The standard armor for law enforcement officers comes in the form of soft armor that is designed to protect against the most common threat, pistol rounds. A rifle threat is less common compared to pistols but certainly exists. However, officers can come in contact with suspect(s) armed with more powerful weapons that will defeat traditional level II and IIIA soft armor. Rifle plates in outer carriers are available but aren’t issued to the majority of officers nationwide — and they’re not always practical in any case. Safe Life Defense is one armor company working to mitigate those issues. Safe Life Defense provides armor to the Everyman as well as First Responders and offers a payment plan (see below).
Safe Life Defense is a Nevada-based company located near Las Vegas, NV. It recently celebrated its 5th anniversary (as of this update) and was listed as one of the Top 300 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the U.S. by INC.
Before we get too far into it, let’s answer a question we’re often asked.
Body armor is legal
Body armor is legal for civilians in most places. There are some locations where this doesn’t hold true (convicted felons cannot own body armor in many jurisdictions, for instance, and as of this writing it cannot be shipped into Connecticut). It is legal, it is not controlled, it is not an NFA item. The best body armor a civilian can buy will be equivalent to the best armor an LEO has access to. Typically speaking, a peace officer’s armor is no better than that of an armed citizen on a similar budget.
It’s important to note also that a “bulletproof vest” is only bullet resistant. Barring any secret squirrel stuff the Special Mission Units are using (and some of the stuff in our favorite terrible SyFy movies), there is no completely bulletproof material. Just gradations of protective capability.
This isn’t to say a vest or plate won’t stop a bullet. They absolutely will. But proof is an extremely strong word, and not just when you’re talking about your choice of bourbon. It should be used judiciously.
Safe Life Defense BLUF
FRAS from Safe Life Defense
The problem with rifle plate carriers is, first of all, accessibility. When you’re under ambush or have to respond quickly where lives can be saved, chances are that there isn’t sufficient time to retrieve and don that plate carrier. The second issue is the size and weight of rifle plates. Most ceramic plates weigh in at or over 7 pounds. The plate dimensions are usually slightly bigger than a sheet of paper. For example, a large SAPI-sized plate is 10×12. That’s only enough to cover someone’s vital organs.
Safe Life Defense unveiled its solution to the rifle threat with the Flexible Rifle Armor System (FRAS). As you can see below, they put one on our own 50SoFDE as they were talking. As he explained it later, “It was a size bigger but it fit and covered my entire torso like a traditional concealable soft vest. The difference that I could feel was a little added weight and thickness, a small price to pay for what it’s capable of. Just as it says in its name, it is a rifle system that is designed to defeat 5.56×45 and will also stop 7.62×39. A full NIJ level III is also available.”
It is made up of 50% Dupont materials and 50% some kinda proprietary stuff. Our intrepid reporter was told that they test-fired it at all the possible angles without any penetration. That’s great that it stops the round, he thought, but how is the blunt force damage? They claim that a 5.56 impact feels lesser than a 9mm on an IIIA vest. If true (and testing does seem to confirm it), that’s one helluva selling point.
“The medium-sized FRAS weighs in at 16 pounds and it is fully distributed well. I didn’t take off the vest until it was time to shake hands and say goodbye to the guys at the booth and it just felt like a slightly heavier vest, it certainly didn’t feel like it was 16 pounds on me.”
The Flexible Rifle Armor System is available for purchase if you can find it in stock. It is interchangeable with available concealable and outer carriers.
To find some answers about buying armor, and to learn more about the SLD payment plan, check out their buyer’s guide.
Bulletproof Vest Legality
REMINDER from SafeLifeDefense: “Body armor is legal in all 50 states and can be transported and worn over state lines. You cannot be arrested for wearing body armor and your armor cannot be confiscated. In fact, traveling with body armor [on a plane] is just as easy as traveling with a jacket. You may wear it onboard, take it in your carry-on luggage, or check it in baggage [though the TSA folks might not know that]. With this in mind, Safe Life Defense created a specialized Body Armor Carry and Storage Bag to make transporting body armor a breeze.”
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