The modern equivalent of a suit of armor

axe

In his latest video Robert Kaiser, CEO of the PPSS Group, lets one of his staff hit him in the chest with an axe, ice pick and police baton while he wears the company’s new PPSS Cell Extraction Vest. 

This video got me thinking, how would modern anti-stabbing protection compare with chain mail or full plate armor from the late middle ages? It would be significantly lighter, but would it offer the same, better or worse protection against lances, polearms and other medieval weaponry?

Full plate armour for man and horse owned by Sigismund II Augustus (r. 1548–1569)

Full plate armour for man and horse owned by Sigismund II Augustus (r. 1548–1569)

The full press release …

PPSS Group claims to have now developed the world’s toughest Extraction Vest, aiming to effectively protect corrections Cell officers tasked with responding to riots, cell extractions, mass searches or major disturbances.

Robert Kaiser, CEO of PPSS Group states: “PPSS Cell Extraction Vests are designed to offer the highest level of protection to those officers engaging with some of the most hostile, brutal and vicious human beings on this planet”

This latest high performance body armor is designed using rigid body moulded panels of a highly secretive material, tested in accordance to the stringent NIJ 0115.00 Level III (stab + spike) standard, the highest possible stab resistance level.

“The highlight is the exceptional level of blunt force trauma, in case the officer is assaulted by a kick or punch, or by an attacker striking with any item, such as fire extinguisher, chair, table, bricks, gym weight or snooker balls etc.” Robert Kaiser continues.

“PPSS Cell Extraction Vests offer the maximum level of protection around the entire upper body, extended neck area, shoulders and groin also offering the highest level of manoeuvrability”.

This year’s ACA Conference will see the global launch of this new ground-breaking body armour at the Salt Lake City Convention Centre on the 16th August 2014.  Please visit us at booth #424

For further information please view www.ppss-group.com email info@ppss-group.com or call the UK based HQ on +44 (0) 845 5193 953

You can reach their new U.S. registered legal entity PPSS North America Inc. by visiting www.ppss-northamerica.com emailing info@ppss-northamerica.com or calling 800-928-4802.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Patrick Karmel Shamsuddoha

    where are myth busters when you need them!! Medieval vs Modern armor !!

    • valorius

      They’ve done some testing to that extent on the show.

  • Patrick Karmel Shamsuddoha

    PS. you should Edit the link to be an active hyperlink or embed the video.

  • Mike N.

    Plate armor does a good job of protecting from swords (unless you get a luck shot through a joint or whatnot). That’s what maces and similar weapons are for.

  • JeffAStevens

    Lance pretty much requires rigid, angled armor. Nothing flexible we have today can stand up to that kind of penetrating power, but with an angle like they had back then, you’d survive.

    • Lysenko

      Most of these combo bullet+blade resistant vests have a rigid component. I’d be very curious to see how they did against not just lances (which, yeah, would almost certainly defeat the -hell- out of any non-angled armor if driven in with the mass and speed of a charging horse) but even various types of long shaft weapons (halberd, spear, pike, etc), and whether they could still offer any sort of ballistic protection afterward.

      • valorius

        Almost all if not all safariland vests come standard with full stab protection, and it is very effective.

        • Lysenko

          Define “Full stab protection”? The only one I’ve found from Safariland group that’s cert-ed for Ballistic and some sort of stab threat is the Second Chance PRISM MT vest, and it’s rated for Spike only which specifies a narrower but softer construction than the Edged Blade cert. I’m still looking, but I don’t see anything that fits Edged Blade + Spike + Ballistic either on the Safariland Group website or the NIJ list of cert-ed products: http://www.nij.gov/topics/technology/body-armor/Pages/compliant-stab-armor.aspx

          A lot of soft vest ad copy talks about “stab protection”, but when you dig into the tech specs it’s around 10J, which is lower than the minimums set for the NIJ standard.

          To be fair, at the moment my curiousity is mostly academic, since the last body armor I was wearing on the job was IBA back in 2003-04, and if and when I acquire a set for personal use ballistic threats will be the primary concern.

          • valorius

            Ive tested my safarilamd vs numerous piercing and edged threats.

            It is well and truly stabproof….and not rigid.

          • Lysenko

            That was going to be my next question, how you tested it. What model is it?

          • valorius

            I think i have all the videos still posted on youtube. Ill have to check.

          • Which Safariland would that be? I’ve never seen soft body armor I could punch through with a blade.

          • valorius

            It is a 1994 model Safariland. It no longer has the tag on it due to some extensive torture testing i did on it. It survived several dozen hits from calibers ranging from 5.7mm ss197 all the way up to 3″ mag barnes solid copper sabot slugs.

