I wore soft body armor when I worked in law enforcement as well as when I worked as a PI back in Chicago. I went into some rough and tough neighborhoods, and it only made good sense for me to protect myself so I could get home to my family.
Today, we’re seeing more and more mass shootings all over the United States by deranged individuals who have gained access guns. So if you’re in law enforcement or private security, it makes good sense to wear hard body armor these days.
I also hear about hunters getting shot and killed while afield every single year; another hunter mistook them for a deer or an elk. (I don’t know about you, but if I can’t clearly see what I’m shooting at, I don’t pull the trigger. People who fire at anything that moves are slobs and, at best, shouldn’t own guns.) So, with this in mind, I’ve noticed a trend the past couple of years where hunters are wearing hard body armor over their hunting clothes. You can laugh if you want, but why not afford yourself a little added protection against derelict “hunters” who shoot at anything that moves?
And, if you’re a serious prepper or survivalist and you want to heighten your survival chances against getting killed by whatever bad guys are out there, then you owe it to yourself to start thinking about getting some hard body armor. You want every edge you can get if you get into a fire-fight. Of course, the idea is to avoid getting into a fire-fight if at all possible.
Enter EnGarde body armor, a company from The Netherlands with local offices in the USA and all around the world. (Be advised that you can NOT buy body armor in the USA and ship it to another country – that is a felony.)
Iwan Luiten of EnGarde Body Armor contacted me and wanted to send me one of his hard body armor set-ups for testing. What I received was their EndGarde T.R.U.S.T. plate carrier, along with two hard plates and two soft armor plates giving me a threat level IV. This means I can withstand most common rifle rounds, including .308 Win 30-06, 5.56mm and 7.62X39. The idea behind including the soft armor panels was to soften the blow from high-powered rifle rounds that strike the hard armor plates. The soft armor panels could also be used alone to stop many common handgun rounds.
The soft armor panels are made out of DYNEEMA, are curved, and can withstand multiple hits and grenade shrapnel. The hard armor plates are constructed out of a combination of Aramid and Ceramic. These plates are also curved and can withstand grenade shrapnel and armor piercing 7.62 NATO rounds, giving you a threat level IV protection.
EnGarde started out with one goal in mind: to create body armor that performs yet is comfortable and durable. I believe they’ve achieved this goal.
I wore my sample T.R.U.S.T. vest around for several days, and it was very comfortable. The Ceramic material makes these hard armor plates lighter than all-steel plates. EnGarde claims, and I have no reason to doubt them, that their armor outperforms standards set by the National Institue of Justice (NIJ) while still offering their clients very light-weight and comfortable vests. Their vests are also tested by H.P. White labs in the USA, Orgon Ballistic Labs in The Netherlands, Mellrichstadt ballistic labs in Germany — quite a feat, to be sure.
The EnGarde T.R.U.S.T. (Tactical Response Under Special Threats) carrier is easy to put on and easy to remove. This plate carrier is designed to provide ballistic protection from rifle rounds during high-risk operations. The MOLLE pockets allow 10″X12″ armor plates to be placed in the front and back panels. You can also use the soft body armor panels behind the hard armor plates to give you some added protection and lessen the blow if you are struck by a high-powered rifle round.
I’ll admit that my testing of the EnGarde hard and soft plates was anything but scientific, but I still believe I walked away with some idea as to how well the set-up performed. I placed the vest with one hard plate and one soft ballistic panel against a tree trunk 25-feet away, and I fired one of my few precious .308 AP (Armor Piercing) rounds into the center of the vest. The vest moved every so slightly. I checked the plate, and there wasn’t any penetration. I continued testing with regular .308 FMJ rounds, for a total of 10 rounds, and there was no penetration (though the hard armor plate was being beat-up pretty well). Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had gotten hit 10 or more times by high-powered rifle rounds and I was still alive, I think I’d be looking for a new firing position!
The US military is paying well over a thousand dollars for their hard body armor, though, needless to say, good ol’ Uncle Sam always over-pays for everything they buy. EnGarde Body Armor is currently offering their T.R.U.S.T. plate carrier with two hard plates and the two soft armor panels for $599.00 plus shipping. That’s a great deal if you ask me. A good plate carrier will set you back $100.00 – $150.00 alone. Shop around and you’ll see that for a similar set-up, you can easily pay hundreds of dollars more.
From my testing at least, I’d be comfortable trusting my life to this body armor. Definitely check it out if you’re in the market for some added protection and peace of mind.