I had the opportunity of recently receiving SafeGuard Body Armor’s Stealth Vest for review. Based on the fact that the vest I would be reviewing was both ballistic and edged blade protection, I expected something that was a little on the bulky side. This was not the case. My initial impression of the Stealth Body Armor could be summarized as,
An awesome piece of equipment that combines the technologies of ballistic armor with stab protection into one lightweight and comfortable to wear set of body armor.
My experience with body armor is extensive and I have had the opportunity to wear several different models from multiple manufacturers. The Stealth armor exceeded my expectations in every aspect. Some of the notable features of SafeGuard’s Stealth body armor include:
- 100% DuPont Kevlar armor panels.
- CoolMAX outer vest carrier.
- Light weight, just over 5 lbs. (depending on size).
- All SafeGuard Armor comes with a 5 year warranty.
The vest I was sent offers NIJ ballistic level II and HOSDB edged blade protection level 1 with a retail price of $476. So what kind of protection do you get for your money?
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) defines level II protection as:
Type II (9 mm; .357 Magnum)
Type II armor that is new and unworn shall be tested with 9 mm FMJ RN bullets with a specified mass of 8.0 g (124 gr) and a velocity of 398 m/s ± 9.1 m/s (1305 ft/s ± 30 ft/s) and with .357 Magnum Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) bullets with a specified mass of 10.2 g (158 gr) and a velocity of 436 m/s ± 9.1 m/ s (1430 ft/s ± 30 ft/s).
Type II armor that has been conditioned shall be tested with 9 mm FMJ RN bullets with a
specified mass of 8.0 g (124 gr) and a velocity of 379 m/s ±9.1 m/s (1245 ft/s ± 30 ft/s) and with .357 Magnum JSP bullets with a specified mass of 10.2 g (158 gr) and a velocity of 408 m/s ±9.1 m/s (1340 ft/s ± 30 ft/s).
The edged blade protection standard used by SafeGuard is the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) of the United Kingdom also known as the Center for Applied Science and Technology (CAST). They are considered the leading global authority on testing methods of stab and spike protection for body armor.
Level 1 edged blade protection is defined as:
An E1 Strike Energy of 24 Joules +/- 0.50 or 17.7 FT/LBF +/- 0.36 and an E2 Strike Energy of 36 Joules +/- 0.60 or 26.6 FT/LBF +/- 0.44
So what does this mean?
There are two required levels of testing for stab protection. The first level (E1) is equal to a maximum allowable edged blade penetration of 7mm or 0.28 inches. The E1 level is limited to 7mm or 0.28 inches as a result of research that indicates penetration to the body by edged blades at this depth is unlikely to result in internal injuries to the body’s organs. The second level (E2) is equal to a 50% increase over the energy exerted for the first level. The E2 level is limited to a maximum allowable edged blade penetration of 20mm or 0.79 inches.
SafeGuard Stealth concealable body armor is incredibly comfortable. I followed the easy to use sizing guidelines outlined on SafeGuard’s website and the result was a great fitting vest with little fuss. Following the sizing guide also resulted in a vest that fit well while sitting, standing, driving, and did not interfere with carrying a pistol both concealed and while being openly carried. A major benefit that the SafeGuard armor offers over many other designs is the one piece, t-shirt style collar versus the typical velcro attachment shoulder pieces that tend to either fold up on themselves, dig into the shoulders, or sometimes both.
A note on concealable body armor…it is only as concealable as the accompanying articles of clothing allow it to be. The wearer might need a larger size shirt or overgarment in order to maintain the concealability of body armor. This helps maintain the single greatest advantage of having concealable armor, no one knows you are wearing it!
I will say that the Stealth armor is very effective in terms of protection and comfort regarding concealable armor. However, I was disappointed to see that the Stealth does not have the option of inserting a trauma plate. If this set of armor were to be used for undercover work or the user was in a position where they would be relying on the Stealth to protect them against multiple rounds or maybe rifle rounds, you could end up on the short end of the stick. That point aside, if I were looking for a set of concealable body armor, the Stealth by SafeGuard Armor would be on the top of my list.
*Ensure that you take all local, state, and federal laws into account if you are considering the purchase of body armor for personal or professional use.
**For more information about NIJ ballistic protection standards see the Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor (NIJ Standard-0101.06)