Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent


So you think you need full body armor? Really?

SafeGuard Stealth concealed body armor review for preppers

Safeguard Armor contacted me recently to see if I’d check out their Stealth body armor and let everyone know what I think. I’ve had experience with different kinds of body armor, both concealed armor with civilian clothes as well as that freaking hot and heavy shit I wore in Iraq and Afghanistan so I thought this would be an interesting topic and figured I’d write about SHFT body armor for preppers as well as do a prepper gear review at the same time. Besides, I’m behind a bit, currently writing a review of the Aurora firestarter and the Suntactics sCharger-12 solar panel all at the same time.

They carry a few different types that you can see at www.safeguardclothing.com’s Bullet-proof vest page  and have offices in both the UK and US. I’ve never seen any of their other stuff so you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

I’m not gonna go into the effectiveness of this armor in stopping bullets etc because there’s already a lot of information out there on body armor that’ll do that a lot better than I have the facilities and time to test. Especially considering I don’t have any facilities. Besides, I didn’t want to ruin the one I have. Suffice it to say that the Level II version that I got will stop the low velocity 9mm and .40 cal, as well as everything less. Also you can research at SafeGuard’s site for how they’re built and their armor protection levels for information about the soft armor it contains.

So first: What should a prepper know about possibly getting body armor?

Call of Duty Juggernaut

Call of Duty Juggernaut

Now, I hear a lot of armchair wannabe warriors out there who spout off shit about Level II armor and under-clothing armor in general, saying they’re bullshit because they won’t stop an AK round so they’re a waste of money. They’re the same idiots who think the best SHTF vehicle if society collapses is to have a huge armored 4×4 when they only have 3 people in their group and only buy AR- and combat-style guns and think they’re gonna walk around like some kind of juggernaut from Call of Duty all the time. Don’t listen to these guys because they don’t know shit. Obviously this stuff isn’t gonna stop the same bullets that the armor will that we wear in a combat zone. That stuff is offensive armor. This is defensive. Technically, this is bullet-resistant protective clothing, but I’m not gonna go into all that.

A tank has better protection than plate armor, so why don’t you drive a tank? Because it’s not feasible for real life. I’ve worn this stuff in real-life work and they were given to me instead of full-on armor for a reason. Armor is just like a weapon or a vehicle. It’s a tool to be used for a purpose and different tools are better than others for different purposes.

Keep in mind, however, your local laws may not allow you to wear, or even own body armor unless you’re a member of law enforcement or military. In this case, I’d suggest moving. I hate those places.

You know that I keep preaching things about OPSEC and indicators etc, and this time is no exception. You have to balance the effectiveness of your equipment with giving away your capabilities. Offensive body armor is great in a combat zone because you’re probably going to get into a fight that involves higher caliber weapons, and you’re not hiding the fact you’re there to fight. Let’s say you still want to get that full plate set. Fine, buy it and then shove it into your closet next to your gun safe and forget about it.

For the average prepper though, this is idiotic. I see people digging through Army surplus store shelves for armor plate carriers and even full-on body armor systems and I’m thinking, “when the hell are you gonna wear that?” As with any other gear in your kit, if you don’t have it with you (or on you in this case) when you need it, it was a waste of money and time to get it (It’s just another example of overprepping). You’re never going to wear that shit in real life unless you’re using it only in case of the complete collapse of society. Granted, if this does happen, it’d be nice to have at your bugout location out in the middle of nowhere but you’re then in a combat zone if society has collapsed. What are you gonna do in the meantime and in the more likely event that a full-on WROL (Without Rule Of Law) scenario never happens?

Hopefully your life will never get to the point where you’d need it. Now let’s get back to a scenario that’s not only more likely but more flexible, and probably smarter overall.

It’s good stuff if you want to be protected but not give away the fact that not only are you protected, that you have a reason that you need protected.

