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Old 07-04-2020, 01:42 PM
Naphtali Naphtali is offline
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Default Unfortunately less of a hypothetical than it used to be

Unfortunately this is less of a hypothetical than it used to be than it should be. Several shooters at the range have said they will consider only 357 Magnum and 9x19 mm handguns as suitable for self defense, now, because of incidents where civilian aggressor-people wear body armor. They claim that most factory handgun ammunitions (of controllable handguns) will not penetrate body armor that is available for the general public. Their verification is that during the Korean War, 45 ACP ammunition would not penetrate body armor of communist Chinese soldiers but that 357 Magnum ammunition would. I am unaware that the communist Chinese army could afford body armor, circa 1950.

About the only facet of their claim that makes sense for me is that use of body armor seems to be increasing among those creating mass shooting and reasonably well-planned terrorist incidents.

So what's the skinny? What factory ammunition among among calibers normally EDC'd can be relied upon to penetrate?

I cannot help but believe that in a similar situation most civilians who EDC are not capable of the precision demonstrated by the firearms instructor who stopped that mass shooting in Texas with a head shot.
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:50 PM
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[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=5]Unfortunately this is less of a hypothetical than it used to be than it should be. Several shooters at the range have said they will consider only 357 Magnum and 9x19 mm handguns as suitable for self defense...
If I were there, this is the point I would have realized they don't know what they're talking about. 9x19 in even the hottest loads is still the low margin for a defensive caliber against someone without armor.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:04 PM
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None of them:

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Old 07-04-2020, 02:06 PM
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Most 9mm Luger and even .357 Magnum ammo will not defeat modern Level 3A Body Armor, which is by far the most commonly used soft body armor, so anyone relying on 9mm Luger or .357 Magnum to punch through body armor should probably do some research.

There are a number of Body Armor tests on YouTube which will quickly show that most handgun cartridges cannot defeat Level 3A body armor, and those that can are seldom carried upper-level magnum cartridges.

If body armor couldn't stop common handgun cartridges like 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum, then nobody would bother to wear it.
Furthermore, Body Armor designs are regularly improved upon in order to protect against cartridges which have a reputation for defeating body armor as well as the latest whizbang armor-piercing cartridge, ergo that Tokarev TT33 or FN FiveseveN pistol you bought for its reputation for armor-piercing may not be as effective against body armor today as it was in the past, and if it isn't already obvious, a lot of the reputations earned by various products in the firearms industry persist long after that reputation should have rightfully died out.

That being said, even when wearing kevlar body armor, the only thing stopped by the vest is the bullet itself, ergo the energy of that bullet is all there, which in turn translates to blunt force trauma. (Most folks who get shot while wearing body armor are still left with cracked ribs or at least a seriously nasty bruise.) So for example, Level 3 Body Armor (which is actually stronger than 3A) can catch a 12 Gauge Slug, but the force of impact would still most likely prove lethal.

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Old 07-04-2020, 02:16 PM
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You're not going to be able to penetrate most body armor until you move into rifle calibers, and even then there are plates that can withstand some rifle rounds.

Fortunately, use of body armor by bad guys is still extremely rare. The probability of encountering an armored bad guy would border on insignificant.

But if it does happen, I think the best approach would be a failure-to-stop drill. If CoM hits aren't doing the job, aim for the head or pelvis. The pelvis may be a better option as it's larger and less mobile than the head, so easier to hit. If nothing else, it may immobilize the attacker enough to make a head shot viable if he still poses an immediate threat.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:30 PM
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As I recall the quilted uniforms the ChiComs wore in Korea did slow down .45 acp rounds quite a bit, but it wasn't body armor. I am not aware of ANY 9mm load except AP (which is problematic in the US) which will reliably punch thru a vest. Maybe the old .357 Treasury round would do the job but, as noted above, no reasonable handgun caliber will reliably defeat most modern soft body armor. Two to the chest and if that doesn't do the job you go for the pelvis or head.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:31 PM
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my buddy the now retired Oregon State Police firearms trainer said post North Hollywood shootout, they trained that when facing armor shoot the legs out until the hostile is down, finish off with head shots.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:55 PM
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As suggested, belt to knees would stop or incapacitate a person.
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:08 PM
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How many criminals are using body armor, exactly?
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:17 PM
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You're not going to be able to penetrate most body armor until you move into rifle calibers, and even then there are plates that can withstand some rifle rounds.

Fortunately, use of body armor by bad guys is still extremely rare. The probability of encountering an armored bad guy would border on insignificant.

