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Soft Armor Vs Rifle Rounds at Long Range

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Puncha, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. Puncha

    Puncha Well-Known Member

    I know that level IIIA kevlar vests do not stop rifle rounds at distances of 100 or even 150 yards or less but what about stopping 5.56m or .308 winchester rounds at long range? Someone told me that the old PASGT kevlar helmet was ment to stop a M193 55gr 5.56mm round fired from an M-16 at 200 meters. Since the helmet stops rounds used to rate level II kevlar vests, does this means that a level II vest will stop the same round at 200 meters or that a level IIIA vest will stop the projectile at shorter ranges?

    Form your best informed opinions, how far away do you have to be to have the bullet stopped if you are wearing a level IIIA vest and are shot by the following:

    1) 5.56mm M855 from a 20" barrel?
    2) .308 Winchester fired from a 22" barrel?
    3) 30-30 fired from a 18" barrel?
    4) 7.62 x 39mm fired from a 16" barrel?

    How much would your answers change if the armor level dropped to level II?
  2. Shadow Man

    Shadow Man Well-Known Member

    For all 4 of your options and level III, I would not want to be anywhere within the rounds practical range. With level II, I wouldn't want to be anywhere down range of the rifle. Soft armor does not provide enough protection for anything above pistol ammunition IME. I've done some tests on surplus soft vests, and was deeply disturbed at their ability to stop even a .22LR at 100yds. So it was not my best informed opinion, it was my best reccolection of a fact. Hope that helps.
  3. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Obviously the farther the bullet travels, the more velocity it sheds until it no longer becomes dangerous. How far is far enough? I would not wish to find out. So what if a 308 won't penetrate a vest at 800 yards? Who can hit a man at 800 yards on demand with a standard battle rifle, anyway? My basic assumption is that no vest will protect against center fire rifle ammo regardless of distance. They were intended to stop shell fragments in the military and handgun rounds for police. Direct rifle fire is a whole 'nother matter.

    Why are you asking? What purpose would this info serve you? If you are really curious then go right to the source and contact the vest manufacturer. They have likely tested their product extensively and may share the info.
  4. NG VI

    NG VI Well-Known Member

    I bet a .308 will easily penetrate a IIIA vest and the poor sucker sandwiched in it without breaking a sweat at 800 yards. Especially FMJ .308. Just too much bullet, too much sectional density, too much pointy shape for a pistol vest to have any hope of stopping it at any range at which you couldn't defeat the marksman with simple jogging.
  5. Puncha

    Puncha Well-Known Member

    To SaxonPig:

    I asked because I will soon have to go on a civilian work assignment in southern Philippines (shootings common) and my employer is only willing to provide class IIIA vests for me and my team. If some idiot with a hunting rifle decides to take a potshot at me, I'd like to know my chances of survival. Also, am too poor to afford to privately purchase SAPI plates.

    Also, I once watched an episode of CSI: New York and in that episode, a disguntled ex-soldier sniped at a horse mounted police officer with an AR-15 rifle. The range was 200 yards and the rounds went straight through the vest, the officer and out the other side of the vest. Assuming that the officer was wearing level IIIA protection, i would have expected the round to have wounded the officer but not to have punched cleanly all the way though.
  6. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Like I said, I don't believe any vest will protect against high power rifle fire.

    Keep your head down.
  7. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    If you're facing 7.62x39mm (at least as likely as a hunting caliber, I'd think), here are the velocity stats at range for a typical round (this is for Wolf 124gr JHP, but 123gr FMJ should be close):

    0 yards, 2350 ft/sec
    100 yards, 2,027 ft/sec
    200 yards, 1,734 ft/sec
    300 yards, 1,475 ft/sec
    400 yards, 1,259 ft/sec

    Now, given that IIIA is rated to stop a 125gr flat nose bullet at 1470 +/-30 ft/sec (and will generally stop a little more than that), then it would definitely stop a 7.62x39mm round at 400 yards and would *probably* stop it at 300, depending on bullet construction and how much bullet shape comes into play (flat or deformable core behind an air gap under a spitzer jacket would presumably be less likely to penetrate than a solid pointy core, for example). However, if someone is shooting at you, they will probably be shooting closer than 300, meaning pretty much any *rifle* caliber is likely to penetrate, although with less energy than if you weren't wearing the vest.

