Infidel Armor – Body Armor Review
About a month ago Chad Cooper, the owner of Infidel Armor, sent me some of their body armor for testing. I was finally able to get outside and test it this past week so I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and experiences.
Before I show you the beating I gave these things, let’s quickly go over the why’s and wherefore’s:
The Best Options for Body Armor
When it comes to body armor there are a number of different choices you can make: ceramic, steel, Kevlar as well as an array of synthetics and hybrids. Each has their own advantages and uses but for the Prepper crowd I’d have to say the only real choice would be steel.
Think about it.
If there ever is an extended crisis situation where rule of law has gone out the window, we as Preppers may need to deal with the consequences of social unrest and the fact that other less-than-savory elements of society will likely be seeking out resources from those (like us) who have them.
Having the right type of armor for those kinds of circumstances is crucial.
I personally own some soft Kevlar-based armor which is for concealed (under clothing) wear. It has its purposes but would I feel comfortable having that for a long-term crisis situation?
After multiple hits (and I’m talking only handgun rounds) it quickly loses its effectiveness. Also, Kevlar vests can lose its protection capabilities over time with regular wear or improper storage — not good if you need a vest for a long-term situation.
Ceramic plates or ceramic hybrids are another option that many consider. Ceramic/ceramic hybrids can be relatively lightweight (compared to steel) and many have the ability to stop armor-piercing rounds like the M995 round.
The downside is that they require yearly x-ray analysis to assess for cracks in the ceramic elements — again not something good for a long-term WROL (without rule of law) scenario.
In my opinion, steel (particularly AR-500 steel) while not perfect, is really the only solution for Preppers.
Anyone who has regularly shot AR-500 steel targets at the range or in competition can attest to how much of a pounding it can take. The benefit of AR-500 steel is that it can take multiple (we’re talking hundreds if not thousands of) hits from high-powered rifles without being compromised. That’s something that will still be effective for you when you don’t have the option of resupply (like the military does) or yearly analysis (in the case of ceramic plates) or don’t have the funds for multiple backup plates.
What you want is armor that is effective, affordable, and able to sustain multiple (or more) hits of high-powered calibers without compromising future engagements.
Does Infidel Armor fit the bill? Let’s find out…
A Closer Look at Infidel’s Plates
Now that you have a really superficial understanding of different armor available to you and why steel is the better option for Preppers, let’s take a deeper look into the plates made by Infidel Armor.
First off, Infidel Armor’s plates are indeed made from AR-500 steel (so far so good). Each plate (not including the anti-spall material) weighs in at about 7.5 lbs — pretty standard when it comes to these types of plates.
Standalone vs. In-Conjunction
Infidel’s plates are also standalone (another plus).
If you haven’t heard of this term, basically there are two types of plates you can purchase: standalone and in-conjuction. “In-Conjunction” plates require that you wear the plate in conjunction (hence the name) with soft armor in order for it to reach its rated effectiveness. This is not the best idea because you may be in a world of hurt if you purchase an in-conjunction plate and try to put it in a standard plate carrier.
All of the plates sold by Infidel Armor are standalone which doesn’t require it to work in conjunction with anything else. This is what you want when simplicity is key.
Anti-Spall Protective Coating
Now Infidel is not unique in the sense that their plates will take multiple hits without issue. There are a number of other plate companies selling AR-500 steel plates where you’ll get the same performance. What places them apart is their proprietary anti-spalling coating that they cover their plates with.
Spalling is basically the fragmentation process that happens when a bullet strikes a hard surface. This spalling can cause severe injury to the wearer of steel plates (especially if it hits the neck or face). The coating they put on their plates helps to contain the spalling and prevents it from hitting the wearer — definitely a good thing.
The only downside of the coating is that it adds an extra 1.5 lbs per plate. So with each plate by itself weighing about 7.5 lbs, we are now up to 9 lbs per plate — a total of 18 lbs for just the two plates (not including the weight of the plate carrier — which is minimal — or side plates if you wanted those as well).
That weight may be a bit much for some people.
Keep in mind that since armor plates sit basically flush to your body and are close to your center of gravity, it doesn’t “feel” that heavy (it’s not quite like running around with a backpack).
As an aside, the thing that kills ya (for those that can attest to running around with plates) is the heat. These plates (and all steel plates for that matter) act very much like a giant heat sink, absorbing the heat around you (as well as what you’re giving off), making it pretty uncomfortable. Just be sure you have plenty of hydration.
A Note on Price and Certification
As a fellow Prepper, Chad (Infidel Armor’s owner) is trying to market his armor packages to other budget-minded Preppers.
For that reason he originally had a target price of $300 for a complete setup (2 plates and a carrier). With his entry-level package currently going for $305, he came pretty close to the mark. That is a very good price if the plates turn out to be half decent considering the military SAPI plates can go for $300 for only a single plate (that’s without the carrier)!
Why so cheap? Well, partly because it isn’t certified.
Does it need to be? Well, not really.
Certification is basically only required if you plan to sell to the government. Since Infidel’s target audience is preppers, not certifying it allows him to keep his prices much lower.
In reality though, certification doesn’t really mean much. First off, they propel a round from a cylinder under laboratory conditions that come no where near what battlefield conditions are like. Plus, they award certifications of level III to those who fail on on the 7th hit!
Will Infidel’s armor perform better? Let’s find out…
Testing out Infidel’s Plate
Check out the following video to see the results of my testing. In it you’ll see me shoot multiple 9mm, .40, and .45 handgun rounds, 5.56mm and 30-06 rifle rounds, and 12 gauge shotgun slugs at it. Will it hold up to the challenge? See for yourself:
When it comes down to it, I would stake my life on these plates. In fact, I would have no qualms about taking the plate that I just shot up and placing it back in my plate carrier. It would still be very effective.
In my tests I wanted to see how it responded to many different types of rounds. There are others who have taken these same plates and literally shot hundreds of high-powered rifle rounds (like the 7.62) one after the other without any penetration issues.
These plates are the real deal — certification or not.
If you’re looking for a solid armor solution at an affordable price, I would have no problems recommending any of Infidel Armor’s armor packages.
Note: Keep in mind that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase some armor now from Infidel or some other reputable seller as soon as you can since I’m hearing talks of certain states looking to ban the purchase/possession of body armor.
- Posted in Gear