Myths, Marketing, and misrepresentation

A while back, I was contacted by a representative from Premier Body Armor to do some testing on their Durus 8000 level III steel body armor plate. Of course, I’m down to shoot up anything, so naturally I agreed. He had lots of salesey stuff to say about his plate and clearly thought very highly of it. The representative mentioned several times about how it was made from this wicked awesome special steel that no one else was using. He also went on about how it was a curved plate and no one else was making curved level III steel plates. Actually, a lot of companies make curved level III steel plates and even curved III+ plates, but I chalked that up to typical sales guy stuff. I noticed that their website claimed that the plate could stop M193 and that the plate was only 0.196″ thick. That really caught my attention so I was excited to see if it could live up to the claim.

As you can see, it wasn’t even close. Now, this is rather troubling because they claimed that the Durus 8000 could stop M193. Since that video was published, they have now changed their website to include a 3,100 fps velocity rating for M193, but they originally gave no clarification about that.  Their site simply said that the plate could stop M193 with no indication of velocity, barrel length, or distance.  Given that 16″ AR-15s are probably the most common fighting rifle in America and that 20 feet is a pretty generous distance for home defense, I figured that combination would be a fair test. As it turns out, it can’t stop that combination.

To be fair, it is possible that this plate could stop M193 from a shorter barrel or at a greater distance.  I should also note that the sales representative advised that they have improved their plate with a few more coats of Paxcon. I have one of these improved plates and I will test it but I don’t expect that it will make any substantive difference. What’s more, there seems to be no way of determining whether they intend to sell only this “improved” model or just keep selling the old one. There is no indication of a change on their site and they don’t seem to have made any attempt to notify customers who have already bought plates.

You can probably imagine that the representative was rather unhappy with the video. For the record, before I published the video, I urged him to change the website to reflect what the plate was really capable of but he refused. I’m not out to unfairly make someone look bad, but if you sell personal protective equipment, I believe that you have a responsibility to be totally forthright about the capabilities of the equipment. Now, you may write this off as being unimportant because only crazy survivalist types buy personal armor and, let’s be honest, they aren’t likely to actually need it. I’d argue that it’s still unethical to sell them something that doesn’t do what you claim, but you’ll also note that they market their product to law enforcement as well. While the armor is no different, LEOs do get a significant discount off the civilian price.

The label on the body side of the Durus 8000

The label on the body side of the Durus 8000

Now, to be fair, the Durus 8000 plate is lighter than many level III plates and it isn’t as though it is made of tissue paper. It is actual armor and it is listed by the NIJ as compliant with 0101.06 level III standards. The fragmentation coating isn’t nearly as effective as on other plates, but it does contain some fragments and less coating means lighter weight. The price is frankly ridiculous for what it is and that may explain why they wanted to leave the impression that it could stop M193. For comparison, the law enforcement pricing on the Durus 8000 10″x12″ level III plate is $150. Other companies sell similar plates but with coating that can soak up much more fragments for $90. Oh, and that 0.196″ thickness? Yeah, that is the thickness of the steel plate itself, without the coating. The finished plate measured more than double what they claimed at 0.476″.

Please don’t take this to mean that all steel armor is garbage. It has its place and offers some features that other types of armor don’t. For example, steel armor tends to be a bit more durable than composite plates and it produces virtually no back face deformation when hit. And there are plenty of steel plates that will stop M193, or virtually any 5.56mm ammo for that matter. This is simply one company selling a product that doesn’t live up to claims.

But this is a good example of why you should be skeptical of manufacturer claims and look very closely at independent testing seen on YouTube. This “testing” is often actually a paid advertisement. That is, many YouTube gun channels are paid by manufacturers to test and review products. It’s very important to do a good bit of research before any purchase.





Andrew

Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel. He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona.


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  • RSG

    Not cool. Could get a person killed. Not cool at all. Now they can’t be trusted.

  • Jim Slade

    That guy missed his calling to sell undercoating at a car dealership. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/926a10e5ed1c42a7b3f21c70ca011eec695fc13812aec845412882c3b639bc42.gif

    • Chop Block

      Lol.

