In 2019, the DusitD2 complex in Nairobi, Kenya was rocked by a violent explosion. Witnesses reported seeing human limbs flying through the air as gunfire erupted from other areas within the complex. Terrorists from the Al-Shabaab militant group began firing into crowds at random.
Retired SAS operator Christian Craighead, who was in the country training Kenyan counter-terrorist units, was on break at the time. Craighead heard the gunfire erupt and rushed to his vehicle, where he retrieved his kit, consisting of his Canadian C2 rifle, a sidearm, and his plate carrier. After spending mere seconds gearing up, he ran towards the sound of gunfire. With the help of local police forces, the attackers were subdued. Craighead became a legend in the firearms community almost overnight.
If you are reading this from the United States, the likelihood of you being involved in a mass shooting is substantially higher than it would be in Kenya. While it would generally not be a good idea to storm into a building to subdue a shooter (first responders might mistake you for the bad guy), it would be a good idea to add a plate carrier to your vehicle EDC kit.
Jacob Albarado, the hero of the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, famously had to borrow his barber’s shotgun and helped with the evacuation but did not go into the school because of his lack of gear.
“At one point, I was there at the door fixing to go in, but once again I didn't have any of my gear. It wouldn't have been a smart move for me. All those guys had their gear and stuff so like I said, I pulled back."
To be fair to Albarado, this wasn’t cowardice at all. Through no fault of his own, he found himself unprepared. Realistically, who imagines they’ll ever be in a situation where they need to fight for their lives or the lives of their loved ones? However, in the crazy, dangerous world we live in, it’s becoming more and more likely, and it’s important to be prepared.
You never know when the next riot, natural disaster, terrorist attack, mass shooting, or other life-threatening circumstance might happen, so if you choose to throw a vest in your back seat, know that it may be there for a very long time. For long-term storage, soft armor vests are not the best. Prolonged exposure to humidity and ultraviolet light can cause degradation over the long run, so when it comes to vehicle storage, Level III or IV plates are the better option.
BulletSafe’s Level IV ballistic plates area made of durable alumina-oxide ceramic, which does not degrade over time like its soft armor counterpart. In addition, Level IV plates are stronger than soft armor, capable of defeating rifle fire from AR-15s and AK-47s as well as a single .30-06 round.
While we hope the worst case scenarios never come to pass, a bulletproof vest in the car would be beneficial in several scenarios, such as:
Working High-Risk Jobs. Armed security personnel and asset protection units put their lives on the line every day. It would be good for company vehicles to have vests in the back seat in case of worst case scenarios or if visitors might need them.
Living in High-Crime Areas. If you live in a particularly bad area known for frequent gang wars and fall asleep to the sound of gunshots every weekend, it might be a good idea to put a vest in your car. Depending on how bad the crime is where you live, you might even want to consider mounting it on the back of your seat. Mounts like the vehicle seat back plate carrier hanger from Grey Man Tactical work perfectly for this.
Active Shooter Situations. As previously mentioned, active shooters are becoming more common in the United States. You don’t want to compromise on your safety, and a Level IV vest is an incredible asset whether you’re escaping from a shooting or if you’re going in to help others.
Natural Disasters. In the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake, there may be an increased risk of looting and violence. Carrying a bulletproof vest in your car can help protect you in case of an attack during these chaotic situations.
Traditional plate carriers, unlike soft vests, are usually equipped with MOLLE webbing. This means that aside from serving as armor, vehicle plate carriers can also serve as light “bug out survival vests.”
Aside from ammo, your vest can also carry an individual first aid kit, a fire starter, and probably a small pouch where you can keep an esbit stove and a life straw. This kit should serve as something that can keep you alive if you happen to run out of gas in the middle of Notown, USA and you need to get help, but you shouldn’t have so much gear that you’ll be over-encumbered.
It's important to note that carrying a bulletproof vest is not a guarantee of safety and should be done in conjunction with other safety measures such as avoiding dangerous situations, being aware of your surroundings, and calling law enforcement if you feel threatened.