But if it does happen, I think the best approach would be a failure-to-stop drill. If CoM hits aren't doing the job, aim for the head or pelvis. The pelvis may be a better option as it's larger and less mobile than the head, so easier to hit. If nothing else, it may immobilize the attacker enough to make a head shot viable if he still poses an immediate threat.
Massad Ayoob did a very interesting piece about low hits quite a while back. I made it a point to tell/show that to my wife who is now carrying..

My orthopedic doctor says that it is quite effective as the pain level of a pelvic hit is so great that even if he still had his gun might have a hard time firing it.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:00 PM
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How many criminals are using body armor, exactly?
I reckoned it's at least slightly more common than the illusive 7ft/300lb Meth Head wearing 8 layers of heavy denim and wielding a car door as a shield.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:02 PM
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In more ways than one, this is a very delicate subject.

I realize that planting a round in the pelvis may be easier to accomplish than a head shot, but basically in doing so you are hoping to induce an "open-book" fracture of the pelvic girdle, which can stop aggressive advances, but not take the aggressor out of the fight. [Trust me, when I had my accident, I had an "open-book" fracture!]

Also, remember that armor piercing ammo (aka: "cop-killer" ammo) has been illegal to own for close to 40 years. If one were to encounter an armored threat, I would suspect that the wiser strategy would be two rounds center of mass (to impair the balance of the threat), then one to the head to neutralize the threat. Personally, if what I am carrying has adequate muzzle energy at "bad-breath" distance, I would probably save the second COM round for any additional threats.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:12 PM
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:54 PM
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William Shatner on gun control

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Old 07-04-2020, 05:31 PM
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don't know much about body armor that is modern and available to the public. I remember the flak jackets during the Vietnam era as being hot, heavy, covered what the "occifers" and Pentagon gurus felt necessary and enough.

I have had the good fortune to work alongside several WWII vets and Korean War vets. One Marine vet (George B. - RIP) in particular went to Korea and made the Pusan breakout but he always was saying it got worse from the moment you arrived.

The November/December 1950 action at the Chosin Reservoir was particularly gruesome for the US Marines. George told me stories that I for one believe...the odds were tremendous, over 10 to 1, 100,000 "Whitecoats" (what they called the Chicoms because of the reversible (white one side, brown the other) parkas on line against 9000 Marines at the height of the battles for the hills. The temperature was around minus 40 with a bone chilling wind at night. If you smelled garlic/fishy on the wind you didn't dare even open your sleeping bag because they attacked in waves of 100's against small platoon size pockets.

I do recall him saying his M1 Carbine was nearly worthless as he could make a hit but the Chicom just wouldn't go down. He evidently traded (or appropriated) a Garand and said they didn't get back up with that. The 1911 45ACP was the only sidearm that would even work in close quarters because it was usually kept close to your skin as possible and out of the weather, hence the bolts wouldn't freeze.

When I knew George B and worked along side of him he was probably mid 40's and his hair was true white....he always said it turned right after the Chosin action.....other than that you never heard much else about his service.
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:02 PM
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The impact bruises can be severe and even fatal... even if a soft vest stops the projectile. I agree that one would go to their failure to stop plan. Most vests don't extend below the belt line and is a generous and probably slower moving area. A wound in the pelvic area might not immediately stop but there are major blood vessels there.
My vest was rated all threats through 44 mag. It was my nickle and I felt it prudent the vest be rated to stop the ammo I was carrying.
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:42 PM
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I live in NC and it was 96 today and humid. Wearing body armor on a day like today is almost a lethal threat in and of itself.

If a bad guy wears body armor it's because they have something very specific planned and the odds are they'll be wearing Level III body armor, which is quite often a tactical Level IIIA tactical plate carrier with pockets for Level III steel, ceramic or polyethylene ballistic plates.

It's an important point that needs to be made as claims that bad guys are all wearing body armor is what comes just before legislation trying to ban civilian ownership of body armor.

At a couple points in my career I've been in executive and other positions where people occasionally made direct threats to my life. At those times it was nice to be able to legally purchase and wear concealable Level IIIa body armor - on top of being able to conceal carry.

Banning body armor has the same inherent flaw as banning guns - criminals who have a specific need and desire for body armor will still find a way to get it. And in the case of body armor it's like banning so called "assault rifles" because they are used in the very rare mass shootings that come along every year or so. Body armor, like "assault rifles" is very rarely used by criminals and that use is decimal dust in the overall crime stats. Banning it accomplishes nothing except taking a passive means of self defense out of the hands of civilians.

-----

If you are worried about encounting body armor worn by an assailant intent on killing you, you are probably being paranoid.