    • Dougscamo

      “You are a liar, Mr. Lundegaard!….”
      How apropos in both situations….

    • Stu

      “You know, that put that coating on at the factory….”

    • n0truscotsman

      He would fit in quite well over at Fire Clean

    • Michael R. Zupcak

      Yeah, but that True Coat, I’m sayin, you don’t get that you get oxidation problems!

  • Brett baker

    Know what I ain’t buying.

  • Bert

    “Please don’t take this to mean that all steel armor is garbage.”
    All steel armor is garbage.

    • Chop Block

      That is flatly incorrect.

      • Bert

        With steel you get the following:
        more weight
        sketchy effectiveness
        spalling
        the necessity, if you like your face and hands, to wear soft armor on the front AND back of the plate, adding to the weight
        ~~~~
        With ceramic, the standard of the industry you get:
        less weight
        reliably effective
        no spalling
        ~~~~
        Steel is garbage. Take your money and buy plates later that will actually stop a threat, won’t kill you in turn, and don’t weigh as much as a water buffalo’s ass.

        • Chop Block

          Again, you are incorrect. Level III+ curved, coated plates from manufacturers like CATI and Spartan (among many others) stop M193 and other high velocity threats and they absorb and contain fragments from dozens of rounds. While it is true that steel level III plates are generally heavier than composite level III plates, the latter are several times as expensive and are often ICW. Level III steel plates​weigh about the same as level IV composite plates. But steel plates have effectively zero back face deformation.

          It’s rather simplistic to say any one thing is categorically garbage.

          • Flounder

            What is level III+? you say it is better, you also say it is not an actually thing… So are you falling into their marketing scheme and repeating things?

          • Ebby123

            3+ designates armor that does not meet NIJ LVL-IV standards, but significantly exceeds NIJ LVL-III standards. Not that complicated, and it is explained in detail on the manufacturers website.

            No, its not a NIJ standard, but it is a pretty clear concept.

          • Flounder

            But it isn’t verified or independently tested….? So you are taking someone at their word? and then probably paying a premium for it?

            I want to look into it. Can you mention some manufacturers using this III+ rating?

          • Ebby123

            IMO, its hardly a premium so I don’t worry about it. They’re almost the same price as LVL-III plates.

            Yeah, you have a point – its their word, but they back it up with test videos at AR500.com, and do a good job of being transparent about what that means.

          • Kelly Jackson

            AR500 sells plates that are III+, I paid $90 for one.
            It stopped .223 and it stopped .308, it did not stop a 7.62x54R from a Mosin but it wasn’t rated to either.

          • Chop Block

            What kind of 7.62x54mm was it? I’m very surprised.

          • Chop Block

            What kind of 7.62x54mm was it? I’m very surprised.

          • Kelly Jackson

            Prvi, some Serbian stuff, the box lists it as a bit above 2,800fps so it’s quite a bit faster than the 2,500fps of typical 7.62x54mm ammo.

          • Chop Block

            That’s remarkable. Level III is required to stop 7.62x51mm 147gr at 2,780 fps. Essentially M80 FMJ. Had the plate already been compromised? What was the date on it? They recently had a recall.

          • Chop Block

            Good question Flounder. I’m trying to save space by speaking generally. III+ is not defined in NIJ 0101.06. It is simply an industry term to indicate that armor exceeds level III standards. Many manufacturers make III+ plates that stop M193 from a 20″ barrel.

          • Bert

            So an equally effective steel plate to a LIII+ composite plate (like Tencate Hybrid plates) weighs as much as LIV plates, which in and of themselves are probably pointless (In what threat environment is .30AP the sole threat vector?)
            `
            Forgive me, you mentioned back face deformation, but I cannot tell if that included spalling. If so, you are right, they aren’t COMPLETE garbage, but there is no reason to carry plates of higher weight when there are composites that stop the same threats that are not much more expensive.
            `
            I also don’t put much stock in wunder-coatings, especially when manufacturers say things like they did in this article, a few more coats and it’ll work, guys!

