Gunslinger Research with Line Tactical Solutions
Body armour isn’t glamorous. Body armour isn’t something anyone really talks about, after all to discuss taking a round is to face our own mortality. There is none of the sexiness of a new gun, knife, or other piece of high speed gear. In fact, there is nothing high speed about a plate. I can’t use buzz words like “tactical” to describe a plate. A plate is there to stop a flying chunk of lead, being fired at you by a dude with nefarious purpose. Indeed, to discuss body armour is to strip away your training, your weapons, your equipment and accept the possibility of your own death. For this reason, body armour is whatever is issued or cheap, and we really don’t think about it much. Thus, we spend hours agonizing on what the plate goes in, and what we attach to the plate carrier, and no time on the plates themselves, because these items allow us to create an aura of disbelief that we may in fact be shot.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. We talk about the stuff that makes holes with a near religious dedication, but as for the stuff that stops holes? It’s shelved and dismissed. This is ultimately an echo of what I hear from people when discussing trauma kits and first aid kits. We never think about using these sorts of supplies on ourselves, it’s always for “the sheep.” As if convinced of our own immortality, we will always be the hero. The avenging angel. The sheep dog. Having lost close friends in the line of duty, I find myself wishing that this fiction was true. The truth is: you do not enter a conflict or answer a call for service without the knowledge that things can go horribly wrong.
Now, I won’t go as far as to say that the proper plate carrier and magazine setup won’t save your life, because properly setup gear means we can move faster, manipulate a weapon with greater speed, and by extension stay in the fight longer. A good setup means less likelihood of taking a round in the first place, but we all know that there always exists a better or faster shooter. Your goal in training is to minimize the probability of encountering that shooter. You accomplish this by pushing yourself to your limit, recognizing that limit and exceeding it.
What do we all know about Level III or Level IV plates? They are bulky, heavy and can be pretty uncomfortable. The longer we wear them, the heavier they seem to get. They trap even more heat, they soak your uniform with sweat. Wearing body armour is down right miserable. Plate carriers loaded up with magazines, tourniquets, medical kits, knives, handcuffs, radios and other tactical gear are more comfortable than putting it all on a duty belt, but it still sucks. In fact, it sucks hard and while we are all usually in our professions because we don’t mind embracing the suck no one particularly likes wearing body armour or plate carriers. A lighter, stronger and more effective plate makes carrying the weight easier, and more importantly, likelier to happen because it makes the entire rig weigh less.
For the first time in our professional lives, we got excited about the plates themselves when we spoke to Kyle at Line Tactical Solutions (LTS.) Kyle, a US Coast Guard veteran, began developing plates with a composition is lighter and stronger than other AR500 or ceramic plates. Every invention starts with inspiration; what inspired Kyle to hit the proverbial drawing board and seek a better solution? Kyle, like so many others, was personally affected by the shooting in Dallas which took the lives of 5 police officers and injured 9. While we won’t go into details out of respect for Kyle, we will say that it led Kyle to formulate a new vision: a law enforcement environment where every police officer in the US and in Canada is equipped with plates that are lighter, stronger and more effective than their current issue. Such plates would be more likely to be worn, and officers with the right protection are officers that have a higher chance of going home at the end of their shift.
While discussing the design process with Kyle he gave us some insight into what goes into developing advanced body armour and the more we learned, the more excited we got. Kyle revealed data that showed Level III plates capable of multiple hits of .308 rounds at 20′ instead of the six hit at 50′ required for National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Certification. Even more exciting were the photographs and calculations which demonstrated the effectiveness of the LTS body armour composition, for a wide range of calibers and loads.
So, what about weight? If the multiple hit capability doesn’t excite you, what about Level III plates at 4.5lbs instead of the industry standard 6, saving 3 lbs per standard vest. If you are a student of warfare and combat (and if you aren’t, and reading this you probably should be, or you should go back to playing Call of Duty) you need to understand that combat is a game of ounces and seconds. Seconds in that the outcome of a gunfight can be decided in less than second, and weight in that the lighter you are the faster you are, which means less time to complete a given action.
While most police officers today will balk at the idea of wearing plates at all times, there has always been pushback to change. Think about the resistance to molle on vests in recent years from the bean counters, the “dinosaurs” and the public. Think back further to the resistance from the same groups to wearing body armour in the first place. If that wasn’t enough consider recent crime and combat statistics. What we know is that crime rate is decreasing, but the crimes that are committed are increasing more dangerous for responding officers. Mental health, for example, is a rising issue being faced by police, that isn’t going anywhere. On the military side of the fence, while state on state warfare may be a relic of the past, increasingly well-equipped insurgent forces are bridging the equipment gap at a rapid pace. The days of having superior technology (at least at the infantry level) to the bad guys is quickly becoming a pipe dream.
If you need more reason to be concerned with the advanced body armour technology, think about how much happier law enforcement and military spouses will be knowing their partners will be that much safer on the job. The question then quickly changes from “Not a Chance!” to “When will this start happening?”. And, since our crystal ball is still in the repair shop, we don’t have an answer, but we believe it will happen sooner than most uniform professionals expect.
So, by now, you probably want some details. You want the Gunslinger Research Team to give up the golden egg, the skinny, the “deets.” Well here is the bottom line up front, for all the impatient types.
The standard for Level III and Level IV vests to reach certification has always been to stop only 1 strike. Many plates are made of ceramic, and many more are made of hardened steel. The hardened steel can take more hits, but the ceramic is better for absorbing the impact. Let’s put it this way: an average punch strikes with around 100 ft/lbs of energy. A standard 5.56 NATO round at point blank range impacts with approximately 13x that at 1325 ft/lbs of energy. Suddenly that ceramic plate absorbing impacts sounds better. Based on Line Tactical Solutions plate composition, they absorb 70% of the energy, so instead of feeling the energy of 13 punches at once, only the energy of 4 punches really gets transferred through. Now, we know this is an oversimplification, because of the size of a fist and the size of plates, projectiles, inertial mass, etc., but it does give a pretty clear reason why we got excited about the product. The current Level II soft vest you are wearing is good for up to .40cal, and many will actually stop a 12 gauge slug…with the impact of a guy jumping off a roof swinging an 8lb sledgehammer into your chest. That Level II vest makes it easy for ballistic evidence, and improves your chance of an open casket funeral.
So how does the LTS plate compare to your current issued plate? How does all standard handgun rounds, up to and including .500 S&W, rifle rounds from .22LR up to 7.62×51 (.308) FMJ, including 7.62×39 & 5.45×39 and shotgun up to 12 gauge slug sound? And what about that annoying thing about ricochets and splatter that is almost as lethal as the rounds are? Not an issue, thanks to the quality spall coating used by LTS. Body armour should be, reliable protection with manageable weight, and LTS has delivered.
LTS is working diligently to bring this product to the market as quickly as possible. We hope we have whet your appetite, and earned your support for Kyle and the Line Tactical Solutions Team. Even if we haven’t, Gunslinger Research and Line Tactical Solutions hopes that you have learned something about body armour, and will use this knowledge to make informed buying decisions. You can find Line Tactical Solutions at www.linetacticalsolutions.com, and on Facebook and Instagram!
Categories: Reviews & Releases