            I can stab through my us armor IIIA vest with my m7 bayonet with ease. The safariland stopped the m7 repeatedly.

          • Huh I’ve never seen that model Safariland before. The quilted padding is something I’ve ever seen in a vest. How heavy is it?

          • valorius

            Its about the same weight as a typical IIIA. The padding also catches bullets that defeat the kevlar, as i discovered when i found two buffalo bore 9mm 115gr+p+ Montana gold rounds that had defeated the 25 layers of kevlar ensnared and heavily tangled in the padding.

            After all the tests i took the panel apart, you know, in case of alien/zombie/commie attack.

          • valorius

            Take a vest, grab a bunch of stabbing weapons, and test it for yourself. That’s what i did.

  • Valintino Pak

    It would make great amor for riot responses by LEO or to contain a mob of people. I however, don’t see much of a use beyond that.

    • valorius

      As a former infantryman, i see a use.

      Bayonet charges might be rare, but they still happen.

  • Even a modern suit of plate armor in the medieval style would be more effective than a historical example, due to the better steel involved.

    However, don’t let that give you the impression that the medievals were crude in protecting their warriors – just the opposite, late medieval suits of armor are so sophisticated that NASA has studied them to get a better idea of how to make hard space suits – we just have better metallurgy now.

    • Mark N.

      In fact, the term “bullet proof” was coined to describe armor that had been “proofed” (tested) against musket balls of the day, and such armor would bear a small dent over the heart.

    • Thiago Kurovski

      Lesson: Never underestimate centuries of experience and practical knowledge.

  • Yojimbo556

    why does the guy standing next to him with the hatchet remind me of Tyrion Lannister?

  • Matrix3692

    i wonder, if i make a suit of medieval style armor, but using XSAPI-style plates to replace the metal plates……

  • Mark N.

    We can eliminate mail from the discussion immediately–it is not designed for, and is a very poor defense to, blunt force trauma. With a quilted jacket underneath, they were proof against arrows and penetrating sword strikes or stabbing. Eventually, in order to defeat this armor, swords of the late 14th and into the 15th centuries sported very narrow, stiff points that could break links and cause penetrating wounds. (Such swords are the ancestors of the epee and rapier). In response to this development in arms, plate armor was developed. This armor was so effective that often knights were slain either with blunt force trauma to the skull or penetrating wounds with a hand spike (a truly nasty weapon). The alternative was to get the knight to the ground and remove his head gear in order to inflict a coups de grace.

    • valorius

      The misericord dagger was also developed for dispatching downed armored knights.

    • The hand spike would probably be classed as the most effective weapon of the time.

  • whodywei

    Have they tried it with pollaxe or war hammer ??

    • El Duderino

      Right after the bardiche, falchion, halberd, and morningstar.

      • Matrix3692

        maybe add a 48kg Guandao to the test……

  • 1911a145acp

    What language is he speaking?

  • smartacus

    I wanna buy me a midget. Teach him tricks.

  • curious steve

    here is a stupid Indiegogo proposing something akin to a modern suit of plate

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/to-make-and-sell-fullplate-made-of-ceramic/x/8218576

  • sianmink

    Well, historical armor was pretty much proof against everything save high power projectiles, a lance from horseback, etc, in that you otherwise had to get around it or attack the weak points. No difference here, except pretty much everything but the torso is exposed and a valid target.

  • valorius

    I have a safariland IIIA with stab protection, circa 1994.

    I stopped the following melee weapons in multiple full power attacks:

    Double edged spear, thrown and thrusted.
    Cold steel katana, two hamded leaping thrust.
    Several types of knives and daggers, thrown and thrusted.
    The most impressive, a US army m7 bayonet. I have tested the m7 bayonet vs many vests, and it will penetrate any vest I’ve tried it against, without IIiA stab protection.

    Where modern soft body armor really struggles is against steel bodkin tipped “war” arrows and bolts. It fails spectacularly against those. (Several videos are posted online)

    Level III and IV plate armor will also stop bodkin arrows and bolts.

    A modern suit of level IV ceramic full plate armor would make a soldier nearly invincible to all forms of modern small arms fire and melee attacks.

    US SOCOM is workmg on exactly such a suit, it is called the TALOS.

  • As anti-stabbingslashing, the plate armor is very advanced – I mean, it gives a very high rating in these categories for a very low weight – like 40 pound for total, comfortably articulated, well distributed full-body armor, compared to 30 pounds for a common, not super-high-tech military chest+groin+neck vest ) Just throwing it out there, don’t take it too seriously =) But that plate armor was ultra-high-tech back then.

  • Jamie Clemons

    Crossbow bolt?