          • Tom Currie

            Errr, Bert, you missed one other point in the steel vs ceramic dialogue. Steel plates really are multi-hit capable, whereas ceramic plates are effectively destroyed when they stop a round. Yes, yes, yes, I know, all the companies selling ceramic plates point out that their plates will withstand some number of hits and back that up with videos showing carefully placed shots in the four corners of the plate and one in the middle. And, yes, yes, yes, I know that for a civilian being shot by another civilian with a semiauto rifle, the chances of taking two hits close together are small. On the other hand, do you really want to rely on armor with what is effectively a 2″ (or larger) diameter hole in it while counting on the next hit to be far enough away to be safe. There is a good reason why the military and law enforcement agencies buy ceramic armor using OPM (other people’s money) and replace the armor if it takes a single hit.

          • Chop Block

            Actually, I shot a Highcom 4SAS7 with three shots of M855 exactly on top of each other and it stopped them all.

          • Anomanom

            I have to agree with chop block here. Good steel plates with a proper coating can withstand an impressive amount of fire without spalling.

            But i think the real takeaway here is that you should do your research before you buy, and buy your armour from a reputable manufacturer. The same way you would if you were buying a weapon or an automobile.

        • Ebby123

          There’s nothing sketchy about steel armor – only this particular manufacturer of it.
          Ceramic armor costs 6 times what steel armor does. You comparison is wholly invalid, and only weigh marginally less.

          What this really is about, is ELITISM. You spent a lot of hard-earned money on ceramic plates, and now you’re getting green watching a lot of people get the same amount of satisfaction with their steel plates as you did with you ceramics.

          • Flounder

            Don’t forget the privilege of replacing those fancy ceramic plates after the first round no matter if it was defeated or not the plates will probably crack and crumble as you move.

            Idk about 6x as expensive as steel, but i have never seen ceramic plates go for less than 3x the cost of steel plates from the same manufacturer. 4x and 5x seemed to be the average at the places I was looking at when looking into plates.

            I never ended up buying any though.

          • Chop Block

            Composite plates are nowhere near as fragile as is commonly believed. They’ll take a real beating.

          • Flounder

            Sorry, I meant only when you get shot that plate needs replacing. If you keep going i would expect them to slowly crumble. Your carrier would keep it together somewhat… But at the same time I would replace that plate as soon as a could.

            You can damage them if you are running around enough… But idk why a parkour pro would need plates…? Are they parkouring through a BLM “protest”?

          • iksnilol

            Some of us are quick on our feet. World is 3 dimensional, stop moving in 2 dimensions.

            And I’d prefer a plate that I can keep using after it has already got shot once before. Again, who gets shot only once?

          • Tom Currie

            They will take a real beating — so long as that beating doesn’t include being hit by a bullet

          • Tom Currie

            Mostly it’s about who is paying for the armor. The vast majority of top quality, Level III-IV ceramic armor is bought using Other People’s Money (generally the tax payer’s money). The handful of people who have enough of their own money to buy it, are the same people who will never be in a position to need it (unless they live in cartel country).

        • USMC03Vet

          Ceramic plates have their own downsides as well one of which is cost. Do civilians really need to pay twice as much or more for them over comparable steel? Nope.

          • iksnilol

            And then pay even more to replace it on the off chance you actually use it.

        • iksnilol

          If you want low weight and resistance against spalling, get UHWMPE

          It’s even lighter than ceramic, and not more expensive.

      • BillC

        No, for the most part, he’s right.

    • Ebby123

      Wrong.

      Steel Armor is:
      -Very Affordable
      -Very effective at stopping common pistol, rifle, and shotgun rounds
      -Not as light as some other systems.

      • iksnilol

        You forgot better multi-hit capabilites.

    • Flounder

      Steel is very affordable when compared to ceramic and has a greater ability to resist more bullets.

      The problem with steel armor is because it is so cheap and easy to work with everyone makes it, and that includes the hooligans and the unscrupulous. And bubba in his basement. Meaning some steel actually SUCKS. And some will give you 99% of ceramic.

      I never considered the weight. Everytime I looked it was within a pound or two from the same manufacturer. Maybe I was mistaken and will look at weight more.