But you do have the option to practice and train for that eventuality with whatever handgun you shoot well. Become proficient in failure to stop drills and shoot them often enough that the transition from shooting center of mass to the head shot is natural and automatic.

It's a better bet than trying to master a handgun in one of the few handgun cartridges that will reliably penetrate Level IIIa body armor.
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:21 PM
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Head shots are great for incapacitation, but the groin is too and it can be an easier target to acquire.

Severing the femoral artery in the leg will cause blood pressure to drop so low and so fast that a person will lose consciousness almost immediately, and be dead shortly after that.
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:54 PM
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Also, remember that armor piercing ammo (aka: "cop-killer" ammo) has been illegal to own for close to 40 years. If one were to encounter an armored threat, I would suspect that the wiser strategy would be two rounds center of mass (to impair the balance of the threat), then one to the head to neutralize the threat. Personally, if what I am carrying has adequate muzzle energy at "bad-breath" distance, I would probably save the second COM round for any additional threats.
Every time I see someone refer to armor-piercing ammo as "cop-killers" it reminds me of how the media used to run stories of "cop-killer" bullets designed specifically for the purpose of shooting through body armor. However, outside of the outrageous world that only exists in the minds of Sensationalist Journalists, the bullets they were referring to were not in fact designed to be armor-piercing at all, they were designed for big game hunting and just so happened to be capable of defeating body armor. Furthermore, the media attributed these bullets armor-piercing capabilities to their green Teflon coating rather than their mild steel cores, which in reality only served to prevent the steel core from potentially damaging the rifling.

Amusingly enough, these stories pretty much lead to the Urban Legend of Teflon's armor-piercing capabilities, so decades later we still had Black Talon's being reportedly capable of piercing through body armor before expanding due to their Teflon coating.
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Old 07-04-2020, 08:26 PM
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Default Underwood ammo 40S&W +p or 45acp +p or 357sig. 9mm is not suitable but 125 grain 357

Underwood ammo 40S&W +P, 357 sig, 45acp +P 357 magnum 125 grain, 44 magnum are suitable but 9mm is waaaaay over-rated
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Old 07-04-2020, 08:30 PM
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An interesting and useful topic.

I wore body armor from VN up to the GWOT and also as an LEO. I must have sweated out a ton of water wearing FLAK vests in VN, level 3 Kevlar in alleys and ceramic plates over Kevlar while deployed post 911.

While I've been on the two way range more than once; I never took a hit, so I can't say what it's like personally to take a hit, but my son has taken an AK hit to his chest ceramic plate and he says his only pain was from the spalling of the bullet on exposed skin. Kevlar, as noted above, does not stop the blunt trauma and I can tell you that when engaged, I always had this the back of my mind: "This is gonna hurt!"

So back to the original topic. I don't think that any handgun that is portable enough to carry everyday is going to penetrate Level 3 armor without the use of purposely designed AP ammo and that, as said above, is problematic here in America. Another issue with a purpose made AP round would be that it would penetrate and continue on, so it would not be practical for civilians. As a civilian or as a police officer, you are responsible for what any errant bullet you fire hits. My PD had to buy a car windshield when 2 out of 4 of my 357 Magnum JHP rounds went through a perp, ricocheted off of a cinderblock wall and then one of them hit a car's windshield a half a block away. Thank goodness it was late and no citizen was in the way.

So the solution? In forty plus years under arms, I never ran across a bad guy wearing armor, so I guess I'll just shoot center of mass for now. When gunfighting, you must act quickly on training and not try to overthink the situation. If you decide to shoot for the groin first, then practice that to the Nth degree so that it is reflexive. This may all change due to the BLM and Anitfa now pretending to be combatants and buying up all the tacticool gear. Time will tell. Still, the average citizen practicing good SA and selecting where he goes and what he does will probably only run across run of the mill thugs.
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Old 07-04-2020, 09:09 PM
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William Shatner on gun control

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That required a cut and paste and e-mail to my son....

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Old 07-05-2020, 09:13 AM
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Hence the old SEAL mantra,"two to the heart,one to the head. We'll take 'em alive but, we like 'em dead!" Nck
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Old 07-05-2020, 09:32 AM
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To quote Clint Smith,"Body armor only works if your enemy's a good enough shot to hit it. You get some spray & pray type who hits your femoral artery, that armor plate isn't worth jack you-know-what." He also advocates shooting below any body armor. The crotch and groin area's a lot bigger target than the head, and the shot will likely break the pelvis, meaning Mr. Bad Guy's going down. The fight might not be over, but Mr. BG's a stationary target.
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Old 07-05-2020, 09:42 AM
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AP ammo is not illegal to own, sell, etc. In fact 30.06 black tip and SS109 have been officially exempted from the definition of AP ammo by ATFE.

