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What's New In Body Armor, Ballistic Shields & Armor Accessories

Perhaps the single most important piece of equipment police wear is their body armor. Ballistic shields and armor accessories also help save officers’ lives. Following is a look at the newest body armor, ballistic shields and armor accessories to protect the men and women sworn to protect. Let’s start with body armor.


Daw Tech’s Level IIIA’s concealable 10-inch x 12-inch trauma plate weighs less than one pound and offers anti-stab protection and advanced multi-hit pistol-caliber protection. During testing, this lightweight plate stopped 10 rounds of 45 ACP at a start distance of 25 feet and moving

into the target with the final shot at one foot with no spall or ricochet.

The Level III from Daw Tech weighs 3.3 pounds, this 10-inch x 12-inch multi-hit plate stops rifle rounds up to 308 Win, 12 gauge rifled slugs, 223 Rem, 7.62x39mm (AK-47), and pistol rounds. Daw Tech’s Level III+ weighs 5.5 pounds and this 10-inch x 12-inch multi-hit plate stops rifle rounds up to .308 Win, 12-gauge slugs, 223 Rem, 7.62x39mm and the 5.56 NATO M855 Green tip Penetrator, and pistol rounds.

Since the core material used in the manufacturing of the plate captures bullet fragments, it reduces spall and ricochet to essentially zero. These lightweight plates are also drop safe and do not require expensive X-rays or special maintenance.


Diamondback Tactical’s Synergy IIIA ballistic package offers operators premium special-threat performance specifications and special threat rounds. The Synergy is one of the lightest, most flexible armor vests offered and is compliant to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard-0101.06, tested in accordance with the DEA protocol, and to the FBI ballistic test protocol.

The Synergy level IIIA is listed on the NIJ Compliant Products List with separate certification testing for male and female designs. Made of a proprietary Core Matrix® and performance aramid materials, the Synergy is a hybrid design vest weighing 1.07 lb/sqft2. It has special threat stopping capabilities from NIJ 0101.06 compliant testing and independent testing through approved NIJ compliant laboratories for DEA and FBI protocol.

The NIJ .06 protocol is a test standard that requires minimum velocity requirements for select rounds, per threat level, and vigorous environmental testing, which include a 30-minute water submersion and 72,000-cycle tumbling requirement. The DEA and FBI test protocols also require intense testing to select special threat rounds and additional environmental conditions.


New Level IIA, II and IIIA Ballistic Armor packages from Point Blank offer the lightest weight, most flexible and high-performing solutions, and are based on multiple domestic standards and testing requirements, including the NIJ Standard-0101.06, the FBI and DEA. Additional ballistic packages have been developed to meet combined ballistic and stab protection mandates.

Notably, the latest Level II packages are exceptionally light weight at 0.67 pounds per square feet and offer an unparalleled thinness of .19 inches. Additionally, new Level IIIA packages have a v50 of over 2,000 feet per second and provide unmatched protection against both fragmentation projectiles and high velocity bullets.

FIIIA, Tri-Compliant Ballistic Package includes: Point Blank’s latest FIIIA ballistic package for the federal and commercial markets is designed to comply with NIJ Standard-0101.06. The FIIIA is the latest addition to Point Blank’s family of body armor solutions. It is specially designed to address the strategic needs of officers’ most critical missions – providing the highest level possible of ballistic and trauma protection in a more comfortable body armor system. Furthermore, it has been rigorously tested based on the NIJ’s standard Level IIIA bullets, and the DEA's MIL-STD-662F fragmentation.

The AIIIA-1 Ballistic Package is the newest Vision® NIJ Certified Level IIIA ballistic system (AIIIA-1). Weighing in at 0.98 pound per square foot with a thinness of 0.3 inches, Vision consistently delivers bullet stopping power and has been “special threats” tested against fragmentation projectiles including 2gr, 4gr, 16gr and 64gr RCC, while reducing the effects of blunt trauma. Also available with Point Blank’s new Q4 tactical vest, this armor system features a fully integrated modular design with a single-action quick release system paired with the most technologically advanced ballistics available.