      Ceramic looses it’s rating after the first shot Per NIJ spec. Steel armor i am not sure about but it certainly has a greater ability to defend against many many rounds. But it does usually have a lower rating.

      • lucusloc

        Steel retains the rating for every spot not directly hit. Ceramic only retains the rating well away from the impact point. This is because steel absorbs energy by elastic deformation, leaving all but the impact site unharmed. Ceramic absorbs energy by fracturing, meaning the impact site and a large surrounding area are compromised after the initial hit.

        • pun&gun

          In an era where you’re much more likely to be hit by a burst from a .308 MG or 5.56 select-fire, I’d think the ability to resist several rapid but weaker rounds would outweigh the ability to stop a single 30-06.

          • lucusloc

            Hit probability becomes a factor when you consider FA fire, as anything more than a close range burst is unlikely to land more than a hit or two. But yes, this is one of the trade-offs.

            The flip side of the coin is that that steel plate will be less capable of resisting a single precise shot from a sniper type weapon, and is also a bit heavier. Sniper type fire is just as likely, if not significantly more likely, than short range FA fire.

            When considering all factors (weight, likelihood of a single powerful shot vs. likelihood of a short range FA burst, etc.) ceramic is actually very attractive, and would be my preferred choice if it was more affordable.

          • pun&gun

            Snipers would be more likely to have something even composite plates wouldn’t stop. .338 LM, .300 WM, or something similar. IV plates are only rated to 30-06 AP rounds, IIRC.

          • lucusloc

            Depends on where they are from. 7.62x54r is very common around the world, and is pretty damn close to 30-06. Even here in the U.S. I know many people for whom the 30-06/7.62x54r is their strongest round. For this reason I would take ceramic over steel if I could.

          • Chop Block

            Level III steel plates​should normally stop 7.62x54mm.

          • lucusloc

            Non-AP yes. We were discussing AP 7.62x54r, which would require level IV plate, almost all of which are ceramic. Yes. you can find IV steel plate if you look hard enough, but they are heavy. You only really find steel plate rated up to Level III.

          • Chop Block

            Good point. I’d like to note that other .30 cal AP ammo isn’t usually as M2AP. I’ve seen and conducted several tests with various flavors of 7.62x51mm AP that were stopped by level III+ plates. I’ll have to see if I can get hold of some 7.62x54mm AP ammo.

          • lucusloc

            Yeah, “AP” is significantly less rigorously defined than the NIJ armor standards. Many “AP” rounds are simply bullets with a mild steel core, which hardened steel should easily stop. It’s the harder AP ammo like hardened steel, carbide and tungsten that you will need ceramic for. Those round are not all that common, but they are common enough to be a true threat.

            Also when I talk about “sniper” roles, I am not strictly talking about engagement from range. In urban environments a “sniper” like engagement could happen from sub hundred ward ranges. In those case having the ability to defeat true AP round is every bit as important as having the ability to soak multiple smaller hits.

          • Flounder

            But those bullets may also be at range and most countries that have well equipped and trained snipers use match ammo NOT AP ammo.

            Any level of plates at all would probably save you… Unless they shoot ya in the armpits or head… Which they would if they suspected armor and were actual trained snipers.

          • iksnilol

            there isn’t much if any difference between most 308 and 30-06. But stopping a 308 burst is important.

    • n0truscotsman

      Horseshit. In a word.

      Next

      /rolls eyes/

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    Good Article. There are way too many writers and video makers who are so afraid to say anything bad about anything. Its very hard for me to believe a single word from someone who only says positive things.

    • Chop Block

      Thank you. There are a lot of paid shills in the industry. Add to that the fact that almost everyone who does a review or test (including myself) does it with material provided by the manufacturer and it’s quickly obvious why there aren’t many candid reviews. It’s hard to avoid bias so I always try to make a point to find as many positive this to say as I can as well as to find as much negative to say as I can.

