Friday, April 13, 2007

Shoot "Em Up Friday"

This is the long-ago promised body armor shoot that I did before I took my vacation.

The exercise here was to take a level two vest, sometimes referred to as: "soft body armor" and shoot it with various kinds of ammunition in order to illustrate what a so-called "bulletproof" vest will or won't do for the wearer.

A level two vest is designed to stop 9mm, .38 caliber, and smaller calibers of ammunition. Today, I shot this vest with .357 jacketed hollow point, 12 gauge buckshot, 12 gauge rifled slug, and an entire magazine (50 rounds) of 5.7x28mm.

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The vest that you see above, was strapped over the wooden target that you see below. The wooden target is made from 1/2 inch plywood, and is shaped to approximate the head/shoulder/torso area of an average sized person.

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I put one of my old shirts over the vest... not because it has anything to do with our test... but, just because I thought it might be kinda cool!

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After being shot with the .357, and the 12 gauge buckshot and slug, this is what the shirt looked like.

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Not so hot, eh? Well, there IS good news (must. resist. GEICO. joke!). The good news is that none of the rounds penetrated the vest, meaning that the wearer, had it been a living breathing person, wouldn't have a bunch of holes in his/her heart/lungs.

Look below to see the bad news.

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The picture you see above, is the wooden target. Note the large-scale splintering, caused by the blunt force trauma of a 12 gauge rifled shotgun slug, fired from approximately ten yards away. Consider that your breast bone is in no way, sturdier than that plywood. In this test, the wearer of this armor would have easily survived being shot with the pistol bullet, and the buckshot pellets, but would likely have been severely wounded, if not killed by the impact of the slug.

In the next photo, I have taken a knife and pliers (I love my Leatherman tool!) and removed some of the shotgun pellets and bullets and shown them so you can see what happens to them.

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The large lump of lead in the slug. It has flattened significantly. To the right, are some of the buckshot pellets. The picture isn't very good, but you can see that the pellets have flattened to the point that they look like copper jacketed M&M's.

Note the red and white material stuck to the projectiles. They have hit the shirt and vest so hard that the material fused together.

The next photo is what the vest looks like without the shirt.

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Lastly, this is a photo of a different vest (the same type) after being shot with a magazine of 5.7x28mm rounds. Please note that although you can't tell from the picture, the bullets perforated both the front AND back panels. The vest wouldn't have done anything to save the wearer.

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Body armor is a great thing. It has amply demonstrated, over the years, that it will save the lives of law enforcement officers. We just have to remember that wearing it doesn't mean that we can stop being tactically prudent.




Lawyer Mama said...

It's so interesting when you do these posts. All I could think when I saw the picture of the broken plywood was "Ouch." That's an understatement.

Anonymous said...

I saw a security guard the other day wearing a vest and just thought *I'm glad my husband doesn't have to wear that for work*

At the same time I'm glad for and appreciate the people who DO have to wear those to work...

I love how you make rosaries, braid your daughters hair and blow things up...makes for an interesting read.

Gunfighter said...


"Ouch", indeed!


Yeah, I have diverse interests... I'm weird like that.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

I'm w/ lawyer mama...
my first thought was ...

You do so many things that remind me of my hubby bubby.... you guys are very similar!

Thank God for good bullet proof vests ... Mike says Metro has the best quality around!

soccer mom in denial said...

I keep thinking about the knights from another era (and you are part of that esteemed history) with their full body armor. The technology behind these fabrics is just amazing. Amazing.

And I do feel safer knowing that you are part of our law enforcement.

Me. Here. Right now. said...

So, that minister down South, whose wife is on trial now for shooting him dead with a 12-gauge, looked worse than this, I'm guessing?

Having been raised by a cop with a passion for firearms--it was fun firing blanks from a fully automatic AK47 in the basement--wonder what that would do to the vest?

Gunfighter said...

Aw shucks, SMID... are you trying to make me blush?


I am sure that you man wears his vest every shift, right?

If he doesn't, make him start.

Gunfighter said...


The AK-47 fires a 7.62x39mm projectile. It would go through a level 2, level 3, or level 3A like a hot knife through butter.

Lola Gets said...

I work at Al Jazeera English cable news station, and I was looking in our cabinets for office supplies, when I came upon our stash of flack jackets and helmets! Man o man o man o man. Its bad enough that we have to have the offices walled off from the elevators by bullet-proof glass, but we need individual protection too! Hmmn. Yeah, I work at an interesting place.

Conseula said...

Hey! It's nice to make a new friend. When I clicked on your blog and immediately saw the pictures of body armor and saw in your profile that you are a fan of S. M. Stirling, I knew my we had found our people. My husband will be thrilled to see this.

Gunfighter said...

Hiya Lola!

Nice to see you again! You work for Al J?

Interesting! When you have some time, tell me about that.

Also, please remember that flak jackets protect from relatively small, fairly slow-flying projectiles. Unless they are the ttype with ballistic plates or inserts, they won't deflect or stop a bullet.

Hello Consuela!

Tell me... isn't S.M. Stirling the Bomb? I love his stuff... as well as Harry Turtledove and David Weber amonjg others.

I am currently reading a book called "Hominids", by a Canadian author named Robert J. Sawyer.

Thanks for visiting... and don't be a stranger, we AG's have to stick together!



super des said...

These are always so interesting. I actually learn a lot from them. Like, wear a bulletproof vest. And don't get shot.

Anonymous said...

well, you hit the nail on the head here, no one is invincible. I'm kind of shocked about that I guess I did not understand the shotgun blast dangers

Jenn said...


Once, Mr. Coffee took a steel plate out with different ammo/pistol/rifle, just out of curiosity. Next time I'm at the storage unit, I'll take a picture of the plates. Very interesting, ballistics.

Nancy Jensen said...

Hi gunfighter. I think I've been by here before. I stopped in at Terri's request. She was so happy you taught her how to strike through words on the blog. hehe..

I wanted to comment on this post. My hubby is a police officer and he faithfully wears his vest every shift. Every day when he leaves for work I tell him to take care of my husband and he does! I knew that a bullet-proof vest doesn't mean that the person wearing it wouldn't be hurt if shot (in the vest) but at least they wouldn't be full of holes.

I'm going to save this post and show it to my hubby. I'm sure he's seen several demonstrations on what his vest is supposed to do to protect him but I think he would be interesting in seeing yours.