The latest female concealable carrier redesign from Point Blank Body and PACA features two distinct design options, specially engineered to answer the critical comfort needs of female officers while providing optimal protective coverage. The updated Smart Seama shelf construction design ergonomically supports the natural curvature of the female form. The Tru-Fit design provides a more contoured shape with a flexible structure. Each of these unique designs accommodates different measurements according to the officer’s needs and preference.

The RAM-1 (Rapid Assault Mission) tactical armor system from Point Blank is ideally suited for response teams who require convenient load bearing capabilities combined with the flexibility to adapt to any rapid assault mission. Point Blank’s Leading and Redesigned Dragon Fire™ System – “Gen 2” brings even more advanced options to this performance-driven, side-opening tactical armor system. Latest enhancements include a specially designed shoulder protection system, suited for breaching operations and additional plate pocket options for maximum protective coverage in the front, back, side and biceps.


The Enforcer™ XP™ is the engineered result of the increased ballistic and physical demands of the NIJ 0101.06 standards and advanced technological design. Kevlar® XP™ is DuPont’s™ newest woven fabric from the Kevlar® family of performance aramids. Kevlar® XP reduces back-face deformation by approximately 15 percent or more, when compared to other ballistic materials. Ballistic Material is made of DuPont™ Kevlar® XP Ballistic Panel Cover Material: 100 percent Ultra-sonically welded Nylon Taffeta: material creates a totally waterproof, ultrasonically sealed enclosure for ballistic material.

The closure system includes removable six-point Breathoprene and Velcro® straps and a four-point “Wide-Wrap.” A new “Comfort ACS” Advanced Cover System features: removable, washable panel cover; Anti-microbial closed-hole mesh fabric with built in two-way stretch; “Comfort Curve” is wider and includes offset shoulder straps for better weight distribution; “Easy Access” closure system for simplified panel removal, mounted away from the body for increased comfort; Akwadyne moisture-wicking mesh on body side and tuck-in tails; 6-inch x 8-inch Internal trauma plate pocket (soft trauma plate included).

A highly modular rifle plate carrier, the ERPC allows operator to modify their protection to each mission’s unique and critical requirements. Not only can it use front, rear and side rifle plates, additional side and shoulder soft armor is also available. Carrier type is a removable 500 Denier Cordura® cover.

Other features include: Front and rear rifle plate pockets for 10-inch x 12-inch (25.4cm x 30.40cm); Easily adjustable shoulder and side straps providing both horizontal and vertical adjustment for a personalized fit; High-Mobility Tactical Cut for ease of operator movement; Integral M4/AR15 mag pouches in cummerbund flap; Front and Rear Velcro ID MOLLE hand loops and built-in mic tabs on shoulders; Built-in 6-inch x 6-inch (15.24cm x 15.24cm) side plate pockets; Full coverage MOLLE system; Soft armor pockets for shoulders and sides for increased protection are also available.


The PROTECH® FAV™ MKII QR (Quick Release) tactical vest incorporates all the same features and upgrades of the innovative FAV MKII Enhanced tactical vest but with a simplistic quad release QR system. The quick release mechanism allows the front and rear of the vest to be released through a single pull of a deployment handle located in the center upper torso on the front carrier. This provides the ability to remove the carrier quickly and effectively when the need arises. The quick release functionality has been streamlined by using a unique quad release buckle system that is situated on the bottom front portion and the shoulder areas of the vest for ease of reassembly after the vest has been deployed.

The FAV MKII QR carrier comes with front, back, shoulder and 6-inch x 10-inch side ballistic panels and is equipped with a 360-degree modular attachment system to accommodate PROTECH Tactical TP pouches and accessories; six integrated, long-arm magazine pouches; an outer cummerbund with adjustable sides to provide a custom fit for a wide range of waist circumferences; an adjustable dual-weapon retention system in the shoulder area for specific weapon retention and individual shooting positions.

