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 or SafeGuard CLOTHING 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?
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.
So 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. If I would have gotten IIIa protection, I wouldn’t have worn it in a lot of cases so it would have just sat next to my bed (where I now keep it 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. 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 holster but I have no problem with this Stealth and my Galco paddle holster.
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.