Infidel Armor – Body Armor Review

About a month ago Chad Cooper, the owner of Infidel Armor, sent me some of their body armor for testing. I was finally able to get outside and test it this past week so I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and experiences.

Before I show you the beating I gave these things, let’s quickly go over the why’s and wherefore’s:

The Best Options for Body Armor

When it comes to body armor there are a number of different choices you can make: ceramic, steel, Kevlar as well as an array of synthetics and hybrids. Each has their own advantages and uses but for the Prepper crowd I’d have to say the only real choice would be steel.

Think about it.

If there ever is an extended crisis situation where rule of law has gone out the window, we as Preppers may need to deal with the consequences of social unrest and the fact that other less-than-savory elements of society will likely be seeking out resources from those (like us) who have them.

Having the right type of armor for those kinds of circumstances is crucial.

I personally own some soft Kevlar-based armor which is for concealed (under clothing) wear. It has its purposes but would I feel comfortable having that for a long-term crisis situation?

Absolutely not.

After multiple hits (and I’m talking only handgun rounds) it quickly loses its effectiveness. Also, Kevlar vests can lose its protection capabilities over time with regular wear or improper storage — not good if you need a vest for a long-term situation.

Ceramic plates or ceramic hybrids are another option that many consider. Ceramic/ceramic hybrids can be relatively lightweight (compared to steel) and many have the ability to stop armor-piercing rounds like the M995 round.

The downside is that they require yearly x-ray analysis to assess for cracks in the ceramic elements — again not something good for a long-term WROL (without rule of law) scenario.

In my opinion, steel (particularly AR-500 steel) while not perfect, is really the only solution for Preppers.

Anyone who has regularly shot AR-500 steel targets at the range or in competition can attest to how much of a pounding it can take. The benefit of AR-500 steel is that it can take multiple (we’re talking hundreds if not thousands of) hits from high-powered rifles without being compromised. That’s something that will still be effective for you when you don’t have the option of resupply (like the military does) or yearly analysis (in the case of ceramic plates) or don’t have the funds for multiple backup plates.

What you want is armor that is effective, affordable, and able to sustain multiple (or more) hits of high-powered calibers without compromising future engagements.

Does Infidel Armor fit the bill? Let’s find out…

A Closer Look at Infidel’s Plates

Now that you have a really superficial understanding of different armor available to you and why steel is the better option for Preppers, let’s take a deeper look into the plates made by Infidel Armor.

First off, Infidel Armor’s plates are indeed made from AR-500 steel (so far so good). Each plate (not including the anti-spall material) weighs in at about 7.5 lbs — pretty standard when it comes to these types of plates.

Standalone vs. In-Conjunction

Infidel’s plates are also standalone (another plus).

If you haven’t heard of this term, basically there are two types of plates you can purchase: standalone and in-conjuction. “In-Conjunction” plates require that you wear the plate in conjunction (hence the name) with soft armor in order for it to reach its rated effectiveness. This is not the best idea because you may be in a world of hurt if you purchase an in-conjunction plate and try to put it in a standard plate carrier.

All of the plates sold by Infidel Armor are standalone which doesn’t require it to work in conjunction with anything else. This is what you want when simplicity is key.

Anti-Spall Protective Coating

Now Infidel is not unique in the sense that their plates will take multiple hits without issue. There are a number of other plate companies selling AR-500 steel plates where you’ll get the same performance. What places them apart is their proprietary anti-spalling coating that they cover their plates with.

Spalling is basically the fragmentation process that happens when a bullet strikes a hard surface. This spalling can cause severe injury to the wearer of steel plates (especially if it hits the neck or face). The coating they put on their plates helps to contain the spalling and prevents it from hitting the wearer — definitely a good thing.

The only downside of the coating is that it adds an extra 1.5 lbs per plate. So with each plate by itself weighing about 7.5 lbs, we are now up to 9 lbs per plate — a total of 18 lbs for just the two plates (not including the weight of the plate carrier — which is minimal — or side plates if you wanted those as well).

That weight may be a bit much for some people.

Keep in mind that since armor plates sit basically flush to your body and are close to your center of gravity, it doesn’t “feel” that heavy (it’s not quite like running around with a backpack).

