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Thread: Level III Patrol Armor Test

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    Level III Patrol Armor Test

    In order to provide protection against rifle threats in active shooter incidents and other high risk encounters, a large local LE agency is exploring a trial program of issuing Level III rifle plates & simple plate carriers for uniformed Patrol Officers to quickly don over their uniforms and concealed Level IIIa soft armor. Individual officers would also have the option of personally purchasing a plate system. Final plate selection is likely to be based on a combination of cost, weight, durability, and most importantly the ability to successfully defeat several common threats, including: 5.56 mm 55 gr M193 FMJ, 62 gr M855 FMJ, and 45 gr LeMas Land Warfare JSP; 7.62 x 39 mm 123 gr M43 type FMJ and 124 gr M67/8M2 type FMJ, 7.62 x 51 mm 147 gr M80 FMJ, 12 ga Federal Cartridge 1 oz slug (LEF127 RS).

    As part of the procurement process, we tested six different Level III plates, from five vendors: Armored Mobility Incorporated (AMI) TAC3S single curve, Diamond Back Tactical (DBT) LTC27400 single curve, DefenseTech (DT) Defend-X IM-LCP-LIII triple curve, MSA/Paraclete (MSA) DHP3-1012 (cat #10098941) triple curve, and two triple curve plates from Tencate--a LE SAPI hybrid plate (TenH) and a compressed Dyneema plate (TenD) that is essentially identical to the previously tested AMI SAPI3 plate.

    All plates tested were 10 x 12 inches. Plate weights varied due to design and construction differences:

    AMI: 7.5 lbs--3 mm steel over compressed Dyneema
    DBT: 6 lbs--8 mm aluminum oxide backed by what appears to be resin reinforced Kevlar
    DT: 4.5 lb--Dyneema composite
    MSA: 6 lbs--Aluminum oxide backed by compressed Dyneema, Gold Flex, and closed cel foam
    TenH: 4.25 lbs--Aluminum oxide backed by compressed Dyneema and closed cel foam
    TenD: 3.25 lbs--Compressed Dyneema

    The plates was inserted into a 1000 denier Cordura plate carrier over Level IIIa soft armor panel (Twaron backed by Dyneema) and secured against a life-size curvilinear torso replica made of Perma-Gel. All shots were made at a perpendicular angle to the plate, with no oblique hits. Three shots of each rifle ammunition type were fired, with the desired shot placement to be one shot into each corner of a 3” equilateral triangle. In order to reduce the potential for AOA issues, the 5.56 mm and 7.62 x 51 mm shots were made at 25 yards using a 5.56 mm 20” barrel AR15 and a .308 26” barrel Remington 700. The available 7.62x39 mm and 12 ga weapon-ammo combinations proved to have insufficient accuracy to ensure accurate shot placement at 25 yards, so testing of these systems was conducted at 3 yards using a 16” barrel 7.62 x 39 mm AKMS and a 12 ga. 18” barrel Remington 870.

    TEST RESULTS:

    AMI: (vendor requested that one plate be used for all test shots)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    DBT: (vendor only supplied one plate—this was totally destroyed by the nine 5.56 mm shots, so no larger calibers could be tested)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate

    DT: (one plate used for 5.56 mm shots, second plate used for larger calibers)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 fully perforated the plate--2 were stopped by the soft armor, 1 penetrated through the soft armor
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    MSA: (one plate used for 5.56 mm shots, second plate used for larger calibers)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    TenH: (one plate used for 5.56 mm shots, second plate used for larger calibers)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    TenD: (one plate used for 5.56 mm shots, second plate used for larger calibers)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 fully perforated the plate and underlying soft armor
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    Projectile Penetration Protection: The AMI plate offered the best PPP of any of the plates tested, followed by the MSA and TenH plates; the plate with the worst PPP for the threat rounds was the TenD.

    Back Face Deformation: The AMI plate offered the least BFD, followed by the MSA plate; the plate with the greatest amount of BFD was the TenH.

    Spall: The AMI, DT, and TenD plates had no detectable spall; the DBT plate exhibited an extensive, excessive amount of spall.

    Plate Weight: The TenD was the lightest plate, followed by the TenH and DT; the heaviest plate was the AMI.

    Durability: The most durable and robust plate appeared to be the AMI, followed by the DT and TenD; the most fragile plate appeared to be the DBT.

    Annual X-ray Assessment: The AMI, DT, and TenD plates do not require an annual x-ray assessment; the DBT, MSA, and TenH plates ideally should have a yearly x-ray analysis to assess for hidden cracks in the ceramic elements.

    Cost: The least expensive plate was the DBT; the most expensive plate was the AMI.

