Friday, April 5, 2013

Infidel Body Armor - Survive the Engagement

In 10 Things to do Until the Revolution, I encouraged you to check out the new AR500 body armor and even consider adding it to your preparedness arsenal.  Having never seen the armor up close and personal, Sir Knight and I were relying on the reviews we had read and videos we had seen, to determine whether the AR500 body armor was all that it was cracked up to be.  Well, recently, Infidel Body Armor sent us a plate to test for ourselves.  Wow!  You can only imagine how much fun we had sending hundreds of rounds down-range, putting Infidel Body Armor through its paces!

This is the first in a number of articles we will post about our AR500 body armor experiments.  We thought we would start with the smaller calibers - the ammunition we would be most likely to encounter, and work our way up to the big boys - .308 AP, 30-06 AP and even ..... something bigger!

Wanting to get a really accurate idea of how Infidel Body Armor would perform in the field, Sir Knight framed it in 2x4's and stapled cardboard around the 2x4's.  The idea was to be able to shoot the armor center-of-mass and have the cardboard absorb any potential "spall" (spall is essentially ricochet - the bullets coming apart and the fragments exploding).
Framing the plate

Frame complete

Adding cardboard to recover evidence of spalling

We originally learned of the existence of Infidel Body Armor from SurvivalBlogs product reviewer Pat Cascio.  He had a great, comprehensive review, which you can read in entirety here.  After reading his review, we determined that the AR500 body armor had numerous advantages for the prepper, specifically, that it was capable of taking literally hundreds of hits without failing.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario or even a short period of civil unrest, that fact alone puts the AR500 body armor heads above the standard military issue ceramic plates (which are rated to take 3 hits only and must be replaced if dropped).

So, back to the fun part - field testing!  Sir Knight and Master Hand Grenade got the shooting range ready.  We set the shooting bench up at 50 yards, hauled out an AR-15 (5.56/.223 AP), a 12 gauge shotgun (with 1oz. slugs), an AR-10 (7.62x51/.308 win) and a 1911 (.45 acp).

AR-15, 12 gauge shotgun, AR-10, 1911

Looking downrange
We started with the AR-15, using M855 .62 gr. ammunition with a steel penetrator (technically, this is not armor piercing, however the steel penetrator is a formidable projectile).  Shooting off the bench, Sir Knight put 5 rounds in the center of the plate.  Once the range was cold, we headed up to the target to inspect the plate.  The first thing we noticed was that the coating on the outside of the plates had completely absorbed all evidence of spall.  There was absolutely no impacts on the cardboard surrounding the plate.  The small black debris we found on the cardboard was little pieces of the coating - there was no metal at all.  At the point of impact, the M855 ammunition caused two large splits in the coating, however, we could find no deformation at all when inspecting the back of the plate.  It looked like brand new.  The plate survived the engagement.


M855 .62 gr. ammunition

Sir Knight with the armor in his sights

Splits in the coating after being hit with steel penetrator

Tiny bits of the coating from the plate

A better look at the damage

Next up was the battle rifle - the AR-10, chambered in 7.62x51 (we were shooting standard military hardball - 147 gr. FMJ).  With Miss Serenity behind the scope, 5 rounds found their way downrange.  They hit center-of-mass.  Interestingly, the damage to the outer coating, with the larger and heavier .308, was extraordinarily minimal.  The dimples no larger than a pencil point, however, the spall did cause the coating to separate from the plate, and on careful inspection, we could feel small indents in the steel plate itself.  When turning the plate over for further inspection, it still showed no sign of impact whatsoever.  And still, our cardboard (what was left of it) showed no sign of spall.  The impact of the .308 (after 10 rounds) did break the 2x4's and send the plate flying to the ground.  The plate survived the engagement.