As an aside, the thing that kills ya (for those that can attest to running around with plates) is the heat. These plates (and all steel plates for that matter) act very much like a giant heat sink, absorbing the heat around you (as well as what you’re giving off), making it pretty uncomfortable. Just be sure you have plenty of hydration.

A Note on Price and Certification

As a fellow Prepper, Chad (Infidel Armor’s owner) is trying to market his armor packages to other budget-minded Preppers.

For that reason he originally had a target price of $300 for a complete setup (2 plates and a carrier). With his entry-level package currently going for $305, he came pretty close to the mark. That is a very good price if the plates turn out to be half decent considering the military SAPI plates can go for $300 for only a single plate (that’s without the carrier)!

Why so cheap? Well, partly because it isn’t certified.

Does it need to be? Well, not really.

Certification is basically only required if you plan to sell to the government. Since Infidel’s target audience is preppers, not certifying it allows him to keep his prices much lower.

In reality though, certification doesn’t really mean much. First off, they propel a round from a cylinder under laboratory conditions that come no where near what battlefield conditions are like. Plus, they award certifications of level III to those who fail on on the 7th hit!

Will Infidel’s armor perform better? Let’s find out…

Testing out Infidel’s Plate

Check out the following video to see the results of my testing. In it you’ll see me shoot multiple 9mm, .40, and .45 handgun rounds, 5.56mm and 30-06 rifle rounds, and 12 gauge shotgun slugs at it. Will it hold up to the challenge? See for yourself:

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, I would stake my life on these plates. In fact, I would have no qualms about taking the plate that I just shot up and placing it back in my plate carrier. It would still be very effective.

In my tests I wanted to see how it responded to many different types of rounds. There are others who have taken these same plates and literally shot hundreds of high-powered rifle rounds (like the 7.62) one after the other without any penetration issues.

These plates are the real deal — certification or not.

If you’re looking for a solid armor solution at an affordable price, I would have no problems recommending any of Infidel Armor’s armor packages.

Note: Keep in mind that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase some armor now from Infidel or some other reputable seller as soon as you can since I’m hearing talks of certain states looking to ban the purchase/possession of body armor.

Copyright © 2014 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

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33 Comments»

Comment by PAUL 2
2013-03-25 03:20:00

These seem to be the real deal. Steel is the way to go if you really need the protection multiple hits have no effect. I would not wear this unless the need were to arise due to the weight but the weight will be the least of your thoughts when the bullets start flying. Much more durable than ceramic or kevlar and does not need the upkeep or care .

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 08:58:07

You’re right on Paul. Thanks for the comments.

 
 
Comment by Tom
2013-03-25 08:13:26

Nice demo on the plates, very tuff! How do you become a test for items like this??? Would like to get the chance to do this with body armor as well!

 
Comment by Gonzo Don
2013-03-25 08:20:41

Take a look at the video after all the shooting is done. Look closely at the pallet. It appears to me that the anti spalling material is not working very well because you can see what appears to be lead sprayed outward from around the target. I think the manufacturer needs to use a better adhesion for the anti spalling material.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 09:03:25

Good observation Gonzo. I should have mentioned that this was a previous test plate for Infidel before they sent it to me. They had recoated it prior to sending and told me that it may come off after a few shots. The spray you saw was from the second 30-06 shot.

It actually did its job for many of the previous rounds. If you go to their site you can find videos of how well the anti-spalling material does actually work. However, with extensive damage it would need to be recoated. I believe Infidel is in the process of creating a field repair kit for the anti-spalling material which would come handy if the need arose.

 
 
Comment by Morris
2013-03-25 08:39:45

I think the article is intellectually correct but proposes the best protective vest for the longer term and multiple gun fights. We are deluding ourselves if we think we can get into
multiple gun fights without getting at least “winged” (arms or limbs hit) with or without
protective armor.
In addition to being taken out of the fight we’re not going to have the necessary on-scene medical care available. This is kind of like the comments suggesting the need to have thousands of rounds of ammo. How many gun battles do we think we’re going to get in
before we get hit? Really!