Other features include combo, external top-loading plate pockets on the front and back to hold 8-inch x 10-inch or 10-inch x 12-inch type III or type IV hard armor plates. The carrier also features adjustable shoulder and side closure systems to create an optimum fit for each individual officer.

The PROTECH® IMPAC-HT Biceps (Upper Arm) Plate Set joined the line of IMPAC special threat plates from Safariland® (BAE Systems). The lightweight 7-inch x 8-inch plates come in a set of two and feature an increased curvature that conforms to the shape of the upper arm to provide added protection from handgun threats and trauma.

These plates are compatible with the PROTECH Tactical upper arm (biceps) protector soft armor accessory, sliding easily into the special threat plate pocket and are made to be used in conjunction with the soft armor panels included in the accessory. The lightweight design and curvature of the IMPAC-HT Biceps Plate Set provide additional handgun threat and trauma protection to the upper arms without interfering with the officer’s mobility.


Safariland®, a BAE Systems business, introduced the next generation of ABA® Xtreme® body armor: the XT02 Series. The new ABA Xtreme XT02 Series is NIJ Standard-0101.06 certified and features an advanced Berry-compliant hybrid design with the greatest level of protection against a wide array of both NIJ Type and special threat rounds.

The new Xtreme XT02 Series hybrid design combines Twaron®, Honeywell Gold Shield® and exclusive Dyneema® ballistic material. The new Xtreme XT02 is only available through Safariland exclusive Armor Advantage distributors and is offered in IIA, II and IIIA threat levels. All Safariland concealable armor models are certified using NIJ-approved size templates C1 and C5. In addition, the Xtreme XT02 comes standard with a Universal AJ Carrier.




The MRAPS™ (Mobile Rifle Armor Protective Shield) from Baker Ballistics is designed specifically to be used with an M-4 weapon accessorized with a Vertical Forestock Grip mounted onto a Picatinny Rail.

Features include: Optimized for use with M-4 weaponry accessorized with Vertical Forestock; Grip mounted onto a Picatinny Rail; Ruggedized Construction; Battle-hardened design defeats multiple impacts at muzzle velocities; Exclusive “Bungee / Lanyard” system eliminates fatigue; “Quick Release” design for instant shield detachment from Bungee / Lanyard. Specifications are: Threat Level: NIJ Level III; Weight: 17.6 pounds (8kg); Ballistic Coverage: 4.2 sq. ft. (.4m/s); Available Colors: Black, Sand and Green (custom Camo and other colors also available).


The Maximum Force Shield (MF Shield) from Garcia Tech is a new product that allows police officers to restrain and immobilize violent suspects without the dangers associated with traditional restraining methods. The “clam”-like design of the MF Shield makes it ideal to be used in confined spaces such as when doing cell extractions. Typically officers will move into a small cell holding the MF Shield in a close position and open it just before making contact with the subject. The Maximum Force Shield, due to its design, allows for a quick deployment and less need for protection devices used by officers.

The design of the MF-Shield is comprised of two capture shields held together as a flexible device that allows for a wide area of protection for the officers doing the restraining of combative subjects. In addition, the “clam”-like shield serves to contain any violent force by the combative subjects while at the same time protecting them from injuries to themselves. With the MF-Shield the officers apply an even distribution of pressure on subjects over a large area of two capture shields. This even distribution of pressure on a subject allows him / her to breathe while safely containing most of his / her aggressive movements within the double clam shield.


The Hatch® Impactor™ from Safariland (a BAE Systems business) is a unique, non-ballistic, multi-functional arm shield that is durable and lightweight and provides for protection of the officer in both defensive and counter-strike situations. It is designed to work in concert with defensive baton techniques and/or OC spray.

The Model 5500 Impactor is an excellent tool for controlling combative subjects and is ideal for use by correction officers and first responders. A patent-pending design, it is constructed of a non-ballistic, reinforced polycarbonate for increased impact resistance and tensile strength, which will not warp or crack. It connects to the arm via adjustable, padded arm straps that help absorb and dissipate impact. Its ribbed design adds strength to the shield while maintaining a light weight.

