U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- What is essential for body armor is that it can stop most bullets. In the past, I have tested the Safe Life Defense Concealable Multi-Threat Vest, and it stopped every handgun round I shot at it and even some rifle rounds. Even though it was a great vest, I don't wear a bullet-resistant vest daily around the town. I also wouldn't put my kid in a bullet-resistant vest to send him to school.
One thing I do carry every day and my kid carries every day is a backpack. Safe Life Defense recently offered me their new Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor to test out which is a para-aramid fiber soft body armor panel that slides into a backpack turning any ordinary bag into a bullet-resistant shield.
The Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor offers the same protection level as the Safe Life Defense Multi-Threat Vest. The customer can purchase the backpack insert in NIJ level IIIA for $99 or NIJ level IIIA+ for $149. The NIJ level IIIA panel is rated to stop handgun rounds up to a .44Mag as well as 12-gauge shotgun slugs. NIJ level IIIA+ exceeds the stopping power of the NIJ level IIIA armor. Also, the NIJ level IIIA+ is even rated to stop the venerable FN 5.7 round as well as Tasers. I got to test the NIJ level IIIA+ panel.
One cool thing about the backpack insert is that Safe Life Defense tapered the top of the panel to better fit into a backpack. The issue with backpack inserts are the squared-off panel at the top. This squared-off design of most panels causes a problem when the user tries to zip their bag. The tapering of the Safe Life Defense panels eliminates the issue of not being able to zip the bag closed without going to a smaller panel.
The Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor is lightweight, weighing in at only 1.3 lbs. The soft para-aramid fiber panel is also not noticeable. It is the type of panel that you insert into your bag and forget about it until needed. The concealability also eliminates the need to explain to your co-workers why you have a bullet resistant backpack. In this gun grabbing time, anyone that takes the time to protect themselves and their families is looked upon as soon sort of paranoid nut.
The carrier itself for the Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor is 600d Polyester. The carrier is durable and well built. I have no complaints about the construction of the carrier. It is a quality carrier that should outlast the life of the panel.
Nothing else matters if a panel can't stop handgun rounds. I went to the Sterling Arsenal testing range to try to throw handgun rounds at the body armor. Throughout the test, I used a variety of bullets from Hornady 115gr Critical Defense 9mm hollow points to full metal jackets of every caliber.
I got up close and personal to the panel and sent rounds at the target from only five feet away. The panel stopped every handgun round I threw at it up to 240 gr .44 mag rounds. There were bulges in the back of the Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor that would knock a person down, but the target would be alive because none of the bullets penetrated the panel.
When I took apart the Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor I noticed the .44 mag only penetrated through around half the layers. I would have loved to try out an FN 5.7 round on the panel, but I didn't have access to a gun that fired that round although from what I saw the panel should be able to stop it without any issues.
When I took the second Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor to the rifle range, I fired a 7.62×39 round at the panel, and it did penetrate the armor after about seven shots. Keep in mind this round is a lot faster with a lot more punch than what the panel is rated to take. Also, it had taken multiple shots from handguns which will undoubtedly weaken the protection that the panel offered. Nothing is truly 100% bulletproof and will eventually fail which is one of the reasons I prefer the term bullet resistant over bulletproof.
The Backpack Armor also held up well to bladed attacks. My first attempt to stab through the armor with my CRKT Terrestrial knife and could not get through the panel. I also tried to stab through the armor with my Glock fixed blade with the same results of not being able to get through the panel.
This time I moved to the slashing test on the panel. The Safe Life vest I tested in the past held up great to slashing, so I was expecting this panel to do fine. I started using a Ka-Bar Becker BK9 and was not able to get through the vest. The BK9 is a hefty blade.
I stepped it up to the Ka-Bar Zombie sword. Despite the stupid name, this sword (more of a machete than a sword) is a very sharp sword that Ka-Bar designed for slashing. I was not able to get through the panel with the sword. The slash and stab protection of the Safe Life Defense Concealable Multi-Threat Vest is present in the backpack panel. I was very happy with the results.
When I looked at how far the knives penetrated the Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor I noticed that they cut the covering, but did not even penetrate the first layer of the soft para-aramid fiber. I am positive this panel will be able to stop all bladed attacks.
Safe Life Defense does offer an incident guarantee. If you are shot while wearing their Backpack Armor they will replace the panel for free if you have a police report. This is one guarantee I hope I never have to use. They also offer a five-year warranty and will exchange or refund your money if the panel does not fit your backpack.
The design of the Safe Life Defense Backpack Armor is excellent. The price isn't bad for the level of protection that the user gets with the panel. It is lightweight and not noticeable. Most of all the panel works. At the end of the day that is what is most important.
Call me paranoid, but my son will be going to school with one of Safe Life Backpack Armors in his backpack. I will also be sporting one of these panels in my bag as well as you just never know what is going to happen. When it comes to body armor and bullet-resistant panels, I don't like to take the manufacturer's word for it. Since I tested these myself and saw that they worked, I feel confident enough in them to keep my family safe.
About John Crump
John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.