If you’re doing undercover operations (surveillance, private investigation, other operations), you have a higher-than-normal risk of getting shot but you need to look like everyone else. The same goes for what you should be thinking about prepping now and dealing with a WROL situation when SHTF. The best gear in the world is useless if you don’t have it with you when you need it and body armor is no exception. Before SHTF, you won’t be walking around in a full plate set – ever – so until SHTF, it’s a complete waste of money unless you’re going to throw it on if someone breaks into your house. Concealed body armor is different. Worn correctly, it affords you a layer of protection that could save your life in scenarios that are much more frequent, and in some cases: likely.

Even during a SHTF scenario, wearing full outer body armor will absolutely draw attention to you. Not only is it an Indicator (read about OPSEC to find out why indicators are so bad) that will give away that you may have things someone wants such as food and weapons, you just attracted attention to yourself, making it more likely that you’d be targeted. Also, you need to watch your indicators before SHTF so you don’t have people knocking at your door later on or asking too many questions beforehand.

Look at it from the perspective of a bad guy, or group of bad guys (or gang of marauders etc). They would like nothing more than to grab some ammo, equipment and food from somebody that already has this stuff collected. To this end, they look for things that give them a hint that a guy they run across might just be that guy. A guy wearing body armor in a SHTF scenario is exactly that guy. Someone who buys body armor isn’t going to just have body armor, he’ll have other stuff they want. This is the same as if you’re running an operation in a semi-permissive environment, doing surveillance or working as a private investigator. If you’re seen wearing body armor, you’re gonna get noticed. If you conceal it, you won’t.

Now, keep in mind that if you’re wearing concealed body armor, just as a concealed weapon (even more so in some cases), if you’re concealed stuff gets noticed (called ‘printing’ if it’s seen through your clothing), people are gonna want to know not only why are you wearing body armor, but why are you hiding it. Sounds obvious, but it gets them thinking – more than you want them to. It would be nice if I had some of their IIIa protection to see how much difference there is in how well you can hide it but I don’t.

Enter the Stealth body armor system by SafeGuard.

SafeGuard Stealth concealed body armor review for preppersSo now let’s look at this SafeGuard concealed armor I have to let you know what I think about it and if it’s something you should consider as a part of your overall home protection plan. Their system can protect up to level IIIa. The more protection you get, the less concealable it is. I have a Level II system with stab protection because it gives fairly good protection but is easier to conceal than IIIa. I do have a IIa but I never wore it so it just sat next to my bed (where I still keep it now in case I hear a bump in the night).

If you’ve ever worn concealed body armor before, you know that some of the criticism I have of this system is endemic to most armor out there and not just the Stealth. Getting better protection usually makes it harder to conceal and armor that’s easier to conceal is usually less protection. Getting both makes it very expensive. At the time of writing, the cover (similar to a plate cover) is less than $100, and the Level II ballistic protection is $275 more. That’s hella cheap for a decent setup. Level I stab protection is about $100 more, making the kit about $475 at the time I wrote this. You can get more protection or less.

Getting the size is pretty simple, you just order it like a shirt. I ordered a Large and it fits pretty well. The sides should overlap but just barely. If you have a beer belly (luckily I lost 95% of mine in Afghanistan the past year), concealed body armor is very difficult to wear because it prints easier at the bottom due to how it lies on your belly, and it has a tendency to creep up higher on your chest. Due to this, it would be nice if the Stealth (and most systems out there) had a better way to hide the crease and keep it in place. This is could be done with the ability to tuck the front and back into your pants but this particular system doesn’t have that.

Just as when you wear a concealed weapon, you have to choose your clothing appropriately to keep from printing. You also have to be cognizant of certain body movements that will give your hidden protection away. I wear my 1911 in the small of my back so I always have to keep that in mind when I sit in a chair with a gap above the seat or when I bend over with people behind me. Same goes for armor. When you put it on, you probably want to wear a t-shirt over it and some kind of overshirt on top of that. You may also want to wear a t-shirt under it but unless it’s fairly cool out, you’ll get pretty hot with all that on. If you’re gonna wear concealed armor every day, I’d suggest you get an extra vest because they get pretty stinky if you don’t wash them fairly frequently.