    Having said that, if someone is shooting at you with a rifle, getting off the X and moving fast and unpredictably would make you much less likely to be hit by anything other than a lucky shot at range, and makes you a harder target in close. Make sure you're in good shape and can run like the dickens for a couple hundred yards while wearing your vest, and learn how to get in motion quickly (demonstration); physical conditioning is free and could save your life just as much as a vest could.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  8. highorder

    highorder Well-Known Member

    You do understand that TV is fiction, with NO connection to reality, right?
  9. RedLion

    RedLion Well-Known Member

    What if they're kinda smart and decide NOT to aim at you bullet proof vest?
  10. NG VI

    NG VI Well-Known Member

    .30 Carbine is a pretty common caliber over there. Not sure how much risk you face of having a Filipino shoot at you, my guess would be extremely low to extremely negligible chances at the worst. Then again I don't know what your job is.
  11. rd2007

    rd2007 Well-Known Member

    they have those other MILFs over in the Philippines and they're pretty freaking dangerous...
  12. Shadow Man

    Shadow Man Well-Known Member

    Puncha, it really comes down to how high-profile your job will be as to whether it will justify the increased bulk and subsequent attention of a marginally protective vest. Time to weigh some options and make some concessions.
  13. C-grunt

    C-grunt Well-Known Member

    I remember being told in the Army that the 62 grain M855 would penetrate a helmet at 400 meters through and through.
  14. happygeek

    happygeek Well-Known Member

    Being white in the southern Philippines will get you noticed no matter what. Honestly, I'd say they'd rather KFR you than shoot you, especially if you're working for a big corporation known to have money. If they do shoot at you, it's just as likely to be with M203 rounds as with 5.56.

    Take a 220 to 110 volt converter with you, by the way.


  15. Tirod

    Tirod Well-Known Member

    Being white and wearing a vest in a third world country would IMHO constitute marking yourself as a US government connected employee or contractor. Media at the very least. And therefore a higher priority target.

    Alternatively, no vest and a bound black book with soft cover could imply a non-violent missionary intent. But you still would have to watch your step.

    Having worn both the "flak" and LEO style vests on duty, I would suggest that an assessment of the risk vs. the significant increase in retained body heat might make the decision for you. Any vest over 65 degrees is a sauna.

    My perception is that wearing vests in some countries is a local safety fad imposed by those with careers to protect up the chain - like back belts. They don't really do as much as the public perceives, can be defeated, and have a big tradeoff in mobility that may not be commensurate with the risk.

    One operational concept is to look as much like the locals as possible. The type and style of dress and haircut can go a long way in getting blended into the background. Clumping around in a bulky vest does exactly the opposite and also communicates that you don't trust the general population at all.

    That poisons the exchange of ideas right up front and creates another obstacle to overcome.

    I would like to add that the only place I wore a vest was on a US military base down south in August. Didn't wear one in Egypt a week after 9/11.

    Go figure.
  16. happygeek

    happygeek Well-Known Member

    The two white captives in the first picture were missionaries. As a white guy, he'll stand out, and to them white guy = $$$. The big question really is will you even be leaving your camp and if so will you be escorted by the Phil military?
  17. SHvar

    SHvar Well-Known Member

    One of the biggest requirements originally for the 5.56 round and the M-16 to be adopted by the US military was that it had to be able to punch through a steel military issue helmet at over 600 meters (over 660 yds). Im sure the same round will pass right through any kevlar helmet at those same distances.
    The basic requirement for this was carried over from the 7.62 round used before it.
    There are very few soft body armor vests made that will stop a 5.56 rd, these vests are also extremely expensive, and some have restrictions on who can buy them. Of course if your an American citizen with good standing you should have no problem buying them.
  18. Puncha

    Puncha Well-Known Member

    To all:

    I work as a PR executive for an telecomms company. They want us to help upgrade the mobile phone network in northen mindanao. I am to help laise with the local branch office and either me nor my 4 tech staff are white. That said, we are NOT dark enough to pass for local.

    My boss offerred the use of steel PASGT shape helmets yesterday, I turned him down b'cos I did not want my people to DEFINATELY get shot at.
  19. Shadow Man

    Shadow Man Well-Known Member

    Sounds to me like you have a good head on you. Keep it up, and best of luck to you.

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