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 09:17:16

You make some good points Morris. In actuality most of us will likely not be in ANY engagements. Still, I would prefer to have armor that would last despite the fact (as well as ammo). It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it is what I say…

Regarding medical, keep in mind that there are some of us here who do have combat medical training, experience, and the necessary supplies to have a fair chance of surviving a “winging”.

It’s not just about “not getting hit”, it’s about surviving a really bad day that I hope none of us will ever have to experience. And even worse, if this bad day were to happen a second time, I’d sure hope we all have gear that won’t fail us.

Thanks for the comments brother.

 
 
Comment by Norm
2013-03-25 09:29:12

I would like to know, from what distances the plates were tested.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 10:21:56

Hey Norm,

The avg range was around 10 yards.

 
 
Comment by Steven
2013-03-25 09:41:04

Both points are valid. The vest is a tool, like everything else. I wear body armor for my job in law enforcement and have not had to put it to the ultimate test. I would hate to be laying on the floor, bleeding out from a gun shot wound and thinking that I might have had a chance if I had been wearing my body armor. None of us want to die. That being said, use all of your tools effectively. If you have a location you need to defend, you should have body armor if you can afford it. If you have fixed fighting positions and good defensive posture; you’re already ahead. If you’re on foot patrol for short periods of time, you can suck up the inconvenience of the weight and heat retention of a vest.

BUT, if you are on the road, on foot and making a long trek to a safer place, you will physically disadvantage yourself with a vest on, which will suck up your energy reserves. Better to practice escape and evade tactics. Good luck to all of you in this coming storm.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 10:22:52

Well said Steven. Thanks for the comments.

 
 
Comment by Len
2013-03-25 12:01:41

Interesting demo and claims by the company on their website. I have never worn a vest and understand the pitfalls of that despite the protection. What I find interesting is the comparison in plates; those meant for body armor vs those meant for target practice, especially in cost and rating by caliber. Looking at ShootSteel.com website makes me wonder about both. Your thoughts?

 
Comment by Chris
2013-03-25 12:12:01

I am a customer of Chad’s and can tell you as a vet and cop who has worn the top linr military gear Chad’s stuff is the way to go. Yes it is a bit heavy but it lasts. The military rifle plates can fail if you drop it from a truck and crack it. The basic rules of body armor are simple if you can put a tourniquet around it put armor over it, and proyecy from what you carry and most likly threat. In addition Chad is about the easiest guy on the Planet to work with.

 
Comment by Gerald
2013-03-25 17:08:59

I do have one question–if it works so well why hasn’t it been certified? The test doesn’t sound very extensive and I don’t see any downside to getting certification.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-25 21:23:28

Good question Gerald. From what the manufacturer told me, it must be done through the National Institute of Justice and there is an extensive (and some cases expensive) process to get it done. I don’t know all the details/reasons around it but it’s worth asking Infidel directly.

 
 
Comment by gary a willecke
2013-03-25 23:02:03

i would like to know how much force is transmitted to the body behind the armor. if you can’t get up after getting, hit the armor isn’t going to make much difference.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-26 10:58:41

Hey Gary,

Never been hit personally so I’m not sure what kinds of forces are transmitted. I do know that soldiers/LEO wearing plates are able to get right back up. Here’s an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXMjh_XbkiI

 
 
Comment by Don
2013-03-28 12:37:01

It is acutally not much heavier than the ceramic plate from bulletproofme. My may concern is that the spall material loses it’s integrity after a few rounds hit it. I would have liked you to put 2 liter bottles filled with water around the plate to see how much spall exited the plate after a few rounds. I am concerned that my family or friends next to me may be hit by shrapnel after just a few rounds hitting the plate.