The best way to do this is to stand in front of a mirror (hopefully full length with another mirror behind you) and move around different ways to see what movements cause your armor to be seen. You may have to change your shirts a few times to get it right. Different fabrics, cuts and patterns will affect this. Usually darker colors help. I like to wear a cotton undershirt, thicker t-shirt over the armor, and a button-down dark plaid with a multiple-sized pattern to break things up and hide the bottom edge of the armor from showing through the shirt. You’re not gonna be able to just thrown a t-shirt over this armor and call it good. You should also adjust the fit in a mirror so you can see that it’s the same on both sides and overlaps just right.

Just a point here, when you get a chance, you should look at how moving affects hiding weapons and armor at some point so you know the vulnerable movements and places on other people if you want to know if someone else is wearing something concealed. Even poorly concealed weapons and armor are usually missed by the general public but they can be easily picked out by people who know what to look for.

Because this armor rides higher on your back, you shouldn’t have any problem wearing a concealed weapon like you would with other armor. With the stuff in Afghanistan, I always had to switch to wearing my M9 on my chest or on a drop leg holster (BTW, you can switch easily between the two if you get the SERPA Quick Disconnect Kit (2 Female/1 Male) kit) but I have no problem with this Stealth and my Galco paddle holster in civvies.

After wearing this armor for several days, under different conditions and with different clothes, I’m pretty satisfied with it. It’s pretty comfortable as far as armor goes. It only has the two velcro side straps to hold it in (as most do) so it has a problem staying in place after sitting and standing a few times but that’s just something you have to live with. Having the perfect adjustment to it helps but it still moves.

If you have a beer belly, you’re going to be adjusting this quite a bit. Also, if you’re a well-endowed female (not that there’s anything wrong with well-endowed females), you might have trouble getting it adjusted correctly. Still, it’s better than offensive armor.

If you have enough working capital available, I’d consider looking into concealable armor. I definitely suggest that you get something like this before hard plate armor. So, do I recommend this particular armor for preppers? Due to the price and what you get for your money, yes. There may be better answers on the market that would be a little more concealable and stay in place better, but I haven’t seen anything like that yet close to this price, especially from a reputable dealer.

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About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.

