Budget steel armor plates are attractive due to their low price, but being a steel target shooter I know how dangerous spalling can be at short range. Just check out my video of when I shot an AR500 target over water.
With this display of spalling, taking a direct hit could be just as bad with armor than without. This leads many manufactures to put some sort of coating on their plates to contain the impact. In the past I’ve even seen guys use truck bedliner to contain the bullet fragments. That still sounds pretty dangerous. However I recently discovered the German manufacture Rheinmetall Defense who is offering a steel armor plate set with integrated straps and proprietary coating that minimizes any spalling effect. I was able to get my hands on a set and put it to the test.
My test wasn’t as scientific as the manufacture’s, but it sure was fun! I simply put a few balloons around the armor and shot it with different calibers. I began with my CMMG Mutant in 7.62x39mm from 50 yards and it popped 2 balloons. But after looking at the way the fragments were so well contained in the coating it leaves me to believe it could have just been rubber coating that popped the balloons. Either way the armor stopped every round I sent with no issue. Even though it’s rated for 7.62x39mm I figured I’d see what .223 with FMJ Angelfire ammunition and even soft points would do. It was the same as the 7.62mm except that no more balloons popped after the initial test.
I ended up close range with a 10mm STI and even a .357 Henry Carbine. The coating finally began to fail and fragments began to poke through the edges after the 9th round. But face it, if you just took 9 rounds inside 50 yards with a rifle and inside 10 yards with magnum handguns you are already having a very bad day.
Besides the fragment containing coating, the unique part of the LifeSaver is that you won’t have to shop around for a plate carrier rack, it’s ready to go with its minimalist design of adjustable straps right out of the box. It would be a great “just in case” armor to keep around at just $199. You can find them here: http://bit.ly/LifeSaverArmor