 
Comment by Don
2013-03-28 12:47:47

You can get the same plate here for about $110 each plus shipping. Two plates costs $232 with shipping and it includes the line-X spall coating.

http://www.ar500armor.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=29794

 
Comment by Luke
2013-04-03 11:22:21

Hey I just stumbled across this site and wanted to put my 2 cents in. Anyone that has been in a “gun battle” knows that superior firepower wins every time. Exceptions are SOF and the like. The part that most forget to tell everyone else is that only the first few rounds really count after that the bullets mostly take up a “to whom this may concern” role. There are plenty of guys who have gone down range and gotten into many “gun battles” including my unit with out getting shot, blown up,or fragged or anything else. Anyways i just wanted to bring that to your attention. good day

 
Comment by steve
2013-05-06 21:56:20

You can find these plates on Ebay for 200 a set including side plates

 
Comment by Leonard M. Urban
2013-05-10 00:42:40

If you’re body isn’t breeched and bleeding, you’ll be fine. Armor isn’t magical, and can be defeated, but it’s a damned sight better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Like any other tool, it can get you through the situation for which it’s designed, but luck is also a factor. A head shot, or a profile shot into the arm pit area will be fatal–anything else is likely to leave you able to fight another day.

 
Comment by GoldenBB
2013-05-29 12:00:33

Ney sayers and shills for other companies aside, you have given quite a good review of this outstanding product made keep in mind for the private citizen with an affordability that can’t be beat. I saw several comments that showed other plates and gave the prices for the plates but they failed to inform serious posters that you need the carrier to go with the plates and the cost of these other items ran about as much as the whole outfit that Infadel costs. The one commenter who stated that after the first volley the rest of the flying lead is to whom it may concern is right except with one force multiplier concerned, the dedicated sniper. Most snipers today that I know shoot for the head but when your not in that fixed position that’s when you move shoot and communicate so they will be looking for a tad bit larger target and that’s where Infadel Body Armor will come in real handy because not many of these guys miss their marks to often.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-05-30 22:02:53

good thoughts…thanks

 
 
Comment by HT
2013-06-12 14:57:14

Seems to me a better solution would be a smaller steel plate meant to cover vital areas (heart & spinal cord basically) worn as an insert over a standard Kevlar vest. Reduces weight, increases protection. Troops in Vietnam had steel flak vests but didn’t wear them in combat due to the weight. A compromise like the insert might make more sense.

 
Comment by Todd
2013-06-18 03:17:23

In a situation where it’s appropriate, you get used to the weight and heat. People complaining are either not experienced or not professional (meaning they didn’t have the discipline/motivation to get through the initial adjustment period). Everybody goes through this with helmets, too, but you get used to anything. The comments about not wearing heavy vests in Vietnam or elsewhere should be taken for what they are worth: every conflict/service/department has sloppy units/members, but if you want to survive/excel. If you gut it out, even these rigs will become second nature.

 
Comment by Peter SImms
2013-06-20 18:17:34

Steel plate with a truck bed coating it seems. quite a heavy option but no doubt steel does perform well against certain threats with very low trauma. coating stops the spall effect associated with steel. we have tested steel helmets against kevlar versions. Very low trauma with steel compared to aramid but weight issues always crop up.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-06-24 16:03:06

Very true Peter. Steel does take some getting used to (as well as the need to be in shape). There’s a lot of people who think they’ll throw on some steel plated armor without regularly training in it. Not too smart…

 
 
Comment by Leak
2013-08-16 09:18:33

Great info here, thanks for everything

 
Comment by RALPH Newton
2013-10-20 20:21:43

I like what i saw but i have one ? , what would happen if you fired a 45 cal. hollow point with a lighter flint in the tip at the armor plate!!!!!

 
Comment by RALPH Newton
2013-10-20 20:22:43

Would like feed back on this ????

 
Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-24 07:04:18

Hi Ralph,

Other than a shower of sparks (that might hit the face) it’s not going to do anything to the armor. Those rounds are just for fun and are shot at AR500 target steel all day without issue.

 
Comment by Thomas R.
2013-11-20 02:42:31

Im impressed by the review of a previously tested product coming out so well…Id like to see any other product of any type do so well on a “ship out after shot up” test had already been done.
Im inclined to agree with the Tool ideal…as an electrician I wear a 42 pound tool belt where most of my co-workers have always been at less than half the weight or didnt wear at all…the time/effort savings in having what I needed where I was at was the advantage over stopping to get or find something. You do get used to the excess weight…its one of the reasons that guys like me have a hard time losing weight too…our bodies get used to carrying an “above body weight” daily average which accounts for holding a higher body mass index even as an active individual…but a 42 pound tool belt up and down ladders and stairs and on hard or uneven ground all day makes you appreciate modular designs in anything.

 
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