought. I think they were all Second Chance. They weren`t real expensive like they are now. One thing I had for the winter was an outside carrier. It looked like a winter insulated vest and the panels slipped in the same way. The sides had velcro closures and it had pockets that came in handy.

They are uncomfortable in the summer. There`s no getting away from that. You can always carry it and throw it on over your uniform. Our detectives carried their vests in the trunk of the car and only used them when they went on "heavy" jobs. Not the best but that`s what worked for them.

Yes, they do shoot at firemen and paras. They hate to be interrupted once they get a good riot going.:what:

Roadkill Coyote
October 6, 2003, 07:18 AM
According to Second Chance the Tri-Flex does incorporate Zylon, but unlike the all Zylon Ultima and Ultimax, which have been discontinued, it is a hybrid using Aramid, Zylon, and Goldflex.

Before you buy anything containing Zylon, go read up on the current problems. ( )

News ( and information ( is plentiful. (

For the record, I'm using my 7 year old backup (that I'm Very glad I kept) while I try to replace my one year old 9th generation Ultima

October 6, 2003, 08:00 AM
You didn't mention what state you are in (did you? Sorry if so) or wether or not it is legal for you to wear it off duty. It probably is, but still check. Is ccw legal? Would fox labs pepper spray be legal?

Anyway, the point was made about people laughing at you in class. Its actually valid. During the sniper episode out here, I wore one to and from work. AND I AM IN THE MILITARY and so is everyone I work with. Still got some funny looks.

That didn't stop me, mind you. I figured that if I didn't own one I probably would not have went out and bought one. But since I did own it, and Mohammed and malvo were out there, how could I justify to my God and my wife if I chose NOT to wear it?
(answer: I couldn't justify not wearing it. So hot, bulky, or not I wore it)

But if you are more sensitive about peer pressure than I am, consider that.

The one I wore was a 2nd chance police trade in (2 yrs old, very clean- looks new) to which I added a plate. Was it level IV, I dunno? The plate was a piece of 1-inch thick ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene which is the same stuff they make the ballistic plates out of. I just slid a 10 inch x 10 inch piece between the carrier and vest proper.

It wasn't curved to fit my body nor was it even remotely concealable but it wasnt 300 dollars either!

I can't recommend that as a practice because someone will say that the plates are NIJ rated and if you shoot thru a material before the vest it alters the projectile and the vest might not stop it anymore and jupiter might collide with uranus etc etc. But it made me feel better.

Also doubled as a trauma/sharp protective plate a that stuff is REALLY tough. Since you are subject to muggings, maybe that is important to you.

There is a guy who posts as YODADAD on who is going to do some penetration tests on the stuff and hopefully post it. Then we'll have some better info.

They also sell som undershirts for vests made from the same stuff as basketball jerseys that help move the sweat away from the vest and your body- they say this is much more comfortable.

My bottom line: I'd do it.

Hope this helps!

October 6, 2003, 08:22 AM
---I dunno anything about that.
. . . . .
What I do know is, I was at a indoor pistol range a couple weeks back, when a couple of the range guys and a couple police friends came in with an old vest to shoot at, to see what it would and wouldn't stop (I dunno what level it was). They had a 9mm auto pistol, a 44 revolver and a Colt Sporter/.223/variant-something.
- They hung the vest over a inverted "T"-shaped target hanger and sent it out mayby 15 feet away. When they fired the 9mm, the vest looked like a wet shirt on a laundry line that someone has thrown a rock at--the vest kindof violently "curled" up around the bullet for a moment, before the vest straightened out and hung vertical again (the bullets got caught in the cover, we would later see)..... The 44 did pretty much the same thing the 9mm did, only a bit more violent..... The .223 was completely different though: when they fired it, the vest didn't move at all. The fellow shooting fired four times, and the vest never swayed at all during this time--it hung perfectly still. So much so that it almost looked like he was firing blanks. When he reeled it in and they looked at it closely, it had four holes completely through the front and back sides.