Comments

  1. I think one of the main things to keep in mind here, is the difference between a “prepper” versus a “survivalist.” Generally speaking, preppers are a bit more defensive-oriented, and prepare for “hiccups” within our world. Whereas, survivalists are a bit more aggressive-minded, and seem to prepare for COMPLETE collapse and end-of-the-world scenarios.
    You article specifically mentions “preppers.” But, I think you may have inadvertently lumped preppers and survivalists into the same bucket? Your 4×4 truck and AK47 comments are an example. e.g. most “preppers” are a bit more toned-down, and probably drive AWD SUVs, and possible carry a 9mm or 380ACP. Maybe a 12ga, and one AR-type battle rifle. Whereas, you “survivalist” are the 4×4 Hummer-type guys (and gals,) with AKs and .308 rifles, and Colt 45s.
    I think most survivalists would indeed add body armor to their budget/inventory (somewhat no questions asked.)
    But, as you say — should a PREPPER venture into the realm of body armor?
    First, MOST collapsed societies revert to using easily concealable weapons (like handguns.) The main place you are going to experience AK-type gunfire, is truly in a battle zone. So, if you major concern is economic collapse or prepping for hurricanes and such, then you don’t have to worry yourself too much with 7.62mm ammo flying your way. Instead, people will conceal small arms in their belts and such — more as self defense, than offense. Don’t attack them, and you SHOULD be fine.
    That being said, it still makes “good sense” to protect yourself (and your family) from small arms fire, too! But, what is the best investment for the buck?
    Is PERSONALY body armor for your torso-only REALLY the best bang for your family’s buck?…
    I would instead start with some sort of “security film” for your home’s ground floor windows (especially sliding glass doorways,) or other large panes of glass. This will HELP protect you and your whole family from flying debris from storms, and some small arms fire. “No,” I wouldn’t classify this as “bulletproof.” It might reduce some of the terminal velocity of bullets, or help divert/change their trajectory, however? Most home invasions are NOT glass shot-out by bullets. Criminals/thieves don’t want to draw unwanted attention to themselves. They are more likely to kick-in the glass, or toss your yard furniture through the window/door to gain access. This is EXACTLY what these protective films help prevent/deter. Again, it’s NOT going to stop a persistent/dedicated entry. But, it SHOULD give you and your family enough time to retreat to a safer defensive location within your home, and arm yourselves, and prepare your response to the intruder/s.
    Best of all, these security films are “always on guard.” You don’t take them off when you go to sleep. They don’t protect ONLY you, or ONLY your spouse. They don’t protect ONLY your torso. We spend roughly 1/3 of our lives sleeping (in our homes.) We spend nearly half of our lives in our homes. Thus, your home is where your self-defense should start.
    If you still have $$$ remaining thereafter, then I’d (personally) start adding the same protective films to the windows and door skins of your vehicles. This will protect you, your family, your car, your valuables from smash & grab crimes. It should also reduce/eliminate flying glass/debris during an auto accident. It may also help reduce the terminal effects of random small arms fire?
    When TSHTF, and bullets start to fly, they are USUALLY poorly aimed, and usually in self-defense. (e.g. random spraying of bullets to scare someone, or threaten someone.) They usually aren’t well-aimed shots. Even if they ARE aiming, it’s generally pretty difficult to hit someone in a moving vehicle. Heck, it’s difficult to hit someone when they AREN’T moving!!!
    So, if you have the extra $$$ after installing/improving your home defenses, then I’d suggest beefing-up your vehicle defenses next. Remember, this stuff is “always on.” It’s not like you (and your whole family) need to remember to don your vests/jackets every day (especially in the warmer months.) Instead, this protective film is ALWAYS “on guard” for you.
    After that, if you STILL have $$$ to burn, then “yes,” buy some body armor. As mentioned in this article, something COMFORTABLE that you will actually WEAR on a regular basis, is more important than trying to stop a high-power .308 round. Besides, someone shooting a high-power 7.62mm round in your direction us either: 1.) Sniper-class, and probably going to take a head shot anyway; 2.) Shooting an AUTOMATIC weapon, and some of those bullets are going to be coming towards your head, too. So, the only thing you can REALLY hope to protect yourself against, is small arms fire.
    I would also suggest that you FIRST buy body armor for your spouse. The, for your kids. Lastly, for yourself. e.g. if you are the LAST person to get the body armor — are you still willing to dish-out all that $$$ for it?…
    MOST people who indeed own ANY type of body armor, usually never wear it. Heck, even many cops get tired of wearing body armor, and stop wearing it!!! Most first-responders like firemen and ambulance crews venture into harm’s way daily. Yet, they don’t see the “value” in wearing body armor daily (or at all.)
    For most of us, body armor is COMPLETE over-prepping!!! Most of us could find better ways/places/products to spend our extra $$$ upon. But, if money grows on trees in your home, then SUIT UP!!!
    Peace.

    • graywolfsurvival says:

      Good points J H. Thanks for the comments. I think the difference between a prepper and a survivalist is purely semantic, with a survivalist just being on the outer fringe of preparedness, although the terms are blending more and more these days.

    • micolinolopez says:

      What?! Regardless of prep/survivalist status and “film defense”, there is ALWAYS a chance of home invasion, esp. if a natural disaster hits and leaves u exposed. The point is, u never know. And if you don’t have proper supplies to stave off intrudersin the open or hell, even if you do, there is the possibility THEY DO TOO! And also, not every person in your household is willing to hold and operate a firearm/weapons. The least they can do is wear a piece of equip. to keep them a little bit safer, in my mind…

      • Sandy Patterson says:

        If people have what they need to get by in a disaster situation they probably won’t be actively foraging or looting. Well fed animals typically only fight in defense. If they don’t have what they need, and they do have offensive capability, a sign on the door that says “I am inside with a loaded shotgun and no food” will be more valuable than body armor. If you must have armor for worst case scenario I wouldn’t spend a lot on it. Think about buying a couple AR500 steel chest plates and a cheap vest to hold them. They’re not light, but they take multiple rifle hits and won’t break if you drop ’em. Bonus: you can take them out and tuck them into your backpack if you feel that “crawly feeling” on your spine.