Designed for use on either arm, the Impactor can be used alone or in conjunction with a baton, as it features a control slot for the baton that can also be used for pinning a suspect’s wrist or forearm. Integrated into the handle design is a secure holder for a Defense Technology® brand MK-3 or MK-4 OC spray canister, allowing for easy deployment of the OC. The Impactor is ideal for blocking, front jab, middle block or rear jab techniques to subdue and control suspects. The Impactor includes a location for adding customized agency identification labels. Reflective ID labels are hook and loop compatible and are offered for Police, Sheriff, Corrections and State. 


Deadstop™ is one of L.C.O.A. Composites’ brands focused on law enforcement and agency composite armor solutions such as shields. Deadstop is available in Level IIIA and Level III (hard) with accessories (lights, viewports, etc.). Features include: Stops a 44 Magnum at 15 feet; Lightest Shield in its Class; Revolutionary Formulation; Multi-Hit Capable; Stops .44 Magnum Round at 15 feet; Lightest Shield in NIJ IIIA Class; Patent-pending Composite Formulation; Multi-Hit Capable; Available in Multiple Sizes; Independent Ballistic Tested.

Additional features include: Curved front surface provides protection in tangential attack situations; Fiber-reinforced nylon handle allows for ease of deployment for increased durability; Curved viewport with multi-hit performance and down range vision; Padded forearm rest to provide ballistic impact protection against backface deformation on shield; Two specially designed ambidextrous handles; Curved viewport for the most advantageous tangential vision; High-intensity 900 lumen LED lighting available; Multitude of accessories available to customize shields to specific needs.


Patriot3’s Minuteman Folding Ballistic Shields fold and stow in convenient and non-descript carry bags. The Minuteman deploys in seconds and can be used in both rigid and non-rigid configurations. Stiffening rods stow in a convenient storage area when not in use. The Minuteman is available in NIJ Level’s III and IIIA with and without viewports. Another benefit to the Minuteman Folding Ballistic Shields is that agencies only need to replace the panels themselves in the units after their shelf life has expired, instead of buying a whole new shield.

Patriot3’s new XPS-G2 (X-Treme Protection Series) Shield recently won the coveted GovSec Security Products Homeland Security Award. The XPS-G2’s unique, patent-pending design incorporates the first-ever Folding Ballistic Wings. These Ballistic Wings are added to the XPS Base Unit to provide a wide area of coverage beyond that of the base unit. With the rotation of Patriot3’s revolutionary wing-deployment mechanism, the Ballistic Wings can be folded backward to reduce the width of the shield, enabling passage through commercial doorways.

Once through the door, the Ballistic Wings are immediately re-deployed providing a wide area of coverage of up to 66 inches or three operators wide. In addition, each of the XPS Ballistic Wings can be removed instantly with one hand, allowing the XPS to split into as many as four separate handheld shields (NIJ Level III only), allowing team members to break away with ballistic protection to clear additional areas, simultaneously.


The PROTECH® Intruder™G2 Type IIIA shield from Safariland® (a BAE Systems business) is the first of its kind to incorporate a unique triangular viewport. The Intruder G2 shield features an innovative, enlarged, 6.75 inches x 15.50 inches (at widest points), triangular viewport which provides increased overall visibility compared to a standard viewport. This multi-layered viewport design contains overlapping acrylic and polycarbonate laminate ballistics in the front and back, which reinforces the seams and provides protection from handgun threats.

The Intruder G2 also features the following: Standoff platform and padded forearm rest on the body side of the shield that provides additional ballistic impact standoff protection against backface deformation; Horizontal ambidextrous handle that allows the shield operator’s arm to be kept vertical in a strong-arm position utilizing skeletal support; High-intensity, strobe-capable LED dual lighting system; Two non-skid, rubber rake bars for added protection from wear and tear; and Quick release strap for additional support when carrying the shield.

