During the recent “Big 3 East” field symposium, where writers and manufacturers got together to discuss and then immediately use new tactical weapons and products from companies such as Bushnell, Krebs Custom, Savvy Sniper, UW Gear, Wolf Ammo and firearms in a relaxed and range-based milieu, one of the events included the real-world test of GI ballistic armor. It was unique—the armor used was not shot once but several times with full rifle-caliber ammunition to more realistically duplicate the effects of a combat firefight. The hard truth is that, although the ballistic armor used by our warfighters is excellent, it is designed to be immediately replaced when the ceramic armor is compromised by an impact. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen!

As the video shows, the Level 4 standard-issue armor was first shot with a 7.62x54R round at about 75 yards. The SAPI plate easily stopped the first 7.63x54R round, which is the favorite of enemy snipers using the SVD/Dragunov sniper rifle. Following that shot, a dozen rounds of armor-piercing, green-tip 62-grain 5.56mm NATO rounds were fired at the center of the plate.

Even though the first round of 7.62x54R hit and shattered the integrity of the ceramics and was followed by the 5.56mm bullets that turned a lot of the ceramics to dust, all of the bullets were caught in the rear layers of its ballistic fabric and none of the rounds exited the rear of the plate. The person discussing the results was Iraqi War veteran Dillard “Crazy Jay” Johnson, who had rounds stopped in combat and his life saved by a similar plate when he was pushing into Baghdad with the 7th Cavalry.

Even though this plate is heavy and has since been replaced with a lighter, steel plate with less ceramics, this shows exactly why our friendly forces have enjoyed less lethal wounding from small arms fire and shrapnel impacts to their SAPI plates. Even shot up, American ballistic armor is able to defeat multiple hits with the warfighter suffering no penetrating injuries to their central core. Very impressive.

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