  • BillC

    If somebody’s life actually depends on body armor, cutting corners, costs, and (threat environment) capabilities on body armor is not the place to do it. If a citizen wants to own or rock body armor great, just don’t pretend your 20lb plate of AR500 with a sprayed on bed-liner that costs $100 with a Chinese sweat shop plate carrier is just as good as or better than an ESAPI with soft armor backers. These yahoos don’t care about your life, they just want your money.

    • Chop Block

      Level III steel plates​ don’t weigh anywhere close to 20lbs. The same size ESAPI is 0.70 lbs lighter than the plate used in this test.

      • Kelly Jackson

        BillC doesn’t actually know anything about this sort of thing. He just comes on here from time to time with a bunch of unhinged rants usually about how he’s a cop and civilians don’t need assault rifles and body armor.

        • pun&gun

          Sounds like a certain other Bill C.

        • BillC

          That ain’t me, bro. I was never a cop and I think civilians should have whatever their pocketbooks can afford. My rants are usually a Horses for Courses kinda thing. As for body armor, I do know a couple things, and I am biased greatly towards buying right the first time for the right threats the user will be mostly likely to encounter.

          If I blast something, and it may not be to your liking, it’s because I’m framing it for my use. That being said, can’t really defend this plate for the post’s stated reason of lying about it’s capabilities and I have a deep hatred for all steel plates because I used them for minute. Even with a curved steel plate with soft armor backer, it was heavier, hotter, and more uncomfortable than a previous ESAPI I was running.

          • iksnilol

            Also doesn’t break if you drop it on the floor.

          • Chop Block

            Composite armor will still work after being dropped. That’s actually part of the criteria for NIJ 0101.06 certification. And, while it isn’t RATED for more than one round, it will definitely continue to stop projectiles unless the impacts are right on top of each other.

          • iksnilol

            Sorry for not expecting more than what it is explicitly rated for.

      • BillC

        …and it was a garbage plate, but hooray, it’s only 3/4ths of a pound heaver! Wow! Great defense!

      • Flounder

        So… AR500 steel plates are a little bit shy of 10lbs each, with front and back plates it does turn out to be 20. If you round up. So the standard is relatively “heavy” when compared to the lightweight plates. I think the lightest was 4-6lbs. But they are 400+ and i think for the cost that is stupidly expensive.

        Maybe get buoyant plates if you know you are gonna go swimming but 4-600 to drop less than 10lbs?!?!?!? Crazyness.

        • int19h

          Ceramic and composite level III+ plates are pretty affordable these days – you can get a set of two for $400 – and drop the weight significantly, down to about 4 lbs per plate.

          • Flounder

            WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THOSE PLATES! I can barely find a single plate for 400? Links. Like now!

            I just cant believe you otherwise. I may learn something but everything i know currently contradicts you. So i need proof.

  • KestrelBike

    I bought personal armor because (in order of priority)
    a) doing so pisses off liberals

    b) American freedom to do so is awesome and I’m taking advantage of it until the aformentioned liberals take that away

    c) though I’m sure I’ll never need it, I’ve read enough about situations like katrina and ferguson/baltimore that while I don’t fantasize about getting into urban combat situations, I do think there’s a very remote chance that someone could need to leave a local area quickly where unrest has developed, and a vest for the ride seems like something that could prove valuable.

    • Ebby123

      I bought personal armor because:

      A) If I’m ever knowingly going into a gunfight (or a high chance for one like Katrina), I want to bring a sword AND a shield. Because,

      B) Getting shot sucks. No really – IT SUCKS!. It is a horrible, bloody traumatic thing that can render you powerless to stop it from taking a loved one.
      That said – if I know about a likely threat ahead of time I will do everything in my power to keep us from being shot, up to and including putting body armor on every member of the family. This is an extreme case, but extreme cases do happen.

      C) Why the hell not? The grand total amount of resources consumed by an un-used set of body armor is about the same as an un-used condom: It takes up a little space in a drawer somewhere, but if you need it you’ll be damn glad you have it.
      And unlike a condom there’s (practically) no expiration date on hard body armor. If you don’t need it you can pass it on to your grand kids. Who knows what kind of world they’ll be living in.