Black Snowman
October 6, 2003, 09:16 AM
The current steel core 5.56 NATO ammo is supposed to penetrate something like Class III body armor at over 600 meters or some such. Even a .223 Rem holowpoint should be able to penetrate most body armor at close range. Most body armor does a pretty good job of stopping the pistol rounds and buckshot with their lower velocities and larger cross-sections.

If someone comes after you with a rifle, best thing is to not be there.

October 6, 2003, 10:32 AM
Second chance isnt too bad. Iv got a few of them, and my only gripe is that they are uncomfortable as hell. If youve got the chance, check out the Zero-G body armor. Light and comfortable, its my absolute favorite. 900 bucks though.

October 6, 2003, 10:51 AM
Second Chance is probably the most comfortable of the different brands. If it is uncomfortable, you won't wear it.

Vests won't stop knives and most rifle rounds.

Rich does stand behind his products. Literally. He'll put one on, and then shoot himself.

October 6, 2003, 03:27 PM
Talked to a couple medics who wear the same vest i'm planning on getting. They said the newer vests (those made withing the past couple years) are leaps and bounds better than the old ones. I took a look at one of our medics tri-flex, it's thin enough that no one would ever see it beneath the loose clothing i wear. It was also very comfortable. He said it's not stab proof, but it's enough of and extra layer that unless the knife weilder has considerable force in a dead on forward thrust, you're pretty well protected. He said if he was that concerned he's buy the titanium trauma plate.

October 6, 2003, 04:31 PM
You didn't mention what state you are in (did you? Sorry if so) or wether or not it is legal for you to wear it off duty. It probably is, but still check. Is ccw legal? Would fox labs pepper spray be legal?

Well i did mention what state i'm in, but incase you missed it, i live and work in PA. CCW is legal, but I am 18, not 21, so i'm just supposed to hand over my wallet, get on my knees and beg for my life until then. I own a bersa thunder, and would love to slip that in an IWB holster, but i gotta wait a couple years first. (and EMT's/Medics can't carry guns on duty, only pepper spray)

I carry fox labs spray, which is completely legal in PA, although it is against campus policy (screw that). Until campus safety (rent-a-cops with a radio, handcuffs and 4 figure salary) can protect us (the three muggings last week went unsolved) i'll be protecting myself. God knows how my college classifies pepper spray as an "offensive weapon," because the state sure doesn't.

Anyway, pepper spray is useless because last weeks muggings all involved an assailant armed with a gun.

State law as it pertains to body armor allows anyone to wear body armor at any time, except in the comission of a felony. If you wear body armor during a felony there's another felony tacked on top of it.

October 6, 2003, 04:42 PM
to me in (gag, choke, vomit) MD that is.
I was just trying to encourage you to take every precaution you can, givent that 3 days out of 7 you have a chance of being mugged at gunpoint!
Do well in college!

October 6, 2003, 06:20 PM
I'll give you my opinion and that is all it is.

First, body armor is something very personal. I don't cut corners, I don't take a hand me down, etc. I want the best available. Cost is no object in this area. I want to go home at the end of the day. I have 10 years left until I retire and I want to live all 10 of them.

Second, Second Chance is under the gun right now. BIG TIME. They are facing product liability law suits, law suits by an officer whose body armor failed, etc. While they are a good company, I personally believe they will file bankruptcy within the next 3 years. I have no clue if they are going to be around after that. If they file bankruptcy, all warranties, etc will be null/void.

Finally, I would do a little homework on body armor. Others suggested the tactical forum. I would agree. I would also not wear anything other then IIIA Body Armor and from a good solid company. I'm a Kevlar and Tawaron man myself. I don't like "blends" (Specta, Goldflex, etc) and wouldn't wear Zylon body armor (in fact my dept just purchased me one and I spent $800 bucks of my own money purchasing a new 100% Kevlar vest).

And that is my two cents...

