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.
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.