  2. The national institute of justice is the agency in charge of regulating body armor. NIJ IIIA is what you want in most cases. It will defeat .44magnum and smaller handgun rounds as well as 12 gauge shotgun rounds and smaller. a 10×13 panel costs only about $100 at http://www.blackdragontactical.com stay safe.

    • graywolfsurvival says:

      That kind of stuff is a lot more difficult to conceal though. Not too bad in the wintertime but if you live in a warm climate or it’s summertime, it’s not usually practical, and you’ll just leave it sit at home.

  3. Well I am a blend between survivalist and prepper….. but I say if its better to have the hard armour in my area. We have a lot of t people with AK-47s , SKS etc. better to have and not need then to need and not have. Just like my opinion. Thanks for your Blog…..I really like it .

  4. SurvivorDads says:

    Scott,

    I understand your philosophy, be also think the only reason I’d ever be wearing body armor (outside combat) is in a SHTF situation where my home was being attacked. I too have worn both concealed and plate body armor in combat and if I was in a situation where armed looters were trying to take my property, I want a full ESAPI rig.

    For the 4×4 comments, I’d add that you need to blend in to your environment and become low vis. If you live in an area of the country that gets heavy snow falls and everyone drives 4×4 trucks and SUV’s, then this may be the solution to blend in with everyone else. However, if you currently live in suburbia, an AWD SUV may be the best vehicle.

    In my line of work, we are taught to blend in and become the “grey man”. Look as unassuming as possible so people underestimate you and what you are doing. I think the same principals apply to prepping and survival.

    It goes back to the old Silent Professional joke – “How do you know who the Navy SEAL is in the bar?” “Because he’s the one bragging and will tell you he is!”

    Great post and insights, thanks!

    Lance

  5. Nice. Don’t know crap about safeguard but everything you said before that was dead on. Will check the company out because of this article. My old point blank is starting to show its age and all I do any more is street work so this might be a good replacement. Thanx

  6. I don’t think it’s necessary, as so many so-called experts like yourself do, to constantly cut down others opinions. Your experiences are well noted, but unfortunately, are not related to any kind of a doomsday scenario. The truth of the matter, is absolutely no one, including you, have a clue what kind of a threat, if any, we would encounter in any kind of a SHTF scenario. Most probably, it will be nothing even close to what we think it will be, and to try to plan for something that is a complete question mark is simply impossible to do. So I say just have everything and be done with it. Full out body armor, complete upper vest with soft armor 3A, combined with rifle Plates, is very cheap nowadays. $500 bucks will get you completely surrounded. It’s a very cheap investment. And I would rather have it then not, as I would a 4 x 4, than not… An armored you say? I could only be so lucky 🙂 all I’m saying, is it would be refreshing just for once, to read something from self-proclaimed experts, that does not start off by telling us how all the OTHER people are idiots…

  7. Definitely a concealable rig is of more utility and value for everyday living. Level II would be adequate for most criminal threats, but there is a % that may have a .44, 10mm etc (I carry a 10mm Glock myself).

    For the plate rigs, the SHTF scenarios are not all that likely, but being in or near a riot zone is a possibility. Myself I already lived thru the 1992 riots in LA. Just in the last few years we’ve had a slew of riots instigated by certain factions of society. That type of loot/rape/burn fest can crop up anywhere there is a population of people prone to doing it (without naming names here).

    When the LA riots were going on, the mobs were diverted from some streets by armed men, just a handful, lounging on the corner lots saying “you ain’t from here don’t come here”. Now, while I had to get to work thru the chaos, I lived in Orange County where things were quieter, but if that was me and a couple others staring down 100 rioters, I wouldn’t want just a rifle, but some hard armor in case someone in that that mob did take a shot. In that situation where you are defending your home, you probably have time to put that stuff on before the riot spreads to your street unless it started there.

    So if you are near an urban area, heavy armor wouldn’t be such a waste. Highest probability is though, you’ll never use it.

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