Body Armor ?

This is a discussion on Body Armor ? within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Okay a question on body armor. All the body-armor manufactures say that their vest/body-armor is only certified for five(5) years. Like as if the vest/body-armor ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array spf159753's Avatar
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    Question Body Armor ?

    Okay a question on body armor.
    All the body-armor manufactures say that their vest/body-armor is only
    certified for five(5) years. Like as if the vest/body-armor is not good or trust worthy after the five year mark.
    Every five years I wind up having to buy a new vest(level 3A), for work.
    So, I have a few vest over 10 years old, but seem fine.
    Has anyone tested old vests,that are 10-15 years old,to see if they still perform well or not.
    Is this just a way to sell more vests, instead of just buying a new carrier??
    Or does body heat and sweat really break down kevlar after 5 years.
    Does anyone really know???
    Vests are not cheep,and you can't put a value on life.
    But really, how did they come up with 5 years.
    I just bought a new vest this year, and I could not afford it, but I did
    it for survival. And I never go a day at work without it, no matter what.
    Anyone got a answer on this????

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    Here is a source that sells new and used vests and vests you can buy for $50 for target practice tests.

    http://www.bulletproofme.com/index.shtml
    If you understand, things are just as they are... If you do not understand, things are just as they are....
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    Member Array spf159753's Avatar
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    Thanks

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    The standard has always been 5 years that is simply how long the company can ensure the vest will do what it is supposed to do. Is it a marketing gimmick who knows.
    If you are in LE or Corrections and still buying your own body armor have you administration check into and apply for the Vest Partnership Grants. The agency gets vests at greatly reduced prices and the officer pays or can reimburse the agency for any out of pocket costs.
    In my younger days I wore vests that were out of date, shot a few and they worked but I always try to keep within the 5 year mark. I am not sure if kevlar breaks down but the carrier and covering on the vest do and once those are breached do not chance it replace it.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    Strong ultraviolet deteriorates Kevlar. Not sure how much body armor is ever exposed to continuous strong ultraviolet light since it's usually either indoors or under uniform.

    Strong solvents can also be harmful to Kevlar.

    Kevlar panels getting run through the washing machine can (and will) also ruin the critical properties of Kevlar panels.

    SO....I would be extremely cautious about buying used body armor where its exact history is unknown with regard to how it was stored or treated or possibly mistreated.

    That having been said it is not such a great idea for me to tell you that you would very likely be OK with older body armor if it has not been abused or mistreated...because (after all) we are talking about your life here. So I'll not offer up that specific advice.

    And your life is not really something that other people should take educated guesses on.

    I know I'd feel pretty doggone bad if I told you that your older body armor was OK and you subsequently went out and got yourself perforated.

    BTW: There WERE some auto-deterioration of effectiveness problems with earlier "Second Chance" body armor.
    I believe that had something to do with the formulation of the Kevlar or the manufacturing process.
    You'll need to Google & research that on your own if you happen to possess older Second Chance.

    But, if you have taken super good careful care of your "out of date" body armor and you want to dump one that's in really super condition at a corresponding super low price & it's not a Second Chance....then PM me.

    I'm interested & I'm willing to risk your older BPV if it's been decently maintained and well taken care of.
    Bkrazy likes this.

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    Distinguished Member Array tangoseal's Avatar
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    I understand if you got body armor for EOTW or Zombies scenario you can store it in a vacuum bag, in a light proof bag, and it will be fresh and crispy and fully effective when you open it to use it.

    I am not sure but I think some dude at an Arizona Gun show was telling me about that years ago when visiting my grandfather in Tuscon.
    "I believe that the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive." - Ronald Reagan

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    We took some vests that were over 20 years old and tapped them around an oak tree. They were shot several times with a Glock 21.
    None of them penetrated but they did knock the bark off the tree.

    I'm in the same camp as QK. While I wont suggest that it is safe to use, if it was all I had, I'd use it because it would certainly be better than nothing.

    Last summer I ordered 20 Level III vests for our Reserve Unit at the Sheriffs Office and I got them on sale. What was normally 700+ we got for 250 each. This was from Point Blank.
    About once a year several of the vest companies will run a special on vests, and if you pay attention you can get some very good deals. We had to supply a letterhead, but that took all of 5 minutes, well worth it.
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    Member Array spf159753's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone who responded. Great Info.

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    Senior Member Array Ring's Avatar
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    How good is Police Surplus?
    In ballistic tests used armor tests as good as new according to National Institute of Justice research. Kevlar® is good for many, many years as the NIJ research, and our tests, show.

    You will have to replace the elastic in the outershell carrier somewhat sooner, and you might wear out the carrier quicker.

    http://www.bulletproofme.com/How_Goo..._Surplus.shtml

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    Gold Flex Ballistic Fiber is the most expensive and lightest material you can get in a vest and you can find these vest at reasonable prices.
    Last edited by JD; April 21st, 2011 at 12:14 PM. Reason: Non-sponsor advertising.

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    I'm in the same camp as QK. While I wont suggest that it is safe to use, if it was all I had, I'd use it because it would certainly be better than nothing.
    I'm in this camp too.

    Biker

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    Distinguished Member Array INccwchris's Avatar
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    I am also in this camp, the vest I wear is used and i got some plates that were the same age, took em to the range, shot em, still held up to everything but 44 mag, so thats strong enough for what i would normally encounter. Of course knowing my luck, id run into Dirty Harry and be screwed
    "The value you put on the lost will be determined by the sacrifice you are willing to make to seek them until they are found."

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    When I was in the Navy, my cousin and I came across a huge box full of old vests that the marines were getting rid of. We were tasked with driving the flat bed truck from the Weapons center to a disposal unit. (the box full of old vests was not the only thing we were taking there) the vests never made it to the disposal unit. Some how they found their way to our houses.

    The vest ranged in age from 15 to 20 years old by the dates on the tags. We each kept a couple of the ones in the best shape (one for us and one for our wives) and the rest had damaged covers, were frayed on the edges of the kevlar panels and other small things. We took several of those and tested them on the public free range in the area. We shot them with everything from .22Lr up to .308. (we were NOT wearing them. We were young but we weren't stupid) I can tell you that they performed just fine no matter how old they were. They stopped all handgun rounds. The high power rifle rounds went through as would be expected. In fact, it took 3 vests stacked to stop a rifle round and even then, it was pretty ugly.

    My point in all this is, these vests obviously saw some hard use from their physical condition, but they still did what they were designed to do. The vest I own that I bought myself when I was a LEO is now 15 years old. It still would feel just as safe using it as when it was brand new. I think the 5 year limit the manufacturer puts on the vests is a purely CYA feature for them. I understand why they do it, but I am not aware of any expiration date on Kevlar panels that would make them ineffective in stopping rounds.
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