7.62x51 (or .308)

Taking aim

The plate is on the ground, but undamaged

The coating split

Tiny dimple where the projectile made impact
After having our fun with the AR's, we moved on to the .12 gauge - loaded for bear.  Shooting from approximately 20 feet, and using 1 oz. lead slugs, Sir Knight blasted the armor at close range.  The slugs shook the target, flinging what was left of the cardboard into the field as the sound rang through the valley.  I'll tell you what - that left a mark!  But really, the impact left two neat, round circles in the coating of the armor, but that was it.  After inspecting the plate, we found a dent in the steel, however it wasn't enough to damage the coating at the back of the plate.  The back still looked like new.  Again -  the plate survived the engagement.

12 gauge shotgun

1 oz. slug

From about 20 feet

The slug holes are obvious but only penetrate the coating, not the plate itself

And the back of the plate (this would be next to you)

An interesting note on spall.  We made no attempt to repair the coating before shooting the plate with the .12 gauge slugs.  We found some spall on the cardboard, right at the bottom of the plate where the coating had split, but even at that, it did not penetrate the cardboard, but left small impressions in the top layer.  If we had repaired the coating with duct tape, I believe that this would not have happened at all and the coating would have continued absorbing the spall.

This is spall that came out of the bottom of the plate, between the steel and the cover.
It did not penetrate the full thickness of the cardboard - just some little
particles on the surface
On to our final weapon of the day (hey, you always have a handgun as backup right?!), the 1911 .45 acp.  Master Hand Grenade was behind the trigger this time, shooting from about 20 feet.  He was using 230 gr. jacketed hollow points.  He put a number of rounds downrange in quick succession and we all gathered around to see the damage.  Truthfully, there was not much damage to see, although the .45 did make holes in the coating about the size of a pencil eraser, or a bit smaller.  We were able to recover a jacket from between the coating and the plate, but that was the extent of the damage.  And once more,  the plate survived the engagement.

1911, .45 acp

Ready, Aim, Fire

Can you see the small indentation in the upper
right hand corner?

Fragments from 230 gr. hollow point ammunition recovered from between
the coating and the steel plate
Our field test of the AR500 Infidel Body Armor was a success in every way.  Now, for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Infidel Body Armor plate - still standing
The Good:  First of all, how could you not love a company called "Infidel Body Armor"?   Second, the plates are affordable.  They are more versatile, sturdy and infinitely more practical than ceramic plates.  I don't know about you, but I can't afford to resupply after dropping my plates.  So far we have found no ammunition that will penetrate these plates.  If you do not have a plate carrier, Infidel Body Armor can be ordered with a plate carrier (more about this in a future post).  The coating can be repaired in the field.  The curve seems perfect - they are very comfortable to wear.

The Bad:  This body armor is heavy.  There is just no way to get around it.  Each plate weighs 8 lbs., and typically, you would carry two plates (front and rear).  Although in real life they are the same, or only slightly heavier than Threat IV rifle plates, Threat IV is considered multi-hit 30-06 AP.  We will be putting these plates through that test in another post - however, these plates are only rated for Threat III.

The Ugly:  Just because you are wearing body armor doesn't mean you can't get killed.  We had one round of .308 that just clipped the edge of the plate and would have been a fatal shot.  There is no "silver bullet" when people are shooting at you.  Infidel Body Armor is awesome - but, you can still be killed.  You are not bullet proof - you can still be shot were the armor is not protecting you and you can die.  You are wearing body armor for real - you are not in a video game - you will not "respawn".

In our humble opinion, if you are wearing AR500 body armor, you will survive the engagement.  I pray you never have to.


  1. I'm sorry if I missed it, but at what range did you shoot the 5.56 and 7.62?

    1. From about 50 yards. We shot the shotgun and pistol from about 20 feet.

  2. Is that one of their vests pictured? Are they teeny-weeny like the Palms or are they reasonable size?

    1. Yes that is one of the plate carriers they offer it is the Viper it is a full sized vest and has lots of real estate on it for gear.
      There is no end to plate carriers, the small ones are "Low profile"
      and have little on no molle attachments but you can wear a MAV over the top of it

      Sir Knight

  3. If I may reply to the last post, mine are 10 inches wide and 12 inches tall.
    Enola is correct that these are heavy, at least to me. I don't plan on humping a ruck with this on, just using it when I'm driving to my BOL. Cosmolined.