    BOTTOM LINE:

    If 5.56 mm M855 “green tip” was NOT a threat, then the DefenseTech Defend-X IM-LCP-LIII or Tencate Dyneema (or equivalent AMI SAPI3) plates would be reasonable options, however, given the scenario that the expected threat level included all the calibers and loads tested above, including M855, then:

    -- If I knew I was getting out of my vehicle and walking directly into a gunfight, whether or not I had underlying soft armor, I’d want to be wearing AMI TAC3S plates.

    -- If I was going to be spending a lot of time wearing my armor, needed to have a high degree of mobility, and always wore soft armor under my plates, then I would choose the Tencate hybrid LE SAPI plates.

    -- The MSA/Paraclete plates are also high on my list for LE armor, as they offer good protection, can work without soft armor, are not too heavy, and are cost effective.

    From L to R: AMI, DBT , DT, MSA, TenH, TenD:
    Last edited by DocGKR; 01-01-10 at 02:14.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocGKR
    BOTTOM LINE:

    If 5.56 mm M855 “green tip” was NOT a threat, then the DefenseTech Defend-X IM-LCP-LIII or Tencate Dyneema (or equivalent AMI SAPI3) plates would be reasonable options, however, given the scenario that the expected threat level included all the calibers and loads tested above, including M855, then:

    -- If I knew I was getting out of my vehicle and walking directly into a gunfight, whether or not I had underlying soft armor, I’d want to be wearing AMI TAC3S plates.

    -- If I was going to be spending a lot of time wearing my armor, needed to have a high degree of mobility, and always wore soft armor under my plates, then I would choose the Tencate hybrid LE SAPI plates.

    -- The MSA/Paraclete plates are also high on my list for LE armor, as they offer good protection, can work without soft armor, are not too heavy, and are cost effective.
    Very informative write up once again Sir DocGKR!
    Last edited by CLHC; 06-18-09 at 13:09.

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    This past week, we had an unexpected opportunity to shoot a couple of additional Level III plates to the same protocol as used for the Level III Patrol Armor Test in the initial post of this thread.

    During this follow on testing, we shot two different Level III triple curve plate designs—a DefenseTech (DT855) Defend-X TCPL LIII and the In the Line of Fire (ILF) PBAIII01012 LIII.

    Both plates tested were 10 x 12 inches. Once again, plate weights varied a bit due to design and construction differences:

    DT855: 5.2 lbs—HB25 Dyneema composite
    ILF: 6.1 lbs—an approximately 6 mm thick non-ferrous metal layer that on visual exam appears to possibly be aluminum overlying layers of Spectra Shield II and Gold Shield polyethelene laminates.

    The plates were shot in exactly the same manner as previously discussed.

    TEST RESULTS:

    DT855: (one plate used for 5.56 mm and 12 ga. shots; second plate used for .30 caliber hits)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M43 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M67 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of Corbon 130 gr TSX successfully stopped by the plate
    1 shot of 12 ga slug successfully stopped by the plate

    ILF: (vendor only provided one plate)
    3 shots M193 successfully stopped by the plate.
    3 shots of M855 fully perforated the plate and underlying soft armor
    3 shots of LeMas successfully stopped by the plate
    3 shots of M80 successfully stopped by the plate

    Projectile Penetration Protection: The DT855 offered PPP on par with the MSA and TenH plates previously tested.

    Back Face Deformation: The DT855 and ILF plates had midrange BFD that fell in between the best and worst plates previously discussed.

    Spall: Neither the DT855 or ILF plates had significant spall

    Plate Weight: The DT855 and ILF plates offered intermediate weights compared to previously tested plates.

    Durability: Both the DT855 and ILF plates appeared to offer an acceptable level of durability on par with the plates previously tested, like the MSA and TenD

    Annual X-ray Assessment: Neither the DT855 nor ILF plates require an annual x-ray assessment.

    Cost: The LE pricing of the DT855 and ILF is unknown to us at this time.


    CONCLUSION:

    Kudos to DefenseTech for improving their plate in order to stop M855! Likewise, thanks to In the Line of Fire for submitting their plate for independent testing and verification.

    If 5.56 mm M855 “green tip” was NOT a threat, then the In the Line of Fire PBAIII01012 LIII plate is an acceptable option, much like the previously tested DefenseTech Defend-X IM-LCP-LIII and Tencate Dyneema (or equivalent AMI SAPI3) plates.

    The DefenseTech Defend-X TCPL LIII+ joins the AMI TAC3S, Tencate hybrid LE SAPI, and MSA/Paraclete DHP3-1012 as Level III plates capable of stopping the common spectrum of Level III threats faced by LE Patrol officers, including 5.56 mm M855 62 gr FMJ.

