High end armor used to require high end prices. Used to, says we. Mad Duo
Review: Grey Ghost Gear “Armor for the Everyman”
About a year ago, Grey Ghost Gear announced their new lineup of hard armor small arms protective plates. Billed as “armor for the everyman”, the prices seemed to be too good to be true. Armor has to be expensive to work, right?
AR 500 plate fanboys will say no, that it’s “stupid” to shell out the big bucks for something superior at saving your life (ceramic being one often-referenced example). But outside of wearing steel ordered through tractor supply and pressed with a single curve in some dude’s garage, what other options are there? Gunshow SAPIs that have more cracks than a Detroit sidewalk?
Grey Ghost Gear wanted to offer a no-shit hard plate built to a high standard with modern technology, but not at a wallet-busting price. The result is their growing family of plates (some of which are so light they even float!) offered to military, LE and private civilian good guys. Their armor can be ordered easily, only requiring a copy of your CCW, cop or military ID. Before those of you out there without a CCW lose your minds about this, let me ask you two questions: first, why the actual fuck DON’T you have a CCW, especially if you feel that you need armor? Second, how else is a manufacturer supposed to sell rifle-defeating plates to the good guys without the fear of bad guys acquiring them? Don’t hate, move to a free state!
The “Level IV Stand Alone Plates” reviewed in this article are NIJ Standard – 0101.06 Certified and weight 8.1 lbs each. They are just shy of an inch thick and measure 10” by 12”, so they will fit most carriers sized for a large issue ESAPI. They are multi-shot rated, which means they take several hits without being defeated by the rounds they’re rated for. Being “stand alone”, they don’t require a separate soft kevlar backer to catch spall (the little pieces of ceramic, projectile, etc. that can blow out the back as secondary missiles).
That’s all good information, but would I be willing to trust my life to it? There was only one way to find out. I headed out to the range to see what the plates would stop, in the most scientific redneck way I could think of: shooting them.
At $181.05 each, it wasn’t going to break my heart to shoot a plate. That price is extremely competitive with AR 500, which suffers issues such as ricocheting rounds, shotgun-like spall and heavy weight. There is a reason why they don’t make steel targets curved, and that’s because angles affect where a round will go. Sometimes that’s your throat, head, extended arms or legs. Capturing the round while defeating it is the point of ceramic-based armor, and that’s why I know of few professionals who willingly wear steel to safeguard their lives.
Walking into the armory, I stopped to think about which firearms to use for the test. I decided on military cartridges commonly found around the world, since that would be my own personal concern. I grabbed the rifles and ammo, and headed out. On the range, I secured the plate to a wood backer and began my informal evaluation. All shots were taken from 50 yards, with different sections of the plate selected for each shot. I started with a bolt action .22LR with a 40 grain hollow point, because why not? I took the shot, then went downrange to check the damage. The round cleanly cut the nylon cover, and left a significant crater underneath. The thought that these plates might not survive much immediately crept into my mind. The foolishness of this observation was soon forgotten with the following shots.
The next weapon was a 16” barreled AR-15, with one round of M193 55 grain FMJ and another of Lake City M855 62 grain “green tip”. Examining the plate between shots, I noticed that both left similar damage. Regardless of the inch-wide holes in the nylon, the plates defeated both. I purposely placed both 5.56 rounds about two inches apart, to replicate a “hammer” or controlled pair. The fact that both rounds were so near each other yet failed to penetrate gave me a huge confidence boost in the plate.
Next came the 7.62×39 AK-47, the most common weapon on the battlefield. A FMJ Yugo military surplus round left a slightly wider hole, but was defeated by the GGG plate. When I switched to the AK-74, I thought the velocity of the 5.45×39 Russian military surplus round might burn deeper and potentially achieve a win. The 7N6 52 grain FMJ can jack up steel targets at close range, so I was justifiably suspicious the plate would fail. Nope, barely a difference from the 5.56 impacts.
By this point, Grey Ghost Gear had my full attention. Next up was the FNH SCAR, throwing a standard M80 Ball round. The 147 grain FMJ was stopped dead in its tracks, with only a small bulge showing on the reverse curve of the plate. My SVT-40 has been having failure to extract issues lately, so I skipped over 7.62x54R (if any of you super gun nerds know how I can solve this 1943 problem, please let me know in the comments section). In its place I used an M1 Garand. Surplus M2 150 grain FMJ once again left an impressive crater, but was just as easily defeated.
I felt this was an appropriate point to end the test. The plate was in ruins, so I figured I would give it a noble coup de grâce with the Barret .50. The 660 grain ball round punched a surprisingly clean hole through the plate, finding its resting place in the berm. So if you are worried about getting shot with a fifty, it’s best you stay in the MRAP…
Overall I was impressed with the plate’s performance, and would recommend the Grey Ghost Gear plates to anyone looking for good, affordable ballistic protection. For shoot house classes, personal protection or professional use, I think these plates would serve you well. You can check out the lineup here on their website, and order yourself a set for less than a new Glock 19.
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Mad Duo Nate About the Author: Nathan “Mad Duo Nate” is a former USMC Sergeant who recently transitioned to being a nasty civilian. He lives largely on nicotine, whiskey and hate and can be frequently found orating Kipling poems to frightened hipsters. A graduate of the Camp Lejeune School for Wayward Boys, he was a Marine NCO, Infantry Platoon Sergeant and Scout Sniper team leader. He is a fully qualified American Jedi, handsome badass and world-renowned field barista. He has numerous deployments to the Middle East and Africa and is something of an idiot savant when it comes finger-fucking stuff to make it work better. Nate only chain smokes when he’s drinking and only drinks every day. We reckon he is probably best described as a sociopathic philosopher with vestigial cutthroat (though poetic) tendencies. Thus far Murr’s writing has appeared in such places as here on Breach-Bang-Clear, on Military.com, in field shitters and portajohns on at least 3 continents, in RECOIL Magazine and of course Penthouse letters. (Grunts: vestigial)