October 6, 2003, 07:49 PM
that I got for Christmass last year.
a bit uncomfortable at times but no real get used to it

October 7, 2003, 03:41 AM
tetly, thanks for your concern, but the problem seems to be only with 100% zylon vests. they have supposedly fixed the problem and still offer a great warranty. I simply don't have the money for anything all that more expensive than $200 and don't have the paitence for anything thick or bulky. I do not need IIIA protection. This is a city, no one uses rifles. You have to worry about handgun calibers only.

October 7, 2003, 06:40 AM
This is a city, no one uses rifles. You have to worry about handgun calibers only.

Yeah that's what they USED to say in D.C.

Vests were still a rarity in 1980.

At a convention/demonstration in 1981, I saw Rich Davis shoot a 5'2", 125 poung woman with a .22 while she was wearing a Second Chance vest she didn't flinch. Then he shot a 6'0", 240 pound man with a .38+p, also wearing a vest, he staggered back 2 steps, but was still standing. Then he shot HIMSELF, point blank, right below the sternum with a 6" S&W M-29 loaded with a Remington 240 grain hollow point.* He winced, then looked at the crowd and said something to the effect of, What's all this I hear about blunt trama being worse than being shot?**

Left a helluva bruise on him though.

Made a believer out of me.

* I know it was R_P 240 because I handed him the cartridge.
**edited for Art's Gramma

By the way it felt like being hit with a fast pitch softball.
I wore the free vest I recieved for doing that demo for over 5 years.
I'm still 6'0' but I'll never see 240 again.

Billy Sparks
October 7, 2003, 07:42 AM
What you face my friend is a problem. Back in the very bad late 80's early 90's I tried wearing body armor while running EMS calls. Basically in the NC summer's I found it too hot, too bulky and too restrictive to be usable. I was more worried about being stabbed than shot. I view body armor in the same way I do a PFD or class III harness, these are items that will protect me and keep me from being a name on a wall someplace. I understand your a poor college student but I really wouldn't be cheap on this. There is also another variable in this equation, that is fit, make sure what ever you get fits you and is comfortable. Most body armor is designed for LEO's and is not designed for you to be in a car doing tring to do extrication or CPR in a cramped back bathroom.

October 7, 2003, 09:49 AM

My final thought. Yes, so far only the problems have been with 100% Zylon body armor and yours is a blend. So does that mean your body armor will fail after only 3 years instead of 6 months (the industry standard is 5 years)? Do you want to bet your life on it? Just a thought....

By the way, I work in a city too. However, I have ran up against many people with rifles. I carry rifle rated plates in my car (I don't work patrol right now, I am a detective), which are in a carrier and I can throw over my normal body armor, in a pinch.

October 7, 2003, 08:33 PM
ebay is your friend!! Last month I bought a level IIIa Safariland vest. It's a mix of Kevlar and Spectra. It was a Police vest, made in Feb 2001. It arrived in excellent condition. I paid $168, plus $20 shipping. That falls under you limit of $200.

You don't have to buy an old or substandard vest if you are patient.

October 8, 2003, 05:27 PM
i just bought it on ebay for 200. tri-flex. manufacture date of 11/2001. I emailed second chance and they said the zylon wasn't a concern in the tri flex.

All the medics i have talked to who say vests are too bulky for ems work haven't worn one since the early 90's or late 80's. thats like saying that my pentium 4 is slow because you owned a 386 and it was a dog. the technology in vests has advanced like computers, so the latest models had a crash. they'll fix it and be back at the top. Every officer i talked to said second chance still makes the best vests and their customer service is better than any other company. for a little added protection i just bought a T-15 titanium trauma plate. adds only 8 oz and .1" thickness. will stop offset rife shots and all hich powered pistol rounds, knife attacks, and is a big supprise to someone who tries to punch you.

Bartholomew Roberts
October 8, 2003, 05:53 PM
i just bought it on ebay for 200. tri-flex. manufacture date of 11/2001. I emailed second chance and they said the zylon wasn't a concern in the tri flex.

If you'd checked out Tactical Forums you'd have noticed that they also said there was no concern with the vests they are now "voluntarily upgrading" in past emails/posts/discussions.

I guess if you're comfortable with it after being warned about it, it is your money to spend.

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