U.S. ATF: AP Ammunition - General Ammunition Discussion - International Ammunition Association Web Forum
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:13 AM
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I find it funny just how big of a difference in opinion there can be between userbases on webforums.

Here I often see many folks advocating shots to the pelvic girdle, yet when I suggested the same thing in a similar thread on another forum not long ago, I got bombarded with replies by a bunch of the senior members, well-respected regulars, and even some of the staff informing me of how utterly ineffective that would be because the bad guy could still shoot back and how headshots were better.

Of course, this was on one of "those forums" where the majority of the users seem to be under the impression that the vast majority of street thugs are all on pain-inhibiting/performance-enhancing narcotics, ergo a shot to the pelvis or any of the many organs in the area wouldn't be effective. Also, apparently dehabilitating injuries such as a broken pelvis are apparently only psychosomatic and can easily be walked off if you can't feel the pain of the injury based on the way they talk.
Ah, but then again, I suppose that when you live in a gated community and never actually have to venture anywhere near urban areas, you'd begin to regard street thugs as sort of mythical creature with all sorts of extra-human abilities and methamphetamine as some sort of Sci-Fi drug which grants superhuman strength/agility/endurance. Much like how folks who've never actually been out in the woods seem to be under the impression that Bears are all but impervious to anything but the most powerful firearms available, which I've also seen there quite often.
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Forte Smitten Wesson View Post
Every time I see someone refer to armor-piercing ammo as "cop-killers" it reminds me of how the media used to run stories of "cop-killer" bullets designed specifically for the purpose of shooting through body armor. .../
A certain president is mistakenly remembered as being pro second amendment, but he wasn't. He was pro law enforcement was a big proponent of banning "cop killer" bullets designed to penetrate body armor. He was the genesis of most of the media hype.

The problem with banning bullets based on ability to penetrate body armor is that almost any centerfire rifle cartridge will go through Level IIIa body armor like a hot knife through butter.

In addition, some pistol rounds will go through body armor when fired out of a rifle at much higher velocities. For example, Level IIIa armor will stop a 158 gr JSP fired out of a 4" revolver, but that same round will launch at just over 1800 fps in a 20" carbine, and will defeat Level IIIa armor.

There is also a great deal of cross over between pistol and rifle rounds, so the "capable of being fired in a pistol" language still makes rounds like the .22 Magnum, .223, .30-30, as well as larger rounds like the .308, .30-06 and the .45-70 fall into the category of "pistol" rounds.

All three of the above issues make it very hard to define "armor piercing" in any meaningful way - other than as a way to ban large swaths of ammunition.

-----

Several years ago the ATF rewrote its definition of "armor piercing" in an effort to ban M855 ball ammo as it has a steel penetrator. Since the end result was a significant change in how a regulation was interpreted it had to go out for public comment. Fortunately, ATF received over 90,000 negative public comments and rescinded the proposed change.

One of the key points was simply that criminals are not shooting people with M855. Another key point was that in terms of Level IIIa body armor, if they were shooting a .223 rifle, it really didn't matter what round they shot in it, it was going to defeat the armor - period.
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Old 07-05-2020, 12:11 PM
Naphtali Naphtali is offline
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Originally Posted by Forte Smitten Wesson View Post
Most 9mm Luger and even .357 Magnum ammo will not defeat modern Level 3A Body Armor, which is by far the most commonly used soft body armor, so anyone relying on 9mm Luger or .357 Magnum to punch through body armor should probably do some research.

There are a number of Body Armor tests on YouTube which will quickly show that most handgun cartridges cannot defeat Level 3A body armor, and those that can are seldom carried upper-level magnum cartridges.


If body armor couldn't stop common handgun cartridges like 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum, then nobody would bother to wear it.
Furthermore, Body Armor designs are regularly improved upon in order to protect against cartridges which have a reputation for defeating body armor as well as the latest whizbang armor-piercing cartridge, ergo that Tokarev TT33 or FN FiveseveN pistol you bought for its reputation for armor-piercing may not be as effective against body armor today as it was in the past, and if it isn't already obvious, a lot of the reputations earned by various products in the firearms industry persist long after that reputation should have rightfully died out.

