U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Body armor is something I have tested in the past. It is one of my favorite things to check out. Putting rounds on a product is always fun so when I got a chance to test some new armor, I jumped on it.
The people at 3V Gear sent me the Riparo Shield IIIA soft body armor panel that they designed for the user to use in a backpack. Backpack panels are hot right now in the world of body armor. More and more companies are producing these backpack specific panels especially in the time of the media manufactured fear of school shootings.
These panels are also gaining popularity because you can walk around protected without the discomfort of wearing a vest under your clothes. Although Kevlar vest is concealable, they are still very noticeable whereas these panels are not noticeable at all.
Before we get into the bullet resistant panel, I have to talk about the bag that I would be using with the panel. The guys at 3V Gear sent me the Subrosa Urban Assault Pack.
The people at 3V Gear call the Subrosa Urban Assault Pack a “Stealth Operator Bag” (SOB). They offer a whole SOB line that allows someone to become a grey man. This philosophy is something I strive for in my daily life.
The grey man theory is that the best defense is to blend in and for people not to notice you. It is something that you learn in spycraft. Walking around with a bag covered in MOLLE and morale patches screams, “I am armed” and that makes you the first target if something were to happen.
The Subrosa Urban Assault Pack does an excellent job at accomplishing the grey man mantra with its simple yet elegant design. Although it doesn't stand out as a tactical bag, 3V Gear built this bag to be rugged and up to the same standards as their other bags. I have been using this bag daily for weeks and still looks great, and I am not easy on my bags.
The Subrosa Urban Assault Pack has a laptop sleeve that holds up to a 15-inch laptop. My 13-inch MacBook Air easily fit into the bag. The padding is thick enough to provide plenty of protection for my expensive Apple product.
The people at 3V Gear also built in a tablet pocket that will hold up to a ten-inch tablet. My tablet is a little bigger than ten-inches and still fit in the bag perfectly. I decided to use the tablet pocket to insert the Spartan Armor Systems Riparo Shield soft backpack panel. It was a tight fit, but I was able to squeeze the 8×10 panel into the bag.
The clamshell design lets the bag easily open. The crew at 3V Gear included tons of pockets and sleeves in the main compartment. I used it to store my notebook, pens, and other miscellaneous items. There was plenty of space for the things that I use on a daily basis as a firearms journalist.
The laptop sleeve on the Subrosa Urban Assault Pack also doubles as a hydration reservoir sleeve. I didn't test this feature out, but 3V Gear did include a hose access port which was a nice touch. It is something that would be useful if you are using it for a day pack on a short hike.
The front stash pocket of the bag is where I stored my keys and other small items that I would need easy access to on the go. I liked how 3V Gear designed the opening with a slight angle. It gives it a subtle flare. I also liked the lanyard attachment in the pocket because it kept my keys in place.
The best part about the Subrosa Urban Assault Pack is the EVA molded back panel. These ridges help let air flow through the back of the bag. It made it a little more comfortable and should prevent a sweaty back in the summer which is where this bag would see heavy rotation.
Another cool thing that 3V Gear included on the back panel is their logo of “Veni-Vidi-Vidi” which translates to “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It is a nice inclusion that sets this bag apart from some of the other backpacks on the market.
I also like the D rings that 3V Gear included right next to the grab handle. Being an amateur photographer, I used these rights to attach my tripod. The wearer can connect anything the bag using these D rings and a carabiner.
The only real drawback to the 3V Gear Subrosa Urban Assault Pack is that it isn't big enough to carry everything you would need for a weekend trip. This bag is more of a day pack than anything else. It is something that you would use for work, or for exploring a city.
I would also like to have seen 3V Gear include a concealed carry compartment. It wasn't a big deal for me because most of the time because I carry on my body, but for the times when I go swimming, I would like to still have a firearm that I can retrieve at a moment’s notice. In the end, for around $40 you can't go wrong. The bag feels more expensive than the price that 3V Gear is charging.
I inserted the Spartan Armor Systems Riparo Shield backpack panel into the Subrosa Urban Assault Pack. The armor has a rating of Level IIIA. The armor should be able to stop almost all handgun bullets except for rounds such as 5.7x28mm, but there was only one way to find out.
I took a trip down to a friend's private range to put as many different rounds onto the Riparo Shield backpack panel as possible. We wanted to see how much punishment the insert could take before failing. By putting it through extreme punishment and abuse, we could say for sure if it was safe for someone to use to defend against bullets.
When it comes to reviewing any armor, you have to stress it to the point of being unrealistic. The reason behind this thought is people will depend on this protection for their life so we have to throw more at it than it will ever face in the real world.
We taped the Riparo Shield backpack panel armor to a tree. We decided that we would be shooting the insert from five yards. We also agreed that we would fire two shots from each gun and check the armor after each caliber. The calibers we tested were 9MM, .40, 45ACP, .357 Mag, .44 Mag, and even the FN 5.7x28mm.
We fired the first two shots from the 9MM. The panel as expected handled these rounds with no problem. So, we stepped it up the .40. Again, the Spartan Armor Systems backpack panel didn't fail. We aren't saying that you won't break a couple of ribs if you were shot using this panel, but you would be alive.
The next caliber we shot at the panel was my favorite round, the 45ACP. This round has a heavy bullet, but the two shots we fired didn't penetrate the panel. Now we had to step it up a bit, so we brought out the revolvers.
Two shots from the .357 fired closely together couldn't defeat the Spartan Armor Systems Riparo Shield backpack panel. We once again stepped it up to Dirty Harry's favorite caliber. The .44 Magnum and if Dirty Harry fired on a bad guy while the perp had this armor plate, then the bad guy would have felt lucky because it didn't break through the armor.
Now for the real test. We brought out the FN 57. This gun fires a swift-moving bullet. With the state of the Riparo Shield backpack panel after being shot eight times, we thought there was no way it would survive this round. To our amazement, it stopped both shots. That was unexpected because of the weakened state of the panel after being shot so much.
Overall the panel was just as advertised. Will I ever be in a situation where someone shoots at me? Probably not, but for $94 at the time of this writing it is worth the peace of mind it would give me by using Riparo Shield backpack panel for me, my wife, and my kids.
Readers can find 3V Gear at https://3vgear.com/
About John Crump
John is a 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 leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.