I recently came upon a company called AR500 Armor, primarily a web-based enterprise which started in 2012. My first impression: This stuff is too cheap to be real. The tactical market has conditioned us to believe that everything needs to be at least $100.00 and painted black before it is worth buying. My SRT unit has attempted to acquire modern body armor over the past three years while their existing carriers, soft armor, and single polymer front plates put overall cost at an approximate $2700.00 per officer. The rifle plates alone can range in prices of $500.00 - $900.00 depending on the material, vendor, and multi-hit capability. The low cost of AR500ARMOR.COM’s 10” x 12” trauma plates had me believing it was a scam, with costs ranging between $65.00 and $110.00 plus shipping.
I obtained a general contact number from their website and decided to place a call, reaching one of their representatives. The gentleman was polite and knowledgeable while fully promising that their product would work. I was very blunt in explaining my belief that his stuff was too good to be true and how I would prefer shooting it myself. He shipped two 6” x 8” side plates for evaluation throughout the following week.
The plates weren't much to look at: 6” x 8” rectangles of ¼” steel that had been rounded and coated with something black. The color appeared to be correct but prices still had me skeptical. Each plate measured about two pounds and were made of the AR500 steel that is advertised on their website. The plates were potentially going into my entry vest therefore I decided to begin with a worst case scenario - close quarters rifle fire. I began by resting the plates in front of an expired level IIA vest while leaning both against solid support, then proceeded by overlaying precision rifle fire against the same points of impact from a 15yrd distance.
I began with 10 rounds of .223 PMC Bronze FMJ training ammunition. Following the first few rounds I happened to notice where the surrounding vest carrier material was becoming absolutely shredded. The next observation was that not a single round had penetrated the plate.
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