That being said, even when wearing kevlar body armor, the only thing stopped by the vest is the bullet itself, ergo the energy of that bullet is all there, which in turn translates to blunt force trauma. (Most folks who get shot while wearing body armor are still left with cracked ribs or at least a seriously nasty bruise.) So for example, Level 3 Body Armor (which is actually stronger than 3A) can catch a 12 Gauge Slug, but the force of impact would still most likely prove lethal.
So basically post #2 was what anyone not immersed in general gloom, doom, and despair news analysis needed to know. And you have furnished the cherry on top.
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Old 07-05-2020, 12:42 PM
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Failure to stop,drills should be in every shooters tool bov. Two Com, no result go immediately to the head or pelvic area. Yes it means you need to be capable of softball acvuracy at speed out to 15y. Yes skilled & trained beats body armor.
Btw, no guarantees 9mm or 357mag defeats body armor. More about the bullet than caliber.
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Old 07-06-2020, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Forte Smitten Wesson View Post
Most 9mm Luger and even .357 Magnum ammo will not defeat modern Level 3A Body Armor, which is by far the most commonly used soft body armor, so anyone relying on 9mm Luger or .357 Magnum to punch through body armor should probably do some research.

There are a number of Body Armor tests on YouTube which will quickly show that most handgun cartridges cannot defeat Level 3A body armor, and those that can are seldom carried upper-level magnum cartridges.

If body armor couldn't stop common handgun cartridges like 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum, then nobody would bother to wear it.
Furthermore, Body Armor designs are regularly improved upon in order to protect against cartridges which have a reputation for defeating body armor as well as the latest whizbang armor-piercing cartridge, ergo that Tokarev TT33 or FN FiveseveN pistol you bought for its reputation for armor-piercing may not be as effective against body armor today as it was in the past, and if it isn't already obvious, a lot of the reputations earned by various products in the firearms industry persist long after that reputation should have rightfully died out.

That being said, even when wearing kevlar body armor, the only thing stopped by the vest is the bullet itself, ergo the energy of that bullet is all there, which in turn translates to blunt force trauma. (Most folks who get shot while wearing body armor are still left with cracked ribs or at least a seriously nasty bruise.) So for example, Level 3 Body Armor (which is actually stronger than 3A) can catch a 12 Gauge Slug, but the force of impact would still most likely prove lethal.
I agree with the energy transfer being effective. I have never experienced the impact but would imagine 2 rounds of almost any caliber would at least make the "bad guy" say "That Hurt" and hopefully allow me to get to safety.
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Old 07-06-2020, 02:40 PM
CA Escapee CA Escapee is offline
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How many criminals are using body armor, exactly?
...in Montana?
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Old 07-06-2020, 02:47 PM
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Years ago, I received a 6" square sample of kevlar vest material to test. We sat it on the ground very close to us and fired the hottest handgun loads we had including .357, 41M, 9mm, 45acp ball. That little patch jumped high in the air! It stopped everything fired at it, about mid thickness.
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Old 07-06-2020, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by LCC View Post
my buddy the now retired Oregon State Police firearms trainer said post North Hollywood shootout, they trained that when facing armor shoot the legs out until the hostile is down, finish off with head shots.
My CC instructor, a career cop, told us pretty much the same thing.
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Old 07-06-2020, 03:50 PM
Forte Smitten Wesson Forte Smitten Wesson is offline
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Originally Posted by stepnez View Post
I agree with the energy transfer being effective. I have never experienced the impact but would imagine 2 rounds of almost any caliber would at least make the "bad guy" say "That Hurt" and hopefully allow me to get to safety.
Yep, just about anything you through at them will leave behind at least one heck of a big bruise, with a more powerful cartridge it can even break ribs, ergo while a .357 Magnum won't penetrate Level 3A Body Armor, the guy on the receiving end is still in for a world of hurt because while the bullet isn't going to go through the vest, the 500-700ft-lbs of energy the bullet was carrying sure is. So nobody save for the most determined attackers is going to keep coming after getting smacked in the ribs a couple of times.
Heck, even if you're dealing with some junky who is tweaking on prescription painkillers, he's probably going to have some difficulty breathing after that, so personally I'm not concerned about thugs wearing body armor since that's not really a common occurrence, and even if it happens it's not like those bullets aren't going to hurt him.

Also, it's worth noting that soft body armor can't hold up to sustained fire. If it gets hit in the same place a few times, it's structural integrity will most likely be compromised and bullets are going to start getting through, so in the modern era of high capacity semiautomatic pistols that can hold upwards of 10 rounds with quick/easy reloads, even if you panic and unload your gun center of mass without thinking to shoot him somewhere else, the attacker is still most likely going down.

Overall, the best defense against body armor is to train to shoot more than just CoM, so if you should encounter a thug wearing body armor it won't matter because you already habitually shoot higher or lower after a double tap to CoM, you're already poised to shoot him in the hip or the face.

Last edited by Forte Smitten Wesson; 07-06-2020 at 04:28 PM.
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