  4. 1. Well written and comprehensive review.
    2. It would be nice if you could find/use some 7.62x62 AP (30-06 Springfield) and some 7.62x54R steel core to do some testing with.
    3. It would be nice if you could find/use some 300 Win Mag to do some testing with.

    I suspect neither #2 nor #3 would cause a failure.

    I enjoy your daily emails. Thanks

  5. Man you guys are SO helpful. I suspect you have no idea what a blessing you are to so many of us. I read at one point that you were considering giving up the blog for personal reasons, and now this. This blog just keeps on getting better and better. Blessings of God on you all.

  6. I wonder if Miss Serenity would be willing to fire a crossbow bolt at the plate. I expect it will rebuff it easily (and probably destroy the bolt) but sometimes it's surprising in that a slow(er) heavy projectile can do where a fast light one can't.
    I remember a Darwin award awarded to a security guard who persuaded his colleague to test if his Kevlar body armour would protect him from a knife stab as well as a bullet. It didn't, Oops.

  7. FYI, A very good friend of mine was shot with a single rifled shotgun slug at about 15 yards in his trauma plate. He is here today to tell the tale but be advised that the shock of the hit on the plate creates a path of dead flesh in the shape of the plate. It takes months for the flesh to grow back over the breast bone.

    My friend has had skin grafts and numerous veins/arteries cauterized because of the dying off flesh and the debriding of the wound.

    Best Wishes,
    A. Jones Florida

  8. Actually seeing how as 7.62X54R, if you get the steel core rounds, can penetrate .5 into 1" steel plate that might be a good round to test. UN troops would/could mean Eastern European armed forces as well, and they still use that round. Would be interested in seeing the results, also a test with some of the old Black Talon rounds in .30 (.308 or 30-06) would be interesting.

  9. Thank you for this video, I appreciate the time you put into it. I would however like to make several suggestions for future testing.
    - Angle the plate : A 90 degree shot is fairly unrealistic as nearly all shooters lean forward and or have to deal with shots at odd angles. I would be interested to see the potential of leg/arm/chin/groin hits from a tilted plate and their severity.

    - Soft backing: A ballistic gel soft backing (or punching bag, ect) to better simulate trauma to wearer would be useful and informative based on the trauma described in one of the above posts regarding a 12 gauge slug hit.

  10. Great review guys, I have decided to go with this recommendation and order a vest with these plates from Infidel. I like their name too. The only downside I see to their carrier is that I don't see a quick release cord, so you can drop the vest in a hurry if needed. Oh well, I am going to get one anyway.

  11. Now that I have had this armor for a while and have had chance to field it, I have a more informed opinion now. The armor it comfortable to wear considering how much weight I have on it, however I have noticed a definite downside. The only way to take it on and off is you much slip it over your head like a sweater. This is problematic when you have a lot of crap on it. I don't believe Infidel thought out their carriers well enough. Just my opinion.

    1. I too have a "defender" plate carrier with both IIIa front/back/sides and III steel front/back/side plates.

      it is HEAVY. loaded with 8 30rd mags, a couple Glock mags, medical and admin pouch (compass, cleaning kit, ear plugs, sharpie, gerber) SHE weighs about 27-30 lbs.

      There is NO quick way of taking it off. My suggestion is to TRAIN. I regularly wear my armor and go on a 3-6 mild hike, sometimes with my ruck (60+lbs) the first couple times SUCKED. but if you're serious about being prepared, you'll do the same. you get used to it.

  12. Experimenting extensively with products before launch always gives me a sense of greater trust that is why when I read about the AR500 Body armor I was instantly interested in the product. Soldiers like us always need designs like this that are well researched and can provide real protection in real life situations.

  13. I too have a "defender" plate carrier with both IIIa back/sides and III steel back/side plates..
    Thank for your infos, if you want to see more please go to my site :)

  14. All of these shots are from straight on. What about from an angle as if the wearer was firing from a Weaver stance? Also there us rumor that green tip .223 out of a 20" barrel will penetrate the steel. Is this so?

  15. Amazing plate carrier for army personal, I like your review.