The Box O’ Truth #15 – Fragmentation Armor

We’ve had a lot of interest in what would Level II Armour do to stop bullets.

This is commonly called “Fragmentation Armour” and is designed to stop shell fragments.

While not designed as an anti-bullet armour, we wondered what it would do.

My old buddy DVDTracker, of LifeLibertyEtc, sent me some old Level II vests from the military, and said to give them a try.

Here’s one of the used vests DVDTracker sent me.

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Now, shooting vests isn’t as easy as you might imagine.

I had a friend, Michael, who is an expert on this stuff explain that it must be properly “backed-up” with clay to perform properly. He said that it you just hang it in the air and shoot it, most rounds will just go right through. It must have a back-up of either clay or a human body.

The clay I found isn’t “ballistic” clay. I bought it at Hobby Lobby, it’s modeling clay.

I got 2, 25 pound blocks and built a frame from 2 X 6 lumber to hold it.

This is the set up.

This is the set up.

We also had a Groin Protector and it had a warning:

“DO NOT DRY GROIN ARMOR NEAR OPEN FLAME”.

There’s some good advice.

Especially if you’re wearing it.

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We draped a vest over the box and decided to shoot it on the back panel.

I tried to talk Tman into just wearing it and letting me shoot it, but he declined

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First we shot it with a .22 LR.

The vest stopped the round and it only made a small dent in the clay.

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Next, a 9mm out of my Beretta. 115 JHP.

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Holy Smoke!

We were surprised to see that it had penetrated the vest and punched a hole in the clay.

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In fact, it had even penetrated the 3/4 inch plywood on the back of the box.

This might be a short test.

But, we had heard that the vests can lose some of their strength with age and use.

The Groin Protector seemed to be brand new.

Maybe it would hold up better.

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We tried the trusty 1911 .45 ACP with Hydrashock JHP.

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The vest stopped the bullet, and it made a big dent in the clay.

Since the Groin Protector worked, we decided to use it for the remaining tests.

I just moved it around so as not to shoot in the same place.

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We tried the 9mm again to see what would happen.

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The vest stopped it, but it made a big dent in the clay.

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How about a .40 S&W?

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Notice the neat pic. Tman caught it as it was beginning recoil and opening up.

Again, the vest stopped it, but look at that dent in the clay.

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How about a .357 Magnum?

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It went through the vest and made a nasty wound.

You can actually see the bullet resting in the hole it made.

It had bounced off the back board.

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Just as a lark, I decided to try my Beretta Stampede, .45 long Colt, with a 255 grain cast lead SWC handload.

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It was stopped by the vest, but look at that hole in the clay.

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Well, it was time for the .44 Magnum.

“The .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and capable of blowing your head clean off”, at least according to Dirty Harry.

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It went through the vest like an ex-wife through your life savings.

It bounced off the rear plywood.

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This is a line-up of the recovered bullets. 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .45 Long Colt, and .44 Magnum. Notice how the kevlar closed up the hollow points on the bullets that it stopped. Very interesting.

This is a line-up of the recovered bullets. 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .45 Long Colt, and .44 Magnum. Notice how the kevlar closed up the hollow points on the bullets that it stopped. Very interesting.

Lessons learned:
  1. The integrity of the vests may grow weak with age. The newer vest material was stronger than the old stuff.
  2. While not primarily designed to stop handgun rounds, it stopped most common rounds.
  3. I will not make any guesses as to the resulting injuries caused by the dents in the clay. I will leave that to Doctors.
    But they looked painful. (But probably not as painful as they would have been without the vest.)
  4. The .357 and the .44 Magnums were not impressed by the vest. They are still “tough” calibers.
  5. It’s still fun to shoot stuff.

It is obvious that rifle rounds will penetrate one layer of these vests. Would it be worthwhile to shoot multiple layers? My friend Michael sent me some Level III material. We will try it next time.

Next test, we will shoot Shotguns and Rifles. Stand by.

Thanks to Tman for the help hauling all this stuff and for the pics.