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Soft-Points vs. Soft Body Armor...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by KBintheSLC, Oct 9, 2008.

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  1. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Member

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    How do you guys think that a soft-point in say 7.62x39 would compare against an FMJ in defeating soft body armor? I know that some ranks of armor like level 4 and 5 will defeat both, but will it make any difference on level 1-3 stuff, or will it cut through just the same?
     
  2. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

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    Rifle caliber rounds will pretty much blow thru level 1-3 body armor. The ratings pretty much tell you what's what. BSW
     
  3. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    I doubt it would make much of a difference. One test I saw using .223 FMJs, the impact with the vest actually caused the bullet's tip to tear open, and it mushroomed like a softpoint.

    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot16_3.htm

    So I doubt bullet construction matters that much.
     
  4. gunseller2

    gunseller2 Member

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    Level III or less, any centerfire rifle round will cruise on though like the proverbial hot knife.
     
  5. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    Bullet construction is pretty much irrelevant.

    FWIW, I have a high-speed photo somewhere of a .30-06 lead-tipped softpoint blowing through a 5/8" thick slab of sheet steel.
     
  6. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    If you're talking about NIJ ratings, I've never heard of Level 5.

    Most rifle rounds will blow through up to level IIIA, regardless of bullet type.

    Level III (not IIIA) is rated to stop .308 winchester 150gr FMJ; that is its performance requirement. So most rifle rounds will not blow through it. Level III armor is quite rare as it's difficult to impossible to meet that standard without using a hard plate, and a hard plate usually (depending on construction) gets you up to...

    Level IV, which is rated to defeat .30-06 armor piercing ammo. Your typical soft point isn't going to go through this. A soft point bullet fired from a cartridge normally used on elephants might, however (take your pick of African cartridges...).

    I disagree that bullet type is irrelevant. While the main split is between rifle and non-rifle rounds, with the rifle rounds generally defeating IIIA and lower, I could imagine a case where some caliber might be stopped by IIIA if soft point but not if FMJ - .30-30 comes to mind, or 7.62x39mm, especially at longer ranges where it has slowed down. I don't have any test data for this, just a hunch.
     
  7. JustAnotherPlinker

    JustAnotherPlinker Member

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    anybody care to speculate on the post vest penatration of mushroomed softpoint ammo after it cuts the vest?

    Do you all think hunting ammo (ballistic tip 308 for example) would be more lethal than ball ammo after passing through lvl II or lvl IIIa armor?
     
  8. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    Non-AP 7.62x39mm will shoot through IIIA like it's Saran Wrap at typical ranges regardless of bullet construction, as will most any centerfire rifle. It will not penetrate NIJ Level III even at contact distance.

    It is possible that there is a VERY narrow range window in which bullet construction matters (i.e., FMJ will penetrate IIIA at 150 yards whereas a softpoint could only penetrate at 140 yards or whatever). But for practical purposes, excluding AP, bullet construction doesn't matter; it is velocity and energy that defeat Kevlar.

    Now, if you get into steel or hardened bronze projectiles, shape can indeed matter, but those are controlled by the 1986 AP bullet ban as extended in 1994 for .223, 7.62x39mm, and .308/7.62x51.
     
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