VIDEO: Is BulletSafe’s new bulletproof vest really bulletproof?

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Is a new line of inexpensive body armor, which is distributed by a firm best known for selling sex toys, truly bulletproof?

by Lee Williams

At only $299, BulletSafe.com is making Level IIIA flexible body armor affordable to the general public  – at least that’s their claim.

Level IIIA is the thickest flexible – Kevlar – body armor available. It’s rated to stop most handgun rounds, buckshot, shotgun slugs and some low-velocity frag. To increase protection, to stop rifle rounds, the user has to add ballistic plates made out of ceramic and metal, which BulletSafe also sells for $149.

Level IIIA body armor usually retails for a lot more, around $1,000 more, so  I was intrigued when contacted by the distributor.

BulletSafe.com sells Level IIIA body armor for $299. Photo courtesy BulletSafe.com

BulletSafe.com sells Level IIIA body armor for $299. Photo courtesy BulletSafe.com

“The vest has NIJ certification and we have a $1 million product liability policy on it as well,” Tom Nardone, President of PriveCo, wrote in an email. “We launched it yesterday.”

PriveCo is not known for marketing body armor. In fact, until they introduced the BulletSafe vests, the firm was best known for marketing sex toys, including the 2013 “Vibrator of the Year.”

Nardone was seeking a product evaluation of his new vest. I balked. Body armor is not something you can recommend without a proper T&E.

He had a simple proposal: “Would you like me to send you one? I’ll let you shoot it if you promise to send it back to me after it has been shot.”

Deal.

The vest arrived at the newsroom a week or so later, in an unmarked plastic shipping bag.

With a quality tactical black carrier, it looked good. The carrier featured pockets in on the front and rear panels for ballistic plates.

They’re sized a bit small. The 2XL vest they sent was snug. It fit some of my XL colleagues comfortably. I’d recommend ordering a size larger than you normally wear if you decide to purchase one.

This is a bare-bones vest. I would have liked to see some mag pockets or Molle attachment points, but at $299 it’s still a good deal.

Mike Lang, the H-T’s director of photography, and I took the vest to the Manatee Gun and Archery Club last week. Club president Gene Pitts could not have been more accommodating, letting us use a private range usually reserved for Cowboy Action shooters.

I brought a small arsenal to test the vest: .38 +P, 9mm FMJ, 9mm Makarov FMJ and JHP, .45  ACP JHP, .30 Carbine FMJ, 12 gauge mil-spec 00 Buck, and a ringer – hot, surplus Yugo 7.62x25mm rounds. I’d always heard rumors that the 7.62x25mm round was capable of defeating flexible body armor.

I fired two rounds per weapon. All handguns were fired from five yards – combat distance. We backed up a bit for the buckshot and carbine.

The results? The vest stopped everything except the 7.62x25mm rounds. They passed through the front panel but were stopped by the back panel, which would be somewhat disconcerting if the user was actually positioned between the panels.

The Kevlar panels swelled, as they designed to do, in order to reduce the blunt trauma from the gunshots.  Per the agreement with Nardone, I did not cut open the ballistic panels to determine how many layers of Kevlar each round defeated. That’s what he plans to do.

To sum: as advertised, BulletSafe has made flexible Level IIIA body armor affordable for the general public – very affordable – despite the two ComBloc rounds that penetrated the front panel.

Unless the bad guys have a Tokarev or a PPSh-41, BulletSafe’s new vest should provide more than enough ballistic protection for security officers, contractors or armed citizens concerned about their safety.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: VIDEO: Is BulletSafe's new bulletproof vest really bulletproof? | The Gun Feed

  2. Pingback: Level IIIA body armor - $300

  3. Pingback: VIDEO: 500 S&W Magnum vs. $300 body armor - The Gun Writer

  4. did are you sure it was the tokarev rounds that penetrated and not the .30 carbine?
    also were you using steel jacketed surplus rounds or commercial?

  5. Dear BulletSafe,
    I watched your video. As a Vietnam veteran, drafted in 1965-66 we had no body armor. I talk to my wife last night with the concerns of who sits in the Whitehouse doing nothing as you may know, about our safety- constitutional rights I gave my life for. We are both retired, but I got you saved on my computer, and going to give you folks some serious thought.
    Sincerely, Gary

  6. Penetration through the material is not the issue – you can be killed by a projectile that creates a depression in the vest (and therefore compresses, shocks, and often ruptures your internal organs and breaks your bones).

    Your test was basically worthless. The rating (IIIA) is what means something. If you had put say, a watermelon, inside the vest and shot it to see if the watermelon was crushed or cracked, that may have told us something. IDK if a watermelon equates to ribs and organs, but the point is that projectiles passing through the vest are not required for the wearer to be mortally wounded.

  7. you have to admit this was a pretty bad test… If you have people guessing in the comments on what made it through then you didn’t do your part very well. The vest should have been taken down and examined after each new caliber was fired. On top of that you look at the back of the vest during most checks and obviously your not worried about 2 layer penetration.

  8. If they asked you not to open it up there might have been a reason, perhaps what they sent you wasn’t the same vest they sell to the public, perhaps the insides was ‘beefed up’ with something? Asking you not to open it up makes me think all this, makes me think what they sent you wasn’t the same they are selling.

  9. So would you recommend this vest to a person who is out in the streets putting their life on the line? Do you think this a wise bargain a level IIIA vest for the price of $299.00? Because if so Ill take your word for it.

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