Dangers of AR500 Plates for Body Armor
A word about the dangers of AR500 - steel plate based "personal armor" - Coated or Non-coated
We fully understand the obvious attraction for those selling AR500 steel (Targets) as Body Armor. Of course, it is the exceedingly low cost which quite obviously generates high-profit margins for them. The fact is, metallic armor plate was never intended for use on humans AS BODY ARMOR! Unless you are Clint Eastwood of course!
In conjunction with MechArmor Defense Systems I have designed and extensively tested several hard armor systems, and up-armor vehicle add-ons using MIL-A-12560, MIL-DTL-46177, and MIL-DTL-46100 for various applications on U.S. military contract and for private armored vehicle companies.
Unlike the commercial AR500 material, these highly controlled materials listed above require U.S State Department clearance in order to gain access to them for hard armor applications and sales. I could have just as easily used this exceedingly outstanding alloy for personal ballistic vest plates, some of which can even defeat up to .50 Cal. However, I did not and would not because steel plate is great for use as a target to shoot at, but never as body armor outside of the most extreme and "temporary" life threatening situations.
Ask yourself this simple question, would you want to be standing next to any armor “plate/target” when a ballistic projectile impacts it? NO! Of course not, because we do not have to be ballistic experts to understand that the fragmented material and the ricochet from that projectile has to go somewhere! The HIGH probability of extremely life threatening wounds would be expected if one was stupid enough to stand in direct line with any steel plate while someone else is shooting bullets at it.
OK then, so why do you think it’s appropriate to hang that same steel plate/target on our chest and back?
Projectile frag-splatter and Ricochet are of course the main issues, the secondary issue is known as "Spall", the reaction which occurs on the backside of any metallic plate which is hit with enough focused force, which then turns portions of the back side of that plate into small high-velocity shrapnel fragments.
Energy Shock-Wave Dissipation!
Now let us talk about how steel plates/targets do NOT do much in the way of mitigating that ballistic energy from continuing straight into your torso!
Steel plate will transfer nearly all of the original ballistic energy into your body without missing a beat and in a highly focused way. Body armor is not, nor has it ever been ONLY about “stopping” a bullet! Stopping bullets is actually not all that difficult. Stopping a good percentage of that unrestrained energy from turning all of your internal organs into soup, THAT is the difficult and most important endeavor surrounding all body armor applications. So far the moral to this idea and story is; if the projectile fragmentation splatter doesn’t open up the arteries on the inside of your upper arms, or worse, your neck, then the mass energy transfer will most likely take you out. At the very least totally out of any fight for a long time.
If someday you find yourself in a situation with no medics or hospitals after taking rounds to your steel plates, then the money saved on that vest may not mean so much. Surely points to consider for the common citizen, much less using these for any law enforcement officers!
We now have these alleged Body-Armor companies marketing their AR500 plates coated with truck bed-liner to dispel the aforementioned (front side) ballistic fragmentation (wounding) issues which have come to light since I began pointing out the obvious on the issue two years ago. Ironically, it was me through MechArmor Defense Systems who originally brought this simple and effective Polyurethane application idea to the U.S Army during our first "Top-Gunner Turret" system contract in 2004.
However, we never attempted to use this spray-on polymer product for the (front side impact area) of any hard plate system. We introduced the use of this type of product for (back-side spall control) ONLY!
Bed-liner WILL NOT mitigate any substantial "impact side" bullet fragmentation from wounding or killing you, or someone next to you upon impact. I will also warn you against believing the haphazard, and totally uncontrolled ballistic tests you may find these companies producing as proof for this (impact side) magic Bed-liner solution via the YouTube world academy.
Not that using our far higher technology metallic armor plates as personal body armor would be any better or safer; the reason these other Body-Armor companies cannot use or sell you the MIL-Spec plate we use for vehicle armor ONLY is because they are not cleared by the U.S. State Dept. to buy, transport, use, or sell it; as previously mentioned, those are highly controlled armor material types. We, however, could easily offer people Body-Armor based on any of these very specialized materials and expand our profit margin greatly, but we will not.
We will, however, strive to develop our own current technology composite plates and bring our loyal customers the most technologically advanced, lightest Body-Armor plates available, and at the lowest cost possible. So that you won't have to choose their dangerous products based on price alone.
Your Body Armor doesn't only have to stop penetration, it has to absorb impact energy and hopefully without injuring or killing the person standing near you by the ricochet!
You wouldn't wear a brass bell on your head and call it an armored helmet, would you?
THEN STOP WEARING TARGETS ON YOUR BODY!