The Intruder G2 is made of 100 percent uni-directional polyethylene material with a rugged, state-of-the-art vacuum-molded outer skin. The ballistic shield measures 20 inches x 33 inches in size, weighs approximately 21 pounds, and offers 660 inches (total area) of coverage.


The new Go Shield™ from Point Blank is a lightweight and durable hands-free shield that provides instant protection when crisis intervention response is required. The shield includes an ambidextrous quick release, adjustable padded sling and hard armor plates to allow for protection against rifle bullets. The shield can be rolled up and secured to itself, ready for quick deployment.

The Go Shield is becoming the armor product of choice for Active Shooter Response SWAT, Hostage Rescue, Patrol, Sniper Protection, School and Class Room Safety, Officer Down Drills, Maritime Ship-Boarding, Court Services, Felony Car Stops and Takedowns, Ballistic Blanket for Dignitary Protection and Political Bodies (council chambers, judges benches, etc.), and more.




Blauer’s ArmorSkin™ is the first armor integration uniform system for law enforcement that provides relief from the heat and discomfort of conventional carriers, maintains a uniform look, and helps to alleviate lower back and hip pain. The system consists of the ArmorSkin™ vest, which covers an officer’s existing carrier, a StreetShirt™ (a performance uniform shirt) worn as a base-layer or as an alternate uniform shirt, and an optional duty-belt suspension system integrated into the vest.

ArmorSkin matches Blauer uniform fabrics and is designed to look like a uniform shirt, maintaining a professional appearance in the field. ArmorSkin and Street Shirt utilize breathable mesh and performance moisture wicking fabrics that are lightweight and provide quick-dry comfort in key areas. Universal armor carrier fit and easy adjustment at shoulders and sides allows an officer’s existing ballistic carrier and pads to be fitted and worn exactly as they would under a uniform shirt.

Stretch fabrics and two-way zippers offer mobility, quick donning and doffing, and more coverage. The Suspension System balances weight of the duty belt between the shoulders and hips and allows for a looser duty belt fit, improving circulation and decreasing the risk of lower back and hip pain or resulting sciatica.


Elbeco, Inc. announced the addition of the V1 TexTrop External Vest Carrier (V1) to its line of professional performance uniforms. The V1 is a cosmetic outershell designed to be worn over a uniform shirt. It houses wearers’ existing vest carriers in their original concealable carrier delivering a clean, professional uniform look. When paired with an Elbeco TexTrop shirt, the vest is virtually undetectable even at close range. 

The V1 TexTrop External Vest Carrier is designed to identically match the company’s TexTrop shirts. It is available in 17 different sizes to accommodate a wide range of both male and female vests. The external vest carrier concept allows for optimal breathability and ventilation for the wearer while providing ease of removal and donning. Back-to-front hook and loop side panels provide a user-friendly mechanism to tighten or release the vest as necessary. 

Unlike some external vest carriers that require ballistic panels to be removed from their current carrier and reinserted into the vest, the V1’s design incorporates the wearer’s existing concealable carrier so there is no need to remove and reposition panels. Officers can insert their entire carrier into their V1, and the carrier can be easily removed for laundering. 


Point Blank’s latest Crossover carriers Gresham and Endeavor combine the ergonomic design of a concealable carrier with the functionality of a load–bearing vest. Available with the most frequently requested tactical features, these multi-functional carriers offer the lightest weight protection available in a covert design that allows the patrol officer to easily don and doff in seconds while meeting his / her mission-specific needs.        

For protection against high-powered rifle rounds, both Gresham and Endeavor feature a front access, triple pocket design to accommodate a choice of 5-inch x 8-inch, 8-inch x 10-inch or 10-inch x 12-inch Level III or IV hard armor plates. In addition, the patrol officer can also protect himself / herself against electroshock weapons such as TASER devices by upgrading the crossover carrier with Point Blank’s ThorShield technology.

Jennifer Gavigan has been contributing to LAW and ORDER for more than nine years, writing on cutting-edge topics in law enforcement. She can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2012

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