Safariland announced an agreement with Hardwire LLC to bring very light, thin body armor panels to the market. Safariland states the new soft armor is 15% lighter than any other armor currently on the market.
The new armor uses Dyneema fibers, which have become very popular with many soft body armor companies. It would appear that Hardwire developed a process to increase the effectiveness of the material so that it does a better job at dissipating the energy of a bullet when it strikes the panel.
Safariland states the areal density of the material is 0.68 pounds per square foot in a NIJ 0101.06 Level IIIA compliant panel. Compare that to the Alpha Elite Black body armor announced by Point Blank just a few days ago. That armor claimed to be the lightest ever at 0.79 pounds per square foot.
Assuming the information reported by both Point Blank and Safariland is accurate – those are some amazing numbers. Less than 3/4 of a pound for a square foot of level IIIA protection (current standards) seems to be extremely good.
Of course, flexibility will also be a concern. If the armor is not flexible, then it will not be as comfortable as the weight would seem to suggest. I don’t know of a way to quantify comfort, so this will be very much a subjective evaluation that will change from officer to officer.
If you are not familiar with Hardwire, the company makes a range of non-traditional armor products. Some of these include clipboard, door, vehicle and even whiteboards that offer ballistic protection. One of their unique items is a level IIIA stretcher that can also be used as a blanket, makeshift shield or other protective tool.
The new panels are being debuted at the 2016 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. The BlueSheepdog crew are at the show this week and will bring you information on new guns and gear. Fortunately, the show has greatly expanded its law enforcement offerings over the years, and there is a significant representation of police suppliers and gear manufacturers at the event.