New Gear: Safariland Hardwire 49 Body Armor

Safariland Hardwire Armor

When it comes to body armor, two features always seem to be at odds: protection and weight. In general, the higher degree of protection, the greater the weight of the armor. Safariland announced a new line of soft body armor that the company claims provides the thinnest and lightest NIJ Level II protection available.

Called the Hardwire 49, or just Hardwire, the new panels weigh only 0.49 pounds per square foot. This is substantially less than the most comfortable soft armor I could purchase when I started my law enforcement career in the 90’s.

The Hardwire panels are made with Dyneema – a synthetic fiber – that is tightly woven and pressed under some 25,000,000 pounds of force at a specific temperature. This process is said to create a panel that more efficiently disperses a bullet’s energy thereby reducing the bullet’s penetrating ability. Since the bullet is not able to penetrate as deeply into the material, fewer layers are needed resulting in a thinner and lighter body armor panel.

Safariland has not announced any pricing information or when these ballistic vests might be available for purchase.

This line complements the company’s earlier release of the Hardwire 68, which is said to be the lightest Level IIIA body armor available at just 0.68 pounds per square foot.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is


  • Darryl

    The blunt force trauma must increase as the weight and thickness go down. At some point they’re too light and thin.

    • The NIJ .06 standard accounts for this by measuring back face deformation. If the fibers can disperse the energy quickly enough and over a wide enough area, the deformation is kept to a minimum. The more efficient the fibers are, the less the manufacturer has to rely on thickness to (1) stop the bullet and (2) reduce injury.

      • BlueMarlin Blues

        *drops mic*

        • Doctor Jelly

          *plugs ears due to feedback from dropped mic*

  • Frank Grimes

    I would like to see some tests with multiple rounds being fired with muzzle contact.

    • iksnilol

      I don’t think soft armor in general rpoteccts well against contact shots.

      • Frank Grimes

        Woven Kevlar generally does well.

        The thinner laminates do not. Stuff like Goldflex and Spectra Shield can actually melt from muzzle contact and the bullet can sail through uninhibited.

  • Curious to see how this compares to the Point Blank Alpha Elite, which is currently the “state of the art” for lightweight IIIA; won the FBI contract a few years ago.

  • Opus 0321

    There’s already a company called Hardwire that makes hard body armor plates made from Dyneema. They are all level III + and weigh between 4.25 lbs to 2.8 lbs. per plate. Botach Tactical is the only place I’ve seen sell them. Wonder if there’s a connection ?

    • Good question. Love the avatar BTW. Long time Deathtöngue fan here.

      • ozzallos .


        • Opus 0321

          Well said!!

  • Uniform223

    I swear if someone mentions dragon skin I’m going slap my forehead…

  • Black Mamba

    You forgot the third feature that is at odds with the other two: price.