Old Cheap Body Armor

I’m going to share with you one of our inside-baseball tricks. Old Body Armor lives exactly the same kind of life that old pickup trucks do. Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Pickup trucks never die. They are bought new and clean. Either for the retail customer all fancied out or as basic fleet models. As they get older and meet the end of their perceived “service life”, very few pickups end up in the junk yard. Typically someone down the line will pay pennies on the dollar and keep them running for their uses. And then someone else pays half-pennies and does the same. Then someone rolls in with a fraction of that until that truck is 30 or 40 years old, being held together with duct tape and wires on some job-site for farm.

Body armor is exactly the same way. I know police departments and industry testers who take old body-armor and shoot them to see if they still work even beyond the published life. I know trainers who take old body armor and use them in their target arrays to denote different types of targets. I know CT teams who use old body armor as a target-indicators for head shots.

Even beyond the professionals, I know of preppers have taken old body armor and lined vehicles and rooms with it. I know gun-hobbyists who will take old body armor and shoot it with various self-defense / hollow-point ammunition just for some backyard data-points. I even know of one gun-club that took a big pile of old armor and incorporated it in a portable “load-unload station” for matches. Why not? It’s cheap. It’s light. It’s easily assembled or disassembled. And in most cases combined with other media, it can’t hurt.

And finally, I will add this warning. Body armor goes bad. It deteriorates and breaks down under various conditions. The most notorious is exposure to human sweat. People smarter than me who actually make this stuff for a living will tell you in no-uncertain terms that old body armor is not safe to wear as body armor. And I agree. Which is why PD’s get rid of it to begin with.

But for the price, mixed with a little ingenuity; sometimes it’s a good buy.

 
Marky
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Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at John1911.com
Writer for john1911.com. Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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  • Mikial

    Good post.

    I have an old retired IIIA vest that is just laying around in one of my foot lockers along with a variety of well used pouches, bags and other assorted kit. I really like the idea of incorporating it into some kind of ‘clearing barrel’ for when I clear guns at the end of the day or check their status before cleaning or working on them. I’ve shot enough plates, vests and B6 vehicle windows not to be tempted to go out and shoot it just because I can, and it seemed like a waste just to chuck it.

    I loved the pick-up truck analogy. I once acquired 1952 Ford truck for $350, did a home made engine rebuild in my garage and then drove it for a long, long time, including a trip from South Carolina to upstate New York without a hiccup.

    • Thanks, Mikial. The truck thing just came to me like a dream. Stay safe out there.

      Marky