    • Kelly Jackson

      I own body armor because the Obama DOJ bullied in the 10th largest city in the US into allowing a violent insurgency to rampage around the city for a week straight.

  • Ebby123

    Sounds like a GREAT opportunity for a lawsuit, now that its public knowledge.

  • Bert

    Fair enough, and thank you for the discourse.

    • Chop Block

      Thank you for having the ability to disagree amicably.

  • USMC03Vet

    Contact the FTC.

    Lying about protective capabilities of products which purpose is to prevent injury is a serious issue.

    • PK

      I’m frankly stunned that no one mentioned this sooner. This is a very serious public safety issue, and they need to be reported.

  • Fruitbat44

    You can reasonably expect advertising to hype the product, but outright dishonesty is unacceptable. Well done for exposing it.

  • Jim_Macklin

    I plan to win the lottery and use that steel for the doors on my home. Now if I could just find some armor that weighs no more than 1 pound, isn’t hot when the temperature is above 60 but keeps me warm at 20 below. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a58210dd853029b6e062d4edf858ae1fe364a68fa26799ab14aa110eb27ae2e0.jpg

  • Tom Currie

    I wonder what Premier will call themselves when they change the company name because that’s cheaper than changing the product.

    • Chop Block

      Savage. I tested their “improved” plate yesterday. Spoiler: it still didn’t stop M193 from a 16″ barrel.

  • mosinman

    i appreciate tests like this, i hope to see more content like this on TFB

  • Ark

    In a country awash with $400 AR-15s, an armor plate that can’t stop common .223 loads isn’t good for much but keeping the rain off.

    • 劉丁丁

      IIRC, most firearms related crimes are committed with handguns.

      • Ark

        Yes, primarily because they are concealable. But, if you’re going to be the victim of a handgun shooting, it will probably happen in a time and a place where you aren’t wearing armor.

        You put on plate armor when you’re expecting to get shot at by rifles. It should be able to withstand the most common rifle caliber in the US.

        • 劉丁丁

          You put on plate armor when you’re expected to get shot by anything.
          FTFY

          • Ark

            Operative word “expecting”.

            If all you’re interested in is handgun threats, that’s what soft armor is for. There’s no point hauling around a ballistic plate if it won’t even protect you from .223.

          • 劉丁丁

            Considering the average scenario in civilian firefight.
            I’d say protection against pistol rounds, and some of the 223, is adequate.
            As for whether buying plate that can only stops certain 223 is a sound decision, is not what I intend to talk about.

          • XT6Wagon

            Soft armor has the issue of it degrades as its shot. With cheap high capacity 9mm pistols available everywhere, even supermarkets… do you want to be the guy who finds out its good up till the 10th, 15th, or even 20th bullet?

            I’d also point out that some things like .22mag and 5.7FN are pretty epic at making small holes through soft armor if given enough of a barrel length. Sure more likely to run into an idiot with a AR-15 pistol than a FN PS-90, but discounting small pistol calibers just because small is going to leave you bleeding.

    • XT6Wagon

      Its much, much better than nothing. While relying on luck isn’t good, if the plate is angled to the round its going to stop things that go straight through if squared up.

      That said, better products out there to decrease your reliance on luck.

  • ConcentrateFire

    My Spartan plates would have no problems stopping that and they were under 200.00 for the set

  • ConcentrateFire

    My Spartan III+ plates would have no problems stopping that and they were under 200.00 for the set. Yes they are curved.

    • Chop Block

      Exactly. I tested some Spartan III+ plates a couple years ago. They’re good to go.

  • mazkact

    Just get the Chinese plates Polenar tactical had the video on. I suspect they sent a ‘good” one to Slovakia.

  • Chop Block

    An eBay link? The seller is in the Netherlands? Please compare apples to apples. New manufacture level III+ composite plates at retail price.

    • int19h

      It’s not a random guy reselling a plate. It’s the manufacturer (or their distributor) selling new plates – those are manufactured in Netherlands. Look at the full list of items on sale for this seller to see what I mean.

      Spartan, CATI and other outfits that are discussed in the article also sell their stuff on eBay in a similar fashion.

      So yes, this is new plates at retail price.