    --------------------

    In the Line of Fire also sent a Level IIIa hard plate, model PBAIIIA1012 to be tested. This plate weighed 4.5 lbs and was a triple curve 10x12” plate design using an approximately 6 mm thick non-ferrous metal layer (likely aluminum) overlying layers of Spectra Shield II polyethelene laminate. The plate lived up to its Level IIIa rating, stopping 9 mm 127 +P+ JHP, .44 Mag Win 250 gr JHP, and 12 ga. Win slugs fired at a distance of 10 feet. In addition, the In the Line of Fire IIIa plate stopped .30 cal M1 Carbine 110 gr FMJ also fired at 10 feet; 5.56 mm M193 55 gr FMJ easily defeated the plate. The big question is why someone would want to wear a Level IIIa hard plate, rather than IIIa soft concealable armor…
    Last edited by DocGKR; 09-14-09 at 03:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocGKR View Post
    If 5.56 mm M855 “green tip” was NOT a threat, then the In the Line of Fire PBAIII01012 LIII plate is an acceptable option, much like the previously tested DefenseTech Defend-X IM-LCP-LIII and Tencate Dyneema (or equivalent AMI SAPI3) plates.

    The DefenseTech Defend-X TCPL LIII+ joins the AMI TAC3S, Tencate hybrid LE SAPI, and MSA/Paraclete DHP3-1012 as Level III plates capable of stopping the common spectrum of Level III threats faced by LE Patrol officers, including 5.56 mm M855 62 gr FMJ.

    The big question is why someone would want to wear a Level IIIa hard plate, rather than IIIa soft concealable armor…
    How common a threat would m855 green tip steel projectile ammo be to the local authorities? I know it can be had but this is mostly a military round. Gang bangers and the "average" criminal is not going to be firing this at police is he?

    Also I thought I read on the first post that the idea was to wear lvl III soft and hard, therefore to double the chance of stoppage?

    I know nothing about balistics or armor I just get really bored sometimes and delve into the unknown to keep me awake :P
    "Unfortunately 87.26% of the quotes and statistics on the internet are lies." - Abraham Lincoln
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    I carry a gun cuz cops are too heavy!

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    It is fairly readily available to all gun owners and if you are going to incur the cost and weight penalties of wearing Level III plates I would think the appropriate choice would be the product that defeats all reasonable threats. Just my opinion.

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    I could argue or rather ask, how often is this round used in crimes? What are the odds/chances a police officer or sherriff deputy would need something to defeat personel armor piercing rounds? Again I'm just curious, not trying to counter anyone elses choice of "need"
    Last edited by tinman44; 09-14-09 at 06:42.
    "Unfortunately 87.26% of the quotes and statistics on the internet are lies." - Abraham Lincoln
    Stupid should hurt
    I carry a gun cuz cops are too heavy!

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    tinman44--You seem to have some misconceptions regarding body armor; I suggest you read these: https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19910 and https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19912.

    5.56 mm 62 gr M855/SS109 FMJ is NOT an AP load; current 5.56 mm AP is 52 gr M995.

    Level IIIa is generally soft concealable armor designed to stop handgun and shotgun projectiles; Level III is hard armor designed to stop non-AP center fire rifle bullets. Some Level III armor requires Level IIIa soft armor underneath (in-conjunction), while some does not (stand-alone).

    Since 5.56 mm M855/SS109 FMJ has been a NATO standard load for over 20 years and is readily available on the commercial market; depending on location around the county, some agencies report frequently finding it at crime scenes. I know of one SWAT team has faced criminals using SS109 on their last two call outs.
    Last edited by DocGKR; 09-14-09 at 14:01.

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    M855/SS109 is far from an exotic round...in fact, I know of several ammo dealers who had nothing to sell BUT surplus SS109 during the recent ammo shortages brought on by the election...you can find boxes and buckets of green tips at most of the gun stores here in Houston...I might venture to say that, if you encountered a bad-guy with an AR in my particular locale, there would be a fairly good chance that he had this load in his magazines. For the past year or so, at least, it's been "what's available".

    Case in point:
    http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/catalo...enetrator-ammo
    Last edited by Jim from Houston; 09-14-09 at 21:18.

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    There is no doubt in my mind that M855/SS109 is a real threat to domestic LE personnel. It has been highly available and (relatively speaking) inexpensive. At the last LE carbine class I attended (spring '08) it was the most common ammo type used by the guys who weren't shooting department-issued ammo. At's showing up at crime scenes in these parts, as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tinman44 View Post
    I could argue or rather ask, how often is this round used in crimes? What are the odds/chances a police officer or sherriff deputy would need something to defeat personel armor piercing rounds? Again I'm just curious, not trying to counter anyone elses choice of "need"
    Not that I need to reiterate what hs already been said. These rounds are readily available in the countries which support terrorist, narco-terrorism and sources of illegal arms that are regularly sold to gangs and such.

    Selecting body armor based on the "typical" (under-powered) round that you would encounter is like selecting your patrol cars based on the average speed posted in your jurisdiction. It's narrow-sighted at best.

    Personally, if I could wear armor that would stop a .50 AP rounds, I would. JM2CW.
    We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin. - Pope Francis I

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